Expectations for Motherhood from a New Momma

Expectations of MotherhoodI am going to take a stab at defining some of my expectations of being a mother. And since this will post in my first week as a mother, I thought it would be kind of fun to look back at this and see if any of them were reasonable. This might be a little easier in retrospect say like a year from now. But in theme with the mini blog series I am doing on expectations, I thought I would give this a try. First, I have to confess that I am terrified and I have no clue what this is going to be like. I feel completely unequipped to take care of a little person and raise them to become a functioning adult. My parents and friends with children have reassured me that every new parent feels this way. Especially when coming home from the hospital. The thoughts are “Wait, where is the manual for this thing? And they really are going to let me take him/her home?”
Expectation number oneΒ is that I am going to be tired. Like really tired for the first few years of her life. Although, on second thought, I might be really tired all of her life because having a teenager sounds like a time where loss of sleep is guaranteed. Hmm.. maybe you get to sleep when they are in elementary school? I pray that by some grace of God, my daughter manages to have an easier go at being a teen than I did. But now I am getting ahead of myself. Rumor has it infants get up every two hours to eat around the clock. So I am expecting I won’t sleep. And because of this, I am expecting in my delirium to at times be grumpy. I am hoping and praying that I don’t hurt my husband/parents too much in this totally sleep deprived state.
Second, I am expecting I will love this little person more than I can even fathom. I am genuinely curious about a mother’s love. It’s something I have tried and tried to imagine. But I just can’t. Just like I tried to imagine what it would be like to love my husband before I was married. Seriously so much greater than I could even grasp until I was walking in it. Parents tell me that there is nothing like loving a child. So I anxiously await experiencing this great love. People have told me that it gives you insight into God’s love in a whole new way. I am eager to have this new insight as well.
Third, I am expecting that I will discover a new part of myself that I didn’t know before. The mom part of me. I have always wanted to be a mom. I have maternal instincts and attributes already; but I know that there are things that I haven’t developed because I haven’t had to. I am excited to develop in this way and figure out who I am as a mom. I anticipate I will become an expert on things like breastfeeding, baby things, responding to cries, multitasking, cleaning up puke, showering in two minutes, and many other things mom’s do that I don’t even know about.
Fourth, I am expecting to discover how selfish I really am. If I am honest, right now my life revolves very much around myself and of course Chad. It’s not that I never think about other people. I just anticipate learning just how much I prioritize my needs over the needs of others and how selfish I am when these things are in jeopardy. My time will no longer be mine. There will be another person’s needs that will come before mine. And while Chad and I do that for each other, there is often compromise involved so we both can have needs met in a timely fashion. Luxuries like spending a day at a coffee shop or a book store will be over too. Unless one of us is at home with her, she won’t have the patience to hang out while we read/write/code and hibernate a snowy day away.
I am expecting it to go entirely too fast. I think about how fast my pregnancy went and tear up thinking about all the milestones she will go through in just the first year. I know at two in the morning when she is crying, I won’t feel this way. I probably won’t feel this way when she is two and melting down in the middle of a store while I am a shade of crimson. But I want to treasure it all, because I feel like I will blink and I will be watching her walk down the isle getting married. I mean isn’t this just what happened to my parents? I’m sure my mom feels like just yesterday she was in my shoes, about to give birth. In my sappy hormonal state, I have already cried about her future wedding day and all the feelings I think I’ll have in that moment. Seriously people.
Finally, I expect this to be the hardest thing that I have ever done. I think I will be humbled with all the things that I thought I knew and don’t. (All those moments where you think “If I was the mom, I’d do blah blah blah and my kid wouldn’t do blah blah blah). I have been thinking about that lately and how the reality is you are trying to raise a person, who has an independent will, who is going to do their own thing and go through their own milestones of learning. One of those milestones of learning might be humiliating to me as a mom and make me look bad in a grocery store. Like 5,000 times. I think there will be days I am faced with serious feelings of inadequacy and other days where I feel like the best mom in the world. It’s a job title that I get permanently. It’s something that I will never stop doing, even though I know that my role will shift as she develops into a young woman. As my own mom says, “once a mom, always a mom”.
Most importantly, I think I will love it.
I’d love to hear from some of the Mom’s out there. What surprised you about being a Mom? I’d love to read your replies in the middle of the night when feeding. πŸ™‚ You know, like a little something to look forward to.

