Working a labour intensive job while pregnant isn’t for everyone, but it’s where I found the most calm
Trigger Warning: I get real in here talking about pregnancy loss and depression. This might be difficult for some people to read, it was certainly difficult to write. But I felt that I needed to write this and share it.
I’m pretty transparent with my personal life because as a business owner I want who I am to reflect my business and my business to reflect who I am. I’ve shared a little on social media about my pregnancy and quite a bit about my awesome supportive husband and adorbs baby, Cecilia. But I haven’t dived too much into how this pregnancy affected me. Part of that is because I prefer to keep things positive and upbeat which isn’t something I was really able to do in this pregnancy.
I’ve wanted nothing more than to be a mom for years; it was something I always knew I was going to do, kind of like wedding planning. I don’t think it was because what was expected of me as a little girl; I like to think that for a big part my parents were above societal gender norms. Not on purpose or anything, just because that’s what was convenient for our family. So in my life plan as a young person were two major things: be a wedding planner and have kids. While I wanted to get married, I didn’t need it. I wanted to own a house, but didn’t need it. I wanted a lot of things, but none of them were things I needed. Being a mom, being a wedding planner, those were things I needed.
My husband and I made a deal around the time we got married; once he got a house, we could have kids. As a woman who has felt now that she was pregnant for a million years, this is a deal I pulled the short straw on. We both got a house and a baby but I got this pregnancy. Anyway, Jim and I started our search for a home in August 2018, thinking “well let’s start looking at houses now, see what we like, what we don’t like, what our budget can get us in different parts of the Lower Mainland.” yeah, that was a funny assumption. We spent a day looking at open houses in Port Moody, the next week we had a real estate agent, and the week after we looked at 3 places and made an offer on one, and then we made an offer on a second 3 days later. Apparently we weren’t going to take the time to figure out what we wanted, because we already knew. As soon as subjects were removed and we were officially going to be home owners in a month, I started convincing Jimbo that now that he was getting a house, I got a baby. After a few days of VERY STRONG arguments from me, I convinced him that now was the time to start trying. One of my arguments was “it takes couples an average of 6 months to conceive, assuming we have no fertility issues.” Turns out the fertility issues we had were that we were too fertile. The day we got possession of our home, I also got a positive pregnancy test. This scared the shit out of me but I was also extremely excited. I wanted this so much. Jim, although reluctant to get on the baby train, also started to get excited. We only got this excitement for a week before I woke up to blood.
I like to think that I have a pretty healthy and logical approach to things like this. I mean, Jim and I went to the hospital immediately and we were cracking jokes in the exam room. I was in pain but we had talked about this possibility; one in four women deal with pregnancy loss so the odds that it would happen to us were reasonable and I attempted to approach it from a logical place. A miscarriage, especially 5 weeks into a pregnancy, is because this particular collection of cells aren’t viable for life. Logically, I was okay with this. Logically, I was fine. Emotionally, I had no power. My brain took me hostage. I had Jim, but we kind of brushed passed this issue. I told my family via text message and asked them not to call me, and I retreated into myself. The week I spent knowing I was pregnant I planned out our nursery, made lists of things we needed for the baby, bought paint, fixed up small things in the house that needed to be done. But as soon as I healed physically from that pregnancy loss; when I was able to start doing things around the new home again, I didn’t. I did the bare minimum for work and spent a lot of time laying on the couch or in bed, doing nothing. My brain was waging war on itself and I was just a bystander who felt like they had no power over what was going on.
I started returning to myself about 2 or 3 weeks after the miscarriage.
On October 26th Jim and I went out with a couple friend of ours and as we sat there, they asked us if we were thinking about trying again. It was then I realized that it had been 5 weeks since the miscarriage and it didn’t seem like my body was returning to normal. The odds that I was pregnant again were super thin; Jim and I had barely held hands, much less anything else, in the past month. There was no way I was that fertile so soon after something so traumatic as a miscarriage.
