Going through pregnancy, birthing a baby, and now being a mom is truly the most amazing experience in my life to date, and I did it twice. But honestly, I don’t think I could do it a third time. Mostly, I don’t think my body could do it a third time.
Before my first pregnancy, I had these great fantasies of what an amazing and cute pregnant woman I would be. I was going to be the one that gained only 30 lbs, did prenatal yoga everyday, and only ate organic, healthy food. These expectations led to great disappointment in myself when I gained 60 lbs after using pregnancy as an excuse to eat anything and everything I wanted, and I hated the discomfort of prenatal yoga. On top of that, both pregnancies led to Thrombocytopenia; my blood platelets went down . . . way down. During my first pregnancy, I was shocked when, already in labor, I learned that having an epidural was not an option because of my low platelets; the ensuing 26 hour all natural labor was tortuous. For my second child, I knew my doctors were going to induce labor in order for me to have a blood transfusion, and because of this knowledge, I was a little more prepared mentally and I even brought in my massage therapist.
But here’s my point: for me, it’s not the expectations I had about pregnancy versus my reality of being pregnant that stay with me to this day. What really stands out for me are the other people who supported me. Those who were there by my side watching me transform into something I had never been before . . .a mother.
Today, I am graciously standing beside a dear friend, a single mother about to give birth for the first time. I know that I am no substitute for an amazing father or husband, but one of the things that I did learn from both my pregnancies and births is that it wasn’t my husband who I went to for help during my pregnancies. Don’t’ get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade him for the world; it’s simply that he is a man. And yes, I am sure there are plenty of men out there who can fulfill this role – this is not meant to be male bashing in any way. However, in my experience it was the women who walked before me and beside me that guided, listened and held my hand through the transformation from girl to mother that provided the most support throughout the process of pregnancy and now motherhood.
The relationships I have with women are forever changed since going through my pregnancies. I have friends that were not close friends prior to being pregnant. I have a dear friend who I would call all the time simply because she was six months further along than I was. I had another friend with me when I gave birth simply because she had three kids already – and she was the one who spent the night with me in the hospital after I gave birth so my husband could go home to the dogs (and he has a bit of a hospital phobia). I have another girlfriend that I would call after my son was born for parenting advice because I loved the kind of mother she was to her kids. These women remain some of my best friends today.
Prior to being pregnant, I didn’t reach out. Prior to being pregnant, I took my girlfriends for granted. I’m not saying that I no longer feel vulnerable and insecure in some of my relationships with women. What I am saying is that the women showed up and stayed beside me when I needed them most. As my mid-wife told me during my second pregnancy, “giving birth is our first action of letting go” (regarding our kids). I would take it a step further and say that for me personally, giving birth was a true act of letting go, allowing me to be vulnerable with other women, and letting them into my life on a level I had never experienced before. I am grateful to have the opportunity to be on the other side, and that my friend is letting me into her life in a way I have never been before.