pregnancy


Last week I had lunch with my lovely friend Annie, who is about halfway through her first pregnancy. (SO exciting.) She and Will and I had pizza downtown and, among other things, talked babies and pregnancy and all the life changes that accompany them.

One thing Annie asked me that stuck with me later was, “What do you wish you had known, halfway through your pregnancy?”

The first thing I thought of was that I wish I had known not to be bothered by my weight gain. It took a while for me to adjust to how much I was gaining, but I tried hard to take my sister’s advice and just let my body do what it needed to — whether that was gain six pounds in a month or just one. I wish I had known that it just wasn’t going to be that big a deal.

Even Teaker tried to tell me that.

My pregnancy, in general, was a very abstract concept to me up until about the last month. I had a hard time conceptualizing anything about it as real — that the baby I felt moving around inside me was a real baby and that I was going to be someone’s mother. And now that I can look back over the last year (somewhat) objectively, there are three other things that I wish I had known back when I was pregnant and anxious about it all.

The first is that … I wish I had known that I wouldn’t miss my old life at all. Sure, there are aspects of my pre-baby life that I miss. For example:

Spontaneous wine tastings with friends [side note: this is where we later held our wedding reception!]

My dream job

(source)

Being able to attend as many yoga classes in any one week as I felt like

But on the whole, when I think back on my life pre-Will, I don’t miss anything about it. I would gladly trade all the freedom and spontaneity that I had then for the joy that I have now. (I have done it, actually.) Spending my days with a crazy drooly baby is somehow so much better and more fulfilling than a lot of the things with which I used to fill my time. That’s not to say that my life before was meaningless — not at all. Just that my life now is every bit as meaningful.

I get to see this face every day!

The second thing I wish I had known was that … really, it was all going to be okay. I had no idea what my life was going to look like after April; every time I thought about it, I just saw this giant black hole of uncertainty. What was motherhood going to be like? And would I still recognize myself?

I knew, intellectually, that I would still be me; just like when I got married, I was still the same person, just living a different life. I knew motherhood would be the same way, but I couldn’t feel it, simply because I hadn’t yet arrived there. And now that I am on the other side, I wish I could go back and tell my pregnant self that I do still feel exactly like myself — maybe even more like myself than I ever have. I’ve found that being a mom has helped me to have some more clarity in my life, and to understand myself a bit better than I did before.

The last thing I wish I’d known? That I would often find myself having to hold back when I tell people how we’re doing. It feels like bragging when I say that I’m so happy.

But it’s true. (I can only assume that Will, despite his unenthusiastic expression, agrees.)

It’s hard to believe, but 2012 is half over already! I remember wanting to break out the champagne at this point last year, not even knowing it was about to get so, so much worse. But fortunately, I am feeling much better this year.

At the start of 2012 I laid out some intentions, and I thought I would spend some time tonight reviewing my plans for the year to see where I am at the halfway point.

Here’s what I wanted to do:

Pre-baby:

  • Work on worrying less. I have struggled with peace during my pregnancy and I don’t want it to interfere with the final trimester. I’m so afraid to allow myself to be excited! I want to move away from the cynic in me who doesn’t want to assume the best, and become more of the peaceful zen earth mother that I really want to be. And along those lines …
  • Trust my body to know what it’s doing. This means continuing to eat a healthy diet without trying to control how much weight I gain. And to trust it even when it seems to think I need to gain weight everywhere while I think it would be just as acceptable not to! Cultivate more of a feeling of compassion and respect for — and even pride in — my pregnant body.
  • Stay active and fit while listening to my body. Ideally I want to continue practicing yoga 3-4 times a week up until I deliver, but we’ll take it week by week, especially as I come into my last month. Listening to my body includes not only recognizing its limits, but also honoring its potential. (See above, re: camel pose.)
  • Figure out a way to get up on time on a regular basis. Heh. I have a feeling it’s going to come down to exercising a little more self-discipline in this area.

