Tag Archives: birth story

There’s no place like home

“Home is not where you are from, it is where you belong.
Some of us travel the whole world to find it. Others, find it in a person.”
-Beau Taplin

 

As many of you know, I recently took a trip home. By home, I mean New York. The place where I was born and raised.

I want to start at the very beginning, as I find that is the best place to start;
Manhattan New York.

I saw June bug for the first time since the day after she was born, and it was more than I could have dreamt of. I arrived at Brooke and Joes home and was already in awe of the city. I lived in New York state for 16+ years and never once made it to the city. I always dreamt of this place. I don’t remember when I first learned about the city, but growing up, I talked about moving there, working there, running away from home and going there. It was all I’ve ever wanted. My feelings were so validated.

I had received my birth video from our birth photographer the day before I left and held out on watching it. I wanted to experience it with Brooke and June. It was worth the wait. Brooke and I sat with June in between us. We were laughing and pointing out funny things we were so glad that Eva had captured. I teared up a bit, I can’t speak for Brooke.

12871462_10154274537684216_6686019981030532031_n
Aunt Chelsea loves you  June Bug.

 

Seeing June was awesome, and I felt like she really recognized my voice. She is such a happy, loved baby. She laughed when I blew raspberries on her belly, she smiled almost every time I talked to her. It was amazing. Brooke took me around her neighborhood, we got coffee and ice cream and sat at a park to feed June.

 

13535697_10154340918009216_2130247941_n
She may kill me for this action shot.

 

After walking around for a couple hours we went back to the apartment and got dressed to go meet Joe for dinner some where called “Dirty French”. It was so good to see Joe, and strange in my world to see him all dressed up (he came straight from work). The menu was in all French and I am embarrassed to say, that I only understood one word, thanks to ‘The Little Mermaid’. But J&B are experts, so I let them order for me. It’s refreshing to not be picky at all and trust someone else to order food for you. Check that off of my “experiences everyone should have” list. By the way, the food was Delicious!

13321843_10154274332014216_7768372179070587835_n

After dinner Brooke handed me a little bag (it was two days before my birthday). Inside was a BEAUTIFUL Alex & Ani tree of life bracelet. I’ve worn it pretty much everyday since then.

We walked back to the apartment to put Joe and June to bed (it was about 9:30, remember that) and Brooke and I went out to hit the town! Our first stop was a bar called Mace. It was all fresh drink with real herbs and fruit and it was totally our scene. We joked that in order to be a bartender there you had to have tattoos and a man bun. Then we hit a couple other bars that were.. “younger”. I think we both felt a little out of place. Bright lights, loud music, crowded, just not our scene anymore. But we had a drink at each one and talked and talked and talked. It’s funny how far our relationship has come over the past 18 months. I remember a lot of conversations with long lulls where we didn’t know what to talk about or how to respond to each other. When we were still trying to figure each other out. We talked about our lives and our husbands. Our children and the future. We talked about our journey to June bug and our future journey to have a little boy. When we walked back to the apartment, we sat outside for a good half hour because just weren’t ready to stop talking.

I slept in June bugs room and volunteered to wake up with her in the morning. I had to be up at 6am anyway to catch my flight to Syracuse. Most of the time when I stay at someone else’s house it’s weird. You’re not used to their surroundings, their noises, their bed. But I slept sound and felt so comfortable. June bug didn’t wake up until 5am!!! Such a great baby. I changed her and fed her and snuggled with her for an hour while I waited for Brooke to wake up. It was so nice to have that time with her.

When Brooke woke up it was time to say goodbye. Our visit was short but oh so sweet. I knew that I would miss my second “family” but I will see them again soon I’m sure. (p.s. check off ‘take an uber’ from my list too!)

My next stop was Syracuse to see my mother and be with her for her wedding. I don’t want to write too much about this visit as it was a long time coming, and it was also two weeks long, but I do want to talk about “home”.

For many, many years I lived in a city named “Fulton”. It’s not where my mother lives, or where I spent a lot of time during my visit, but I did go there a few times as it’s where my sister, sister in law and many friends live. It was strange going there. I haven’t been there in over two years. The last time I was there, it wasn’t good memories being made. I went and saw Will, went to my spot by the river, visited a few friends, and just drove around looking at how the city has changed, and it’s changed a lot. So many things that were once there are gone, the city looked dirty and I saw a few people who looked homeless walking around.

13556082_10154340982889216_2078536784_o
My favorite spot in Fulton.

