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Becoming A Mom

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becomingamom

This page is written for all you moms-to-be who are wondering what the heck is going to happen or is happening to your mind and body.  There are a lot of emotions and physical symptoms that arise during this special time in your life.  I loved reading all the information and personal stories I could every step of the way when I was thinking about becoming pregnant and eventually became pregnant.  There are lots of trials and tribulations along the way, but you’ll look back in amazement at this miracle that women experience.

Finding Out I Was Pregnant

findingout

David and I decided to start trying to have a baby in the spring of 2012.  I knew that I wanted to have kids, but I couldn’t decide if the timing was right or when it would be.  I was in my last year of school and we were moving to Colorado that fall.  David really wanted to have a baby before he was 30 years old and he was 28 at this time.  I’m an overthinker, so all of these things preoccupied my mind before I ultimately decided that we would try and see what would happen.  I had been taking Chinese herbs and getting regular acupuncture so that when we were ready to start trying, my body would hopefully be ready too.  We were very fortunate and tried for 2 months and conceived our first child.

Once I missed my period, I took a few pregnancy tests and they all came back negative.  I even went to a clinic for a urine test and it was negative.  It wasn’t until about 7 days passed my missed period that I bought the most expensive pregnancy test (the one that says “yes” or “no”) and there it was, the writing on the wall.  On July 3, 2013, I found out I was pregnant with my first child.

It’s the kind of thing that is a little hard to have sink in.  At this point in the game, you still feel pretty much like yourself (or like PMS).  I ran in the other room and told David I was pregnant.  We hugged and kissed for a little bit and then dreamed about our future.  We decided that we couldn’t wait to tell my mom or my sister and her husband.  We skyped with them and held up a sign with the due date and waited for them to figure it out.  My mom figured it out right away.  Everyone else took a little while and we eventually just gave in a told them.

We had to attend a wedding near Sacramento, which is David’s hometown, the next day, so we told his family that day.  We told a few of our close friends that weekend too.  At this point, I was only about 6 weeks pregnant, so it was super early, but my husband tends to have a big mouth with big news, so it was understandable for him.  I waited to tell everyone at school for several more weeks.

1st Trimester

1strimester

The first trimester is both exciting and unnerving.  I was so excited that I was pregnant.  I had thoughts and dreams for our future.  I dreamt about whether I thought it was a boy or girl, who the baby would look like, what he or she would do and everything about him or her.  I had crazy vivid dreams too.

For me, morning sickness struck at about 8 weeks.  I felt nauseous mostly all times of the day.  I craved “kids” foods that I haven’t eaten for years, such as macaroni and cheese, cheeseburger happy meals, sour patch kids, sprite, jolly ranchers, donuts, etc.  It was nuts.  I tried not to give into myself as much as I wanted, but veggies were a thing of the past.  Some juicy fruits were still palatable, which were pretty much the extent of my nutrients.  I also could still eat oatmeal.

I went to a conventional doctor in Chandler, AZ who give me some outdated advice of not to get my heart rate above 140 bpm, so I didn’t run anymore.  It was scalding hot in Arizona at this point and I couldn’t keep my heart rate down below that.  I was scared that if I didn’t listen to this that I would miscarry, so I gave in and stuck to walking daily.  Due to the morning sickness, high intensity runs or workouts didn’t even sound good anymore.  If I get pregnant again, I will do this part differently.  I found out after this that it’s perfectly healthy to maintain your current fitness level when you’re pregnant.

There is lots of excitement in the first trimester of telling people, getting pampered because you’re sick and having that new mom glow, however, I did have some negative emotions as well.  I felt guilty that I wasn’t 100% excited about how I was feeling due to being pregnant.  There were times I wanted my previous life back.  I didn’t want to feel nauseous anymore and I wanted my previous energy level back.  Towards the end of the first trimester, I started feeling a little self-conscious about what my body was becoming and trying to hide my stomach from people.  I felt guilty because there were people that really wanted to get pregnant and couldn’t and I felt like I shouldn’t feel this way – it should all be bliss.

