Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’

An honest answer to a common question: How are you feeling?

Friday, July 25, 2014
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“How are you feeling?”

It’s the question I’ve been asked by at least one person every day since I announced my pregnancy. A simple question that shows the asker’s concern and that they care. Although it’s a logical question to ask a pregnant woman, it perplexes me every time it is directed my way.

I think there’s a few reasons why this simple, seemingly straightforward question always makes me pause before I respond.

My first thought is always, “Do you really want to know the answer?” I could talk for hours about how I’m “feeling” if someone really wants to know. So I try to gauge – does this person really want to know how I’m feeling or are they just trying to be nice? Are they really interested in my pregnancy or just making conversation? The answers to these questions can significantly affect how I answer their question, or more likely how scared the person is after I give them a 10-minute answer involving phrases like “dropped” when all they really wanted was a quick, “I feel fine!”

Next, I move to, “How am I actually feeling?” A pregnant woman feels a thousand things at once. Her mental feelings often do not match her physical feelings either. Unbeknown to the asker, their question can set off a string of thoughts that can totally change my mood. I don’t like to say “bad” or “good,” because most of the time it’s a little of both.

So for those that really want to know, this is how I’m feeling:

My hands are so swollen that my skin is burning; my head hurts; my mind is scattered and I can’t focus on one thought; I need a nap after walking from the basement to the upstairs; I kind of feel like crying but have no idea why; I could use something sweet; I have to pee; I feel like there is a ball of fire in my esophagus; the inside of my stomach is sore from a small person kicking me; I’m so excited I don’t know how to contain myself; my legs are sore for no apparent reason; and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it several more weeks.

As you can see, asking me this question could get you way more information than you bargained for. I guess a shortened answer would be, “I feel like I’m growing a baby.”

Asker beware: If you ask a pregnant woman how she’s feeling, make sure you’re ready to hear the honest answer!

A wonderful preview

Friday, July 18, 2014
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There are a few things I’ve learned about having a newborn from the many blog posts, articles and books I’ve read. These insightful tidbits of knowledge include:

  • I will be up all night for endless nights and basically turn into a mix between a vampire and a zombie
  • My baby will cry all the time and nothing will soothe her
  • I will not be able to take a shower except for maybe once a week
  • I will not have the time or energy to do anything – cook, clean, talk, breathe
  • Breastfeeding will be terrible and make me want to cry
  • I will not leave the house for weeks on end
  • Basically, I will go crazy

As you can see, the typical “Five Things I Wish I’d Known about Having a Newborn” articles don’t paint a pretty picture. In fact, these articles make it sound quite miserable. So when I went to visit my good friends and their newborn baby this weekend, I expected the worst. I figured I would find my friend in a zombie-like state, barely able to form words. I thought her house would look like a tornado had come through, and that she and her husband would be weak from not being able to cook dinner or grab food. I thought their baby would start screeching the minute I tried to hold her. I expected to hear a labor and delivery horror story (since it seems everyone else that shares theirs with me had a horrible experience.)

So, armed with a few grocery bags of snacks and a mental attitude of “whatever I see I will not let it scare me,” I went to meet the newest member of their family. What I found when I got there could not have been more different from my expectations, or more wonderful.

I found my friend looking the most beautiful I’ve ever seen her. I’ve heard of a pregnancy glow, but there must be a new mother glow, and it is radiant. I found the new parents energetic, talkative and relaxed. I heard a normal story of labor and delivery that lessened my own fears instead of increasing them. And I found the most beautiful, sweet little baby, contently napping in whoever’s arms were holding her at the time. I didn’t see red eyes, fights, dirty hair or tension. I saw so much love, beauty and happiness in this family that it made me cry right then and there.

I get why there are so many articles about the difficulties of bringing home a newborn. It’s important to portray reality so a new mom can know it’s normal to be tired, frustrated and confused. I’m sure I’ll have a few of my own posts about the unexpected difficulties I will face. But lately it seems I’ve read and heard so much of the negative and none of the positive. There is nothing in the baby books that could have prepared me for the joy I found in my friend’s home. That’s the joy I imagined I’ll have when my time comes.

Thank you friend for sharing your experience with me. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful picture to look forward to.

