… and the hell that is pregnancy.
I never wanted children. I spent a good part of my teens then adult life trying to avoid pregnancy and children as much as possible. During my 20’s I knew of family members and women that I worked with that were pregnant but I wasn’t curious about them. I didn’t ask any questions and holding a newborn didn’t interest me. I actually wondered at times if maternal instinct was missing from my DNA. So when I met my husband at 31 years old and he told me that he was unable to have children, I thought that was perfect! I no longer had to bother with birth control nor worry about that messy baby business. When my husband was in his late 20’s he took a fertility test and the results showed an extremely low sperm motility rate, making the probability of him fathering any children highly unlikely. He was also drinking and partying quite heavily at that point in his life so it doesn’t surprise me if his guys were moving a bit slowly.
Jump ahead five years and clearly the test results were no longer accurate since I got pregnant twice without any difficulty.
Where was I? Oh yes, new relationship, green light to have unprotected sex. What a whirlwind courtship it was! We were so completely wrapped up in one another. Six months into our hot and steamy romance I discovered that I was pregnant. Holy mother of God, how on earth could this have happened?
I blinked hard several times hoping the pink line on the pregnancy test would disappear from my vision. But I wasn’t seeing things. The pink line was faint but there was no denying that I was pregnant. I felt dizzy, like the air had been sucked out of the room. I sat down on the toilet seat hard. I kept saying, “Oh my God” over and over again as I slowly started to smile. I was absolutely terrified to tell Jeff. I was trembling inside when he came over that night. I couldn’t stand because I didn’t think my legs would hold me. When I finally blurted out that I was pregnant, he got a huge smile on his face and said, “I knew you were going to say that, I just knew it.” We hugged and kissed and cried.
I wasn’t prepared for how vulnerable being pregnant would make me feel. Suddenly, the thought of him leaving that night terrified me. He stayed that night and every night since. Pregnancy hormones are no joke, they come out of nowhere and take over your body far worse than any demonic possession movie I’ve seen. Out of nowhere, me, this person who never wanted children was utterly and completely terrified of losing the baby. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, I began getting menstrual cramps. I would wake in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and was terrified to look in the toilet afterwards. I had made so many bad decisions and mistakes up to that point in my life that I honestly didn’t think that I was capable of carrying something so incredibly miraculous as a child. Fortunately, the cramping ceased after a couple of weeks and we went for our first doctor visit. There we got to see our fuzzy blob with a tiny heartbeat. This was really happening, we were having a baby.
Pregnancy is tough. Tough, tough, tough. I wasn’t prepared for how difficult growing a baby would be. The first ten weeks I was so exhausted I could hardly keep my eyes open and I was nauseous constantly. I was shocked that women survived pregnancy at all let alone multiple pregnancies. I swore that if I lived through this pregnancy that I would never do it again. Ever.
It was a long nine months in our new household. Jeff and I were living together for the first time and just getting to know one another. He confessed to me years later that he had thought I had tricked him by acting sweet and sane while we were dating and then going completely psycho after he moved in.
Truthfully, I was wondering what happened to me as well.
Who was this extremely sensitive, needy, vulnerable yet angry and resentful person? I was on an emotional roller coaster and was taking him along for the ride. I don’t recommend getting pregnant six months into a relationship to anyone. We didn’t have enough time to get to know one another. We certainly hadn’t discussed our thoughts on raising children or any of the hundred other important topics you should have before marriage or children. Suddenly, we’re thrown into living together and dealing with each others incredibly annoying habits, wading through the murky waters of pregnancy and battling financial fears and insecurities on both sides.
The second trimester went by more smoothly. The nauseousness finally went away and the utter exhaustion lifted as well. My emotions were still all over the place but I was at least able to function like a human being. Having had no knowledge of anything pregnancy related it was quite an adventure to learn about the miracle of life and the hell that is pregnancy. Somewhere during my sixth month, I felt the baby move. It was amazing! So amazing that I often wish I could be pregnant again just to feel that tiny being move inside of me. It’s such an intimate experience, being at work, in line at the grocery store or talking with a friend and suddenly feeling movement inside of you. It’s like a wonderful secret that you have from the world. It was a beautiful bonding moment between me and my baby. It made the horrible parts of pregnancy a little more worth it.