Conquering My Nerves Around a C-Section

***Today is the day we have a scheduled C-Section. It’s at 12:30 MST. If you feel so inclined, we would love your prayers. We appreciate you and can’t wait to introduce her to you. I have a few things scheduled the next week or two to celebrate her and when I am well enough I will hop on and share all kinds of pictures and of course the name πŸ™‚ Thanks for being patient while we get to know our little person and adjust to being a family of three.C-Section
Since scheduling a c-section for our little peanut’s arrival, I have been a somewhat an emotional wreck. It’s a major surgery and it completely wigs me out. I know, I know, it happens everyday (ha! and I having one as you read this). But as my awesome OB says, you don’t know how you are going to react to it so it’s normal for the nerves to be there. Quite frankly, bringing another human being into the world is going to make you nervous. Your body is going through something huge, and there is another person affected by the whole thing to. One you love before you have even seen them face to face. It’s completely normal to feel nervous, anxious and kinda freaked out by the whole thing.
I have managed the experience of my emotions in a couple of ways.
First, I have let myself feel what I feel any given moment without guilt or shame. If I feel upset, disappointed, nervous or just plain scared I take note of it. I feel it. I am not good at suppressing emotion. I don’t particularly think it’s healthy or helpful. I have friends who are able to be extremely optimistic. Perhaps they are able to deal with their emotions in a different way, but I have to acknowledge the emotion, process it either in writing or verbally and then let the emotion pass.
Second, I have processed these emotions and the roots of them with trusted people. God has majorly provided me with an awesome support system in general. Different people have walked different parts of my journey in different ways with me. He did not make us to do things alone. Community is so important and needed and there is a reason we are called to community and are made to be known. I am so thankful for people who have been there, who understand the many emotions that come with giving birth via c-section and understand the importance of just listening. I have come to peace with giving birth via c-section largely because of God’s provision of people in just the right moments who have been patient enough to just hear my fears out.
Third, I have a counselor who has helped me resource for the day itself. I am a HUGE believer in counseling. It’s something that has radically changed my life and something I know will be a part of my life on and off probably for all of my life. I think everyone should have a counselor in their lifetime. There is something sacred about the counseling space where you can be laid bare to a certain degree and heal. Truly, God is the ultimate Counselor and I am very aware the ways that he moves through my sessions and does the work. The counselor is truly a vessel of his healing when done right.
My counselor does a technique called EMDR for processing trauma. If you are stuck in a “loop” of trauma, meaning that you cannot move through the emotion or experience of something, there is a technique that integrates your experiences and stores them in your brain properly. I have found major major healing/success in pursuing EMDR. (more on that in a later post).Β Now you aren’t supposed to do EMDR when pregnant unless it’s approved by a doctor. Mostly because you don’t want to have trauma responses when pregnant. You want to keep your body and system as calm as possible for baby. But you can do a certain type of EMDR called positive templating without risking baby experiencing a trauma response. With the okay from my doctor, I found this experience very very helpful. Positive templating is all about walking through the day and processing how it could go, how you want it to go, and how you would respond to things that are unexpected. What I find sacred about these spaces is how God meets me in them. When I did EMDR last week, our Heavenly Father showed me how he is with me and will be with me through the whole surgery. He was very tangible, showing me the ways he has prepared and provided through staff at the hospital, the team of doctors performing the surgery, and then just his actual presence. He also comforted me in my pain and loss of the birth I had expected. I was able to see that much of my panic was coming from a fear that he wouldn’t be there with me. I know that sounds absurd, but I think when you are responding to something with previous experiences where you felt abandoned and rejected (no matter if that isn’t the case) it’s easy to in the depths of your heart fear that you are doing it all alone and that somehow God won’t be in the midst of it with you. To experience the Holy Spirit reminding you that he is in fact always with you and showing you that he will be there is very comforting.
Fourth, prayer has played a huge role. I had a sweet prayer session with some people who are dear to my heart. It was funny because the day before she called me up to pray with me, God told me that I needed to pray with this particular person. So had she not beat me to the punch, I would have reached out to her. The prayer session addressed so many of the things that I needed to remember are true. One of these thingsΒ was the reality that God’s plan for a baby to come into the world is always the best plan. It’s easy to feel like this is the second best plan. But if she arrives via C-section, this is his best. There is almost an idol of natural child birth in my generation, especially living in Colorado, where there is a high value of all natural everything. While natural (as God created things are good) he also moves through so many things. He created a c-section that has saved countless women and babies lives. Remembering that He is in this and that this isn’t a rejection of me or a personal failure was hugely important. Another thing we prayed about wasΒ walking in the freedom of Christ and that she reminded me that fear isn’t my inheritance. She got this beautiful picture that I am learning how to walk through valley’s where darkness seems to be all around, but that I am actually clothed in victory. I can be confident in Christ no matter how over my head I feel, and he will be with me. The work on the cross has happened. It is finished and now I can walk fully in what he has done.
