Kids: 7, 6, 5, 3
My husband and I were in the military when we met on a hot summer day during a training exercise and we were both filthy, exhausted, sunburned and peeling; it was love at first sight. I was 19, not quite 20, when I went in for a check-up and was notified that I was pregnant. I just couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t ready for children yet. My not yet husband and I had only been together a few months! Still, it was exciting news. My mother, whom was at the appointment was excited and when we notified my grandmother (she was waiting in the lobby) she about fell of her chair she was laughing so hard. (Nice to know I have such a supportive family.) And my mother insisted that she call my father at work. So it worked out that my whole family actually new before the father of the brand new life that I now knew was growing in that soft secret place deep inside. The pregnancy went very well although I was frustrated that I gained 70 pounds (certainly not a good thing). In fact, it went so well that the only bad thing, besides the weight I gained, was the fact that I couldn’t have chocolate. I couldn’t even stand the smell of it! James Michael was born on a beautiful summer day during a partial eclipse after only 5 hours at the hospital. My mother wasn’t paying attention, and not realizing I was in labor, let me take one of my super hot baths and boy, did that give a powerful kick-start to everything. We were 20 miles from the hospital and my mother wasn’t sure we’d make it in time. The nurse didn’t even believe that James was going to be born as soon as he was and the isolet had been turned on less than an hour before his arrival. My father was also in the room when he arrived. He’d dropped in to say hi, everything got going and he kind of got shoved into a corner. My husband caught James and then he was taken over to the corner for them to check him out real quick. It was my father that got the first real good look at him and it was my father that handed him back to me. I thought it quite fitting that he handed his first grandchild to his first born (He had also delivered me; my mother’s only home birth).
Two days later, the family that now consisted of three journeyed home to settle into our new life. I quickly lost all my baby weight except for 5 pounds but that was still in acceptable parameters for the military so I was happy. If anything I looked better because I wasn’t such a stick anymore. James was only 8 months when our next little one was conceived which was a huge shock because we had planned on waiting a couple of years. This pregnancy didn’t go so well since I couldn’t keep anything down the first three months but I gained much less weight this time, only about 40 pounds. He was due December 8 but I was shooting for December 3 since that was my grandfathers birthday and whom this little one was being named for. Instead, I go into labor late on November 25. The contractions got progressively harder and were nothing I couldn’t handle but I was hoping it was just practice. Finally the morning of the 26 I accepted that I was in full labor and called my husband home from work so we could prepare for the 1 1/2 hour drive ahead of us. This was the day before Thanksgiving and the plan had been that I would pack everything the day after Thanksgiving to drive up to my parents. I would stay with them for the week until the baby arrived but this little one had other plans. I was supposed to be making my Bailey’s cheesecakes for the feast the next day, not laboring to bring a new life into the world! I dozed most of the drive to the hospital, only waking up during my contractions and it was the same at the hospital. I was actually only at the hospital approximately three hours before Charles Adryan arrived in the world. I caught him and he was only seconds old as I cuddled him next to me. He is the most precious gift ever received on a birthday. Yep. I turned 22 the day my little monkey arrived. He looked like a little orangutan with his spiky red hair and his little wrinkly face. We had so much to be be thankful for that year.
So now we were four. I quickly lost the baby weight, except for 5 pounds again; at this time I was 10 pounds heavier than when I first met my husband but I still looked great. Sure, I couldn’t wear girls size 16 anymore and my breasts weren’t quite as perky after nursing but I still had my flat tummy. And then came the news that my state was activating it’s National Guard and I went through the terrifying process of walling myself off as I tried to deal with the thought that I wouldn’t see my precious boys for at least a year and perhaps never again. My husband and I didn’t get along well at this time. He tried to deal with it in his own way but it only served to push me further away. It was on the last night we were together before I left for Texas that we conceived our eldest daughter. It was literally the only night she could have happened since my husband and I hadn’t had relations all month. After about a month in Texas for the training, it was time to get a bunch of nasty shots so they gave all the women a mandatory blood test to make sure they weren’t pregnant. These shots would have seriously harmed the fetus and it would have been best to abort. I was barely far enough along for them to catch the pregnancy and even then they weren’t sure. I had to wait at a holding facility over the weekend for them to do another test. It was positive and I was going home. This pregnancy did pretty well; I was slightly sick at the beginning but not like I was with Charles. I was at the peak of my health and I only gained just over 20 pounds. It was a cold spring day when the doc informed me that I had started dilating and I was confident after my experiences with my first two births that my daughter would arrive in less than two days. Two days later, still in the early stages of labor there was no baby. The doctor, knowing my history started getting concerned so he had me start coming in for ultrasounds every day trying to figure out why she wasn’t dropping down and engaging. It took a further five days for the tech to finally get it at the right angle and they realized that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s throat. That is when my world fell apart again. I had to have an emergency cesarean section. I had not prepared for this at all. I knew from the beginning that I never planned on having one and I really didn’t do much research at all so I wasn’t prepared mentally or physically. All I wanted to do was scream and break things and I didn’t want anyone near me. Instead I lay in the hospital feeling like I was dieing inside while my family surrounded me. My father had talked his boss into letting him come over because it was an emergency section and things could go wrong. Less than two hours after learning why my baby wasn’t yet in my arms, Meradydd Anne Roishin was here. My husband didn’t even have time to make it since he was at home 1 1/2 hours away so it was my mother holding my hand during the procedure. I don’t remember any of it but she says I cried the whole time. It didn’t help that no one thought to show my daughter to me at all. I could hear her crying but I didn’t know if everything was ok or if something was wrong. She was two hours old when they finally brought her to me. I went through about two weeks of depression. I refused to get out of bed, I didn’t wash, I only took care of Meradydd as necessary. I felt like I had been robbed. I had dreamed of a beautiful, birth where I could once again catch the tiny being that I had created when she was only seconds old and hold her as I had done Charles. Instead I had this ugly slash across my abdomen that symbolized everything that had gone wrong. I am so thankful for my grandmother. I was staying at her house until I recuperated enough to go home, which was taking longer than it should have due to my depression. She was an RN and it was she that snapped me out of the depression. She physically hauled me out of that bed and made me take a shower and made me start caring for Deedee (her name is pronounced Meradith but thanks to my father and due to the spelling she has been Deedee since she was only hours old.)
