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All Because I Got Knocked Up….

February 4, 2012

For the last five years or so I have schlepped about the country supporting my husband’s education and career. We have moved once a year since we got married and that really hampers the ability to commit to a program/return to school/start a career and remember what box anything important is packed in. This has given me the opportunity to REALLY think about what I want to be when I grow-up.

When we got engaged I was working winters as a ski patroller and really loved the work. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like to see anyone get hurt, but I am one of those who doesn’t get squeamish at the sight of blood. I rather kick into high gear and get a bit of an adrenaline buzz. Sorry, it’s the truth. I’ll never forget the first skull I saw – the kid’s name was Willie, naturally he was a boy scout – it was my first ‘first on scene’ call. I was good at staying calm under pressure, connecting with the patients and taking care of their injuries. My plan at that time was to go to nursing school and hopefully work as a flight medic. (See how I combine my need for adrenaline with a rewarding career…nice thought huh?)

Turns out, nursing programs are longer than 12 months. Time to find odd jobs and support then husband until we settle down in one state.

OK, what else do I love that can keep me busy for awhile? I know, I’ll go to Asheville, NC and study yoga. Life-shifting, in a word or a hyphenate anyhow. Perhaps I’ll tell you more in another post. For now, let’s just suffice it to say that my time at AYC changed my approach to life and will lend some incredible depth in my new path.

Fast forward to May 2010. I got knocked up. (I like how WordPress highlights ‘knocked up’ and calls it a cliche.)Hope you don’t find that phrase offensive. It’s just that one of my friends has played me to say the name of the movie ‘Knocked Up’ to tell me that she was pregnant twice now! Makes me giggle.

Anyhow, where was I? Oh yeah, knocked up. So I start doing what I do best – reading! And wowza, there is a lot to read about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting, etc. I am fascinated with the whole culture. As a first time mother, while a bit intimidating, most of what I read sounded pretty normal and easy. Then I had my baby. And met reality.

Despite all of my preparation, I found myself completely frustrated with breastfeeding. I also found myself alone. Living far away from family and friends. No support. No help. No encouraging words. In the short, but seemingly endless first 8 weeks I battled engorgement, raw/sore nipples, clogged ducts, mastitis, breast abscess, a week in the hospital to treat said abscess, severe head to toe allergic reaction to the antibiotics, thrush, and mastitis again. (This warrior is still marching on. We are still breastfeeding one year later.)

I want to clarify here, I never felt alone in my postpartum care with the wonderful women at Inanna Birth and Women’s Care. My postpartum care was thorough, attentive and kind. My midwife took my 11 pm delirious call (long after my pp care was complete) when my fever had spiked to just below 103; she offered comfort and a quick prescription for an antibiotic to fight off the infection. Postpartum care only lasts so long. It was when I was referred to an ob/gyn and was admitted to the hospital did I feel truly alone. No lactation help, no understanding doctors – just medical advice to wean my 5 week old baby and being told there was no way I could continue to breastfeed.

And did I mention in the middle of all this the doctors thought Arabella may have a rare inoperable brain tumor called neuroblastoma? We had to be admitted to the hospital for MRIs, CTs, xrays, and surgery. I had no idea they were going to ask me to not feed her because of surgery and didn’t take a pump or have the experience to know I needed to try hand expressing. I’m positive this chain of events is directly related to the breast abscess. We got lucky, the mass turned out to be benign.

Arabella post surgery at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, TX.

How did I survive all of this? I think in part I was still riding the high of natural childbirth. Sure, breastfeeding was a battle for me, but the incredible high of bringing my daughter into the world far eclipsed any short-term discomforts of breastfeeding. By week nine I was well on my way to being healed and in a rhythm with breastfeeding.

In the weeks to come I found myself getting email after email from various pregnant acquaintances and friends about everything from labor to cloth diapering to breastfeeding. I’m not completely sure why any one person sought me out, but it was touching to think I had made some type of impact through Facebook posts. I poured over every question that came my way and gave all my love, support and encouragement to the inquiring mamas-to-be. It was in answering those emails that my new passion for life showed it’s spark. I was radiant with mama-ness and wanted to wrap it around everyone, to connect with other mothers. I was so amped at the idea of helping other new moms I couldn’t sleep most nights. My new knowledge and trust of my body, my admiration of motherhood, my experience with birth and breastfeeding coupled with the challenges I had faced opened a door I didn’t know existed.