Finally, renewing my mind in scripture has also been very important. I need to remember what God says is true. This morning I was reading in the Psalms. I found a great deal of comfort in a a few particular verses. I will be repeating these to myself during surgery. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Β Psalm 34:4-5. He has delivered me from all my fears. He is lifting my head and holding my heart reminding me that he is for me; even in things that are hard, unexpected, disappointing and scary.I have nothing to be ashamed of.
He is bringing new life into the world. It’s worth celebrating!

Update on Baby Girl

38 Weeks Pregnant- Chad and I
I apologize for the recent silence. It has been an emotional two weeks for Chad and I as we have had to navigate a couple of difficult decisions preparing for baby girls arrival. Here is an update on what’s been happening.
We decided at 37 weeks to pursue another doctors opinion on turning her from the breech position. The manual version very much felt like our best option to try to get her to move especially since we would be monitoring her in the hospital and would have doctors present in case something happened to lead to her distress. We literally could get her out in two minutes if needed.Our last doctor did not feel I was a good candidate for it. This was discouraging and led us to choosing another doctor at 37 weeks. God is really faithful though, he provided a perfect fit doctor that has really helped Chad and I have peace moving forward.Β  I know there are lots of techniques to try to get her to spin, but some of them make me uncomfortable. I don’t know if it’s mother’s intuition or just my own paranoia but I have a great resistance to some of them.
The Version
So we scheduled this procedure with our new doctor. And in true Colorado form we went from 70 degree weather to a blizzard in 24 hours. So in a blizzard Chad and I ventured to the hospital to try to help sweet girl turn. We checked in and had a nice room to wait in while to snow pelted the windows. We were nervous. Quickly nursing staff came in and began asking me lots of questions and then hooking me to an IV. I am not a fan of needles. And unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of things my IV got ripped from my arm.Guys, in case you are wondering, it hurts pretty bad when that happens. Once they got that back in, we were hooked up to monitors and they watched baby girls heartbeat for a bit.
The doctors walked in and began prepping us for what was going to happen. An answer to prayer was both doctors that were performing the procedureΒ were very calming. I was really nervous but they both grabbed my hands and just talked me through things. We met the anesthesiologist and went through worst case scenarios. A version required them to press on my abdomen and manually try to coax her to turn. They told me they would try no more then four times to keep me and baby safe. As much as we all wanted her to turn, the goal was to avoid fetal distress and an emergency c-section.
They gave me some medication to relax my uterus and then began the procedure. The medication simulates flight or fight in your body. Imagine your heart racing, and your arms going numb and your whole body feeling like something horrible was happening. Maybe running from a grizzly in the woods?
My body’s response to this feeling was hyperventilation as “fleeing from a grizzly”Β feeling started taking over. Nurses were trying to coach me through the panic and they put oxygen on me which really helped. I was also slightly upside down to try to help the docs with the version. Their pressing on my belly hurt too, but I was very distracted by the situation of my heart racing and arms going numb. After try number one, they looked at me and told me that baby girl wedged her little head up under my rib cage. They were going to give it one more try but because it was really difficult to get a hand on her to help her turn, they were not sure it was going to work. They had been pressing pretty hard near my rib cage to try to pull her out from underneath. Chad told me later it was pretty weird to watch. He could literally see the outline of her body as they tried to maneuver her.
The second try went much better in that my breathing was more in control and I didn’t feel like I was in quite so much of a panic. Chad was holding my hand and helping me focus on my breathing. I was more aware of the pain of them pressing on my belly as they tried to turn her. She was doing great on the monitor which was a relief, but they still couldn’t get a hold of her head. It was like she had strategically placed herself in a location where no one could get her. She didn’t move in the slightest. It was at this point they decided to stop.
The doctors apologized that it wasn’t successful. Chad and I were just thankful that we tried and had doctors we trusted and felt were very experienced with trying to turn a baby. Our goal was to try this and then wait for her to turn. Otherwise, we were going to trust that God had a really good reason for her to come into the world via c-section.
They handed me a menu, since I had been fasting for over 12 hours I was so excited to eat some food. Pregnant and fasting do not go together at all. Chad and I ordered some really good breakfast food and waited out the monitoring period. I definitely felt weird from the medication. It kinda felt as though I had ran a marathon and I was emotionally drained. Chad also was exhausted from watching the whole thing. It wasn’t easy for him to watch me writhing on a hospital bed and the fear that our daughter could be delivered at any second if she was in distress.
