Michelle's Birth Story
There’s a legend between the labor and delivery nurses that full moons and storms send mamas into labor. That certainly seemed to be the case for me. I started having contractions pretty regularly the day before I had my son, so I started timing them. They didn’t end up meeting the 5-1-1 criteria to go to labor and delivery, but we still sent my older child to stay the night with grandparents just in case. Plus, a huge March snowstorm (crazy Midwest weather) was on its way, so we wanted to make sure she was there in case we had to go in the middle of the night.
The next day we awoke to more contractions, my water breaking, and a snow day for students after about 6 inches of snow. My husband quickly shoveled, and we made it into labor and delivery. This is where I found out the saga of the full moon and storm babies… and had my very own snowstorm baby.
My son was not only deemed a “snowstorm baby,” but he was also my rainbow baby. I had a miscarriage between the birth of my first born and getting pregnant with him. It wouldn’t be my last rainbow baby. I’ve since had another miscarriage after his birth but am now anxiously expecting my third baby this August, and second rainbow baby. Pregnancy is a time of excitement and worry, but after multiple miscarriages, the excitement often gets overshadowed by worry.
Naturally, I had a lot of anxiety in my pregnancy which continued after the birth of my son. It turned into postpartum depression and anxiety that eventually would need to treatment with a year of a low dose antidepressant and therapy. I could feel myself living in a constant state of nervousness, exhaustion and isolation. I kept trying to remind myself that these moments are going by so quickly, and babies grow too fast. I kept trying to pull myself into the present moment and remind myself that ‘the world can wait, come morning, he’ll be another day older.’
It was in a particularly isolating moment for me when I was rocking my baby to sleep in the middle of the night, in complete darkness and nothing but the hum of his sound machine, that a poem for my son poured out of my heart. After laying him in his crib, I quickly grabbed my phone and typed up what I had come up with.
A year later I turned that poem, written in the still of the night, into a children's book titled ‘Don’t Grow Too Fast, Please’. It is so very special to me as I know the way in which it came about, and how with the help of family, friends and health professionals, I was able to see the light again after a dark time. I’m thankful for the amazing mothers I’m lucky enough to know who have opened up about postpartum depression and anxiety, as well as pregnancy and infant loss, to help break some of the stigma that sometimes accompanies it.
When flying, flight attendants remind us of the rule that you need to put your oxygen mask on in the event of an emergency before assisting anyone else. I use this analogy so often in my own motherhood journey to remember that we need to take care of ourselves in order to best be able to take care of the ones who count on us. And mamas, it’s always ok, and sometimes necessary, to ask for help.