If I’m being honest, I was also terrified.  We weren’t even sure where we would be living in Denver. We were in the process of trying to buy a house and I wasn’t sure if that would fall through or what.  I was scared that I could miscarry at any moment and I was scared about every thing I did because I didn’t want to hurt the baby or cause birth defects.  I bought the book “Panic Free Pregnancy” which saved my life.  It has tons of common concerns of pregnant women and tells you what’s safe and what’s not.  I was worried about missing one day of my prenatal vitamin, taking a tylenol, taking monistat, eating a piece of deli turkey, you name it, I was nervous about it.  I was also nervous about how we were going to afford a child and how our life would change.  I wanted to start a practice after school and I wasn’t sure how this was going to pan out either.

In the beginning weeks of being pregnant, I wanted to buy all the baby things I could find.  I was constantly going down baby aisles browsing just seeing all the products I would soon need to become an expert about.  I definitely had to restrain myself from buying things since we were moving and I was only about 8 weeks pregnant, but I did purchase some small items from Target!  It actually made my week that week.

I also learned that I was iron deficient and I started feeling lots of headaches and dizziness during this trimester.  I was also magnesium deficient and got some fairly severe leg and back cramps a few times. Building that placenta really takes it out of you I swear!

Overall the first trimester was very emotional.  I became an emotional sap and cried at the smallest things both good and bad!  This never has gone away by the way and I’m 6 months postpartum! There were lots of tears of happiness and lots of tears out of terror.

2nd Trimester

secondtrimester

1st trimester was busy with taking boards for school and being in the process of buying a house long distance, but this semester got insanely busy for me.  I finished school and moved to Denver to a house.  I had an apartment to pack and then a house to decorate.  When school was over at about week 22, I started applying for all my licenses in the state of Colorado too.

At around week 18, the morning sickness finally dissipated and I felt better.  I had little bouts of back pain during these weeks, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  I kept walking about 3 miles each day with my dog, Otis.  The weather in Colorado was nice (it was fall) and that made me happy!

I was getting bigger, starting to show and started feeling fetal movement.  Since we moved, I also had to change doctors and found a midwifery practice at Rose Hospital that I absolutely adored.  I looked forward to going to my appointments each time.  I hadn’t really gained any weight until this trimester either.  One month I actually gained 9 lbs.  I freaked out, but by the next month realized that it did stabilize back down to the 2 or so pounds it was supposed to be.

At my initial appointment at this office, they tested me for factor V blood clotting disorder because it ran in my family and it did come back positive.  I was in Seattle visiting a friend when I found out and got very emotional and scared.  Since pregnancy increases your risk for blood clotting anyways, I wasn’t sure what this meant for me.  I had an appointment with another doctor to determine what I would need to do the remainder of my pregnancy.  As it would turn out, I only needed to do 6 weeks of heparin therapy postpartum and nothing during my pregnancy.  I was happy with this news, but from here on out, every time I felt a cramp in my calf, it worried me.

Towards the end of this trimester, I started getting round ligament pain that was rather bothersome.  During our drive from Arizona to Colorado, I had to pee constantly.  I also started getting minor heartburn sometimes and my stomach was ever so growing.

All in all, this trimester didn’t have a whole lot of symptoms.  My cravings normalized a little more and I was able to eat better than the first.  I felt better emotionally as well.  I know I got a little crabby at times, but I was blissfully happy to be back in Denver too!

3rd Trimester

thirdtrimester

On to the third trimester.  At the beginning of the third trimester, I actually felt as if things had gone fast and I was feeling great.  I wasn’t too big yet, but I had the baby bump and was anticipating everything that was to come.  I still had to get the nursery ready, take my childbirth class, have my baby shower and then prepare myself for the big moments of getting to meet Aiden.  I read birth story after birth story and learned about all the procedures that could happen in the labor and delivery room so I could be as educated as possible.

Ironically, I found a place called the Pregnancy Wellness Center of Parker to rent a room out of to start building my acupuncture practice the week after Christmas.  I was worried about what I was going to do with myself during January and February because the holidays would be over and I would be huge and waiting to go into labor.  This occupied all my free time during these two months by marketing, making forms and all the other details of starting a business.  I loved the people I met there and was so lucky to have found this place at this point in my life.  I met my photographer and doula through this place as well!

I continued to walk about 3 miles every day with Otis at the dog park usually through the snow.  I tried to keep being active and stay healthy, but with the winter snow and my voracious appetite, it was a little difficult.  I was continuing to gain weight at a rapid, but healthy pace.  I think in all, I gained about 37 lbs.  It was on the upper side, but not too much and I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it.

