Don’t you dare buy your mother a vacuum
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I feel it’s only fair to share my literal labor of love with all of you. When I became pregnant with our first child, Ava, it was six months after John and I got married. I thought to myself… Number one: how did this happen? Yes, I know how it happened, but I was told I had endometriosis at a young age and conceiving may not happen. Number two: I am still a child myself how will I do this? Number three: how in the world is this baby going to come out? I honestly knew the answer to that too but was terrified.
Though I knew the answer to most of these questions above, I couldn’t wrap my head around how my body was changing just as much as my life as I knew it would. When I started college, I thought I was going to grow old and live in New York City with a few cats and be a world-renowned fashion designer, but that didn’t happen. I found love instead and I was about to start a family.
The first three months of my pregnancy were nerve racking. I cut down on coffee because I knew it was bad for the baby, but I wanted to go to bed by 3 p.m. daily. I was nauseous and starving at the same time. My pants were starting not to fit, so I decided I would hold on as long as I could to my jeans. I held them together with a hair tie looped between button and the closure of my pants. It was 2008, and low-rise jeans were still very much in style. At 26 I was having a very hard time finding maternity clothes that didn’t make me look 40, I know I’m basically there now, but at that age it was all very overwhelming and awkward.
By four months I was no longer walking, I was waddling, and it was anything but pretty. I also had a scare with some breakthrough bleeding and was hospitalized for two days. Over that time, I reflected on where I was and what was happening, and my fears that were prominent in the beginning were no longer a worry. I was now fearful that I was going to lose the baby I never met. That to me was more terrifying that thinking about the original labor and delivery plan. But I was lucky, two days of rest did me well. I slowed down, I paid attention to my body, and the bleeding subsided. But from that point on I was no longer the worry, my child was.
By eight months I had gained 40 pounds, I took the phrase, “mangia!” to a whole new level. I started something that I called the Casciano’s diet, which was one red velvet cupcake and a small, iced caramel casciano every Saturday. Tracy can contest to this. I also had nightly Kit-Kat cravings that were supported by John who did late night Wawa runs. I also couldn’t get enough of cavatelli and meatballs from Brother’s Pizza. I was in love with food, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach at this point. I would eat and just lay like a stranded beach whale asking myself why I tortured my body and myself. The result of these midnight snacks were late night dance parties in my belly.
The last month of my pregnancy was the hardest. I cleaned nonstop, I folded all the baby clothes, rearranged the room twice, vacuumed daily, even washed windows, you could lick the floors clean, because I never let anything get dirty at this point. My body was fighting a war, if I coughed, sneezed or laughed, I peed myself. I would then shower and immediately lay down because it took so much energy to do anything at this point. Days felt like years, time was so slow, and I wanted to give birth, but I also just wanted to sleep.
The Saturday after my Friday due date I started not feeling well. I was tired but I had incredible back pains, so I laid down and tried to rest. That afternoon, my friend Michelle stopped by with Oreo truffles and sat next to me for about an hour. She looked a little concerned when I told her about my back pains, and she knew how bad my anxiety was. So, every time I got a pain, she told me to let her know. She felt my belly and said: “Loraine, I think you’re in labor… this is happening every six minutes.” I was in denial, I just laid there and told her it would pass and that I was fine. Michelle and John talked, and they convinced me to call the doctor. After about an hour more of non-stop pain and no real sleep in 12 hours we drove to the hospital.
Upon arrival I had to give a urine sample, fill out paperwork, and get labs done. After all that was complete, I got an IV so I could get some fluids. I was feeling better, but I was tired, so they gave me a morphine drip to sleep, but it didn’t work, it sent me into a frenzy of asking ridiculous questions like; “Did I have the baby yet?” Because I had been in labor so long, they decided to start Pitocin. That sent me into even more pain, and amped up labor. After two hours I dealt with some serious contractions before I gave into an epidural. Though the process of being still and holding the nurse seemed scary the relief that came after was well worth the decision. I was starting to feel relief, but I was starving and sucking on ice chips.
The doctor came in and checked my vitals and told me it was time to deliver. The ceiling started opening and the medicine took over. “What is this, Star Wars?!” I exclaimed. I forgot about the labor and delivery tour and all the equipment. I couldn’t feel anything but my face. I looked at the nurse and said, “Do I look like Steven Tyler? The nurse let go of my leg and looked at my sister and said I can’t do it; she’s making me laugh too much. Mortified, I listened to the instructions and after two hours of pushing I was given the most amazing gift ever. With my whole family in the delivery room, I cried, I held Ava so tight, and I just thanked God that he gave me the best gift I could ever ask for. I just remember staring at her and thinking … “So, you were the little one having late night dance parties. You’re real; you’re here.” The feeling is indescribable to this very day.
I was lucky enough to do it two more times years later. Less medication, less labor time, but still the same reaction when you meet that little person who’s occupied your body for the last nine months, rent free might I add. My kids gave me life, they gave me a reason to feel whole, they may torture me with arguing with one another now, Keira, 5, Lily, 7, and Ava, 12. But they are my purpose to do my best and work so hard because I want to give them everything.
When Mother’s Day rolls around the best gift you could give your mom is to let her tell her story. Listen to her tell you about how you got here because that journey is important. A mom doesn’t want a vacuum or a sweeper. She wants to be loved, hugged and showered with homemade cards, or a meal she doesn’t have to cook. Motherhood doesn’t start when you have the baby, it starts the minute you know you’re expecting. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, grandmas, great- grandmas, aunts and sisters out there.
Loraine Griffiths is a fifth-generation Hammontonian, graphic designer, wife and mother of three. She can be reached through email at LifeWithLoraine@gmail.com.