Pregnancy: The Best Blind Date

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My first day of motherhood was a bit like an awkward blind date. 

I had spent months hearing about this super cute guy who couldn’t wait to meet me. All of my friends talked constantly about how gorgeous he would be and how much I would love him. My parents already thought he was a great guy, even though they’d never met him. A few people even showed me some pictures of him. They were in black and white and a bit blurry, but it was exciting to see him anyway.

When we finally met, it was at the end of a very long day. I was exhausted and a little out-of-it. My hair was a mess and my makeup was most definitely not on point. I had been waiting for him for over thirteen hours and honestly, I was ready to just go home. Eventually, one of our mutual friends had to actually go to his home and make him leave. When he finally decided to show up, we said a quick hello and I gave him a polite kiss on the cheek before we both had to leave.

A little while later, we met up again. I was somewhat less of a mess and he was looking much more presentable. As soon as he entered the room, my eyes lit up and my heart skipped a beat. He was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen. We spent the night cuddling and getting to know each other. All I could think about was how adorable he was. He didn’t say much, but I could tell from the way he looked at me that he was glad we were together.

Who would have known that the love of my life would be a chubby little guy with no teeth? ūüėā

The Weight

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Weight // The force with which a body is attracted toward the earth by gravitation

Why does that word define so much of our lives? Why have I wasted so much energy on that one word? Why have I based my self worth on something so insignificant? How much has¬†gravity held¬†me down? Unfortunately, my answer would have to be, “a lot.”

I’ve spent the majority of my life hating the way that I look. I don’t remember exactly when the insecurities first crept in, but I know with certainty they’ve never quite gone away. My entire life, I’ve always been¬†too something. My skin was too pale,¬†my feet were too¬†big,¬†my face was too round, I was always too fat. Now fat, there’s a word I’ve often used to describe myself.

From making self-deprecating jokes, to standing alone in front of the mirror, fat has always been an adjective at the front¬†of my thoughts. The word would sit in my mind, patiently¬†waiting for the right moment to spring up and eat away at my joy. Like acid, it burned through my thoughts until it was all I could focus on.¬†Let’s just say I’ve spent way too much time crying in dressing rooms, shying away from shorts¬†and avoiding pool parties at all costs.

Part of the reason my weight has always been something I felt ashamed of was because I felt I could be doing better. I knew that if I tried hard enough and did the right things, the weight would come off. There was a pretty version of myself hiding underneath it all. If I tried hard enough, she would be the person everyone saw instead of the disaster that was my actual body. But every time a new attempt to diet and lose weight fell through, the shame and guilt just piled on that much thicker.

Then one day, something amazing happened.¬†I learned that I was pregnant. My body was actually doing something good. Over the next nine months, my relationship with weight became even more complicated. As the pounds added¬†up and my body grew and grew, I felt torn in two directions. On one hand, I knew that my body was doing what it was supposed to do. I knew that the weight was necessary and needed to bring my baby into this world. On the other hand, I¬†was harder on myself than I’d ever been before. With each new clothing item that I outgrew, more guilt and shame built up in¬†my heart. If I had just tried harder, I could be healthier now. If I had just lost the weight before, I’d be one of those pretty pregnant girls. If I had just dieted a little longer, these stretch marks would have never appeared.¬†

When the day finally came for my baby to arrive and the pregnancy to end, all I could focus on was getting my body back. I just knew that once my son was born, I would immediately feel so much better. As much as I loved him, I was ready to be the only one in my body for a while. I was ready to take on a new diet and a new workout and to¬†finally get all of the extra weight off of me. What I wasn’t ready for was a c section. Suddenly, reality hit me hard.

Over the next few weeks following the birth of my son, I could only feel miserable about this body of mine. For the first time in my life, I felt completely disconnected from the shell I was living in. Everything was different in the worst way. Not only had I been cut open to my core, but I was in constant pain, and everything felt wrong. Every inch of my body had changed. I spent a lot of time staring at my reflection and trying to figure out who I was now. The¬†stretch marks reaching around my thighs and across my stomach weren’t part of the body I knew. The¬†wide hips weren’t there before, and that¬†belly certainly didn’t look the same. I was devastated.

