Wow. There are no words to describe how happy I am that this lil ol blog has seen so many new people in the last few days since the Pressure to Breastfeed post was published. I hope that you stick around to read other posts. I’m working on a new linky post for the next day or so. Thanks for being here, dear readers!!
It’s no surprise to anyone in the birthing community that breastfeeding is being more heavily encouraged. More hospitals are obtaining an official “Baby Friendly Hospital” status, which means that baby will be placed skin to skin, encouraged to nurse within the first hour, room in with mom, and breastfeeding encouragement throughout the mom’s stay. She is given a pumping kit to use and take home as she tries to help her milk come in. Sometimes, mom may use a spoon or syringe to feed baby the tiny drops of precious colostrum while they both continue to learn how to latch and nurse. This all sounds wonderful, right? Sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, breastfeeding is just not going to work. Or maybe it does, but mom feels frustrated or is in pain. There are a laundry list of reasons why breastfeeding may or may not work out. Here is the one thing you need to know, my friends, that ANY amount of breastfeeding is awesome, even if it is only for one day! You did it!! Don’t you let ANYONE discourage you or tell you that you “failed” at breastfeeding.
Below, is a story that a mom shared on a motherhood group I’m apart of on Facebook. This group has nearly 1000 members. Of all the stories and questions I’ve ever seen there, this story struck my heart. Right to the core. I was instantly weeping for this woman. With her permission, I am sharing her story below. As a warning, this may trigger something you’ve experienced. It involves breastfeeding, three-stepping, and post-patrum depression. I have talked with Chelsea a few times since she shared her story and she’s an incredible mother!! I feel honored to share her story. I know she is not alone. If you or someone you know has experienced something similar, please share this post.
This is the saddest thing I will ever write…ever. It makes me even sadder that I want to share it because that means that someone else is just as sad and needs to hear this to validate their sadness and hopefully feel understood. I felt completely misunderstood and like a flat our terrorist in my community of Colorado Crunchy Mothers when I “failed” at breastfeeding.
It all started out so well. I am a yoga teacher, fit, fertile, and was READY to have a baby! I got knocked up on my first try after getting my IUD yanked and man was I ready to be a Mommy! My husband and I moved out of the city back to our small town “community” of friends and family and my other family known as my “yoga family.” As the cosmos would have it we all got pregnant within WEEKS of one another. A bunch of us would gather at our studio for our prenatal yoga classes then waddle down the block to gorge on ribs and cake, feeling blissful about being able to indulge during our pregnancies. Ahhh, bliss! We all talked about our plans to chant mantra during our contractions and some of us wanted home births some of us too scared to do so BUT, would totally have a Doula there, no matter what to tell our Doctors (who have a PHD not a Doula Cert) to shove it when we beg for pain meds. Yes, we all had a plan…
Then we all signed up for a “Goddess Breastfeeding Course.” Wowza was this some crazy informational stuff; there was even a PowerPoint presentation! I bought a copy of Ina May’s “Guide to Breastfeeding,” and read it cover to cover. I was ready. Ready for my “as natural” as possible childbirth and my breastfeeding success! I even went as far as being a bit of a snark to new Mom’s in my “Welcome to Motherhood” Facebook group who were “struggling” to nurse. I think I even said something like…”read this book and it will fix all your problems,” or “don’t you know how easy this should be? It is our gift to our babies..blah blah fuck me, blah.” So yeah, I was a psycho preggo bitch who had not a CLUE what the hell I was up against. So that is how it went for my second trimester. Prenatal yoga, ribs, boobs, birth, yadda yadda. I felt good.
Then my crotch started to hurt, like hurt nonstop and I started to not be able to walk as easily then one day I fell. My back went out and I fell on the floor and was stuck there for hours before my husband came home and found me. This was the beginning of the end…the end of all of my prenatal dreams, my mental health, my nursing efforts…my everything. I was diagnosed with SPD, which basically means my vagina was expanding too much. Ouch, huh. So, I was put on pain meds for the remainder of my pregnancy and was also restricted from yoga, exercise and existing in the world altogether. Depression set in, and it got really scary.
My midwife was concerned and wanted to put me on anti-depressants during my 36th week but I refused, worried that it would get passed along to the baby in my milk, because I was still going to nurse damnit! I knew deep down I was headed for a C-Section but I kept it secret and kept up with my crunchy friends and their amazing pregnancies. They all felt sorry for me but told me to hang in there, they will BE THERE FOR ME. Famous last words.
