If you know me personally or have been a long time reader of this blog, you know that I’m a very optimistic and happy person. That being said, I definitely have hard days (or weeks!) that I don’t really share in this space. I never talked about how my son was born early and the struggles that came with that, but as I reflect on this last year I think I’m ready to share it.
Both of my pregnancies were difficult on my body. I had morning sickness (aka all day sickness) that went into the second trimester. I had a pretty smooth second trimesters, and difficult third trimesters. With my daughter, the sciatic pain was nearly unbearable and at 37 weeks I had a scare and almost had to be induced. Thankfully, rest was the best medicine for that one. With my son, I was sick for the entire third trimester: sinus infection, bronchitis, strep throat and then finally cholestasis. You can read more about cholestasis here.
This is why my son was born 3 weeks early. Short and sweet version is this: I had intermittent and mild signs of cholestasis. I asked for a blood test and it came back positive. I wasn’t surprised when I got the call from my doctor. I just knew something wasn’t right. I was ordered to head to the hospital asap to be induced. I packed my bags, showered, and my husband and I drove to the hospital. Meanwhile, I was completely devastated. Three weeks of preparing and spending time as a family of three was taken away from me. I was terrified and heartbroken. I wanted desperately to have that time with my daughter. I was scared for what would happen when she wasn’t the only child anymore. And I felt like I hadn’t bonded with this baby yet. Not like I did when I was pregnant with my daughter. And I was so worried about the health of my baby.
Meanwhile, my doctor was calling to ask why I wasn’t at the hospital yet. She asked if I could feel the baby moving and I felt a sense of urgency in her voice. We arrived at the hospital and after monitoring, my son was fine, but I was still going to be induced because they don’t risk anything with cholestasis. I am beyond grateful for my family and friends who completely took over — picking my daughter up from daycare, managing things at the house, reassuring me and making me laugh.
On January 31st at 4:27 pm Zachary Philip Gery was born. He was perfect. I had always heard about these mothers bonding instantly with their baby. It’s an incredible feeling when it happens to you. My time in the hospital was much easier than the first. I knew what to expect and my labor was so much easier and quicker that I felt pretty good the next day. My son still had a few hurdles to cross though. When he was born, he didn’t let out a good cry. They were worried about his lungs and heart, but after monitoring they determined he was fine. He didn’t pass his hearing test in his right ear in the hospital, so I had to wait until he was three weeks old to do a more extensive hearing test. Thankfully he passed that one. And worst of all was his jaundice. I was familiar with this because my daughter had it. But my son’s was more severe. His poor little heels were pricked so many times and at only 4 days old we spent a night at CHOC Hospital. I don’t wish that upon anyone. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I saw and heard things that any parent, let alone a 4-day postpartum mom, should ever experience.
When I look back at the year, it wasn’t easy. Figuring out daycare for our son, transitioning our daughter from daycare to a real school, going back to work, battling illnesses including pneumonia (ya, that was a bummer), sleep deprivation, navigating nap schedules…you get the picture.
But here we are, nearly one year later. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Probably a little differently though (like being nicer to myself and not having such high standards). Zach is healthy and thriving and he brings us so much joy. We love watching his little personality develop and his bond with his sister grow. Having children is the best thing I’ve ever experienced. They make me the happiest I’ve ever been, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. And I’ve learned that through some of the struggles, that it’s important to be patient and gracious to myself and to my family. I’m constantly learning and I’m so thankful to have a healthy and happy family.
Phew, that was a long post. If you’re in the trenches with a new baby, then know that you’re not alone. The first year can be the hardest. But as all parents say, it’s also the most rewarding.