family, motherhood, pregnancy

8 Reasons Why a Scheduled C-Section is Not the End of the World

c-section

When my OB/GYN laid out the possibilities for the delivery of my breech baby, I was devastated. A planned C-section was the safest option. And absolutely not what I wanted.

I had my plan. Visions of calmly laboring in the tub while soothing music played in the background had danced in my head for months. I wanted the room to be dimly lit and relaxing with Christmas lights aglow. I did not want my baby to come into this world in an OR.

I originally thought a scheduled C-section was the end of the world. I broke down and cried and felt all the hormonal emotions when I found out that my dream of laboring in that hospital tub with Christmas lights all around me would not become a reality.

But much to my surprise, I became the loudest cheerleader for C-sections after experiencing my own. Here’s why:

1. No Labor

I have a low pain tolerance. In fact, I found pregnancy itself painful. But what is more pain than general pregnancy discomfort? Contractions. Or so I’ve heard. The worst that I had to deal with were mild Braxton Hicks contractions. But childbirth has a reputation for being painful for good reason. And with a planned C-section, you get to avoid that.

2. No Tearing

When a baby arrives via a Cesarean incision, that means there will be no vaginal tearing. My daughter didn’t take the usual “path” and that was A-okay. Why? It turns out that she was born with a head in the 99th percentile for circumference. There would have been tearing if she had taken the usual way out. Personally, I’m glad she didn’t.

3. Recovery is (Sometimes) a Snap.

Of course, all recoveries are different because all women are different and have gone through different pregnancies. But with a little help from the pain meds I received at the hospital, I felt ready to be active again after about a week. I ran a 8K race just five weeks postpartum. Family members regularly told me that I should slow down, but I was listening to my body. I felt fine, almost completely normal. And I have a little scar below my belly button to thank for that.

4. You Get to Plan Everything

Type A mamas rejoice! Knowing exactly when you will have your baby means that you can plan ahead. This means you can have your house clean, your hospital bag fully packed, dog-sitters arranged, and even know the schedule of who is visiting the new baby the first few weeks. This was a huge benefit for me personally. Once we knew when the finish line was coming, all the arrangements could be made with a firm timeline. No more waiting and wondering.

5. No Rush to the Hospital

It’s a surreal feeling to park in the hospital parking deck knowing that you will leave with a baby, but not being at all in a hurry. I casually walked inside and even had time for photos along the way. It’s stress free. There were certainly no worries of having the baby in the car on the ride to the hospital when I wasn’t in labor.

6. Relaxed Atmosphere in Surgery

This is not the case for all planned Cesareans, but in many cases the surgery will be fairly routine. My OB/GYN chatted throughout the process, keeping me relaxed and at ease. In my experience, the explanation of a C-section sounds much scarier than it actually is.

7. It’s Faster

I have friends who suffered through labor for days and pushed for hours. But the C-section process took about an hour from getting a spinal at the start to being sewn up and wheeled back to the recovery room with a sleepy, pink newborn in my arms. After nine long months of waiting, it’s like you get an express lane for a baby. No harm in that.

8. The Result is the Same.

This is the main point: at the end, you still have a baby. On October 24, 2017, I became a mother. And on that day, I learned it doesn’t matter how your baby enters the world. What matters are the moments to come.

A C-section isn’t the end of the world. It’s the start of a little life who becomes your whole world.

family, pregnancy

Why We Aren’t Revealing Our Baby’s Name until the Birth

castle

*Photo of the nursery wall. Below this castle is our daughter’s name. No one is allowed in there until she’s born.

I’ll admit it. This used to drive me CRAZY. I could not stand the couples who kept their baby’s name a secret until after the birth because I needed to know. A co-worker could tell you about how I was so desperate to know her son’s name that I dreamed about it on multiple occasions. I was convinced that child would be named Josiah Christopher. He wasn’t. It turns out I don’t have the gift of prophecy.

Now my husband and I are one of those couples who refuse to share our baby’s name with the world. And you know what? It’s really fun.

People have been trying to weasel our baby’s name out of us for weeks. But we still haven’t cracked, or even come close to slipping up. My husband has actually gotten pretty good at giving out politician-style vague answers. For example:

Person seeking name: If your child was to line up with her class by alphabetical order, would she be near the front or the back of the line?

Husband: That depends on the names of the other kids in the class.

You have to admit, that’s a good answer.