 

As I sat and thought about the city that I once called home, a city that I sometimes long for, a realization came over me.
This is not home.

I have found my home, my forever place. The place that I want to raise my kids,  where I have a career that I love. A place that I’m comfortable and miss when I’m gone. Fort Worth. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would some day come to love Texas as much as I do. So I enjoyed my visit to New York in so many ways. I loved seeing my friends and family and I so loved being able to spend time with my mother. It’s been a long time coming, but at the end, I was more than ready to come home. To my real home…..
But maybe, someday… NYC…

Beyond the Bump: Life After June

“Your story isn’t calm. The road has been chaotic at times, filled with detours and rain and loss so sudden and soon. Sometimes the bliss was so elevated your heart could hardly hold it. Sometime it was maddening to have, and then to lose. You learn soon enough that it hardly ever goes as planned — gentle, easy, and smooth. But that my friend, is what makes you fascinating. You have something to tell. Something you’ve walked through. Something wild. Something courageous. Something true. You’re made of stories within stories within even more stories. Those quiet depths of you.”
-Victoria Erickson

June went home three weeks ago today. I have kept in touch with them, we talk every few days and I see pictures of their beautiful family regularly. It makes my heart sing each time I see a smile on their faces holding that baby. I am forever changed by our journey.

I want to talk about a lot of postpartum stuff today. From some tips for all newly postpartum women, to the new emotional journey I’m on now that my part in Junes story is over. I’ll start with the light hearted stuff.

Whether you are a new mom or a surrogate or you’ve gone through a loss, the immediate postpartum period can be overwhelming. You are processing the birth (vaginal or cesarean), bleeding, healing and hormones. Not to mention learning about your new body and navigating your family and friends.

I found some new (to me) products that helped me greatly during my first days at home after giving birth.

  1. Depends Diapers – Yes I know “But those are for old people!” WRONG! I always thought they were huge and just like baby diapers, uncomfortable and nothing I wanted any part in. But they are just like underwear with built in padding. Exceptionally comfortable. No mess. No ruined underwear. No pads that move around and get stuck to you. These were the best thing I have ever discovered and seriously, highly suggest buying some before you give birth. You can thank me later.
  2. Earth Mama, Angel Baby – This line of organic products are made for pregnant, nursing and postpartum women. As I didn’t have a baby to breastfeed and wanted to my milk to dry up, Brooke bought me their “no more milk tea”. It tasted wonderful and got the job done! They also have teas to help increase milk supply. I was also gifted their Peri spray. It’s to help heal your lady parts from discomfort, especially if you experience any tearing during birth. They offer many more products for all sorts of things!
  3. Acetaminophen – NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU ARE BREAST FEEDING. I’m not big on taking any kind of medication especially pain killers of any kind. But my cramps were intense those first few days and I desperately wanted some relief. It did the job for me and because I wasn’t breastfeeding it was great and aided in my want to dry up my milk.

As the days have gone by I’ve started feeling a little more like myself every day. For me personally, I got lucky (genetics?) when it came to my postpartum body. I’m already back to my pre-pregnancy weight and fitting in all my normal clothes. I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to deal with those emotions during a surrogate journey. I (personally) feel it’s a little easier to deal with new stretch marks, fat, skin etc. when you’re snuggling your own baby. The emotions/hormones may have been a bit to deal with had I not bounced right back.

My close family and friends have continued to not only be understanding, but great support for me through the past three weeks. I’ve had a couple of hard days for various reasons and they have helped me in every way possible to work through them.

Emotionally how am I? Well, I’ll explain it to you the best I can. When you are pregnant with your own child you do your best to bond with them in the womb. You read to them and sing to them. You day dream about what they will look like and what their life will be like. Who will your child be? What kind of parent will you be?

When you are a surrogate you detach yourself. Instead you imagine your intended parents. You hurt for the losses they have felt. You imagine the look on their faces when they hold their baby for the first time. You spend time getting to know them, their story, their hearts. You become attached to them.

During my journey 99% of the communication was with Brooke. And those last weeks when I went over due, we literally spent every day together. We talked more than we ever had. We dreamed together of the baby growing inside me. I felt loved and important. I was doing something important.

How am I emotionally? I’m okay, but I would be lying if I said I never felt sadness or loss. But to much of your surprise, it is Brooke whom I miss. I find many times grabbing my phone to share news with her and trying to hold back. It’s not that she doesn’t want to talk or doesn’t answer when I do call, but she has a whole new life to navigate. I remember being a new mom, trying to figure everything out and falling in love more and more with my own daughter. They need their space and time to find their routine.

