People say that when you arrive in this world, I will forget about the pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I call bullshit. Carrying you around the past thirty-something weeks had me experience a wide variety of unforgettable emotions. I tell the “forgetters,” I’m a writer, so I always remember.
We “planned” for your arrival after mommy had the realization at thirty years old that she wasn’t getting any younger. She kept saying to Daddy, “We need to shit or get off the pot. Either we try to have a child or we don’t.” So, we tried, and we succeeded.
We both secretly wanted a boy. When we found out we were having a girl, Daddy was very excited and Mommy was a little sad. Being a woman, Emilia, I know that hardships and heartache you will endure – between having to break glass ceilings and the #MeToo hashtag, it worries me raising a girl in today’s society. I don’t care about carrying on the Gould name, I care about the gender and social injustices you may, and likely will, have to face. It is still a man’s world, and whoever disagrees is ignorant and sadly misinformed.
I found out I was pregnant with you before I missed my period. I walk the dogs every day. I just got done racing my first half marathon with Nana Anna. One autumn morning, I was walking Bailey and Gino, and my FitBit said my heart rate was 150 beats per minute. I was panting. I was exhausted. I had a feeling you had entered my body.
The next day, Lauren, my best friend, called and told me she was pregnant. I said, “I think I am too.” So I went to the gym with Daddy, ran a few miles on the treadmill, went to eat my last spicy tuna roll at the Japanese restaurant, and purchased 3 pregnancy tests.
The results: Positive. Positive. Positive.
I walked out of the bathroom and handed them to Daddy. We are having a baby. I was not even 4 weeks pregnant.
I remember thinking to myself, as I was sipping my coffee standing at the kitchen counter, “I am going to be so healthy throughout this pregnancy. I am going to sign up for prenatal yoga and continue to drink my green drinks. I am going to look super adorable in maternity clothes and we are going to bond so nicely these next nine months.”
What a false reality…
Emilia – I didn’t do one prenatal exercise. I haven’t exactly been cute, either.
The pregnancy started by you throwing me into hypothyroidism and having to go on medication.
I had nausea and vomiting from Week 5 to Week 17. I would vomit from the moment my eyes opened, until the time I went to bed. I even spent a night sleeping on the bathroom floor. Daddy will never forget when he got home from working a very long shift, and I needed Tylenol and Gatorade. My head was pounding and the vomit was uncontrollable. Exhausted, he drove to the 24 hour CVS and got me what I needed. He will do anything for us. Daddy is a very good protector and provider. He loves you very much.
I had blood pressure issues, causing me to be labeled “high risk” from Week 5.
The phlebotomists at LapCorp know me by name. I spent more time there for diagnostic testing, most of which left doctors puzzled and me wondering where I went wrong. I fought with insurance for genetic testing. I wrote appeal letters, telling them why I needed tests, and I have won. I’ve been anemic for most of the pregnancy and no amount of supplemental iron and eating iron-rich foods has helped. My body, for whatever reason, doesn’t care to be pregnant. You, however, were healthy and happy.
From Week 16 on, you liked putting your buttocks under my right ribs, to the point that they hurt to the touch and the only way to get any reprieve was to jump in the shower, take the handheld showerhead and blast you out. Daddy and I would get such pleasure seeing you squirm out of my ribcage. Within an hour, you would be nestled right back under there, causing me breathing difficulty and great discomfort. People would ask me how I am doing, and I would reply, “Well, I have an ass in my ribs.” They would look at me funny, but I silently chuckled, knowing that you were comfortable there and that being a mom would be filled with unpleasant sacrifices.
At 29 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. No one has diabetes in my family, Emilia, so you could only imagine my disgust, and surprise. I sat with dieticians and nurses week after week, trying to figure out meal plans and healthy snacks for work. I prick my finger four times a day. I went on medication because my fasting glucose was too high. None of the lancets and test strips are covered by insurance, either, adding to the frustration every time I handed my credit card over to the cashier. “I didn’t ask for this” I would think to myself.