The round ligament pain continued to be bothersome.  Sometimes all I could do was lay in one position until it subsided.  They were definitely painful.  Towards the end of my pregnancy, I also got bad leg cramps.  I was magnesium deficient again, so I took Calm Drink and it helped a ton.  The heartburn was a constant thing these days.  I would take Tums occasionally, but I didn’t really like taking it very much, so I just dealt with it a lot.  I was tired a lot during the end of my pregnancy, but not quite like the tiredness you feel when your little bundle of joy arrives.

I was totally overwhelmed about what to register for.  There were so many products and I really had no idea about what to register for.  Good thing my mom is an avid review reader and helped me to determine the key items I would need.  In the end registering for items was really fun and decorating the nursery was also very therapeutic for me.  It’s surreal trying to decorate a room perfectly for someone you haven’t met yet.

I loved taking my childbirth class.  I took an unmedicated one at Rose Hospital.  I loved my teacher and looked forward to going every Thursday night for four weeks.  I don’t think David shared my same excitement but it was very good for him to learn about what was to come.  He would have had no idea about any of it, so that was important.  I tried to envision what a contraction would feel like and how everything would go, but that just ended up being a waste of energy because there is no way to understand labor until it begins.  I think even once you do it, the second one could be completely different.

I met with my doula towards the end of my pregnancy and we worked on writing a birth plan or as we called it birth wishes.  I didn’t want something so rigorous that I was going to be upset if it didn’t go exactly as planned.  I understood that things can sometimes take turns and I needed to be flexible at the hospital.

At 37 weeks, I started drinking red raspberry leaf tea religiously and taking evening primrose oil.  Red raspberry leaf tea is a uterine tonic and the evening primrose oil is known to help thin out the cervix. At about 39 weeks, I developed PUPPPS, which is an itching of the skin and high blood pressure.  I’ve never felt itching like this before.  I thought I was going to tear my skin off I itched so bad.  I used coconut oil to combat it and that worked okay.  The midwives made me come in twice that week for the high blood pressure and told me they would love if I went into labor on my own.

I took this to heart and decided now was the time to start doing acupuncture that is known to help induce labor (or prepare the mother for labor as an acupuncturist would call it).  It was a Friday night and I put the needles in and by Sunday night, I had lost my mucus plug and starting cramping.

On Sunday night at 10:40 pm, I was worried about the bleeding that ensued with losing the mucus plug, so I called the midwife on call and she told me to come in because I had high blood pressure and she wanted to monitor my liver enzymes.  I told David that we needed to drive to the hospital and neither of us had any idea what to expect.  I had my hospital bag packed and ready for a couple of weeks, so I grabbed that and the carseat just in case this was it.  Unbeknownst to us, this would be the last time we would leave our house as two.

Labor and Delivery

L&D

When we got the hospital, they checked my blood pressure, which was high and did some blood tests.  The midwife, Sheryl, wanted to monitor me for a little while, so we stayed in the labor and delivery room overnight.  I still wasn’t in labor; I was just having some cramping, which actually subsided early the next morning.  I had dilated from 3 cm to 4 cm overnight and was 90% effaced.  Sheryl told us it was our decision on whether we stayed and waited to see if my labor would pick up or go home and come back when I was in active labor.

