Number of Pregnancies and Births: 1/1
How far postpartum : 7 months
I have been reading the stories of these lovely ladies since I stumbled upon it at a few weeks post partum. Looking for other women who looked like myself that I could relate to not only physically but emotionally. I was so greatful to have come across this site and to be able to see the beautiful photos and read the wonderful stories submitted. I have finally mustered the courage to submit mine. My husband and I met our junior year of high school and not long after decided to marry. A “high school sweetheart” story it was not though. Through many ups and downs, his enlisting in the military and being taken far from me for over a year, constant worrying and wondering if he would make it home, it was needless to say a very strange way to spend your first year of marriage. When he returned it was everything I dreamed for a few weeks. But I could tell something was not right. In hindsight I know now that he suffered from a classic case of post traumatic stress disorder due to all he endured in his 16 month deployment overseas. Our relationship suffered. But we continued to fight for it. We wouldn’t give up so easily. After a hard several months we all sat down, his parents and us and had a long discussion about how we could progress forward in a healthy way. We came to an agreement that we still wanted to be together and would do everything possible to do so. So for the next few months things started to even out. His sister who had been pregant, gave birth to a beautiful little girl, and during the few weeks after that we visited with them and his mother who had come down from Ohio, I realized, I was late. We had had a few times before when I thought I might be pregnant, so this time it never really occured to me that I may actually be. A few more days of waiting, found me at the drugstore counter paying for a pregnancy test. Driving over to my mother’s house I wasn’t too concerned with it, thinking “oh it’ll be just like the last few times, it will be negative…”. Hah. Little did I know. After using the test I waited the recommended time to flip it over and when I did I two very faint pink lines showed in the window. I snatched up the box and double checked the results chart, thinking some how it must be a mistake. I walked into the other room dumbfounded and asked my mom, “Do you see this??” She put on her reading glasses to take a closer look, “…hmm…yeah I see it…its faint but its definitely there…i think you’re pregnant…” My heart pounding in my chest, I dropped onto the bed…”oh my god…” I didn’t know what to do. Part of me was excited, the other part scared out of my mind. I knew that sometimes there were false positives so I went and bought a few more tests and waited til the next morning to take them, and another in the afternoon at work. Each and every one was positive, each one growing darker and darker and more positive with each one I took. I waited a few days to tell my husband so I could be sure. I took his mom and sister aside and told them first, they were kind of in shock, but a happy kind. So I asked them to wait there with me while I told him. I pulled him aside with his mom and sister looking on and pulled the tests from my pocket and said “Well honey you better be prepared because I think you are gonna be a daddy…” His face lit up and he said “what??” smiling. We were both excited but VERY nervous, because as a young married couple we weren’t exactly in the best financial place.
The next few months were a blur of doctors appointments and shopping, thinking up names, and dealing with the sudden and rapid changes that were happening to my body. But a shadow loomed on the horizon. At about 4 months along, my husband and I chose to separate, exactly a year to the day yesterday come to think of it. Not wanting to go into the messy details of it all, it suddenly seemed he had a nervous breakdown knowing that his life was about to change drastically and two lives would now rely on him to take care of them. Never mind, I was the one who couldn’t just decide to walk away from the whole situation. I was angry and upset and hurt to say the least. But our child was still the most important thing to us. That no matter what we would put her first before our own petty differences. Fortunately enough we worked through our issues and decided to reunite before the birth. We both knew ultimately it was what we wanted and the time we spent apart is actually what saved our marriage.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I became very uncomfortable. My lower back ached, my ribs ached from my daughter nestling up under them and making it hard to breathe. I had to pee every 5 minutes it seemed. And my feet and hands swole up to the size of sausages. Fortunately for myself I only gained about 25 lbs. which my doctor actually thought I should’ve gained a little more but wasn’t concerned and the baby was healthy. Unfortunately for the last 4 months I suffered from Gestational Diabetes, although I have no history of it in my family, and I am not overweight. The doctor explained that sometimes that happens, when your pregnant body just doesn’t produce the right amount of hormones to regulate blood sugar. So I was put on a specific diet and told to do easy exercises like walking and swimming. Not to mention to prick my finger 4 times a day and keep track of my blood sugar levels. FUN! is the overstatement of the year!