After 3 months of misery I went in for a prenatal visit to find out that we needed to go ahead and get baby out. My fluid was low and I was in so much pain it wasn’t really worth the wait anymore…we were a bit scared. I went in the next morning with all of my loving family by my side, my amazing husband who had put up with my craziness (crazy was just starting by the way, he had no idea what was yet to come) and checked into the hospital, ready to go. Within 45 minutes my son was out, squealing and totally folded in half, frank breech and 7lb 8oz. I was so happy to have him OUT! I was reunited with him in recovery very fast and we started nursing right away. It didn’t even hurt and I got this insane drunk love feeling that rocked my world…I was hooked.
That first day would be the only day that I felt this way…
In Colorado, we had the flood of the century the day my son was born in September. It was national news and my doctors were running around like chickens with their heads cut off treating patients from surround hospitals that were not accessible. We began to fall through the cracks. I had amazing nurses, amazing! They all helped with the latch which was not going well and were all sympathetic to my fatigue and even showed me how to use my breast pump which we were seeing some colostrum come out of. However my son was not amazing, he was miserable. He screamed nonstop for the first 3 days of his life, only stopping out of sheer exhaustion and what I can only imagine defeat from not being fed. He began to turn yellow and look thin but I was in such a haze I didn’t really notice. Then the nurses started to raise their eyebrow at my mental condition. My midwife stopped my husband in the hall and said “watch her, I am worried…” I was a mess…my mother came to my side and begged me to rest but no, I had to get this nursing down, I had to it was vital. Everything else had been ripped from me; I had to get this right.
A new nurse came in the last day I was in the hospital. She was pregnant and so sweet. She took one look at my situation and suggested we “supplement.” I had been warned of this phrase, RED ALERT! NO! My husband was beginning to get angry and he is cool by nature. He made the call, he gave my son his first bottle of formula. My son sighed and cooed and drank it up like his life depended on it, which it may have. Meanwhile, I had not gotten a weight on my son since his birth, and we were about to be discharged. I asked the nurses to weigh him and I heard gasps from all of them. “That cannot be right, weigh him again.” Silence. “Oh, my, god.” The lactation consultant came over and said he had dropped 20% of his body weight to 6.4lbs and we had to alert the pediatrician right away. The pediatrician who had signed our discharge papers, the one who SAID we could go home. My poor baby, he had morphed from a healthy glowing bundle to a yellow, eyes clenched shut, stiff, stressed infant that was not happy…I decided to give in. We gave him formula the rest of the day and they let us go home, and we had a follow up the next day. I snapped a picture of him at the hospital on our way out in his going home outfit, and to this day it haunts me. He looks terrifyingly unhealthy and I save it as a reminder of how far we have come.
At the follow up they gave me what is called a 3 step plan. This plan means you nurse, supplement and pump…EVERY single time you feed. Around the clock. So, I had my hospital grade pump rented from the pharmacy and that is what I did for 3 weeks. I was delirious, I was so drained I couldn’t even muster up the energy to leave the house, eat or shower. I sat on the couch with my boppy, baby, pump and tiny bottle of formula. The rare times my son was satiated from nursing only gave me small triumphs that kept me going. Meanwhile, my Crunchy Mom Friends were all having their babies and their boobs were turning into Pam Anderson boobies and flowing milk and oxytocin bliss all over the place. Mine were not. Mine were pitifully producing hardly anything and that blissful feeling of drunk love was lingering and then soon gone.
This went on for another 3 weeks…It was then I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. My midwife took one look at me and said here is a prescription and you need to go buy formula, lots of it and use it. This has to stop. You cannot sustain this. I had just come to terms with this on the long ride home when my family arrived to see the baby. I heard a knock at the door and my neighbor bum rushed me and grabbed my son and looked dead into my eyes and said, “How is nursing going?” I quietly replied that I was trying but was having a tough time. “Awe, well don’t give up, it is the best thing you know. You have a good looking husband, a beautiful son why are you so sad?…blah blah blah,” I tuned out after that. My sister in law braced me and I excused myself into my bathroom where I wept for the millionth time, cursed god and grew even further from my son emotionally.
Meanwhile my friends were also giving me the same guilt trip but not a ONE came over to check on me or ask me how I was doing emotionally. I was falling apart. I even received an email from a friend (a man friend) saying I was a child abuser for using formula and that I was setting my son up for failure…this person has a Master’s Degree…and is an asshole.
