"Finding Your Strength: Making It To The Finish Line In Pregnancy"

Making it to the finish line? I once thought, in terms of pregnancy, you are pregnant for nine months, make it to the glorious end, and out comes your precious new bundle on your due date. I never knew how difficult the end of a pregnancy could be until I experienced it for myself. It tests your strength, endurance, perseverance, and so much more.

The Beginning

a family portrait of Wendi, her husband, and her dog

Finding out I was pregnant in December of 2018 made for a very magical and joyful Christmas. The year before had been filled with such sorrow, due to our miscarriage in February of 2017. Despite the joy and excitement we felt, there was also fear and anxiety that comes with subsequent pregnancies after loss. I did my part to make sure I was giving myself and the baby proper nutrition, happy vibes, and exercise. Then, I began my very first job, in the fitness industry, teaching aqua cycling at 8 weeks pregnant. In addition to all of that, I also prayed over myself and the baby continuously, and month after month we met every milestone with strength. We found out that I had a fibroid growing alongside our baby, that could impede the baby’s growth or later on the baby’s way through the birth canal. It could make me a candidate for an automatic C-section too. We clung to hope that with God on our side, nothing would prevent this baby from making it safely to our arms.

Developing Perseverance

My fear and anxiety finally diminished, during the 2nd trimester, and excitement began to set in. Even though the fibroid continued to grow, it was not affecting the growth of our little miracle. I left my work from home customer service job and a few months later started a new remote position, as an executive assistant with Squared Away. It was much less stressful position and a way better fit for motherhood. Mostly everyone at that company, including the owner, were military spouses and mothers too. Now, I had my work all in alignment for motherhood.

Next, I began to allow myself to dream and plan out a nursery for this miraculous baby boy growing inside of me. Baby showers were being planned, registries were created, and life was moving rather rapidly in the direction of parenthood for my husband and I.

As always, with military life, there was still another obstacle we had to face; the chance that my husband would be deploying a month prior to the arrival of our baby. I began to plan ahead and line up support for myself and the baby. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that my partner in life would not be here for one of the most life changing events we will ever experience. I knew that I had to pull myself together for the sake of our baby, so I continuously processed how I was going to do this alone. Many military spouses birth and care for babies alone during deployments, but I had never imagined I might be one of them. Was I that strong? If they can do it, shouldn’t I be able to? I talked with family and began lining up support for me and the baby prior to our due date and post-partum. I searched out resources at my local base, because birthing a baby alone was not a new phenomenon in military life, so I just knew there had to be support services for other first-time moms like me. I found a New Parent Support Program, with Army Community Services, where someone would come to my home and work with me on all things pregnancy, baby, and parenthood. I reached out to another blogger friend, Lizann at Seasoned Spouse, who was an expert in all things deployment and had even been through childbirth while her spouse was deployed. She gave me tons of encouragement and advice. There were also upcoming events on the USO of NC’s schedule that were catering to expecting military spouses, so I signed up for those too. I was finally able to breathe and felt empowered that I could make it through this obstacle ahead, but I wouldn’t be going at it alone.

Wendi and her husband holding her baby bump
Photo by Tim Ellis @_jdte

The Final Trimester

Now, we had made it to the 3rd trimester which was filled with baby showers, nesting, and dreams of holding our baby for the first time. There was also a new development in my husband’s deployment status; a potential that he might not be going. Nothing is ever certain in military life, so I didn’t allow myself to get too excited yet. I just continued on with life and growing our little baby. The fibroid had stopped growing and was not going to affect my plans of a natural birth, so it was looking like I could avoid having a C-section. I set deadlines for myself and all the many jobs and activities I was involved in. When would I slack off in my volunteer activities? How long could I remain in the pool teaching aqua cycling? When would maternity leave begin and end in my executive assistant position? I ended my volunteering activities and began maternity leave from teaching aqua cycling at the end of July (at 36 weeks pregnant).

