I think it's only appropriate to start off my return with the biggest change since my last post, which also happens to be the biggest event of my life – the birth of my daughter Heidi. Becoming a mother has been nothing that I could have imagined in so many ways: like how strong a mother and child's bond can be, or how absolutely horrible sleep deprivation feels, and how wrong I have been about maternity leave (which for some misguided reason seemed "glamorous" to me). Motherhood is exhilarating and exhausting, rewarding and routine. But as any mother would tell you, it is an absolute blessing – the good and the hard – to be a mother.
I want to share my birth story because it's kind of nice to share these kinds of stories, but mainly (and selfishly) because I haven't journaled it and I figured I should leave a record of it somewhere, haha. I will be careful not to over dramatize what happened though. I realized that people love to tell birth "horror stories" because sometimes it truly is crazy what they go through, but I find that it often paints an ostentatious picture of the birthing experience. Yes, it's really intense and there was definitely lots of screaming, but I am humbled by the thought that every single person in history was birthed by someone. So without further ado, here is how little Heidi was born!
The lovely baby shower hosted by my friends Alicia and Mina.
Heidi Ella Chung was born on May 5th 2014, exactly one week after her estimated due date. That extra week was pretty hard, partly because people kept asking and it got pretty repetitive telling them "No, she's not born yet" and partly because I just wanted to stop being pregnant! Pregnancy was not fun at all. I concluded that women who say they love being pregnant are either elves or liars. Being pregnant felt heavy, acidic, awkward and nauseating. Morning sickness is horrible and I hated peeing every 12 minutes. But I did love not having to suck in my belly to fit into tight pants, and also got to go on a baby-moon! I have to admit I'm not looking forward to being pregnant again, but alas, you can't get a bun without baking it first.
One of our last evenings together before Heidi's arrival.
After waiting and waiting, May 4th finally came around. I have been feeling Braxton Hicks contractions (false contractions) for a couple of weeks so when I first felt contractions at 1 am, I brushed it off. But then – it became different. The pain became much deeper and heavier, so I knew it was it! I didn't bother to tell Andrew though, who was sleeping beside me, since they tell you to wait around until 4-1-1 (which is contractions every 4 minutes lasting 1 minute long and sustained for an hour). I tried to sleep without much luck and by 4 am, I knew it was time to go. I nudged Andrew and told him "Honey, this is it. We're meeting Heidi today."
My baby bumps.
We excitedly and nervously got ready and hugged our parents and headed off to St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto. I called my midwife on the way there, feeling contractions closer to every 2 minutes. We totally assumed that I probably had a long way to go since I wasn't feeling that uncomfortable. The pain was bearable and I didn't look anything like the pictures they show you of the face that you're supposed to make when you're going into labour. But once we got in and the midwife checked me, I was already 5cm dilated and pretty close to go into active labour. I knew I didn't want to get any drugs going into it, not because I felt like I was super strong, but because it can often make labour longer and sometimes lead to complications. Plus, my sister did it twice without an epidural so I figured we may have similar pain tolerance.
Look how happy and okay I looked at the beginning!
So then I felt everything. And that pain was nothing like I could have imagined. While I felt that the contractions were quite endurable (I even joked to Andrew that I didn't understand why people would ask for an epidural at all), when it was time for pushing, I completely broke down. My midwife told me that every single woman comes to a point where they hit a wall and feel like they possibly can't do it anymore. I hit that wall pretty hard and soon enough I was screaming "I CAN'T DO IT. I JUST CAN'T DO IT. MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP!!" It was especially hard for me since Heidi, while not being breeched, was "sunny side up" which means she was facing up and out to my stomach. Her head was down but she kept turning forward instead of facing my back. My midwife would then have to reach inside and turn her head while I pushed (and screamed and screamed). OH my Lord, every time she put her hand in there I could feel it and I felt like everything was burning and ripping. SO MUCH FRKIN PAIN.
But nothing lasts forever, thank the Lord. When I started to feel hopeless and delirious with pain, my midwife told me to try and feel her head that was just crowning. At first I refused because I didn't want to know what was going on down there. But she insisted and it was the best advice she could give me at that point. As soon as I felt her warm head I felt a rush of urgency – that I needed to get her out!! I refocused and gritted my teeth and pushed and pushed. And then! After 8 hours of labour and 45 minutes of pushing – there she was!! My baby! So alive and so real. I will never forget that moment: Andrew's elated face that searched my eyes to thank me, my body's huge sigh of relief, and Heidi's tiny body pressed against mine. I instinctively started to sing to her when she couldn't settle down and for the first time I felt like her mother as she calmed down and snuggled peacefully in my arms. This was my child and I was gonna love her with my whole being.
Someone's falling in love real hard, real fast.
That's how Heidi came into the world. Only now have I realized that the birthing was actually the easy part of motherhood, the hard part was just beginning! But I discovered the real beauty is that day by day I fall in love with her more and the day before that will always be a precious memory. I'm so thankful to have experienced giving birth and I'm so grateful that I gave birth to a healthy little girl. I know it's truly a miracle and I promise to never take it for granted.
My happy girl Heidi is now almost 9 months!