This was it, I shut down I lost it. I was still 3 stepping my nursing and it was becoming exhausting. The only time I actually saw my son was to nurse him. Other than that my husband would take care of him or me…which was exhausting for him. I would send him to buy formula because I was too ashamed to do it myself. I would hide in my car and mix bottles of formula and hope people would think it was pumped breast milk I was giving to my baby. I started seeing a therapist at this point and taking medication.
I had become a total stranger in my body. I didn’t even recognize myself. I also gained more weight than I had during pregnancy because I was eating all the crap my friends suggested, taking supplements that made me sick and was NOT sleeping or taking care of myself. I was a train wreck for the first 3 months. On the day my son turned 3 months old I sat in bed and looked my husband in the eye and said, “I need you to tell me to stop, I need you to say Chelsea, stop this and it will all be ok.” So he did and I cried and died a little inside.
Later my friends and family would say things like, “you tried harder than anyone I have ever seen! You did your best.” The only people who told me I was a success was my husband my mother and my new friends who were not crunchy. “You did it for 3 months! You did it! You succeeded, not failed!” I still didn’t buy it until around 6 months postpartum. The fog started to lift a bit and I was dried up so my son wasn’t screaming every time I held him and I started to make bottles like it was second nature. They no longer felt like hot torches of failure in my hands, they felt comforting! I thought how amazingly lucky I am…to be able to have access to formula for my son. I am thankful to have the means to afford formula for my son. How thankful and blessed I am for that.
I changed myself forever during this process. I purged the judgmental, know it all person and turned into a humble, kind, grateful person who wants more than anything to advocate for new mothers struggling with mental illness and breastfeeding challenges. That shit is no joke. I was on the verge of being put into an institution and my doctors thankfully decided I was sane enough to go home and safely take care of my baby after they saw me at my 3-month postnatal checkup.
I have made new friends who feel for me and can appreciate my struggle and not judge me for how I feed my child. They judge my character, my authenticity as a person, as a mother and for the love I show when I feed my baby and when I do all the things Mommies do for their babies. I am a mother, I may not be perfect but I fought someone else’s war. I fought a war not meant for me. I fought out of fear, the fear of not fitting into everyone’s ideals of motherhood. That is my only regret. I do not regret switching to formula, I do not regret ditching those crunchy nut job friends and I do not regret the negativity I got from others…I regret the fear and letting that rule my first few months of motherhood.
That is the saddest thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve written it now, and I hope that someone out there reads this and I hope you are not as sad as I was. Know that you are loved, so loving and amazing. You create your reality with your baby; do not let fear create a chaotic, judging environment. I am happy to say that today my son is awesome, in every way possible! He is 18lbs 4 oz and is almost 9 months old and is the light of my life. I am hoping by sharing this story I can shed the last of my pain, let it go…air it out. My son said “ma ma” today and looked at me. I cried and knew it was time to share this.
Now go mix up that bottle Mama, and love that baby.
I woke up feeling crampy. I remember telling Geoff it felt like my period was on its way (which I know is ridiculous, but I was crampy, with lots of backache) I was some what uncomfortable throughout the day, and thought maybe my body was starting to get ready for labor.I asked Geoff to walk with me, so we went to Wal-Mart because it was cool and dark out by the time he got home. We walked around for an hour or two and I was just really uncomfortable. When we got home, I had a cup of Red Raspberry Leaf tea and took some evening primrose oil (I had been doing both for a few weeks, because they are both supposed to help with labor in different ways) so I drank a cup of tea and we went to bed. I thought I was having contractions, but I was feeling it mostly in my back and hips. I was able to get to sleep with back rub from the hubby.
