My baby boy just turned 3 and I am filled with a bittersweet joy. It’s truly amazing to think that just three short years ago, I lay in a hospital bed cradling my newborn son and today he is racing hither and yon with his older sister screaming at a feverish pitch.
Like so many women today, having children was not an easy task for me. I did not have the experience like the woman on the Clear Blue Easy Commercial,
“I’m feeling a little irregular today. Could I be pregnant?”
Most times I knew exactly when I got pregnant, sometimes to within a few hours to days. There were no “oopsies” for this gal! For me, pregnancy was a deliberate act, which is probably why the two pregnancy losses I experienced were so agonizing. I knew before ever becoming pregnant that I would likely have problems having children. Yet when the reality struck that did not make things any easier.
My productive reproductive era lasted a mere 5 years. In that time, I had 4 conceptions, 2 miscarriages, 3 abdominal surgeries (a myomectomy to remove uterine fibroids and 2 cesarean sections) and 2 pregnancies that resulted in my 2 children. From 2001 to 2006, I was pregnant every year–even if only for a few short weeks–with the exception of 2003. As I look at it now, I can’t believe how amazingly short the time frame was. But while I was in it, it was agonizingly long.
Ironically, two of the most difficult times for me emotionally were my two “successful” pregnancies. Each pregnancy came after a miscarriage, and while everyone told me to relax and to enjoy being pregnant, I was a scared emotional mess. Because of the prior miscarriages, surgeries and my advanced maternal age, both of my pregnancies were high risk. During my first pregnancy I was regularly reminded and prepped for what would inevitably become my tenure on bed rest. To everyone’s surprise, I was never prescribed bed rest, and despite having “morning sickness “ all day for all 9 months I was still able to teach aerobics classes (even back to back step classes), well into my seventh month. My second pregnancy was even mellower than the first. I continued to teach aerobics, produced the Bedrest Fitness DVD for women on bed rest (just in case I’d need it!), recertified for my physician assistant credential while in my 8th month and had an uncomplicated cesarean delivery at age 40.
But there were those times when panic and anxiety would overwhelm me and I didn’t know who I could talk to about it. My obstetrician would tell me to just put the negative thoughts out of my head, but they always crept back in. I was told “not to borrow trouble” and “to count my blessings”. When I worried about my body failing me as I believed it had done previously I was told, “Focus on your baby. Draw whatever strength you need to save that little one.”
And then one day it dawned on me, “What about me?” I silently asked. “Doesn’t anyone care that I at times I feel too scared to even move for fear of losing this baby? Doesn’t it matter that this is really hard and that even though I am “blessed”, I know that in a blink of an eye, that blessing could vanish and I can’t get that thought out of my head?
A huge turning point for me came when one evening I was watching a movie on a cable channel about a pregnant woman in some sort of medical crisis and her husband was being asked who he wanted the doctors to save. I was completely freaked out by the movie and yet I couldn’t stop watching it. My husband came into the room and asked,” Why are you watching this? It’s only going to upset you?” And when he realized that I wasn’t going to change the channel, he politely informed me,” I just want you to know that if this happens to us, I am picking you. “
Pregnancy is a physically and emotionally charged time in a woman’s life. While much of the focus is on the health of mom and the baby, sometimes a woman’s emotional health becomes secondary. When we ask a pregnant woman how she is, we are really asking, “How are you doing physically and is the baby developing normally?” Rarely do we ask a pregnant woman how she is feeling emotionally and if there is anything she’d like to talk about. Even if she has a complicated history like I did we assume all is well if the pregnancy is well. You know what they say about assuming…
For those of you reading this, I choose you. I choose to serve you, the mamas, the women who will birth children that you are working so hard to care for and give life to. I choose to cater to you, to pamper you, and to give you a place to honestly say, “I am scared.” “I don’t like this.” “I don’t feel well” and “This is Hell!!!” Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond will provide services that will make this journey less stressful for you and your families and on a larger scheme, will provide gifts and resources that my seem totally frivolous to some but will remind you mama, that we know how hard this is on you. We’re here for you, cheering you on, and ready to listen and when we can, lend a helping hand.