I Am Strong Because…
I feel very compelled to share this right now. I’m not sure why.
Throughout my emotional and physical recovery from my first (and only, thus far) childbirth, I came across many wonderful networks of support. I often came across stories of women sharing their “I’m Strong Because…” statements, mostly through the wonderful Birth Without Fear page. My mind raced with thoughts of mine at times, although I didn’t dare write them down while I was in the midst of it all. I wasn’t ready. As these thoughts repeatedly entered my mind however…what choice did I have? Perhaps if you are struggling with anything in your life, you may benefit from this exercise as well.
But now I’m ready. Boy, am I ever…I apologize in advance for the length, and wonder if anybody will really read this anyway…
I am STRONG and LUCKY because I found my perfect partner for life and have made it work with him through high school, separate colleges, and ever since.
WE are STRONG because we have created our own family.
I am STRONG because I nourished my pregnant body the best I could from the second I found out I was expecting.
I am STRONG because I carried fifty extra pounds on my aching frame for 40 weeks and 6 days.
I am STRONG because my body started labor on its own and endured so much for 36 hours.
I am STRONG because I cleaned my car in between contractions. Vacuumed the trunk and everything.
I am STRONG because I handled my back labor the best that I could, despite it affecting my old tailbone injury. Nobody told me it was back labor though so I figured it was just how labor was, and did not know how I was going to make it.
I am STRONG because I agreed to the epidural they encouraged me to get now so that I wouldn’t be too tired to push later. I didn’t want one, but felt like my back was breaking.
I am STRONG because I didn’t know my baby was posterior until after I got the epidural and could no longer do anything about it myself.
I am STRONG because I continued labor on my back with an epidural that eased my stomach pains but not my tailbone pains for another day yet, and with a catheter that was found WAY later to be inserted incorrectly and my baby’s head ended up pushing against it for who knows how long.
I am STRONG because I did not get to eat or drink anything until hours after my baby arrived.
I am STRONG because I tried my best to sleep, even though I could not with the incessant beeping from the monitors I was told I needed, and the constant checks on my progress. I felt like a watched pot by my family and “care” providers.
I am STRONG because after not progressing for a while (oddly following the Pitocin I “needed” and didn’t know I was allowed to refuse), my OB told me I would need a c-section. She left the room and Big Daddy Orange and I cried together before accepting this as truth.
I am STRONG because I was told I didn’t need the Cesarean after all since by the time they got around to it (some emergency, huh?), my body made it to 10 centimeters! Whew, I thought I dodged a bullet there.
I am STRONG because I endured urethra and bladder damage from the incorrect catheter. As soon as it was removed, I progressed rather quickly.
My baby is STRONG because my water was full of meconium, but he was healthy.
I am STRONG because I pushed for two and a half hours. I am STRONG because I really loved this part. I am STRONG because I wanted to push my baby out so badly. I am STRONG because pushing until my eyes ached descended my baby as far as he would go.
I am STRONG because I waited another hour for the c-section after all, after my OB wouldn’t let me push anymore.
I am STRONG because my body was uncontrollably shaking on the operating table. I was freezing from a fever and could not keep my top half from convulsing, while not feeling my bottom half at all.
My husband is STRONG because he NEVER left my side through all of this.
My husband is STRONG because he stayed face to face with me and talked with me as they cut me open. I actually forgot where I was for a minute and had a few laughs with him.
We are STRONG because when we heard our baby cry and heard “It’s a boy!”, we were completely caught off guard and had a truly amazing moment together. Ah, so thankful for this.
I am STRONG because I had to let the doctors and nurses evaluate my baby first (because of the meconium) before I could see him.
Daddy is STRONG because he showed me our child with tears in his eyes, above his surgical mask.
I am STRONG because I breastfed my baby within the first hour of his life, and this is the first time I felt at peace for a bit.
I am STRONG because I kept telling everybody I did my best and wanted everybody to know I didn’t fail, although I felt like it and was sure that’s what they were thinking.
My son and I are STRONG because we were DETERMINED to breastfeed successfully, and thankfully eased right into it.
I am STRONG because I am still proudly nursing my son at 16 months.
I am STRONG because the first few days after birth were incredibly painful, humiliating (loss of bodily control and nurses who were in no rush to help me), and indescribable. Yet I still got out of bed to get my baby.
I am STRONG because ten days later, my incision reopened and “stuff” oozed out of me faster than we could contain. This was the most frightening moment of my life and I will never forget the sights, smells, feelings, etc. My incision was infected. Nobody has ever told me why or how.
I am STRONG because we wrapped me up in beach towels, grabbed our newborn, and went to the ER where I was scolded for not just going to my OB’s office instead.
I am STRONG because they had to completely reopen my incision, painfully, in the ER and pack it full of gauze. While we were there for six hours, I continued to nurse my newborn when necessary.
I am STRONG because I had to keep going to the ER every day to get my gauze changed, because my OB’s office was closed due to snow.
I am STRONG because I figured out my own care when nobody wanted to put me back together. The ER said I shouldn’t come in there for that anymore, and my OB said I should go to the ER. After days of feeling abandoned, but knowing I NEEDED my gauze changed somehow, I found a Wound Care Specialist. I am STRONG because I continued to go to urgent care centers since I couldn’t be seen yet for over a week.
I am STRONG because I had a home health care nurse come daily, then every other day, to pack my gauze for over a month so that it healed from the inside out. I am STRONG because this was excruciating, although I got used to it more each time. They often cauterised parts of my incision that were starting to heal together too fast on the outside.
My husband is STRONG because he had to learn to change and pack my wound after that since I wasn’t allotted any more visits.
I am STRONG because I walked around for three months with a gaping open wound full of saline and gauze, as well as a re-injured tailbone that I am still dealing with.
I am STRONG because through all of this, I took care of a newborn the best I could.
I am STRONG because I suffered from postpartum depression, quite severely at points.
I am STRONG because I asked for help. From my amazing husband, from true friends who remained there for me while most did not, and from an incredible Christian therapist.
I am STRONG because I was diagnosed from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and have faced my issues head on.
I am STRONG because I’ve fallen many times, but I get back up stronger. Every. Time.
I am STRONG because in my lowest, most empty moments I found God, more than ever. I yearn to grow closer and closer to Him each day.
I am STRONG because, as horrible as I felt, I found playgroups and activities for Tangerine since he was a few months old. He and I have both made so many new friends.
I am STRONG because I worked hard to fall more and more out of my fog, and more and more in love with my absolutely perfect son.
I am STRONG because I have educated myself on more things than most people ever really need to, including healthier ways to live and keep my child’s body working as it was meant to.
I am STRONG because, although I felt I failed as a mother for many reasons, I now realize I was a mother all along because I’ve always done what I thought was best for my son.
I am STRONG because when you know more, you do more. And I will not allow many things that I can control to happen again next time.
I am STRONG because I am no longer terrified to attempt this “having babies” thing again.
I am STRONG because I will hopefully attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) someday, and accept whatever outcome may arise.
I am STRONG because I have found my voice. I talk openly about my feelings and am passionate about helping others in any way that I can.
I am STRONG because I am finished letting regret, doubt, anger, jealousy, and pain take away the joy of my present. I may have missed out on a precious time with my son at first, but I refuse to miss out anymore.
I am STRONG because I am ALIVE. And blessed for everywhere I’ve been.
And now YOU are TIRED after reading all of that! Thank you for “listening” to my semi-birth story. I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave me a comment!