As my recovery progressed and the pain eased away, I slowly became more okay with this new body. It still didn’t feel quite right, but at least I wasn’t hurting. The majority of the baby weight fell away on its own, leaving me just ten pounds higher than I was pre-pregnancy. However, those ten pounds were now part of a completely new figure that I was unfamiliar with.¬†I bought a few new clothes to suit this new body, focusing on the day when my doctor would clear me to begin a new diet and exercise plan.

Then, last¬†week I found myself talking with a good friend of mine. As we brought up our babies, I casually mentioned the stretch marks I’d recently found around my c section incision. I complained that I’d made it through my whole pregnancy without any stretch marks on my stomach when suddenly they appeared post-surgery. I expected her response to be understanding and agreement, with her probably complaining about a part of her body in return. That’s common practice among women, after all. But instead, she surprised me. She just smiled and said, “I don’t really mind stretch marks, to be honest. I’ve actually had a baby, so I don’t care if I look like I did.”

Immediately I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself in a new way, because I realized that she was right. I’d spent the past twenty two years of my life hating my body. I’d spent twenty two years telling myself all the reasons why I wasn’t good enough. Twenty two years of letting my weight dictate my self worth. I’d thought things about myself that I would never dare say to another person. I’d been bullying myself from the inside out. This body had housed my soul for my entire life, and this was how I had treated it.

Later that night, I went home and looked at my reflection yet again. Instead of seeing something lazy, something worthless, I saw something I was proud of. This body had been the vessel that¬†my most precious gift was born from. Without this body, my son couldn’t exist. Without the stretch marks, I wouldn’t have had room for him to grow. Without these wide hips, I couldn’t have carried him to term. Without the extra weight, he wouldn’t have been healthy. For the first time in my life, I felt my perspective truly shift.

God created this body, and he created new life within this body. I was created in His image and I should be proud of that. This body has brought me through every step of my life. This body is healthy, and functions in all the ways I need it to. This body allows me to see and think and breathe and laugh and love. Every thought I’ve ever had, everything I’ve ever felt, has been within the confines of this body. Even though it may have grown and shifted and stretched, this body is still my body, and it can do amazing things. This body has ached for months on end to reach its fullest potential and safely guide precious new life into this world. How could I ever look at something capable of a feat so powerful and be anything less than¬†amazed?

From now on, I hope to keep my perspective straight. I want to honor my body in every way. I will continue to pursue a healthier life, including the way I speak to myself. I will treat my own body with respect and dignity. Whenever I begin to doubt myself, and feel the insecurities creeping in, I will look to my son and know what I am capable of. I will see the stretch marks and wear them with pride. I will accept the shape of my body and be grateful to call it my home.

Bennett’s Birth Story

My heart was pounding as I leaned against the bathroom counter, trying to catch my breath. It was 5 o’clock in the morning but I was wide awake. The last time I had felt this mixture of emotions I had been holding a positive¬†pregnancy test. I kept glancing at the girl in the mirror hoping that she would tell me what to do but the look on her face said she was just as shocked as me. Suddenly, I was overcome with a fit of giggles as I whispered out loud,¬†“We’re having a¬†baby today.”

I stood in the doorway, watching Daniel sleep for just a few more seconds. It’s a strange feeling knowing you’re only moments away from changing¬†everything in your life. I leaned across the bed,¬†“Daniel…Daniel…” I heard a mumbled grunt in¬†reply.¬†“Daniel, my water just broke.”¬†His eyes snapped open¬†and with a huge grin he said,¬†“Let’s do this.”

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The next hour was a blur of rushing around the house getting dressed and packing our bags before heading to the hospital. On the drive over, neither of us said much. I was still trying to process that it was actually happening. Less than two days before, my doctor told me that I was only 1cm dilated and without any contractions there were no signs that Bennett was coming out any time soon. We had scheduled an induction for a week later. So, when my water broke that morning, I was completely in shock.

