I took this picture exactly three weeks ago before going to my last doctor’s appointment of this pregnancy.
I remember thinking to myself, “This may be the last belly picture I take before we meet this little guy.” Little did I know, just hours later in this exact spot, my water would break all over the bathroom floor as I’m reaching for the bottle of Tums at 1:30 in the morning.
The journey to this little boy is one that’s been beyond difficult, but one that has taught me more than I could ever imagine. I felt invincible this time last year after finishing my 5th full marathon a little less than a year after giving birth to my first son, Dax. I’d set a goal, worked my butt off to accomplish it, and felt like I’d already mastered this crazy balance of being a mom and still taking care of myself.
Just after this marathon and Dax turning a year old, my husband and I decided we were ready for baby #2 and felt so lucky to get pregnant so quickly. Unfortunately, at 11 weeks pregnant when going in for a routine appointment the day before going back to work from summer break, no heartbeat was found on the ultrasound. A “missed miscarriage” is what it’s called (when my own body had yet to even recognize the miscarriage so my body carried on as if I was still pregnant), and I scheduled a surgery to remove the baby later that week. We were an emotional wreck for a long time, and it took all of me not to just lay in bed and cry all day.
It’s very difficult to decide when to “try again” after a miscarriage, but I knew I wouldn’t find peace until I was pregnant again. We started trying again shortly after being cleared by my doctor and were once again lucky to get pregnant shortly after. I remember being afraid to get excited and feeling anxiety about every little thing. I tried to be positive and be as stress free as possible, constantly googling statistics that I hoped would reassure me, but that was short lived after having an incident that landed me in the emergency room just 9 weeks into the pregnancy. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I was out with my husband and son, when something didn’t feel right. I realized I was bleeding a lot, and we drove to the nearest hospital. It was happening all over again. I was losing another baby.
Fortunately, we received good news that day in the emergency room– the baby still had a heartbeat, and this didn’t appear to be an active miscarriage. We learned at my follow up doctor’s appointment the next day that I had a large subchorionic hemorrhage that was completely surrounding the baby. We were told that these sometimes clear up on their own and sometimes result in miscarriage. The only thing I could do was drink a lot of water and take it easy- meaning no exercise in any form at all. Over the coming months, I had multiple bleeds that scared us to no end, but at each subsequent ultrasound, our baby was still holding on.
Most women are encouraged to stay active during pregnancy, and I won’t lie that this new restriction took a physical and mental toll on my body. Exercise has been my coping mechanism for my entire adult life. Running, lifting weights, and just generally being active is the way I deal with stress, so losing my ability to do this in the most stressful time of my life was beyond hard. I had to find a way to cope with pregnancy complications and other traumatic life events without the one thing that keeps me sane. It was hard to experience the joy I felt with my first pregnancy after losing a baby and then almost losing another, never knowing if the next bleed could be another loss.
I’m happy to say that Bridge Waylon arrived in June of 2019…
But not without another scare. Just a few hours after being born while nursing, he suddenly unlatched, and I looked down to see him quickly turning blue, cold, and limp. Our nurse was in the room checking me, and when she saw him, she screamed, quickly grabbed him, and ran. I told my husband to follow her, and unable to move after having an epidural, I sat in the empty hospital room alone and just prayed. Our little fighter was revived by some amazing nurses, but we spent a week in the NICU following this scare. It was a crazy week trading shifts with my husband so that one of us was always with Bridge and one of us was always with Dax. We lived on cold brew and junk food and only saw each other in passing, but I’m happy to report we have a happy, healthy baby and are finally home.
And now, after a year of dedicating my entire life to growing our family and bringing baby Bridge into the world, my postpartum journey begins, one that will undoubtedly be very different from my first. I’m going to miss the kicks and hiccups in my belly and imagining what this new little human will look and act like, but I’m ready to move onto this new chapter. I need to navigate a new identity as a mother of two, reclaim my physical self that has not been mine for so long, and recover from a year filled with grieving the loss of our second baby and the many complications that followed with the third. For any mama, rediscovering your identity after pregnancy is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. You’ll feel exhausted and gigantic and emotional, and it’s not easy for any woman. But you’ll also be so grateful for that little life you just brought into the world, that all of that hard stuff is worth it. Despite late night feedings and very little sleep, you’ve got to find yourself again or you won’t ever be the mom you’ve dreamed of being.
I can’t wait to start working out again, especially running, though I know it will also be incredibly frustrating to start all over again after having to take so much time off. I’m excited to carve out time to create and share healthy recipes because it’s something I find so much joy in. And mostly I’m excited to be a mama to not one, but two little wild boys. It’s not gonna be easy, but here I go. So begins my postpartum journey…