I am so grateful to be able to identify myself as a Mother. My DH and I struggled for 14 months to conceive our first child, Ethan. We tried to get pregnant on our own for many months before turning to a fertility clinic for help. After tons of testing we were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. Which made us feel even more helpless because apparently there was nothing wrong with either of our bodies and we “should” be able to get pregnant. Finally, after an unsuccessful 3 months of being on the fertility drug “Clomid” I said enough was enough. I was emotionally and physically spent. Our doctor convinced us to try one round of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) without any medication, but warned us that without medication, it was rarely successful. We agreed to try one round. If that did not work, we were done. On June 4, 2008 we had our IUI performed and it worked! We were stunned, elated, shocked, and thrilled to death! We were finally expecting a baby!
Aside from some morning sickness and an ovarian cyst that resolved on its own, my pregnancy was uneventful. I enjoyed “eating for two” and had gained 40lbs by 36 weeks. I started my pregnancy at a fit 125lbs, and at 5’7′ felt this was my “ideal” weight as I had maintained this weight for over 10 years without issue. Although my belly expanded more than I thought was humanly possible I was left with only one small stretch mark on my right hip. Little did I realize how much that one little mark would mean to me. At 37 weeks and 3 days my world came crashing down. I was sent for an ultrasound because my midwife could not tell if my baby was breech. At the ultrasound I was happily telling the nurse that my midwife thought I would have a large baby because she thought the baby’s head was big. The nurse asked the doctor if a baby’s total weight could be predicted by the size of his head so the doctor began to scan my son’s head. The moment I looked up at him was the worst moment of my life. I saw his face crumple in a look of total disbelief and shock. When I asked what he saw he stopped the ultrasound and told me to call my husband while he went to get the neonatologist. In a moment I was left alone in a hospital room with no explanation of what was going on. I called my husband who rushed to the hospital and together we learned from the neonatologist that our son had a very sever case of Hydrocephaly. Fluid had built up inside his skull and was taking up the space where his brain should have had room to grow. Although the part of his brain that controlled breathing, heartrate, and other unconcious functions worked perfectly, the other parts of his brain had not developed. Our only option was to have the fluid drained from his skull so that he could be born. A C-section was out of the question due to the size of his head. Our doctor explained that if I chose to have a C-section without draining the fluid from my sons head, he would have to make such a huge incision that I stood a good chance of bleeding out and dying. As our son was already comatose in my belly, we chose to have the cranial decompression performed. It was successful and I was able to have him naturally. Ethan was stillborn on February 7, 2009 at 37 weeks and 6 days. He weighed 7lbs 15oz and looked like a beautiful sleeping angel.
Leaving the hospital empty handed was like the final insult heaped ontop of years of injury. I was convinced we were never meant to parent a living child. I threw myself into the task of losing my baby weight. I treated weightloss like a job. Every single day I walked for miles. When our OB gave me the go ahead to start running again, I ran until I thought I would colapse. 9 weeks after giving birth I was back to 125lbs and into my pre-pregnancy clothes. And I LOVED that little stretch mark on my right hip. It was the only physical evidence that my son had existed. 3 months after Ethan died, my husband and I decided we would try again one more time. Back to the fertiity clinic we went and our doctor agreed to perform the same IUI procedure, again with the warning of “it rarely works without medication, let alone on the first try”. 4 days later we were pregnant, again! If that seems like an awfully short time between giving birth and getting pregnant, IT WAS. I did’nt realize until near the end of my pregnancy that I was’nt longing for ANOTHER child, I was longing for Ethan. I did’nt make a mistake by getting pregnant again, but I really should have taken more time to grieve. Although my pregnancy went perfectly, I was terrified through the entire process. At 38 weeks pregnant I was begging my OB for an induction. He was the neonatologist that had taken me on as a patient the day I found out about Ethan’s Hydrocephaly, so he knew how much I wanted this process to be over. He agreed to induce me at 39 weeks, and on February 21, 2010 my beautiful daughter Faith was born, weighing a whopping 8lbs 14oz! Healthy, perfect in every way, and looking exactly like her brother. My DH and I were over the moon with happiness and still are today. Our daughter brings us more joy than we knew existed in this world.
After Faith’s birth, my body shocked me. I was in my pre-pregnancy clothing at 3 weeks post pardum and by 7 weeks I had lost all of my baby weight and then some even though I was not doing anymore than the occassional walk around the block. I believe I owe the weight loss to breastfeeding. I never planned to breastfeed but thought I’d give it a try. It seemed to work well for both Faith and I and we did it for 7 months. I gained a pound or two back after we stopped breastfeeding but my current weight seems to be holding steady at 122lbs. My body has changed completely though. My hips are wider, my thighs are narrower. My waist is wider and my boobs are a lot saggier. I’ve got stretch marks all over the lower right side of my stomach, but none on my left (so weird, not sure why that happened) My original stretch mark got a little longer, and I got a few new ones on my left hip, and my belly button looks like a crumpled up tissue. I still think I can rock a bikini, and I do (to heck with what anyone on the beach thinks!) But some days I don’t feel as confident as others. I find myself obsessing about getting a mini-tummy tuck. But, DH and I would like to have a living sibling for Faith so we’ll be trying for baby number 3 next year and I can’t get any surgery before I’m done having children. I’m really scared about what another baby will do to my body, so I’m trying to enjoy what I’ve got now, while I can. My children make the jiggly bits of my body matter a lot less, but they still do matter a little. I believe I will get a tummy tuck in due time, because I want to continue to have confidence in the way I look, but no mater what, the title of “Mother” is infinitely more important than how I look in a bathing suit.
Pic #1 is me before any of my pregnancies
Pic #2 is me 4 weeks pregnant with my second baby
Pic #3 is 39 weeks pregnancy with my second baby
Pic #4 and #5 is 7 weeks post pardum with my second baby
Pic #6 and #7 is 14 months post pardum with my second baby
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies 2 births
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: Oldest would have been 2, youngest is 13 months