December MomDec 1, 2019
As a mother, my most important legacy was to make sure my daughter felt wanted and safe. My intention was always to provide a stable home for her. As a child, I never felt wanted and my life was not stable.
When I was 17 years old, I showed up for my Depo-Provera shot. The nurse said they were out of Depo-Provera so they would just give me something generic. She assured me it was the same thing, just a different name. Six weeks later, I was having a heavy period followed by clotting. By 12 weeks, I took a pregnancy test and it showed a question mark. I didn’t even know that was possible. It’s usually positive or negative. I booked an appointment with my doctor to ask her about it. She told me, matter-of-factly, that I had had a full cycle and I was not pregnant at that moment so, chances were, I had miscarried.
My boyfriend, who would later become my husband, was relieved that we weren’t pregnant but I couldn’t accept the loss. People thought because I wasn’t trying to get pregnant that the miscarriage shouldn’t affect me. They wondered why I was so worried. I needed to know why it happened. I went for blood tests and learned that my B12 was low as was my blood sugar.
Years later, my husband and I decided to start trying to get pregnant. I had switched birth control methods and had been using a copper IUD for two years. The IUD punctured my uterus causing a cyst. I booked an ultrasound because I was getting cramps. It turns out, I was seven to eight weeks pregnant. They removed the IUD and checked for a heartbeat. They determined that it was not a live foetus. They told me the IUD and the copper made my body inhabitable for a baby. They wanted to clean me out but I needed a second opinion. I wasn’t ready to give up on my baby just yet. I went to a specialist with a high tech, detailed ultrasound machine. There was no baby in there. They said they needed to flush everything out. They performed a medically-induced miscarriage. There was no foetus, just clots.
I started to take maternity vitamins to get my body ready for pregnancy. By then, I had a hope room with a crib and a change table on order. I was ready to go. Everyone knew we were trying. I was eating healthy and I wasn’t drinking. On New Year’s Eve, my husband said, “I’m going to put a baby in you this year”.
I did a pregnancy test. It was positive. I planned to ask my husband to go to the pharmacy. I would tell him to park in the spot reserved for pregnant women. However, the dogs gave me away. I had closed the door to the washroom for some privacy and the dogs were barking to get in. My husband asked me what was going on. In a panic, I flung my test onto the shelves with the toilet paper rolls. I told my husband the dogs were barking at a mouse. He looked at me and asked me if I had a pregnancy test. He rummaged through the shelves until he found the test. When he saw the plus sign, he picked me up in his arms. He was so happy. I knew he was ready. It felt so good to know my baby was wanted.
I remember filling the paperwork before the birth. The doctor was asking me about my birth plan. I couldn’t understand why she was asking me. She was the doctor. I had never done this before. I told her I’d like to be able to move around after the birth so I could get up and change my baby’s diaper but, if I couldn’t stand the pain, then I’d need meds. I was ok with whatever needed to happen to get my baby into this world safely.
I weighed 207 pounds in late pregnancy. I normally weigh 130. I was eating for five. One of the reasons I gained so much weight was that I craved cream cheese and I never drank enough water. The baby always woke me up with a kick at 6am. On the morning of her brith, I slept in. My feet split down the middle from the weight. I was still working 40 hour weeks. It was just a regular day. I was talking to a client when I suddenly felt like I had peed myself. I went to the washroom and saw blood. I got really quiet which is what I do when I’m scared. I wanted to call my boss. I was trying to reach the phone but my belly was getting in the way. The cash manager asked me if I was in labor. I couldn’t speak. She called the ambulance and had them park at a separate door off to the side of the main entrance, hoping to deter onlookers. Instead, it drew a crowd of curious onlookers.
I wasn’t able to reach my husband but, luckily, being in a small town, someone who had just seen me carried out into the ambulance was gossiping at a neighbouring store. It just so happens my mother-in-law works there and she knew it had to be me. My mom noticed my husband’s truck at work so she stopped and picked him up on her way to the hospital. The hospital I was taken to did not have a maternity ward. A doctor came in to see me and closed the curtain behind her. She explained that she doesn’t deliver babies. She had to check my cervix. She warned me that she hadn’t done this in a while. In order for her to send me to another hospital, I had to be less than 4cm dilated. Luckily, I was only at 2 cm.
I did not want to go in an ambulance again so I asked the doctor if my husband could drive me to the hospital. She agreed. We went to Tim Horton’s because I hadn’t had my daily bagel with cream cheese and I was hungry. When we got to the second hospital, they checked me out and said I’d be meeting my baby tomorrow. She was not ready to come out just yet. They gave me medication to help me sleep. My adrenaline combined with the medication just made me hyper. I was pretending to sleep then, when the nurse would come closer, I would sit up to spook her. My contractions were off the chart but I was laughing. My husband and I noticed there were claw marks in the plastic arm rests and I was laughing again. The medication was making me giddy. I heard the lady in the next room scream then there was silence. The doctor recommended we save our screams and just breathe. I was writing and listening to music to help myself relax. My husband was meeting my mother to get my bags. The meds were wearing off and I was starting to feel pain.
A new nurse arrived and she said I was ready to push. I pushed and tore. I felt myself tear and I laughed. My husband was excited about the prospect of me getting a “husband stitch” (insert eye roll). When my obstetrician returned, she was upset that I had been asked to push. She suggested I wait another 45 minutes so I would be more dilated. She wanted to avoid further tearing. My body wanted to push. When I was given the all clear, I pushed for about two hours. My midwife once told me, “When you feel like you’re going to die, that’s when you’re about to have her”. I remember the moment I felt like I was going to die, the pain was so bad. I smiled at my midwife and told her, with a big grin on my face, “I feel like I’m going to die”. Needless to say, I freaked her out. It was good news to me because it meant this was almost over. Getting stitched was the most painful part. They had frozen me but I could feel everything.
