I spent a long time wishing for this life.
Pregnancy did not come easily for me. I spent years dreaming of being a mum. After my husband and I got married, we relocated from downtown Chicago to a tiny town on the west coast of Iceland. This meant that growing our family was definitely on the back-burner for a while as we settled in to our new normal. When we finally decided it was time to try I was as naive as they come. I spent so much time trying to avoid getting pregnant, and now I wanted to get pregnant and couldn’t. Month after month of negative tests was finally starting to take its toll on me, and our marriage. After about a year of trying, we decided it was time to seek out some medical help. Long story short? I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome). This syndrome is different for each woman, but for us it meant we couldn’t get pregnant without medical intervention.
We were blessed to not have to wait long for the medication to work and I ended up with that coveted positive test after just one round. My brain went wild with planning: clothes, names, nursery, car seat, pram – you name it I was googling it. After 14 months of trying, I naively thought the tough part was over. Boy was I wrong.
My pregnancy journey
7 weeks – We thought I was having a miscarriage and rushed into the nearest hospital (90 minutes away). I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma and told to go home and rest. No working out, no walking the dog, no lifting.
20 weeks – It’s a girl! Being pregnant in a foreign country finally caught up with me during this ultrasound when the technician stared blankly at the screen, rushed out of the room and came back with another tech speaking Icelandic to one another. Nothing worse for a mom in an ultrasound than the tech suddenly going quiet and calling in backup. Turns out all was not okay, they “thought” they saw a uterine abnormality, but weren’t completely sure. They scheduled me to come back for another ultrasound at 34 weeks.
Weeks 27 through 29 – We ended up seeing our little girl on that black and white screen way more times than we had planned. Spontaneous bleeding episodes sent us once again rushing back to hospital multiple times throughout the two weeks.
30 weeks – officially signed off work in order to protect the pregnancy.
34 weeks – Diagnosed with a uterine abnormality known as a bicornate uterus (heart-shaped). Natural labor plans went out the window and we started planning a c-section.
Unfortunately, baby girl was stuck in the breech position thanks to the division in my uterus. With a scheduled c-section on the horizon, she decided she was going to come on her own terms and my waters broke at home 3 hours before we were scheduled to go into hospital. This meant a tough ambulance ride for me and my dear husband chasing along behind us.
Ultimately, nothing went according to my plan from conception to delivery. But we are still lucky. Because through it all, the support of my husband and our wonderful families and the phenomenal doctors and midwives, we gave birth to our healthy baby girl in June.
It definitely wasn’t supposed to be that way. I was supposed to be in the gym my entire pregnancy. I was supposed to continue my lifting program, swim laps, and keep walking and have a super healthy pregnancy.
Instead, I was told to stop all workouts at that first 7 week appointment. Over the 38.5 weeks of my pregnancy I gained 47lbs. I spent weeks in bed and had more doctors checking out my lady parts than I desired. I was supposed to be better. I was supposed to be stronger.
Better after baby? Maybe, maybe not
I have never felt more unprepared than I do these days. I have so many good days, and yet I can’t seem to get over the illogical bad ones. My previous experience with anxiety tells me I need to learn new coping mechanisms to get through, but I haven’t found one that works yet. These days are hard, the tears flow freely and I have never felt so isolated in my entire life. In a small town there isn’t much of a physical mom tribe here for me to join. Thankfully I have an amazing group of mamas who are in the trenches with me and we connect multiple times a day on Facebook. I’m legitimately not sure what I would do without them.
Today I don’t feel cut out to be a mom. I thought the tears would have stopped weeks ago and the anxiety would lessen. Instead I am sitting at the computer writing this post about just how weak I have been because I want to be strong for someone else. I want other mamas who are struggling to know that it’s okay to struggle, you are not alone. It’s okay to feel like you aren’t cut out for motherhood, and it’s okay to be anxious. I can’t speak from experience necessarily, but I have to believe that there are brighter days ahead. Maybe we will miss the newborn stage, maybe not. For now, I am continuing to take it day by day and enjoy the good moments as they come.
My daughter is a miracle baby and I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. I kept telling myself I had to be better for her. I had to be stronger for her. But I now believe I was looking at “strong” the wrong way. Not many people can open up to the worldwide web about their struggles, about mental health, about the fact that they cry more than their newborn. This is how I will be strong for her. I will continue to talk about it, because no one should have to live in silence.
What’re your best tips for getting through the newborn stage? Share them in the comments below!