by Jessica Fisch
Having a baby is a momentous occasion. The experience shakes the core of who you are in every single aspect of life. From the time that little white stick reads “+,” your emotional, physical and mental state as a person – now parent – is never ever the same. The demands of parenthood begin well before the birth of the child, and immediately take their toll. As first time parents, we commonly try to ease into the role of “mother” and “father” by preparing ourselves as best as we can. We sort through piles of literature – books, magazines, and pamphlets. We Google, we ask others, we relate to sources that tell us what fruit our growing baby resembles. We depend on these resources to tell us, what we can expect.
This process of learning, of growing accustomed and excited by the idea of adding a person to our already busy and congested lives is necessary, and as new Mommy’s (and Daddy’s) we love it. Preparedness is a natural and necessary part of the journey. Its fun, it’s exhilarating, it’s new, and it gets us ready for the biggest event of our lives. There is a side to this “getting ready for baby,” however, that fools us into believing that we are in fact, ready for baby. Ready to grow a baby, ready to give birth to a baby, and ready to raise that baby into adulthood. As we all know, parenthood does not come with an instruction manual (although wouldn’t that be nice?) and unfortunately, neither does the process of giving that baby, LIFE.
Every time a child is born, every time new life is birthed, there is a story to be told about how it came to be. Sometimes it’s a story of excitement, sometimes complications; other times of worry and fear. And whether you’re becoming a parent for the first time, or all over again, the story will always end the same way. Like a fairy tale – happily ever after. No matter what happens or doesn’t happen during pregnancy or in life overall at this time – whether your story is a tale of met expectations or of the element of complete surprise – the birth of a child, is always, happy.
Like every good thing though, there is a cost for the bliss that comes with baby. First we must be tested, physically, emotionally, socially, financially… in our relationships, within ourselves… the list goes on. The birth process is not an easy one to commit to. For mothers and fathers, child birth is hard. For moms, the physical aspect of our pregnancy stories are controlled entirely by the differences in our bodies. Some women take to pregnancy immediately. They get the “glow,” they radiate femininity and joy and they feel great! For some, pregnancy is a time of peak physical health and happiness. For others, the glow never comes. You feel dull, tired and well… just plain sick. Your sweet angelic baby – that you continue to dream about despite your never-ending nausea – seems to be sucking the life out of your every cell and for some reason; you just can’t seem to shake that desire for sweat pants, pillows and chocolate chip cookies. In this aspect of becoming a mommy, medically, that is, we must be prepared. For the sake of our own health, and also for the sake of our sweet babies growing inside we have to be as educated as possible and can never be too cautious. When questions arise medically, our outside resources are essential. Recently, Kapiolani Medical Center, an incredible resource for mommy’s old and new, created a free App for just that. Hapai is an at-your-fingertips solution for the questions, concerns and need for preparedness that arise throughout your growing nine months. With weekly updates on baby’s growth, and an overview of the expected changes that will happen in your own body – Hapai is a resource every mommy should find, use, and use often to aide and protect our everchanging minds and bodies.
In addition, the App provides relevant checklists, shopping lists, weekly name suggestions and even a place for personal notes and questions for your care provider. Hapai is a great tool to have on hand from the moment of conception until baby is safely in your arms. It is a factual (and fun!) way to get through pregnancy and to the start of labor.
Another entirely unique chapter of our parenting stories is labor and delivery, which will never ever go exactly as we plan. As prepared parents, we write and re-write our birth plans. We decide on going “all natural” or with getting the help of medical relief. We hope for perfect timing and we pack according to our pregnancy checklists, which we double and triple check. But while our bodies handle the pregnancy chapter of our stories, our now ready-to-join-the-world Keiki, are responsible for the decisions made in this phase of the journey. As mommies and daddies this part of becoming parents is simply put: a hope and a dream. We can dream of an easy labor, we can hope for the doctor of our choice, but in reality, our babies – their health, their readiness and willingness to join the world is all that matters. Allowing them that freedom, by trusting that it is their little souls who know best – helps to create a perfectly unexpected ending for Mommy and baby alike.
If there’s one thing we know about the complications and surprises of pregnancy, it’s that it is always worth it. But before we get to tell the tales of our journeys into parenthood, we must endure nine months, of quite possibly the most uncomfortable, unpredictable, and unexpected situations that will ever occur in our lives. Whether planned or unplanned, pregnancy, especially for the first time, is amazing. The capabilities of the female body are astounding and leave every mom proud to call herself female. But as we quickly find out, it is also scary. It’s messy, and sometimes… it’s simply gross. The process our bodies go through to create a tiny human inside of us is nothing short of a miracle. With absolutely no conscious effort, our bodies change, adapt, and do their very own sort of preparing. This process, with its almost impossible level of complexity, will, no doubt, create some questions along the way that can’t be found in a book or pamphlet. It is here – in the gray areas of creating a life, of rearing and raising a child, where we find the most important lessons we will learn throughout the entire process. Without the aid of a book or an App… we’re taught to expect, the unexpected: to acquire the ability to take life’s surprises as they come and to truly appreciate them is an incredible rite of passage in creating your own path to parenthood. While bringing a life into this world is beautiful and natural and awe inspiring… it is also completely unpredictable. And there, in that infinite puzzle, is where our unique and individual stories of how we become parents, get written. And it is there, that we will forever find our happiest endings.