The day I went into labor, was a strange day. Being that it was 2 weeks before my due date, it didn’t cross my mind that it could possibly be labor. All that day I had been in pain, my lower back aching, my stomach tight, just general end of pregnancy discomfort…or so I thought. I went to the DMV with my mother and to the library and by then in the afternoon I was having to pace the floor just to keep myself distracted from the pain. Once home, I tried to eat dinner, and take a hot bath, then relax in my glider rocking chair putting my feet up. Usually that helped with the pain. Not tonight. At about 6 oclock I knew this wasn’t normal pain. I called my doctor and explained to her how I felt and she said, “it sounds to me like you are contracting, if you’ll try and breathe through it and keep track of them to see if they are coming every 5 minutes. If they are go ahead and come up to the hospital, I am on call all weekend.” After I got off the phone with her, I tried to lay down and watch a movie but the pain just intensified, and the contractions were getting harder to breathe through. But I continued to try. Almost crying during the most intense points of my contractions, I checked the clock. 10:00 p.m. Okay I have had enough they are 5 minutes apart and it’s time to head to the hospital. Thank goodness I had packed my bags prior to all this! My mother, my husband, and I all piled into our car, and took the 5 minute trip to the hospital. I recall stating “man if I have been hurting this bad and nothing has happened yet I am gonna be pissed!” Oh just wait…
Once being admitted and changed into the hospital gown, the nurse checks me and says, “well you’re about 4 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced, so lets get started!”. I was in shock! I looked from my husbands nervous face, to my mothers and said “i guess were gonna have a baby!” I stuck it out as long as possible, about another hour and “asked nicely” for my epidural. Not knowing that it take a million years for them to finally get around to you, I finally got it and was able to sleep for a little while. About every hour they came into check me, and each time I was dilating more and more. Slowly but surely I started to feel pain in my left side. The anesthesiologist had told me that I should feel pressure but not pain. She administered another dose and it eased away. The nurse came in and checked again and I was a 10 and fully effaced.
Now came the hard part. Having my daughter in my arms was so close I could almost feel here there already. Everyone left the room except the nurse, and my husband, my doctor was on her way. We started out with a few “practice” pushes, just to get things rolling. She said I was so doing great. But slowly I started to feel pain creep back over me on my left side. I mentioned it to the nurse and she said “well, honey to be honest you’re going to be able to push a whole lot better if you can feel some of it…so if you can push through it, we should probably try, because it will be over faster.” I gathered my strength, my breath, my husband beside me supporting me, telling me I could do it. “okay…” A few more pushes later and I felt like I was trying to birth a 2 ton bus! My doctor came in and checked me, said we were moving a long good but that the baby was “caddy-womped” (her word) or slanted, so she needed to shift her a little so she could come out better. As she did so,I felt an unbelievable pressure like I had never felt in my life! I did my best to keep as much composure as I could between contractions. The nurses and my doctor had been counting for me, when to push etc. But suddenly I felt a HUGE urge to push…’I need to push NOW!” I almost yelled, my doctor got in position, “Go for it mama, go for it!” And go for it I did. My labor went on like that for what seemed like forever, but was probably only moments. Those last five minutes were the most painful moments I have ever had in my existence, but suddenly the pressure, pain and exhaustion was gone. And there she was…her little cry ringing out in the room. Laid on my chest and being cleaned off I was so tired I couldn’t even cry even though my insides wanted to, all I could do was smile this big cheesy grin. My husband had tears in his eyes as he kissed my forehead and said “you did it!” I never felt more in love and more happy than in that moment.
Since that day my body has changed in so many ways. My hips widened from expanding and containing my precious little girl, bringing her into the world. My belly has a little pooch now. And although I never got stretch marks during my pregnancy, post par tum stretch marks dotted the underside of my belly as my skin returned to normal. I have days when I look in the mirror while I’m getting dressed or getting out of the shower, and I don’t feel confident. I wish for a trim fit “perfect” body that I can run around in a bathing suit in worry free. But what is perfect? I started a workout plan about 3 months post par tum and I did really great for a while, but it took up my whole life. It was a program that required me to workout for an hour and a half everyday except sunday. It required me to follow a special diet, that required me to buy food that honestly my family couldn’t afford. It was taking away time and enjoyment that I could be spending with my family. I am still very healthy and make smart food choices but I let myself indulge when I want to. I love being active and using my body to dance, do yoga, play with daughter and just have fun, and I will continue to do so. But I will not enslave myself to something to try and fit some “ideal” type or size. I want to fully accept myself for exactly who I am and look in the mirror and see something more, a deeper beauty. Because nothing is more beautiful than the blessing that is my daughter and the body that Spirit gave me to create life, to live each day with gratitude and to love with an open heart.
Hope you guys enjoy the photos, the first is of me at about 15 weeks along, the second is about 2 weeks before I gave birth and the rest are me 7 months post par tum. Thanks for reading.