Tag Archives: c-section

Postpartum Expectations from a Runner Girl – Reclaiming My Body Through the Onset of Emotions

26 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

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Happy Weekend! Yay!!!

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Today I am 73 days postpartum. I was given the green light to start running, I mean training, for a fall marathon by my OB on July 11. It took a whole 8 weeks to be cleared to run after our baby girl debuted. But as you know I’m stubborn and determined so I began running the week-ish prior (hey, my doctor was on vacation and my appointment was delayed!)

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After having been patient for close to 40 weeks to meet my little rosebud, how on earth did doctors expect me to hold off from running for 2 whole months? I ran my entire pregnancy and then they put a moratorium on it?! Not okay.

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Anyway, I took it easy with doctor approved light cardio. I engaged in walking, the elliptical and mini weights beginning at the 4 week postpartum mark. I started running again around 7 weeks (I may be a liar). But I’m not lying about taking it easy. It wasn’t until July 11th that I started to run farther and faster. 

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I wanted to run farther and faster because shoot, I have had my eyes set on a fall marathon. But I also wanted to run farther (not faster) to engage my fat burning furnace to melt the lingering pounds that made themselves home to my thighs, hips, stomach and back. Maybe in my breasts, too, who am I kidding. I definitely don’t need the weight there. If I had a say in its allocations I’d rather see that weight in my boot-tay. Am I right!?! (Squats all day don’t do me any favors…I’m just saying.)

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But because I’m not on an episode of Botched I can’t have anyone rearrange my ASSets how I see fit. I’ve been working hard reclaiming my assets through sweat. Today, more than ever before, I have been focused unremittingly on my core. I have not only engaged in core circuit training, but also legs and booty circuit training, and now, marathon training!!!!!!!

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I’ve been feeling ah-mazing! I feel like I can come back and come back stronger and faster.

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But before feeling ah-mazing I was feeling really discouraged. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying – my having a baby girl has been the greatest gift ever, but being forced to “recover” and recover longer than normal because of a c-section really shook me. That on top of the imminent (and grave emotional) loss of our mother. My little family was paralyzed by pain and forced to accept the bitter dichotomy of life – birth and death. Anyway, that’s another matter… What I’m saying is I was active my entire pregnancy and then boom – no sweat sessions were prescribed for 6-8 weeks. I had to handle my emotions, both postpartum and grief, without running. That was brand new territory for me.

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Speaking of new, I was also a brand new mom who was losing a mother (my fiancé’s). The wave of emotions felt like oil and vinegar – how could one be so blissfully happy with grief and despair rising in the horizon. They didn’t mix well. The onset of emotion overtook me (us). We found ourselves faced with the highs and lows of the reality we were in. We felt guilty for being happy then guilty for being enveloped with grief.

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We traveled by plane 7 days postpartum to visit Andy’s mom before she passed. We had begged for time to spare us so that she could meet her newest granddaughter. I traveled back home, alone, only 10 days postpartum. I was a wreck. I bravely accepted the fate of our mother on my journey home while dodging insults of having such a new baby on a flight, let alone in an airport. I was shuffling between whether or not to spew my circumstance with strangers or smile and embrace the mommy shaming. I did the latter. The judgement only amplified my emotions.

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We lost mom shortly after I returned home. I had emotions storming through me. My mind was in a turbulent capricious state. All I wanted to do was run it out but my body ached in ways that I cannot describe. My cesarean cut pulsated. My heart was heavy. My heart was light. And it was full of love. In the deep of love. My reaction to life was that love surely does cut you. I was a vat of vehemence smiling through all the pain and smiling through all the joys. 

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But rewind…

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On top of all my emotions, my vanity also played and integral part in my hormonal hurdle to find harmony. To find peace. Sanity. Normalcy.

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Rewind again. When I finally got home from the hospital, I wanted so badly to hop on the scale to witness the miraculous weight loss from this “having a baby” diet.

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And.

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Dun. Dun. Dun.