Post-baby:

  • Take it one day at a time. Do what I can while I’m adjusting to motherhood, without globalizing tough days or falling into an it’ll always be this hard mindset. One day at a time!
  • Trust my instincts. I don’t have much confidence in myself as a mother at this point, and when the baby arrives I want to really be able to rely on and trust my instincts to let me know what’s right for him. And trust my husband’s instincts too!
  • Stay active and fit despite the complications and challenges of my new life. I don’t appear to come from a long line of women who were back in their pre-pregnancy jeans after two weeks, so I’m prepared for this to take time and effort. I want to lose the baby weight (and, ideally, the weight I’ve gained since I got pregnant the first time), but more important to me is staying in good shape. Within a few months I want to be able to set up a rudimentary, flexible workout routine that includes running, yoga, and strength training. And not as something that’s an additional chore or strain on my schedule — but as a part of my daily life.

So how am I doing? Overall I feel really good about things! Before Will was born, I did put a lot of effort into worrying less, trusting my body, and staying as active as I could. While all the yoga I did couldn’t have prevented my long labor (I can’t stand when women smugly credit their short, easy labors to exercising and staying healthy during their pregnancies; just shut up, ok?), I do think that my near-obsession with it helped A LOT with the mental part of such a long endurance event. Just being accustomed to staying calm in the face of excruciating pain made a big difference. So yes: pre-baby intentions (mostly) met. The getting up on time thing didn’t exactly happen. Good thing I don’t have the option to lounge in bed anymore!

Newborn Will never wanted mommy to sleep.

These days, staying focused on my post-baby intentions can be a challenge. I have days where it’s easy and days when it’s really hard (mostly the taking-it-one-day-at-a-time part). I am trusting my instincts more and more, and I’m globalizing those tough days less and less. And I’m definitely staying active! Now that Will’s morning naps are a little more predictable (knock on wood) I’ve been able to bump up my running to four days a week, and maintain a twice-weekly yoga practice. It’s AWESOME. Getting to work out in the morning a) makes me feel great, b) does wonders for my mood, and c) helps me to feel more like myself.

And it really does make me a better mom. (So keep up those morning naps. Ha.)

Will is going to be 12 weeks old this week, so if I were returning to work my maternity leave would be at an end. While that thought is not as horrifying as I imagined it would be a few months ago, I really enjoy getting to spend my days with Will, and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do that. He’s so much fun.

I actually miss him when he’s napping. I know.

So has 2012 been a year of jubilee? Considering the massive deficit we started the year with, it really wasn’t hard for 2012 to be an improvement on 2011. It’s been a year of change, obviously, but good change, and good challenge, and good stress, so in that sense, yes — I think it has great potential to be a year of jubilee. Both against the odds and for obvious reasons, it’s been a great year so far. Onward and upward!

When I was pregnant, I spent a lot of time talking with other moms about what to expect. I read lots of pregnancy books and put a lot of effort into adjusting to and learning to enjoy those nine months — and it was really helpful! I had an anxious pregnancy and learning from the women around me what was normal and what might not be was a great thing for me.

I used to look like that?

But one thing I didn’t do was spend much time giving a lot of thought to the postpartum period. It sounds like an obvious miss, in retrospect — I was concerned, for instance, with what my body would do when it came time to lose the weight, but I didn’t give any thought to what recovery might be like. And I think that gave me a lot of shock in the first two weeks or so of Will’s life.

After a 22-hour labor and pushing a small human out of my body, of course there was some healing to be done. But because of my lack of preparedness, I was surprised by how much labor and delivery took out of me, and I was also surprised by a lot of the emotional and psychological changes that came along with my new-mom status. It turns out, though, that apparently everything I experienced was completely normal — I just didn’t know it!

First, I didn’t know (on a deep level) that I would feel like a crazy person for at least ten days. I knew, of course, that the “baby blues” existed and that huge hormonal shifts occurred immediately following birth. Still, I was surprised by how different I felt. I don’t know if I can articulate it, but it seemed to me that the things I had been thinking and talking about before Will’s birth had been replaced by a loud sound of wind. I had a lot of trouble answering questions and making decisions. It felt so strange to come home to our familiar house, be surrounded by familiar people (and cats) and yet have everything be completely different. Whereas before Will was born (and even before we came home from the hospital), I thought I would want to jump into normal life (“normal”???), get out of the house, and just fully immerse myself in my new-mom life, once we were there I had little interest in doing anything other than sitting and staring at my baby. If someone else was holding him, I was content to just sit and stare at the wall. It was like my mind was completely blank.

