When God Laughs: A Birth Story

Even with the best of intentions births do not always go the way we planned.  Actually, I am not sure any birth does, but sometimes they are more extremely off plans than others.

Today  Katie Gall shares what didn’t go right in her son’s birth, and her journey to motherhood.  And if you would like to hear more about her journey, check out her previous post here.

My little boy, Finn, was born on May 11 via C-Section.

He was due July 8.

The plan was thus:

  1. 1- Go into labor at home on or around July 8
  2. 2- Wait until contractions are close enough together
  3. 3- Grab our pre-packed go bag and head to the hospital
  4. 4- Do my best to deny drugs and at all costs avoid anyone sticking a needle in my spine
  5. 5- Have a vaginal birth
  6. 6- Start breastfeeding
  7. 7- Recover for 4-6 weeks at home
  8. 8- Back to work by mid/end of August

Yea, literally NONE of this happened.  

But you’ve probably heard this phrase before:

“Man plans and God laughs”

Now, I don’t love the term “God” personally.  There’s a lot inherent in that word that I don’t connect with.  But if there is an all-knowing being out there in the universe somewhere then he has been having a good old chuckle watching me try to navigate the past 4 months.

Here’s what happened instead, number by number:

1- Went into labor 2 months early on May 1.  Didn’t enter the hospital till May 3 because I was told I was just peeing myself.

2- Contractions started May 1, but then subsided until May 11 (which, in this case, was a great thing).  I ended up being in the hospital myself for one and a half weeks because leaving the hospital AT ALL meant putting Finn at risk for an infection (because apparently tons of shit just crawls up your vagina every day?!?!)

3- There was no go-bag ready.  Instead, my best friend sprang to action and packed all manner of things into a bag to be carted to Portland so that I had something besides a hospital gown to wear.

4- Right from the get-go we knew he was breech and that I didn’t have enough fluid for him to turn, so since this was my first pregnancy that meant a c-section.  Plus, during labor, they didn’t want to give me anything to help with the pain for fear of it slowing down his breathing AND they kept hoping that it was false labor so I couldn’t do any of the things to make labor more bearable (i.e. birthing ball, walking, etc.)  So I guess I sorta got half of this one?  Though since it ended in surgery, I’m not counting it.

5- …See above.

6- Once he was out he had to stay in the hospital till he could feed himself (among other things, but that took the longest.)  Which ended up being four and a half weeks.  And research has shown that babies grow best at home, not the NICU.  And it’s easier to feed out of a bottle than breast.  So we went the easier route and I pumped like crazy so that he could eventually eat out of a bottle (not exclusively). The hope was to transition him to breast exclusively when we got home but it turns out he HAAAAAAATES breastfeeding.  My child will probably be an ass man.  Or gay.  Which I guess also makes him an ass man (ba-dum ching!)

7- My recovery took place in the NICU.  Though, this was a blessing in disguise.  Because I am sure it’s hard as fuck to try to recover AND take care of a baby 4 days out from major surgery (which is what happens in the US of A.)

8- I’m close on this one.  Heading back just after Labor day.  But starting two months early makes this a lie too.

So imagine this.  There I was, pumping every 2 hours, feeding Finn every 3 through a feeding tube, then a bottle, and having to choose between my husband and my baby every night since both of us couldn’t stay in the hospital room.  At the nurse’s suggestion, I went back to where we were staying every night except 2 because they pointed out that we still had quite a road ahead of us once Finn got home.  There would be plenty of sleep deprivation in my future.

I cried almost every night I had to leave him.  And I cried during the days when they had to nick his heel to test his blood, or move his IV because a vein had blown, or any time he had to endure pain in any way.

And I let myself eat whatever the fuck I wanted.  This was a big deal for me, because I’m a health coach so being good about food and fitness are usually my forte.  I tried to make generally healthy choices, but I was pumping and emotional and hungry all the time and just couldn’t really get myself to give much of a shit about being perfect with my food.  And I just had surgery, so no fitness.

And as I mentioned, Finn didn’t like the boobies.  After many “fights” trying to get him to just FUCKING TAKE THE BOOB ALREADY (I never actually yelled at him… don’t worry), I broke down, did some soul searching, got some great counsel, and grieved the loss of my grand plan.  

Breastfeeding was a no-go, and I couldn’t keep pumping every 2 hours, feeding him every 3-4, and expect to stay sane.

Honestly, I’m still having a hard time with it.  I worry that I gave up too soon.  That I became too selfish about the schedule.  That a “good mom” wouldn’t choose her emotional needs over the most basic need of feeding her child.  How dare I be thinking and stressing about getting back to work when this little nugget in my arms needed my love and attention?

But the fact is, I was so unhappy.  My husband, mother, and friends all noticed.  Tears were constantly under the surface and, really, that is also not something that a “good mom” should allow.

Nothing went as planned with my birth.  I was hoping to do all the perfect mom things, to have this picture perfect moment in life, and instead I was thrown into the turmoil of imperfect solutions and constant self-doubt.

And so, with this piece, I hope to provide myself some relief.  And, hopefully, for those of you too who had a perfect “plan” for parenthood.  I give myself and you permission to release that frustration and surrender to whatever “higher power” you have.  I also give you permission to drink a glass of wine and scream into a pillow when you need.

Because ultimately, your child needs a parent.  A parent that loves them, feeds them, changes their diaper, listens when they are sad, and is always ready with a giant hug for their sorrows or a fire to light under their ass when they need to get it together.  

We aren’t here to be perfect.  We’re here to give love.  In the best way we can.

Katie Gall helps people discover the full power of their body’s ability to achieve optimal health, create a habit of self-love, and live in harmony with their body.

