Mia’s Mom-alogue Chapter 1: If you ain’t first you’re last

 

The idea behind mom-alogue

So there I was, sitting with my nearly one year old baby ( well 10 months let’s not age him) sending memes back and forth with a girlfriend who also recently had a baby and then sharing stories of how these memes actually related to our new normal – why yes my baby did bite me while feeding today and yes I did snort his snot out of his nose… And it was in this moment I decided I was going to start a podcast for new moms. As I started to read up on “how to start a podcast” my baby woke up. I decided if I couldn’t figure out how to start a podcast in an hour nap time it wasn’t for me. And so instead I decided to start sharing my mom life lessons here on my blog.

There are a million “real” and “honest” and “funny” mom blogs/podcasts/youtube channels out there right? So what sets mine apart you may ask? Absolutely nothing actually. I have no qualifications, no degree, I am definitely not a doctor – although my mother-in-law is (if you are a mom friend of mine I have definitely said that to you oh a dozen times). But I have just leaned so much on my own friends to get me through the ups, downs, and everything in between of becoming a new mom, that I wanted to be your friend and help you through this crazy, beautiful, exhausting, emotional time of your life. And so every month I will add to the blog a new mom-alogue and I promise to be real, and honest, and open, and I like to find humour in some of these moments (how else do we make it through on like 4 hours of sleep a day?) and I am sure no one will really care because again, lack of qualifications, but that’s ok. If I can make one new, exhausted, and overwhelmed mom feel slightly less lonely then my job here is done. So let’s begin at the beginning.

Chapter 1: If you’re not first you’re last 

I decided to begin my mom-alogue with my experience of being the first of my friends to have a baby. My husband and I were one of the lucky ones that snuck our wedding in before the pandemic, and while I begged to wait until our friends tide the knot to start trying, after the zillionth covid wave, we decided it was time to try this whole baby thing out. Being the first brings on anxiety that I never really expected. Will my friends want to hang out with me ever again because I now bring a crying piece of hip luggage along? Will I ever sleep again ( I really really really like sleep)? I have never held a baby before what if I don’t support the neck right and it break? I don’t have any qualifications to keep this mostly helpless human alive!  (This was a surprisingly very common question or at least statement in my birthing class).

When I got around to taking a pregnancy test and texted 2 girlfriends and my mom asking if they saw the faint pink line I did, while holding it up to every light in the house I had this overwhelming sense of I am so so not cut out for this. I was more scared than that time I came face to face with a black mamba (just the world’s most poisonous snake). And then the very next day I got indigestion for the first time in my life and I knew for a fact that faint line that everyone said I was making up was really there and oh ya that indigestion I speak of lasted for 9 whole months.

We then had to patiently wait for the genetic testing results. The doctor called  me while I was working and when I called back they were on their lunch break. I spent the next 2 hours (which felt more like 10) panicking over every worst case scenario. Finally I was able to get through, and with tears in my eyes and clearly in my voice I asked the doctor how bad is it? She said you are low risk – would you like to know the gender?

Since I was the first of my friends I didn’t have anyone to really talk to about this.  The next few weeks google and I became both best friends and worst enemies as every cramp I felt could either be very normal round ligament pain, or an immediate visit to the ER.  There is nothing worse than going for your dating ultrasound and then literally never speaking to a doctor again for a month. I can be an anxious person but this took things to a whole new level. And while every blog told me to relax my brain said HA.HA.

On top of all of that my indigestion was making me feel sick daily, I had to pee every 20 minutes, oh and I had a food aversion to everything including coffee, which didn’t help with the fact that I was beyond exhausted. In fact I would get to 2 in the afternoon and just need a nap. And by need a nap I mean I would fall asleep on the carpet in my office. I called it my office dirt naps since I didn’t even have the energy to get to my bedroom. It was a fun time, and again I didn’t really have anyone to turn to in my friend group.

The turning point

Eventually a friend of a friend reached out and told me about pre-natal workout classes she was doing. I was only 14 weeks at the time and not showing yet so I didn’t think I qualified for prenatal classes, but I decided to go anyway. It was here that I met my mom crew – my people. We would go on walks together, for none coffee dates (remember I couldn’t stomach coffee). And lunches. I would come home to my husband and be all giddy about the new girlfriend I made and whose number I got today. It was like dating, but way less pressure – and thankfully since I was a few weeks behind all of them they could prep me for what was to come. The awkwardness of the 20 week scan where the tech will literally not say one word to you, the disgusting sugary drink you have to chug for the gestational diabetes test, what a mucus plug is (that was a fun life lesson). I was so thankful for this group of friends.

