It is a pretty standard understanding that motherhood changes lives. I didn’t realize how much until I met my daughter.
The end of my pregnancy was less than ideal. I had decided to leave my job the summer before I expected to give birth and the decision was weighing heavy on my mind. We had wiggled through a number of very expensive hospital bills and I was worried about the unexpected costs of the labor and delivery, in addition to making all other ends meet. It didn’t matter that I completed several drafts of our budget to make sure that we would have enough to cover expenses.
Despite my best efforts to stay healthy throughout my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at week 33 and was put on modified bed rest. In my best intentions, I had saved the last month of my pregnancy to get ready for Baby. The modified bed rest compounded my feelings of being unprepared because I could not “nest” as I had intended with washing baby clothes, aggressively cleaning my home, or completing any of the food-preparation projects I had collected on Pinterest. Instead, I spent most of my time watching episodes of Sex in the City and reading about the effects of pre-eclampsia on me and my baby.
Because pre-eclampsia can become very serious, doctors often want to induce a monitored labor. Two failed induction attempts later and I decided a c-section was my only option. This was far from my unofficial birth plan–labor at home, avoid pain medication, have a healthy baby and take pain medication after. Instead, I was hooked up to an IV and monitors to make sure my baby was okay.
To be honest, I felt betrayed by my body. Not only did I develop this condition, but my body would not go into labor. Throughout my hospital stays, I felt like I had failed when I could not tell the nurses that I was indeed feeling the contractions that they saw on the monitor. I wondered what was wrong with my body.
The decision to have go through with a c-section came from the mental anguish of hearing babies being born throughout the hospital unit. I just wanted to hold my little girl. Fifteen minutes after entering the unit’s operating room, my little girl was laying on my chest and looking at my face.
I look back at my hospital stay and I am thankful for the four days I spent in postpartum. Under the care of the nursing staff, I bonded so deeply with my daughter. We were our own world. I had never felt love like the tender fondness I felt for my baby girl.
On the last day, I began to feel the tugging of my anxiety return. At the hospital, if anything went wrong or if I had a question, the nurse was only a buzz away. My mind raced to make sure I asked every question. I collected phone numbers to call if I had concerns before her first appointment two days later.
As we walked towards the exit, I felt dizzy. By leaving the hospital, it was as if it was all becoming real. I was walking into my role as mother, protector of this little baby. I felt the responsibility crushing me.
Getting into the backseat of the car, I looked at this little being, wrapped up in a blanket to protect her against the drop in temperature. In almost a moment of understanding, she looked at me with her big blue eyes and wrapped her little hand around my finger, as if to say “It’s okay, Mom. We can do this.”
In that moment, my four-day-old daughter reminded me that I am not alone.