Ready, but not quite prepared

Friday, July 11, 2014
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It started around 2 a.m. I woke up in pain. It took me a few minutes to gain my focus before I realized I was having contractions. I didn’t panic right away – the doctor had explained to me that this was normal and I should expect it. I tried to remember what I was supposed to do: time them to see if they were coming in regular intervals and move positions or walk around to see if that would make them go away. I did both and the results told me that I was simply experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, a way my body is preparing itself for the birth process.

But there was a short moment when I thought, “What if this is it? What if I’m going into labor?” and subsequently, “I’m not mentally prepared to go into labor yet; the baby’s not ready to be born; I haven’t finished my childbirth classes; am I prepared to bring a baby home?” I was having these thoughts while looking at the time, so I quickly realized nothing was happening at regular intervals, and I was not going into labor.

Lately I’ve been having a reoccurring dream that I haven’t had since college. It’s a common dream – the kind where you show up to a class on finals day only to realize you have never attended the class before, or it’s the end of the semester and you just discover you were enrolled in classes but never attended a single one. The night of my “practice” contractions it dawned on me why I’ve been having this dream – I’m scared I’m not prepared to have and take care of a child.

I’ve read the entire “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. I follow countless pregnancy and parenting blogs and forums. I’m currently reading a guidebook on baby’s first year week by week. I’ve already told you about my nesting phase. My husband and I have taken not one, but two childbirth classes. Even my body is preparing itself, as I learned through my late night experience.

And yet, despite all these preparations, I still feel an overwhelming sense of heading into the unknown. I didn’t realize I had these feelings until I felt the Braxton Hicks contractions, but my recent dreams tell me these thoughts have probably been in the back of my mind. I have a feeling I’m not the only soon-to-be new mom who’s felt this way. I also realized that I can read guidebooks and take classes and set up baby gear until I pass out, but there is nothing that will truly prepare me for motherhood. It can be scary, but it’s also exciting. I’m ready for the test, even if I feel a little unprepared.

Dreaming of a Double Shot Espresso (and other Pre-Pregnancy Luxuries)

Friday, July 4, 2014
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I probably shouldn’t be thinking about this yet, considering I still have a month and a half (or more) to go; but I’m sitting here with my swollen feet and face, in one of the few items of maternity clothing that fits me anymore, and I’m daydreaming about all the things I miss from my pre-pregnancy days.

In the beginning, it was almost fun to have to give up things. Since I didn’t have morning sickness and wasn’t showing yet, it made the pregnancy seem more real. I felt special saying, “I can’t eat deli meat” or “What ‘mocktails’ can you make?” I was happy the first time my clothes didn’t fit me, because it meant I was finally getting a bump and my baby was growing.

Those feelings have passed, and I am definitely looking forward to enjoying certain things a pregnant woman cannot. Here’s what I’m looking forward to doing and enjoying post-pregnancy:

Normal body positions and movement

It really is amazing how limited you become in movement and the ways you can position yourself when pregnant. I never knew how much I liked to lie on my stomach until I couldn’t anymore. And there’s something wonderful about being able to flop onto a couch or a bed – now it’s a careful maneuver with several groans as I try to find a comfortable position. Although I can technically still tie my shoes, it’s not a pretty sight. It will be nice to be able to lie on my stomach and tie my shoes with ease again.

Being able to run and exercise

Every doctor, baby book and website will tell you it’s important to stay fit through your pregnancy. But “fit” takes on a new definition when there is a baby pushing on your lungs. I had to stop running pretty early on in my pregnancy because it became too painful and uncomfortable. So I moved to spinning, which also quickly became painful. Then I stuck to Pilates, walking and weights. My body cannot do the Pilates positions anymore, the heat makes it almost unbearable to take a long walk, and even light lifting makes me lose my breath. I’m still trying to get in as much activity as I can, but I’m looking forward to getting back to my pre-pregnancy workout routine (happily knowing that I will now be pushing a jogging stroller on my runs).

Sushi, runny eggs, deli sandwiches

I think I might have my husband bring me sushi to the hospital. And eggs over easy. And a turkey sandwich. The food restrictions haven’t bothered me that much, but these three items are some of my favorite things to eat, and making lunch will be so much easier when I can eat deli meat again.