I woke up at 2am with a bad gall bladder attack. I went into the bathroom and vomited several times and took a percocet and zofran. I vomited again shortly thereafter, and took another percocet and woke Geoff up. He decided we needed to head to the hospital because in the past, the percocet had not been enough to get the pain to a tolerable level. We got to the hospital around 3am and they checked me into labor and delivery (standard procedure for pregnant women). The nurse tried to check me because I was having contractions on the monitor, even though I wasnt aware of them. I was in a massive amount of pain, so she wasnt able to get a definitive measure of my cervix but thought I was about a fingertip dilated. I ended up declining pain meds at the hospital because the percocet finally kicked in, and I was feeling better. I felt stupid for going in, but in the end our experience has been that at home meds dont usually work, it has had to be IV pain meds because of the intensity of the pain. We left the hosptial at approximately 5 am and went home to sleep. Geoff fell right asleep in bed, and I curled up with him and my cat and tried to sleep. I slept for about 45 minutes or so, and woke up with back labor. I got up and made myself a pillow nest on the couch and put in a movie to try and center myself. I made myself some hot apple cider and toast and laid down on the couch. At around 7am I called my mom and chatted with her for about an hour. It was a really meaningful conversation for me, in the quiet of the morning there were no distractions or background noise on her end, which can be extremely difficult because they have a busy house :o). My mom said then that she thought I was in labor and that he’d be here by Wednesday, but I dismissed it and thought we were just warming up because I wasnt expecting him til after his due date (October 13). My mom and I made arrangements for her to come up on Monday because I wanted the company really badly and sometimes there’s nothing like time with mom. I was planning to have her come up and we could walk, and just hang out because I wasnt feeling great. After we hung up, Geoff woke up and we spent the day hanging out and resting from our looong night before. My contractions starting picking up around dinner time and lasted through the night. Geoff and I spent the whole night going from the bedroom to the living room to the bath tub on my hands and knees and so on. My contractions were irregular, and I was only feeling them in my back. Geoff spent the night providing counter pressure for the increasingly uncomfortable contractions I was having. We laid on the couch from about 11pm until 5am and watched Netflix while I worked through each contraction.
I spent a lot of time on my knees, bent over the ottoman while Henry ran back and forth between me and Geoff, worried about my groans and sways. I felt so powerful and womanly swaying and vocalizing through the contractions. Around 5am Geoff suggested a hot bath. I spent about an hour in the tub, trying to relax and welcome each contraction. At this point I was trying not to get my hopes up because my contractions were still very irregular ranging from 2 minutes to 10 minutes apart. At 7 am, as the sun was coming up, Geoff made some coffee and we decided to go for a walk. We slipped on our slippers and hoodies over our pajamas and walked around the neighborhood for half an hour. That walk was one of my favorite parts of the day, the neighborhood was very quiet, the sun was still low in the sky and the air was cool and we spent the time talking about our future son and labor and delivery. We discussed our hopes for our son, and about how we want him to grow up to be a sweet, loving, respectful man who is strong and hard working. I felt so close to my husband in those moments. I had a few contractions as we walked, and I stopped and held onto his neck and swayed through them. When we got home we rested some more and waited for my mom. My mom got here around 9:00am and suggested we call my midwife and see if we could go in and get checked. I was resistant because I didnt want to go in and be told I was at 1/2 cm and go home, it was a false start. Nevertheless, Geoff insisted so we called and made an appointment for 11am. We finished picking up a few things around the house and made sure the bag was packed just in case. We got the doctors office, and Terri Gross (one of the four midwives at the clinic) saw us. It took a while to get in so I spent 20 minutes on my knees, leaning over the back of a chair with contractions off and on. When we got back into the exam room, Terri checked me and excitedly announced I was at 6cm, 100% effaced, and +2. I was thrilled! We headed over the hospital! On the way, I called my dad and texted my siblings with the good news. Geoff called his parents and sister, who helped spread the word that we should have the baby that day!! Once we got checked in, I realized I forgot to bring a copy of my birth plan. I told my nurse that, and explained to her that I wanted a natural childbirth, I would prefer not to be asked what my pain level was or be offered pain meds. I also stated that if I got to the point where I was asking for pain meds, I was open to alternative means. This may have come back to bite me…Somewhere in there Geoff called Katie (our doula) and she arrived a few hours later. Once she got there we settled into a routine of me laboring while walking around the room, on my hands and knees leaning over the back of the bed and so on. My labor was all in my back and my contractions were getting quite strong. Katie had some great techniques to help me cope, including the use of a rebozo wrap, which went around my hips and allowed her to simultaneously help squeeze my hips, and put counter pressure on my intense back labor. I am not really sure how long we labored like that, because my sense of time disappeared.