I’ve heard many horror stories of parents who announce their child’s name to the public before the birth only to get hateful comments in response. By delaying our baby’s name announcement until after she is born, we are preventing this from happening. My theory is once the name is attached to a beautiful baby girl, you can’t say anything negative about it anymore.

That said, here are our reasons for keeping _________’s name a secret.

  1. If you don’t like it, we don’t want to know. 

Sorry, but it’s true. It’s not your kid. You don’t get a say. So, when we do share our baby’s name, if you think it’s too long, too short, too old, too new, too boring, or too unique, keep it to yourself. Thanks.

2. If you knew someone who was a jerk with that name, I’m genuinely sorry, but that person is a completely different human than our baby.

Just because the only person you’ve ever met named _________ was mean to you does not mean that our child will be a bully as well. Like, not every child named Taylor has grown up to be a world famous pop star. Why you would think the baby’s name has anything to do with her personality is beyond me.

3. If you think it’s going to lead to some mean nickname, we’ve already taken that under consideration.

Trust me. LOTS of thought went into choosing our baby’s name. You don’t have to try to think of ways it could be used against her in the future. We already have.

4. We don’t feel the need to “claim” the name before someone else does.

Some people have asked me what I would do if a friend named their child ________ before I had my baby. Well, I’d name her that anyway. After all, it’s already on the wall in her nursery. Proof that we’re not just copying. And that wall decal was WAY too much of a pain to take it down now. 

5. It keeps one thing just between us. 

This was really the whole point. Pregnancy is today’s social media-driven age is so very public. And much of that is a positive thing. Friends by the hundreds have left encouraging comments on Facebook and Instagram or “liked” my growing belly posts.

But as my husband pointed out, everything about the past nine months has been public. There was the big pregnancy announcement, followed a couple months later by the gender reveal. I even started this new mama blog! It has been a blessing to share our joy with friends and family throughout this time, but we found it important to keep one thing just between the two of us.

In just a few days, ________’s name won’t be just ours anymore. But for a short time it was. And in a strange way, it made us feel like a family, even before she was born.

pregnancy

What to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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A couple weeks ago, I wrote a somewhat snarky blog about what NOT to say to a pregnant woman. While I stand by everything I said in that blog (and continue to get downright rude comments in spite of it), I feel the time is now right to provide an alternative for those who just need a little guidance on what is okay (and encouraged!) to say.

Here we have five things you can say that won’t get you in trouble with a pregnant woman:

1. Pregnancy agrees with you.

Thank you. There is no need to be more specific than this. You don’t have to compliment us on our body or congratulate us for only gaining weight in our tummy (we don’t have a lot of control over that anyway). Remember, the fewer comments about our actual shape, the better. But this simple, nonspecific compliment has the ability to makes us feel pretty for five minutes, despite our pimply skin and swollen feet.

2. You’re glowing.

We all want that fabled pregnancy glow. Only some of us get it. (Did you know “glowing” skin is actually a side effect of our hormones? It’s true. Our wildly fluctuating hormones can either cause our skin to have a rosy glow… or if you’re less lucky, they can lead to serious acne breakouts. Guess which camp I was in.) Still, if you see that we’ve achieved that elusive pregnancy glow, say so. We want to know that you’ve noticed we’ve suddenly evolved into some kind of glimmering mythological creature.

3. How are you feeling? Really?

I’ve heard some mamas get tired of this one, but honestly, it will never wear out on me. If you ask me how I’m feeling, be prepared for the truth. Because I need an outlet to vent that I feel like complete crap (for lack of a better word) most of the time. At 37 weeks 5 days pregnant, I am constantly uncomfortable, I haven’t slept through the night in months, and I sometimes cry because the space below my right bottom rib hurts so bad. I don’t like to complain this much, but it helps to get it off my chest, and it’s comforting to know that others truly care. So please ask me how I’m feeling (but only if you want the truth).

4. You will be a wonderful mother.

Pregnancy gives mamas-to-be a lot of time (9 months, in fact) to think about the future. For a first time mama like me, this is ample time to worry about all of the things that we might struggle with. We’ve heard that our babies won’t sleep, that breastfeeding hurts, and that recovery from birth is difficult. We’re probably spending a lot of time on online forums reading about the problems of other mamas, and wondering if we will struggle with the same thing. Will my baby have her days and nights flipped? Will she have trouble latching on? What if I go through postpartum depression? There is a lot of unknown, but your reassurance in our abilities eases the anxiety.