I was wrong. The next morning, October 27th, before heading off to my wedding, I got a positive on that pregnancy test. When I told Jim I don’t think either of us were “excited”, per say. We were both smiling, a bit flabbergasted, and wondering if it might just be a false alarm.
Almost instantly, after getting that positive, I felt gross and guilty. My brain started telling me it was wrong of me to get pregnant so soon after the miscarriage. Again, logically, I knew there was nothing wrong with us getting pregnant so soon, there was and is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about in this situation. But the emotional part of my brain took over here. And it continued to do so for months.
So from week 6, when we found out, until week 18 I battled awful pregnancy sickness and even worse depression. I hardly functioned. I did the bare minimum for work (by my own standard; if you were to ask my husband he would tell you it was not), I hardly left my bed, and ate only whatever Jim could convince me to eat. I felt miserable and as excited as I was to have a beautiful new life to care for, I couldn’t handle my own brain.
After week 18, my pregnancy sickness eased, and the depression started to be less of a black cloud constantly looming over me. I started to enjoy some small things with the pregnancy. While I seemed to continue to get the worst of the pregnancy symptoms, I can honestly say things started to get brighter.
Here and there I had moments where I got instances of “I feel like me again”. While driving in the car alone, with the windows all down, the music way up and singing my guts out; I felt like me. Cracking jokes with Jim about totally inappropriate things; I felt like me. All these little things slowly came back and made me feel normal, even if I had a tiny wriggling human inside of me that refused to let me sleep.
One of the things that made me feel the most like me was being at weddings. The lead up work was unusually grueling, but the wedding day I was in my element, I was smiling, I wasn’t feeling the pain, and up on every ladder I could find. Weddings felt like my safe space and my me space. I knew I needed to be a wedding planner from a young age. I knew it, so I guess there’s no surprise that this is where I was best. But as soon as that wedding day was over, it felt like I was gone again. I did weddings up until week 36. My last two weddings, despite being in my element, the nights ended in tears. I couldn’t quite grasp what this very large body was and wasn’t capable of. I think I also didn’t quite get just how large I was; let me tell you, I was HUGE. In my pregnancy, at the beginning I didn’t gain much weight, but in the last trimester I gained 30lbs, 30lbs in 14 weeks is no small feat, never mind the fact that 10 of those pounds did not know how to sit still. Cecilia had the ability to throw my balance off with one swift movement and I have never experienced anything quite that crazy in my life. So maybe ladders weren’t the safest place for me to be. But I loved it.
I also knew my limits though… kind of. I had back-ups in place for every wedding, even the ones in March, because it’s my job to plan for the worst case scenario. And it was awesome not to use them until that last wedding. My second to last wedding ended with me crying tears of pain from being on my feet from 9am until 2am (which was not an unusual wedding for me, but that belly man). Following that wedding I emailed my next bride and told her we would be enacting our back-up plan; Winnie. I still did all the back-end work for the wedding; mailing out time-lines, communicating with vendors, getting all the ducks in a row, then I was onsite for set-up and tear-down. I knew my body couldn’t sustain another wedding day, but if I got a good rest in the middle I was sure I could do it. And I was right. But I regretted it. Despite only personally being on site for 4 hours then 4 hours again, after we were done, I fell into bed crying again. The thing I loved most brought me so much pain which added emotional pain. But I did it. I got through it all.
Cecilia at 5 weeks old! We did some more photos with Michele Mateus, then I was back at work 2 days later!
When they say that mothers are warriors, don’t doubt that statement. From the moment I became a mother with the first pregnancy, I was at war. War with my body and with my head. I won that war, but I didn’t win every battle. This warrior has some wounds that aren’t quite healed. We fight through battles that in a lot of cases, no one else can see, and we don’t always win the war. The final fight of my pregnancy was my birth. And that was a battle that did the most damage. But at the end of it, the thing I was fighting for, and that I will continue to fight for for the rest of my life, was worth so much more than what was taken from me. Being a wedding planner, that thing I knew I needed, got me through the battles to the last piece of me, the only other thing I needed; being a mother.