Getting pregnant was such an exciting thing. I don’t think I have ever seen my husband smile so big when I told him. I was excited from the get-go, but also nervous about labor and delivery. The first time I genuinely wanted to back out was at our childbirth class, when I saw a video of a live birth for the first time. I almost passed out. I was panicked. I was going to have to do that. There was no going back – the kid was already alive and growing inside me – I had no choice. Right there, I wanted to quit.
Labor started on Thursday of my first week off from work. I had promised to make a pecan pie for my coworkers sometime before I popped, and had baked it the day before. I remember not feeling particularly great (I was 38 weeks pregnant and feeling like a whale), but I ran some errands and dropped off the pecan pie as planned. I remember walking through Walgreens getting a few odds and ends for my hospital bag thinking I had overdone it. My back hurt like crazy and I went home and put my feet up. The rest of the afternoon was filled with back pain that came and went, and by the time my husband got home, I realized that I was having back labor. I woke him up at midnight to go to the hospital, the pain getting very strong, and I wanted to quit.
A sleepless night passed with contraction after contraction, with me dilating very slowly. I was hungry, tired, and nervous. I spent another whole day in the hospital following this, the contractions getting steadily stronger and closer together. It seemed Grace was wedged in there somehow and was having trouble getting out. I laid on my side to try and get her moving and it was very painful. Even with an epidural, I wanted to quit.
Early the next morning they told me I was finally ready to push. It had been forty hours of labor, and I was exhausted. My blood pressure was climbing and Grace’s pulse was dipping below the normal line on the screen. The doctors strongly advised me to get an episiotomy and I burst into tears. I WANTED TO QUIT!
I was about two pushes away from having an emergency c-section. Grace was fine, and was plopped on my chest, and I was given magnesium for my preeclampsia, which made me feel like a zombie (even more so than I already did after two days without eating or sleeping). After we took her home, I began the overwhelming task of being a mother. Nursing just plain sucked. It took us a couple weeks to get it down, but for those two weeks, I wanted quit every moment of every day. I wanted to leave my life. I was still worn out from the long labor and really struggling with the changes that had occurred in my home virtually overnight. I dragged myself through the next month and a half, and I wanted to quit, quit, quit.
My life had turned upside down and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing or how I was doing. My husband kept reminding me that, hey, the kid was still alive, and that I was doing a good job. It felt like a long time before I started actually enjoying Grace. By the time she was about four months old, I think I finally stopped feeling like I wanted to quit every day. I finally felt like I had a handle on things, and by that time I was pumping and bottle feeding her and that helped immensely. She was sleeping through the night better and I had gotten to know her enough to understand what she needed, and I felt much more connected to her as a mother.
I had been so afraid that I would never stop wanting to quit. Everything was so hard! Everything was different and I had no choice but to adjust. Once I got pregnant, I was very uncomfortable with the idea that I had no choice but to go through with it- that I couldn’t quit when things got scary or difficult or frustrating. Though things are easier now, I realize that when it comes to being a mom, there will still be moments in which I just want to quit.
Looking back, I see how much stronger I am than I thought I was. It sure wasn’t fun, going through that forty-two hour labor, but I was able to do it. By bringing Grace into the world, I proved to myself that I can do that which I think I can’t. It’s never easy, but the limits of my body and my mind are further out than I think they are.
When you feel like quitting, look back on the difficult moments of your life and I guarantee that you will see yourself doing things you didn’t think you could. When you feel like quitting, remember all the things you’ve gotten through and all the difficult things you’ve done. When you feel like quitting, give yourself more credit than you think you deserve- because I bet you don’t give yourself enough credit to begin with. When you feel like quitting, don’t.