It was snowing pretty hard and we live about 30 minutes from the hospital, so we decided to stay at the hospital and see what happened.  There was no pressure from any of the hospital staff on me which was nice. They knew I wanted an unmedicated labor, so pitocin was never discussed.  From the early morning to 3:00 pm, I walked, ran in place, bounced on a ball, slept for a few minutes and willed Aiden to come out.  Nothing was working.  I hadn’t even had cramping for hours and wasn’t progressing at all.  At 3:00 pm, I decided to give myself acupuncture again for 45 minutes and then the midwife came in and swept my membranes.  Immediately after this, I was in active labor and things picked up quickly and intensely for the next 7 hours.  I labored on the ball, on the floor, on David, in the tub, on a nurse, on the bed and probably other places too that I can’t remember.  My contractions were off the charts as the nurse told me and I was having only about 10 seconds in between each one for hours.  I finally asked the nurse to check me after about 6 hours of this and after she did it she said, “well numbers don’t mean anything – you’re doing great!”  That was about as disheartening as it comes.  I thought for sure I was 8 cm dilated or so and at transition.  I was still at 4 cm!  I threw up a few times and with this pressure, my water broke.  The pain actually got better once my water broke, but the urge to push came on and was the most intense feeling of my life.  My midwife was sternly telling me I couldn’t push because it would cause my cervix to swell and then the baby wouldn’t be able to come out and a c-section would ensue.  I literally had to lay in my bed with my legs so tightly crossed it could have crushed metal! I did this for about 15 minutes and then asked if an epidural would help me not to feel this uncontrollable urge anymore.  It wasn’t really painful, but it was extremely intense and I couldn’t ignore my instinct it and was being told to because I was just checked and was still at 4 cm.  My midwife said that the epidural would block the pushing feeling, so I agreed and they called the anesthesiologist.  I had to have my IV flushed and wait for him, so it was about 20 more minutes.  When I was sitting up to get the epidural, I announced that I could feel Aiden’s head and that he was coming.  My midwife quickly checked me once again and I was a dilated to 10 cm.  Everyone got in place and told me to push!  I pushed my little heart out for about 15 minutes and I had a baby on my chest!  It was a shocking turn of events, but I didn’t have an epidural and instead had a newborn baby.

After Aiden was born, my midwife stitched me up and cleaned up down yonder.  Even though I was numbed, this wasn’t exactly a pleasant sensation either.  We went through the motions and I was instantly in love with my new son.  I know it’s cliche, but it’s unlike anything you’ve ever felt before.  Your hormones are absolutely surging at this point and everything is the happiest it could ever be.

Postpartum

postpartum

I was shocked several times after giving birth.  The first was when I stood up to go to my postpartum room.  I couldn’t believe how sore everything was down there.  The second was when I went pee for the first time and saw just how much blood was still gushing out of there.  I was not at all prepared for this.  I just tried to ignore it and remember my sweet newborn in the other room waiting for me.

Breastfeeding is a whole other journey.  It went well in the hospital and I instantly loved doing it.  It’s such a rewarding experience to be able to bond with your child that way while giving them the best nourishment.  After a few feedings, it starts to hurt and sometimes you wonder how you’re going to get through it.  I remember having to do lamaze breathing when Aiden latched for about 90 seconds on several occasions in the beginning.  There have been ups and downs with it just like everything else in life, but I’m happy to say that I stuck with it and now it’s going wonderfully at 6 months and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.  I love being able to share this bond with Aiden as well as being able to nourish him with the most nutritious and natural source possible.

As for me, I underestimated just how exhausting it is to care for a newborn and deal with their sleeping patterns.  It’s definitely all worth it, but can be difficult.  And, talk about emotions.  I’ve never been so emotional in my life.  I haven’t cried tears of happiness like this ever in my life.  The day I brought him home, I was rocking him in his nursery just balling my eyes out thinking how lucky I was to have this beautiful baby in my arms to call mine.  Then a few days later, I was crying because I felt so overwhelmed with everything.  My emotional state was fragile for a couple weeks, but I know that’s normal with all the hormonal changes that occur with labor and delivery.

There are the obvious symptoms of just having a baby like bleeding for 4-6 weeks, mommy brain, aches and pains everywhere, fatigue, etc. but I have to be honest, you just kind roll with the punches and don’t think too much about it because all of your attention is on your baby!

Overall, I felt like I had more than I ever needed and felt God’s grace with me every step of the way.  There were hard days in there, but I knew I had great support from my husband, mom and sister and I’d get through it.  I felt so blessed that I had the chance to experience such a miracle.  I never took life for granted, but I also never appreciated it as much as I do now having gone through the raw experience of what life is all about.  I truly believe the birth of a baby is the greatest miracle in life.  I’m still in awe of the entire process of pregnancy and it’s outcome!

For more detailed week by week information, click here!

I am not a doctor, however, I love to talk about pregnancy, motherhood, and babies.  If you have any random questions, I can do my best to help!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor – I’m am acupuncturist, so my advice should never replace a doctor’s.  Also these views expressed on this page and in this website on solely based on my experiences.

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My name is Ali Damron & this is my home for sharing my chaotic motherhood lifestyle, attempts at newfound recipes, & how I stay fit out here in Denver, Colorado. Thanks for stopping by!



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