How can you possibly explain the feeling of becoming a parent for the first time? My husband and I had played the role of what I believe is the typical young married couple when our biggest worry was figuring out when to have a child ;) We said we would plan to have our first child around age 25. At the time, it seemed like a good number...we considered the age that would put us at when we might be ready for a second child, when our child was active, and even when we would possibly be grandparents. But, when 25 rolled around, waiting one to two more years didn't seem like that much of a difference, so we decided to NOT be in such a hurry to procreate.
However, that was before we realized that I had a cyst the size of a lemon growing in one of my ovaries. After the discovery and months of monitoring the cyst, the doctor finally gave us options of how to proceed. The cyst wasn't growing very fast, but it wasn't going away either, so the doctor said we could continue to monitor the growth (meaning I would continue to have a lot of discomfort), remove it by surgery, or try to get pregnant. Apparently, pregnancy hormones can cause cysts to vanish. Prolonged discomfort didn't seem appealing and surgery could mean removal of an ovary. Considering that the doctor said he wouldn't know what (if anything) he might need to remove until actual surgery, surgery seemed a little scary to even consider before we had even had the chance to try to have a child.
So, it really didn't take a lot of thought or discussion to conclude that we were going to try to get pregnant, as originally planned, around age 25. It only took two months of trying, and we found out we were pregnant! And, the journey of being pregnant began...nausea for the first 3 months, watching my stomach grow little by little, craving sweet pickles with mild cheddar block cheese, and feeling the baby move inside me...all such an experience!
The whole pregnancy went pretty smoothly, minus one little "hiccup". Because of the cyst in my ovary, the doctor decided to do an ultrasound early in the pregnancy, during which they found out that I had placenta previa. The placenta had attached to my uterus very close to the opening of my cervix. This could have meant possible bed rest and/or c-section; so, we were thrilled when we found out that, as the baby grew and my uterus expanded, the placenta slowly move away from the opening of my cervix.
Pregnancy was wonderful and stressful all at the same time. It was amazing to watch my stomach expand and feel every little movement of the baby, but it was kind of stressful to not be able to see what was going on inside of my uterus. We couldn't make sure the baby was ok in there. We didn't worry much about whether the baby was boy or girl. We just prayed and prayed that the baby would be healthy. But, we had decided that we wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise, so we discussed that with the doctor. Apparently, there was some confusion though, because during the ultrasound, the tech blurted out that we were going to have a girl!
About one week before my due date, the doctor stripped my membranes. Two days before my due date, at 7:00pm, I started having irregular contractions. I went to bed to try to get some sleep, and woke up again at 3:00am with even stronger contractions. The contractions were already at 3-5 minutes part, and had been that way for at least an hour, which is when we were told to head to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital around 4:30am. It was our first child, so we had no idea what might be good or bad, etc. So, we had agreed that if the pain became too much, I would try the "I don't care that I'm in pain" medication first. I don't remember when the medication was administered, but I do remember feeling very loopy headed, and even though I was in pain and having contractions, it made me not care as much. But, the medication caused my cervical dilation to slow down; so, it was stopped and I had to let it wear off a bit to get through some contractions. After a while, I realized that I had still only progressed to 2cm. So, around 9:00am I decided to go ahead and have the epideral, which relaxed me so that I was able to get some sleep. Then, what seemed like very little time later, it was time to push.
Lalo was born at 1:07pm, weighed 7 lbs, 10 oz and was 21 inches long. She had the most beautiful head of jet black hair (explains all the heartburn...lol) and bluish-gray eyes. I couldn't believe it...I was a mother! This tiny little perfect person was mine to hold and love and care for. Such overwhelming emotion...happiness, a seemingly unrealistic moment, and having somewhat of an unbelief that God would give me such a responsibility.
Looking back on the first year of Lalo's life, I would now say that it seemed to absolutely fly by. But, if you had asked me then, I probably would have said it felt like it was creeping by...lol. Your friends, your relatives, and even your own mother will guarantee you that you'll get through it. But, in the moment, it doesn't seem like it...LOL. There's a lot that people "leave out" when they talk to you about what happens after delivery. There is a lot of healing (even with a normal birth) that needs to take place, natural/typical things that happen to a woman's body during and after delivery, and also things that the baby might go through. Just as an example, did you know that is apparently normal for a female infant to have a "mini period" because of the hormones she receives from the mother? And, the umbilical cord....wow, did that ever stress us out! It looked so disgusting and did nothing but make us worry about whether that was normal or whether we should be worried. Then there were the common things most people do warn you about before the baby
arrives: dirty diapers, late night feedings, sleepless nights, etc. And, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome was a really scary one. We worried about whether the baby was too hot, too cold, or just right. How to dress her...how to wrap her blanket...when to even give her a blanket. And, yes, we read the "what to expect the first year" books. But, reading about it and actually experiencing it are two VERY different things!!
But, we made it. We made it through our first year, second year, third year, fourth year, and fifth year with Lalo. And, we even decided to go through it all over again by having Bubby! Because, despite all the stuff that might seem bad and annoying, there is so much more that makes it worth it. One little minute of snuggling with a tiny little baby, who you can call your own, is like nothing else in the world. And, children make us better people!! I would have never believed that we could possibly have two children so healthy, smart, and wonderful. So, I guess everyone was right...we can do it :) We can be parents!!! Go figure!!
And, I can't believe I'm already writing about Lalo's 6th birthday! Where did the past six years go? It seems like just yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital. Wow, how my world has changed! Her presence helps me to better understand the importance of family, my role as a wife and mother, and the overall person that I should be. She's more than just my first child. She's more than just the reason I became a parent. She's a reason for me to be who God wants me to be.
Happy Birthday Lalo!