Monrow’s Birth Story: 1/10/22

April 28, 2022

WHERE DO I BEGIN?…

It’s funny, when I sat down to write this, I opened the word document and let the cursor blink for about 10 minutes straight as I just stared at it. 

Then I got up, closed my computer and didn’t open the word doc again for about two more weeks. 

Why was this so hard to write!? I still don’t know. 

I had journaled on this a bunch before, but something about sitting down at my laptop to write it out more formal made me feel like I was sitting down to write the book I’ve always dreamed of writing. 

This is by no means that book, but it does feel like it holds the same amount of weight. Plus, the “why” behind me even wanting to write a book in the first place, is the same why that surrounds this and all other things YIB adjacent –

I WANT OTHERS TO CONTINUOUSLY FEEL SEEN AND SUPPORTED THROUGH ME SHARING MY EXPERIENCES.

I also think there was resistance around sharing this specific moment of my life, because I have a fear of judgment. I’m prettty good at recognizing that judgment from any mean person is a person who’s hurting themselves. I know it has zero to do with me. But sharing anything somewhat controversial on a public platform can be scary. Even when I announced my pregnancy, I got hit immediately with backlash, saying that I wasn’t being sensitive enough to people who struggle to conceive. That my excitement was, “selfish.” 

It made me feel like being excited about having a baby was wrong. Believe me, I understand having a baby is one of the greatest blessings we could ever be blessed with. I’m so aware how lucky I am that it’s a part of our story. But I think being hit hard like that from the very first public share surrounding Monrow, tainted the idea of sharing more intimate details, be that how we even got pregnant and how she was born.

If I’m being honest with myself, I think I’ve just been really intimidated.

But hey, fear is the cue and we must lean into it right? Anything that you’re afraid of is an opportunity to grow. 

SO HERE I AM, LEANING IN AND GROWING.

Let’s hope…

It all started on April 23, 2021 (yep, I am going to even include how I got pregnant). 

All it took was a trip back to NYC to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. An overdue visit with the one city that I still would say made me the woman that I am today. It was also the city I met Daniel in. When we were booking hotels, we decided to use our covid credit at Soho House and stay there. We didn’t put two and two together at the time, but ironically that was also where we met for drinks the night of our first date. 

I don’t believe in coincidence or happenstance. When I look back on how all of it fell into place, I truly believe it was so clearly meant to be. 

That weekend was a blast. We went out that night, had a *few* drinks. For whatever reason, the non-drinking drinker, me, was down to party on April 23rd. Taking shots on the Lower East Side and there is not much Daniel loves more than fun Jacq, so he was right there with me. 

One thing led to another, and you can fill in the rest. 

Moving on…sorry Dad

I remember like it was yesterday, the day I found out I was pregnant.

It was May 19, 2021. I woke up that morning exhausted and slightly nauseous. It was more like a low-level lingering nausea, rather than like a run to the bathroom and barf nausea, so I proceeded with my day expecting it to subside. 

I also always had a history of irregular periods.

(Wow am I really giving you the back story details here or what?)

I lost my period about a month before I got married. 

Extreme stress, lack of sleep, overworking my body and I could not seem to regulate it again after that, no matter how hard I tried.

What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that not getting my period didn’t just mean I wasn’t bleeding, it meant I wasn’t ovulating. My body wasn’t doing the one thing it was “supposed to do” as a woman.

I FELT BROKEN.

I’d PMS for weeks. I’d get every single symptom you could google to the extreme. I became fixated on how bloated I was, how my clothes wouldn’t fit, how big my boobs were. I was insanely irritable, apathetic, overly self-critical. I felt like I had no control over my body. It felt like my skin was crawling every single month for three weeks straight.

I became obsessed and not in a healthy way. I would read article after article. Book after book. Follow this doctor on IG and that hormone focused nutritionist. Took out my IUD. I ordered every supplement you could think of. Acupuncture weekly, took all the herbs. I needed an answer, and I didn’t trust my own body to give me one.

I wanted to talk about it to anyone who’d listen, because I was so desperate for validation that something wasn’t right. It can feel so isolating to struggle with hormones because it isn’t a mainstream conversation. I was so exhausted by it, and I felt so alone.

Three years later, I finally got my cycle back and I include this in here for a few reasons. One, because Breathworkknowwell and @remix_lifestyle slowing me down enough so I could listen to my body again, are the three things that gave me my life back in this instance. I was finally able to calm my thoughts and remind myself that I wasn’t broken. I didn’t need to be fixed. 

But thennnn I got the first shot of the covid vaccine, and my cycle came a week late. Cue the old story almost like it never left,

“I’M BROKEN.”

I went down this whole entire spiral. I changed my cycle in the Flow app on my phone. I blew up Giselle with texts about needing an emergency Acu session. I felt like I went back to square one from one little prick and I was completely devastated. 

The day before I woke up nauseous, I spent about an hour on the floor of my bathroom crying to Daniel. Telling him how my body was failing me because I still hadn’t gotten my period. Explaining to him that this meant when we wanted to have a baby, we wouldn’t be able to. I was always so petrified I wouldn’t be able to have kids. 

That’s why my mind didn’t even go there that next morning when I woke up sick, boobs swollen, with no period. The only reason I even ended up taking a test, was because I put up an Instagram story of a bag of crackers, with text saying, “I’ve been nauseous all day. No, I’m not pregnant. Yes Mom, I’m fine,” and my Mom called me almost immediately after. She reminded me that I wasn’t a nauseous person, that this was abnormal, but even so, with much resistance, I peed on a stick, left it in my bathroom atop the toilet and completely forgot about it for the entire day. 

That night, the clock struck 9:00pm and for whatever reason, I remember thinking, 

Oh, I should go throw that test out.” 

I got up from the couch, turned off the TV and went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. I picked up the test and I swear, I almost didn’t even look down at it, but something caught my eye. Something I had never seen anywhere else besides the commercials on TV. 

Two lines.

No?

What?

There’s no way?

But I don’t ovulate?

My body is broken?

I can’t possibly be?

This is wrong.

Take a digital test NOW. 

As I set the digital test on my bathroom counter waiting for the results, I heard the front door open. Daniel was home from his night class.

I grabbed the original test, walked out into the kitchen with the test behind my back.  

“So,” I started, “I have taken a bunch of pregnancy tests in my life as you know, but I have never ever ever seen a real positive test.”

“Ok…” Daniel said, with his eyes locked on mine.

“This is a positive test,” I said as I showed him what I was hiding behind my back. 

Daniel’s eyes didn’t leave the stick. All he told me to do was go take a digital test for more confirmation, not knowing I was already waiting for the one in the bathroom.

I walked back into our bathroom, looked down at the second test.

Pregnant.

There it was. As clear as day.

WE WERE HAVING A BABY.

People ask me all the time, “how did you know you guys were ready to have kids?”

The truth is, we weren’t. Or at least I wasn’t. It happened for us, and I’m so grateful that it did, but for a control freak like me, one of the biggest moments in my entire life happened completely out of my control. I was shocked by how calm I felt in that moment. Knowing our daughter now, I like to think it was her grounding energy even that early in the pregnancy that helped me regulate my emotions then and for the next 33 weeks that followed. 

What’s wild, is that from 2019 on, after my Grammy’s passing, every reading I did with a medium I was asked if I was pregnant. When I would tell them I wasn’t, they always said be careful, telling me there was a stronggggg spirit baby energy with me and that the baby was ready to come through. Well, on April 23 2021, that spirit baby saw her chance and that chick ran with it. She chose us, even years before and I always felt so protected by that. 

THAT BABY SPIRIT BECAME MONROW.

If you’ve made it this far, you must really care about how she was born. Thanks for sticking with me on this. 

I spent my entire pregnancy feeling so detached from quite a few of the bigger things I heard tend to give expecting mom’s a bit of anxiety. Feeding, whether we’d put her right into her crib or keep her close to us in a bassinet, but most importantly, birth. 

I truly lead with this mentality of, “whatever happens, happens. As long as she is safe and I am safe, how she is born won’t matter to me.”

I remember going into my 20-week ultrasound so excited to see my active little babe and as the tech started the scan, I saw her type on the screen, “breech.” I turned to her and said, “I know it’s so early so it doesn’t even matter, but technically if I went full term and she stayed breech, I would have to have a c-section?” The tech confirmed that, but also told me I had so much time and she had so much room. I left that ultrasound still feeling aligned with the whole, “whatever happens, happens” headspace. 

I was the first out of my childhood friend group to get pregnant. I don’t have an older sister and I’m the oldest cousin. So much of what I knew about pregnancy and babies I realize now was from movies or television shows. I didn’t know your stomach dropped when the baby went head down, I didn’t know you could have an anterior placenta, nothing. But as Monrow grew bigger, my stomach never dropped. Chick was comfy in my ribcage. 

At 34 weeks, I woke up that day and did a bump check. I remember feeling a new kind of pressure lower in my belly and I couldn’t wait to get to the doctor that afternoon to confirm that she had turned head down. I was sure of it. 

During my check up, my doctor felt around, said that she was almost positive she felt her head below, but when I came back at 36 weeks, she wanted to confirm it on an ultrasound. I came back at 36 weeks, again confident she was where she was, “supposed to be,” and within 45 seconds of the ultrasound the tech smiled, ‘Oh! We’ve got a breech baby!”

I remember I started to sweat. My heart started to race a little bit. Breech baby meant c-section. Was I going to have to have a c-section? Was I not going to be able to deliver this baby vaginally? I had spent the entire 36 weeks thinking I was completely unattached to any sort of birth plan, but I don’t think I realized how attached I was to a vaginal birth until I was told I probably wouldn’t have one. 

My doctor made me feel so much better. Telling me the reality was that Monrow still had so much room and fluid to be able to flip, but the likelihood of her turning at this stage was low. But she assured me that they’d keep an eye on it and even when I came in for the c-section, they’d confirm with an ultrasound before they did anything.

That day my c-section was scheduled for 1/10/22. 

Not going to lie, I left the appointment so upset. I felt like I had failed. I felt like I did something wrong, I must have. Was it my workouts? Was it simply my body? I almost immediately went into this self-doubt spiral, like it was all my fault.

It’s wild how mean we can be to ourselves sometimes, isn’t it?

I don’t know why there is such a stigma around c-sections, or why I felt like I “messed up” birth. Honestly, thank god for c-sections, because they allow so many beautiful babies to be safely brought into this world. I guess what it was back then, was that I never envisioned it being the way Monrow would be born. I used to joke that I would be pure dripping sweat, doing breathwork like a crazy person, screaming in the delivery room pushing her out for hours. The fact that it was likely not going to go down that way was emotional for me to come to terms with. 

Weeks went on, still no flip. I was doing absolutely everything I could to try and get her to turn. Acupuncture, Moxa, Chiropractor, Inversions. You name it, I did it. Shocker, but Ms. Control Freak over here was trying desperately to control one of the most out of control experiences in life.

Week 38 rolled around, and I had one of the craziest experiences of my life. I was woken up in the middle of the night to what I thought was blaring music. I kept my eyes closed for a bit, trying to tune it out. I even put a pillow over my head to cover my ears, but I kept hearing this one song clear as day, “Fade Into a Dream” by LEON. Still half asleep, I sat up and opened my eyes, expecting to see that the TV had been accidentally turned back on by one of the dogs, but it was off. Once I opened my eyes, the music stopped. I remember sitting in bed so confused, but then felt this rush of calm sweep over me. Something inside of me knew it was either Monrow or my Grammy sending me a sign, communicating with me telling me to let go. Let it all fade into a dream. This was going to go the exact way it was meant to go down and all I could do at this point was either choose to continue to fight it or choose to allow it. 

So that’s what I did. 

I spent the next week just getting my headspace right. Listening to beautiful hypnosis tracks recorded by my friend Andrea. Going to the chiropractor to set my body up for the c-section. Working out, resting. I released all control and trusted that Monrow knew exactly what she was doing. We were in this together. 

1/10/22

My c-section was scheduled for 6:00AM that morning. We had to get to the hospital at 4:00AM for intake. We showed up right on time with enough luggage for two weeks, you would have thought we planned to move into Prentice. 

Right at 4:00AM, a nurse took us back to the pre-op room. I changed and was prepped on monitors. I couldn’t believe how surreal it felt. I just kept saying, “are we literally about to have a baby!? This is so insane!”

At 6:00AM, they walked me into the OR to get ready. Daniel had to stay back as they gave me the spinal and got me all set up in the room. By 6:25AM, Daniel was at my side rubbing my face, kissing me and telling me how great I was doing. I asked if he could play music from my phone, my friend Sam had made us a special delivery playlist with music she knew would calm me down. He pressed shuffle and just like that I started to hear the intro to, “Fade Into a Dream.” I knew again, that this was happening exactly as it was meant to, every single second of it. 

10 minutes later, at 6:35AM, Monrow was born. 

8lbs even, 20.5 inches. She was perfect. 

My doctor told me afterwards that nothing was obstructing her, her cord wasn’t too short, there was literally nothing preventing her from flipping. For whatever reason, she just didn’t want to. She knew that this was the way she wanted to be born, just like she knew it was her time to come into our lives when I got pregnant. Monrow was decisive before she even took her first breath. 

Looking back on it, I feel so insanely grateful for the way she was born. I feel so grateful that we were both safe and I feel so grateful for that night I was woken up by that song, because I think if I hadn’t gotten to a point where I let myself accept what was inevitable, my experience would have been so entirely different.

Reading people’s c-section birth stories before I had mine were so triggering to me, so I want to spare the actual operation details. Everyone’s bodies are so completely different, and every birth story is so incredibly individual. 

But if you are reading this, and you have to have a c-section planned or unplanned, the main thing I hope you take away is simple. You did it. You gave birth and you did amazing. Nothing you did was wrong, you definitely didn’t fail. Birth plans, birth stories don’t define who we are as mothers. C-section mamas are some of the bravest people I know. Your baby and your body knew exactly what needed to happen and I hope you feel so empowered by that. 

COURAGE, SACRIFICE, DETERMINATION, COMMITMENT, LOVE.
THAT IS WHAT LITTLE GIRLS AND BOYS ARE MADE OF.

xx, Jacq

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