Yes there are advantages to being the first 

Now let me tell you why I say ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last’. While I was scared, anxious, overwhelmed to be the first of my friends it actually turned out to be a true blessing. Guess what, I still got invited to dinners and trivia night – but instead of two hands to hold the baby I had 20. Everyone wanted a snuggle. “Do you want me to hold the baby while you finish your dinner?” “Do you want me to hold the baby while you shower?” “Can I just hold your baby?” – Guess what, the more babies that come into the group, the less and less that happens – everyone has their own baby to stop from falling down the stairs or eating rocks. Don’t worry through friends – I will always try and offer to hold your baby because I know how helpful it is. And even if you aren’t the first your baby is not last – your baby is special and wonderful and special – but for any of my mommas out here feeling the fear because they are the first of their friend group to take the plunge, just know it isn’t that bad – and then you can pass down all your “expert” advice (again I have absolutely now qualifications except my baby seems to be a happy camper 96% of the time). And now I get to be excited for all of my friends that are going through their own pregnancy journey.

That is all for now my friends – stay tuned for chapter 2.

You got this mommas

xo

Mia

My positive birth experience and what helped me along the way

 

Anxious, scared, nervous – all words I would use to describe how I felt when I was pregnant and knowing that as I was counting down to meeting my little man I was also counting down to giving birth. I didn’t have any close friends that had given birth before and so I had only heard second count stories – a lot of them rather frightening IMO.

“Contractions are a pain I can’t describe.”

“I had such bad separation and tearing, I am not sure my body will ever be the same again.”

A few of the things I heard during my journey – these quotes accompanied with horror stories of episiotomies, emergency c sections, 24 hours of labour.

As I moved further along  in my pregnancy, I started to deal with some issues. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was experiencing high blood pressure at times. Needless to say the fear of birth crept into my mind on a daily basis and I was having trouble actually enjoying the pregnancy.

But then it occurred to me that this is an experience I may never get to go through again and so instead of being afraid of what was to come I should try my best to enjoy every kick, every movement, every ultrasound photo. I should do my best to connect with the little bean that was growing by the day, that I was creating.

So instead of letting fear take over, I decided to take matters into my own hands and started to do certain things that made me embrace the experience instead.

I started doing daily meditation and breathing techniques which helped with my blood pressure. I made sure that I moved every day to keep my blood sugars low and to keep my body strong. I started doing prenatal yoga (which if you know me, you know I am not a big yoga person) to help with my flexibility. I started listening to hypno-birthing podcasts, particularly ones that focused on positive birth stories for all different kinds of birth (large babies, home births, c-sections) so that I could realize that no matter what happened with our birth, it could be a positive story.

On top of mentally and physically preparing as much as possible, I also wanted to have as much knowledge as possible. I know for some ignorance is bliss, but for this I wanted to understand all of the possibilities. I came up with a birth plan, did research on c-sections and how to make them a positive experience as well, came with a list of questions for my doctor for each checkup, asked if I could visit the birthing room when I visited the hospital. Having as much information as possible made me realize this wasn’t going to be a glamorous experience but I was feeling prepared and confident that my body wouldn’t let me down and I would be able to deliver a healthy baby boy.

Then came those unexplainably painful contractions at 12:30 on Christmas morning. The stories I had heard were right, this was a full body pain that I had never experienced before. There is no way to describe it – I won’t lie it is bad. I just had to keep reminding myself that it would only last a minute and then I would get a break, be it a short break but a welcomed one.

We made it to the hospital about an hour later and about 2 hours from when the contractions started I had an epidural put in and finally the pain subsided. By the time we made it to the hospital I was already 6cm dilated, we were in active labour.

Baby boy was sitting pretty high for quite some time and so the nurses told my husband and I to relax, we were in for a bit of a wait. I was actually able to get some sleep during this time (thank you modern medicine). Once in a while a nurse would come in to check baby and my vitals to make sure we were good. The team at the Squamish hospital  was so incredible, making sure I was as comfortable as can be, and keeping me as calm as possible – even when the doctor told me that if the baby didn’t move further down we might have to do a c-section.

They started me on some oxytocin to try and move babe down and the incredible nurses helped me move into different positions. Since I had an epidural I couldn’t really use my legs so they worked with me to get me on hands and knees and on my side. They also helped me walk around a little bit.

12 hours after we arrived at the hospital the nurse casually checked me. I was 10 cm and after checking with the Dr. she came over and told me, ‘it’s time to push.’ The anxiety came over my body but it was quickly calmed when she started telling me how I was going to do it. I knew I had an incredible team with me that was going to make sure me and baby were safe.

I didn’t have the sensation that I needed to push now – maybe because of the epidural, but we started on my side. Deep breath in and then pushing as hard as I could for 10 seconds – and repeat. We then moved to my back and as soon as I got into this position (even though I had read all the terrible things about it) the baby’s head was starting to make it’s way out. The doctors and nurses were so positive – affirming me on every push that I was one step closer to meeting my baby boy while my husband lifted my leg to help out with every contraction.

“He has a lot of hair”, is the one thing I remember the doctor saying. The next thing I know she is passing this purple human to my husband who then placed our little man on my chest. 53 minutes after I started pushing our sweet Max was here.

Most of the labour was a blur. I do remember the relief of pushing out the placenta and a bit of pain being stitched up (I had two category 1 tears and one category 2). But I finally had my perfect little human in my arms.

