Every night, usually between 1 and 3am, I find myself sitting in the dimly lit nursery – rocking and feeding Cullen. Both of us are sleepy, and we don’t say much to each other. He eats and looks at me with his big blue eyes, and despite the time on the clock, I savor our time together and stare back at him. After a few minutes he usually closes his eyes as he nurses himself back into his deep sleep, at which point I turn to my phone as a distraction to keep myself awake. Several times in the last few weeks, I have found myself sitting and feeding him, while re-reading his birth story.
The last 8 weeks with Cullen have been nothing short of amazing. I truly never knew I could love being a mom this much. I have felt joy, love, and so much hope for the future. I have also felt something else that I wasn’t really expecting – I miss being pregnant!
Prior to getting pregnant, I was nervous about how it would feel and how I would handle such a life changing experience. In the first few weeks of adjusting to the news, I found myself really wrapped up in all the details of what was happening to me, how this would affect me, and what my life was going to be like going forward.
About halfway through my pregnancy, I started finally showing on the outside, and feeling the miracle of tiny kicks on the inside. I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, but there was a definite turning point where I no longer worried about myself or my own changes, and the focus shifted to the little life I was helping to form.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy, and I found myself to be completely occupied by my big belly. Cullen would kick all day long, and I found it hard to focus on much else knowing that he was communicating with me in his own little way. I would sit and daydream about all the things his life would bring. I can’t possibly express how deeply I felt our connection long before his birth.
Before pregnancy, I always though of childbirth as something scary and traumatic, and something I dreaded as an obstacle to “get through” in order to have a baby. Again, I thought about my own fears for my body – the pain, the tearing, and the risks.
And then the day finally came when my labor started, and I found that the only thing I thought about was Cullen. There were points in labor when I developed a high fever, and other times where I shook uncontrollably. Normally this would have caused my anxiety to kick in and my panic to start, but I remained unusually calm. My only focus was on his heart rate and progress. He was staying strong, and so was I – communicating as a team long before our formal introduction.
I have a number of pregnant friends right now, all nearing their delivery dates. Of course the topic on their minds is childbirth, and they ask me many of the same questions that I remember asking when I was in their shoes. It’s funny to find myself on the other side of the conversation now, understanding their fears and concerns, and yet knowing that despite those, the best is still to come for them.
I am often asked now if we plan to have more children, particularly after having such a long and grueling labor. My answer usually draws some funny looks, but it’s true. I honestly feel lucky to have had such a long and drawn out birth experience. Lucky that first of all, I had the privilege of experiencing pregnancy and childbirth at all. And secondly, that my long labor allowed me to feel so connected to both my body and my baby through the process.
Perhaps I would have felt that way anyway, who knows. My experience is the only one I have. And of course I can look back on all of this in hindsight and feel grateful now, even though I probably wouldn’t have wanted to hear “you’re so lucky!” at hour fifty two. But as I look back, more and more I realize that I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way (okay, I probably could have done without the 3+ hours of pushing). With every passing hour I felt closer to Casey, closer to Cullen, and closer to myself in a spiritual sense that I didn’t know existed.
I met with my midwife yesterday to talk about various postpartum things, one of which was our plans for future children. I hope that I get to experience the joy that is pregnancy again and again. There is a lot of advice you hear when you’re pregnant, some helpful and some not so much.
Having been through the entire process now, the one thing I wish someone had told me was that they loved childbirth, because I absolutely did. Of course each birth and each experience is different, but I wish it had been something I had looked forward to instead of feared. One thing is for sure, when my time comes to (hopefully) do it again, I’ll still be nervous and of course I’ll still worry, but most of all I will be excited.