When we got to the hospital, I was starting to come out of my fog. As I filled out paperwork, settled into a delivery room, and changed into that hideous hospital gown, reality started to sink in. The next few hours were relatively uneventful. They told me I had started having contractions and they wanted to see how far I could progress on my own. However, when your water breaks, they only give you about an 18 hour window to get the baby out or the risk of complications gets too high. So, after getting hooked up to a fetal monitor, and the most painful IV in my hand, they mostly left me alone. Daniel and I waited around together and eventually both of our¬†moms got to the hospital to wait with us. My contractions were starting to pick up and get more and more painful. I asked for the epidural pretty early on, and I’ve got no shame about that.

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When the anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural, I started to panic. I hadn’t been afraid of that needle even the slightest bit until that moment. Daniel was standing in front of me as the doctor prepared me for the shot. The doctor kept making the most ridiculous jokes to keep me from freaking out and Daniel kept eye contact with me the whole time. At one point I started to look over at the needle. Daniel quickly¬†reached up¬†and turned my face back to him,¬†“Don’t,” he whispered, to which I nodded gratefully.¬†The pinch and sting of the numbing shot was all that hurt. The epidural itself simply felt strange, but not painful.

After about nine hours of labor, I was completely exhausted. I had only gotten about three hours of sleep the night before and due to the amount of tubes attached to me, along with the nurses coming in to check on me constantly, I hadn’t been able to sleep at the hospital either. They had also given me an oxygen mask to wear because it would help get more oxygen to Bennett.¬†Suddenly, our doctor came in followed by several members of his team and he didn’t look happy.

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He quickly explained to Daniel and I that the fetal monitor kept losing track of Bennett’s heartbeat and¬†they were unable to monitor how he was doing. Every time they would get it positioned correctly, he would move and they would lose him again. To correct this, he explained that they were going to do something he really didn’t like to do. He said they would have¬†to insert a small wire under the skin of Bennett’s head, which would allow them to keep constant track of his heart rate. He also told us that this would actually hurt Bennett a little and that it would feel something like getting a shot. We didn’t have any other option but to agree.

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Daniel stood by the side of my bed and held my right hand. By this point the epidural had completely numbed the lower half of my body so I couldn’t feel anything they were doing. I just stared straight at¬†Daniel as tears flowed down my face, across my oxygen mask, soaking into my hospital gown. All I could think about was that my¬†baby wasn’t even born yet and¬†he was already feeling pain. I’m crying again as I type this out. It was a horrible moment.

Once the wire was in, Bennett’s tiny heartbeat thudded around the room. Within the next hour the doctor returned to explain that with each contraction, Bennett was being pressed against his umbilical cord which was lowering his heart rate dangerously. The doctor suggested that they try pushing¬†some fluid back in¬†to help cushion Bennett. About an hour after that, the doctor came back¬†to tell us that Bennett’s heart rate was now too high. It had been roughly thirteen hours since my water broke and labor began. The window of safely delivering Bennett was closing quickly and my body couldn’t keep up. I was only 5cm dilated and he hadn’t dropped any lower.

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Before the doctor even said it, I knew I would be having a C section. I never had my heart set on any one specific birth plan, but a C section had always been my last resort. After thirteen hours of exhausting labor, I was ready to hold my baby and just know that he was safe and healthy. I signed a few more documents and waited for the surgeon to arrive who would be performing the surgery. Daniel was given scrubs to put on and I was given a little hairnet. Just a few minutes before the surgeon arrived, our pastors got to the hospital to pray over us. There aren’t enough words to say how much I needed those prayers in that moment.

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As soon as the surgeon walked into our room, everything began moving quickly. My friend, the funny anesthesiologist, returned with more jokes and more drugs, both of which I was thankful for. A flurry of nurses and doctors were in and out all around me and before I knew it, I was being wheeled down the hall into the operating room. My anxiety at an all time high.

