My first of three miscarriages was in January 2017 after an unexpected positive pregnancy test. We hadn't been trying to get pregnant but we also hadn't been preventing since coming home from our honeymoon in October 2016. I didn't even think or know I was ready to have a baby until the positive test was staring back at me. And in that short week, between finding out that I might be a mom to miscarrying, my life had already changed--I had already dreamed a lifetime of dreams and hoped a lifetime of hopes, all of which came crashing down.
In an attempt to make myself feel better, I wrote the following list of reasons why I didn't want a baby yet (based on preconceived notions of what I thought motherhood would be like). I was scared that becoming a parent meant leaving everything I loved about my pre-baby days behind. Since our first baby joined us, I’ve discovered that it's a lot easier--and way more fun--than I had expected to introduce him to the activities we enjoyed together before he came along or having grandparents babysit him for us to go out and do things that he can’t do yet.
Before I share my misconceptions of motherhood (and my present-day rebuttals to pre-baby me), I want to preface the list to say that I am completely aware of my privilege and I know that many of these things would not be possible if I did not live close to family and did not have their support and a very hands-on partner in my husband. On the other hand, I'm a firm believer that we can design the exact life we want for ourselves through commitment, hard work and planning.
Yay I'm officially 30! Two years ago, I wrote an extremely ambitious list of 30 things I wanted to do before 30 and was able to do cross off 15 items in those two years. Not too shabby.
I'm a firm believer in the law of attraction (and focus and hard work) so I make a lot of lists. Writing down exactly what I want to achieve helps me clear my head and focus on my goals. Below is my list of 40 things I want to do before 40. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own goals.
Taking time to reflect and plan ahead is extremely important to me. It's not so much about nostalgia but of learning from my past self and deciding how to intentionally move forward in my life.
For me, journaling has been a crucial part of my life for 18 years. It's my therapy and has helped me deal with and overcome a lot of trauma. It's also where I allow myself to dream and tell the universe exactly what I want out of my life. By goal-setting every year, I make sure I express what I want to achieve, what I want my life to look like, even if I fall short sometimes.
Today I turn 30 and over the course of the past several weeks, I've been reading my journals from my twenties to reflect on this decade, see how I've grown, which (if any) of those goals I still want to pursue and plan for the decade ahead. While I was reading my journals, I found an entry from seven years ago, when I was about to turn 23, entitled "For Christina on her 30th Birthday."
I had totally forgotten about it but sentimental 23-year-old me had the foresight to know that 30-year-old me would find this to be so special. Here's the letter I wrote to myself for my 30th birthday:
After telling my birth story to a dozen women and being met with awe and disbelief, I’ve come to realize how unusual my natural childbirth experience truly was. And I know how easily and quickly my labor and delivery could have turned into the one I had been dreading.
A quick recap of how it all went down: On the morning of Valentine’s Day, I felt a contraction which caused what I thought was my water to start breaking (no one ever figured out when it actually broke because the amniotic sac was still intact at 6 cm dilated). Throughout the day, I had irregular contractions associated with early labor. I went to lunch with my friend, got my nails done (my manicurist asked me how far along I was and I didn't want to tell her that I was already in labor haha), finished packing my hospital bag and spent the remainder of the evening resting at home all while timing my contractions. Steve went to Trader Joe’s to buy salad, cheese, crackers and snacks on his way home from work. Some of that ended up being our romantic Valentine’s dinner since my contractions were getting too strong for me to feel like I could enjoy our dinner reservations.
Around 1:30 am on February 15, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and lasted for one minute. At 3 am, we left home and headed to Kaiser Sunset. My husband called our doula who joined us at the hospital. My midwife's shift at the hospital started at 9 am so I was put in the care of the OBs and nurses on duty until then. After exams, they determined that I was 2 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced and said that it could still "be days" before I deliver. They were concerned because our baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction. They admitted me, hooked me up to an IV of fluids to see if dehydration was causing it, put me on continuous fetal monitoring and told me that if things hadn’t progressed in a few hours, they would have to induce me.
The dreaded word: induction! They offered me medication to deal with the contraction pain and I rejected it. By 5 am, I was in my delivery room, laboring in whichever way felt comfortable. I used a peanut ball, walked around, ate some snacks. Every fifteen to thirty minutes, someone came in to check how I was doing and offered to administer pain medication. “We have something that could take your pain away,” they said. I turned them down every time, but I could see how tempting it would be and how someone could feel pressured to accept.
After reading dozens of "30 Books to Read Before Turning 30" or "30 Books to Read Before You Die" lists to find one that resonates with me, I have decided to simply create my own. Who else knows my wants and needs better than me? My list of the 30 Best Books to Read Before 30 is partly borrowed from other lists, includes older books that I have been wanting to read for a long time and others that I have just discovered or that were recommended by friends. There is a mix of self-improvement and career books, non-fiction, classics and modern literature. If it suits you, feel free to read along or use my list of best books to read before 30 as inspiration for creating your own reading list.