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The weight I gained during pregnancy was still there. Every. Single. Pound. Yes. Every single pound was accounted for.

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I cried on the inside. 

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These are the things they don’t prepare you for postpartum, especially post-cesarean. The fervent of emotions. The inability to easily pick up your baby from their bassinet because your cut is new and wretchedly deep. The pain. The fear of being a new mother. The weight. Oh my goodness the water weight. But I stress – the emotions. Emotions because as new mom I can tell you expectations are too high. Emotions because I almost had vaginal birth but my baby couldn’t handle the contractions and her heart rate kept falling dangerously low. Emotions because I felt like every single person was overwhelmed with joy over my little miracle and all they wanted to do was meet her but they discarded me. No one (most) thought a cesarean was a big deal. Not many asked how I was. And because notifications of vagina jokes kept coming across my iPhone because… “Hey, it’s still intact!” What the fuck ever people!!!  Hello, I’m in pain!!! Everyone forgot I was the star of the show. But with the birth of my little angel I suddenly became the supporting actress. My glowing beauty transformed to that of a rag doll beat up and ran over by an 18-wheeler that reversed. I looked like 50 shades of SHIT with breasts as solid as boulders that doubled as my serving platter because I could eat dinner off them. Emotions because I was pining for the day I didn’t feel like a dairy cow. Emotions because despite it all, I wouldn’t trade my old self for my new self. Emotions because I thought I was crazy for loving this new role.

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Emotions because of my new body. 

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I remember I stripped off my clothes and looked in the mirror. I stood there for a long time. I poked my stomach. It was soft. I was amazed that the elasticity and muscle memory were not activating!!! Then I saw my thighs. My calves. My legs. I cried hard. Vulgar Tears. I felt disgusting in my skin. How could I have felt like a champion of pregnancy up until birth and return home looking like a foreigner in my skin? I truly didn’t recognize myself. There was no bump but those weren’t my thighs.

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Why hadn’t the doctors sent me home with a “What to expect after you have a baby – cesarean edition” pamphlet that outlines the litany of normal concerns for new mothers (and fathers) who courageously try to navigate through an emotional, sleep deprived battlefield of heightened senses? Mind you it should also detail realistic expectations of what you should anticipate from your body that asserts, “Relax! You don’t have a fever. And no, you did not wet the bed. You are experiencing  hot flashes and night sweats – that is your body’s natural way to flush out all the excess water from pregnancy and delivery.” I had NO pamphlet. I had to resort to Google for this wealth of information to learn that the pregnancy glow alters to a new form…a foreshadowing tale of what I have to look forward to – menopause. WTF.

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I was also patiently awaiting my new form sans baby bump. But I weighed the exact same after having had my 6 pound 5 oz baby girl from the day I was admitted. How was that even plausible even after being forced to fast, too? I drank nothing but water and coffee for days. I made liars of their cleansing characteristics because they surely didn’t act like any kind of diuretic. I was still feeling very pregnant. I was mortified. 

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The pamphlet idea would have been notably helpful at that mile marker. I didn’t know about all the water weight I would gain due to the IVs. I didn’t know my cut would burn, tingle, feel oddly numb but sense pressure for days, weeks, months. I didn’t know about breastfeeding and prolactin.

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I wore long dresses for days to hide my legs but they didn’t cover my newly augmented breasts by milk. People would speculate all my weight went there, and while it made me laugh, I was beyond uncomfortable. I was annoyed and embarrassed by my blossoming bosoms.

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I felt awkward. That’s it in a word. But I was also the happiest I had ever been. It was the strangest thing.

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But now that my little family and I are two months in, I’ve grown fond of my new body and its abilities. I had high expectations of rebounding and I didn’t meet the mark. But I know I will. That’s who I am. I do acknowledge that I’ve snapped back relatively quick but I wanted breastfeeding to be some miraculous cure-all of soft curves and a soft tummy. Newsflash: it isn’t. It’s an old wives tale.