We continued laboring together, Katie providing constant counter pressure and Geoff and my mom offering moral and emotional support. I cant give a definitive time line at this point because, like I said, my sense of time disappeared. At some point Kelly Jean came back in and wanted to check me again and I declined, because I knew I hadn’t progressed. I was getting frustrated and exhausted at this point. I had been awake roughly since 2 am Saturday morning, and we were now at 6 pm Monday night. My contractions were getting increasingly intense, but not becoming more regular. I think around 8 or so Kelly Jean came back in and decided to check me again. I was at 8 cm at this point and starting to feel despair. She thought breaking my water might help labor pick up so I tried to get comfortable on my side in bed so she could. This is one part of my birth experience i am not sure I would repeat. By breaking my water, I doubt the baby had any chance to turn, but at the time we werent sure what his position was. Once she broke my water, she was able to tell he was occiput posterior.http://www.birthingnaturally.net/birth/challenges/posterior.html That basically means he was facing my stomach instead of my back, so the back of his head (the occiput) was against my back, so it makes entering the birth canal extremely difficult. If they hadn’t broken my water, maybe he could’ve turned…but maybe not. He had a long time with lots of contractions to turn and didnt so there’s no telling what would have happened if we hadnt ruptured my membranes. My contractions became MUCH stronger at this point, and I was becoming extremely discouraged because I wasnt progressing very quickly and my contractions were starting to become unbearable. Before this point I was able to groan, moan and make throaty, low noises to cope through them, but at this point I was screaming. I have never felt anything so intense in my life. I started begging for it to end and was screaming for some one to make it stop. I finally asked for pain medicine, much to my own chagrin. I felt my hopes for a natural birth experience slowly draining away at this point, but I could no longer cope. The gave me a shot of something, and it helped for all of two contractions. I tried to keep laboring, but the pain in my back was becoming so intense I couldnt deal. My midwife suggested I get back in the bath tub to see if that provided any help, and I agreed. I dont know how long I was in there, but my mom sat with me for a while so Katie and Geoff could step out. I started becoming afraid of contractions at this point and remember being overwhelmed with the intensity of them. I got out of the bath tub and had a few contractions while sitting on the toilet. For some reason, my midwife wanted me to try laboring on the toilet but I HATED it. That was the worst position for me, I had to be either on my hands and knees or standing, I couldnt bear to sit through them. I remember holding onto the rail in the bathroom watching my legs shake. At this point, I was butt naked and remember registering some embarrassment that my doula and good friend was seeing me naked but mostly I didnt care. My legs felt like jelly and somehow I got back to bed and begged for the epidural. Kelly Jean suggested a sterile water block in my back at this point to help with the back labor, because it was supposed to act like counter pressure. My poor doula and hubby. Their wrists, hands and arms had to ache by now from the intense pressure they were applying. We tried the water block and it made it worse because they couldnt put pressure on my back anymore because it would undo the water block. I decided I had to have the epidural. I always thought once I asked for an epidural, it would be instant, but its not. It seems like it took at least an hour between finally convincing them to give it to me (remember I told them not to offer…yeah) and then I had to have at least half a bag of fluids in me and so on. Finally the anesthesiologist came in and I was sitting on the bed in a tank top and nothing else and I didnt care. He was really kind and helpful and got the epidural in place quickly and efficiently. He didnt do it too heavily, thankfully because once he left my midwife turned the lights off and told me to try and rest. I collapsed into bed, exhausted. Katie let me lay there for a few minutes or so and then told me I needed to get up on my hands and knees. I was able to do this even with the epidural, I still had control over my legs. She was hoping if I kept turning the baby would turn. At this point I became aware that his heart rate was dropping. My blood pressure was really low and I felt like I was going to black out. Katie helped me get on one side then the other so the epidural didnt pool on one side of my body. Kelly Jean came in and put two monitors on us. One under the scalp of the baby to better monitor his heart rate, and one next to his head to measure the strength of my contractions since I could no longer feel them. My contractions were getting less intense, which at this point told us that my labor was stalling. I was really distraught and Kelly Jean and another nurse came in and were surprised to see me up on my hands and knees, but were concerned about the baby. My blood pressure was very, very low and the baby’s heart rate was no longer indicating he was responding positively to the contractions. In fact it was the opposite, as my contractions peaked, his heart rate dropped. I was scared for my baby. They put me on oxygen to help my heart rate and blood pressure, and some where in here Geoff stepped out.
