For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother. I wanted to stay at home, raise a family, and be a wife and mother. No lofty career goals. No dreams of travel. Just motherhood and marriage.
The marriage thing came quickly- I met my better half when I was 18 and we married before I was 19. He has put up with me over two decades now. Motherhood wasn’t so immediate.
We waited a bit to get established. Then we started trying and, month-by-month, all we got were negative tests. Months stretched into years. Years that were filled with testing, disappointment, and a growing sense of inadequacy. None of the tests gave us a reason. We were one of the 20-30% of couples with unexplained infertility. I felt a failure because I could not get pregnant on my own.
In a last-ditch effort, I tried a doctor I had known for years. He suggested we do something called a “Clomid challenge”. I had to take a course of Clomid, a medication that helps induce ovulation. After I finished with the medication, they did an ultrasound to see if eggs developed. They did!! We had the option of doing a procedure called IUI or Intrauterine Insemination. Husband and I discussed it because we knew there was a risk of high-number multiples with Clomid. Our cut-off point was 4 follicles. We felt that was the tipping point of how much risk of multiples we were comfortable with. We had 4 follicles growing, so we moved forward with the IUI on January 19, 2010. We had to wait 2 weeks to see if it worked. However, I was fairly certain I was pregnant with at least one within a few days because morning sickness hit me…HARD.
On February 3, 2010, our fifteenth wedding anniversary, I was standing in Target looking for SOMETHING to help with my tummy trouble when the nurse called me. She had known me since I was 4 and was almost giddy when she told me I was finally pregnant. My husband was having vision correction surgery, so I scurried to the surgery center to tell him. Beaming, he said- when they are older, we will tell our kid you had to give me valium before you told me. (the valium was for the surgery)
My morning sickness was awful. If anyone around you has morning sickness, hug them and send them gifts. It stinks. I am overweight and lost 30 pounds in the first 3 months of my pregnancy, but the baby always measured large, sometimes by as much as 10 days larger. Morning sickness lasted the entire 9 months. I had two kinds of medicines, regular IV fluids, and quite a few nights sleeping on the bathroom floor because it was easier than walking back and forth to be sick.
At 38 weeks, my baby, who I now knew to be a girl, was measuring 12-16 days ahead of schedule. They predicted she topped 9.5 pounds. On top of that, she was in a position that was bad for delivery, with her head to my spine, rump towards my stomach, and facing up. So I had to have a C-section. I felt a failure because I could not deliver my baby on my own.
My miracle was perfect. A full head of dark hair. Huge, knowing eyes. Nurses compared her to Audrey Hepburn. I started nursing, she latched like a champ, but she was not getting enough milk. I had to supplement with formula within hours of her birth. By her one week check, she had lost over a pound and supplements had to be increased. The “meal” routine was: weigh her, nurse her, weigh her again, supplement based on how much she got, pump, repeat two house from the start time, until it was time to start over again. I hated it.
When we were in breastfeeding/ birthing classes, we were taught all kinds of nursing positions. Stores carried cute covers and options for nursing in public. But that wasn’t going to work for me. She would only nurse in one position- football laying on a pillow- and screamed if I used any covers or even if my shirt fell too close to her face.
I was frustrated, exhausted, and miserable. I loved my daughter, was so happy to be a mom finally and thanked God regularly. But nursing and mealtime for her sucked for me. I felt a failure because I could not get produce enough milk to nourish my baby.
Supply issues were finally resolved after about 5 months when someone gave me lactation cookies. We were able to stop supplementing within 2 weeks. I successfully nursed until 18 months, when she self-weaned.
Along the way, during those first 18 months, we faced a hypothyroidism diagnosis and reflux. I wanted to give up nursing, particularly in the beginning. I battled postpartum anxiety and developed social anxiety. Through it all, my husband has been my rock. He held firm to our beliefs for our child, even when I was frustrated and wanted to quit. He spent hours searching the internet for ways to help with each thing that was thrown our way. And, while I often felt a failure, as I am sure I will regularly in the future, I would not give up the blessing that is my daughter, my sweet, smart and sassy daughter.