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I am currently working hard at marathon training again and I believe I will get back to where I was before I was pregnant. Perhaps all these months off from intense training have alleviated my hip issues! (Praying!!!)

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Speaking of running, I have been doing speed work, fartleks, tempo runs, easy runs and I’m slowly gaining back my ability to cover distance. I completed my longest distance of 8 miles strong last week! While I’m so fortunate to be logging miles again to gain speed, endurance, and to soon cover distance to chase Boston, I’m finding that despite it all – my running, leg, booty, and killer core workouts – I’m still unable to activate that fat burning furnace I spoke of earlier to shed the last 3 postpartum pounds. .


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I know I sound obnoxious because it may not sound like much weight, but for me, as a runner, each pound adds time to my pace. My inner voice screamed and continues to scream, “WHAT gives!?!?” 

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I told you before, where I once had abs I am soft. Now I assure you I’m not bitching terribly much – I know I’m fortunate to have been able to shed most of the weight I gained without any effort, but these last few pounds have been troubling me, especially with my incessant desire to workout in an effort to reclaim my body! My gosh, I had rented it out for 39 weeks and even provided an eviction notice…can I have it back yet? Please?

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Through all my attempts guess what I discovered?!? Keep reading…This is only another example of the type of content the pamphlet should cover…

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Despite my efforts, mothers who breastfeed, regardless of the old wives tale that breastfeeding helps melt the fat, retain approximately 5-10 pounds of fat to ensure that in the event of famine, we can nourish our littles (so I guess I’m doing well!). The reason is due to the hormone prolactin – the evil but necessary culprit! Prolactin remains incredibly high in your body for up to 6 months postpartum making weight loss a challenge! It is a challenge because it reduces the body’s ability to metabolize fat. BAM! Repeat. BAM!!! It acts like a safeguard to protect a baby’s milk supply. Hey hospital, put that in a pamphlet to help new mothers ward off fatuous expectations! 

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So here I am, I’ve been sweating it out like the badass motherrunner that I am, and I can’t shake all the weight despite clean eating and exercise. I didn’t get it. I was so frustrated! But now knowing that when I decide to stop breastfeeding the weight should come off effortlessly makes me one happy runnergirl. Oh, that on top of the fact that I won’t be carrying melons around that fluctuate in weight every 2-3 hours. That’s right, I’ve been racing against my milk coming in! Maybe that’s making me faster (I can dream). But until I decide I can no longer continue nursing my little rosebud, I will cherish the moments of feeding her while also being proud that my milk is helping her get those adorable little rolls on her legs! That’s right, I’m the reason for my little chubbina (chubby signorina)!

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Thanks for stopping by and reading about my journey – from chasing Boston to chasing baby – motherhood and running – and my life between all those miles.

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XO

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Valgal

My Type A Journey to a C – A Birth Story

15 May

Good morning friends! Happy Weekend!!! 

Oh my goodness, this is my first Saturday morning waking up as a mom. Yes. A mom!!!! My heart is melting as I type this on my phone while simultaneously staring at my beautiful daughter all swaddled up and dozing off. I am spellbound by her every movement, face, sound, gesture…

And then it hits me. The sudden reality that I am a mother. Proof that being type A doesn’t mean much as far as game planing goes. Trying to get pregnant at precisely the right time (yeah right), trying to arrange when the baby comes, crafting a birth plan(s)…With planning I’ve learned that something will happen making a muck of your neatly arranged, tailor-made itinerary. (I didn’t have a birth plan but I’m still bemused over my birth story.)

This whole “embracing motherhood” thing started in August 2015. But motherhood materializing into something other than a hashtag on Insta got real on Tuesday, May 10th. 

On May 10th I went to my routine weekly pregnancy checkup. This was the 39th week appointment! The doctor and I discussed how I was feeling and talked about dates for a scheduled induction in case baby girl didn’t debut Sunday, May 15th. 

