I am hoping that this blog helps me and other new mothers sort through their feelings regarding motherhood because if you’re anything like me, what you’re feeling isn’t what you expected to feel when your baby finally came into the world. In fact, the feelings that I experienced were the complete opposite of what I expected, and what society told me, that I was supposed to feel and it led to me struggling immensely. Anyways, more on that later!
My name is Melissa. I am in my late twenties. I live in New Hampshire, where I am a lawyer and am married to Izzy. We’ve been living in New Hampshire for almost three years now. Neither one of us has family here – we both moved here because I got a job here and Izzy was working in nearby Massachusetts. Izzy’s family lives in California and my family lives in New York. We have two cats. In my former life, I liked to read, write, play world of warcraft and eat mountains of sushi. I was a very spontaneous person – I could pick up and go to a bar, movie or a weekend getaway on the spur of the moment and not think twice about it. I was very involved in local politics and coached local soccer teams in the recreational league.
On the day that I took a home pregnancy test, I knew that I was pregnant. My body felt different – I wasn’t crampy like I usually was during the week before my period and while my breasts were tender and sore, the tenderness and soreness was markedly different than the tenderness that I experienced during the week before my period. Then there was the issue of my period being late – a week late, which for someone whose body is annoyingly regulary, is a sure sign that things are amiss. I didn’t take my first pregnancy test at home; I bought one at the 24 hour CVS near my office and took it in the stall. As I waited, I fully expected it to come back saying “not pregnant” – every other test that I had taken when I was late had come back negative, so this one wouldn’t be any different. We hadn’t been actively trying to get pregnant, but we weren’t exactly being safe either. So when the word “pregnant” popped up, my hands began to shake. It had to be wrong. Those HPT’s weren’t that reliable, were they? My period was only a week late – the hormones couldn’t already have been coursing through my body could they? Oh shit, I had gone out in Boston the weekend before and gotten completely blasted – had I hurt the little peanut without even realizing it?!
The office was still eerily quiet – it was 7:30 AM after all. By 8:00 AM the office would be buzzing with people, the phones ringing, people venting about cases, judges and prosecutors, disecting defenses and facts and getting prepared for court. I slumped into my chair, my hands still shaking and my heart pounding. Just that morning, Izzy and I had been discussing having a child – I had told him that I hoped that I wasn’t pregnant because I didn’t feel ready. I was just too selfish – I enjoyed it just being him and I because we could pick up and do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. As I punched in the numbers of his cell phone, I tried to quiet the drum that was my heart. He answered the phone, and I told him, with my voice shaking. The ten seconds of silence that followed felt like ten years and then some.
“Are you kidding,” he asked, a note of terror creeping into his voice.
“No, I’m not. Why would I do that?” I asked, my voice shaking almost as badly as my hands.
“Because you’re testing me. Except that I don’t think you are now,” he replied.
“You’re right, I’m not kidding. I’m going to call the doctor today and schedule an appointment just to get it confirmed,” I stated.
I had mixed feelings about being pregnant – I was excited because we had planned to have children at some point. Just not this soon. We thought that it would be planned – much more scientific – with the timing worked out perfectly down to the last millisecond. I mean, I had become a lawyer because I wanted to control all the minute details of life and this wasn’t exactly working out that way. I would be due around Christmas time, in the middle of ski season I would be recovering from childbirth, how could we afford childcare?
My pregnancy was relatively uneventful – pretty normal as far as pregnancies go. Towards the end, I was placed on bed rest because of gestational hypertension.
I went into labor on December 25. Yes, a Christmas baby. Nate was a surprise in more ways than one, I guess you could say and he didn’t disappoint during labor either, coming two weeks earlier then my due date and when my parents were here. At 6:15 that morning, I woke up to go to the rest room and felt water flowing down my legs. I shook Izzy awake and told him my water broke, then, I called the doctor, who told me to come on down. After telling my sister, who had heard the whole thing (I found out later!), we took off for the hospital. I was outwardly calm – a skill that I had learned as a lawyer in court all the time and having to deal with stressed out clients and judges that were constantly putting pressure on me – but inside I was a mess. He wasn’t supposed to arrive for another two weeks. I wasn’t ready for this – well, I was physically I guess, but mentally I wasn’t. I had assumed that we had another two weeks. I wasn’t ready! When we got to the hospital, I was admitted and found that my water had indeed broken – I could have told the resident that. I mean, the river that was running down my legs was a pretty good indicator that I was starting to go into labor. I was only one centimeter though and wasn’t having regular, strong contractions. My feet were the size of footballs and my blood pressure was elevated. I began walking around the unit and sometimes sitting in my room watching A Christmas Story on TV over and over and over again. Eventually, they started a Pitocin drip, which got things rolling.
Now, they tell you contractions are painful. But you won’t be fully prepared for them until you actually experience them. At least I wasn’t. I could always tell when one was coming on and they kept getting stronger and stronger. Each individual contraction was like a wave hitting the beach at the ocean, increasing in strength and height as the hurricane drew closer and closer to the shore. I made failed attempts to remain calm and tried to breath through them. Sometimes, I would crush Izzy’s hand when it got really painful. Since I was hooked to the monitor, he could see when one was starting and he would let me know, so that I could mentally prepare for them. I eventually asked for drugs and was given drugs through an IV. I remember falling into a semi-conscious sleep – I was aware of the contractions and I remember hearing sounds. At some point they woke me up – the baby’s heart rate was dropping and they wanted to start an epidural. They were going to have to do a c-section. I was prepped for surgery and brought into the operating room, a cold and white place. And then, I felt the cut. Yes, you read that correctly, I felt them cut into me.
I freaked out. I wasn’t screaming, but i was crying and squirming. I could feel tugging and pulling. The anesthisiologist asked me what I was feeling and I was able to tell him exactly what I was feeling. I learned later that he panicked a little bit and then gave me some more drugs. I remember hearing the baby cry but not much else. I came to as they were preparing to transfer me back to the room. Nate had been born at 5:37, was 6 pounds, 6 ounces and had his cord wrapped twice around his neck. He scored nines on his Apgar tests. As Izzy rolled the baby into my room in his little plastic bassinet and in a handmade stocking (he was a Christmas baby after all!), I knew that I should be feeling happy and successful. We had just endured a major abdominal surgery and had come through with flying colors. But I felt dull, apathetic and unhappy. I should have known then that I was in trouble.