When I look back at my first pregnancy, I realize how uninformed and naive I was about the reality of giving birth, and how my life would truly change forever.
I am NOT here to tell you I had this magical, beautiful experience. It was so different then that. Being a personal trainer / group ex instructor, people would see me teaching at 34 weeks and say stuff like,
"OH, that baby is just gonna fly out of you!"
"You are going to have the easiest and quickest labor ever!"
Why do people say that? I mean I get it. No one ever said, 'Do you really want to hear how MINE went?'
Honestly, with an intro like that, I may have hesitated, but again, I feel like I would have MAYBE been more prepared. I did everything right. Ate right, exercised, SLEPT, kept hydrated, listened to my body and gave it rest when needed, took my prenatals and felt AMAZING during pregnancy! Never was sick at all and really didn't have too bad of the dreaded 'pregnancy symptoms,' and only gained about 23 pounds.
I remember the night I went into labor like it was yesterday. I was at home alone (husband was working late), and I started contracting. The pain was UNREAL
. Listen, I am a TOUGH
girl with a HIGH
threshold for pain. This however, was nothing like I had experienced before, or anticipated. I was throwing up every 10-15 minutes with each contraction (and I don't throw up!), and curled up in the fetal position in excruciating pain. I couldn't keep anything down. After several hours of this, calling my husband home,I told him, 'It's time'
. I KNEW I was about to give birth. Quick drive (THANKFULLY) to the hospital, get registered and IV in the arm to replenish what I lost, and then the check of how much I was dilated. Then comes the one thing a doctor can say at that point when you are in SO much pain, and THINK you are at LEAST 7-8 cm dilated, AND that you NEVER want to hear....."So, you're about 2cm."
'WHAT?! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!? THERE MUST BE SOME MISTAKE! THERE IS NO WAY. I AM GOING TO DIE!'
With tears in my eyes and hunched over in pain, they tell me they will hydrate then give me my epidural. The nurse tells me by the sound of it, I am having BACK LABOR (basically when the babies head if pushing against your lower back and they are most likely sunny side up). Either way, I'm excited to get pain killers at this point. Even though I had to wait a few more hours, I figured it wouldn't be long now. GONE was my declaration I made that I would TRY for a natural childbirth. All I cared about now was that needle entering my spine and taking that pain away! After hydrating me, they gave me the epidural and I was smooth sailing at that point. I won't BORE you with what DIDN'T happen in the next 14 hours since NOTHING happened. Every so often a doctor would walk in, cop a feel, and let me know how much I HADN'T dilated. GREEEEEAT. But what DID start happening was my unborn baby girl's heart beat started to drop with each contraction. Not good. Basically fetal distress, as they call it. They kept telling me if this keeps happening, they may have to take the baby out via C section, but nothings for sure. It wasn't until almost midnight, when I heard those words that every woman that hopes to give birth vaginally, does NOT want to hear....."We are going to have to go in for a C section."
My heart sank. It wasn't the fact that I KNEW EXACTLY what that meant, and what that recovery would be like, but more the idea of HOW
did this happen? I did everything right. This is my DUE date for Gods sake! I had a great pregnancy and am a strong, capable woman! How did my mother vaginally birth 2 healthy LARGE babies, but I could not? I won't even experience the 'beauty' of giving birth, as I had thought it would be like. All these emotions and so much more, as I said 'yes' and they wheeled me into the operating room. With tears in my eyes, I knew it wouldn't be long now. But at the same time, this whole day, this whole experience was NOT at all how I expected it to go. I thought I would experience that fairy tale birth like I had seen in the movies. I pictured myself in pain, but tolerating it and pushing out my baby into this world and watching her take her first breaths. It wouldn't be like that. But at this point, all I cared about was holding her, seeing her and loving her. And, thankfully it wasn't long before all that happened.
I couldn't believe how quickly she came out. All that wait, all those 24+ hours in labor, and they were able to take her out in about 10 minutes. What I really thought was, "If this was the way it was supposed to happen, why not just fast forward to the end to and do this C instead of waiting all day long
." It wasn't really until after my second pregnancy and attempt at a VBAC, that my wonderful and current OB informed me that I have an unusually high and forward tilting sacrum making it almost impossible to vaginally birth children, especially the 8-10 lb ones I end up having. I guess in the 1800's I would have been one of those women who dies in childbirth? Huh. Who knows! It is what it is. She was healthy and well and that's all that mattered.
The next few days and weeks were TOUGH. Ain't gonna lie. Aside from the physical challenge of healing from major abdominal surgery, I started to deal with the mental aftermath of pregnancy. I didn't have PPD, but absolutely had what many called the 'baby blues'. I felt alone, tired, weak, sad and hopeless. I cried a lot for no reason, and felt sorry for myself A LOT
. I LOVED my baby girl SO MUCH, so I couldn't understand why I was so sad. My mom had told me about the baby blues, but again, I thought NO WAY that would happen to me. I am strong and I can handle it. Not so much. It wasn't until months later that I could look back and see what was going on. I realized what I went thru was different. The crazy thing was that no one I had ever spoken to before actually TOLD me about this. Was I the only one who was going thru this? You don't read about it in books, or hear about it from friends since it can be very embarrassing. It can make you feel very vulnerable and incapable of handling yourself with the grace of how I thought every new mom but me could. I instead, spoke about it. I wasn't afraid and wasn't ashamed of how I felt, but happy that I was able to see after the fact what I had gone thru. It changed me. Made me a better mom. Made me a better person.
I am a much stronger person today then I was then. I gave birth to my second almost 2 years ago, and had a very different experience. I knew what I went thru before and prepared myself this time around. I knew then that it was OK to go thru what I did, and learn from it. My 2 girls have taught me so much. I have learned the art of compromise and the value of patience. I myself, as my oldest daughter as well, am very independent. I think when I went thru my first pregnancy and entered the world of motherhood, I somewhat expected to have the same independence as I did before. I expected that I would be able to do everything I once did, come and go as I please and enjoy my alone time ANYTIME I wanted as well. I am not saying that I don't get to have these things now, but it's not my #1 priority. My life has changed. My values have changed. I do see the importance in having that time for myself everyday, and I do make it happen as much as I can. But in the end, my role in this life right now, is as a mother in raising my 2 beautiful girls, with another on the way end of year. I am not at all perfect at being a mom. I get frustrated, angry, lose my temper, cry, beat myself up about it and as every mother may say, NEVER get enough sleep! But, I wouldn't change it for the world.
"The most important work we will ever do is within the walls of our own home." - Harold B. Lee
This is who I am now. This is what I work towards making better. This is my life and I am very proud of it.