Updated: May 9
I got married to my husband in September 2014 and we wanted to wait a bit before trying to have a child. He was finishing up his residency and I was teaching Kindergarten at the time after completing my masters in ECE. We were moving to Seattle in the summer of 2015 for his year-long fellowship. A few weeks before we left, my mom had a severe stroke which left her hospitalized and then in rehab up to the day we left Chicago. It was so heartbreaking to leave but we had to move so he could start work in July. While lying in the hospital bed, my mom said she wanted to meet her grandkids before she died and I took this to heart. I was the next one in line to try and give her a grandbaby so we moved our timeline up for trying to have kids. Even though we hadn't officially decided if and when we wanted kids, this experience with my mother quickly changed my mind.
We moved to Seattle, settled in, I found a doctor, and removed my IUD in July and started trying. We figured it would take a couple of months to a year which gave us time to work and save, figure out where we’d move to after Seattle, and then settle in there before a baby came. Our daughter (aka miracle baby) had other plans. I dread telling people who are struggling to conceive that it happened on the first try because now I’ve learned things to always go as planned. A few weeks after trying, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I had no idea it would be like that. I had just returned from dropping my niece off at college with my sisters, my best friend, and my other niece. We celebrated my 35th birthday with drinks, hung out in the hotel hot tub, and ate Poke, which is raw fish. I seriously did everything on the "do not do list if you are pregnant" because I had no idea.
So here I was switching gears and realizing we may be having a baby sooner than planned .I was nannying for a family of two little kids and it felt like practice. They were great kids and I got a glimpse into what life would look like with a kid or two. I was really hoping to have a girl. I wanted to guide the next feminist into the world and I wanted her to be both intellectual and athletic. It’s crazy but I feel like I willed her into existence. When I found out I was having a girl and a singleton, I was ecstatic! We have lots of twins on both my side of the family and my husband’s side as well and I was terrified of having two at once.
However, I had some spotting early on which is fear inducing because of the high chances of miscarriages. My midwife did an ultrasound to see if baby was ok and luckily we heard a heartbeat but they also discovered there were fibroids that were growing. I knew I had a few small fibroids after doing a transvaginal ultrasound when I lived in Argentina where ultrasounds were routine in women’s care. Why it’s not routine in the US is beyond me. It could help so many women who endure the pain and problems of fibroids. This finding led us down a unique different path during my pregnancy.
The fibroids didn’t impede pregnancy but the doctors said they could grow during it because they feed off estrogen and the extra blood flow, like Gremlins, especially in the 1st trimester. Which is what mine did. One actually grew to 10cm while I was pregnant with her so we had lots of ultrasounds and appointments to make sure baby had room to grow and exit. The big one was intramural so it grew on the inner wall of my uterus and up high so it didn’t block my daughters path out. It was a scary time with a lot of uncertainty and higher chances of premature birth, a slower and longer labor, chances of placenta abruption, growth restriction, and possibly a c-section. We named the big fibroid Leo (leiomyoma is the medical term) and watched him grow along with our baby almost like her twin or pillow. He made an appearance in all the ultrasounds.
Besides the extra stress of the fibroids, I loved being pregnant. I thought it was the most amazing journey and was in awe of my body. Each week, my body changed and I felt more and more connected to my baby girl especially when she started moving. The scary parts came when all the risks were being mentioned- the fibroids, I was GBS positive, and my age was a bit of a factor as well. I would’ve stayed pregnant like an elephant for 2 years if I could! I almost didn’t want her to come out (at 40 weeks 4 days) so I could keep her with me all the time.
I went into labor after an acupuncture appointment where they used a special labor inducing technique. I had a pretty quick labor, vaginal, and unmedicated birth. I was allowed to labor in a tub which was wonderful since by the time I got to the hospital, I was 9 cm dilated. Pushing took a while I think because the fibroid made it hard for my uterus to contract and get her out. After 2 hours and 15 minutes, she came into the world screaming! I was so happy to be done because it was a lot of work but luckily only a 9 hour process.
