Today makes 17 weeks and 2 days of absolute adorableness, breastfeeding, crying (baby + me), and diapers for this new, first time mom! (In that time, we’ve only had two projectile poop explosions, but boy were they of epic proportions! Three if you count the little gift Malachi left on a pair of his Nanty’s favorite jeans…while she was wearing them and holding him. Good times. Good times!)
There are moments, when it seems like my son has been with me forever, and I find my mommying groove. But there are still very much moments when all the newness of this sacred position overwhelms me with exhaustion, or worry, and a lot of times, both. But even with the postpartum challenges (the crazy hormones, the sore breasts, the foreign body, the lack of sleep, and the list goes on…) I have never been so full. I look at the beautiful baby boy my husband and I went half on, and my heart bursts at the seams with all the love I feel.
A BABY STORY
Somewhere between Saturday morning cartoons as a child and bonding with my mother over “Say Yes to the Dress” in college, I fell in love with the TV show “A Baby Story.” A baby story came on TLC and would feature the stories of new parents around the time of their baby’s delivery. The episodes were only 30 minutes (so you know the true reality of it all was spliced and diced and then stitched back together in a neat little TV package) and censored out all the real educational bits in the delivery room (lol). But still, I enjoyed watching the happy couple bringing home their bundle of joy, and the one-minute long check in a few weeks later at the end of the show. And of course both mama and baby were camera ready.
NOT MY REAL LIFE.
(Malachi is always camera ready. Me? Not so much. But hey, I’ve kept a completely dependent human alive for quarter of a year now, so give me some credit.)
So here’s my true life “A Baby Story.”
OUR BABY STORY
PART I – THE PREGNANCY
(To read our birth story skip to Part II here.)
PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS: Except for two days of feeling like “death due to food poisoning,” I had no early pregnancy symptoms. Two days was enough, and apparently all I needed. On day 3, a Monday morning, at my husband Daniel’s urging I took a pregnancy test and we got a positive!
Several months earlier, my OB-GYN had talked to me about infertility (there are different types and varying degrees of infertility), and there was even talk of doing further testing, which I simply never got around to. I had taken a few pregnancy tests over the years, and with Danny’s excited anticipation and then each negative result, my heart would break a little bit at a time. So when we got the positive test result, I cried tears of joy.
An easy pregnancy.
My main symptom was insomnia. It started early in the first trimester and subsided a little when my brother gifted me with a pregnancy pillow in my second trimester, but ramped up again towards the end of the pregnancy. My body also ached. I got round ligament pains super early on (about week 8) and ended up needing a maternity belt. There were some days when I just could not get comfortable in any position—sitting, standing, laying down, walking—it all hurt.
Food: I had food aversions early on, especially to meat. But I never really craved anything consistently. Although, I lived on baked potatoes, with sour cream (And I never eat sour cream!), for like a month when I couldn’t stomach meat.
Even when the food aversion went away, I wanted shrimp (not strange) and ate whole grains, fruit and veggies more than anything else. In the third trimester, I had a few days of an intense hotdog craving (I never eat hotdogs), and was able to have that satisfied in the best way—100% beef from Farm Burger in Atlanta and the classic from a NY street vendor.
I only had a handful of vomiting spells in the second and third trimesters, so all in all it was an easy pregnancy.
Physical Activity: I was running 4 miles about three times a week when we got the positive pregnancy test.
I wanted to keep up with the running for as long as I could but around week 12 those 4 miles dropped to 3 because of the intense round ligament pain.
And then the run turned into more of a walk-jog and I was able to keep that up until about week 24. The exhaustion I was already experiencing without exerting extra energy for 3 miles became more than enough. Instead, I turned to Yoga, to try to get some physical activity in. My “go-to”s were this prenatal yoga workout video and this best stretches video that was amazing in relieving some of the back aches I was experiencing.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, even the yoga stopped. But when I remembered, I did 30 squats at a time. I put on about 30 lbs during the pregnancy, and lost about 15 lbs after the first week postpartum.
PREPARATION: A first pregnancy is a lot like wedding planning before getting married. So much emphasis is placed on labor and delivery, like it is on the wedding day, that it can be easy to forget the more important part that comes afterward—parenthood, and in the case of weddings, marriage. I did a better job at preparing for marriage than I did with preparing for life after baby arrived. I was nervous about delivery (I wanted an non-medicated childbirth) and I also worried that I wouldn’t know when to go to the hospital. I read a lot of articles online, mainly about labor and delivery. One of my favorite online resources was Evidenced Based Birth. It solidified my desire for a water birth (which didn’t happen).
Books: I read one book and no exaggeration, I finished it, the night before I went into labor.
Ina May Gaskin is a renowned midwife. The book has rave reviews, and is totally worth owning; although, I simply checked out a copy from my local library. I personally fell in love with the book upon reading in the introduction that unless there is a true medical condition, the cervix of even a smaller woman is not too small to do the work of giving birth.
I also liked that part one was filled with real, unfiltered birth stories, and they weren’t the horror stories most women hear. They were encouraging, uplifting, and empowering. Part two of the book, detailed the technical aspects of childbirth, including facts surrounding C-sections, epidurals, and maternal death (See link to purchase: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) .
I also thumbed through The Birth Partner, which Danny purchased for himself, mainly for the water birth section, oops :Kanye shrug, and enjoyed the book’s breakdown of the different stages labor. We did not do any childbirth education courses. I heard mixed reviews about taking a class from Been There Done That Parents, still our provider encouraged it. In all truth, the value of the class probably depends on the (type of) class itself. There are a lot of class options out there.
Breathing: I heard Hypnobabies in particular, and hypnobirthing classes in general, were helpful, particularly because of the breathing techniques. I also heard that the breathing techniques weren’t all that special so I looked them up on YouTube. My favorite videos came from The Positive Birth Company Channel. Siobahn made it easy for me— Up breathing for early labor and down breathing when it’s time to push. Aside from Jesus, and my amazing birthing team, Siobahn’s videos were the key to being able to have an non-medicated birth!
Bio:When Jamaican native Cara-Marie Findlay is not using her blog Findlay House to inspire, or snorting from laughing too much, she is harnessing the power of words to create positive change. She is an accomplished freelance Communications Specialist, specializing in nonprofits and other mission-driven clients. Say hi to her on Instagram & Twitter