The lovely Harmony Younes, Noor (3), and Nadia (1).
"I really like hearing all the diverse stories and hearing from women who have all traveled this journey to motherhood. Motherhood isn't really celebrated in our culture, and I wanted to be part of telling the story, and to show what my path was. Maybe there will be someone who will be helped by hearing my story just as hearing from others helped me heal, and helped me realize there is no one way to become or to be a mother."
Harmony says that she had so many ideas about what she wanted out of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and almost none of it happened the way she imagined or wanted. As much as she believe it's important for women to feel like pregnancy and childbirth are safe normal things and not something to be feared and medicalized, she also felt completely blindsided by some of the things that happened for her. While pregnancy and birth went well, her milk never came in with either of her kids, and with Noor she didn't even know that was something that actually happens for some women. Harmony carried a lot of emotional pain over not being able to breastfeed, and not for lack of trying. She just always assumed she would breastfeed, so it was really hard to not be able to, and she struggled with the decision to ultimately feed Noor formula.
Harmony's second pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks just before she got pregnant with Nadia. They went in for their first appointment at 9 weeks and there was no heartbeat. While they were upset, neither of them were surprised because the day before the appointment her husband felt like something was wrong, and through the whole pregnancy up until that point she had been unable to see the end of it. At first she thought it was just that she didn't know what life would be like with two children but after they didn't see a heartbeat she knew she was feeling that way because the pregnancy was never going to result in a baby.
With Nadia she tried as well, but figured if it didn't work after a week or two, I would skip the three months of stress she had with Noor, and jump straight to the formula feeding without all the pain and guilt. Although her doctor was supportive of her wishes and she felt very supported during the process, Harmony had to be induced with both pregnancies. My first daughter was born completely without pain medication after a 4 day induction. After Noor was born she remembers thinking, "I'm glad I did it drug free, but not sure I need to do it that way again." With her second daughter she had an epidural at 8cm, fell asleep for 45 mins, and pushed her out in 20 mins after that. For that birth, the epidural was the best decision she could have made.
Harmony's doctor suggested waiting a week to see if she would miscarry naturally, but she didn't, and needed a D&C a week later. Nadia was conceived two months later and in her husband's religion, they believe that the soul doesn't enter the body until 4 months gestation so he feels like the soul of our baby is the soul that was meant for our family, but that body wasn't the right one, but maybe Nadia's body is. She feel's that if that pregnancy had been viable, they would never have had Nadia, and can't imagine life without her, so she didn't mourn the miscarriage too much.
"After 3 years of being a parent I definitely feel like all those things related to the birth and breastfeeding are less important than what I'm doing as a parent now that my children are here. That's not to say I didn't have intense emotional challenges to work through when things didn't go as planned but I feel like I've made peace with it."