He came back and saw me oxygen and he became really upset and concerned about both me and the baby. My dad arrived at the hospital shortly after and I remember him coming back to see me, and holding my hand. All I could do at that point was lay there and hold my dad’s hand and try not to cry. I was so distraught at this point and discouraged that I had labored for so long for nothing. Kelly Jean came back because she was worried about the baby, she said we should monitor him for a few more minutes and see what happened and then decide whether to go forward with pitocin or a c-section. At the words “C-section” my heart went through my stomach. That was the last thing I wanted, but at the same time it meant my baby was so close to being in my arms and out of harms way. His heart rate continued to not respond the way we wanted and we made the decision. They told me two people could come back with me. I was torn. I knew Geoff would be there, but I didnt know if I wanted Katie or my mom to be the other one. I wanted my mom there because she’s my mom and I didnt want her to miss anything but Katie had been so supportive and she is an RN, so I felt safe having her there to lean on. We decided to have Katie and Geoff accompany me into surgery. The got me prep’d and wheeled me back. I dont remember the trip down there really, I just vaguely remember them transferring me onto the board and upping the epidural so I could go through surgery.
The curtain went up and Geoff sat by me and distracted me through the beginning of the surgery. Katie took some pictures for us and once our son was lifted out, Geoff went with him to see him be weighed, measured and cut the cord. Katie stayed with me as they sewed, stapled and otherwise put me back together. I could hear my baby crying and I started crying. I wasnt responding well to the anesthesia and started shaking violently and feeling very nauseous. The wonderful doctor who did my epidural and Katie worked together to get me stable and stop the shaking. Once I was ok, Geoff brought our son over for me to see. I remember crying my eyes out because he was incredibly beautiful. I wanted to kiss every inch of his tiny face.
They took him away again and Geoff went out into the recovery room to show him to our family. The wheeled me into recovery and I could see my whole family standing outside the window waiting for me. They had to put up the curtain at this point though because I started vomiting again. Once I was OK, they let everyone come back a few at a time to see me. My mom and Geoff and Katie were back there for a few minutes and I took the baby and held him to my breast and like magic, he latched right on! I could feel my heart swell at this little miracle in my arms. I had to have help holding him because of the epidural, but I felt my life change as I held my son for the first time. Eventually everyone came back for a few, and left, and they moved Geoff and I to our room. Katie accompanied us for a few to make sure we were OK and then she left. In hindsight, I am glad I tried everything I did before the epidural and c-section. I am sad that I failed in giving birth to my son naturally, but am thankful that we were in a safe place where we were able to use the miracles of modern science to deliver my son safely. It was worth it in the end and I am thankful everyday for this precious baby boy.
I see most people are starting school this week and I cannot wait to get going again, BUT I have been SO insanely anxious for this semester to start and I really am not sure why it’s worse this time than any other semester. I am taking anatomy and physiology and cultural anthropology. Both these classes apply to my field and I think I am just so worried about not doing well in A&P. I honestly am terrified of failing, which is silly because I know I won’t! Anyway, I start the day after labor day. Both classes are online. I LOVE the online environment. It works with my home and work life perfectly.
How much did you love Clark’s birth story? Wasn’t it just beautiful?! Another birth story will be going up on Monday so check back for that.
After today, I have a four day weekend with my babies and I cannot wait! I’m hoping the weather is perfect and warm so we can hit the beach at the lake and maybe the splash pad down the street.
Have a beautiful day!
No better way to kick off new birth stories than to share one from a mom who’s already shared a previous birth story! Heather is a dear friend and recently had her second baby last spring. You can read her first birth story of her daughter Julie HERE. This is an amazing display of natural, hospital birth where mom and dad maintain control, while also allowing their midwife and staff to care for them. Also, this is the definition of a precipitous birth! Heather, you nearly had a baby at home, my love! ;)
Clark’s Birth Story
I started losing my plug at 35 weeks and 2 days. That combined with the fact that my first baby arrived at 38 weeks and 2 days had me convinced this one would be early too. I was a little worried because my husband was best man at a wedding in Texas (we live in Colorado) that fell right on my 38 week mark. So, while I was very ready for the baby to come, I was hoping he/she hold out so that Dad could be there too. As it turned out, there was no need to worry.
Despite wind storms, snow storms, and lots of false starts, May 10 came and went. Although I knew it’s not physically possible to be pregnant forever, it was sure starting to feel like I would be! I made my appointments for non-stress tests and ultrasounds and my induction date was set for May 24. My husband and I agreed that we wanted to leave no stone unturned before then in terms of getting things moving without medication. We continued walking everyday, I ramped up squats and started drinking more raspberry leaf tea. I went to the chiropractor and she suggested acupuncture, which we ultimately decided was worth a try.