I finally took my my beautiful daughter home when she was three weeks old and now we were five. It took me a long time to accept what had happened. It didn’t help that the doc whom had performed the procedure butchered me and I had the nasty scare to remind me of my emotional pain every day. I was now 15 pounds heavier than when I met my husband but I was no longer in the military. My ETS was only a week after Deedee was born. I also didn’t have the flat tummy anymore. Now that those muscles had been cut, I had trouble doing sit-ups and the flab refused to go away. Now I was even more ashamed of my body because in addition to the stretch marks, saggy boobs, and extra weight, I had a flabby belly with an ugly scar across it. Then I got pregnant again when Deedee was only 6 months old. I wasn’t physically or emotionally ready to have another one and I just wanted to cry but she was on her way regardless. This pregnancy did very well and I only gained about 14 pounds. It was another beautiful summer day when Kathrynn Elizabeth Eveline arrived in the world by c-section. I wanted to try a vbac but since my insurance wouldn’t pay for one (they changed that policy only a year later) I had to have another section. This one I was totally prepared for as I had accepted early on that it would happen. Once again my mother held my hand (my husband literally turns green at the sight of blood) and she also physically restrained me from decking the woman that was giving me my epidural. The daft woman couldn’t place the needle right and she kept hitting nerves; I kneed the poor male nurse that was helping to brace me. She finally gets it in only to snag it with her sleeve and contaminate it so she had to start completely over. That was a completely different experience from my first section; that one I felt only a tiny pinch. My mother made sure that they brought Kathrynn over when she was just minutes old for me to see her because she knew how not seeing Deedee affected me. Because I was so prepared for this one, I didn’t feel robbed at all. I had this tiny, beautiful daughter and now our family was complete. I completely shocked the nurses by being out of bed only hours after the birth and going for a walk down the hall so my husband could help me shower. I was also thankful that the doctor that had performed this section cleaned up the extra tissue from my previous incision so it would make a much nicer scar. My tiny daughter was only hours old when she was christened Kitty and she’s still Kitty to this day. My father was holding her and called her kitty cat. James, whom was just turned 4 only a week previous said no, he didn’t want a kitten, he wanted a puppy.
It’s now almost four years later and so much as happened. For a long time, I still hated my body. But the healing began when I met a very good friend. She’s one of those lovely hippy types that don’t shave and didn’t care how much of her breast people saw when she was feeding her son (he’s only a week older than Kitty). While I still shave, it was she that taught me to accept my body as it is and not care what others think; only what I think. I finally came to see that my body was not something to be ashamed of but to celebrate it’s unique shape because that was what nurtured my little ones. It was their tiny bodies that distorted things and their suckling that pulled at my breasts. I nursed Kitty for three and a half years; I only recently weaned her and I miss it already. So yeah. Here I am at 28 years old, sitting at 155 pounds (thirty five pounds heavier than pre-baby) that won’t come off, saggy uneven breasts, dumpy belly, and all. But my journey has made me who I am and I wouldn’t change it for the world. And my ugly scar? I have to go looking for it since it’s well hidden under my belly and even then I have to feel for it because it’s almost invisible. My husband says he actually prefers my body this way (not just because there’s more for him to grab) because it gave life to our children. It has been hard explaining to them the difference in their births. Recently my husband used an analogy to explain it. He said the boys came out the front door and the girls came out the front window. They all thought it quite funny. Our children all know about the birds and the bees. They know where babies come from. They have even seen videos of home births as well as a c-section. Nothing phased them. In fact, after the first birth they viewed I was poised to answer so many difficult questions but only one was asked. “Mom, why are babies born naked?” This is my life. I have a gorgeous, caring husband that wants me for who I am and I have four beautiful children that would not be here but for the sacrifices made. That is such empowerment. I can now look at my body with acceptance and pride. It’s pure bliss.