Can I start by saying, get your shit together! I know you hurt, I know you’re struggling. I know that you feel all alone, that you cry yourself to sleep (when you do sleep) and you feel like all hope is lost. I know that 2005 was a hard year. I know you feel like it was the hardest year. For you, so far in your young life, it was. Even ten years later I often think about 2005 and all of the happiness and pain it brought. But Chelsea, you have no idea what’s in store. I have no regrets. So don’t worry about the little mistakes, don’t stress over the things out of your control, it all shapes who you will be.
This month you will get the biggest news of your entire life. It will rock your entire world. It will set your heart on fire. It will test your strength. But please my darling, know that you pass every test. You already know her name, this child you’re not yet aware of, growing inside of you. I promise you that she is worth the morning sickness, worth the cramps. She’s worth the stress and worry. I know that some people are going to do everything in their power to talk you out of having her, they’ll tell you that your life is over. They’ll tell you that you will never amount to anything and they’ll tell you that you won’t be a good mom. It’ll hurt, a lot, because it’ll be people you expected to support you, to love you. I am here to tell you:
I AM PROUD OF YOU! You are strong, so strong beyond your years.
You will be strong from the moment you see that blue line. You’ll march over to Curtis and tell him you are going to keep your baby. You’ll tell him that he can run and never look back. You won’t let him stay with you just because you’re pregnant. You won’t rely on anyone. But Chelsea, he loves you. He loves you so much more than you know. You’ll break his heart a couple times, and I hate you for that. I know that you don’t feel worthy of such love, I know that you don’t know how to love someone the way he loves you, but try. Try every single day, because he’s worth it. And guess what? Ten years later, he’s still here.
Pregnancy is hard babe. Like, really freakin’ hard. But I know you’ll fight as hard as you can to be healthy for that baby girl. You won’t know it for many, many years but this pregnancy doesn’t just make you a mother. Someday, you’ll be obsessed with the thing you’re so scared of. Watch the damn birthing video! Stop being so stubborn! Ignorance is NOT bliss!
I know it’s your least favorite thing in the entire world when people say to you “babies having babies”. It pisses you off. ‘You are so not a baby, you’re like, so mature for your age.’ And yeah, although this is true to an extent you really are just a baby, having a baby. Don’t be mad, this too shall pass.
But not too quickly. Don’t rush. Slow down. You will miss these days. The days of baby Emma. Of fresh faced Curtis before the military. Sometimes, you’ll miss home. I don’t want to give away your entire future, but I’ll tell you this. You will see the world and all of it’s beautiful wonder. You will meet amazing people who change your life and shape the woman you become. You will have more babies. You will marry Curtis and fall madly in love with him more each day. You will change peoples lives. Yeah, you. You have made a difference in the world. And at 25, I promise you, we’re just getting started.
I know you feel helpless right now. I know you cry yourself to sleep. I wish I could just wrap my arms around you and tell you how wonderful the future is. How all of the tears and sweat and blood and hard work pays off. It pays off more than your wildest dreams could have imagined. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are going to have an amazing life. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. I promise that it doesn’t matter. All that matters is your family, and yourself. Believe in yourself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
This 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.