And there is no time like the present. My body is ready to tap out!
I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant just 10 weeks into moving into our new home, after our cross country move. While it’s flown by, I also feel like I can’t remember a time before I was pregnant. Probably because I literally had no time to make memories in our new hometown before I was pregnant! It’s been a journey, to say the least. One I definitely hoped would come to an end surrounded by love and family, since the pandemic had already kept us so far apart for so long. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Restrictions are still in place to prevent us from being reunited with family and our hearts are broken to have experienced this entire pregnancy and soon, our son’s birth, without having seen any family, apart from my mom. It’s been a long, exhausting road, but we know this isolation has required us to lean into each other and grow even stronger as a unit. For that and all the wonderful things that have come to fruition for our little family of soon-to-be four, we are extremely grateful.
We have and will continue to grieve these unfortunate circumstances for a while, I’m sure, but our priority right now is getting this little dude earth side, safe and healthy. I had a scary birth experience the first time around that I’ve shared before and I haven’t been shy about admitting that I’m pretty terrified to do this birth thing all over again. After my first c-section went so wrong, I was always sure I’d want to try for a VBAC the second time around. As fate would have it, due to our move and the lack of a trusted support system in our new surroundings, electing for a c-section has felt like the better option for me mentally. We don’t have the familiar faces of family, doctors or doulas we know and trust here in Tennessee, so controlling the experience as much as I can has given me some small sense of preparedness.
Given that this is my second birth, there are a few things that have helped me to be prepared that I wish I’d known the first time around and I thought I’d share them with you…
Birth Wish vs. Birth Plan
When you’re pregnant, people talk a hell of a lot about a birth plan. Every hospital bag packing list you find online tells you to print out multiple copies of your birth plan so everyone around you knows exactly how you intend for your birth to go. But, in my opinion, a wise old sage by the name of Kristen Bell said it best when she said something along the lines of… “make a birth plan, put a lot of thought into it, take a deep breath and then *tears up a piece of paper* because it’s never gonna happen like that.”
I completely encourage you to have a birth wish. Visualization is a helpful tool in easing your mind and feeling positive so, Go On Mama! I so wish your birth wish becomes your reality. That said, I want you to know that it’s okay if it doesn’t. Babies and the way our bodies bring them into the world are not predictable. Despite what the movies depict, giving birth is not some formulaic experience that we all share in common. Our bodies are different. Our babies are different. There is no planning how any given baby will exit any given body at any given time. Nobody can predict that and white knuckling a birth plan is setting yourself up for disappointment and oftentimes, a whole lot of grief.
Have intentions, have wishes, have a positive mindset, but know that a healthy and safe delivery is the ultimate goal, by any means necessary. You are not failing or less than if your birth does not go according to plan.
You will have medical decisions that need to be made for yourself and for your child the minute they are born. Educate yourself and make those decisions ahead of time, because as we just covered, you don’t know how your birth will go down or what state you will be in during recovery. Keeping or throwing away the placenta? Breast or bottle feeding? Pediatrician lined up? Newborn stem cell preservation or… wait, what? What’s that?!
I’d already made a lot of these decisions prior to Bowie’s birth, but it was until I was in labor that a nurse walked in to ask if we wanted to sign up and pay to store her cord blood. I’d never even heard of this before! Between contractions, I tried to listen to what it was, how it worked, what the benefits were and how much it would cost. Not ideal timing, but I caught the gist of it and decided it was something we wanted to do at the last possible moment. You only get one chance to collect these newborn stem cells, and that is at birth. It is a simple process that takes only a few moments for the OB or Midwife to do. It’s completely painless to you and to the baby. Even though I didn’t fully understand the benefits the nurse was explaining between contractions, I figured why not? Sure! Afterwards, I was so grateful I went with my gut! This time, I’m fully educated and prepared with our Cord Blood Registry kit packed and ready to go in my hospital bag!
Newborn stem cells from cord blood have awesome abilities! That’s why they’ve been used for more than thirty years to help regenerate healthy blood and immune systems worldwide. When you preserve these powerful cells, you protect them from aging, locking in their unique advantages. Stem cells from cord blood can already help to treat over 80 conditions today, like certain cancers and sickle cell anemia. Plus, there’s research in progress for even more potential uses. Stem cells from cord tissue are showing a lot of promise in regenerative medicine, too. Over 200 clinical trials have been initiated worldwide to potentially help treat conditions that can occur over a lifetime, like brain injuries, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders like lupus. These cells are genetically frozen so they can be used for decades to come.
Needless to say, we’re doing it again for little dude, because we feel it is an important investment for our baby and we want to have this resource for our family if we need these cells in the future. If you’re interested in learning more or joining the millions of parents, like us, who are privately preserving their newborn’s stem cells for potential future use, you can visit https://www.cordblood.com/ to start the process!
C-Section = Major Surgery
Because I had never intended to have a c-section the first time around, I honestly never gave them much thought! When I did think of a c-section, I pictured a happy couple snuggling their little babe from the shoulders up behind a blue curtain all smiles and good times… because that’s all Instagram ever showed me! While I’m sure it is a much smoother surgery for many people than mine was, due to complications, it is still a major surgery. Recovery is real. Spinal blocks and catheters and 6″ scars are real. This isn’t said with the intention of scaring anyone, it’s shared as a reminder that if a c-section is in the cards for you, you are an absolute badass! I’d never had a surgery of any kind in my life, prior to my c-section, and I had no idea what the surgery or recovery would entail, until it was happening in real time.
Even if you don’t intend on having a c-section, I encourage you to do some homework and prepare for the recovery, because anything is possible. I had all of the sitz baths and peri wash bottles at the ready, but felt entirely thrown off and alone on my recovery journey once I got home and had a completely different set of needs and challenges ahead.
This little dude is coming, whether I like it or not, and I hope I’m a little bit more prepared this time around for whatever may happen during his birth. I’m sure all the mamas out there have things they wish they had known the first time around, so let me know what they are in the comments below!
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.