They transferred me from my bed onto the surgery table and quickly placed a blue sheet in front of my face so that I couldn’t see anything that was going on. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest.¬†“Do¬†you know when¬†they’ll bring Daniel back here,”¬†I nervously asked the anesthesiologist¬†who was busy moving around beside me, pushing more drugs in to keep me numb.¬†“They’ll bring him in soon, we’re not ready yet,” he calmly replied, just as Daniel suddenly sat down next to me.¬†(Later, Daniel told me that as soon as he walked in, he actually saw them prepping my stomach for surgery. Apparently someone told him to come in way too early.)

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At this point, my memory turns into a bit of a mess. I was overcome by so much anxiety that everything felt heightened¬†and blurred together. My heart was pounding and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I kept worrying that somehow the medicine wouldn’t work and I would be able to feel the pain. There was lots of pressure and tugging and pulling, and although it didn’t hurt, it increased my panic. I started¬†to hyperventilate and Daniel kept telling me to just look at him while the anesthesiologist instructed me in a calm but firm voice to take slower breaths.

The only decent word to describe how I felt in that moment is¬†overwhelmed. Everything was happening. Everything was changing. Here. Now. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe. The¬†anesthesiologist leaned in close and whispered¬†“Guess what? Your baby is almost here.”¬†I opened my eyes just as I felt the most intense pressure and suddenly the room was silenced by the smallest whimper. For a moment, everything else disappeared except for me and that sound.

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“Here’s your baby!”¬†My OB who had assisted with¬†the surgery gleefully held Bennett over the curtain just long enough for me to see a very unhappy looking purple alien before pulling him back. A few seconds later I heard someone say¬†“Eight pounds, nine ounces.” Then the¬†anesthesiologist took Daniel’s phone as they brought Bennett to me for the first time. He was swaddled in a hospital cloth and was very pink. He looked much less like an alien and more like a baby. I’d like to say that I held it together but at this point I was so overcome with relief and joy that the tears came back once again. Daniel held Bennett close so I could kiss his cheek for the first time. It was all finally over. He was here.

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Daniel went with Bennett while they took him back to our room to finish cleaning him up. I stayed¬†on the operating table while they stitched me back up and my very best friend the¬†anesthesiologist gave me something special to help me relax. For the first time all day, I was just happy. It was over. Bennett was in our world and he was safe and healthy and with his dad. It didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, having to wait to see him again. I knew as long as Daniel was with him that he was okay. So, I closed my eyes and let the drugs whisk me away.

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Eventually the three of us ended up in our new room together. It was cozy with warm lighting and lots of windows. Daniel and I were both completely exhausted in every possible way. Bennett’s birthday had been long and exciting and terrifying and perfect. We finally had our¬†little boy and he was safe and happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Our tiny family of three was complete.

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2.22.16

  
today I woke up with a sore throat, stuffed nose, & little to no sleep. we have our 38 week (& 4 day) appointment this afternoon & I cannot express how ready I am to meet this little guy. hopefully I’ll get some good news & maybe we’ll be meeting him sooner rather than later. // 2.22.16

2.12.16


trying to stay relaxed & well hydrated during these last few weeks. if you looked at my recent google searches, you’d find lots of variations of “early labor signs,” & “ways to naturally induce labor.” the closer we get to meeting our boy, the less patience I seem to have. I’ll continue to blame this on the swollen ankles & flip flops in february, but honestly I just want to see his face. // 2.12.16

Tiny Laundry

Dear Bennett,

Today, I washed your very first load of laundry. I know that eventually this will probably be something I dread doing, but so far it’s been the best part of my day. I hope you enjoy all of your freshly cleaned, adorable, tiny clothes.

P.S. It’s totally fine if you want to show up a little early so you can wear them.

Love,

Mama

Bumpdate // 35 Weeks

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Due Date: March 3, 2016

Symptoms: The struggle is real. Over the past week I have fully entered the mainly miserable side of pregnancy. My hands and feet are so swollen that I had to take off my wedding ring, and none of my shoes fit anymore. The insane heartburn that has been with me for so long has somehow found a way to get even more intense. My stomach is now so huge that I waddle sometimes and getting out of bed to pee four times a night is much more difficult than you’d think. Bennett is getting way bigger too which means less room for my lungs to breathe and more of him squishing my bladder. Life is hard.