I go to the hospital weekly for extra ultrasounds and non-stress tests. The ultrasounds I love, because I have seen you grow from a little blob to a baby. You truly are our miracle. The non-stress tests are stressful because you are too active of a baby, you cause your heart rate to increase so much that they worry about you. You have kicked nurses and doctors so violently, they say, “She is very strong.” Yes, she is, and so am I. She gets her strength from me.
I have cankles. Cankles are not cute. My feet and ankles are three times the size and nothing is helping reduce the edema. I feel like my joints are going to snap in two with each step. No amount of hydration (like 133 ounces of water) helps.
Pair my cankles with carpal tunnel syndrome. I wake up throughout the night with numbness and tingling in both wrists, which carries over into the morning. My grip strength has dramatically decreased and even holding a coffee cup is difficult.
I thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. I keep having contractions. I got my first bag of IV fluid because they told me I was dehydrated. Every time I go to the hospital or doctor, it is always something, Emilia. I just try to think of the end result. I try to think of you being here with us as a healthy, happy, intelligent, beautiful girl.
I developed the PUPPPs rash all over my belly, hands, knees, back, and feet. Only 1% of pregnancies see this type of rash and mine is classified as “severe.” The only way to get rid of it – deliver you. I have never been in so much agony in my entire life. I would sit and do calamine lotion paraffin baths at the table, hoping for a millisecond if relief. No cigar. I suffered.
Mommy and Daddy took a childbirth preparation class and a breastfeeding class. I hope that labor and delivery go smoothly. The birth plan is for you to enter this world happily and healthily. Nothing else matters. I hope you latch well, and I am able to breastfeed you. If not, I remind myself that I am a “formula kid,” and turned out just fine.
That is the pregnancy, in a nutshell. I will never forget how it felt. I will never forget the belly waves, the happiness, and the heartache. The worries, fears, in addition to the comfort of always having you with me. As soon as I opened my eyes in the morning, you would kick me to let me know that you knew I was awake. We are connected.
I wish for you what I wish for everyone – health and happiness. Our families and I have spent countless hours preparing your nursery and getting ready for your arrival. I pray each day that you come to me easily and effortlessly. I pray that I can meet all your wants and needs and be the best Mom. You will always be loved and supported.
I often ask myself questions about your personality: Will you have Daddy’s looks, but Mommy’s brains? Will you love Bailey and Gino as much as I do? Will you aspire to be a police officer like Daddy and Aunt Sasha or work in healthcare like Mommy, Nana, Grandma? (Better yet, Em, go into finance – actually make some money and teach Mommy where to invest hers.) Will you like the city like Aunt Dominique and Uncle Todd? Will both Grandpa and Pop take you fishing on the weekend? The million dollar question: Will you love the Mets like Mommy or Yankees like Daddy?
My job as your Mom is to guide you. I am here to facilitate your growth and learning. You have taken over my mind and body for the past 9 months and you are almost here. Initially, you will depend on me and Daddy for everything, but as time goes on, you will foster your own independence. It won’t be easy, but we will let you stumble. We will let you fall. You will learn to pick yourself back up and keep going. Life isn’t easy. If you throw in the towel at every mistake and misfortune, life will be a big disappointment.
I try to keep a positive attitude. When worries overcome me, I say, “I’m giving this to God.” I’m not a super religious person, Emilia, but sometimes, you have to believe in a power greater than yourself. I envision myself taking my worries, putting them in a ball, and giving them to God. Here. Take this. You do what you see and feel is necessary. I trust Him to help us, now, and always.
Life will be different when you arrive. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms. Daddy and I are so excited to be parents. We know you will complete us.
I love you,
Danielle’s edit: Emilia graced us with her presence June 29, 2018. She is a happy and healthy little girl. The PUPPS rash went away a few days after delivery and I am feeling rather forgetful of my whole pregnancy, labor, and delivery saga. (Not!)