**If you’re here to see me rock my first baby bump, just scroll down..**
If you haven’t been one, you don’t have clue. You might think you do. But you don’t. You haven’t the foggiest idea what it’s really like. It is the job that most don’t even consider to even BE a job. But it is the hardest, most challenging, and most rewarding job there will ever be.
Oh, and the most unpaid. Not underpaid. UNpaid.
The job of a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). Or Dad. We’ll call us SAHP (Parent) so as not to exclude either one for the purposes of this post.
I always wanted to be a mother. From when I was a little girl taking care of my cabbage patch kids. When I was 10 and babysat other people’s kids. When I was 11 years old and fought with my sister for who would get to hold my newborn brother. When I was 14 years old and made all of my money babysitting. That’s what I wanted to be.
I married Computer God (my college sweetheart) at 26. He was (and still is) 2 years younger than me. He was the baby of both sides of his family. He had never babysat. He was one of those guys who if you handed him a baby, he held it and gave it That Look.
“What am I supposed to do with…. this…. thing?”
He wasn’t ready for kids.
So I waited.
Our friends D&D had baby Olivia during this time. So tiny. So sweet. I offered my babysitting skills to them. They brought her over to the weekly Game Night we held. It was all part of my plan.
And slowly, CG learned that babies weren’t scary aliens somehow placed in a woman’s womb. They were people, just tiny people. You hold, and feed, and cuddle, and make silly faces with them and they love you. Unconditionally.
If only everyone was so easy.
Two years I waited. And then finally… finally…
It was time.
I went off the pill and waited a few months to start trying. But the longer I waited, the longer my cycles became.
They were irregular. And every month, I’d wait with bated breath as the Curse would fail to show on time. It was late. I was late.
But the tests were always negative. And then my cycle would finally show up.
I became more and more frustrated. I’d spent 10 years trying to prevent “an accident” and now, when we were ready, something so simple (conceiving) was proving to be futile.
Pregnant bellies taunted me everywhere I looked. It was the Summer of Celebrity Pregnancies.. You remember, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie’s first one… I couldn’t even check out in the grocery store without being mocked by the faces of Katie & Angelina and whoever else was pregnant on the magazines that surrounded me.
I learned several online friends of mine also had difficulties. They suggested I read this book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I checked it out from the library.
To my surprise, I actually found it very informative. Here I thought I’d known my body and why it behaved as it did, but I truly didn’t. Why wasn’t this covered in health class in school? It answered so many questions.
It showed me how to track my cycle. How to see if I was in fact ovulating. How to see if there was anything irregular with my cycles other than the length.
My luteal phase was too short (tracked using the system in the book, particularly basal body temperature).
Even though it had only been about 9 months of futile trying (as anyone who is trying to conceive can attest, those 9 months felt more like 5 years), I immediately made an appointment with an infertility doctor to figure out why I was having this problem.
Long story short (I’m willing to go into detail if any TTC people wish to hear it), my issue was elevated prolactin (the hormone secreted in very high levels when nursing). The doctor was leery of saying that was the only thing and many things were tested, but I was prescribed bromocriptine to lower my prolactin levels (which were only on the “high end of normal”).
Then it happened.
The first month my prolactin was normal (after a 48 day cycle the previous month), when my body claimed I ovulated on day 17 (as opposed to day 21 or later on other months)… I got pregnant.
There are no words to describe the joy.. and fear that I felt. Because you’ve read about infertility. You want that baby so badly. And then, finally, you have that tiny life inside of you.
But now, after all of your reading, you KNOW how quickly you can lose that tiny life, especially in the early months.
So I spent months fearing that something would take away this precious life. Meanwhile my breasts hurt, my morning sickness meant I barely moved off of the couch some days (I learned later you can take medication for that – silly me, I didn’t think to ask at this point). My smell/gag reflex was so strong I couldn’t even brush my teeth without having some part of my meal regurgitated back into the toilet.
Yes, there were parts of my pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, where I wondered why I had ever wanted to be pregnant. How could something so wonderful make you feel so miserable?
Then we had a sonogram, during which it woke up and you could see it trampolining off of my uterus like some gymnast. It was the coolest thing I’d seen since the very first sonogram that was an egg sack with a heartbeat. Seeing the miracle of life step by step was so utterly amazing. I truly lack the words to describe the awe at this tiny miracle growing inside of me.
And when it was time for the 20 week ultrasound… My husband and I watched that screen like it was the best movie every created. Because it was.
Oh, and by the way, It is flashing us. It is most definitely a boy!
Then the nausea went away (the gag reflex and smell sensitivity remained the entire pregnancy). And finally, around 22 weeks, I felt him kick.
The elation. The Cool Factor. The wonderment. The shock (he did it right as my plane was coming in for a landing when returning home – not exactly an easy time to get my attention). All of these feelings overcame me.
And three days later, he was kicking so hard already that CG was able to feel the kicks. No subtlety from this one.
Dances with Happy Feet as he was dubbed (because CG and I could not agree on a boy’s name), got more and more active. I became even more attached to this growing life and his determination to find a way out.
Then the kicks got even harder, the womb more crowded. I started wincing when he kicked. And when he used my ribs as leverage and slammed his head into my bladder. I was lucky to go 30 minutes without a trip to the bathroom.