The third trimester of pregnancy brought about a whole new kind of difficult. By seven months people were asking me when I was due. My belly continued to grow. Then the comments started, “Maybe it’s twins!” “They may have screwed up your due date, I bet you’ll go early.” And my all time favorite, “Wow, you’re huge!” Said by another woman no less. Hello heartburn, peeing four times a night and the unbelievably heavy belly.
At eight months, the sonographer looked at me apologetically and said the baby was measuring between 9-11 lbs. The look of pity mixed with horror on her face was terrifying to say the least. My due date came and after examination, the doctor said, “Still closed up tight, see you next week!” I came undone. I started to cry, becoming hysterical and refusing to leave until they scheduled me for an induction. I couldn’t possibly survive one more week in this agonizingly painful, foreign body of mine. They patted my hand and nodded their heads compassionately then sent me home. One LONG HARD week later my husband rolled me into the doctor’s office. I always picture myself as Veruca from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after she eats the gum. Anyway, he remembered me from the week before (go figure) and scheduled me to come to the hospital that evening to be induced.
Holy Mother of Mary, the time had arrived! Eight hours later, full of pitocin, and only ½ cm dilated, the doctor gave me the choice to (a) rest for the night and begin laboring the next day or (b) have a c-section in the next twenty minutes. I knew my answer right away but for fear of looking selfish pretended to deliberate a little longer until choosing Option B. I’m not ashamed to admit now that I saw a way to get this baby out of me as quickly as possible and I took it.
Twenty minutes later I was lying on a table with my arms strapped down and no feeling from the waist down. A few minutes later the doctor said, “Okay Mom it’s time to meet your little boy” as he lifted my 10lb 4oz newborn son up for me to see. He looked like a slimy, hairless gorilla and he was beautiful! It took approximately ten seconds from when the doctor pulled him from my stomach and when I heard his first cry. During those very long and very quiet ten seconds I prayed out loud, “Please God, let him be okay, please God let him be okay.” He began to cry and I breathed a sigh of relief.
I didn’t know it then but my life changed that day. I changed. My husband brought the bright pink, screaming, bundle of poo to me to hold for the first time. I waited to feel that intense and overwhelming feeling of love that so many teary-eyed mothers had told me that I would experience. I felt relief for not being pregnant anymore and curiosity to see what this little guy looked like but that was it. Even in the delivery room, I didn’t cry after he was born. I spent most of my pregnancy watching A Baby Story on TLC and cried uncontrollably at every delivery but didn’t shed one tear for my own. Even after holding him for the first time it felt surreal. I had waited so long to meet this baby and now that he was here he didn’t feel any different to me than if I was holding someone else’s baby for the first time. My mind started racing and that old thought popped into my head, “maybe I’m missing the maternal gene.”
I began to inspect my baby, getting to know him and hoping to feel some connection with him. If you can identify with these feelings please know that you aren’t alone and it’s completely normal for some of us new mom’s to take a few days or weeks to connect with our little ones. See Bonding with your Newborn. If after several weeks you still feel as though you aren’t connecting with your baby it’s possible that you could be suffering from post-partum depression. Which is a very real but very treatable disorder. I urge you to please contact your OB or midwife and talk to them about it. You deserve to feel your best. Please don’t waste precious time during the early months suffering needlessly. I’ve been there and the difference in my frame of mind before seeking treatment and after is tremendous. But that’s for another post.
Looking back now, even while writing this, I have to remind myself of how I really felt after they handed me my first son. Now, after having been his Mom for a little over four years, my memory of his birth is quite miraculous and beautiful. Every time I think of my husband placing him in my arms I tear up and feel overwhelming love. But that feeling didn’t happen immediately for me. I had to get to know this little man, just as I would need to get to know any baby suddenly put in my arms. It’s the relationship between Owen and I that developed after he was born that brought me overwhelming love, heartache and joy.