Pregnancy, alone, is never easy. We know this. We have lots of different stories about it, some have witnessed it, some have experienced it, maybe some just know. These stories, they live with us. Mine is just one of them. My second pregnancy, one thing in my life I had been both the happiest and the loneliest.
Sapphire was still in my belly when we moved to Finland. Sounds exciting but scary, right? Moving to a new country with a new job and a new member of the family. Imagine getting a job offer, your employer supporting you and your family to move to this country while knowing that you’ll be on leave after only a few months working. I was anxious for a while especially about the fact that I got the job offer first before learning that I was pregnant. When we learned this exciting news, I immediately informed my already employer then about it and they had been the most supportive. My worries went away just like that. What I didn’t know was — it was just the start.
Symptoms and preparations
I had been 2 months pregnant when we learned about it. Fun fact: I learned about it only when I had my medical exam taken as part of the many requirements needed to move to and work in another country. At first, I thought it was UTI because I kept urinating, like every 5-10 mins. It was insane. I was already overthinking because of the fear that I might lose the job if ever we found out I had some health issues. Thankfully, it was not the case.
At first, Nico and I kept it a secret from our parents because for sure they’d worry more than us. We wanted to see how things would go while we were preparing the documents. I, on the other hand, became really careful when going out. I didn’t want to harm our baby just because the preparation to move to another country had been tough. You already know how to process documents in the Philippines.
I had attended seminars for OFW, waited in long queues to submit some papers, went back and forth to some offices while also battling with first trimester symptoms. There was a time where I had to take the stairs up to 6th floor with an empty stomach because the elevator of this one office was not working by then. I did it twice that day because I had to photocopy some documents outside the building so I went downstairs and then went up again. I was already nauseous that I had to ask some random guy if he could please give me water because I was too tired and was about to faint. He was so nice to give me an unopened bottle. It was February and summer in the Philippines was about to start so it’s always so hot and humid.
Funny, I did not complain.
Maybe I was too tired to think of anything else except from finishing the task that day well and easy so I can go home and finally rest. And after all these exhausting days, I finally was able to get everything I need. Now, we’re just waiting for the day we fly.
Breaking the news and finally moving
Like what I said, we waited until everything is close to reality before telling it to our parents and the rest of the family. I remember showing my first ultrasound result to my mom saying that Skyler would soon be a big brother. And she was really excited to learn the news. She didn’t, at first, show she’s worried. I think she was more excited than worried and it just made me feel really happy. My mom trusts me enough that she’d always support whatever decision I want to make. At least that is how she makes me feel.
And then, the rest of the family learned about it. It was smooth and they are all happy. Of course we explained that except from the fact that I was pregnant, everything else would stay the same. We’d still move abroad but another member of the family would fly with us while inside my belly.
Come February 28, 2019. One day before Nico’s birthday and the day of our long-legged flight to Helsinki. I wrote briefly about our goodbyes with our families in one of my blog posts. We celebrated Nico’s birthday while we’re up in the air. How cool is that! It was the same day we arrived here. Two of our colleagues welcomed us in the airport. It was so cold then. Smoke was going out of our mouths when we talked. It was crazy (at least for us because it was our first time LOL). Winter was just about to end and it was still snowing. We rode a taxi to our hotel room where we stayed for a month and our life in Helsinki had just started.
Excited and motivated, but confused
Everything is new. What can you say? I was confused because there was a lot of things to figure out.
First, I need to go to work one week after the day of our arrival.
Second, look for a clinic where I can get regular checkups
Third, look for an apartment because we had to move from the hotel to an apartment after a month
Fourth, look for Skyler’s daycare
Fifth, start preparing for my delivery
And the list goes on and on. I was confused, stressed but motivated. We just started our life as a family in a foreign land so I had to deal with these things nice and well.
Everything in the list above has come to its place little by little. The family welfare system here in Finland is one of the best and with that, I never had to worry about being pregnant and giving birth away from my home country. I’m talking about checkups, facilities, support from the government, and the like. And then, everything else is a different story. Up until the end of second trimester, I felt really motivated especially when Nico joined me at work. It just made things easier for us. During this time, I felt like life was almost perfect.
