The Last Time You Were You

I remember the searing pain radiating throughout my lower abdomen and towards my back as the contractions intensified and I remember thinking, “isn’t there supposed to be a break coming up?”

The contraction felt never-ending. Agonizing. Where was the anesthesiologist with the drugs? I cannot tell you how much time passed, but it was long enough for me.

I’ll spare you the details of my labor and delivery. Sufficient to say, it was not easy. It did not go as planned. It was painful and tiring and invasive and so hard. Interventions were used that I had hoped to avoid. I felt out of control. I only remember it in dribs and drabs, which is probably a blessing. It was hard on Skylar too. She was hardly breathing when she arrived.

She struggled to adapt to life on the outside and I struggled to comprehend the enormous shift that had taken place in the longest 48 hours of my life.

People tell you life will change once you have a baby and I guess, theoretically, I knew it would. I mean it looked hard. Motherhood really terrified me. I wasn’t even sure if it was in my future for a long time. But once I got my anxiety in check, and pregnancy wound up being easier than I’d anticipated, I started to think that maybe labor, delivery and motherhood wouldn’t be as life-changing as everyone claims it is.

You know, people say a lot of things. They tell you it will be hard and, they aren’t kidding, but what they don’t really tell you, or maybe they do, and you just can’t understand it until you actually go through it, is that you will change. Not just life, but you.

I didn’t think I would change. I just thought life would. But I was wrong.

There will be a pre-kid you and a post-kid you.

The you that you have known your whole life changes the moment that baby comes into the world. The moment YOU bring that little life into the world. A tiny, fragile, brand new life. One that you have to sustain, one that relies on you for comfort and food and reassurance.

Birth is monumental and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

People have babies every day. I told myself that a lot over the course of my pregnancy, whenever I’d feel nervous about labor and delivery. It’s true…Women have given birth and become mothers for centuries.

But, birth is no ordinary feat. And afterwards, after the blood, sweat and tears, there is a new soul in this world and your own well-being is totally wrapped up in this other little soul and you know you’ll never quite be the same again.

When I look back, I wish I had known. I wish I had taken several weeks off work prior to the arrival of my little Skylar instead of slaving away until the night my water broke. I wish I rested, read more, savored the quiet.

My last moments as me, the pre-kid me, were not at all pleasant. They were painful and frightening and difficult. I was focused on the physical, because that’s all I could focus on. So, there’s some regret there. Not only regret for the difficult birth I had hoped to avoid but regret that I didn’t realize how much I would be changing in a matter of moments. Regret that I was going 100 miles/hour up until I gave birth. I didn’t even have time to catch my breath.

Maybe it’s for the best because if you truly realize the enormity of the change ahead of you, the panic and fear could easily overwhelm you.

Yes, life looks very different these days and I am very different as a result. Physically, mentally, emotionally…I am different. My schedule, my values, my time, my priorities. It’s all changed. Maybe fundamentally I’m still the same person, but there’s been a shift. Maybe even a maturation of sorts.

If I could go back in time to the 9 month pregnant me, I would have told her to take it easy. I would have told her to slow down. I would have told her that work would still be there but that she wouldn’t be. I would have told her to do exactly what she wanted to do. Binge watch some Netflix for an entire weekend. Go out to dinner with your husband. Take a long walk with the dogs. Spend some time just being, because yes, life will change, but so will you.

The transformation to motherhood really is just that, a transformation. It will stretch you in ways you couldn’t imagine. It will make you more resilient. Your heart will expand. Your thinking will change. You will be different. This little life will change you. This process will change you.

Motherhood will change you.

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