Alcoholic beverages

I miss them. I do. I know once the baby comes I won’t be downing margaritas every Friday night, and I don’t want to do that. But I do want to come home from a long day at work and enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner, or drink a beer while watching a football game.

My old clothes

It’s a little weird, but I miss throwing on my favorite t-shirt or sundress. I guess I just feel comfortable and confident in some of my favorite outfits, while I’m still not used to the awkward shape of maternity clothes. I actually had to put my pre-pregnancy clothes in another closet because it started to make me sad every time I looked at them. Not to mention I am so sick of stripes (everything maternity is striped it seems). I’m hoping once I can wear my normal clothes again they will feel brand new because I haven’t been able to wear them in so long…

Regular coffee

The general consensus is that it’s okay for pregnant women to have limited amounts of caffeine, and one cup of coffee a day is said to be fine. I made a personal decision to not drink caffeinated coffee while pregnant, so I’ve stuck to decaf in the hopes that I can trick my mind into thinking it’s regular. It doesn’t work. I’m convinced decaf coffee tastes different (and not as good) as regular coffee. August might be sweltering hot, but once I deliver I’ll be ordering a large vanilla latte.

I am loving the journey of pregnancy, the ups and the downs, but I’m looking forward to getting back some simple pleasures like sushi nights and long runs.

The Nesting Phase

Friday, June 27, 2014
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Watch out world – my nesting phase is here. I’ve heard it described by many: the time in your pregnancy when you want to clean and organize everything possible in your home. I didn’t know if I would go through this phase. While I’ve always liked to keep things neat, I really hate cleaning.

But now, my whole outlook has changed. Where I once saw a neat and (mostly) clean house, I now only see dust and animal hair. When I walk into a room, my first thoughts are on what needs cleaned and organized. I’ve started to notice places and items I want to clean that I didn’t even know could get dirty.

One of my first nesting accomplishments was cleaning out and organizing our closets. I also cleaned out my office at work. I have a huge “to-do before baby” list that includes everything from “clean carpets” to “print pictures and put in photo albums.” Nothing is off limits.

I’ve been the most focused on getting the nursery and other baby items ready. Even though I still have up to two months to go, I get panicky when I think of things we don’t have ready. It’s taking strong willpower not to go ahead and install the car seat – you know, just in case. I’ve washed all the baby clothes, blankets and towels, opened and put all my shower presents away, cleaned out a shelf in the kitchen for baby items and more. These have been the most rewarding nesting tasks but also the most surreal. I’ll be putting away baby shampoo and like a brick, it hits me that another living person will be moving in with us soon.

My husband and I are making room in our lives for someone new. It’s going to be a wonderful but overwhelming experience. Even though our new person will be small, she will demand that we change everything from our daily schedules to what movies we watch to what vacations we take. My nesting phase is helping me prepare our home, and my mind, for our new, tiny roommate. Or maybe the phase is just meant to keep me from going crazy in the home stretch of pregnancy. It’s helping with both.

This weekend, my plan is to deep clean our entire house, from top to bottom. My pre-pregnancy self would have dreaded this task, but I’m so excited I might even start tonight.

Pregnancy does some crazy things to your mind and body…nesting is definitely one of them.

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Friday, June 20, 2014
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Sitting, Waiting, Wishing – the title of a Jack Johnson song and an accurate description of the third trimester of pregnancy. Here’s a peek into what’s going on at this point in the journey to have a child:

You’ve come so far in the past seven months. You’ve made it through the emotional and physical rollercoaster that is the first trimester. You waited weeks and finally got to see an ultrasound of your baby, and if you chose to, find out the sex. You’ve looked at baby names, registered, and maybe even had a baby shower. If it’s your first (like me), you’ve probably been planning, preparing, researching, painting, purchasing and more. Most of your to-do-before-baby items are completed, except for the ones that you need to do in the couple weeks leading up to your due date.

So now, in weeks 30-35, the first half of your third trimester, your life pretty much boils down to sitting, waiting and wishing.