Excited and motivated, but confused
By the end of second trimester, I was left with confusion. I was already working during this time and was about to go on my maternity leave but I was filled with different emotions. There were stressful days at work. There were these times that I didn’t know what to do, how to proceed in certain tasks and I was puzzled. I felt like I had no one to ask.. or there was but I was afraid or so shy to do so because I always had this crazy thinking that I would get rejected and would look like some stupid pregnant woman who asks some stupid questions. And then I started to look down on myself, feel so low and unworthy.
This isn’t about my work, you know. I carried this feeling with me everywhere I go. I like everything about my job but if you feel the negativity inside you, everything nice will turn into something different just like that. Because I felt useless, it became difficult for me to manage my anger as well. I became impatient even in every little thing I was doing during this time and I couldn’t explain why and how I had this feeling. I kept telling myself that it could be the pregnancy hormones but my own body could not process it. I know for a fact that pregnant women can have a lot of different emotions even though I didn’t really experience it before during my first pregnancy. But I know. I know this is science. It’s the changes in my body due to carrying another human being inside me. This is it. But, okay? So what now? I know the reason but I kept feeling like a trash.
How and most importantly, when will this ever end?
On maternity leave and alone
August 26, 2019, start of my maternity leave. I should have felt relieved because I finally can take some rest at home. During this time, it was already hard for me to do some physical activities so it should have been a really good start to stay at home and have a peaceful time for myself to focus on my delivery…
Or maybe I could think of some useless thoughts all day like why did I ever get pregnant during this time? Why did Nico ignore my messages even though he knew for a fact that I am pregnant and ready to pop? Why my family in the Philippines couldn’t understand how I was feeling right now? Why does no one understand me when I say I am tired? Why is it that no one is helping me during this time that I couldn’t even carry a small bag of laundry without bumping into something in front of me? Why is it that no one is there for me when I couldn’t even get up from our bed because I was too big and heavy that I’d fall down multiple times before I get the right balance?
These crazy thoughts went on and on and on until I found myself crying in one corner of the house, alone. You’ll know it’s hard to be pregnant when you want it to stop and don’t want to be pregnant anymore. Because of these negativity, I allowed myself to go deeper and deeper down that I hoped my little baby girl would come out already.
I was in may darkest hour in my loneliest day.
I was angry with everyone. I was angry even with my little boy for some days. I remember there were times he became really scared of me. I don’t know. I was full of emotions, mostly negative and this isn’t my proudest moment.
Alone but not alone
You might be all wondering what my husband was doing all along while I was being crazy like this.
The best way to say it, I think, is that he let me be a mother on my own way.
He was as confused as me but he didn’t ever question me. He let me be angry so I can let it all out. I know it was also hard for him but he just let me be. Because of his work, he’s not always by my side during these difficult times so I would go alone during some of my regular checkups. I would go shopping for some baby’s stuff and even attend in some parents meetings in Skyler’s daycare.
If I wrote this before giving birth, I’d say I went through this alone and I am proud I became a mother on my own way. But looking back at it, I didn’t even ask my husband how he felt during those times when he would try to comfort me and I would push him away and even ask him to leave the house. I didn’t even care to know what he did to the food he prepared that I didn’t even taste, what he did to comfort Skyler when I was being impatient to him. While writing this, I realized that he was also alone during those times. He comforted me when I felt lonely but no one comforted him.
When the wife is pregnant, people know she deserves more attention than before and than others. No one bothers to ask the husband how he’s coping up with the changes his wife is going through. I realize that just because our partners don’t bear a child doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. Pregnancy is a beautiful thing that comes with a few ugly experiences for both parents.
Finally giving birth and giving it all
I wished my mom was here with me. Noone would really ever understand a pregnant woman but her own mother. My mom would cry whenever I call her especially during my last days before giving birth. She was so worried after learning that there’s a high possibility that I would deliver normally. She knows how difficult it is and it really is!
