My First Pregnancy: Saori's Story
I had a baby girl. We were trying to get pregnant for a while, so we were thrilled. At 13 weeks pregnant, I took the genetic test because of my age and I found out I was having a girl. When I got pregnant, there was Zika outbreak in the area. So, I was very careful with mosquitos throughout my pregnancy. I was also concerned with possible complications since it was my first time pregnant at an advanced maternal age (pregnancy at 35 or older). Every test that I had to go through was intimidating and I wished I had gotten pregnant at a younger age so I did not have to worry so much.
There were some complications along the way. Ultrasound found some cysts in the baby’s brain and crystallization on her heart. I was sent to see the specialist. Since I already had my genetic test done and it came back clear, the doctor advised me it should resolve in few weeks. I think that was the very first time that I felt that things were out of my hands and there was nothing I could do to fix it but to wait and see.
Later, I also developed gestational diabetes. Everyone felt sorry for me that I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted but it was not as bad as people thought. I just had to control the intake of carbohydrates and it was a great opportunity for me to think over what am I eating on a daily basis. I was able to manage my diet till the end and control weight gain for the baby within the healthy birth weight. However, the problem came later. Not being able to gain enough weight for myself became a huge issue after I had the baby.
Aside from those complications, I think I had a pretty good pregnancy over all. I was in a very happy and good mood in general (except the times when I found out about the complications). I did not feel major discomfort and was able to work until the night before I went into my labor.
If I could re-do the pregnancy, I think I would try to keep open communication with my husband. When I found out about the first complication with the ultrasound, I could not share the news with my husband because I did not know how he would handle it. When I think back, I think the right thing to do would have been to share the results with him. I know he would have handled the situation much better than I did and his support would have been very helpful. I would also make a better plan for postpartum with my husband. I should have considered hiring someone to help with the baby or maybe change his job schedule. I think we underestimated the amount of work involved with having a baby and we paid the price.
I wanted to have a natural birth, but I was scared of the pain. So, I practiced the mental birthing exercise to reduce the labor pain along with relaxing music. During the actual labor, I did use the mental exercise while relaxing music played in my head. My initial plan was to have music with the speaker during the labor but everything went so fast I did not have time to setup. Did it work to reduce the pain? It was painful but it was not as painful as I expected. So…I guess it worked for me!
I would say my postpartum period was the second to hardest time of my life. It was much harder than my husband and I had expected. Thinking back, I think there were two main reasons that postpartum was hard for us.
First reason was my health declined. I am a very healthy person in general, but it was not the case after labor. Recovery from the labor took a very long time. I had huge weight loss due to the prior gestational diabetes and it took me a year to gain back the healthy weight. Because of the excessive weight loss, my immune system went all down and I was getting sick with all kinds of viruses that I would never get if I were healthy.
The second reason was my husband’s long working hours. He worked a long-hour job and he had 2 -3 days off from work per month if any. So, the amount of time he was able to spend with the baby were very limited. I think the first 3-4 months were hardest for both of us. Our families did not live close by and most of our friends were out of town for summer vacations. We only had each other to take care of the baby but we were constantly fighting and arguing. It was difficult and I regret that I was not able to enjoy my baby to the fullest. I wish I did not have all the negative emotions that I had and I wish I was able to just cuddle with the baby and enjoy her being a tiny infant. It also makes me sad that I could not share the pure joy of having a newborn with my husband. I mean there was a lot of joy, but there was also a lot of tension between us.
I couldn’t see how in the world things could get better…so I could not tell myself anything. The future seemed so grey and felt like the sky was falling down. I thought I was a pretty optimistic person before, but I didn’t know who I was anymore. Fortunately, I had family, friends and colleagues who guided me through my journey. Some shared their stories and some gave me big warm hugs. Some brought me a coffee and some just listened to me complain. Every little word from them gave me strength to step forward. Thanks to all the love that they shared with me, I am able to share my love with my daughter now.
In my house, we don’t have a TV in our living room. So, my husband and I usually take turns picking which album to play in the house. It is fun because we have completely different preferences for music, and we get to expose our daughter to artists that we would never be listening to otherwise. My favorites include Jake Shimabukuro, Tommy Emannuel, Brassholics, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk and some Japanese musicians. I also cannot forget Holiday music!