Sitting often, because you get out of breath from just walking to the bathroom. More than likely you are actually lying down, because even sitting can be pretty uncomfortable. Not to mention you need to keep your feet raised as much as possible to keep down the swelling. Sitting because your legs are not used to your additional load and they wear out easily. Sitting, then standing, then lying down, then sitting up again, because it’s impossible to find a comfortable position.

Waiting for baby. At this point, you’re probably going to the doctor every two weeks, but not every week. You count down the days until your next doctor appointment because it means the progression of time. But nothing really happens at the doctor visits – which is a GOOD thing, but leaves you feeling like nothing has changed. You can see the finish line, but it’s still in the horizon. Even though you try not to, you look at the calendar every day.

Wishing for so many things. Wishing for time to pass faster, while at the same time wishing you could simply live in the moment and enjoy this time. Wishing that your baby will be healthy. Wishing that your delivery will go smoothly and quickly. Wishing you could eat sushi. Wishing you could distract yourself. Maybe wishing that something was going differently in your pregnancy. Wishing that you will be a good parent to your child.

The baby will be here before you know it. But for now, it seems like even further away than when you found out you were pregnant. Yes, you could find something productive to do, but getting through a normal day is exhausting enough, and at the end of the day you can’t muster the energy to do anything but sit, wait and wish.

I’ll be sitting, waiting and wishing for a few more long weeks. When I’m at week 39, I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder how time passed so quickly. But for now, I’ll just try to enjoy the calm before the storm.

I fed my baby a Big Mac

Friday, June 13, 2014
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I haven’t eaten a hamburger in five years. That is, until a recent late-night craving. It was one of those days where I’d been busy, and at the end of the day I realized I hadn’t eaten any meat. I felt a little light-headed, but thought I could get by with a light snack.

Come 10:30 p.m., the craving hit. I needed MEAT. RED MEAT. God bless my husband, who is always willing to make a late-night food run for me. The only fast place to get a hamburger at this hour was McDonalds, so a Big Mac I ate.

At 4:00 a.m., the upset tummy and feelings of guilt kicked in. As I lie awake in upset-stomach misery, I started to think about the junk I put into my body, and therefore my baby’s body, that night. This did not help me feel better.

Before I became pregnant, I told myself when the time came, I would be the epitome of a healthy eater. I would choose organic all the time, limit my sweets, say no to fast food and eat mountains of fruits and vegetables. That did not exactly happen. I’ve tried to make sure I am getting the right nutrients and I am eating the right amount at the right times. But being pregnant also means sometimes you are too tired to cook or go to the grocery store; and there is a reason they call them “cravings.” For me, they are almost impossible to ignore. And my cravings mostly have been bread and ice cream (and recently, meat).

My goal is to foster a nutritious, healthy diet for my child when she starts eating. Same as what I thought I would be doing in my pregnancy – plenty of fruits and vegetables, limited sweets (grandparents, I’m looking at you), no fast food or fried food, etc. I realize when we are eating out of the house the rules will bend, but at home I want to help her form healthy eating habits.

I’m beginning to think this is going to be a lot harder than I imagined. I’m sure I will run into the same problems I have now (too tired to cook, no time for the store) but magnified.

I will try my hardest to make sure my daughter gets the right nutrition in the right forms, but will have to realize I haven’t failed if I sometimes decide to order a pizza for dinner. We strive to be the best parents we can be, but occasionally need to realize we aren’t perfect nor ever will be.

So, here’s to hoping my late-night cravings don’t lead to my baby girl arriving with an affinity for Big Macs, but if she does…everything in moderation.

The Best and Worst

Friday, June 6, 2014
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The other day, someone asked me what have been the best and worst parts of my pregnancy. I struggled with an answer; I really wanted to share what the experience has been like for me. Pregnancy comes with its ups and downs. One day I’m one of those women who says she loves being pregnant, and the next day it feels like everything has been hard. Every pregnancy is different, and what is the best and the worst for me is probably completely different for another woman.

Worst

I’ll start with the bad. For me, the worst thing about pregnancy has been the limitations. (Side note – I was very lucky to not experience morning sickness, or else I might say that was the worst.) There are the typical limitations on what you should not drink or eat (water for me please, hold the feta cheese), and those take a few weeks to get used to, but eventually it becomes the new normal.

