Labor of Love: Embracing Pregnancy & Motherhood with Style
mamabare.co has started a new segment in this community where women can share their own stories of pregnancy, loss, labor and motherhood. In Labor of Love, we are reminded that our stories are each so unique in their own ways, yet entirely universal.
This week we share Chris Peterkin’s experience. With a successful medical practice in a small Ontario rural town, Chris is mama to four beautiful kids. They range in age from 4-10. She is best known to friends, family and patients for her exuberant energy, killer hostess skills, and passion for helping others! Here is her story of becoming a mom to her eldest son Aidan. Welcome Chris!
What Was Your First Pregnancy Like?
Some women treat pregnancy like a medical illness – fraught with aches and pains, fatigue and a feeling of being helpless in one’s ever-changing body. While it is true that some moms really and truly have horrible pregnancies where they feel awful every day, I believe that often times it is your mentality going in that colors your experience more than anything else. There are individuals who wear their baby belly as a badge of honor and taut their morning sickness, achy joints and discomfort as battle scars.
I am not that person.
How Did Pregnancy Affect Your Life?
Some people would consider me a b* for saying this: Yes, I did have a little discomfort from time to time as I adjusted my beach ball belly to my 5’2” frame. But I did not see my pregnancy as an arduous transition. Rather, I viewed it as an integration into my life, a new part of my day-to-day existence.
You see, as a family doc, I still had to work shifts in the Emergency Room and see patients every day (all the while trying to maintain my signature style and refusing to become a slave to the muumuus and pregnancy pants of the day). Yes, I ROCKED my heels in clinic, despite the disapproving stares of onlookers. Heck, just because I was pregnant didn’t mean I was no longer a productive and elegant member of society after all!
Don’t get me wrong: sure, I read the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” chapters and adhered to all the well known “mommy don’ts” like no sushi (man, was that was a tough one…), no unpasteurized cheeses and no hot tubs. But I still danced and exercised and yanked dislocated shoulders back into place. I still brought babies into the world and took bumpy ambulance rides with sick patients right up until the day I delivered.
Let the Games Begin!
3 AM, gotta pee. I get up to use the washroom and as I’m sitting there, something feels a little different. Why is my stream taking so long? Hmmm, that feels like more than just urine. Yup, that would be my water breaking… Let the games begin!
Now on a general day, I view myself to be a planner, your typical Type A personality. We actually even found out the gender at our second ultrasound. My labor bag had all the essentials: new baby outfit, diapers, toiletries (deodorant, cocoa butter body lotion, facial cleansers and cream), a hairbrush, underwear, pjs, candy snacks, a bathrobe, slippers, socks, a change of clothes and some lip gloss. I also packed some trashy magazines to read, just in case I had a spare minute or two…
Tell Us About Your Labor
When it came to my labor however, all the planning in the world could not have prepared me for what transpired. Both my husband and I had hoped for a laid back experience: Bob Marley playing in the background as we enjoyed those last few moments together as a family of 2 over a game of crazy 8s.
In all honesty, that’s how it all began… until we got word that my labor was actually a little “too laid back”. I wasn’t dilating.
I was promptly encouraged to place an order for my epidural. By boosting my labor with drugs, things were about to get a lot more intense. So I complied without argument. And they weren’t kidding: labor was like the worst period cramps I’ve ever experienced to the power of 10. Bob was out the window and the cards were a thing of the past. But oh, when that “happy-dural” set in… BLISS!
What Surprised You Most During Labor?
Then came the curve ball: my little guy was not tolerating this more “intense” labor and his heart rate was dropping. Now, I birth babies myself, and to be on the other side of the coin was no picnic. Knowing all of the negative outcomes that could go along with a bad tracing, I was conflicted between trying to play it cool and trusting my doc versus jumping out of the bed and demanding a STAT c-section. But I didn’t want to be that patient. You know, the one who thinks she knows better than the rest of the team because of the MD behind her name?
By the time my baby’s heart rate had dropped for the 3rd time, however, I thought: “Screw it!” and politely asked my nurse to get my OB. After reviewing the tracing and checking me (I had only dilated an additional 2 cm, bringing me to a whopping 5), we decided it was time for my caesarian.
I was a little anxious about the concept of a c-section. But, to be honest, I was more comforted by the fact that I would be meeting my baby soon and I wasn’t going to have to push him out of my hooha (something I was not looking forward to, as I am a tiny woman).
Tell Us About Meeting Your Son
The moment I first laid eyes on our son Aidan, I was on cloud 9. After years of trying, failed fertility treatment and a whole lotta sex, the fruit of our labor was finally here. What I remember most was the overwhelming feeling of love. Head over heels, shout it from the rooftops, all in, ride or die love. It was incredible! I knew that I would do anything for this little life that we created and that was a very humbling feeling to experience.
What Were the First Few Hours like for You as a Mama?
That first night, the nurses were great! They actually took Aidan for a few hours so I could catch up on some sleep – which was phenomenal! I was still pretty groggy from the pain medications so, quite honestly, I was in no shape to be responsible for a child at that point in time anyway. My husband stayed with me that night. The next morning, the parade of well-wishers and phone calls began. It was a great feeling to see so many people happy for us.
What I didn’t anticipate was the discomfort and time it took to get back on my feet after my c-section. I was in hospital for 4 days. Every day was a chore to try to get back to being able to walk upright and avoid pulling my stitches with certain movements, all while navigating the process of nursing a newborn. But I was determined to make it through. Thankfully, my son took well to nursing. The painkillers helped me gradually transition from my IV and make it to the finish line that allowed me to be fit for discharge.
What Were the First Few Days like for You as a Mama?
Postpartum, my husband was my superstar. He did the snack runs, held the baby when I needed to rest and kept my spirits up while I was moving through my recovery. I was so proud to have him by my side. Still having to work, he was doing the trek back and forth between the hospital and our home. I was happy that he was always just a phone call or text away and I looked forward to seeing him at the end of each day. I anticipated the day when we would be able to go home and start our new life as a family of 3.
Our church community was essential in our adjustment to being home as they came in droves with meals and presents for our little family. It was nice to feel so well supported and loved. It allowed us to have time to just enjoy our new baby without having to worry about all the extras. My husband’s mother came down for a week to help out. She was great with meals and laundry. We couldn’t have done it without her.
Any Suggestions for New Mamas?
To all you first-time pregnancy moms: my best advice is to enjoy the moments as best as you can.
Labor will be a different experience for everyone, some easier and some harder than others. It’s good to have a wish list but keep in mind that it is only just that – a wish list. Don’t get bent out of shape if things don’t go exactly as planned. Ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, if the final outcome is a healthy mom and a healthy babe then you’ve won the jackpot!
Line up your postpartum supports if possible. If you have other children at home, it may be worthwhile to have a family member come and help out for those first few days as you transition. This will allow support for your other kids, as they will be craving your attention more than ever. After what you just went through, that added stress may not be the first thing you want to have to deal with.
"You Are Not Alone"
While this is not something I struggled with postpartum, the baby blues are a very real consideration. If you are feeling low, it is important to realize that this is a new chapter for you. Changes in our lives can trigger moments of lower mood and feelings of being overwhelmed.
You are not alone. Seek help early. No one is asking you to be a hero. Even the most put-together mom has her moments. So talk to your spouse, phone a friend, or talk to your doctor. Just let someone know how you’re feeling so that they can help get you on the right road to feeling better.
A Priceless Gift
Ultimately, having a baby is one of the most miraculous experiences you will ever live in your life as a woman. It is a blessing for those who are able to even do this! Cherish this gift. It truly is priceless.