The other unexpected emotion that I am feeling is a little deeper (and mostly hormones). It comes and it goes depending on what’s going on around me, but it’s real. Uselessness.

After being a part of something so big and so important and it coming to an end. It doesn’t help that I can’t go back to work yet, Curtis is gone at work all day, my older two children and at school and my youngest being a very independent child. I’m trying to once again find my place in the world, my meaning. Who am I now? Where do I belong now? I know that I am not useless. I know that my husband needs me. I know my children need me. I know my friends need me. I know that even though my journey is over, I am still important. But in those lonely moments, that’s how I feel, and they are no less valid for me in that moment.

But a lot has happened in the past three weeks. Like, a lot. The first thing I can only give limited details on until we officially announce, but I was recently offered a catering job somewhere very near and dear to my heart. It lets me spend more time with people I care very much about, somewhere I feel at home and do something that I love to do. The second thing, is I got a phone call from the Marriott (where I’ve worked the past two years) and given a pay raise, out of the blue! I now make two dollars more than I did when I first started working there and that is really something! I’ve also done my best to stay involved in the community, in MY community with my people. I had a wonderful learning experience yesterday (that I also can’t officially talk about yet, but there will be a video soon). This was a medical learning opportunity that I never thought I would be a part of. It was truly amazing.

And then today my cup over flowed. A friend very close to my heart asked me why I had yet to get my Doula certification. The truth is, is that getting your certification isn’t cheap and I’ve never had the extra money (and the time at the same time) to go get it… This beautiful heart then offered to pay for my certification. Just wow. To know that someone has so much faith in me, to believe in me so much to offer something like that is beyond anything I ever thought possible. I of course tried to turn her down, but she insisted. I’ve been fighting tears all afternoon.

So what now? Who am I? Where do I go? I’m still not 100% sure what my future holds, but I do know one thing. The future looks so bright. The red threads connected to my life continue to show themselves in places I never expected. The hard work that I’ve put into my life, the love that I’ve given, the pieces of my soul that I have shared for all to see, it all matters. What you put out into the world you get back. This I truly believe. Dreams really do come true.

Until Next June…

“Sometimes when making something so precious, beautiful, and unique’ it takes an extra helping heart”

As a surrogate you wait months (sometimes years) for one moment. The moment when you hand a baby to their parents. You imagine and dream of that moment, that one moment when a parent who was told “no” for so long, finally hears “yes”. The moment they see their baby. The moment they fall in love.

Brooke has known most of her life that she wouldn’t be able to carry a child. But about 6 years ago her and Joe decided it was time to find a way to make their dreams of a family come true. She talked to Doctors who told her she may be able to carry, and then said no, she couldn’t. They faced many set backs. When they finally turned to surrogacy, they found a surrogate, who ended up not being able to carry for one reason or another. So they found another surrogate, same situation. Finally they found me.

12814238_996895293735787_848932960459291652_n
Photo by: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

At 6:55am I was in the tub, feeling the waves, riding the waves, knowing each one brought June just a little closer to shore. I reached down and felt her head. Carla was behind me with a mirror and told Brooke to look. I heard her gasp. “Oh June”! I pushed and I heard her cry and gasp again. Each sound she made gave me more strength. I don’t even remember taking breaks between pushes. Just a nice deep breath.

11419799_10154087750724216_690300073_n
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

At 7:06am I reached down and pulled June from the water. I put her on my chest and layed back.

12874600_10154087765139216_1431111663_o
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

It became a little chaotic. I could still hear Brooke saying Junes name. I started stimulating Junes back so we could hear that first cry. I felt weak so Carla helped. She let out that beautiful cry and I looked to Brooke who just looked,.. in love.

I looked at June and told her hello. She looked so perfect.

12900221_10154087748154216_797617714_n

Brooke reached in and touched her daughter for the first time. I wanted to hand June to her, but I knew we needed to wait for the cord to stop pulsing. Brooke was so patient, knowing it meant a lot for her baby to get that blood.

12400714_996895290402454_3417901042669113354_n

Photo by: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

She put her forehead on mine and thanked me. From there the emotion flowed, and there are no words, in any language that can describe the feeling I had.

I held her up for a minute so Brooke could get a good look at her, and so June could really see her mama.

