Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

To my precious Wild,

I love you. Happy fourth anniversary of our first big hurdle together. I know we’ll have many, many more challenges because of the way your precious body works. I also know we’ll have many, many more wins because of the unshakeable faith that I have in our Heavenly Father.

To my friends,

Today I want to share a snippit of our adventure with Bliss. And how it was absolutely wild from the get go!

Four years ago today I was 32 weeks and 1 day pregnant with my second miracle baby. On March 13, 2013 I found myself sitting in a room full of health care providers and experts in maternal well-being. The theme of our time together? Preventing and supporting maternal mental health for those experiencing premature birth (and birth loss). I left that conference with a strange tightness in my chest. It was the same tightness that I felt while carrying my son… but I can only recognize that years later. In that moment, I just didn’t feel “right.”

I returned to my office, and sat down at my desk. After a few minutes, I asked a colleague if she would bring me to the hospital. Was it a heart attack?

I don’t remember much about the 24-48 hours that followed (I think that’s a protective boundary my sweet mind has gifted me), but I do remember two things: 1. the moment that my blood pressure crashed due to a medication meant to stop my contractions (No heart attack here! Just preterm labor. Again.), and 2. when I heard the words BED REST.

Millions and millions of women have no idea what it’s like to be on bedrest twice. But thousands of us do. Is it worth it for a healthy baby? YES. Is it pure torture while you’re on that particular path? Oh, friend. You can’t even imagine.

There I was, a mother with severe perinatal anxiety being put on modified bedrest (at home, Praise Jesus!) for 22 hours a day, every day. A mother still recovering from postpartum depression who now had limited contact with her two-year old son – let alone any other human being for weeks and weeks on end. (The second half was a product of living in the sticks back then.)

I will never, ever complain about those five long, medicated, darkest of dark weeks where I wept every day and pretended to be fine. Those weeks gave me a beautiful child of full health born on (wait for it…) her DUE DATE. We both proved our fight. (Thank you Bliss for teaching me how to be bold and brave then, just as you do now.)

My friend, the story doesn’t end with a healthy baby. It begins there. I’m reflecting on that right now because so very many women don’t experience this gift. Nothing can prepare you for all the feelings you learn about as you hold your first healthy baby. Nothing can prepare you for the joy you’ll experience. And nothing can prepare you for the longing and sadness that might rise up, too. When I gave birth to this baby, I realized how very disconnected I had been from my first…

Regrets? I have none. But I do have so much empathy for the woman I was. The woman who didn’t know what motherhood could be – who had no idea that she could fall madly in love with a child at first sight. Oh, how I fell in love with my Bliss at first sight!

In our short time together, Bliss has taught me gratitude. She has taught me big, scary love. She has taught me patience and kindness and loving-awareness and simplicity and balance. Bliss has taught me connection and reconnection and bravery and that it’s okay to not text back right away (life doesn’t stop) and that you can actually give birth to one of your very best friends… And we’ve only been together 4 years.

It feels simultaneously absurd and authentic to write this… but I can’t wait for the next four and the next four and the next forty. A mother’s job isn’t to raise her young and walk away – but to counsel the next generation in her wisdom as she grows old. This season is just the beginning of something beautiful. Today, I get to walk alongside moms who have experienced chunks of life that have look like my chunks. But there will come a tomorrow when I will get to walk alongside my Bliss, teach her what she has unknowingly taught me.

xox

Mama J.

 

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” -Proverbs 31:26-31

Success

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” –Mark Caine

(I will NOT be held captive.)

Do you ever have times where your mind just rambles off into a direction that you never expected? This afternoon was one of those moments, as I watched Postpartum Progress’ video on their climb next weekend. To think about who I was then and who I am now… it is completely surreal.

I remember being absolutely numb at the birth of our sweet boy. I never told a soul, but instead I lived in darkness for quite a while. Almost 5 years later, there are only tiny scars – memories – left as a reminder of where I’ve been. I still wish that I had spoken out – but I thought that the anxiety which consumed me (through both pregnancies) would make others think differently of me. My pride won, for sure. I am a really positive person, and I needed to maintain that image. But two complicated pregnancies, a history of body image and autoimmune challenges, plus one year of a super sick baby crushed my “happiest human” perspective.

(I will NOT be held captive.)

I don’t know when the healing began – but I know that some time around when we decided to move to Arizona – around the same time that I started this business – that I began to notice a greater freedom in my spirit… Maybe it was January, when I claimed this as “The Year of Fearless Health.” (In all honesty, my mind was on the physical side… but emotional and spiritual growth has tagged along. I was just aiming to heal my autoimmune – big enough goal, right??)

I love that God has plans that we don’t even know about yet. I am glad to be in a space to honor this. Finally.

(I will NOT be held captive.)

Anyhow, for those who didn’t know about the above, I was held captive. But, now I am free. And freedom, is MY definition of success. Freedom is my why. It’s why I teach, why I advocate, why I self-care… it’s why I coach and mentor and pray. Because we all need to be free. We all need to find it in ourselves to pause and to truly become alive.

We need to not be captive, to anything. We are made for so much more. I hope you agree.