Another thing I didn’t expect was that I had zero appetite for about the first ten days. I don’t know why this surprised me, as my appetite’s usually the first thing to go during overwhelming situations, but it did. All I wanted to eat (and really, all I could tolerate well) was cereal and apricots. I spent my first few days as a mom kind of ignoring my lack of appetite, but once I accepted the fact that I really only could eat about five things, and that I didn’t want to try to eat anything else, it got a lot easier. And obviously this has passed since I am eating real food again. (I knew I was on the mend when I wanted a salad.)

The third thing that surprised me was my anxiety. During our first week or so home, it was through the roof, and at first I didn’t understand why I couldn’t sleep and why I had such an upset stomach. It didn’t strike me until later that what I was experiencing was anxiety — exactly the way I always do. It wasn’t so much anxiety about taking care of Will; I felt pretty confident about that. It was more an abrupt realization that we couldn’t go back. I was thrilled to be a mom, of course, but the reality came crashing down pretty hard and it took me a few days to adjust. I think some (or a lot?) of this was hormonal, too, because I found my anxiety was usually at its peak during the evening hours, as though it was cycling at predictable times.

Luckily, I had this to look at and focus on:

I can’t get enough of this face.

Fortunately all of these things have passed and I feel mostly like my old self. I am definitely more emotional than I used to be, and I cry much more easily than I ever have, which is weird! I’m assuming that it’s the hormones still adjusting themselves. But that being said, I am really glad to be done with that phase of postpartum life. At least next time, I’ll have a better idea of what’s coming.

So when we left off, I was enjoying a brief break from the pain of contractions — epidural was in place and back labor was easing!

However, the epidural wore off slowly, at first just with some additional pressure. I continued to feel contractions the entire time I had it in place, but never having had an epidural before I didn’t know that this wasn’t exactly how it was supposed to work. Next came pain and increasing sensation on my right side with each contraction — not the terrible pain I had felt earlier, but enough to where I was breathing through each contraction and remembering everything I had ever learned in yoga. At 6 centimeters my water broke, and that was when things really got difficult. I immediately felt a strong urge to push, and a ton of pressure that did not really let up. Steve watched the contraction monitors and would help me through each one, letting me know when it was receding. It was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life — having to deal with the contractions on top of this insane urge to push was not only physically difficult, but mentally draining as well. Again, all I could think of was the pain. My whole world was the pain. I still tried to stay as calm as I could — I wasn’t freaking out, but afterwards Steve said at one point he was really, legitimately concerned that I was going to break his fingers.

A funny thing happened once my water broke and I started entering transition. I had been progressing about one centimeter an hour, and my doctor predicted we could start pushing at 10 a.m. if things continued at that pace. Normally once you get to about 7 centimeters, the last three go more quickly — but this was not so for me. Progress actually slowed a lot after I hit 7 centimeters, which was discouraging, although things were still moving along. Just not as quickly as they had been for some reason!

My nurse (a different nurse at this point, as it was now around seven in the morning) kept adjusting the amount of medication coming through my epidural, but nothing helped — I had a little numbness on my left side, and absolutely nothing on my right side. Hours passed, and I had progressed all the way to 8 centimeters and was fully in transition when my nurse suggested re-doing the epidural entirely. This sounded both like a great idea and an awful idea — great because obviously I wanted some pain relief; I meant it when I said I had no interest in enduring an unmedicated labor; but awful because I knew it would mean sitting up and sitting still through several contractions while the anesthesiologist inserted the catheter. But despite my dread of having to move, I agreed because I had hope that this time, it might work. At this point I had been in active labor for close to eighteen hours and I knew I had to get through transition and pushing before I could rest. So I hauled myself up on the edge of the bed and sat for what felt like an eternity, enduring contraction after contraction while holding myself as still as I could. I still stayed very calm through all of this and just focused on breathing deeply. After each contraction my mouth and throat would be so dry!

Steve told me later that the anesthesiologist had to re-do the catheter several times before it had been inserted to his liking. I didn’t care; time stopped while it was happening. Again, my whole world revolved around managing the contractions. A tornado could have swept through the hospital and I really don’t think I would have noticed.

Also, I have to say that I didn’t find it that difficult to sit still during the contractions. I think my way of managing them involved staying very still and breathing as deeply as I could, attempting as best I could to relax my body and ride out the wave of pain. Even when I was laboring on the bed (remember I did still have a useless epidural catheter in) that wasn’t a terrible option for me the way it seems to be for some other women. I guess that was a blessing considering everything!

Happily, joyfully, wonderfully, epidural #2 worked wonders. I lost all sensation from about the waist down and for the first time, I couldn’t feel the contractions or the unbearable pressure anymore. We turned off the music for a while (we had been listening to Pandora’s yoga station, which plays spa-like ambient music — it was perfect) and watched part of an episode of No Reservations while I dozed and Steve read more about the five S’s. However, the drama wasn’t over yet — at one point, my blood pressure dropped a lot and so did baby’s heart rate, so the nurses had to reposition me several times and do some internal monitoring (“scalp stimulation”?) on baby. They also gave me oxygen a few times. He had a few decelerations and the word “c-section” was uttered,  but as he recovered and bounced back to his usual heart rate in the 140’s, that option was off the table again. (I have to say that despite officially Not Wanting A C-Section, if my doctor had come in and said, “Amy, you’ve been in labor for a really, really long time. Let’s just do a c-section,” I would have been ALL OVER THAT. This is why I am glad I work with a family doctor; a lot of OB’s probably would have pulled the plug on my labor long before Will was born.)

And still the drama was not over! Baby was doing great, I was finally feeling good — but my progress had ground to a halt at nine centimeters. We were almost at the finish line and it was like Will decided he was having second thoughts about being born. My doctor, sensing my fatigue and knowing that I still had to actually, physically push the baby out, suggested starting a little Pitocin to speed things up. I was disappointed because I had gotten so far already without any augmentation, but didn’t hesitate to agree — anything to get him born sooner! And yes — after about an hour of Pitocin, we were ready to go. I was 10 centimeters, fully effaced, baby had dropped! It was time to push.

I had been texting with Leah earlier, and in one text I confessed that I was nervous about pushing. She encouraged me by telling me that pushing was easier than “regular” labor and that it was not as painful. So, bolstered by her confidence in me (and by the successful epidural), I gave it all I had! At first it was as Leah said — it felt good to finally feel like I was participating in the labor rather than having it just happen to me. During the breaks between contractions I rested and sipped water. But as time passed, a few things changed. First, the nurse turned down my epidural somewhat so that I could tell when to push, and accordingly the pressure of the baby descending through the birth canal increased. Soon the breaks between contractions were not the restful respite they had been — instead I felt like I was waiting an eternity for the next contraction to start, just so I could get closer to getting him out of me!

Pushing was HARD. Physically and mentally I think it was the hardest part of labor for me, and it was certainly the only time when I really started to feel defeated (around the two-hour mark). At one point I just told my doctor that I wanted him to just get the baby out of me — I didn’t care how — because I was sick of pushing and I didn’t think I could do it! While I still wasn’t panicking, I did feel really discouraged, impatient, frustrated, and exhausted. Like 90% of my labor, I kept my eyes closed so I could shut out what remained of the world and focus. I breathed deep, I pushed when I needed to, I focused everything I had on getting the baby out of me so I could have some relief.

I could tell when things started to pick up in terms of progress. The nurses were really encouraging to me and, I think, humored me when I would desperately demand how much progress we had made in the last few contractions, but as time went on I could tell things were really starting to change. First, I heard the nurse have my doctor paged. Then when he came in, he was wearing a surgical hat (or whatever those blue hats are called). I opened my eyes a few minutes later to see that they had pulled out the warmer and the bassinet. Then a few minutes after that, the table with all the delivery equipment. Then my doctor had a mask on. Then I opened my eyes and he had surgical draping (?) on and was clearly positioned to be able to catch my baby. A baby nurse was paged. The doctor got out a vacuum extractor. I had no idea how much time had passed; I was entirely focused on the task in front of me and the whole world was a series of counts to ten.

