This was a post I had envisioned writing since I got pregnant last year. As I’m typing this now, typing feels foreign to me. Anything except holding, nursing, changing, or checking on baby feels a bit off. He’s just over three weeks old today and Steve is currently soaking up some of the snuggles giving me a chance to write this out! I’ll be honest and share it all with you. Please feel free to ask questions if you have them!
First of all, he was due April 11th but contractions did start until April 16th around 9:00pm. I didn’t really think they were contractions because they came every 30-45 minutes and had happened intermittently throughout the week. On Friday the 17th, they continued and after talking to my sister, she suspected I was in early labor and suggested I shower and “get ready.” She wasn’t wrong!
Right after the shower I was changing and thought I peed myself. I called for Steve to get me clean underwear because I couldn’t stop peeing. I realized I was not peeing and my water had indeed broke. Steve’s next question was, “should I take a shower too?” Hah! We laughed and I said yes, I think there’s time. He showers and I started cleaning the house. I don’t think I ever had a strong nesting instinct until that moment. Steve got the rest of the go-bag items ready and the car prepped. I kept cleaning until he gently encouraged me to stop. 😉
The contractions went from 30-45 minutes apart to approximately every 6 minutes on the drive to Grand Rapids. Now was when I realized we really were having this baby! They didn’t hurt too bad and I naively thought, I can handle this!
We got to the hospital and were given masks but aside from that moment COVID-19 did not really have much part in our birth story for which I am SO grateful. Leading up to his birth the possible changes and impact this pandemic would have on our birth story caused so much stress for me. I’m so grateful after they swabbed me (which was SO uncomfortable) there was no more talk of the virus. No more wearing masks for us (the doctors/nurses did) and we felt we were isolated in a safe covid-free bubble.
Back to the story! In triage I started losing layers of clothing due to the flood of fluid coming out of me. I thought when your water broke it just happened and eventually stopped…it never did! In fact, I forget the name for it but I somehow had a second bag of water that “broke” again when I reached 9 cm dilated. But back to triage! The nurse performed a test that normally takes 10 minutes for results which showed in 3 seconds that it was amniotic fluid and we got admitted. Once admitted, I stayed naked the rest of the time. I’m not sure if everyone feels that way but it’s a human body, nothing they haven’t seen and it was easier / felt more free too. I also was started on antibiotics right away as I was GBS positive.
My contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and at this point it is just about 6:00pm. I snuck in a banana thinking that would be a good mild snack…wrong. I threw it up as the contractions got stronger and closer together. I tried multiple different methods to deal with the contractions from bouncing and gliding on a yoga ball (with a towel under me cause like I said…non-stop fluids). Steve did massage and I sat in a rocking chair. I tried slow dancing with him and they all helped but man did it start to hurt, especially in my back and hips. I did get a lot of props from the nurses for my breathing techniques! Thank you running for this training. I truly believe if you panic during a contraction – it gets much worse and is harder to get through.
I was offered different pain medications and I took one that basically made me feel drunk so that even though I had pain, I didn’t care about it as much. I remember Avengers being on TV and telling Steve I was a vampire. Once that drug wore off, I was ready for an epidural. It was approximately 9:00 pm and the nurses told me my contractions were very irregular. I would get three right in a row then have a break for 6-10 minutes and get another. Baby’s heart rate was okay but we monitored it once the epidural was set.
It worked well on the left side of my body but not on my right. We tried different positions but now I had stopped my dilating progression and we decided to start pitocin. I was concerned about the epidural for this reason, but keep reading on to find out what was really going on. We did pitocin overnight and the pain in my right hip and back was getting severe. I actually tried to push through it without pushing the epidural button hoping that would help me progress. Wrong again!
The morning brought a new nurse who I loved! She, though I was numb and in pain, helped me get into moveable positions where I was on my hands and knees rocking and swaying my hips. It turns out that I wasn’t progressing because baby was not descending. It turns out movement was key for me! Baby started descending and I was back to progressing quickly. Then the pain started coming back and was really intense.
