Three and a half years ago, when Nez was born, I had a rough go of it. After a smooth, scheduled c-section, things quickly turned for me. I had an allergic reaction to the pain narcotics that had me hallucinating and forgetting where I was and that I’d had a baby at all, then my milk supply came in so quickly and heavily that I felt I had 30 pounds of cement strapped to my chest. One of my first memories post-childbirth was a horrifying feeling of regret that I’d had a baby. That thought immediately had be sobbing, vowing to never put myself through it again.
While going off the narcotics quickly thereafter helped, I struggled with over production for weeks, breaking down one night on the phone with my parents and realizing that I had to start the weaning process for my own mental health. A hellish week of aggressive weaning, and my body was physically starting to feel better. But the anxiety and sadness left a weight on me that didn’t truly lift off my shoulders for over a year. Throughout that year I was committed to the idea that Nez would be our first and last child. That as much as I’d always envisioned a sibling for her, the physical and emotional toll this process had taken on me was just not worth it. Tommy and I felt that maybe this was it for us and our little family was complete. But as they say, never say never…
As time went on, the conversation came back up. We both have extremely close relationships with our siblings and I felt a nagging that we were meant to give Nez the opportunity to experience that bond. After many, many chats about what we would need to do differently this time around (bring on more help with Nez as well as support with the baby, develop a strategy for my breastfeeding so we wouldn’t have to go through that misery again, make sure my OB knew my issues with the narcotics, etc.) we decided to try for a second baby.
I feel fortunate that getting pregnant with Nez was a quick process, with only two months of trying. I was using the Natural Cycles app to track my cycle in addition to ovulation tests. I felt as in-tune with my body as I could. But the second time around, something felt a little off. While I knew that no two pregnancy experiences are alike, I quietly guessed it would be a comparable experience; two, maybe three months of trying and boom!
The general consensus from OB’s is that a doctor’s visit to check out fertility is really only necessary after a year of trying, but eight or nine months in I just had this instinct that something was not quite right. I wondered if perhaps something hadn’t healed properly with my c-section and decided to go to a fertility specialist for reassurance. After a quick introductory visit, the specialist suggested I do an ultrasound using a catheter and special saline solution that makes it easier to see any abnormalities. During that procedure (which was uncomfortable but not painful), she noticed that I had some cervical scarring- apparently this can happen with c-sections when your body ‘thinks’ it’s supposed to do something i.e. labor and in the end, never goes through the process. She removed the scarring and told me that everything else looked normal, and that if I wanted to, I could continue with more invasive investigations to go a level deeper. But after that procedure, my body started to feel different. My period that month was much more comparable to what it was before having Nez. The following month, I was pregnant.
I share all of this for a few reasons. The first is that I wish I had more voices telling me it’s okay to change your mind, to doubt yourself as a parent, and to know that becoming a mother (and I believe, a father as well) is such a radical shift on more levels than one that you might have those moments of doubt or regret. Our second pregnancy journey also taught me to listen to my instincts. Just because the general consensus is to wait a year before investigating things further, you should also recognize those signals in yourself. I find there are so many pressures to approach motherhood as martyrdom instead of prioritizing the mental health of the parent first and foremost. It doesn’t make you a bad mother to say you never want to experience some of the things you experienced in the pregnancy and birth process again. But I also share this as an example of someone who so deeply felt with every fiber of my being that I could never go through this all again and am now sitting with my second child, one week old, with a very different mindset, sense of clarity and emotional outcome than the first. Never say never is a cliché for a reason.