12834799_10154087749259216_837655501_n
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

After about 8 minutes on my chest there was still blood in the cord, but Carla said we needed to cut it.I looked into the pool and saw that I had started bleeding, heavily. Brooke cut the cord herself and I handed June to her mama.

12894568_10154087768169216_658967115_o
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

The look on her face! It was magic! They moved Brooke and the baby to a corner with her mother and sister for skin to skin and bonding. I got up out of the tub and hung onto the side to deliver my placenta. Curtis on one side, Dana on the other and Carla behind me.

10441212_10154078107004216_8511517645269661226_n
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

I delivered the placenta within a couple short minutes, as well as a lot of blood. Way more than you’re supposed to. They rushed me to the bed. I was exhausted, at this point I had only a short hour nap in over a 24 hour period, drank castor oil, had two membrane sweeps and gone through a 7 hour labor, and now I had lost a lot of blood.

I was given a pitocin shot in my shoulder and Carla was checking out my lady parts to see if there was any tearing (there wasn’t), and did a fundal massage (where they push around on your uterus to decrease bleeding).

After a minute I am able to get comfy on the bed and just relax. Dana brought me some snacks and orange juice and I chat with Stephanie (my best friend who showed up while I was in the bath the first time), Curtis and Dana. I watch Brooke and Alex and Cindi coo over the beautiful baby.

12439402_996895300402453_4603479938709223455_n
Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree
944913_996895333735783_7620267323328406688_n
Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

Curtis decided that everyone needed caffeine and I finally get to say the words “GET ME A REDBULL!!!!” It tasted better than I remembered.

At 8:15 Brooke moves over to the bed so that Carla can do the newborn exam. Brooke is an active part (add this to the list of things I love about birthing centers). First, they measured.

12894450_10154087761739216_682988509_o
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

A perfect and exact 21 inches.

Then Brooke weighed her.

12674191_10154087762809216_136546519_n
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

A perfect 8 Pounds exactly.

I was pretty happy, I had promised Brooke a big baby, and June cooked a little longer to make sure I wasn’t a liar.

12380146_10154087763309216_162567970_n
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

13 3/4″ head, 140 Heart Rate, 14″ chest. 8/9 Apgar. She’s perfect. Carla swaddles her up good, and then I get to hold her. I can’t believe that this little person has been living in me! She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen (other than my own of course).

12874562_10154087764204216_1130461713_o
Photo By: Stephanie Wright

I snuggled her and kissed her and just loved on her. I noticed something kind of strange while snuggling up with her. My own kids, I remember smelling their heads and just getting a huge rush of oxytocin, just falling in love harder. I smelled June out of habit and you know something, she didn’t smell like my babies! Not that she smelled bad of course, but isn’t science and nature amazing?! Though she came from my womb, my hormones (and/or hers) knew that she wasn’t my baby. No bonding, in love feelings. Oh I adore her so much and I can’t wait to see her again, but truly no feelings of loss.

I gave her back to her mama so that I could take an herbal bath (a wonderful thing that helps with healing and is so relaxing! Plus it felt nice to wash up a little bit!). I had a nice soak and then was ready to get out and eat something. I stood up and took Curtis and Danas hands. Right away I knew that something was wrong. At first I thought maybe I just stood up too quickly. I felt dizzy and weak. I slowly felt my energy drain, tunnel vision, tunnel hearing. I reached both hands for Curtis. He told me to squeeze his arm, I did the best I could. I heard him talking to the midwives saying that my grip was loosening but I was still trying. I half stepped, half Curtis lifting me out of the tub and was laid on the ground. Someone was holding my legs straight in the air, and Curtis was by my side holding my hand, talking to me. I have really no memory of the conversation going on around me. I heard their voices but not the words. I opened my eyes and Carla is the first face I remember seeing. For some reason my first thought was “Oh no I don’t want to go to the hospital”. Slowly my tunnel vision and tunnel hearing faded. Dana brought me orange juice that I sipped on and seemed to help along with a honey stick.

Finally they got me sitting up and on a stool that they wheeled over to the bed. An IV was placed (I don’t even know where it came from! I love that birthing centers have everything for an emergency, HIDDEN somewhere. No scary medical equipment unless it’s needed). Lissa (another midwife) brought in pancakes and bacon and I sat and ate and drank more orange juice.

Everyone gathered on the bed to take group pictures (I don’t have those yet) and I held June again. Curtis went to go pick up our kids so that they could meet June Bug and Joe had finally landed and was on his way to the Birthing Center. Joe got there first and I got to experience that moment all over again when he got to meet his daughter for the first time.