I started hitting the epidural button but even my left leg was coming back to life. After switching positions again, I felt a cord fall along my back. Little did we know my epidural got disconnected and I was now at 9 cm dilated. Thank goodness for a quick anesthesiologist who came and reconnected the epidural. The left side went numb immediately but it still took time for the right to become numb. It was 10:30 am and I was finally feeling some relief. The next half hour passed and the resident came in and everyone said, it’s time to push!
Initially, we did some starter pushes so I could feel how to push correctly. They talked me through breathing and how to hunch my body over. Steve was on my right and the nurse on my left. We did just a couple pushes and they said, “there’s the hair! Feel the head!” I couldn’t believe it. The doctor came in and said I had a few more pushes to which I did not believe her. I had only been pushing for about 35 minutes and then came the next contraction. Doctor said, “last one!” I did not believe her but she wasn’t wrong!
At 11:53am Steve announced that we have a Lincoln, (we did not know if baby was a boy or a girl), at 9 lbs 4 oz, 22.5 inches long. They helped me grab him and pull him to my chest and I just remember my eyes being closed and crying with relief and joy. Steve kept telling me I was a badass and we just soaked it all up as much as we could.
Unfortunately, Lincoln came out sunny side up which is why I was experiencing what I know now as back labor. This coupled with his size caused a third degree tear which was such a fear of mine. I had to stay in my birth position for a while for them to stitch me up internally and externally. The cord eventually got cut and placenta came out without problem. We moved to the recovery room and slowly feelings started coming back to me.
I lost a lot of blood (border line needed a transfusion) and every time I got up my blood pressure dropped and I got quite dizzy. I had some extra monitoring because of this. I also started iron supplements after we got home (TBH they should have prescribed those immediately when we left the hospital – story for another day). For the pain, the diaper stuffed ice packs they gave me and the balance of ibuprofen and Tylenol were helpful.
If there was one thing I was terrified of after birth it was pooping again. Hah! It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but I do think the mixture of stool softeners and constant intake of prune juice three times a day made a difference. My recommendation is to have prunes or prune juice ready for you at home and to try and stay calm.
We stayed three days total at the hospital because of my dizziness/blood loss and Linc’s bilirubin. From there, the first week of his life is now a bit of a blur to me. Between what felt like endless movies and shows and not enough diapers to change…I’m so happy we’re closing in on the first month and starting to figure things out. He’s recovered the weight that he lost which was too much and we are learning more about his cues every day.
I won’t lie, the first few weeks were not as exciting as I thought it would be. I felt so completely drained, emotional, and not like myself at all. If I happened to get a bit of sleep it wasn’t enough and I ended up crying at just about anything/everything. I don’t say this for sympathy or to say that I’m not happy or blessed to have had a baby. Lincoln is so wonderful in every single way but the baby blues I was experiencing were so real and I won’t shy away from talking about it.
That is probably the most important take away from this incredibly long post. TALK about what you’re going through after a baby. Talk about the pain, the confusion, the fear, the excitement, the nerves…just talk about it. Reach out to friends and family who will validate your feelings. Do not respond to every text and message. Do not “should” on yourself in anyway shape or form and do not forget to accept help. I’ll probably write more about this in a future post.
We’re three weeks in and I finally feel a bit more myself again. We’re in a better place with breast feeding, which is f*cking hard, and no longer need to supplement him with formula. I’ve learned that nothing is set in stone when it comes to infancy. I don’t believe in “nipple confusion” myself and the supplementing helped us immensely even if it wasn’t something I wanted. I’ve learned to let go of expectations and to try to roll with the punches as best as I can.
We’ve had so many friends and family send gifts, love, food, and support it has been overwhelming and wonderful. My thank you to them doesn’t feel like enough. I want to tell them all how big of an impact they’ve had on us these first few weeks and how grateful we are. I also want Steve to know, he’ll read this later I’m sure, how much of my rock he has been. This experience is bringing us closer together than ever before and I’m so thankful for that.
If you’re still reading this incredibly long story – hooray! Thank you. I’m going to do another post in the future of the other things I did to prep our house food wise and supplies wise for my own healing. More to come, thank you so much for reading!