Katie Gall is a Health, Wellness and Empowerment Coach. She helps people discover the full power of their body’s ability to achieve optimal health, create a habit of self-love, and live in harmony with their body.

Pregnancy Kinda Sucks

Please welcome Katie Gall to the Mommy Rebellion.  Katie is a soon to be Mommy and is sharing part of her pregnancy story with us today.

 

 

Growing up, I was given a very rose-tinted vision of pregnancy, as I think are many women. Morning sickness was something I was casually aware would happen, but all of the other negatives were sort of casually blown off with, “Oh, but when you hold your baby in your arms you just don’t care about all of that.”

Which is exactly what I heard one friend (who had never been pregnant – let’s call her Jane) trying to convince another friend of (also never been pregnant but getting married and in a tough situation where her fiancé wanted kids but she didn’t really – let’s call her Susan) when we were at dinner one night.

As a first time pregnant woman, I was LIVID at Jane and trying REALLY HARD not to show it and still productively stand up for Susan.

At the time, I was in my first trimester (now into my second at the time of writing this) and was fully entrenched in the morning sickness, sudden fatigue, bloating, and food aversion and all I could think was:

“Jane, you have no fucking idea what this is like or what you’re talking about.”

Because Susan and I have something in common – we really enjoy using our bodies to feel like free, strong, independent women. And something I have since learned? Pregnancy doesn’t care how you enjoy using your body.

I’m a Health, Wellness, & Empowerment coach for women. I’m also (non-career-wise) a runner, a yogi, a pretty good healthy chef, among many other things pertinent to being a healthy person overall. Prior to pregnancy, I understood my body and its needs down to the fuckin’ T. I was a well-oiled machine that understood my limits and how to push them in a safe and effective way to get the results I wanted. I wasn’t necessarily the fastest or the buffest, but I felt like I fully understood and could communicate with my body.

So when pregnancy happened most, if not all, of those things were taken away because of nausea, food aversion, insomnia, and fatigue.

This caused STRESS above all else. I didn’t feel productive because I had to nap, I couldn’t make myself feel productive because I couldn’t stand for long without getting nauseous or tired or have a random crying fit for literally no reason.

I lost control of my body and thus, my feeling of independence.

“Just calm down and you’ll get through it. It’s ok if you can’t be productive or exercise in the way that you want. Try some gentle yoga or go for a walk instead. That’ll reduce your stress.”

Actually, it won’t.

Because the way I de-stress is by doing those things that you are inherently NOT supposed to do as a pregnant person! I feel CALMER when I’m pushing myself to run faster and farther. I am PROUD when I can get myself into a more difficult yoga pose. I ENJOY skiing, rock climbing, hiking, etc. And I like that I know how to fuel these activities with the right foods.

Stop telling me to just “relax” and then watch me fail at that because all the ways I relax have been taken away.

So, here’s the realization I ended up getting to:

I don’t like being pregnant.

There. I said it. I’m the asshole now.

But the second I admitted that to myself, a change happened…

I calmed down. I’m more content. I’m better able to let myself break my health rules for the sake of just living with how my body is for a little bit.

Because here’s the thing – I DEFINITELY want to have a baby. No questions asked. I want to be a mom so badly! I realized when I was a teenager that I was definitely mom material and it was going to happen for me come hell or high water.

And with that comes the assumption that I WANT to be pregnant.

Part of being a healthy, happy human is being able to communicate with yourself and your body clearly enough that you can identify your wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. And I was blatantly ignoring all of those because of an incorrect, ingrained belief that I WANTED to be pregnant. I mean, it seems like wanting a baby and wanting to be pregnant should go hand in hand right?

But they don’t. At least, not for all women. Wanting to have a child and wanting to be pregnant are two mutually exclusive things.

I liked my body the way it was. I worked hard to be able to communicate and understand its needs and wants for years and I am proud of that work. That work has enabled me to do things I never thought I would physically, mentally, and emotionally, AND make a career out of it.

And to have that all taken away? Even if it’s for a good cause? That’s hard. And it’s, frankly, demeaning to say to a pregnant woman, “Well, just calm down and enjoy it.”

Nope. Shut up and here’s my middle finger at you sir or ma’am.

I wish I had heard a different story. From anybody. This isn’t just something that family life taught me, this is something that was everywhere. I was lucky enough to have a WHOLE LOT of Sex Ed in my life (like… actual education… not just experience.) Pregnancy was always talked about in the positive if it was a wanted pregnancy between two people who love each other, and in the clinical (note: NOT negative) if it was an unwanted pregnancy. The negative always came AFTER the fact, during the actual parenting/responsibility for another human life.

I wish it wasn’t taboo to speak about wanted pregnancy as something that can still be difficult and not so fun. When I am talking to my kids about sex later in life, I’m going to try very hard not to say, “Don’t have sex too young,” and, “Pregnancy is a wonderful miracle of life,” in the same breath. I would rather my kids know that this is a commitment and a responsibility in and of itself, not just once baby is born.

So I guess the point is this: It’s ok to feel like your body is suddenly taken over by an alien. It’s ok to not quite know what your body needs and do your best in the given circumstances. It’s ok to be able to only survive on Nilla Wafers for the day (that’s A LOT of wafers) because everything else makes you want to puke. It’s ok to admit that you don’t enjoy this time of life because you feel so physically inhibited.

And that doesn’t make you a bad person, woman, mother-to-be, partner, or anything else. It just makes you human and aware of your body.

We could all practice listening to our bodies a little bit more.

Katie Gall is a women’s Health, Wellness, and Empowerment coach. 

She guides women toward discovering their inner warrior woman through goal setting, health and nutrition information and accountability, and facilitating an emotional connection between our bodies and our lives.  Find her at www.keepingitrealkatie.com