My pregnancy was the most wonderful time of my life. I loved everything about it: how I looked, how I felt, knowing I was growing a person inside me. My favorite was her movements. It was something that only she and I shared. We called her Sweetness. We opted for a home birth. As a chiropractor, I'm not a big fan of hospitals and I believe that hospitals are for sick people. Giving birth isn't a sickness or disease, so I wanted to be at home. So we used a midwife and never had any testing done. We had no idea if she was a boy or a girl. I was convinced from the day I found out that we were having a boy. We had our boy's name picked out, I bought blue clothes, and the nursery had blue accents. Imagine my surprised when she turned out to be a girl!
My water broke early in the morning, almost two weeks before the due date. There was still so much to buy before she came, so we spent the day shopping. People asked me all throughout my pregnancy when I was due, and the one time I actually had a true answer (that day!), not a single person in any store asked me. I went into labor until about 8:30 that night. My midwife told us that we should get some rest and the baby would probably come sometime the next day. First babies take longer than you think, she said. Of course I couldn't sleep. My contractions were 5 minutes apart from the start. About 1:30 in the morning, the pain changed. I had no idea what was going on. I thought it was mid stages of labor. An hour later my husband called the midwife. She heard me yelling in the background and told him to keep me on my side and she would be there in 30 minutes. Apparently I was already at the pushing stage. I had planned on a water birth, but by the time the midwife got there, it was too late to fill the tub. So I ended up on all fours on the floor in my bedroom. I pushed for about 2 1/2 hours before they realized that the baby was stuck behind my pubic bone. I changed positions to more of a squat and she was born 20 minutes later. 9 pounds 1 ounce. I was so grateful she came so early. She was fully developed and pretty perfect.
We didn't name her until the next day. We had never even talked about girl names. We joke that she named herself. As my husband was coming up the stairs to bring me dinner, the name Danielle popped into his head. That name had never even entered our imagination. Maybe she told him that was the name she wanted. She and her Dad have had an amazing connection from the very beginning. He always knew what she needed when she needed it, more than I did. And 20 years later they are still very connected.
Nursing was VERY challenging in the beginning. If I wasn't SO determined that she be breastfed, I don't know if I would have kept going. My nipples were cracked and extremely painful all the time. I would flinch every time she latched. The first few weeks pretty much sucked on that front. But we finally got into a rhythm and it was probably my favorite part of being a new mom. Like her movements in the womb, it was something that only she and I shared. I cherished those times and I nursed for over 20 months.
As far as our beliefs about parenting, we were totally wrong. We thought that a child would just become part of our circle and our lives wouldn't change all that much. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course our lives completely changed, and all for the better. She is the biggest blessing in our lives.
One thing I will say that we made a priority from the beginning: our relationship as husband and wife always came first. We made sure we had date nights often, even if we just put her to bed early and had our time in the house. Of course there were times when she came first, especially when she was sick or hurt, but we never lost that marital bond. Becoming empty nesters is hard for so many couples because once the kids are out of the house, oftentimes they don't know what to do with each other. While we miss our daughter, of course, we have adapted to being empty nesters pretty easily and are loving it being just us again.
Becoming a parent changes everything. It's the hardest and most rewarding thing any parent will ever do. Someone told me when Danielle was very young that "the days may be long, but the years are short". Enjoy every moment, even the hard ones. Because they grow up way too fast and are gone before you know it.
Melissa is a retired chiropractor of 20 years, the owner of Dough Dreamery in Parker, Colorado and an all around fabulous human being!