Yet I wasn't quite done. I had a retained placenta meaning my placenta wouldn't detach and come out because it was probably attached to the fibroid. My midwife and an OB had to remove the placenta manually after just giving birth unmedicated and tearing which I do not wish on my worst enemy! It was more painful than labor.
After birth, my daughter's breathing was really labored so they quickly took her to the NICU. She pooped while in the birth canal and had fluid in her lungs so she needed to be intubated, given antibiotics, and in the NICU for a few days. It was really scary at first but she was a fighter (shit literally couldn’t stop her!) and she wanted out of the hospital as much as we did. We got to go home after all of us staying in the hospital for 4 long days.
I couldn’t believe how amazing my body and women’s bodies were in being able to do this feat of childbirth. I was convinced that women’s bodies are far superior to men’s bodies. We could create, carry, birth and feed our babies. I’ve always been athletic and played many sports or would run when not in an organized sport. Childbirth was a whole other ballgame but I felt strong and invincible like Wonder woman. But I was a little resentful that my period started 6 weeks postpartum which is not usual.
The fall after our daughter was born, my husband got a job in South Carolina so we moved home to Chicago for the summer to be with family and then again when she was just 3 months old.
When I reflect on this time I am amazed at how much we accomplished with a newborn. I gave birth in Seattle and family visited to help out and assist us, My sister and husband's dad helped us move to Chicago when our daughter was just 5 weeks old. Then we settled in for a few months in our hometown where we had visitors almost everyday, pediatric appointments for newborn check ups (with a new Dr), and we were also trying to secure a future place to live in S. C.
Next we moved to Columbia, SC with a 3 month old and all our things to a totally new place and had to set up everything there- apartment, a new pediatrician, a doctor for me, my husband's new job. I feel like the early days of my daughter's life didn't seem challenging because we didn't have time to focus on all the difficulties of new parenthood. She was just along for this wild ride with her folks!
So we settled into a new city and I established OB care and I had the fibroid checked out 6 months later to see if it shrunk which they tend to do after giving birth. My big one got a little smaller but was still present. Since I didn't have much pain or many problems at the time they said it should be fine. No OB or midwife I spoke with seemed to think it would impact my fertility since I had gotten pregnant before. Ok I thought, when we're ready for another baby, it'll be easy again. Oh were they wrong!
I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in this new place since I had always worked. I was keeping busy as a full time mom and was part time house hunting so we could find a more permanent place to live. But I knew I wanted to pursue something else other than teaching early childhood when my daughter was little. It was too draining and I wanted to be home and watch my baby grow. So I thought about how much I loved my second passion, yoga.
While I was pregnant with my daughter, I had done prenatal yoga which was super helpful to get my mind and body ready for birth and also to make mom friends. It was a wonderful community that I relied on for tips and advice. I did a couple of postnatal yoga classes as well which I also loved to reconnect to my new mom bod. In our new city, there were no Prenatal or Postnatal yoga classes available for women yet there were pregnant people everywhere! I knew I needed to do something about this.
Community is so important for new mothers and I needed it in a new place with an infant. I wanted something that was just for me and my passions (unrelated to my husband or baby) so I decided to get certified to teach yoga and specialize in working with expecting and new moms in Pre and Postnatal Yoga. I even started my own business, Yoga Mama Columbia, because I was teaching all over the city and growing my classes and workshops. It grew quickly because other moms were so interested in it and they wanted to build community as well. They also sought out safe exercises to connect to their pregnant and new mom bodies.
I loved supporting new moms and creating a positive space to connect to each other and to share motherhood tips. The women I met also helped me so much with my business- one helped with my logo, another with my website, they suggested new classes and workshops they wanted. It was an amazing collaboration of mamas. I knew I had found my calling. Until I started on my fertility journey to baby #2....
*This picture is of the day after we got home from the hospital. My mom was hanging out with me all the way from Chicago and meeting my new baby girl.