Monday, May 12, I went to work as usual. As I was expecting to be gone by this point, there wasn’t much for me to do. I tinkered around with some things and then left a little early and headed to the chiropractor for my acupuncture session. I left feeling no different and with a follow up appointment scheduled for the next day. About 4:30 or so on Tuesday morning, I woke up with a useful feeling contraction, but after so many false starts that petered out after an hour or so, I refused to get my hopes up. I went to the bathroom and lie back down knowing that my daughter would be up soon.
Contractions continued, strong enough that I had to concentrate on them, but still nothing I hadn’t felt before. Like clockwork, my daughter got up at 5 and I went in to get her, thinking I’d let my husband sleep in a bit since I was already up. I had another contraction in the middle of our good morning conversation and I actually had to stop talking and brace myself. That’s when I knew the baby was coming for real. I went in to tell my husband that I was pretty sure it was the day, but I wanted to eat something and see how things played out before we alerted everyone (my in-laws were staying with us to watch our daughter while we were in the hospital). I texted our doula, around 5:30 or 5:45 just to let her know I’d had a few pretty serious contractions and that I was planning to eat breakfast and keep her posted.
My husband made my daughter breakfast and I started making some cream of wheat for myself, but the contractions were strong enough that I really wanted to be in a quiet area so I headed back upstairs. By the time my husband came up with my abandoned cream of wheat, I was starting to need help during my contractions. I had set up the heating pad on my back and was riding through contractions as best as I could on my hands and knees. My husband called our doula and the midwife’s office a little after 6. The midwife on call asked if we’d like to meet her at the office for a check before going over to the hospital or if we’d like to stay home a bit longer. My husband told her we were going to stay home; I was convinced I wasn’t very far along.
My contractions were strong but coming at very irregular intervals. I’d have a long one and then right after it ended, I’d have a shorter but just as strong piggy back contraction and then get a break (my midwife later told me she believes that this is because the baby was too big for my uterus to tighten all the way around him in a single contraction). My husband suggested that I get into the shower because he needed to load the car and get things ready and he knew from my first labor that I should be able to labor in the shower alone. I turned the hot water all the way up on my back and leaned my head on the cool tile and braced myself on the shower door handle. I was still having strong but irregular contractions when my husband got back. I told him I needed our doula and I couldn’t do it alone anymore. She arrived around 7:20 and I was on my hands and knees laboring in the way that worked best with my first labor. My arms were so tired though, so my doula brought up the exercise ball for me to rest my upper body on. My husband was squeezing my hips during contractions and my doula was rubbing my back and hips and legs between. The between-contraction massaging was so nice, because it kept me in the moment and didn’t let me dwell on the upcoming contraction and get scared. I was still sure I wasn’t far along because of how irregular the contractions were and the fact I had not had any show.
By 8, I was ready to go to the hospital no matter how far along I was because I really wanted to sit in a Jacuzzi bath. My husband called the midwife’s office and told them we were on our way. Meanwhile, I was starting to feel pushy during my contractions and my doula was worried we might have waited too long to leave. I kept repeating that I hadn’t had any show and she said that doesn’t matter. As she and my husband were helping me into the car, she started coaching him on when to pull over if things kept progressing. I knelt in the front seat facing backwards. My husband had kindly put a Tupperware back there in case I got sick. My doula had put a portable heating pad on my back before we left the house. I was still feeling pushy with every contraction and my poor husband was trying to drive as quickly and safely as possible while coaching me to breathe through the contractions and not push.
We arrived at the hospital and my husband asked if I wanted to go through emergency or if I wanted to park and walk and I chose to walk. It felt so good to be outside and the cool morning air gave me a second wind. My doula and my husband walked on either side of me and we made it in without having to deal with any contractions. I wanted to walk up to the labor and delivery floor but my doula talked me into using a wheelchair. I didn’t want to sit, so she helped position me kneeling backwards with my head resting on my husband’s chest. We made it to the hospital room around 9 and they hooked me up to the fetal heart rate monitors while the midwife checked my progress. To my total shock (and relief!), I was already 10 cm dilated. The midwife gave me the ok to push if I wanted to.