What has been the hardest for me are the unexpected limitations, the physical and mental limits I wasn’t prepared for and that hit suddenly. My first notable experience with this was one morning when I woke up with “round ligament pain” (normal pains that result from your body stretching) and tried to go to work even though I was in constant pain. I ended up leaving work, going to the doctor to affirm everything was okay, and spent the rest of the day lying on my side. Even though everything was perfectly all right, I was worried about my baby and felt generally deflated and defeated by the events of the day.

Now that I’m in my third trimester, I’m also experiencing common symptoms like shortness of breath, tiredness, forgetfulness and aches. Growing a baby is no simple task and sometimes means knowing when it’s time to pump the brakes. This feeling hits suddenly, so I’ll be having a perfectly normal day and then the next minute my body will tell me “enough.” That’s what makes it difficult for me; I will be in the middle of a project, a fun evening with friends, or an errand and realize I have to stop whatever I’m doing and rest.

The good news is this is temporary, and a small sacrifice that might be frustrating at times, but that I am more than willing to make.

Best

I think the obvious greatest part about pregnancy is the inherent fact that I’m having a child. So after stating the obvious, it was difficult to narrow down what I’ve liked best, because despite the hard days, there have been so many wonderful moments. But without a doubt the best part for me is the baby kicks. One of my favorite moments of being pregnant so far was on Easter Sunday, when the choir started singing at church and my baby started dancing like crazy. This was the first time my husband and I saw her move, and it filled me with so much emotion I had to hold back tears.

Now, she has a regular schedule that I look forward to each day. I love waking up to her small kicks in the morning, getting rib punches in the afternoon, and feeling her roll around in the evening. I daydream of her making those same movements when she is born. Sometimes, she will stick a foot (or maybe it’s an elbow, knee or shoulder) into my side, and I’ll be able to touch the spot and feel a hard little bump.

So if you see me walking around with a huge grin on my face that makes me look a little crazy, you’ll know I’m just feeling those baby kicks!

What am I getting myself into?

Friday, May 30, 2014
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Hi! I’m Kelly. I just entered the third trimester of pregnancy and am expecting a baby girl at the end of the summer. I’ll be sharing my journey of pregnancy and becoming a new mom on The Mommyhood.

 

I’ve known I wanted to be a mother for as long as I remember. Now, as my due date approaches, I can’t believe it’s all actually happening.

At first, I definitely had the mommy panics. “Am I really ready to be a mom?” “Will I lose my youth; my freedom; my friends?” “I don’t even know how to take care of a baby!”

Most of those apprehensive feelings have passed (but I’m sure they’ll return in various forms for the rest of my life). It may be the second/third trimester “high” my baby book tells me is common, but I’m feeling pretty great. Still, there is a little voice in the back of my mind going, “What am I getting myself into?”

A coworker said something wonderful to me the other day – he said, “People worry about what they will have to give up when they have kids. I’m telling you, there is no comparison to the joy you will have in your life with children. It’s the best thing in the world, and you will gain a million more wonderful things in your life than you think you will lose.” What an inspiring outlook!

So as I begin my journey of sleepless nights, days spent without a shower and in pajamas, and dealing with more poop than I ever imagined possible, I will strive to keep his words in mind. As I transition into a working mom, and my husband and I wonder where our money and our time (and possibly our sanity) have gone, I’ll keep his words in mind. Because I already know this will be the greatest joy of my life. I know there will be testing times, trials I can’t even imagine at this point, but I’d rather focus on the happy anticipation that comes when I feel a small kick, or hear a quick heartbeat.

So when that voice pops in my head and asks the question, “What am I getting myself into?” I confidently answer, “Your life!”

Has anyone else experienced anxieties about becoming a new mom? Is there anything you’ve done to calm your fears?

A purple heart

Monday, March 31, 2014
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ava window 2In parenting, there are memories and then there are flashbacks.  One is of the sweet, perhaps even bittersweet kind; the other is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I’ve been having flashbacks lately. I can only blame them on the knowledge that Ava is going to middle school soon, and the ball has started to pick up speed in that direction.  She registered herself, more or less, and I signed the papers on the dotted line.  She submitted a form to join “Beginning Band”, and she indicated that she intends to play the snare drum. She and her classmates watched “the video” that included “the talk” with the school nurse, and I gave her a check to pay for the patrol trip to Columbus, OH. I can barely keep up, and I’m fighting to hang on.

