September is NICU Awareness Month, so I can't help but recount my first pregnancy, detailed in my book, Expecting Perfect: My Bumpy Journey to Mommyhood.
I recently asked my friend if she thought I was crazy for publishing my pregnancy journal. Her response: Nadine, for some reason it doesn’t surprise me that you’re doing such a thing. Besides, you are crazy. But crazy is all relative, right?
I wrote my first journal entry after my husband and I seriously attempted reproducing. I say seriously because sex came with a strategy: to “do it” during the prime time of the month and succumbing to those myths-or-methods like putting your legs in the air post doing the deed.
In a way, the whole thing was comical. It was also scary. What if our attempts were unsuccessful? I didn’t want to fail.
I’ve always loved to write. Writing is what originally led me to my former TV career. I’ve written during my best of times…and worst. And so, as a free form of therapy, I turned to my laptop, documenting my adventure getting pregnant.
Well, apparently the legs-in-the-air thing worked and we got pregnant pretty quick. Within seconds of finding out I was pregnant, I went from feeling anxious trying to get pregnant to becoming a totally neurotic mother-to-be. All I wanted was a baby, and now that it was happening, I craved perfection. Someone really should have told me pregnancy could be far from.
I OBSESSED over my every move. I didn’t want to screw anything up. I was determined to follow every single solitary pregnancy rule. I wouldn’t eat certain foods; I’d drink tons of water; and I’d ONLY sleep on my left side. (It’s said it’s the safest sleep position for your precious embryo.) And because I became a psycho crazy pregnant lady, I continued writing, turning to my laptop to express my deepest thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Writing became my vice. I wrote about everything. I wrote about the first time I heard my baby’s fetal heartbeat. I wrote about my pregnancy symptoms. I wrote about the conversations I’d have with my belly. And I even wrote about our European babymoon. Who would have thought my first trip to Italy would consist of no wine? And just days after walking the hundreds of steps to the top of the Duomo, my fast track of flawlessness turned upside down.
At 20 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa. My doctor told me my life was at risk, my baby’s life was at risk, and that I’d likely bleed, be hospitalized, be put on bed rest, and birth a preemie via c-section. Well, all the above happened, and I documented every single thing. In many ways my laptop became my BFF. I was able to express myself openly without judgment.
My 4 pound 11 ounce son was born six weeks early, but he arrived perfect. My rocky pregnancy had resulted in something right: giving me the most beautiful, wonderful, blessed baby in the entire world. (And I’m 100% biased.) I vividly recall kangaroo’ing with my son in the NICU two days after he was born. It was the first time I had the chance to really truly snuggle my son skin-to-skin. My heart overflowed with emotion. Life before my little man was only life leading up to him. I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. The love I never thought existed was so deep it hurt. I wrote about that too.
By the time I had documented TTC (Google the acronym), my bumpy pregnancy, and my son’s stay in the NICU, I had an epiphany: to divulge my diary.
Many women are under the impression that pregnancy is perfect. We see perfect pregnancies in the movies, beautiful bellies on Facebook, and picturesque baby showers. (BTW, my shower was in the hospital.) Anyway, the reality is that pregnancy is unpredictable and full of unknowns.
I published my journal because I want women to know they are not alone. I want women to know that imperfection is OK. And I want women to know the roller-coaster ride of pregnancy is totally worth it. Once you become a mom, everything else in your life becomes secondary. A bumpy ride can still be a beautiful experience.
And so I’ve put it all out there: my tell-all, personal, completely candid story, unchanged from when I wrote it in real-time. All I ask of you is one thing: please read with a kind, open, compassionate heart.
I think my friend is right…I am (a little) crazy. But normal is boring. I’m hopeful Expecting Perfect: My Bumpy Journey to Mommyhood will help someone like myself; someone eager and excited to assume the greatest most rewarding title in the world: mom.
My book is available on Amazon.
Foreword written by Dr. JulieAnn Heathcott, my OBGYN.