On my way to my next appointment at Maternal & Fetal Medicine I phoned Andy. I was stoked to tell him that if baby girl doesn’t come on her own they plan on inducing me Wednesday, May 18th. I shared the news in a quick flash as the next set of doctors whisked me away and hooked me up to the non-stress machine.

After 40 minutes of what is typically a 20 minute monitoring session of baby’s heartbeat  and movement I was escorted to the sonography room. This was after the intermittent intervals of nurses coming in and asking me to drink orange juice topped with what felt like aggressive poking of my belly. *Side Note: I visited Maternal & Fetal Medicine weekly due to baby girl’s risk for SGA (small for gestational age). Nothing was ever too alarming. Images and testing always revealed that my amniotic fluid levels were perfect, baby girl was measuring petite but proportionate in the 12th percentile, and her heart rate was top notch. Except on Tuesday, May 10th, something was off kilter. 

When the sonographer wrapped up she told me she’d be back after she shared the images with the doctor. This is normal. Fast forward 10 anxious minutes and the dapper Dr. Akoma greeted me. She was beaming. My panic had immediately frittered away.

Dr. Akoma, again, beaming, had bright eyes with a sparkle. I was admiring her composure. She made me feel settled. Worry-free.

She spoke. “Looks like you’re having a baby!” 

Me: “I know!” In a pitch like a 5-year discovering she’s going to Disneyland.

Dr. Akoma: “Well alright, let’s get you induced!”

Me: “Oh, yes. I am scheduled for Wednesday, May 18th.

Dr. Akoma: “No, dear. You’re going to be induced today. Your baby, although her heart rate is great, she isn’t moving like she should and you don’t feel her enough to reassure us that your pregnancy should continue. At 39 weeks she is term. She is ready. Are you ready? Call your husband and tell him to get here. Your room is being prepped.”

Me: “Oh my gosh, okay. Is she okay? Oh wow, so we are doing this. Today? I get to meet my baby girl?! What do you mean my room is getting prepped? I have to wrap up work. I mean I don’t have to but there are things I need to do. Can I go home and get my hospital bag? ” My furor was extraordinary muffling my speech. Dr. Akoma was probably unable to make a thing out or thought I was delirious.

Regardless, I was about to have a baby!!!! 

I called Andy. “We’re being induced, TODAY!!!” This communication string was priceless. Emotional. Exciting. Inexplicable. It was an exchange of words and enthusiastic cries that will be forever etched in my heart. A private dialogue between two parents-to-be preparing for the best day of their lives.

I was accompanied by a lovely nurse who gave me red carpet treatment all the way to the labor and delivery wing. The experience was surreal. Not at all as I had envisioned. 

Labor and delivery. 

Wow.

Fast-forward a few hours. It was 3:30p. I was intoxicated by my emotions and the realness of “having a baby!” I laughed a bit, too. I was anxious. Nervous. Excited. Our lives were about to change in a matter of hours.

Side Tangent.

Me: “Babe, you know what’s wild?! I’m so happy I ran yesterday! I logged at least one run in in my 39th week of pregnancy! Whoop! Whoop! Which really means I can say I ran my whole pregnancy!”

Andy: “Val, you’re out of control. You shouldn’t have run. You’re done. You can’t run now for 6 weeks. You’re going to listen to me and the doctor.”

Me: “Yeah. I’m well aware. But seriously, I would’ve been so disappointed had I not ran yesterday.

But back to having a baby!!!

At 3:30p on May 10th I was only 70% effaced, 1cm dilated and feeling painless contractions. To begin the induction they gave me Cervidil. It is designed to ripen the cervix to 100% to begin active labor. The process using Cervidil was expected to last no more than 12 hours. 

After several hours my contractions were back to back about every two to three minutes. They were painful. Painful. Painful. I told Andy and the nurses that I wanted to shake the hands and kiss the feet of every woman out there who had a natural birth because these contractions were tempestuous! I recall thinking that I must be 100% effaced and super dilated if they hurt like they did!!! I was ready to keep them coming because each one meant we were closer to meeting our daughter.

