Monday, June 17, 2013

Revelations on motherhood

I realized today just how amazing my body is. It's a journey that has taken me awhile to reach. And of course, I owe it all to my daughters.

Darling daughter number one was a difficult pregnancy for me and a really difficult labor and delivery. Nothing really wrong ever actually happened with my pregnancy, but at the very end I was very tired and sore. Finally it culminated with me becoming very ill and finding myself in the hospital. My midwife informed me I was the talk of all the doctors. Sadly, because none of them knew what was wrong with me. So my midwife, the doctors that get all the special cases where no one knows what's wrong, and the OBGYNs all decided it would be in mine and my daughter's best interest if she came two weeks early. Her labor and delivery literally stretched my body to its limits. I'm 100% sure if I had needed to push for another five minutes, I could not have done it. I prayed so hard two and a half hours into pushing my baby out that she would be OK and that I would not need to be wheeled in for a c-sec. Luckily Dr. Carter came in and was able to help guide her out. She was finally out about three hours and fifteen minutes or so after I was finally complete. My body was so sore, so beat up. I made the mistake once of bringing in firewood a couple weeks after she was born. My poor body just clamped up and I was in so much pain. My husband had just started residency the day before and was at work, so he couldn't help me. I remember feeling like I was in labor all over again, it hurt so much. My body was also so incredibly swollen from all the water and medications they gave me intravenously. My husband thought it was kind of funny that I had pitting edema. I decided to lay off the salt some and that just made it worse. At least after I started drenching everything in salt it got better. I dropped 30 lbs in the first two weeks I was home. That felt great. But my body was still sore and my knees and feet hurt because I also ate a lot and sat around a lot while I was pregnant. Which also meant that I gained a lot. And of course it really isn't very good for you when you are short and pregnant to weigh 196 lbs. At least I came to find out very quickly that most of that extra was actually just water, because most of it was totally gone within two months and my body felt SO much better then. My sweet little daughter ate really well. My body kept her well fed and at every doctors appointment our doctor would ask if I was still just breastfeeding. She was so chunky and adorable :)

Right around my oldest's birthday I leaned that I was pregnant. I really wasn't surprised at all, I just knew from the very moment that I was carrying another little girl. Don't ask me how I knew, but I did. It was actually kind of hard to wait two weeks to take the test. Our little family went to the grocery store for the sole purpose of buying a pregnancy test, so there I was with a little baby in a carrier (OK so she wasn't quite little, she was a pretty big chunky barely one year old) and as soon as we got home I had confirmation. Then a couple weeks later the vomiting started. Every single night. So I took meds for it. At least the vomiting was only once at night when I took the meds. This did work to my advantage, as it continued for the next twenty weeks, so I didn't gain very much weight at all during my first two trimesters, so that was pretty OK with me.

I had this idea of what the perfect labor and delivery would look like going into my first daughter's birth. Obviously, her birth did not look anything like that at all. I wanted to labor with minimal interventions. Well, artificially ruptured waters, a pit drip, epidural and forceps delivery are hardly minimal when I was hoping to just have an IV for antibiotics every four hours. So I researched and then researched some more. I really really really wanted that minimal interventions delivery. And then I came across hypnobabies.

Hypnobabies has these affirmations sets that you listen to every day. For weeks. You start around 32 weeks, maybe even earlier. I think I started to listen to them around 30 weeks. One thing it told me every day was that my body was made to have babies. The other thing it told me was that my body was working perfectly. Even now I still repeat some of them to myself. Mostly one about how I am in tune with my body and I am in charge of my emotions. That one is very important when you are the mother to a very busy toddler.

I practiced, and I practiced, and I practiced. Finally after a very long bout of prodromal labor, which started at exactly 37 weeks and even included a trip to the hospital on my due date for some very regular contractions that a very rude nurse told me I was imagining, teased me until 40 weeks and 4 days, it was time. My daughter walked into our room at 6 in the morning to snuggle, and I felt a pop and ran to the bathroom. My mom rushed over to take care of my oldest and my husband got me to the hospital as quickly as he could. It was such an amazing experience, totally different from my first labor and delivery. I was in complete control. I felt great, I knew my body was doing exactly what it needed to do. And I just let it do what it needed to do. I didn't fight it, I wasn't scared, and I was so relaxed. I felt almost no pain. The only time anything hurt was when things suddenly went really quickly and I lost a little bit of my mental control. But my amazing husband was there with his hand on my hip, and my awesome nurse helped with her hand on my other hip as I sat in the bed and reguided all my mental power to my own anesthesia and once again embraced the pressure that I felt flowing through my body. And then I knew it was time for my daughter to come into the world. I didn't even have to think twice about what I needed to do. I was able to just push where I needed to and she slid right out. Her poor face was all bruised up though, because I was so relaxed and my body was so loose and stretchy my labor was about as long as the whole pushing phase was for my first baby. But there she was, so healthy and beautiful. We posted this picture on facebook later that morning, and someone commented that I didn't even look like I broke a sweat. I didn't say anything about it at the time, but I really honest didn't break a sweat at all.

I felt so amazing after her birth. My body was able to do exactly what it needed to do. I was able to walk as soon as my daughter was born. I didn't have any problems going to the bathroom (this was a very very big problem after daughter one was born for about three months after) and I didn't have a single sore muscle. I could lift her up no problem, carry wood in from outside, climb up and down the stairs. If it weren't for the jiggly stomach I wouldn't have even felt like I'd just given birth.

Something happened when my second was born too. The midwife that was with me when my oldest was born called it a beautiful birth. I didn't really find it to be this really beautiful thing at the time. But when my second was born it was so amazing and all the feelings in my body that I wasn't able to feel with my oldest was there. But I also felt acceptance about how my first labor and delivery went. It really was a very beautiful thing. I did the very very best that I could and I brought her into the world.

It's been hard for me to accept the changes that it's left on my body. I'm plagued with stretch marks and things are still flabby that weren't when I was at this point postpartum with my oldest. I'm still waiting for some aches and pains related to pregnancy to go away right now, seven months later. My body doesn't want to give up the 35 pounds that I gained this pregnancy, and when I finally got within 20 pounds of my prepregnancy weight decided to starve my little baby in the milk department instead. So I started drinking more water and eating more food to make sure that she was getting enough, and of course that weight I was working so hard to lose just came right back. But then I think how amazing that my body is giving her life every day. It carried these two precious girls for 38 weeks and 40 and a half weeks, and when they came into the world it kept carrying them and feeding them.

Now they are here for me to love and care for. My body is one of the most beautiful things in this world because it gives life and purpose to someone else. I looked at my daughter one day and realized that I live forever in her and she'll live forever in her children and in their children, that my mother lives forever in me, and my grandmother in her.

Some days I feel like I'm a complete failure as a parent. My baby fell off the bed for the first time the other day and I cried. My toddler drives my patience to the very brink often. Those times I have to remind myself that I'm doing the very best that I can. That other moms that I may have judged harshly before I had my own babies and could truly understand are doing the best that they can too. It's hard to be a mom, but it's the most beautiful thing I could ever do. Sometimes it's so hard to remember that with all the sacrifices I'm making now for these children, that it's somehow going to be worth it. They won't be little forever, but they'll be mine forever. And that's what makes me beautiful now.

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