At one point, the baby’s head started to be visible and Steve encouraged me to touch it. Before labor, I never would have imagined that I would want to do such a thing, but feeling his head gave me the motivation I needed to finish the job. I stopped feeling defeated and started feeling much more determined! I redoubled my efforts, gave it my all, and soon I heard Steve say “I can see his head! I can see his whole head!” And just a few quick pushes later, I felt the greatest relief I have ever felt in my life and opened my eyes to see my little blue-purple baby draped over my doctor’s arm. The only thing I could think or say? “I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!” They placed him on my stomach for a moment and I remember just being in awe. I was totally overwhelmed with emotion and just overjoyed to finally meet my baby. I remember tearfully asking the nurse to turn his head so I could see his face and then saying “Hi baby!” when I looked at him for the first time. Love at first sight!

They took him away from me pretty soon because he had been having some distress coming down the birth canal (hence the vacuum extractor). He also had some meconium (first baby poop) right when he was born and they wanted to make sure he hadn’t aspirated anything.

Under the heater being checked over by the baby nurse — see the tiny oxygen mask next to him?

While Will was being checked by the nurses, Steve was taking pictures of him and my doctor was putting me back together. I hardly noticed what was going on because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the little bassinet.

We got his weight — 8 pounds exactly!

After they checked Will over and found him to be hale and hearty, they wrapped him up and brought him to me. I asked for him to unwrapped so he could lie with me skin-to-skin, and we spent some time together just enjoying getting to know each other. I also got the chance to nurse him for the first time, which was surreal but really wonderful.

As things began to calm down, Steve made some necessary phone calls to our families (who had been pacing the floor for nearly 24 hours wondering when this baby would be born!) and we were actually still in the delivery room when Leah and my dad came by. I was so happy for them to meet Will!

(Incidentally, I received so many bags of IV fluids during my labor that I barely recognized myself in the pictures immediately after Will’s birth. At least my hair looks good — I blow-dried that morning!)

Auntie got a chance to bond with her nephew, and then he was whisked off to the nursery for a bath.

We were eventually moved to a postpartum room and reunited with the rest of my family, who came bearing lots of flowers and gifts. I ate two or three bowls of peanut butter Cheerios (never had cereal tasted so good) and began to catch my breath. I couldn’t believe it was all over — I was exhausted, but also exhilarated. Labor was by far the most physically and mentally difficult thing I have ever done (or likely will ever do), but I made it through — and the payoff was better than I could ever have imagined.

Okay! Here we go. Here’s how it all happened.

Remember this?

I did not know it (though I had an idea), but I was in early labor while I was writing this post. (And this one, too — don’t be fooled, I was NOT sitting at my computer writing on Wednesday morning! I wrote it on Tuesday.) Yes — I went into labor on my due date! And I went into labor entirely on my own without needing to be induced! Two things that in all honesty I did not expect.

I was up early on the 10th and started feeling regular contractions around 7:30 a.m. I had had a braxton-hicks-heavy third trimester, so I didn’t take much notice of them at first, but when they were coming regularly about every ten minutes, I started tracking them.

As you can see I still managed to cross some things off my to-do list, though I never got around to vacuuming …

By midday I was really starting to wonder if this was it. My contractions had not stopped, despite the fact that I had been wandering the house doing laundry, making lunch, and checking and re-checking my hospital bag. They let up for an hour over lunch, but started again and did not stop … well, until Will was born!

You may remember that April 10, in addition to being my due date, was my little niece Sophie’s fourth birthday. I had promised to come over to Leah’s house to help her decorate some rainbow cupcakes, but not wanting to take any chances (i.e. driving myself there and then being stuck if the contractions got worse), I called Steve and asked him to bring me across town. (Priorities, people! Cupcakes come first!) Before we left, we gathered up everything we would need to take to the hospital — just in case — and put it right by the front door.

The last picture taken of me still pregnant!

While I was at Leah’s, I continued to monitor my contractions. It was now late afternoon, and they were coming on average about 4-5 minutes apart. They were mildly uncomfortable, but I could easily talk through them. However, I declined Sophie’s invitation to go play outside with her.

We had dinner there (Chick Fil-A and cupcakes wound up being my last child-free meal), and by 6 or so I decided it was time to call the doctor. Despite what I had declared just hours earlier, I was convinced this was the real thing. The on-call doctor advised us to call again when the contractions became difficult to talk through, so Steve and I decided to head home and see how things progressed.

