I had my first son when I was 26, at 41 weeks. He was tiny because I had intrauterine growth restriction but everything went fine. I only pushed for a couple minutes and he was out. Pretty easy birth. On day 3 after he was born, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to feed him and thinking ‘Why does anybody have children. Ever?’ It seemed very difficult at the time because he was my first, but in retrospect, he was such an easy baby. We had to wake him up to feed him! I was just overwhelmed and we were in the middle of Arizona. I had nobody around because my husband was military at the time. Now I look back on that quiet time I had just with him and think ‘Oh… it was so lovely!’ We unexpectedly got pregnant again with our daughter when my son was only 10 months old. With her, I labored her all night and I had her in the morning, so it already put me into sleep deprivation. I had her at John Hopkins, but because I wasn’t high risk I pretty much was pushed aside. I was put in a closet for half of my labor! And then when I went to deliver, we had to call because no one was around. It was just kind of crazy. After I had her they put me on the pediatric floor because they didn’t have any room on the maternity ward, but they forgot about me. That was so weird. And my daughter, well, she was not the same type of baby as my son! She had to be on me all the time. I also had mastitis infections almost constantly for nine months, so that was difficult. But I remember, it was probably around week 6, I called one of my friends who just also had a baby and I said ‘Tell me it gets easier! Tell me!’ And she was like "Oh yeah. Just hang in there. It will." And it did.
I had to bribe my husband to have a third one, but we got lucky and got pregnant right away. He was, again, an easy baby – I was starting to see a pattern here with my boys! I didn’t have any kind of postpartum blues, I was just enjoying every little second with him. Maybe after the craziness of my second birth, this one seemed easy. I also labored all day and had him in the evening, having a full night of sleep before, which I think, for me anyway, makes things so much easier. He nursed really well. There were just no issues. Then our fourth kid and second daughter came along. She was a surprise! We got to the hospital at 2:30 am and I delivered her at 3:30 am. My husband had an interview for a job that morning and it was so quick that he still went! I mean she was great, I was great, it was my fourth… But I remember going home from the hospital with her and feeling really overwhelmed. Maybe because I labored with her all night. I also had three others kids at home. But after a little bit of time, I think I was fine. As for my husband, he ended up getting that job! But he had to leave for training for four months. He never really had much time off after any of the births. My mom came but for the most part, it was just me and the kids. It was a bit hard.
I got pregnant again when our fourth was a year and a half. I was having a boy, but I lost him at 28 weeks. He stopped moving one night and I thought maybe he had just shifted or moved. But the next morning I couldn’t feel him tumble and tumble as he usually did, so I went into L&D and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. My husband was away on a work trip but luckily he was flying back that day. So they induced me and I ended up laboring all day long, naturally, because epidural never works with me. I had him around 10:30 pm that night. We still don’t know exactly what happened to him. When he was born, he was wrapped up in his cord pretty tight. My husband said twice around the neck and then once around his little body. That could have been it. We’ll never know. And life went on. That’s another thing that is hard as a mom when you lose a baby. Life doesn’t stop so you can absorb what’s going on. I knew I was grieving, but I didn’t know how bad of a wreck I was. At my 6-week checkup, my doctor gave me the name of a counselor, saying she was great. I waited three months to contact her. It was nice to talk with her and I thought I’d go back because I sobbed the whole hour! But what happened is I didn’t go back. I thought I was fine. And the end of October, five months postpartum, I got pregnant again.
I didn’t know I was pregnant when what happened happened. Overnight, I just stopped sleeping. I went from fine to complete disaster in two days. I was 5 months postpartum, which I learned is not a good time for depression and anxiety issues. My hormones were also all over the place. Thank god I still had my counselor's number. She pretty much put me on the fast track to see a psychiatrist. It was a really rough pregnancy mentally. I was really anxious. Everyone was preparing for the worst. My husband had taken off for 2 weeks to be sure I would be fine if something bad happened after the birth. But the thing is, quite the opposite happened. As soon as I had my son in my arms, I was completely relaxed. I’ve never had a better birth and a better postpartum than with him. I was completely in love. I was also on an antidepressant and I’m sure that played a part. I was like, "This is how it’s supposed to be if you’re fully healthy and happy." Even still, I appreciate everything so, so much more. Ultimately, we have six kids even if it’s difficult when somebody asks because they’re pretty much meaning how many living kids. We usually say five, but it is always an inner conflict. Although when my other children are around, they say "Oh she has six, one of them died!" They’re not shy! They talk about him a lot and they include him. I also ended up becoming a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I really wanted to do something for somebody else that was in that situation. There’s really nothing you can say or do, so it’s just my little way I think I can add comfort. It’s not an easy road, but it has helped me. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity.