First-time mom and President at Bravado Designs, Nicole McCasey tells us about her journey to motherhood, pregnancy and birth, and the importance of advocating for herself and her newborn.
How did you feel emotionally and physically during your pregnancy?
I had a quite unremarkable and healthy pregnancy, both emotionally and physically. Looking back that was certainly the easiest part of my journey into motherhood. I ran a marathon while I was pregnant, just a week before we found out a baby was on the way. Of course I was not immune to the nausea in the early days, fatigue and roller-coaster ride the hormones take you on, but overall it felt like I was able to sail through pregnancy relatively smoothly.
What did you love about being pregnant, and what was the most challenging?
I loved the excitement of what was to come, the joy being pregnant brought to our extended families and this whole new element of life we were lucky to experience.
I found it challenging to accept that physically, I couldn’t do all the things I had previously done. Transitioning from relative independence to learning to ask for, and accept, help was hard. My stubbornness did not serve me well through this transition 😊.
You had a c-section with your little one, George. How was that experience for you, and what preferences did you advocate for at birth?
The experience was traumatic, if I’m honest. George was 9 days late and I required labour induction, which ended up taking 3 days of trips to and from the hospital before we moved to emergency C-section. Labour was not progressing, I spiked a fever and George’s heartrate sky-rocketed, indicating intervention was needed. Very thankfully, my now husband and I had made the decision about a week prior that we would not entertain the use of a vacuum or forceps and would go right to C-section if intervention was needed for a healthy delivery. Being clear on our choice upfront saved making a hard decision when we didn’t have time to think it through.
I couldn’t be more thankful that we were very direct on what we wanted. As it turned out the surgery was complicated, and George was immediately taken to the NICU where he was resuscitated. That is when I really learned how to advocate, for myself in recovery and for our newborn.
How was your healing process in the fourth trimester after the C-section?
Long! And hard! I did not initially respect that I had just undergone major surgery, and a complicated one at that, which meant recovery would be more challenging than normal…though there is no normal and each person’s recovery is unique. I took many daily activities like getting out of bed, using the washroom, going up and down stairs, for granted and assumed because I was physically fit pre-delivery, that I’d be able to manage easily in the days after.
How did you find the adjustment to motherhood emotionally and physically?
I was a mess emotionally, especially in the first few months. No one can prepare you for how hard it is. Literally everything is new during that time. Sleep patterns change, or what were patterns no longer exist. You are learning to feed and care for a new human being, while attempting to care for yourself and potentially the rest of your family. Your body is changing daily, in ways you’d never expect. On the good days you push through, only to learn at the end of the day you’ve pushed too hard and pay for it. On the bad days you simply can’t push through anything. I thrive in predictable and consistent environments, and adjusting into motherhood is anything but these two things.
Why do you feel women still need to justify having a C-section?
I’m not sure. I think the problem is larger, in terms of the sense that everything around motherhood must be justified. Whether for oneself, a family member, a co-parent or for Instagram followers. I certainly fell trap to this and found I would compare myself to those I saw recovering faster from birth, whether C-section or not. This also extended into George’s development when the milestones started coming. It takes a lot to recognize that every path for parent, child, family is unique and should be respected.
What advice would you give to a new mother who gave birth through a C-section?
Please, please, please give yourself the grace and patience to recover. It is major surgery that requires a great deal of sacrifice and strength. Accept help and accept it early and often. Those days where even cooking a simple meal isn’t possible don’t have to be trudged through alone. And know that you are not alone. Navigating recovery while learning to feed and understand the needs of your newborn can feel incredibly isolating, you are the only one living your journey. However...
...there is an impressive community of C-section mamas out there very willing to be an open ear,
which is sometimes all we need.