12800156_996895337069116_3840661236855427335_n
Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

Magic all over again. It was beautiful to see them together.

12003230_996895353735781_2622084796851351440_n
Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

My kids arrived and got to meet my belly buddy who they have watched grow over the past 9 months. It was adorable. Emma was the most excited, the boys were just kinda like “yeah, she’s cute but whatever”.

We all hung out at the birthing center for another hour or two. Just kinda enjoying each other, planning what to do from there. Brooke invited me to go to the hotel with them, as tempting as it was to spend more time with them I decided that a nap was what I wanted most.

I left the Birthing Center and went home with my beautiful family. Stephanie came over after my short nap and her and Curtis took good care of me. Later on Brooke and her sister came over, saying they had a gift for me.

12910671_10154088366004216_1585324686_n
This picture really does the basket no justice!

They brought me this HUGE basket! Full of wine, snacks, things to help my recovery (like a rice heating wrap, no more milk tea, and peri spray), and things from my favorite shop in Austin (The Herb Bar). A ton of lavender things (which Brooke and I both kind of flocked to this pregnancy), a gift card from Brookes mom to a local restaurant for Curtis and I, and more wine! It was beautiful and so thoughtful!

They went back to their hotel and Stephanie went home. Laney called me and said she would be coming home that night and asked if I wanted her to stop in. We decided it would be nice for her to stay here. She got in late and we stayed up for awhile, me telling her all about my eventful labor and birth. When we turned everything off and went to sleep I passed out, HARD! It had been so long since I had been able to sleep soundly. Laney woke up every couple hours to see if I needed anything, but I slept the whole night.

The next day was my beautiful daughters 9th birthday, and also the day that Brooke, Joe, June, Alex and Cindi were leaving to go back down to Austin. Laney left around 8:30 and Stephanie arrived shortly after that. Cleaning up my house and helping to take care of the kids for me. She was awesome.

The whole crew showed up just after noon to say good-bye. Each of the kids got to hold June for a minute and say good-bye. Stephanie got in some baby snuggles. We laughed and talked about the baby and their first night together. I snuggled her and fed her a bottle and said my good-byes. To be honest it was harder saying good-bye to Brooke than the baby. Though I wish I had been able to get in some more baby snuggles before they left (who doesn’t love baby snuggles!?).

12910745_10154088414639216_334878406_n

So that’s it… for now. I have a trip planned to NY in June and will be spending a night in NYC with them. I’m excited to see them in their own element, go out with Brooke and Joe and get me some more baby snuggles! She’ll be two months old then! Crazy thought!

So until next June…

The Color of happiness is blue: And then there were two.

When Emma was four months old, Curtis turned 18, and joined the Army. He left just a few weeks later for basic training, and I was left to figure out motherhood on my own. I had some high points and some low points, but in the end we both survived. Curtis came home in December for two weeks before he was sent to his first duty station. And on December 21st 2007 I married my sweetheart.

aw! Look how young and cute we were!
aw! Look how young and cute we were!

Emma and I moved to Germany in May 2008. It was exciting and new and wonderful. A month later we found out that Curtis would be deploying by the end of the year, and that pretty much ended the “honeymoon phase”. We fought and fought, and pushed each other away. Until one day we realized that that was what we were doing. We were pushing each other away, so that the “good-byes” didn’t hurt so much, so that we might convince ourselves that we weren’t going to miss each other so much. It didn’t work. We made up (literally and figuratively) and the next day he was shipped out to train for a month. While he was away I tried to relax, to research “surviving deployment” and convince myself that Emma and I would survive deployment.

I had a regular OB appointment while Curtis was gone and it came up that I had a UTI. No big deal, I kinda ate like shit. So I was given a pregnancy test and when that came back negative I was sent home with anti-biotics. The next morning I went t take my first dose, and threw it up. “That’s no good. Maybe I’m sick, I’ll start them tomorrow.” And then the next day I threw up again, “What the hell?! Maybe tomorrow!?” And on the third day when I felt sick, before I even attempted to take the damn pill, I pulled a spare pregnancy test from under my sink (I always have extra JUST in-case) and peed on that little stick. I thought I was just being crazy,… until I saw two lines instead of one..