Things are different at home, too.  I haven’t helped her with a homework assignment since the beginning of the year.  She says she doesn’t need anyone’s help, and her grades prove it. She spends more time in her room reading novels and and listening to music, and she’s finally taking an interest in clothes. But this kid — this big girl — this tween — is less demanding of affection, too.  I used to call her my “Velcro baby”, because she was stuck to my leg like dog hair.  Ava was the most loving child I had ever seen.  Now, when I reach out to give her a hug, she braces herself. Sometimes she leans in from the side, and other times she stiffens so it’s impossible to give her a long, motherly squeeze.  We’re about an hour away from a handshake. Yes, she’s putting up boundaries. Hugs have become a courtesy; goodbye kisses have become obligatory.

Many years ago, I couldn’t leave the room without her dissolving into a puddle of tears.  And this is when I experience a flashback that I can’t shake.

It was a wintery day that called for a nap on the couch.  I was pregnant with our second daughter, and I was nauseated from the time I rolled out of bed to the time I crawled back in. Caring for a two-year old with unlimited energy and a 78-year old with uncontrollable dementia was taking its toll on me.  Both of them, including a bored cat, followed me through the house for the bulk of the day.  To some degree, Ava and my dad were of the same mindset.  I didn’t chase toddlers.  They chased me.

So on this wintery day, I was closing in on a meltdown from sheer mental exhaustion.  I needed a reprieve to get my emotions in order, and to let a wave of seasickness subside.  Ava wasn’t having any of it, and my dad didn’t understand most anything.

“I just want a short break to close my eyes, and then I’ll be right back,” I told her, going into a first floor bedroom so I could listen for trouble.

Ava protested.  “No, Mama! Please! Stay with me!”

It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict that a child who had just eaten a full lunch wasn’t going to play quietly while I put my head on a pillow for a few minutes.  She wanted to romp and tickle and play and bounce on the bed.

I asked her to please wait with her granddad for about fifteen minutes.  Here are some blocks.  Build the tallest house in the world.

Fifteen minutes? Neither one of them could comprehend time.  Play together? That means someone would have to take the lead and organize this activity.

Ava started to cry. “NO!” she begged.

Those precious fifteen minutes were spent on worthless negotiation. In fact, her pleading to “play with me” became more dramatic. Finally, I carried her outside of the bedroom walls, and attempted to close the door.

She screamed as though she had seen me for the last time.

I stood with my back to the door and sobbed. She pounded and begged me to open it. My dad hovered in the hallway asking over and over again what was wrong.

Ava started coughing and choking. Then…she threw up.

I opened the door and found my sweet girl’s face red and soaked with tears.  She sucked in little puffs of air and sobbed some more.  “Pleeeeease let me in.”

And now, as Ava sits in her bedroom scanning Pinterest photos of her favorite boy band, I stand at the doorway and silently beg, Please let me in.

How times have changed.

Last night, I sat on the edge of her twin mattress that is covered in sheets printed with little pink flowers. Soon, this set will be used to protect a couch so the dog won’t get muddy paw prints on the cushions.  I told her about my flashback, and how much I regret shutting that door in her face.  I was desperate for a break from the constant demand for attention, and I envied her ability to throw up to relieve a sick stomach.  Mine was hormonal.  But hers was pure panic.

Ava put her hand on my wrist and then gripped it.

“I don’t remember,” she said, as if I needed permission to let go of the guilt.

“Yeah, but I do. It bothers me,” I confessed.  “I can remember every second of it.”

I sat on the edge of her bed for a long time that night, talking to both of my girls about things of no real importance. When it was time to turn off the light, I stood up to straighten their blankets.  Ava’s hand was still circled around my wrist.  I hadn’t even noticed. I unwrapped her fingers and kissed her on the  forehead goodnight. I traveled across the hall to my room, slid under the covers, turned onto my left side — a habit from my old pregnancy days — and slept like I hadn’t rested in weeks.