23 Jan Momspiration Monday // Beth’s Story
February 27, 2003 at 7:13pm I turned to my sister, as if to take a victory lap, and said, “I think Preslie and I just had our first fight.” I was beat down and worn out but so in love and still smiling.
My active labor began a little before 5:00pm. I had been “pushing” for well over two hours. To put that in perspective it would be the equivalent of a Dancing with the Stars season finally, minus the ball gowns and commercial breaks! For two hours, my knees were back by my ears, my vagina in full view. There is no white sheet to protect your modesty like the movies suggest. Located at the foot of the bed is the vagina nurse. Her job is the pre-game strategy on getting the baby’s head through an opening that typically entertains an object a little less intrusive. Her methods of choice are her two hands and some oil. She begins to go to work “stretching it out” in between contractions! All the while people are walking in and out of the room. Seriously, you might think? Who does all of this on purpose? Only a Mother! Epidural on, Epidural off, episiotomy, keep pushing, suction cup fails, push harder, rocking back and forth, she’s coming, she’s not. Exhausted and running out of adrenaline, I wondered, what next. The pediatrician was pacing in the background mumbling, “get that baby out”. I heard the doctor tell a nurse to start prepping the operating room. Instant panic set in and something inside me said, “oh hell no!” First mothers instinct maybe. I begged for one more chance, we were too far in to turn back now! One of the nurses asked the doctor to step aside. She handed me a towel and said, “I’m going to hold on to one end and give you the other. On the count of three…..1, 2, 3, pull!!!” and so I did… she struggled to keep her feet anchored, while another nurse grabbed hold of her to help. One PUSH, one PULL and out Preslie came! I remember the room cheering for only a few seconds as more doctors and nurses began rushing in. Preslie was not crying and in fact I would later find out she was barely breathing. I remember the doctor saying, “come on baby girl I need you to cry.” I was so clueless, exhausted, and hungry; it didn’t even dawn on me that there was anything wrong. I was taking my victory lap as I turned to my sister and said, “I think Preslie and I just had our first fight.” I held her for about a minute before the nurse took her; she would not return to my room that night. My doctor returned and broke the news to us that Preslie had failed her Apgar test and she would need to be transported to another hospital with a NICU. Ironically, This would be the first of many tests Preslie would fail. Testing in reading, social studies, math until it was later revealed that she was dyslexic. This created a nightmare of its own kind in her young academic life. Yet, looking back, it is an amazing reminder that she was a child born to persevere. It’s who she is and how she came; she has proven since birth that failing a bench mark test is no reason to assume she would not push through and continue to thrive. Never give up and never give in! As the nurses gave her to me to hold one last time before the transfer I vividly remember wanting her to feel peace in my body as I held her. Even though I was feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty, I powered up my mom strength, as we often do, and calmly whispered in her ear, “Baby girl you are a fighter of the strongest kind! You may be little but you are powerful and you have important things to do in this world. I love you so much….. Your Daddy and I love you so very much!”
Five days later, and many back and forth trips to the NICU Preslie was finally released from the hospital. She was so tiny in the small newborn clothes. As we left the hospital, we felt like the alarm was going to go off for stealing a baby. We tried so hard to look confident but everything felt awkward. I climbed into the back seat buckling her into the car seat with so much insecurity and worry. As we pulled out of the parking lot I remember tears of joy falling down my face as I looked at her perfect little mouth, tiny little hands and adorably small feet (covered in booties of course). I said to Chris, “She is like having my whole heart outside my body free to move around the world.” I have never felt so vulnerable yet amazing at the same time. “I love her so much”, then I started sobbing-true story- and said, “But at some point I am going to screw up! She will probably say she hates me because I am her MOM who is ruining her life!” He just laughed and then we both cried a little. I am pretty sure we both called our Mom’s that day just to tell them we loved them.
Four years later I gave birth to a boy. He was a scheduled c-section. When I heard him cry for the first time it was the most amazing sound I have ever heard. That night we refused the hospital nursery because we couldn’t stop staring at him. Neither of us could even close our eyes. Best all-nighter we ever pulled!
Over the years I have come to appreciate my “super power,” as my son calls it, that pushes me through some of the most difficult times. It is this power we have as moms that allow us the bravery to speak up when no one else will, and to take action when no one else will. There is no “giving up” in motherhood only more opportunities to do things differently. I have come to appreciate my “mother instinct” as a gift from God and not to second guess it. To always act swiftly and without hesitation as my decision making and actions can make all the difference. I understand that I will question my effectiveness often and I will have to look to others regularly for assistance and guidance. Because often throughout motherhood you will need friends, caregivers, teachers etc. in your life who will “throw you a towel” and tell you to PULL! I have learned to laugh at the seriousness of problems in order to facilitate grace in the solutions. Quite frankly after going through a birth of any kind the only way to reclaim your dignity is to tell some jokes. I have come to accept I will feel like the biggest failure and like an invincible Super Hero all in the same day. Children are the perfect catalyst for experiencing both. Without a doubt, I gladly accept all of that to be a Mother. My children are worth every battle and every scar. Every day spent with them inspires and requires me to grow. They tell the funniest jokes, give the most hilarious looks and say the most inappropriate things in the presence of strangers. Their smiles light up a room! Their love for each other makes my heart melt. They are smart, clever, persistent and always live life to the fullest! They are my whole heart! My everything!
It’s the little things they do that remind us good and bad how we are doing as Mothers. My daughter, who is now 13, favors my husband. She is a bit quiet and reserved. Rarely does she express her emotions about things so when she does I listen carefully. A year ago she told me she was never getting married and definitely not having children. This certainly took the wind out of my sails. I remember thinking, “Wow I must be making it all look so amazing!” I took notice of her words; a mother’s instinct maybe. I seized some opportunities to adjust and do some things differently. Just a few weeks ago she and I were talking about naming children and the dual meanings of acronyms for first, middle and last names. To my surprise she said to me, “I have always wanted to marry a man with a Y last name so I can give my child the initials JOY. My heart swelled and my eyes filled with tears. “Really?” I said with a giddy grin, and with the same giddy grin she looks back into my eyes and says, “Yes Mom, really”. I felt wholeheartedly, at least to this point, it was another victory. Without a doubt, Preslie is right, my children are the biggest JOY of my life!
43yrs old and an Austin native, Beth Armstrong currently lives in Kingwood, Texas with her husband of 13 years, Chris, and their two children Preslie Elizabeth  and Cannon Jake . When she’s supporting her kids at their different athletic events [cheerleading, basketball and football] you can find Beth working out in her garage with 40 of her closest friends! She has been passionately instructing group fitness for over 25 years. You can find more info about Beth and the Glam Garage at www.glamgaragefit.com
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