I grabbed my pills, my paperwork from earlier in the week saying I wasn’t pregnant and my fresh pee stick and grabbed the first cab to the Doctors office. When I got there I layed all of my things on the counter and demanded to see my Doctor and have a blood test done! An hour later I was sitting in a room with Emma, in a chair that spun, trying to keep her entertained. I COULDN’T be pregnant again! I didn’t even know if I wanted more kids! How was I going to take care of another baby when my husband was about to leave for Iraq?! When I lived in a foreign country!? When I didn’t have any friends, any family?!

The Doctor came in and smiled at me “I think you already know what I’m going to tell you. Congratulations mom and big sister!”

Curtis wasn’t even home for me to tell him. He was somewhere far away training to be even farther away. I was so distraught. At that time (2008) Myspace was the big social media. And i had put something on there about “freaking out” and “going straight to the hospital”. My mother-in-law had read these things and called everyone she could to get a hold of Curtis to find out if Emma and I were both okay. A couple hours later Curtis called me and asked me what was going on. I pretended to be excited and said “I’m pregnant! We’re going to have another baby!” to which he replied “I’m going to have a son.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. He came home two weeks later and he tried his best to put my mind at ease. He told me I could go home and be with family and friends. But the truth was that I didn’t really have a lot of support there either. At least in Germany I could be independent, have my own place, not have judging eyes on me at all times. No, I would stay in Germany alone and somehow survive being without my husband, raising a little girl, being pregnant for half the deployment and parenting two kids the other half.

Fast forward to December. I’m about 3 months pregnant and I’m saying good-bye to my best friend. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I feel like I won’t survive a week let alone a year.

Emma Curtis and I the day he deployed.
Emma Curtis and I the day he deployed.

At this point, I hate being pregnant. I can’t quit smoking because the anxiety attacks are to much to bear. I don’t feel attached to the child I am growing at all. My only concern is to keep myself and Emma alive and thriving. I feel horrible.

As time goes on I quit smoking and start eating healthy (and by healthy I mean no caffeine and subway like 4 or 5 times a week, but I totally lived on Twizzlers). At about 25 weeks I find out that I’m having a son, and it increases my anxiety tenfold.

I have NO clue what to do with a boy! No brothers or nephews or boy cousins. No idea what to do with a baby with a peep (what we later nicknamed boys private parts, I still have no idea where we came up with this)! Circumcisions? Do it or no? How do I clean it? Is he going to pee on me all the time? Daddy isn’t going to be here the first 6 months of his life! What if I make him too “feminine” with just me and his sister around? What if? How come? Whyyyyyyyyyyy!?
My attachment didn’t grow at all.

Now THAT is a belly you can't ignore!
Now THAT is a belly you can’t ignore!

Some of my anxiety was eased when Curtis came home on R&R a couple days before my due date. We spent every second together. Two days after he come home, we were informed that a friend of his had been killed by friendly fire in Iraq and I was brought down from my “high” yet again. I didn’t think I could handle him leaving me again. What if he never came home? I was far too young to be a widow with two children (by this time, I was 17 years old). We agreed to pretend that the rest of the world didn’t matter, at least for his short time home.

The three of us visiting a museum on my due date during Curtis' R&R.
The three of us visiting a museum on my due date during Curtis’ R&R.

My due date was May 2nd. It came and went, and we were worried that Curtis wouldn’t be able to meet his son before he went back to Iraq. I was in no hurry to get the baby out of his home in my belly, but I knew that my husband wanted to see his son. So I called my Doctor and scheduled yet another induction.

I hated myself. Why did I feel so little towards my son? I thought I must be the worst mom ever. I didn’t tell anyone. I had worked the whole pregnancy on a beautiful nursery, posted pictures of the belly and pretended I was happy like when I was pregnant with Emma, but, I just wasn’t. But the time had come to yet again go through the horrible experience of labor which only made me hate myself more! Why couldn’t I go into labor by myself? Why didn’t my body work right?!

So on May 6th 2009 I was induced. This time the Doctors didn’t want anything to do with an induction (oh the beautiful cultural differences) and they didn’t want me in the bed. But this time I was a little different too. I wasn’t calm an cool and collected like I was with Emma. I was pissed and anxious and I didn’t want to do it! So I yelled, and I cussed (oh I would have made a sailor blush) and it was so bad they cleared the maternity ward because I was disturbing other mothers who didn’t even speak English. But did I care?! HELL NO! That baby was on my sciatic nerve and I couldn’t feel my legs, I was in pain!