Baby girl looked great. She danced around on the monitor and had a great heartbeat. They soon came in with discharge paperwork and we headed back into the snow. Getting home was a crazy adventure. It had snowed about six inches in the four hours we had been in the hospital. We had to take it really slow because everywhere we looked there were vehicles that were stuck. Even SUV’s and trucks were stuck. We made it into our neighborhood and at the top of the hill, we got stuck in a bunch of snow. There was no way to move. Chad tried to maneuver the car but to no avail. We were stuck. So we hopped out of the car and at 37 weeks pregnant we hiked in a foot of snow home.
Let’s just say it took me a few days to recover from those events. My body was convinced we had climbed Everest. Not to mention as time went on the bruising to my abdomen became more apparent. Most of the bruising was by my rib cage, which is where baby girl loves to hang out and stretch. Her every movement felt like my stomach was going to explode open.
False Labor Scare
Two days after the version we went in for a shot I needed to have. (The only thing I will say about this is don’t google stuff. Dr Google is a horrible Doctor as our OB said.) Basically through a miscommunication, Chad and I rushed to the office thinking that some oversight had happened for a shot I needed to have much earlier. But everything was fine, I still needed the shot. It just wasn’t as terrifying as I thought or as risky to the baby as Google made it seem. I have since resisted googling things.
While we we in the office, they hooked us up to a fetal monitor to check on baby girl since the version had been just about 48 hours prior and they wanted to check in on her. I was very sore and in a lot of pain. I told them I had been experiencing cramps. While hooked up, they discovered I was having contractions. As a first time mom, I had no clue what contractions feel like. You can read the best birth books and go to classes and still think I have no idea what the heck my body is doing. The contractions ended up being regular and consistent enough to warrant the doctors concern. They were about 3-5 minutes apart so they to see if I was progressing. They checked things and I was dilated to a one (nothing too crazy) and 80% effaced. So they sent us to labor and delivery for continuous monitoring. They needed to make sure I wasn’t in labor because if I was, we would have to have a c-section since baby girl was still settled under my ribs. They told us that it would be about an hour of monitoring and i couldn’t eat or drink anything as a precaution.
Chad and I settled into our room, 316, and played on his poker app he developed. I began learning what contractions felt like and found they were pretty regular and uncomfortable. I wasn’t in crazy pain, but the bruises on my abdomen added to the pain of my tightening belly. An hour passed and they decided to keep me just in case. It started snowing outside and Chad and I joked that she was going to come in the snow one way or another. We decided to watch some TV and just process a little bit what life would be like if she debuted that night.
About four hours into our stay the doctor wanted to make sure things weren’t just moving slowly and they let me get into a Jacuzzi tub. That was my favorite part. If God ever lets me have a natural birth, I am spending my time in that thing. Our hospital resembles a spa, and this tub was something I wish we could install in our bathroom. The tub was massive, had jets and made the bruising on my belly feel so much better. I could still feel the contractions, but I was in a lot less pain. After a 45 min soak in the spa tub, we hopped out and were checked again. No progress. We were sent home. It was determined that likely it was mostly uterine distress from the version. I was experiencing both contractions and spasms. She also was moving quite a bit so my body was responding to all of those things.
We were both relieved and kinda disappointed. We had gotten excited at the thought of meeting her and also loved the idea of the process of how she would arrive be done. We both were thankful for a little more time the two of us.
Scheduling a C-Section
This past Monday we went in for another appointment. Baby girl has settled into my rib cage and hasn’t flipped. So we scheduled her birthday (which is the weirdest feeling by the way). April 4th is the big day.
I have had a lot of ups and downs with the thought of surgery. God is gentle and has provided a lot of support through various people who have been comfortable enough to just let me be in process. I want her to get here safely, but also have been confronted with some real fears and triggers over things. The enemy is cruel and likes to drag out old stuff sometimes. God has faithfully met me in each of my fears, triggers and spoken truth where lies lived. At the very least, a new layer of healing has been ushered in. Β God is always committed to total freedom and healing in all things. I didn’t think that baby girls’ means of arrival would be one of the spaces he would use to love on me in such tangible ways.
If you feel so inclined, please pray for us on Monday, April 4th at 12:30pm MST. That’s when the excitement is going down. I want to remember what happens. I want to be peaceful and present as she enters the world and most of all I want her to get here safely. Also, be patient with us. I don’t even know what to expect regarding recovery. We may not update/post pictures of her for a few days while we get this whole parent thing halfway grasped. We will be getting to know our little person. Thanks for your prayers.
-Erin, Chad and Baby Girl