I haven’t gotten a chance to breathe, at least that is what it feels like since May 12th when my daughter was born. I’ve managed to check my email here and there via my cellphone (starting to really pat myself on the back for choosing the iPhone 6 Plus for its large screen) and to virally poke in from time to time on Facebook. But that’s the extent of it. This is my very first time turning on my computer and attempting to write a post before I am back up to my eyeballs in poop and pee-pee diapers.
As a late bloomer, motherhood didn’t seem to sink in for me during my pregnancy. Perhaps I should blame it on my body’s amazing ability to absorb most, if not, all of the negative side effects and instead leave me feeling mostly symptom-free. Compared to the ordinary woman and most stories I’ve read and heard, my pregnancy was by far the easiest. I never felt sick and did not experience any swelling whatsoever. Occasionally I’d need a nap after I ate, but that wasn’t until I was nearly 8 months prego. So, honestly, my pregnancy itself was DRAMA-FREE!
I didn’t even start showing until I was nearly 7 months, right at the third trimester. I recall especially getting a titanic second wind right at 5 months, almost as if I had guzzled a couple of shots of espresso. I hit the gym pretty much 6 days a week and sometimes went 7 days in a row without giving myself a day off. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t going nuts on the weights but instead walked the treadmill until it became my new best friend. I learned from medical and fitness professionals that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with walking as often as possible as long as you’re careful not to fall.
So for the most part, I prepared my body to be in the best physical shape possible for a smooth delivery. The standard weight that a healthy woman should gain during pregnancy is between 25 and 35 pounds. I gained 20 pounds max (which my doctor praised), and the day before my water broke I walked almost 7 miles. I felt like I was going to have the easiest, smoothest and most amazing organic birth ever (organic to a point, as I still insisted on an epidural). But, regardless of how much you plan and prepare you never know how things are going to turn out.
When my water broke at 39 weeks to the day, I honestly didn’t even know what was happening. It almost felt as if I had lost control of my bladder. It was quite anticlimactic and not at all how I’ve seen it played out a million times on the big screen. But, the next thing I know I am verifying with my sister (a veteran mom of 4 and with a Ph.D. in nursing) was highly skeptical that it was a failed bladder and more sure that my daughter was ready to arrive a week early.
My sister hoped she’d make it to L.A. from Vegas in time to be with me for the birth. But things just wound up happening super fast. We checked in at the hospital around 11 am to find out I was already dilated 2 centimeters. Before I knew it I was dilated 9 centimeters in just a few short hours. Even the hospital staff aiding me were surprised because this was my first child and they were prepared for a longer delivery, as is usually customary with a woman’s first birth.
On top of that, I experienced a failed epidural so I could feel everything. The anesthesiologist was nowhere to be found (shortage of staff, apparently, amid multiple C-sections). By the time he did come around, my nurse already had me pushing through the contractions. However, every time I tried the baby’s heart rate would drop dramatically. It wasn’t long before my trembling (I was seriously shaking so bad it looked like I was having mini seizures) and aching body was being carted over to surgery.
My doctor called for an emergency C-section. The anesthesiologist could have actually readjusted the epidural in time, if only he wasn’t too busy with other surgeries. He wound up calling for general anesthesia and hospital policy ended up kicking my partner out of the room. Neither one of us were able to witness our daughter being born. One minute I was shaking and in a ton of pain, the next I was up unable to speak because my throat was scratchy from the tube they pulled out of my throat. My daughter’s birth was definitely not how I planned, what I wanted or foresaw. Not to mention we wound up having to file complaints against the hospital for not staffing an on-call anesthesiologist!
Postpartum recovery was tougher than your average C-section because of the use of general anesthesia. And once the baby was in my arms, it has been non-stop feedings and diaper changes. The baby doesn’t give you a time out to recover from the pain. By the way, the agonizing pain of a C-section was something I didn’t quite prepare for. Even now, it took me at least 4 sittings to try and finish this post between changing diapers, trying to feed the baby or stopping her from crying.
The Bottom Line:
I would be lying if I didn’t admit just how upset and disappointed I still feel over my birthing plans completely going awry. Everything I thought I prepared my body for and the vision I had for this magical delivery just didn’t happen. But, life is often unpredictable and the perfect calculated plans you think you might have today may wind up completely getting blown and not because of anything you did. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “It’s okay, it’s not your fault.” Oddly, at first I felt like I failed in some way and had the urge to blame myself for something, anything.
The doctor, though, told us the umbilical chord was completely tangled around the baby. There was nothing I could have done about the shortage of staff working at the hospital. There was nothing I could have done about the chord wrapping around my baby’s torso. There’s nothing I could have done about her being born so quickly or that my family wasn’t able to be present for her birth.
Sometimes you have to release the control you think you have over your life and once you do you realize there’s very little you can control. Seriously, think about it. The only thing you have control over is yourself, your response, your perspective, your outlook. Circumstances just might crush your vision, your big dream, and you will likely feel the real loss and feel devastating disappointment at least once or more in your lifetime because circumstances outside of your control wrecked your big plans. Really though, it’s a matter of how you deal with it. Will you let it destroy you or will you pick yourself up and find the silver lining?
For me, I can say with a chuckle that at least my female anatomy has been saved from the tearing and stretching. But most importantly, my daughter could have really been injured, the lack oxygen and low heart rate could have left lasting damage or the outcome could have been fatal. But, my little girl is safe and healthy and beautiful! As painful as post surgery was I have managed to go on walks, enjoy the sunshine and bond with my new bundle of joy. Sometimes things really are the worst they can possibly be while other times you might be able to say to yourself, “It can be a whole lot worse.”
If you are dealing with disappointment, maybe something you planned didn’t turn out the way you expected, think hard on a few things you can be grateful for, what good that came out of the situation. Hold onto that.