My Name – Amber Gallant of Motherhood, Etc.
Age – 23
Pregnancies – 3
Births – 1 – Conor Kaige, 5 years old, via cesarean section.
1 year postpartum, technically.
When I was 17 years old, I found out I was pregnant. I was scared but I knew I wanted to be a mother more than anything, so my journey began.
At 21 weeks, I was diagnosed via ultrasound with Incompetent Cervix and rushed into MacMaster Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery. My cervix was funnelling and dilating, and I was having silent contractions. If I hadn’t had the ultrasound to determine the sex of my baby (a beautiful little boy) I would have lost him forever. Incompetent Cervix has no signs, and the only way doctors can diagnose it normally is by a previous loss. I am grateful every day that they caught mine when they did, and that they were able to successfully place a cerclage (a big ass stitch in my cervix to keep it shut tight and keep baby in!). I was put on strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I was unable to do more than go to and from appointments, use the bathroom and make a snack. At 17, my entire life was my baby. I gained 45 lbs over my entire pregnancy, weighing in at 165 lbs when I went in for my scheduled c-section at 38 weeks. My little man was breech.
After I had him, I struggled with post partum depression. I was convinced I was a terrible mother, but at the same time I tried and tried to convince myself and others in every way that I was more than just a “teen mom”. My thoughts were, they all already think I’m going to fail so I have to do everything within my power to prove them wrong. Which meant that i never asked for help when I needed it, fought for months with severe exhaustion due to my sons monstrous colic, and barely ate. I easily went back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but that didn’t make my stretch marks any better. I couldn’t wear a bikini or a belly top of any of the cute styles other girls my age were wearing because I had a big scar, flabby stomach and stretch marks everywhere. I had them all over my boobs, my thighs, my butt, my stomach, my sides, even my calves. Big, deep, purple stretch marks that made me even more self conscious than I had been previously. But, I had a baby to raise and I kept on keeping on. Eventually, I met my husband, the love of my life. We got married and I got pregnant, and we were happy.
I was worried about gaining the weight back, but he reassured me that he would love me no matter what.
When I lost baby Caithrin at 15 weeks, even with the stitch (it was due to placental abruption), we were devastated. I was so angry at the world, and even more angry at my body. I felt that as a woman I should be able to do what I was meant to do, create life, and since I wasn’t able to do that and my body KILLED my baby that I was worthless. I slipped into a deep depression for a short time, but with my husbands help we made it through and had hope for another pregnancy and a healthy, full term baby.
After a year of trying to conceive again, we finally became pregnant! I had good vibes all around about this baby, and we did everything right. I took it very easy, had my cerclage placed at 13 weeks and everything was fine. We even decided to purchase a beautiful bassinet that we found because it was antique and I fell in love with it. It was pure bliss. We were going to be parents, I was going to have a baby with the man I love and everything was wonderful again!
When I started bleeding in the middle of the night at 18.5 weeks, I was rushed into the hospital yet again. After a week of hospital bed rest, I delivered my son Lucas. He was so tiny, and they asked if I wanted to hold him but I couldn’t do it. I was exhausted from enduring a painful four hour labor to deliver a dead baby, and I just wanted to sink into the ground and never open my eyes again.
I became very depressed again and gained a ton more weight, including the weight that I gained during my pregnancy. I used food as a crutch to make myself feel better, and it ended up making me feel worse. For the past few months I have been easing myself into a much healthier lifestyle, I eat right and exercise every day, I jog three times a week and I am finally at peace with my body. It may not be able to make any more babies, and it may be all marked up and imperfect from everything I have been through but it’s a beautiful, strong body. A body that has gone through major surgery, 4 spinal epidurals in 6 years, 3 cervical stitches, a massive blood transfusion that was crucial to keep me alive, numerous needles and medications and tests is a body that deserves to be celebrated. I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, I certainly do, but they are getting fewer and fewer. I am learning to love my body for what it is, and what I want it to become.
After all of this, my husband and I have decided not to try for any more children. We have our five year old son, who my husband treats just as he would his own son, we have four crazy pets including a Jack Russell Terrier who is convinced she IS my baby, and we are a happy family. It’s not worth the pain and stress for us to keep trying, and although it took us a long time to get here we have come to terms with the fact that a baby just isn’t in the cards for us. My son was my miracle, and he is enough.
Thank you for listening to my story :)
This is what my body looks like today, 5 years after my first full term pregnancy and 1 year after the loss of my last baby.
This first picture showing my face is before I started working out and running.
The others are to show how my stretch marks and belly look today. You can see the stretch marks on my butt in the last one. I am very self conscious of those and still cannot wear a bathing suit comfortably. Please excuse my dirty mirror, I’m much too busy taking nude pictures to clean today ;)