"It's been three hours of pushing, your baby's head is right behind your pelvic bone, so we will need to change what we are doing to deliver her safely and keep her heartbeat up. You can opt for a c-section or we can use the vacuum. I feel really safe that we can do the vacuum."
This isn't how I imagined the birth of my daughter would go. I was told that with me being so small and my husband at 6'7", it could be difficult to deliver my baby. I didn't want to have a c-section. I looked at my husband Jonas and said, "we're going with the vacuum". This wasn't what I was planning for, but I knew I could do it. I am resilient and knew I could face this change of plans.
Working through change and being adaptable is something that I've had to do quite often as a gymnast.
After years of training, and many ups and downs in my gymnastics career, I qualified in the 2020 Olympics for Vault. It was a dream come true, but because of a rule in the Olympics allowing only two per country for the event, other girls from the USA would be competing in Vault. I would be going home after the preliminary competition. It was heartbreaking. That night, I was in my room crying and I believed my Olympic dreams were over. I wasn't going to get my chance for what I had worked so hard for and wondered why it never worked out how I wanted it to. I had been through so many obstacles to get here. While I was in my room, a small voice kept telling me, "it's not over yet" but I wasn't sure what that meant. I decided to stay and support my fellow gymnasts for Team Finals.
At Team Finals, another USA gymnast that had qualified, Simone Biles,got the "twisties", something that makes gymnasts unable to complete their skills in the air. This made Simone decide to drop out of the competition. I was getting a drink and received news from my coach telling me to stay and that I would compete in Vault Finals. The feeling of guilt swept over me when texting Simone later that night after she told me she wouldn't be competing in Vault and there was no one else she'd rather have competing than me. She wouldn't be able to compete for this medal anymore and it was an honor for me to take her place.
The next two days I trained and adapted to the quick change of plans. It was a whirlwind. I competed in Vault and was able to take home the Silver Medal. I was so grateful for this ending to my gymnastics career.
Training to be an Olympian and having the dedication and discipline to compete at this level prepared me for my next phase in life. My dream as a little girl was to go to the Olympics and to become a mom. Now, two years after winning the Silver Medal, my other childhood dream was finally coming true.
In the delivery room, once the vacuum was prepared, we pushed, and our beautiful Charlotte was here. It was a miracle from heaven and I couldn't believe I had done something that incredible.
Gymnastics was hard but giving birth was on a whole new level, I felt so accomplished for making it through the difficulties that arose and finally meeting our sweet baby girl.
Transitioning into motherhood has been incredible, and hard...with lots of tears. I was told by everyone that if I could make it through the first two weeks then things would get easier. But, they didn't. You're not given a manual. And each baby is so different. There was a lot of trial and error and trying everything under the sun to figure out what works best for Charlotte.
After those first two weeks, things did not get easier. Lottie had colic and would cry and scream and be uncomfortable from 4-5 hours, two times a day. She was miserable, we were struggling because not many things soothed her. Competing in the Olympics definitely helped me because when I thought times were getting hard, I knew that I had done hard things and I can do this. I am a strong person. In Gymnastics, you learn discipline, respect, and how to work hard, and I have been able to implement that into motherhood. Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done.
During this time we were being cheered on by everyone. Family came over to help, and I believe their presence saved my mental health from declining. Friends and strangers on the internet encouraged me with one of the best compliments you can receive, "you are a good mom, you are a good mom"!
Charlotte is now over two months old and her colic has subsided. Each week things get easier, and seeing her little personality come out is rewarding and makes motherhood so worth it.
I was worried about the backlash I would receive from people on the internet, but I have been given nothing but love and kind words from others. I thought my support in the Olympics was unmatched, but bringing Lottie into our family has shown me that support is all around and there's always somebody cheering me on- the good days and the bad.
I hope that by sharing my story here and on my social channels that other mothers can see it is okay that it's hard. It's normal to feel like an awful parent and not enjoy parts of motherhood. I want to be cheering others on like many did for me. Being vulnerable is being strong. But, being resilient and knowing that even in the throws of difficulty, that there is so much good and joy intertwined. Things do get better.
Charlotte has been worth more than a silver medal, she is my gold medal. She is my everything and a miracle come true.