If you keep up with MrsMuffinTop’s posts, you know by now that I am now pregnant with my third child. The journey of motherhood has been a true roller coaster, from the moment the positive pregnancy turned up with my first until, well, present.
MrMuffinTop and I were living together when I got pregnant, and when we found out we were expecting, he wanted to get married right away (where I could have waited until the baby was born), and still have the wedding of his dreams. Chivalry isn’t dead, apparently! However, this did bring up an issue with MrMuff’s younger sister, who had planned her wedding for about a year already, and the only time we could get in was three weeks before hers. I won’t delve into the details of the resolution, but it was a very awkward, stressful time in my pregnancy. After the weddings, I thought I would relax, and get back into the groove of work and start to look forward to preparing for the baby when I was diagnosed with placenta previa and put on strict bed rest. Strict bed rest means that you are not even allowed to sit up to eat! Meals are eaten leaning on your left side, still reclined. Showers are only allowed infrequently and need to be quick. I’m not joking, my OB told me to only sit for as long as was completely necessary for going #2. So much for trying to resume a normal schedule. My personality at the time wouldn’t let me relax during those few months (I was put on light bed rest at 7 months), and looking back, I wish I had known how that time should have been savored, minute by delicious minute of pure silence and solitude for the last time in a very, very long time.
Labor with my first was an interesting experience, too. After having a very short time with contractions, I arrived at the hospital at almost 9 cm dilated and started pushing soon after. I pushed for hours without success. The doctor upped my epidural and had me rest, hoping the baby would drop and I’d take another turn at pushing. After trying again for over an hour, I was wheeled into the operating room for an emergency c-section. Easy, right? On the table, the doctor struggled to get the baby out of my body, because the cord was wrapped so tightly around his body, so many times.
Recovering from a first c-section is horribly painful. Top it off with a rush of hormones, humongous sore breasts, and a newborn, and it can seem really overwhelming. But once I got home, things started to settle into a routine and by 6 weeks, I was sleeping for a few hours at a time and feeling optimistic. Baby MuffinTop was such a good boy, rarely cried, was really engaged and loved tummy time. He loved hearing me sing, and I knew that motherhood was awesome, since everyone else had blood coming from their ears whenever I attempted to even sing “Happy Birthday!”
At 8.5 months old, we found out that our little baby was going to be a big brother! It was exciting, scary and a multitude of other emotions in a very short period of time. We had just opened escrow on a house one day before the positive pregnancy test, so there were a lot of money worries on top of wondering how we would handle two kids, 17 months apart in age. I also wasn’t sure that I would love the next baby as much. Throughout the pregnancy, I would say to my boy, “Don’t worry, I’m always going to love you the most.” I struggled with feelings of guilt over not being able to have him as an only child for a longer period, and wondering why I didn’t instantly know that there would be room in my heart to love both babies equally.
When I first heard the cry of my baby girl in the operating room (VBAC’s aren’t allowed unless there is at least 18 months in between births), I knew how wrong I was about doubting my ability to love. So many months of confusion, eradicated in a split second.
Recovering from a second c-section was a breeze, and I was released earlier than usual. As soon as we brought our little girl home from the hospital, we could tell that our boy loved her, but he hit her a lot. He had to touch her all the time. Not always gently, either. We chalked it up to his being a toddler, and didn’t address it, except for teaching him to use “gentle hands” and “let’s be nice.” Those didn’t work, and we ended up just restricting him from touching her. The first year was, without a doubt, the hardest time of my life. Baby girl wasn’t as quick at sleeping for long stretches and she wanted to be held all the time. I had sporadic help and was feeling isolated, lonely and overworked.
We finally started to pursue intervention from our pediatrician when I noticed that my sweet little boy wasn’t saying new words like he used to, he was still hitting, and small physical activities were challenging for him, like learning how to sit in a chair. At 2.5 years we had tubes put in his ears (recurrent ear infections), and later that week, had a set put in his sisters ears (ongoing, non responsive infection). Early Intervention services couldn’t find a reason, other than “developmental delays”, so speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and behavioral therapy become the schedule for him instead of my gym, music and the park. Have you ever tried to entertain a 1-year-old in the waiting room of these places? I don’t know what was harder, keeping up with all the treatments, or having to have my daughter tag along and wait, instead of getting the play time that her brother had at that age.
Given that we are still in the same boat of therapies, two years later, I still battle my inner-critic on what I could be doing better, either for my son or daughter. I tend to focus on all the things I’m not giving them, as opposed to shifting my train of thought of everything that I am doing. It occurred to me recently, that this way of thinking had just become a habit for me. I had gotten into a ‘survival’ mode of thought from the moment I found out I was pregnant, and with so many adventures since that time, I never had a chance to take a breath, re-evaluate and regenerate.
I’m going to attend more to myself this pregnancy, and reinvent the way I think so that I can be a better mom and wife, and a person that I’m proud to be. If there was any bit of advice that could give myself if I had a time machine to go back 5 years, it would be this: you’re going to be ok. This, too, shall pass. Enjoy the moments that you can, and know that it’s ok to cry when you can’t. You Can Do It.
Have you ever gotten stuck in an emotional avalanche? How did you manage to get out of it, or did you?