Around 11pm three + nurses came rushing in. They were fixated on the monitoring screen. They gave off panicky vibes and were speaking quickly in a language foreign to me. Andy took one look at me and saw my fear. He grabbed my hand to comfort me. He proceeded to ask, “What’s wrong?”

After they assessed everything they informed us that our baby’s heart rate fell drastically with each contraction and it had been too low for too long. She had not yet recovered from the last few contractions.

My heart stopped. 

No tears formed but I was crying on the inside. I was scared. I tried to stay calm. Relaxed. Strong. I was everything but.

Cervidil, although a mild drug, created stronger than expected contractions for me and our baby was distressed with each one. They feared it could be due to prolapse of the umbilical cord. “If this occurs, the umbilical cord may become compressed between the fetal head and the walls of the mother’s pelvis, thereby cutting off the blood supply to the fetus. Unless a vaginal delivery is expected to occur immediately, cesarean section must be performed to save the baby’s life.” The staff couldn’t delineate which one was influencing our daughter’s low heart rate. Was it the Cervidil or prolapse of the umbilical cord? Either reason behind it, fetal distress was not good and the alternatives were looking dour.

They removed the Cervidil. 

That’s all I’m going to write on that.

Roughly an hour later I was given an epidural. Finally!!!

They exercised some caution before administering it. I didn’t give a care that I was only 1cm dilated, my body was in labor even though it appeared I was failing to progress.

Within 30 minutes of receiving the epidural my already low blood pressure plummeted. In turn, baby girl’s heart rate fell to its lowest and was not recovering timely. It was a spectacle. After careful monitoring and continued guests rushing in and out, the doctor on call came in to discuss a cesarean with me. I obliged that if it’s necessary, it’s necessary.

Then our daughter’s heart rate took a turn for the better. Yay! The cesarean was an afterthought, for the time being. But with that being the third time they flirted with it, I began to think it was highly likely.

It was finally dark in the room. The machines weren’t yelling at us anymore. We finally had some semblance of peace and quiet. It was as tranquil as it could be. It was as tranquil as it would ever be. The nurses continued to monitor me. Hours went by with faint beeps in comparison to the alarms. The conversations being held by the medical staff echoed in the room but the epidural helped me zone them out. They told me to relax because I’ll need all my energy for pushing in a few hours. I was beginning to feel reassured that we could have our daughter vaginally. I breathed deep. Looked at Andy. Smiled. 

But there was no chance to relax once they began the IV drip of Pitocin at 7a. I was surprised they were giving me this drug since it was a lot stronger than Cervidil. But who am I to question the doctor? Oriana’s heart rate was steady again at 130 and had been for a while. I didn’t feel the need to challenge them. The first of the Pitocin dosage was small and it was gradually increased.

Then there was a repeat of the noise that flooded the room a few hours prior. Alarms were ringing, medical staff  were avidly speaking in doctor-tongue, and I was being asked incessant questions about my health, allergies, fetal movement…

Our daughter was experiencing, yet again, serious fetal heart rate deceleration. I was still only 1cm-2cm dilated. The Cervidil and now the Pitocin, although they acted catalysts to make the contractions stronger, weren’t working to dilate me. 

Active labor was happening but at slow rate. Despite back to back contractions, transition aka pushing was guaranteed to be hours away. This was not good. With the fetal heart rate decelerations continuing as frequently as they were, baby girl was not getting the oxygen needed to sustain labor. Therefore, the doctors did not want to risk continuing as it would jeopardize baby’s health. In every effort to avoid an “emergency” they wanted to conduct a cesarean for immediate delivery.

They asked me how I felt about it. I had no feelings about it. I was prepared for anything in labor and delivery. My type A personality took a backseat. I did not try to govern the process of delivery. My birth plan was this —> epidural. I was prepared to be game for anything. And I was.