Curtis was playing with all of the equipment, I was screaming and the staff hated us! After 4-5 hours of labor, I felt like I had to push. They checked me, and to my surprise they looked worried. I was then told that my son was sunny side up (facing up) and that his face was stuck of a lip of cervix. I was told that they could do nothing, that I had to push him past it. Now let me just add that this nurse decided to leave her hand up my crouch the entire time and continued to ask me if I were in pain (which led to much more screaming and cussing).

I pushed for four hours. The longest four hours of my entire life. Finally I felt relief and Collin, was placed on my chest. I looked down at my very red newborn son and I sobbed. Why you might ask? Because he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. His whole body was red from getting stuck for so long, but he was beautiful. And you want to hear something else? Even though the Doctors told me that Emma was going to be too big for me, Collin was 8lbs 8oz 20 3/4″ long. Even bigger then Emma.

Love at first sight.
Love at first sight.

At that moment all of those scared and anxious feelings were gone. They were nothing. All that mattered was that he was there and that I loved him and I would figure out the rest no matter what. He was the other missing piece in my life. A mothers love for her son, it’s so unlike anything else in the entire world.

Emma came to meet her little brother and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe how much love my heart could hold for my children and my husband!

And then there were two.
And then there were two.

10 days later Curtis went back to Iraq and I was left alone for another 6 months to care for two children on my own. And you want to here something? It was fine. It was more then fine. We were wonderful. Of course we missed Curtis and couldn’t wait for him to come home to us, but we thrived together. Emma Claire and Collin Francis and mommy, we grew from our love and we learned together. I breastfed exclusively and Emma was the best big helped ever! Collin slept through the night from the first day  was born and it was bliss.

And just so you know, Curtis made it back home to us in one piece. And we were a whole family.

Welcome Home Soldier.
Welcome Home Soldier.

It’s been FIVE years now, and Collin has turned out to be such an amazing little man. He’s my cuddle bug, my sensitive boy. He can read (and he’s only in Kindergarten), and he loves to build everything he can with his legos. He’s a nerd and a rocker just like his mama.

Oh, and he'll probably be a model someday.
Oh, and he’ll probably be a model someday.

I wouldn’t change him for the world. And I know now that no matter how scared you, some things are just meant to be. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

 

Welcome to Blossoming From Birth: Emma’s Story

This is (another) new blog from me! Thanks for stopping by!

When I first decided to start this, it was because I wanted to document my newest journey. But after getting some advice from a close friend/advisor, she recommended something BIGGER! And the first thing you should know about me is, I take the term “Go big or go home” VERY seriously! So here’s the low down.

A big part of my life revolves around giving birth… okay, I may be SLIGHTLY under-exaggerating. I guess the beginning would be my three kids. Emma (7), Collin (5), and Lex (3). They have been, and will always be, my most epic and exciting journeys!

This is where I will start my journey with all of you! I want you to be able to understand my stance on all things pregnancy and birth. And I want to help all of you with your journeys!

So even though I have been up since 3 a.m. (yikes), I am determined to get out page one of this new blog!

Emma’s story

When I found out I was pregnant with Emma, I wasn’t surprised.  I was scared out of my mind. I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. My then boyfriend had just turned 17 and was a high school dropout working as an overnight stock boy at a local gas station.

154834_478748849215_1308572_n

I had known I was pregnant before I even peed on that stick. We weren’t exactly trying to prevent it, and we had had “scares” before. But this, this was real life. Curtis and I were REALLY going to have a baby. Adoption and abortion weren’t even an option. Dropping out of school wasn’t an option. The only option was up to Curtis:  Was he going to be a dad or walk away? The very first thing I did with that test was took it to him, handed it to him, and told him to walk away now or forever hold his peace. He told me he loved me and wanted to be a family (spoiler alert, we’ve now been happily married for 7 years, together for 9)!

My pregnancy was pretty normal. I was lucky to only throw up twice. No back pain or feet pain. I did experience some anxiety attacks and ended up being home schooled through most of my pregnancy. I didn’t eat all that healthy, I almost NEVER took my prenatals (those horse pills are huge), and I was under stress constantly. I was scared, I didn’t have a lot of support, and I was so, very young.