Gender: the sweetest little boy

Name: Bennett Daniel Gutierrez

Doctor‚Äôs Appointment: We had a bit of a scare yesterday which led to an unscheduled doctor’s visit. After lunch, I returned to work and experienced a few unusual symptoms. I called the nurse at our hospital to be safe and she advised Daniel and I to go to the hospital, since I’m already so far into my pregnancy. We’re delivering at a different hospital from the one my appointments are usually at, because they don’t have a delivery wing there. So, basically when I actually go into labor, my doctor and his team will follow me to this other hospital in town.

When we got there, they sat me in a wheelchair (which made me feel ridiculous) and took me up to Labor and Delivery. To my surprise, they had me put on the silly hospital gown and wait in a delivery room. I was then hooked up to a fetal monitor so they could watch Bennett as well. The whole time, Daniel and I kept talking about how surreal it was to be in that room knowing we’d be doing all of this again within a few weeks.

As I laid in the hospital bed listening to my little one’s heart, a strange peace came over me about the whole situation. It was the first time through this entire pregnancy that I felt confident about delivery. I started thinking to myself, “I can do this. I really can do this.”¬† The doctors were all extremely nice and we both felt very attended to. My tests came back fine and they said Bennett was looking “fantastic,” which is always good to hear. They told me I was having some small contractions, that I couldn’t even feel, but that I was showing no other signs of preterm labor, so we were sent home.

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Movement: He is getting HUGE. I can tell he is really running out of space in there. Most of his movements are just him shifting back and forth from one side of my belly to the other. He doesn’t really have room to kick and punch anymore. I still feel hiccups usually at least once a day though, bless his heart. At our 3D ultrasound, they told me that he’s head down now, which is a big relief. However, that also means his little butt is now usually poking out at the top of my tummy and those tiny feet are still getting cozy with my ribs.

Maternity Clothes: Due to swelling, none of my shoes actually fit anymore. Some of them will still stretch onto my feet but are so uncomfortable to wear. So, I went to target yesterday and bought some flip flops. By the way, finding flip flops in February is not easy but at this point I don’t care what my shoes look like anymore as long as my feet are comfortable. I also went to get a pedicure last night which was literally the best decision I could have made. After spending a long day in the hospital for almost no reason, and not having been able to reach my feet for a while now, I’ve never felt more pampered. I’m so proud of these freshly painted toes right now.

Sleep: Ah, Sleep. If I were in a relationship with Sleep, it would best be described as “It’s Complicated.” I am exhausted all the time. All I ever think about is how long I have left until I can sleep. But when I do lay down, I can never get comfortable. Sleeping on my back is unsafe because Bennett is so big now that’s not a good position for him. Sleeping on my stomach is obviously impossible and sleeping on my right side makes my heartburn erupt like an angry volcano.

Thus, the only way I can sleep is on my left side. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until it’s three in the morning and my left arm is numb and my body is screaming at me to roll over but there’s no other position I can roll over into. Mix that in with getting up to pee a minimum of four times a night, plus my rising body temperature, and you get one overwhelmingly tired Alaina laying uncovered in bed with two fans and the AC on, sweating and crying and feeling miserable. It Is Pathetic.

Baby is the size of: A coconut, a mini-lop rabbit (adorable!), and a kid’s backpack. But who cares about any of those things when HIS HAND IS SO BIG!

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Baby‚Äôs changes: Bennett is just about done in there.¬†He’s got all five senses up and running at this point. Over the past few weeks, his brain development has increased rapidly, as well as his eyes. His hearing is fully developed and he can supposedly respond to certain sounds. His bones are hardened and he’s been practicing breathing and swallowing for a while now. He’s supposedly around 18 inches long and about 5 pounds heavy right now too. Not much left to do except continue working on his immune system and getting fatter!

Best Moment This Week: Oddly enough, our random hospital yesterday was a good moment. It weirdly makes me feel comforted after having a “preview” of what we’ll be walking into next time.