What an honor it would be to witness the transformation from womanhood to motherhood.  And what a blessing it would be to hold the hand of a new mom or mom-to-be along the way. The women who surrounded me and supported me in labor and birth hold a very special piece of my heart. Although I couldn’t tell you their middle names, I could tell you about the beauty of their souls and the compassion of their hearts. In those brief hours (I would never have described them as brief at the time) of labor they were a source of confidence, support and love.

Our little family with Betty....my midwife from heaven!

So here it is. I may not be all grown up.  And I certainly don’t have all the answers. What I do have is a passionate desire to support and serve women in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

My first priority is being Arabella’s mama. In between naps and night-time I am studying to become a Certified Childbirth Educator with Birth Arts International. I am also in the accreditation process of becoming a La Leche League Leader. AND, I know, as if I wasn’t busy enough, I will also be attending a training workshop in March to become a Certified Lactation Counselor.

My vision is to work at a birth center and provide childbirth classes, breastfeeding support and perhaps sprinkle in a little prenatal yoga too. In the meantime I will be here blogging away about my journey, my life as a mama and anything else that fancies me. Hopefully my shared stories will help another little mama along the way or be simply be a source of camaraderie….

All because I got knocked up.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2012 3:43 pm

    I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

    I couldn’t be happier that you have found your path, and I couldn’t be luckier that ours have crossed ~*~

  2. Kristin Jennings permalink
    February 4, 2012 4:36 pm

    Beautifully written Sarah. I am so proud of this and you, and I can’t wait to meet your most prized accomplishment in life–little Miss Arabella!

    • February 29, 2012 2:44 am

      KJ- thank you dearly. I too hope our paths cross in the sweet hills of home someday soon. And thanks for visiting me here…it means a lot.

  3. February 4, 2012 4:37 pm

    Yes! I’m thrilled for you, and for all the mamas that will be touched by your giftedness!

    • February 29, 2012 2:46 am

      Thank you Joy! I owe a great deal of discovery to you. I’m glad to have you along in my journey.

  4. Val permalink
    February 4, 2012 5:08 pm

    I’m so proud of you too! You’re such a good resource of info on this subject & you’re gonna be one awesome everything! I wish I would’ve had you & your knowledge around when I was preg all those years ago. xoxox

    • February 29, 2012 2:46 am

      Aw, my other Val. I love that you’re here to support me now! Thank you! xo

  5. Jo-Beth permalink
    February 4, 2012 7:36 pm

    I’m loving reading these!! You’re such a beautiful woman, and I’m so excited about what you have planned! I can’t wait to hear more 🙂

  6. Jenna permalink
    February 4, 2012 7:39 pm

    beautiful my friend!!! thanks for sharing this!!!!

    • February 29, 2012 2:49 am

      Thanks for being here my friend. I really think my online village is very important on this journey.

  7. Erim permalink
    February 4, 2012 8:58 pm

    Thanks for an awesome read! Thanks for sharing as you do….good luck with your dreams!

    • February 29, 2012 2:50 am

      Thanks Miss Erin! I’m glad to have such an insightful friend around to check me if I get too far out there! 😉

  8. Jocelyn permalink
    February 5, 2012 3:34 am

    Sarah, you are remarkable. Simply amazing. I am honored to be your friend. I’m so so glad our stars have aligned.

  9. Bethany permalink
    February 5, 2012 11:34 pm

    Wow. I knew you had faced challenges with breastfeeding, but I had no idea it was that severe. You are an awesome strong Mama!! I love how you point out that your natural childbirth experience helped you to see that if you could do that, you could do anything and get through your challenges. That is such an important aspect of natural childbirth. It builds strong moms that are then equipped the hard work of establishing breastfeeding and caring for a demanding ifant 24/7. It’s a transformation that is all too often dismissed in our culture. I am so happy that we have met and that we can share our journeys with each other!

    • February 29, 2012 2:53 am

      Thank you Bethany! I feel the start of an amazing adventure here.

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