He was weighed and because of my gestational diabetes his blood was checked. 9 pounds 9.5 ounces and 53 cm was the final outcome ( I knew he would be large but I didn’t think I would have the strength to birth a baby that large.) When everything was done we made our way to the postpartum room where we were going to spend our first night together as a family, which also happened to be our first Christmas together.

Every few hours a wonderful nurse would come by to help us with latching and feeding. We were struggling a little with this, but thankfully I had collected some colostrum and we could feed him that in the meantime. Any questions we had were answered, any bell we rang a kind nurse would be there right away to help. I was bleeding, and in pain, and starting to realize my whole life had changed forever – but I felt at peace knowing that we had help.

And after one night of recovery, and a test to make sure we could put Max in his car seat properly, we headed home to start our new life together, and to finally open our Christmas presents, even though we already had the best gift of all.

My tips for a positive pregnancy and birth experience 

Let me start off by saying I was pretty open and honest throughout my pregnancy that I didn’t love the experience. I was dealing with really bad indigestion from day 1 (everyone told me this means my baby would have a lot of hair -and he did). I was then diagnosed with gestational diabetes and so was on a pretty strict diet for most of the pregnancy. But as I got closer to the end I tried  to embrace the experience. I reminded myself how lucky I am to be able to experience growing a human inside me. I would find ways to try and connect with my baby through reading or chats. I would gently poke to get a kick back. I realized these were moments for the two of us that no one else would get to experience and that was pretty special.

Secondly as I share my tips and things that helped me throughout my pregnancy and birth I realize that every woman’s experience is different. What worked for me may not work for someone else and that is ok, but these are tips that were either passed down to me or that I did some research to prepare myself for the best labour (and recovery) possible, so here we go.

1. Do your research 

As the old saying goes ‘ignorance is bliss’ – not when it comes to giving birth. I was so anxious and scared that I figured I wanted to have all the information possible so I could know exactly what might happen and how to best prepare for it. I took my first prenatal birthing class when I was only 15 weeks. I took a prepare to push course at 36. I watched different videos and read articles on best birth positions, breathing techniques, how to avoid tearing, how to have a positive c-section – you name it. But I also tried my hardest not to let my anxiety completely take over and when I saw something that made me nervous I would go to my doctors appointments prepared with questions. I realized that giving birth was completely out of my control, and that was ok because I was as mentally prepared for any situation that could come up and that gave me some comfort. I also came up with a birth plan. Thankfully I didn’t have to use it – but I was prepared to ask questions and understand options in case labour didn’t go as planned.

2. Find something that can help keep you calm

I was so afraid every time I went to the doctors office that I would be diagnosed with high blood pressure that I ended up having high blood pressure. I ended up having to go for 2 tests for hypertension. In my third trimester I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I started listening to the calm podcast and practiced meditating. On top of that I started watching youtube videos for labour breathing techniques that I could use to stay calm but also to help with pushing. The hypno-birthing J breathing technique really helped me focus on pushing down and relaxing my pelvic floor during labour

3. Exercise

Gestational Diabetes proved to be a curse but also a blessing. It forced me to move everyday, even just for a 15 minute walk. This helped keep me in the best shape possible right up until birth – I also did a lot of nature walks, which helped me get out for fresh air. I also credit the working out in helping my post birth recovery go pretty smoothly.

4. Listen to some hypno-birthing and positive birth stories

I only discovered hypno-birthing late in my pregnancy so I never ended up taking a course ( I think I will if we have another baby). But even the podcasts were a huge help for me. I remember the first podcast focused around how your body is creating the right baby for you – and that your body is preparing for that baby. This was a mantra that I carried with me throughout the pregnancy – even when my baby was measuring over 7 pounds at 32 weeks. On top of that I listened to podcasts of positive birth stories for everything from having a big baby to c-section. This made me realize that no matter what experience I had with child birth, I could make it a positive experience.

5. Change your langage 

Another very helpful podcast that I listened to was on language and the importance of that in having a positive experience. Instead of talking about labour in a negative way I would try focus on the positive. The podcast spoke about not using language like where is your pain, because then you will focus on that. Instead try and find ways to focus on what feels good, or what steps you can take to feel better. I wasn’t so concerned about contractions, but I have heard of some people calling them waves or surges to make them more positive.

6. End the day with daily affirmation 

Every morning when I woke up I would come up with a daily affirmation or mantra. Something along the lines of ‘Every day (or every push) brings me closer to meeting my baby’ or ‘I am growing the right baby for my body’. I found some others online that helped me throughout my pregnancy and that I even had in my head as I was in labour to help me get through.

These again are just a few things that helped me during my pregnancy and childbirth. Every women’s experience is different and what helped me might not help you but I was able to (mostly) change the narrative from negative to positive. Sure I was still scared of childbirth, but these steps helped me believe in my ability to get through it – and guess what? We did.

Good luck mommas you got this

xo

Mia