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Missing Anything: Wearing normal clothes, not having heartburn constantly, being able to fit my wedding ring onto my finger without worrying if it will get stuck haha

Health/Exercise: We recently bought a Ninja bullet blender and Daniel and I have been making TONS of healthy smoothies. I’ve even been eating KALE. Who am I??

Mood: Confident, happy, and ready to meet this boy.

Husband: Oh, my one and only. The whole experience of pregnancy has brought Daniel and I even closer to each other than I thought possible. We’ve shared so many new emotions together over the past eight/nine months and it would be impossible for me to be any more thankful for him than I am right now. He holds me when I’m falling apart and he makes me laugh when I’m stressed. He tells me that I’m beautiful when I feel like a cow, and he means it. He massages my feet and paints my toes when I can’t reach them anymore. He feeds me ice cream and pizza when I’ve had a bad day. He’s everything and I absolutely could not do this without him.

Looking Forward To: Officially growing into a family of three.

The Past Five Weeks

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The past five weeks have been an incredible blur of great discomfort and even greater joy. I’ve surprised myself by how terrible I’ve become at keeping up with Bumpdates. To be completely honest, they were very exciting through the first two trimesters but by the time 30 weeks rolled around, there really wasn’t a whole lot of new stuff going on. I feel like my belly hasn’t grown much since then and Bennett isn’t really doing anything other than getting chubbier (me too, but let’s ignore that).

Meanwhile, life has taken a turn for the crazier. The closer we get to my due date, the more things we seem to have on our plate. Over weeks 33 and 34 I had my baby showers, in Alabama and Augusta. I’m planning on doing a whole post devoted to them so that I can show you all how wonderful they were. Bennett already has so many people praying for him daily and asking about him every time they see me. Nothing could make my heart happier than knowing my boy is coming into the world surrounded by people who already love him tremendously.

Because of everyone’s generosity, Bennett now has a nursery full of gifts to come home to. But, that also means Daniel and I have a nursery full of stuff to organize! My superhero of a husband has been working hard to get the furniture put together and decorations on the walls. Hopefully we’ll be able to get everything put up before Bennett makes his grand entrance.

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At 34 weeks, we had a 3D/4D ultrasound for fun so we could see his sweet face. Again, I promise I’m going to get a full post up soon devoted to that experience. I just want to be able to have quality versions of those pictures to post here. It was really emotional getting to see his face on the screen. He looks like a real, tiny human now. Actually, he looks like his dad. I didn’t cry like I thought I would, but it was mesmerizing to see my son’s face while he slept peacefully in my womb.

I’m going to post a 35 week Bumpdate next, which will be back to the regular format. Since I’ve missed the weeks in between, I just wanted to fill in the blanks with this post. Like I said, I’ll be posting more about the baby showers and his ultrasound sometime in the near future, but until then just hang in there with me!

I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed most of the time and I don’t want any of that to overflow into this blog. I created this to be a landing page for my thoughts and for the big moments in life. I don’t want it to be filled with stress or rushed posts that don’t do their content justice. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, I love you all and thanks for sticking with me!

Dear Bennett,

Today you have been growing in my belly for 34 weeks and 6 days. Currently, you’re poking a tiny foot (I think it’s a foot) out on the left side of my tummy and it’s distracting me from everything else. You’re so big now that whenever you move, I feel it. Even if it’s just a tiny hiccup or your little arm brushing against the inside of my womb, I feel you there. I know you’re with me all the time, and you are mine.

I know that we probably still have several weeks left before I get to finally meet you face to face, but it feels like this pregnancy is flying by fast. I already know that when I’m able to hold you in my arms, there will be a part of me that misses holding you in my tummy as well. As much as I can’t wait to see your sweet face, I’ll miss bringing you to work with me every day. I’ll miss sharing each and every moment with you closer than close.

Each and every sickness and pain and discomfort is made worth it by the tiny moves I feel you make. I tell your daddy all the time how much I wish he could feel you all the time like I do. There’s something magical about the fact that you’re the only person on earth who knows what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside. You’re the most special shining light in my life, and I hope that you always, always know that.

Love, Mama