Once we got home, as Steve put it, I was having to practice my “thousand-yard stare” during contractions, so at around 7:30 we called again and decided to head over to the hospital. At this point things began to feel a little surreal. I kind of had to put aside the fact that this was it, our last hours as a family of two, and that I was about to actually go through labor, and instead just go through the motions minute by minute without thinking about it much. By the time we arrived at the hospital at 8:00, the contractions were definitely becoming much more painful. Still, despite my nervousness I stayed very calm and just tried to take things one contraction at a time, without thinking about what might come next. I lucked out by meeting a man pushing an empty wheelchair just outside the front doors, and he wheeled me down to labor and delivery — rather more slowly than I would have liked, but it was better than having to waddle down there myself!

We got checked into a room, and at this point I really was not feeling well. One thing I couldn’t have anticipated about labor is the way it takes over your whole body — I didn’t just feel contractions in my midsection; I felt them all over. It felt after a little while like the whole world had shrunk down into just the four walls of the delivery room, and looking around, I could see evidence that sooner or later, a baby would also occupy it: a small bassinet, a warmer, tables of equipment that were meant to help get him out. Seeing the bassinet in particular made me realize what was really happening.

The nurse met us and checked to see how I was progressing, and you can imagine my dismay when I learned I was only 1.5 or 2 centimeters dilated! All those contractions for what seemed to be very little progress! So frustrating. The words we could send you home were uttered, but before I could gasp in horror, they were quickly followed with but since you are Group B Strep positive and need antibiotics throughout labor, we won’t. Sigh of relief. We were instructed to labor for around an hour to see what kind of progress I was making, and the nurse would come back to see how things were going.

At this point I was starting to have to remember the things I’d learned in childbirth class and prenatal yoga about managing the pain of contractions. My body was starting to reject everything I’d put into it in the last 24 hours or so, making me nauseous on top of everything. I remembered how Leah had snacked on Pop Tarts during her labor with her second baby, Evie, and felt even more sick at the idea of eating actual food (and, in the end, the only things I consumed for almost the next 24 hours were popsicles and Swedish fish). I sat on a doctor’s rolling stool and leaned against Steve, rocking back and forth with each contraction and praying that soon enough I would be at 4 centimeters — the point at which you can get an epidural.

An hour later revealed that I was only at 3 centimeters, but as I was making progress, they hooked up my IV, which allowed me to get some pain medication for a while. As I was now on monitors, I had to labor on the bed for a while — but thanks to the medication I really didn’t mind. However, it didn’t do much for my progress; an hour later, things hadn’t changed much. My nurse decided more drastic action was needed, so despite my reluctance, she had me get out of the bed and labor on the ball. At this point, I was in excruciating pain (the IV pain meds don’t last long), and the only thing that really helped was leaning over the bed while Steve applied his entire body weight in counterpressure on my back. (According to my nurse, I was experiencing back labor.) I could think of nothing else — my entire being was taken up with managing each contraction as calmly as possible, and recovering my strength and sanity during the brief breaks between them.

At four in the morning, I was elated to discover that I had progressed to the magical 4 centimeters. You may recall that my “birth plan” consisted of two things — 1. epidural; 2. baby, so I happily sat up on the bed and allowed the anesthesiologist to work his magic. And magic it was — I took a well-earned break from the pain for about two hours.

Yep — two whole hours. I’ll have to continue the story later — baby is waking up!

 

Being 40+ weeks pregnant, I’ve been thinking a lot about the last 21 months or so since I became pregnant for the first time, and what a long journey I’ve been on to get to where I am now. It’s so easy for people to assume that if they just do everything “right”, everything will go just the way they want it to. (This isn’t just true when it comes to starting a family; people want to think this in every aspect of their lives. But today I’m just talking about starting a family.) Over the past almost-two years, though, I’ve learned many times over that this isn’t true, no matter how much we may want it to be — even when things go the way we want them to, it’s rarely because we are simply doing everything right, so I’ve learned not to take a lot of credit for the blessings I’ve received in my life.

