My Journey to Motherhood
Contributing post by: Natalie Hunsaker
I was in the kitchen just the other day, washing dishes, when it occurred to me: I was barefoot. I was pregnant. And my second daughter, who had recently been cleaned up from a blowout, was running around naked except for her diaper.
I suddenly realized I was that woman! You know… the one they always talk about who is supposedly unfulfilled, slaving away for her domineering husband on menial tasks, and wishing instead that her talents would be recognized outside the walls of her home? And yet, as I pondered on the humor of it all, I realized I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
I have had a long, difficult journey to motherhood. After 2.5 years of infertility, you can imagine my delight when I found out I was pregnant with my first. However, you can also imagine my shock when my water broke inexplicably at 24 weeks gestation—especially since it was 2 AM while my husband was out of town on business. Brynn was born a week later, weighing a whopping 1 lb 4 oz. After 4 months in the NICU, she came home with a feeding tube, chronic daily vomiting, and profound deafness. Three years and three surgeries later, she still had a feeding tube, and was still vomiting—baffling every national expert that saw her case. Gratefully, her cochlear implants have made her deafness a relative non-issue since she can hear and speak nearly as well as her peers. And since we have found Green Smoothie Girl earlier this year, her complete diet change has made her vomit-free for the first three months of her life (and counting…). In addition, we’ve been able to wean her from all her medications, which is another first for her young life!
But although things are looking up, it’s been a long road since that first night when reality set in. I remember not knowing whether the uncontrollable tears were because I was a proud new mom, excited to watch my amazing tiny girl grow outside the womb; or because I was terrified about the uncertain future, worried about how much pain all of us—but especially she—would have to face. Little did I know, my tears wouldn’t end with my first pregnancy.
My second pregnancy uncovered the likely reason for Brynn’s early water break—an incompetent cervix—but it was too late for them to sew me shut. So I was immediately admitted (at 24 weeks again) for what became 2 months on hospital bed rest plus a few more weeks of home bed rest. Did I mention my husband was out of town again when I called him with the news from my hospital room? Did I mention, too, that it was just weeks before my husband started a new job half way across the country and we were supposed to be moving? Luckily, as it always seems to, everything worked out and we made it to 37 weeks before needing to be induced (I was walking around dilated to a 6 and the doc was nervous I’d have a baby in the back seat).
I can’t describe the wonder of giving birth to a healthy, 5.5 lb baby girl. I still remember the moment of shock when all the nurses were gone and Heidi was left in my arms. No tubes. No monitors. No tests. Not even someone weighing diapers to monitor output. Just us and the privacy of peace.
We moved a week later.
I suppose after all that, many people wonder why on earth I am pregnant again. Especially since we’re moving again! Some people even tell me I’m brave. But I don’t feel brave. I just feel like there’s more little ones up there waiting to come to my family—and when I look at the faces of my two beautiful girls, I couldn’t imagine saying to either one of them, “You could have gone to a different family, for all I care. You weren’t worth the sacrifice or the fear we went through to get you here.”
I guess I don’t want to say that to my future babies either—no matter how hard it might be to get them here safely. When I feel in my heart of hearts that I’m done because all of my babies have arrived in our family, though, I’ll confess I will most certainly give a sigh of relief! And knowing that about myself, I don’t know if I’d say I’m brave.
I will, however, say I’m lucky. After all, I have a chance to have a normal pregnancy since this time around I had a stitch placed (cerclage), which is about 80% effective at keeping girls like me pregnant. In fact, I’m still walking around at 28 weeks, which is definitely surpassing all previous milestones for me. My husband even made it through his recent business trip without getting an emergency call from the hospital! And once our next move is behind us, I’m hoping it will all be down hill—headed right for 40 weeks and an 8 lb healthy baby boy.
I will also say that I’m happy. Even if some think I’m crazy, they could never accuse me of being unfulfilled. My dreams of changing the world with my paintings have never been so happily set on the backburner as they are right now.
I still believe wholeheartedly that I’ll get to my art someday.
I still think I can have it all.
But until that day comes,