My parents put me in gymnastics when I was 3 to try to harness my uncontrollable energy. And it did harness my energy an teach me control. As a gymnast I had to be able to control everything. I had to be able to control my emotions, my fear, my gravity, and most importantly my body. I had to learn to stretch, contort, and control my body in order to swing between and over bars, to flip on and off a four inch beam, to launch myself down a runway and over a vault, and to switch between being a graceful dancer and a powerful tumbler on the floor. The entire sport is about controlling the body to make it do things it was not intended to do.
After I quit gymnastics, I became a cheerleader. This sport was better suited for my extroverted nature and I enjoyed being part of a team but the premise of control pretty much stayed the same. I still had to control myself and make my body tumble, jump, dance, and stunt. During stunts, I not only controlled my body but I learned how to control your body while holding you over my head. Between gymnastics and cheerleading, I spent my first 21 years of life controlling my body. I have scars and all the aches and pains which prove my body was not intended to do all the things I made it do.
So when it became time to use my body for what it was intended to do I thought it was going to be this easy amazing experience which would leave me feeling empowered to be a woman. I have never been so wrong. Nothing went the way it is supposed to go. Actually, the first part of my pregnancy wasn’t bad. For the first 28 weeks, I was in this blissful denial that I was still in control. Then everything changed. At 28 weeks, I was in a car wreck. After the car wreck, my pregnancy went down hill. I spent 3 days in the hospital with swelling, contractions, and with my child in fetal heart distress. As my contractions stopped so did the fetal heart distress so we were given the green light to go home. We left the hospital but the swelling never left. It only increased week to week. At 37 weeks, I had to be put on bed rest. I spent the last three weeks of my pregnancy and the first three weeks of my maternity leave laying on my left side on my couch. Waiting. Waiting for the pregnancy to be over and to be back in control of my body. Wrong Again.
As soon as the contractions started my son went back into fetal heart distress. Every contraction his heart would drop. For 14 hours, the doctors and nurses tried different things to get his heart rate under control. Nothing worked. Eventually, his heart stopped. The nurses rushed in and shook my body until they got a heart beat again and then I was rolled away to have an emergency c-section. I have never been so scared in my entire life. As soon as he was born and I knew that he was breathing and healthy, I remember being so relieved to be back in control. Nope, not yet.
Breastfeeding came next. He wouldn’t latch. I wasn’t producing. We tried skin to skin. We tried a nipple guard. We tried a lactation consultant. We tried until he started peeing blood. We rushed him to the doctor. He was dehydrated. The doctor told me to supplement with formula. She said it would be fine. But, breast is best so we kept trying. I kept forcing breastfeeding first and then I would supplement with formula. I pumped in between feedings. I would cry when I would only produce one or two ounces. I would cry as I feed my son formula. No matter how hard I tried or how hard I cried I couldn’t control or make my body do what it was intended to do. I couldn’t feed my son. It was heartbreaking. Sitting here writing this, it is still heartbreaking. At eight weeks, when I returned back to work, I hadn’t been able to produce enough to have any milk stored up. So, we had to switch to formula full time. I was devastated. But, it was a gift. It was a gift to my son and it was a gift to me. It allowed me to feed my son and to feel in control while I did it. Finally, I was back in control and for good this time. Not quite.
Everytime we discussed having a second child, I clung to that control. I would say I wasn’t ready. We had a good thing going. Why change it. Finally, I reluctantly agreed. We would try for a second child but under certain conditions. I quit my job and went back to school. School was going to take two years and we could try for a second child during those two years. Two years was plenty of time to make, carry, and have a baby. All the things I couldn’t control before were eliminated. I wouldn’t have to worry about bed rest, or maternity leave, or trying to store up breast milk because I was home and I didn’t have a timeline of when I had to go back to work. I was in control so I could do it. In October, we were so excited to find out we were pregnant. I was determined to do it right this time. I ate healthy. I walked every day. I did yoga. I cut out caffeine. I rested. I didn’t stress. I drove carefully. I was in control. We moved to a bigger house. We were financially stable. We were ready. We were happy. We were in control. NOPE.
I had a miscarriage. The doctor said I didn’t do anything wrong. There is nothing I could have done differently. There was nothing I could have done to control it. I will never know the reason it happened. These statements were meant to be comforting. To a control freak like me they were the opposite. They confirmed my worst fears. They confirmed I couldn’t control my body. They confirmed my suspicions were true. I was done. I was hurt. I was angry. I was at a loss.
There has been a lot of loss. The loss of the joy that comes with being pregnant the first time. The loss of experiencing childbirth. The loss of excitement and accomplishment during the first months of being a new mom. The loss of my second child. But, if I am being completely honest, with you and with myself, the loss I have felt the most is the loss of my perfect plan. The loss of control of the situation. It isn’t a good time to try again. I have less than 9 months left of school. If I get pregnant again, it will coincide with trying to start a career. It will interfere with my sister’s wedding. Or we could try again and it all could happen again. All the things I can’t control and all the things that could go wrong are too overwhelming to even think about. They are too overwhelming to talk about. They are too overwhelming to face. They are too overwhelming to try to control. They are too overwhelming to do alone. YES.
I may never know the physical reason why I swelled up so much during my first pregnancy. Why I had to be on bed rest. Why I had have a c-section. Why I couldn’t produce enough milk to breastfeed my son. Why I lost my second child. I may never know the why but I do know the purpose. If they hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have been brought to my breaking point. I wouldn’t have fallen to my knees and asked God to take control of my life because I can’t do it anymore. I wouldn’t have been open to going to counseling. I wouldn’t have written this blog. God used my body, the thing that I have been able to control my entire life, to show me that I am not in control of anything. To show me I can’t plan it. I can’t control it. I can’t do it alone. He used my body to bring me to a crossroads. Do I control my body and not try to have another child? Do I continue to try to control my life? Do I trust his plan for my life? Do I trust his plan for my son’s life? Do I trust his plan for any future children that I may or may not have? The answer is yes. I chose to let go. I chose to release myself from the burden of trying to control everything. I chose to transfer the burden of control to God. I chose to have Faith. And I chose to try again. This time knowing that I can’t control my body, or the situation, but that I can trust God.
*For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11*