5. Your child is very lucky to have you.

No one has said this to me, but I think if someone did, it would change my entire day for the better. In truth, I have dealt with a lot to bring my child into the world (let’s just talk about that first 20 weeks of throwing up/being continually nauseous). But the thing is, I would endure another 20 weeks of that horror if that’s what it took to bring her safely into the world (I’m grateful that I don’t have to go through that again, but the point is that I would). My daughter is wanted and she is loved. My baby will grow up with two loving parents that will work hard to provide for her. She really is lucky, as this is not the reality for many children. And while you don’t have to say this to me, I think more people should recognize and acknowledge it when babies are blessed with such circumstances. “Your child is very lucky to have you,” is perhaps the greatest compliment you can give a parent.

pregnancy

What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

pregnant-woman-with-flower-1200We all know that pregnant mamas are hormonal and uncomfortable. (We all do know that right? If this is news to you, please make a mental note.) So why is it that people have a tendency to just blurt out whatever insensitive thought crosses their mind when they are around pregnant women? Most of us have been taught to THINK before speaking since we were young, but it seems that this rule goes out the window as soon as a pregnant belly is involved.

Friends, let’s be a little more careful about what we say around those who are carrying precious cargo. Perhaps you made you comments like this innocently in the past, but in the future please be aware that these phrases have the ability to make even the sweetest mama turn into a raging bear in two seconds flat.

1. How much weight have you gained?

Honestly, this is number one and SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING, yet, I have personally been asked this question on a couple different occasions. Guys. Seriously. Unless you are one of my care providers, you should not be privy to this information. Have I ever asked you how much weight you’ve gained in a particular time frame? NO. Why? Because it’s rude, and frankly, none of my business. It’s not yours either, whether I am pregnant or not. If my weight gain was a problem, that would be between me and my doctor. So stop asking.

2. Are you sure it’s not twins?

Yes, I get it. I have a huge tummy. Why? BECAUSE THERE IS A PERSON THE SIZE OF A PINEAPPLE IN THERE. And a ton of amniotic fluid. And excess blood. And a whole mess of other medical stuff. Fun fact: At 35 weeks, my uterus is 1,000 times its original size. So OF COURSE I look pregnant. And no, it’s not twins. If it was, 1) I would have told you and 2) my doctor would have caught that on one of the many ultrasounds throughout this pregnancy. But thanks for asking. It makes me feel like I’m twice the size I actually am. Cool.

3. You look like you’re ready to pop! There’s no way you are going to make it to [insert due date here].

I was just 29 weeks pregnant when someone made this comment. I was nowhere NEAR about to pop, but thanks for this very considerate vote of confidence. Once again, I now feel huge.

4. Any day now, huh?

This comment was made by an acquaintance at 34 weeks. And it dawned on me: Saying this to a woman with 6 weeks left of pregnancy is like saying, “You’re almost there!” to someone on mile 20 of a marathon. For those of you who have never ran a marathon, please allow me to explain: At mile 20, yes, you are mostly finished the race. There are only 6.2 miles left. BUT THE HARDEST PART IS COMING. Mile 20 is when most runners hit “the wall,” or the point of the race when your body wants to quit and your mind has to take over. The race becomes mental and HARD because all of your muscles are exhausted. This is basically what the last month of pregnancy is like. So don’t tell me my daughter’s birth is “any day now.” Because I know that these days are only getting harder. I am NOT “almost there.”

5. Get your sleep now!

Ha! While this comment is much less offensive than most others, it’s just annoying. You can assume that a woman in her final trimester is NOT sleeping already between constantly getting up to pee during the night and just generally being uncomfortable. Waking up in the middle of the night in a considerable amount of pain is normal for us, and there is little that we can do about it (I’m trying NOT to pop Tylenol like it’s candy, but trust me that it is tempting.) We KNOW that we’re not going to sleep when the baby comes, but at LEAST we will have a baby then so we’ll have a good reason to be up at night! Right now, our lack of sleep seems pointless, and it does not help us to be reminded of that fact.

