I was definitely going to be one of those cute, sexy little pregnant ladies. I'd have an adorable baby bump, my legs and arms would stay thin and toned, my face would exude a radiant glow and I'd get sultry yet classy maternity boudoir photos taken to capture all of this feminine soon-to-be mama beauty.
It was simply in the cards for me! I had been an actress and a print model for the better part of a decade in Hollywood! My manager typed me in the "smoldering multi-ethnic bikini girl" category and I regularly wore string bikinis, lingerie and mini-skirts to auditions.
Gosh, not to be smug, but I was PREPARED! My husband and I enthusiastically watched "The Business of Being Born." He supported me fully when I left my OBGYN for a midwife and when I decided on a birthing center instead of a hospital. We took Bradley Method classes together. I practiced yoga all through pregnancy. I'd been practicing yoga for 15 years and I'd been teaching yoga for 5. Hell, I was still doing yoga 2 weeks before I pushed my baby girl out of my vagina! And I was drinking a fuck ton of red raspberry leaf tea to shorten the second stage of labor. I was ready.
I gained 60+ pounds during my pregnancy. And I gained my weight every-fucking-where. My baby bump wasn't so much of a "bump." It was more like my entire torso was shockingly enormous. My legs and arms got huge and dimpled with cellulite. I had (and still have!) rolls upon rolls of back fat. My face puffed out similarly to that of a squirrel's face, saving nuts in his cheeks for later. I had a double chin and I got deep purple stretch marks on my hips, ass and thighs. I did take those maternity boudoir photos because I was desperately trying to accept my pregnant body.
Thanks. So, I've gained so much weight that I'm almost no longer recognizable? Fabulous. Just what every woman wants to hear.
And my labor and delivery? Well...
I labored for 30 hours. I had horrific back labor. A pain that was shattering to the very fiber of my being. I went to the birthing center and labored there for 15 hours. I spent under 5 minutes in that damn tub because I was getting such severe hot flashes and I was vomiting through contractions. Soaking in a pool of my own warm vomit while extremely nauseated was not enticing. I was at 7 centimeters for 10 hours. Finally, I transferred to a hospital because I didn't feel empowered anymore. I felt scared. My water still hadn't broken. Nothing was progressing. I labored another 15 hours at the hospital. I got the epidural I was so adamant about not getting. I still felt sharp fierce pain when I pushed for 2 and a half hours. And when my baby girl finally, finally came out, the first thing I thought was, "Oh fuck. Now I have to learn how to breastfeed her and take care of her and I'm so exhausted I think I truly might die."
I know a lot of naturally minded mamas will vehemently disagree with me. But I am a naturally minded mama myself and I honestly don't think there's anything a woman can do about how she'll carry her baby or how she'll labor. I really don't. All the yoga, all the Bradley Method classes, all the years of being tiny and thin... None of it mattered.
In the end, I believe it's about surrender. It's about accepting that you have no control over this situation. Your body is going to do exactly what it needs to do in order to make this brilliant miracle happen. It's about humility and about trusting that everything is happening exactly as it should for you even if it's vastly different than the way your sister labored or the way your best friend looked when she was 9 months pregnant. Making this human with your own body and giving this tiny baby LIFE is your journey. And ALL of these things... the foreign body, the grueling labor, it's all giving you strength and courage to embark on your greatest adventure yet...
Being that baby's mommy. Giving her all of you, every hour of the day and night. Feeling a love so vibrant, so fiery and impassioned that your heart leaps out of your chest.