My baby girl Cora arrived in January 2020.
The first six months of my pregnancy were bliss. And exactly how I had envisioned it. I slept as much as I wanted to, took prenatal yoga classes, devoted
hours to Pinterest, and enjoyed a little babymoon with my partner.
I wanted a more holistic experience so I chose midwives to deliver our baby. We became very familiar and comfortable with our team of two midwives. My appointments were quick and easy - I felt great, our baby was growing as expected, my blood pressure was spot on.
Through the midwives, I met a doula offering classes to the community. I signed up for two of her classes: Introduction to Breastfeeding and Labour & Delivery Prep.
I was happy, healthy and totally prepared.
Until I took my glucose tolerance test.
I was disappointed when I failed the first one. I was devastated when I failed the second one. In a matter of days, I had to transfer my care to an OB-GYN and meet with a dietician. When changes to my diet failed to improve my glucose levels, I was referred to an endocrinologist. And found myself at the hospital being taught how to administer my insulin.
I started meeting with my new OB-GYN weekly. And he scheduled me for weekly non-stress tests to monitor the baby. I also met the endocrinologist weekly to monitor my glucose levels.
With just a few weeks until delivery, my OB informed me that my baby was breech. We remained optimistic that she would turn.
She did not. And that’s when I was very gently told by my OB that the safest delivery for my baby would be a Cesarean section.
My c-section was scheduled for January 7th. And almost every night until then I would lie in bed and cry. I had wanted to experience the thrill of telling my partner that the baby was on its way. And now it was just a date and time in our calendar. Furthermore, surgery scared me. And I would feed my anxiety by Googling c-section horror stories.
Nothing had gone the way I wanted it to. My stress-free pregnancy was replaced by worrying. About whether my baby would be born healthy or not. About everything I ate, pricking my fingers throughout the day and injecting myself with insulin at night. About complications due to surgery.
In the end, my delivery was such a beautiful experience. We had great doctors and nurses, our midwife was present and we were on cloud nine. I immediately put my breastfeeding knowledge to work.
Or so I thought. Cora was very sleepy and would doze off during feedings. Her test for jaundice came back as high risk. This explained her sleepy state and led to a concerning weight loss. When I was told I was being discharged while Cora had to stay another night, it was as if all my feelings exploded and I cried inconsolably. And then packed up and left our four day old baby behind.
I spent the next 12 hours pumping between her 2 hour feedings for which we would drive to the hospital and I would try to breastfeed her, then watch the nurses give her my pumped milk topped up with formula in a bottle. Thankfully, she was discharged the next day as she had gained enough weight. And at our follow up appointment a couple of days later she had gained even more weight with my breast milk alone.
But our breastfeeding journey was a difficult one. She had been introduced to formula and the bottle at the hospital, cluster feeding was physically and emotionally exhausting, it was painful, and she was still very sleepy which made feedings feel never ending. Finally one night, as both Cora and I were both crying in fits of unhappiness, my partner assured me I was not a failure if I abandoned breastfeeding.
And we did. But I let the guilt eat me alive for at least a week - other women could do this, why couldn’t I? Was I already a bad Mom? Would we properly bond? I once deleted an Instagram post because her bottle could be seen in the background.
My pregnancy, delivery and postpartum taught me a lot about expectations. Ironically, I had proudly told people that my birth plan wasn’t really a plan, but more of a wish. But somehow I had subconsciously come up with specific ideas about how it would all happen. And when it didn’t, I would spend a lot of emotional energy mourning that idea.
Having such high expectations of myself also led to a very serious F-word. Failure. I had failed my glucose test, failed to fix it with diet, failed at a vaginal birth, failed to breastfeed.
A little wiser now, I know I did my best to ensure Cora’s health and happiness. And that makes me a good Mom. I stuck to a healthy diet, I gave myself insulin to ensure the health of myself and our baby, I elected for a c-section because it was safest for our baby, I fed our baby.
In the end, a lot of things didn’t go my way. Instead, they went the way they were supposed to. And I had a lot of love and support along the way. And I’d do it all over again to have Cora. She’s a beautiful little person.