6. Any comment about a pregnant woman’s body

Unless you are saying something like, “You look great!” or “Pregnancy agrees with you,” just STOP COMMENTING about pregnant women’s bodies. Whether you think a pregnant woman looks big or small, DON’T SAY ANYTHING. Women are different; pregnancies are different, and we all carry our babies differently. Babies can be in different positions in the womb, and it affects how we look on the outside. And of course, babies are all born different sizes themselves. Don’t ask a tiny pregnant woman if her baby is big enough. Don’t ask a woman with a watermelon-sized belly if she is afraid of giving birth to a 10-pounder. Just stop all the body talk. Here is the rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t say it to a woman who is not pregnant, don’t say it to a woman who is.

Finally, a real life example of what not to do:

Co-worker: Are you tipping over yet?

Me: *Gives questioning look*

Co-worker: At first I saw you from behind, but when I see you from the side, WHOOOOA!

Me: Uh, yeah. Okay. *Runs away*

FACEPALM.

Photo by Paul Lin on Unsplash
pregnancy

What No One Tells You about Being Pregnant

cropped-emmanuella.jpg

There has been a tiny human inside of me for eight long months. For all this time, we’ve lived our lives together – she eats what I eat, she kicks me when I’m trying to sleep, she pushes on my bladder when I just peed five minutes ago.

I am THRILLED to be a mama. But you can also be sure that I am counting down the blessed days until my due date (currently 34). Lord, let her come early.

Pregnancy is a blessing. Let’s be clear right now that I understand how lucky I am to be able to bring this child into the world. There are far too many women who wish they could be in my position right now, but can’t for a myriad of medical and personal reasons. My heart goes out to them. I pray that they can one day experience the miracle of budding life inside them as well.

Yet I’ve found that not all parts of pregnancy are miraculous. And honestly, I wish that I would have known about these parts ahead of time. Because y’all, I was not prepared for any of this:

  1. Morning Sickness is like having the worst hangover of your life all the time… except you didn’t drink any alcohol. 

Thank God this ended for me at 20 weeks, but that was still a looong time to feel like death every second of every day. Oh yeah, “morning” sickness is a complete myth. It is ALL THE TIME sickness, and if it’s bad enough, you will spend every available second lying horizontal on the couch trying not to blow the 6 crackers you managed to choke down. Glorious.

2. Skin tags are a thing.

You can develop skin tags in weird places like the inner part of your belly button (I did). They are caused by all the crazy hormonal changes, and you can’t do anything to prevent them (however you can get them removed by a dermatologist after pregnancy). Until then, you just have these awkward little growths. Try not to stress about it too much (but you probably will anyway). And speaking of skin…

3. You probably won’t feel like you’re glowing. 

If you do feel like you’re glowing, you go mama! Embrace it! But in my case, all I got was acne. A lot of it. And SURPRISE! Most acne treatment products are a big no-no for your baby, which means you are pretty much left with very gentle cleansers. Good luck treating serious pregnancy acne with that! This is another thing that (mostly) went away with time, but I NEVER felt the glow. One time, an older man at my church said, “Your hormones are making you pretty.” So that’s something I guess. But no glow for this mama.

4. You can try to be normal, but eventually your hormones will win. 

I’m sorry, but try as you might, you’re bound to have an emotional breakdown at some point of pregnancy. It will probably be over nothing. Your brain might even be telling you that you’re being over-dramatic and stupid, and you do NOT need to cry hysterically over whatever it is. I wish that I could say I’ve only done this once. Nope. Those hormones are real, mama. But you’re making a human, so this is excusable (and bless our husbands who have to deal with this).

5. You might actually hate it. 

Pregnancy is a time of crazy transition, accompanied by not feeling at all like yourself. It’s hard. And though it comes with some wonderful moments (those first little kicks are the best feeling you can imagine!), there is also a lot of stuff that you’d rather didn’t exist. IT’S OKAY if you don’t like being pregnant. You can still love your child more than life itself and hate pregnancy. Your pregnancy and your baby are not one and the same. So take heart. There have been many other mamas that have walked this road, wishing that her back would stop aching and that she could just get some uninterrupted sleep. Despite the aches, the constant emotional roller coaster, and the seemingly endless waiting, YOU ARE MAKING A PERSON. And I am confident that it will all be worth it.

You got this mama. Every hard day that passes, you are one day closer to meeting that perfect little human that God designed for you. But I will still pray that you never throw up all over yourself and your car while driving to work. Because ain’t nobody got time for that (and yes, that is a personal anecdote).

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)