The news finally came that my husband would not be deploying and I couldn’t have been any more relieved, as the third trimester of pregnancy was taking a toll on my petite body. Our bed was no longer comfortable and I had to sleep on the couch for those last two months of pregnancy. Many nights, my husband would sleep on the couch with me as I battled insomnia and multiple trips to the bathroom. Our due date of August 21st was quickly approaching and I could see the end in sight. Like any first-time mom, I was anxious about delivery but educated myself enough about it, journaled, and prayed about it until my anxiety finally diminished.

The nursery was all set up, every closet and crevice of our home was cleaned, the car was packed with our bags for the hospital, and so we waited. Our due date came and there was no progress being made toward the baby making his way out. I felt so defeated. I had come all of this way and beaten many obstacles, even had a glorious and healthy high risk pregnancy for a 40 year old, but the baby was staying put. So my doctor performed a membrane sweep, which was extremely painful, to nudge along the journey into labor. After days of cramping, Braxton Hicks, and some normal bleeding, I felt like I was on my way to baby. Then, my body pressed the pause button again. I started to get angry and sad at myself. Was I doing all that I needed to do to get the baby out? Were the doctors being precautious enough to my high risk situation? When would I finally get to hold my son?

After a meltdown and a 10:30pm walk around my neighborhood with my husband, I began to pull myself together. I had made it this far and I could not give up at this point. My son still needed me to be strong as we made our way to that finish line a little slower than originally expected.

At 40 weeks, my cervix finally dilated a centimeter, which gave me a tiny seed of hope that my body was finally cooperating. My doctor also set up an induction date for the end of that week, just as a plan B in case my body did not finish the laboring process naturally. He did everything to honor my wishes of a natural birth and for that I am extremely grateful.  

Wendi and her husband standing outside the hospital

Then, at 41 weeks, induction day came. My husband and I anxiously made our way to the hospital and carried our bags in. We knew that in a matter of hours or days, our baby would finally be in our arms. We were admitted and began getting set up in the labor and delivery room. Then, the first induction method began along with contractions. After 12 hours, my body had only dilated to three centimeters, not enough to begin the natural laboring process. Then, another method began, along with the breaking of my water, but our baby stayed put. He had a bowel movement in utero so the urgency of getting him out was setting in. At this point, I was in excruciating pain. I agreed to an epidural (which painfully had to be done twice), and the doctor came in to discuss an immediate action towards a C-section. Then, I began to immediately get prepped for surgery. I was scared, yet excited, and nervous all at the same time. While my pain lingered, my desire to hold our sweet baby outweighed everything.

When I arrived in the operating room with the bright lights above me, all I could think of was how many movies I had seen with this exact setting not always going as planned. My anxiety started kicking in as I watched the medical professionals scurry around quickly. I asked them if I could please pray over us before they got started and they agreed to my request. As I lay there scared to death praying out loud, tears began to fall, then the anesthesia began to set in and I surrendered to God to see us all through. It was a scary and somewhat traumatic process leading up to this moment, even for my husband who was alongside me in the operating room. There were times I felt like I couldn’t breathe on the operating table. It was as if my brain wasn’t telling my body to breathe in and breathe out. So my husband helped me to remember and held my hand. Then, the moment we had been waiting for was happening. The medical team handed my husband our baby boy. He brought him over to see me and at that exact moment the anesthesia knocked me out, making my husband extremely frantic. I woke up in recovery with my husband bringing our baby over to meet me again. At that moment, I knew that I had finally crossed that finish line. I was holding our baby boy and knew that he was worth everything it took to get here; loss, faith, pain, and perseverance.

Similar to when you are running in a race, you never slow down when you see the finish line ahead. You pace yourself throughout the race and you actually speed up and gain momentum toward the end. This is something I had to remind myself about in this pregnancy: that just because the ending didn’t go as planned and that finish line seemed farther and farther away, did not mean that I could lose my stamina and momentum. Our baby needed me to push forward as I had the entire pregnancy and so I did. He finally made it to my arms, despite so many obstacles and barriers. This was one glorious finish line that never felt more sacred to cross.

© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2019.