So here I am. Tired, mentally drained, smelling like rotten milk. My nails are broken, legs unshaved and I’m pretty sure I forgot to put deodorant on today.
You’ve been there right? If not, you certainly know someone who has. You’ve seen the memes on Facebook. You’ve read about it in a book. You’ve maybe even seen that episode of Sex and the City when Miranda becomes a new mom and has a meltdown because she hasn’t had a hair appointment in months. Then, Samantha gives up her appointment and spends the day with the baby so Miranda can have an hour of normalcy.
It punched me in the gut at 3 a.m. on a Thursday morning, after 15 weeks of bed rest.
I obviously knew it was coming, but I spent so much time putting it off that I didn’t actually think much about what was coming next.
When I was diagnosed with cervical insufficiency at 19 weeks pregnant and put on bed rest, my main focus for the next 15 weeks was keeping my baby in my belly. Every day, I would walk on eggshells, making sure I didn’t do anything to strenuous or stressful that would cause her to arrive early. I counted my steps to ensure I didn’t get too much exercise. I watched what I ate to make sure I didn’t have something that would cause me to suddenly go into labor. I was even afraid to take long showers, in fear that my water would break while I was standing too long or trying to bend over to shave my legs. It was a dicey 15 weeks, and it seemed to last forever; however, I spent so much time trying to stay pregnant, that I didn’t really think about … motherhood.
It started for me at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5. My amniotic fluid had technically been leaking for 7 weeks, but that night the small leak turned into gushes. By 1 a.m., the contractions started and by 3 a.m., they were less than one minute apart. The baby was breach so my husband and I were taken to the operating room for an emergency caesarean section. Nora Renee Dahl arrived at 3:33 a.m. She was 33.4 weeks and weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces.
I saw her for a second before she was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). My husband joined her as the doctors “put me back together,” following the delivery. This, by the way, is something no one talks about and nothing can prepare you for. I felt like there was an earthquake in my stomach as the doctors stretched and pulled everything back to where it was supposed to be.
Once they stitched me up, nurses led me to recovery, where I immediately started pumping and I feel like I haven’t stopped since. Who knew it would be so hard to feed a baby?
It’s been 30 days. My little miracle is still in the NICU, working on eating. Each day, I try to breastfeed her every three hours. She usually takes a little, but nurses give her the rest through a feeding tube. When this process is over, I have to pump the rest, in order to keep my supply up for when she starts eating more. Before I know it, it’s time to feed her again.
It’s harder than I ever imagined, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
If you would have talked to me ten years ago, I probably would have told you that kids were not in my future. I would have been a sophomore in college, and I had my mind set on becoming an anchor for a large market television station. I looked up to “career women,” and didn’t have a desire to become a mother. I was completely content with the idea of being the cool aunt.
I’m glad I changed my mind. I’m glad I realized that I could have a career and a family. It doesn’t have to be “either” “or”.
Even after everything I’ve been through and knowing the challenges that still lie ahead, I can’t imagine my life without my little girl. Every time I hold her, my heart bursts. Every time she cries and I soothe her, I feel accomplished. Every time I look at her, I feel complete.