I started out on all fours with the back of the bed raised, the same way I pushed with my first. The nurse wanted to give me a hep-lock (which is something we said we were fine with in the birth plan), but in the moment I really didn’t want to have to mess with that. Plus I was holding pillows during contractions and I was paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to do that with a needle (or whatever) in my arm. My husband had to refuse a couple of times because the nurse was harping on the fact that if I needed a blood transfusion, this refusal would cost us precious time. My husband confirmed that that was alright. Meanwhile, pushing was getting me nowhere and the midwife said if I couldn’t make some good progress moving you down with the next few contractions that she wanted to go ahead and break my water. The baby was still at a -1 station and she thought that breaking the water would help move things along. She also suggested waiting to push until the contraction built some momentum so that I’d have that to help me.
After a couple more useless-feeling contractions, Someone (I have no idea who…it might even have been me!) decided it might help to squat and they got me a squat bar and everyone helped me change positions. The midwife said this would be a good time to break my water and stepped away to get her tool—just in time because my water broke on its own just then and would have covered her if she was still in the splash zone! It was like a movie, spurting several feet across the room! The baby didn’t like the new squatting position and both of our oxygen levels were too low for comfort so I got an oxygen mask and LOTS of reminders to breathe deeply between contractions. The baby’s heart rate was still dropping too low during contractions so the birth team helped me to get onto my left side first (no change) and then my right, which the baby seemed to like, but I was convinced would be a terrible position to push in. My birth team helped me to kind of squat on my side though, which seemed to help.
With everyone coaching me, I started to push with everything I had during every contraction. I could finally start to feel the baby sloooowly moving down. For sure it was the hardest thing I’ve done, physically. The baby started crowning a little after 10am and my midwife told me he/she was very big and I’d need to keep pushing hard to get the shoulders and the rest of the body out. A few more difficult contractions later, my son was born and my husband told me “It’s a boy!”. Everyone in the room marveled at his size as he was moved to my chest. He had some fuzzy hair and very large hands with long fingers and big feet—his footprints were bigger than the box on his chart! My midwife was also was shocked by the size of his placenta. I guess a big boy needs a big support system!
My midwife was concerned that I had a very bad tear, but the doctor that came in to consult deemed it only a 2nd degree, same as with my first despite 2 lbs difference in their sizes. While my midwife stitched me up, I held my son (he was completely uninterested in breastfeeding right away) and chatted with my husband and doula, and the nurses. My doula helped me order some food and brought some for my husband and then left to attend another birth and said she’d be back later to check on us. I got a shot of pitocin and cytotec to help shrink my uterus and curb the bleeding and had some blood drawn to determine my iron levels while my son was weighed and measured. He came in at 9 lbs, 7 oz, and 21.5”. I couldn’t believe it! All of the nurses we had that day kept commenting on it too. Around noon we finally moved to the maternity ward and enjoyed our first few quiet moments of the day.
It has been FOREVER since I posted a few birth stories and we need to change that. I will post ANY kind of birth story. Home, hospital, c-section, loss…every birth story matters. YOUR birth story matters, no matter what. Please consider sharing your story, with or without pictures. As long or as short as you want. Leave a comment here or send me an email. Thanks!!
midwife101blog@ gmail . com
In the mean time, check out my kids’ birth stories by following their links above. Enjoy!
On Monday, I turned thirty. I’m no longer in my 20s! Weird. I’m actually quite happy about this decade. There are so many things to look forward to that I can’t help but embrace what most seem to say is the BEST decade they experience. For example, before I turn forty, I will be catching babies. That, is like, WOAH amazing!! Ten years goes by so fast and that also means I will have a high schooler in the house. Anyway, I had an amazing day just hanging out with my family. Logan took me on a movie date and we saw Planes 2. It was wonderful. That evening we had a BBQ with family and I had a few drinks. I could not have asked for a better day. I am more than spoiled by the people in my life. I love them so much!
There were a few things I wanted to do before I turned thirty and I made those things happen!
I wanted to get my first tattoo, and I did about a month ago. It’s on the left side of my ribs.
I also wanted to see my first vaginal birth and I made that happen–more than once! Birth is just incredible. Don’t worry, no photo for that one. ;)
I also wanted to be working in a nursing position as a CNA. Twenty-nine was a good year. I am thankful for all the life changes and challenges. They seem to only make me stronger and more faithful in what this life is all about. I am grateful for my amazing family for being so supportive and loving as I venture into my dream job.
So thirty is going to be awesome. A little dirty, a little fun, a little hard, a lot incredible.