I started having contractions on September 28, 2019 at exactly 4 in the morning. I was about to pee when I felt some pains in my lower belly. Few days before this day, I also was feeling the same kind of pain so I ignored it at first. I went on like it was a normal day. It’s Saturday so Nico was at home. We prepared breakfast in the morning despite of having contractions every hour if I recall right. In the afternoon, the contractions became stronger and the pains became very challenging that there were times I had to stop doing chores. I was not very worried because I read a lot of online resources about pregnancy that I already knew what to do and how to go with it. I had to prepare so much because I know we can’t rely on other people this time. But Nico, on the other hand, was so nervous that he needed to check his blood pressure every time he’s feeling uneasy. LOL. This guy.
To calm ourselves a bit, we even had time to bake cookies. LOL. I told Nico we can bake some so we have food to eat in the hospital. We were also advised that we can bring some snacks because labor takes time. Come night time, the contractions were even stronger and came at shorter interval, every 30mins. I couldn’t sleep that night I was already crying. You might wonder why we didn’t go to the hospital as soon as I felt contractions. Again, because I read too much I already knew when is the right time. LOL. And one more thing, we couldn’t just barge in the emergency room and say I am about to give birth. There’s a process here where you need to call first, even when you already feel like you’re dying in labor pains (I’m exaggerating). The nurse on the phone will tell you when it’s time for you to come unless it’s already an emergency.
Contractions are monitored and timed. During that night, I stood up, walked, sat down, bent forward, cry and then repeat all night long. I waited until the contractions came at a shorter interval like every 2 minutes. I didn’t even have time to sleep that night. Nico was half asleep even though I told him he needs to have a good rest so he would have enough energy to stay up with me in the hospital. At 5 in the morning the next day, we called the hospital to notify them that we’re about to head there because of frequent pains. And then we prepared our stuff and went.
We’re lucky enough to have two friends who helped us look after Skyler while I was on labor so as soon as I knew that it was the right time, we informed them and we met them at the hospital. I was admitted at 7 in the morning. Nico was with me in the delivery room, holding my hand and giving me moral support while I felt every pain of labor and delivery.
It was the most painful thing I have ever felt.
This most painful moment gave us the most beautiful thing in this planet. Life is funny sometimes.
Postpartum pains and gains
It was noon when I first heard our baby girl’s first cry. Oh God! It was music to my ears. Nico cried when he saw her. It was all worth it because of her. After seeing her face I thought it was over but I still had episodes even after giving birth. It was still hard physically, emotionally and mentally. I couldn’t move well because of the stitches and I would cry so hard everytime I pee.
I looked like a tired, boiled potato whenever I see myself in the mirror.
And my family in the Philippines kept telling me I looked like someone who had given birth more than 10x at once. That made me feel worse about myself. I felt that I was traumatized that I thought I don’t want to be pregnant again. I couldn’t get enough emotional support that I was expecting. Or maybe even if I got more, it would still not be enough because I was not ready to accept it. I was still feeling negative towards a lot of things.
This pregnancy has challenged me so much and I have to admit it made me weak at some point. It made me question my existence and made me doubt my beliefs. I also realized that at some point, it brought out the worst in me. But through this, I have known myself more and the extent of my emotions. It could be the pregnancy hormones, yes but they were inside me. They’ve been part of me, somehow. This is me. So I tried to accept the fact the this has been my weakest point so far but hey I was able to overcome everything with the help of my husband, our families back home and some friends. I struggled, I prayed and was healed. I also deserve a pat on the back for job well done.
At some point, I want to say this is normal. I’ve been reading everywhere that “it is okay not to be okay” sometimes. This experience is very unique because it feels like you have a constant battle with yourself because you know you should not feel negative but you just can’t control it. So you fight with your own demons but you will still lose in the end.
Time heals everything , they say. It also came true to me as it’s been several months since I last felt it. I focused myself on my family and whenever I feel like I am about to break down again, I always try to think why I need to stay positive and happy. I want my family to be happy especially my children and it should start with myself. I feel proud whenever I see my kids smiling. I don’t know if I will ever feel that negativity again but one thing is for sure, I got better once and I know I will keep doing so even when dark times come again.