My daughter was born one month early but she weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces. I tried to feed her but she couldn’t feed and breathe at the same time. She needed a pacer. She wasn’t in any danger but they took her to CHEO. I demanded to go with her. The nurse explained that my hips were all splayed out. When I insisted, she gave me my dismissal papers and said if I could walk to the nurses’ station with the papers, I could go. I took one step and fell onto my back on the floor. Nevertheless, I was released. No one warned me to pack pads. I needed pads. The hospital had given me bottles of water to spray my stitches and cool myself down. I went through a lot of bottles!
We followed the ambulance, and by the time we were parked, she was in an incubator in blue pod C. I stayed with her at the hospital for 5 days. I was shown how to pump my breastmilk. She was fed by a tube in her mouth while a tube in her nose helped her breathe. I wasn’t producing enough milk. They suggested I go home and drink beer. I drank non-alcoholic beer and used strips to test my milk and make sure there were no traces of alcohol in it. They recommended I pump every two hours but I was pumping every hour. I showed up with a cooler filled with bottles. So many of the babies there had never received breast milk and I had too much so I donated some bottles.
I was able to wean my daughter at 10 months because I had enough frozen bottles to last me until she was 18 months old. I kept donating my milk until I stopped feeding. My daughter was going through seven bottles a day. My husband is a worker. He needed a job. I would pump a few bottles so he could feed our daughter. She slept a lot. It was tough because I wanted to hear her sounds and play with her. By the time she was a month old, she was sleeping from 7am to 7pm. She went through a growth spurt at three months that disrupted her sleep for a bit but it was short-lived.
Becoming a mom made me more assertive. I told people not to come over if they were sick or not vaccinated when my daughter was a newborn. I made people wash their hands in front of me. My ex and I had a list of the few people who were safe to be alone with our daughter. My mother and his were approved but his father could not be alone with our daughter because he would fall asleep. She was such a great sleeper that we could drop her off at his parents’, asleep in her car seat, go hunting and return to the house only to find her still asleep in her car seat.
When our daughter was nine months old, we had a new wood fireplace installed. I took her out for a walk while my husband tested the fireplace with a first fire. I didn’t want to be in the house in case there were fumes. Everything worked well. I had ordered a baby gate but it hadn’t arrived yet. My husband and I were going on our first overnight date since the birth of our daughter. My mother was going to take care of our daughter. I asked my husband to watch the baby while I got changed for our date. He was looking for apps to download for our daughter and didn’t notice her going towards the wood stove with her walker. She gave the fireplace a high five and burned her hand. I was so angry at my husband. I was yelling at him. I said some awful things. I was still screaming at him when we got to the hospital. They were concerned about abuse due to her injuries so we explained what happened and they understood that it was an accident. I promised to not light any more fires until we received and installed the gate. I called my mother when we got home to let her know what had happened and she told me to expect a visit from Children’s Aid. It was the first thing that came to her mind. That is not what I needed in that moment. My mother’s main concern is saving face not being supportive.
My husband and I are no longer together. When I was getting separated, my ex and I wrote out a mutual agreement. We still loved each other but wanted different things. He wanted to date, fool around and party. I wanted structure, a family life where I was wanted and loved. I would ask him when he came home if he had missed me during the day. He would answer, no. It was so draining and I burned out. I wanted someone who would want me and my baby, we were a package deal, not one or the other. I didn’t want to be in a relationship where you don’t do something because the relationship is holding you back. That is not healthy.
When I was young, if I had an accident, I would strip my bed, wash it and put the bedding back on my bed. The man I was living with was not my dad. He was my sister’s father and I wanted to win his approval and affection so I felt the need to hide all my mistakes. When he bought new washing machines and I wasn’t sure how to use them, I slept in the linen closet. I was afraid of the dark and the closet had a light with a chain so I could sleep with some light on.
I started dating a new man. After I moved in with him, my daughter had an accident. Her bed was all wet. My milk let out so my shirt was wet with two circles. My daughter said I had an accident too. We had a shower and got changed. I am so emotionally tied to my daughter that, if she is sick or upset, my breasts swell and, if I press on them, milk comes out. I’m told this is from over pumping. Trying to stop pumping was painful. I had to progress slowly, pumping less. I was expressing so much milk that my nutrients were depleted and I was getting sick. The year after my husband and I separated, I got pneumonia twice. My hair was falling out in the stress area around the crown of my head. We both have some separation anxiety, especially when she goes to her dad’s.
When I bring my daughter to my ex’s house, I worry about her safety because they have CBD and I can smell it in their home. Sometimes it’s because he has some drying in the basement or they’ve had a party. I am terrified about the gummies with CBD oil in them. Why would they make products that look child-friendly if they contain CBD? I am so scared that my daughter will ingest this while visiting their home. All I want is to keep my daughter safe.
I left my boyfriend because he did not want to have children and he was doing his best to avoid getting attached to both my daughter and I. Once again, the future we wanted did not match. I am with a new man now. He loves to cuddle and he is happy to see me. He listens to me and looks into my eyes when we talk. He has three children of his own and he puts them first just as I do with my daughter but we still make time for each other. Our daughters already act like siblings, they get upset when they have to sleep in separate homes and his son makes art for me all the time. He calls us, “The good couple”. I am happier than I’ve ever been, and when I see my daughter with his, there is no doubt in my mind that she was lonely without a sibling. We are both getting the love we were craving.