Since conception (literally before I had a positive test), my sleep cycle shortened. Instead of sleeping at least 5 hours before waking up, I’d wake up every 1.5 to 2 hours. Three straight hours of sleep was a rare Long Sleep. My first trimester I had to sleep over 9 hours to feel “rested” because my body never hit the deep sleep stage. Then, after months of waking up every few hours, my body adapted and started shoving me into the deep sleep in under 45 minutes. A trait which proved very useful later on.
My sleep worsened as the belly expanded. Back pain got worse. I slept with 4 pillows in a vain attempt to get comfortable.
Three weeks from my due date, and the anticipation was heightened. Any day now. Any day now I would have my very wanted tiny bundle of joy.
Uh…. ANY day now????
I started worrying. My doctor was going on vacation the following week. I was scheduled to be induced the last day she was around (4 days past my due date). I’d been partially dilated and effaced for weeks. I HAD BEEN TOLD ANY TIME.
WHERE WAS HE?
Each day past my due date I grew more worried. I didn’t want to be induced. I’d only scheduled it because at that point it was so far in the future. My body was already part way there, I was supposed to have had him earlier!
The night before I was going to be induced at 8 AM, I was instant messaging my friend Bobbi, telling her all of my worries and fears about being induced. I was ready to go in the next morning and basically say, “Uh, yeah. I’m supposed to be induced at 8, but I don’t want to be. What are my other options?”
I slept horrible. I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight. I woke up around 2 AM. I laid in bed restless, worried about what would follow later that morning.
I shouldn’t have worried so much.
I got up to pee.. again.. in a last ditch effort to grab some sleep before getting up to go into the hospital. I peed. And then, my stomach lurched and some more fluid came out.
Was that my water breaking???
I put on a pad to check to see if I was leaking slowly (I knew he was head down and that would act as sort of a stopper if/when my water did break). I was!
It was 4 AM and I woke up CG to tell him the news. It went something like this.
“Honey, wake up. My water broke.”
“HONEY, my water broke. We need to go into the hospital. Now.” (I was group B strep positive, so I was told not to wait if my water broke.)
“Seriously?” He sat up quickly now. We had joked the night before about Dances With Happy Feet doing exactly this.
We hurried to finish up the last minute preparations (packing 3 million things that wouldn’t be used), because as a procrastinator, I had planned on doing the last minute packing before the inducement. I informed the hospital about the situation. They were expecting us.
By the time we got into the car 90 minutes later, it was very uncomfortable to sit upright in the car. My back hurt when I contracted, but I figured it was just aggravating the back pain I had every night from laying in bed.
By the time we got to the hospital (8 minutes later), I had to occasionally stop walking while I contracted. My back was really starting to bother me, like PMS pain, only much much worse. My abdomen didn’t hurt at all.
“Honey, I think I’m having back labor.”
The staffed moved at snails pace at the hospital. After all, I was a first time mom-to-be. Our labors can take forever.
Dances with Happy Feet had other ideas. Now that he made up his mind to come, he wanted OUT.
I was already dilated 6-7 when they first checked me. I had requested an epidural immediately upon arrival having properly diagnosed that my pain was back labor.
It took them 90 minutes to get me my epidural. During which I was screaming and cursing. The epidural itself was the most painful because you have to HOLD STILL and sit upright (which puts the most pressure on your back – a very very painful thing during back labor) and didn’t they know I was CONTRACTING and it felt like my back would SNAP in half?!?!?!?!
“How far along did you say she was?” asked Epidural Guy. It was about 7 AM.
“Six to seven… 45 minutes ago,” informed the nurse who I had yelled at for not having Epidural Guy here earlier.
The epidural was put in and they checked me.
I was at 9.5.
So that was what back transition labor felt like. Like someone drilled two screws into your lower back on either side of your spine and twisted them in opposite directions until your back was so tight you were certain it would snap (rather like the worst I-can’t-get-out-of-bed PMS back pain, multiplied by about 1000).
I was upset. Because I had survived all of that pain, and 10 minutes later I was pushing. I could have survived 10 minutes without the epidural.
I changed my tune shortly. DWHF heart rate kept dropping during the 90 minutes it took to work his way down. They told me to NOT push on some contractions.
Even with the now effective epidural, it was Very Uncomfortable to not push when my body said PUSH. This is when my lower body is supposed to be NUMB. I can only imagine what choice words I would’ve had for the nurses if I had skipped the epidural.
Oh wait, I do know because I thought them VERY clearly with Lil Diva’s birth, but that is another story.
Finally, at 8:42 AM, less than five hours after my water broke, Dances with Happy Feet finally came out, weighing a hefty 8 lbs 11 oz.
And he cried.
And somehow, I didn’t. I was so exhausted from lack of sleep and pushing for 90 minutes (there’s a work out class for you, my legs were sore for DAYS) I was simply in awe that after all of this wanting, all of this waiting, all of this pushing, he was finally here.
My beautiful boy.
**I hadn’t intended for this to be so long, but perhaps I will continue with The Journey in another blog post. I’d like to remember it in detail before Mommy Brain dims the vivid details so I can one day share it with my children.