At about 38 weeks I lost my mucus plug while at a friend’s house, and just about lost my shit freaking out. Luckily it was an older friend who had also had a baby young. She kept me calm and taught me how to count contractions. The next two weeks we were obsessed with sending me into labor via walking. But it was the beginning of March in New York and it was freezing. So we did what any sane person would do in that situation, we walked around Wal-Mart for hours (Funny story:   One time an employee asked me if I was trying to steal something under my shirt.  I was HUGE and looked WAY too young to be pregnant). On my due date I got a non-stress test at my OB’s like normal, and their machine said that something was wrong with Emma’s heart beat. So they sent me to the hospital where I was told that nothing was wrong, that the machines at that office had been giving false readings for day and hadn’t been fixed yet, but as a precaution were monitoring women at the hospital. That same day they gave me a sonogram to check on little miss. Which is really where my labor story starts.

15 year old me, 35 weeks pregnant with Emma
15-year-old me, 35 weeks pregnant with Emma

Now let me just back up a little bit so you can see this perfectly. When I got pregnant I weighed 90lbs, on a good day.  And at a very short 5’3″, there wasn’t much to me. So it was a shock to me when my sonogram tech told me that they estimated my daughter to weigh about 8lbs 5oz. “WHAT!? How is that even possible?” I was just in shock. Next, I was told that if I hoped to give birth naturally at all, I would have to be induced because she was just going to get bigger, and they were afraid that my hips might be too small.

This was not the news I wanted to hear or that anyone wants to hear. I was scared already. And with so little support from friends and family, I didn’t know what to do. Three days later I went in to be induced (March 15th) with Curtis and his mother (BJ) by my side.

When I got to the hospital, I was only 50% effaced, 2cm dilated and still very high. They started me on Pitocin (most often referred to as “The P word” or “Pit”… it is the devil). After a little while laying on my back in and doing nothing to help, BJ insisted I get up and walk, and so I did. I walked and I walked for hours. By 9 p.m., after over 24 hours, I was at 4cm and 70% dilated. That’s it. So they gave me something to sleep, sent BJ home, and called it a night. The next morning I had gone from 4cm to 5cm (yay?), so they decided to break my water. The next thing I remember is being in an unbearable amount of pain, and crying for BJ. After asking for “Anything! For the love of God, give me something for the pain!” and getting something in my IV that made my arm hurt, I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave in and got the epidural.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone is “weak” for getting an epidural, but it wasn’t what I wanted and it proved later that my original judgment not to want one was for good reason.  But more on that later.

Once the epidural was administered, I remember feeling really cold, shaking uncontrollably (Curtis later told me that I looked as though I was having a seizure), and passed out. When I woke up a couple of hours later, they checked me again. This time I was at 10cm and ready to push, but there was one problem. I was numb from the belly down. And when I say numb, I mean I couldn’t feel my toes or contractions. If I didn’t look down I wouldn’t even know I was pregnant, let alone in labor. It scared me.  I thought maybe I had been paralyzed. They told me to watch the monitor and push when I had a contraction ( “Push like you’re taking a giant poop!”).  After 20 minutes of “pushing” (I guess I had to have been pushing since my baby came out) Emma Claire was born!

Curtis, Emma and I.
Curtis, Emma and I.

4 days late and 36 hours after my first dose of Pit, she was finally here! My little girl. Weighing in at 8lbs 4oz (just 1oz off from what the sonogram has said) and 19 3/4″ long. She had a touch of jaundice (just like her father when we was born), and looked just like her daddy. Her cry was louder than any other baby in the nursery and I didn’t bond with her at all.

Yeah, you read that right. I didn’t have that moment of “total bliss” or “Oh my God! I’m a mom! This is my daughter!”. Now don’t get me wrong.  I felt the love but it wasn’t what everyone told me would happen. Then again, I still felt loopy from my epidural. I was still numb and less than half an hour after I had her, all of those people who didn’t support me showed up at the hospital to see the beautiful baby I had grown (yeah, I grow people).

After Emma was born I suffered with postpartum depression. My mother moved away and I ended up moving in with Curtis and his family. I couldn’t go back to school for the rest of that year. Emma wasn’t interested in breast-feeding or burping or sleeping. And I  was clueless, had no idea what I was doing, was scared out of my mind, was trying to learn as I went.

emThis is Emma now. She’ll be 8 in March. She’s an artist and still looks just like her daddy. She’s beautiful and smart and funny. She’s a drama queen and a smart ass. And she is my little girl. Even when we think that things will never get better, and that we may not be cut out for something.. we can prove ourselves wrong. I might have had Emma when I was 15, but we’re doing wonderfully and I wouldn’t trade her for the entire world.  

Having her young just means I get to love her longer.