The last nine months, aside from the grief I’ve experienced after losing my mom, have had some unexpected moments as I’ve come to terms with just being an ordinary, average, run of the mill pregnant woman. It’s made me have a particularly anxious pregnancy (my chart, I learned yesterday, now has two pages, unlike most moms’!) and in a lot of ways it’s honestly been strange to no longer be a special case. I’m so used to holding my breath, waiting for something to go wrong — yes, even after nine months of a healthy pregnancy and 14 months since my second miscarriage — and it’s really weird to have things actually happen, for the most part, the way it’s described in the books. I still assume I’m an exception.

I think everyone reacts to a miscarriage differently. Some women, from what I have seen, are able to put it behind them and accept the loss more easily than I was, and my first miscarriage was definitely much easier to handle than my second. It took me a really long time to feel like my losses had become part of my larger overall story, and not just the exclusive subject of the chapter in which I was currently living. It wasn’t until last summer that I was really able to feel like I was doing more than just reacting to the whirlwind of emotions I was feeling.

I know a lot — if not most — women either have experienced or will experience a miscarriage at some point in their lives. You might be one of them and you might be feeling what I was. If you are, what I want to say is this:

  • It gets better. In January and February of last year, I don’t think I would have really believed that had someone said it to me; I probably would have trusted in the truth of it, but not felt it. My losses were everywhere — there were friends I couldn’t be around, blogs I couldn’t read, facebook friends I had to block — but slowly, bit by bit, little by little, things began to change and my life began to open up again. Yours will too.
  • The sadness will never leave you. At least, it hasn’t left me, and I don’t think it ever will. It doesn’t stop being sad. The sorrow over losing what some think of as “just” a clump of cells will still be present — even if you have other children or become pregnant again. I am about to have a baby, but he’s not my first baby, he’s my third. He’s just the first one I will meet on this earth. Getting pregnant again didn’t take the sadness away. (And as another example, my grandparents lost their first baby, a girl, when she was born prematurely. This was in 1945. Before my grandfather passed away in 2007, he specified that she be included in his obituary.)
  • Feeling better doesn’t make what happened okay. That fact can become confusing, so it’s good to clarify again that feeling better doesn’t make what happened okay. Feeling better, and feeling like your life is becoming about more than just your loss, doesn’t mean that you are leaving your baby behind. It’s normal — and necessary.
  • You may or may not be a Christian, but if you are, take comfort in these verses:
    Blessed are you who hunger now,
       for you will be satisfied.
    Blessed are you who weep now,
       for you will laugh.
    – Luke 6:21
    He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
    – Revelation 21:4
    So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.
    – 1 Peter 1:6, NLT
    — and if you’re not a believer, know that there is joy ahead for you in your life, whether or not you can feel it right now.

If I could go back in time and write this back in June or July, I would — this doesn’t hinge on the fact that I got pregnant again and stayed that way. It really does get better. You don’t have to feel it right now, but trust that what I’m saying is true.

40 weeks!

Today is my due date! Very exciting.

None of my shirts fit anymore. Old Navy tank top, you’re my only friend.

Everything is coming together around here — we’ve got the nursery [mostly] set up, the house [mostly] clean, laundry and dishes [mostly] caught up …

Teaker has tried out all of the baby’s various beds and seats.

Every little boy needs an aardvark of his own!

I am not terribly concerned about not having delivered by this point; most first time babies come a little after their due dates, and I know the date is really more of an arbitrary designation than an official eviction notice. I’m not impatient, but I am excited! I still think the reality is so weird to me that when (if!) I do go into labor, I won’t be convinced it’s the real thing until the baby is actually on the outside. Still, my doctor wants us to get things moving this week in case I need to be induced on Monday (April 16). Yesterday I had an in-office procedure done that can sometimes encourage labor to begin, and if that doesn’t have much effect, we go in Friday morning for a different procedure. (On Friday the 13th!! Aaaaaah!) And if that doesn’t do anything, Monday is the big day and I will be officially induced! It’s crazy to think we’ll have a baby in our arms within a week.

I’m spending however much time I have left by getting caught up around the house, reading up on newborns, working on a baby blanket, and watching Tabatha’s Salon Takeover on Bravo. Right now my mind is so preoccupied with thoughts of labor, birth, motherhood, and recovery that I can’t really concentrate on anything else. (And hopefully tomorrow I’ll have the opportunity to get more lemon drop cupcakes!)

Come soon, baby! We can’t wait to see you.

And you’ll be much cuter on the outside, too, I think.

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