The Most Difficult Yet Best 5,172,000 Minutes of My Life

From the time I was 24 years old to 34 years old, almost a decade, I was either pregnant or nursing one of my five children. I am currently 38 years old which means that for exactly one quarter of my life, my body has been growing and nourishing another precious human life. If you are counting, that is approximately 8.9 years, 3,175 days, or 86,200 hours that my amazing physical body has been working to sustain life.

For me, pregnancy happens very easily. Which I recognize does not happen for all women and for some women may never happen. Each of us will have our own unique experiences and no one’s story is the same. But for me pregnancy and childbirth has and is truly a gift. Most of my pregnancies were easy, though I did suffer most of the usual comforts and joy that comes along with it. The fear, worry, anxiety, discomfort, and sleepless nights were a common thread through all five. But I also experienced the joy, excitement, amazement, and pure love you feel for the growing child within you.

I was working full time as a high school biology teacher and was the student body advisor when I was pregnant with my first child. So, needless to say…I was busy. I was on my feet all day teaching and then spent most of my evenings at the school for events, assemblies and student dances and activities. All was well until my 31st week. Due to the long hours and standing, I developed serious edema and swelling issues in my feet and ankles. You could press your finger into my ankle and leave an inch deep impression in my swollen, fluid filled skin. My doctor ordered me to teach sitting down. Then within the next week, I started to develop some intense itching. The itching became unbearable and I went to my doctor to discuss some relief options. I was diagnosed with PUPPPS otherwise known as Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. The cause of this condition is largely unknown, but many believe that in first time pregnancies mothers develop a sensitivity to the tissue and DNA of her developing child. This is a harmless condition to both the mother and her child but can cause a rash along with a horrible and intense itch over her abdomen, legs, and arms.

The itching was horrendous. I can remember feeling like I wanted to scratch my skin right off due to its intensity. It was relentless and nothing I did seemed to lessen the intensity. I felt I would go mad and even had to wrap my hands in ACE bandages at night to prevent myself from scratching hard enough to break open my skin. I was taking medication that seemed to do nothing for me. It was a long 5 weeks. Then at exactly 37 weeks, I went into labor. When I got to the hospital, they were able to give me an epidural which was like a welcoming blanket of peace and relief…not because of the labor pains, but because I no longer felt like my skin was crawling. I slept for a few hours like I hadn’t slept weeks…which was not an exaggeration. I woke up when they came in to check me. Then just a couple of hours later, I was holding my beautiful first born son.

Nothing could have prepared me for the intense and pure love that I experienced in those first few moments of his life. I knew that my life had changed instantly and forever. It was no longer about me and my husband, but was all about this new life that we had created and been blessed with. The path from that moment on has been filled with a lot of emotional ups and downs. We have since added four more precious babies to our family unit. And despite all the crazy emotions, the ups and downs and the difficulties, it has been worth every 5,172,000 minutes of it!

Becoming pregnant changed my life, and I’d love to hear more about your best or most difficult pregnancy moments. By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an all expenses paid trip to a conference on mothers hosted by the UN Foundation in DC (Jan/Feb 2012), an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs September 19 to October 16, 2011. A random winner will be announced by October 18, 2011.

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