I knew far too well that you can’t plan for labor and delivery. I didn’t plan on being induced. I was told I was going to be induced. I didn’t plan that my body would fail to progress in labor. But my body failed to progress. When vaginal birth was no longer an option, I was already prepared for the invasive procedure better known as a c-section. I didn’t plan on a cesarean. I was told it was medically necessary. 

My type A personality accepted the substandard and dreaded C. Honestly, I would have accepted anything to ensure the health and safety of my unborn daughter.

Within minutes I was being rolled out to the operating room. It was May 11th at 11:15a. I had no time to really conceptualize what was happening. They turned Andy away to another room to change. I was there, in the mix of all these doctors, anxious inside. Crying inside. Thinking my body failed. Thinking I failed as a woman. But then something switched. I couldn’t stop thinking that I’d be holding my daughter in an hour. The crocodile tears fell down my face.

The operation was something else. To be numb but tugged around like a rag doll. Hmm. I held Andy’s hand and griped tightly. In a matter of minutes, literally, the doctor said, “Your daughter will be here in 5 minutes.” 

I turned to Andy. This was the last time I’d look at him as a man not yet a father. My eyes bigger than ever filled with tears. I was Excited. Nervous. Anxious. Already in love. I froze the moment in my memory bank. 

Then…

Doctor: “She’s got so much hair! Congratulations on a beautiful baby girl!”

May 11th, 12:04p we became parents to Oriana Yoshie Shreeve. A bundle of perfection weighing in at 6.5lbs and 19.6″.

Just like that I saw my daughter in a flash of a second while they transferred her from my abdomen to the table behind me. They took her to do the Apgar testing and invited daddy. I was left there on the table alone. I was literally paralyzed from the chest down unable to get her in my line of sight. I turned my neck as much as I could to try and catch a glimpse of her.


Tears were perpetually falling from my face. I was thinking, “I have a daughter. We have a daughter. We have a little girl!” 

My sweet fiancé transformed into a daddy. I watched him in those precious moments overwhelmed with emotions and falling in deeper love with him. This is our family now. I spent 39 weeks waiting to meet this little soul and there she was – a few arm lengths away with her daddy whom was and continues to be captivated by her.

When they finally placed her in my bed, I nuzzled her warm skin. I stared at her. I breathed her in. Life stood still. She was all I knew existed.

The way I felt in that moment was new but familiar. She is my heart. She has always been my heart. In that instant I couldn’t recollect life without her. She fills me completely. She is proof that love is not something you search for. Love isn’t something you dream for. Love is something you do. And she, our baby girl, is a result of the love between her father and me. She is the best part of us. She is our greatest gift. 

Everything in my life like the nonsense, the stress, the chaos, the opinions of others, the friends that have come and gone, the what-ifs, it all became preposterously irrelevant when I met Oriana. She obliterated it all. She has opened me. 

Today she is 3 days old. She’s sleeping peacefully near me. I catch myself staring at her in complete awe that she is mine – all mine. Staring into her eyes and seeing her fixate on me eliminates the pain from the cesarean. Her very being reminds me not to feel ashamed of my body post-cesarean. 

Of all the things I’d done wrong during my journey through life, in getting myself here tells me I’d done something right. The severe swelling (thighs, calves, ankles – entire legs), my likeness to Frankenstein with the wretched staples, the extreme discomfort, the inability to get in and out of bed without it being a 10 minute ordeal, while it doesn’t sound ideal, is something I’d do all over again. Life doesn’t need to be so complicated. Oriana has shown me how simple it all is. And it’s astounding.

I have a daughter. The amount I love her cannot be qualified. It’s all-encompassing. I don’t know who I was before her.

I welcome my new life. I may be type A but the C has taught me to accept all things. You can’t know beautiful without knowing a bit of brutal. The C was brutal. But it is a temporary state of brutal/discomfort. My scar will be a beautiful reminder of my daughter and our time together as one. Oriana is my forever. She is my blossoming soul. She is my kind of beautiful. She always will be.

I love you, Oriana. Thank you for making me a mommy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Valgal

XO

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