For those of you starting to read this post and feeling apprehensive of gory birth details, fear no more. I promise not to go into too great of detail. However, I cannot give a story about birth without a little bit of detail, so feel free to avert your eyes if it’s just too much to bear.
My baby girl will be a month old in a few days! I have been in somewhat of a dream like state these past few weeks. Having a baby is one of the best and hardest things I have ever done. Her sleepy smiles and cuddles are worth all of the difficult moments. Everyone says it’s hard, but no one tells you in depth and detail just how hard recovery is coupled with adjusting to a newborn.
My due date was Tuesday, February 28th. It came just like any other morning and went just like any other day. I wasn’t too surprised, my mom had me 10 days late, so I figured we were probably having a March baby instead of a February baby. The next day, March 1st, I went to school and continued to dodge questions and comments of, “No baby yet?”, “You’re still pregnant?”, “I hope she comes soon!”
At this point I was so swollen, hormonal, and just plain tired from growing a human for 10 months (yes it’s 10 months people, not 9), that I asked my coworker to give me a foot zone in hopes to induce labor. It felt AMAZING! I had no idea I could feel that relaxed.
I finished out the school day and felt a little bit of what I thought was fluid leakage. I remembered that that could be a sign of amniotic fluid leaking or water breaking, and I had no medical skills to really know if it was the real thing or not. I called my Dr’s office and they told me to go to Labor and Delivery to just get it checked out since their office was about to close.
I called my guy and told him to stay home, it’s probably nothing, and I’d bring dinner home when I was done. I came home and changed into cozy clothes and drove over to the hospital. Luckily, our hospital is located about 2 minutes from our house!
I checked in at the front desk and was taken to the triage room. They hooked me up to the monitors and I got to watch my baby girls heart beat as well as my small contractions. The hospital had just started using a new computer system so everything took 10 times longer than it needed to. I was there for about 3 hours due to the nurses trying to figure out the computers. All the while I was having contractions, however they were just a little stronger than ones I had been having for over a month. I had grown so accustomed to contraction cramps in my back that I really wasn’t concerned by slightly stronger ones. The nurses checked me and I was only dilated to a 1.5 and only 90% effaced. I was disappointed that I hadn’t progressed more and mentally prepared myself for more days of pregnancy. After waiting for a LONG time the nurses came back in and verified that I was not leaking fluid and could go home.
One of the nurses looked at me and said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you came back tonight or tomorrow morning though.” I shrugged it off, I doubted I would be coming back anytime soon. In fact, I figured I would just be pregnant forever (you get pretty dramatic at the end of pregnancy).
I went home and got In-N-Out and then went to subway for a sandwich to take to school the next day (pregnancy cravings are real!). I came home discouraged that we had to keep waiting. I cuddled with my hubby while we watched our shows and we went to bed like normal.
I had a typical night wake up schedule of when my body HAD to go. I usually woke up around 11 or 12, and then again around 2 or 3, and then right around 6 am (which just so happen to be the same times baby girl wakes up in the middle of the night to eat…).
So when I woke up for the first bathroom run around 1 am, I sleepily went to the bathroom and got back in bed. I noticed some stronger contractions that were more in my stomach than in my back. The pain was kind of intense, but I was so tired I just tried to go back to sleep. I remember turning over on my side and a sudden gush of liquid started seeping down my legs. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom and it just kept coming! I called out, “Trevor! I think my water broke!”
His response came back, “Are you serious?” I felt my legs shaking as well as my voice as it suddenly hit me we were going to have a baby soon. I responded, “Yep, you better pack your bag.”
We rushed around the house while my water continued to gush and the fear of what was about to emerge from my body made me a nervous wreck. I knew I wanted this baby to come, but having my water break so suddenly made me start to reconsider what I signed up to put my body through.
No one tells you that your water just keeps coming. I couldn’t keep any pair of pants dry so I grabbed a towel and shoved it in my pants (TMI?) and told Trevor “let’s go!”
We got to the hospital around 2 am. They checked me in and took me straight to our labor and delivery room.
I put on a ridiculously difficult to figure out gown and climbed into my hospital bed. They checked me and I was at a 2. My contractions were getting increasingly more intense. I was having contractions 2-3 minutes apart and could barely talk through them. I would feel one start and immediately starting deep breathing to try and make it through the pain.
The nurse came in and I asked, “So when I can I get an epidural?” I figured they would make me wait for a while to see how I progressed but she happily replied, “whenever you want!”
I asked for one right then and there. I mean, MAJOR props to all women who do it naturally, but that was not on my agenda for the day.
By the time the anesthesiologist came in I was at a 4. The epidural was definitely not as scary as I thought it would be. Once it took effect I was in heaven. It was amazing to watch the contractions on the monitor and not feel the pain. I had one little spot on my left side that didn’t get all the way numb, so I could feel contractions here and there, but not nearly as bad as before the epidural.
The next bit consisted of waiting. They upped my pitocin when my contractions slowed down and the progression continued. At one point they were concerned about the baby’s heart rate and put me on oxygen to make sure she was getting enough. I continued through labor with a oxygen face mask on–not my favorite part.
The morning passed slowly by. Trevor watched 4 classic ESPN Duke games while we tried to sleep and relax before baby came. It felt like time stood still at certain moments. Eventually my epidural began to wear off. The nurse came and checked me around 1 pm and her face lit up, “The head is right there! You’re at a 10, let’s get ready to start pushing!”
They started preparations for the birth. They brought in medical instruments, and set up the baby warming area. They had to have the NICU team on call because when my water broke it was not clear, it was yellow and brown. Apparently miss Janie couldn’t wait to have her first bowel movement outside of the womb. Since there was risk of her swallowing the meconium (baby poop) they had to have the NICU team ready to clear out her lungs and monitor her.
As I was preparing to push my Dr. came by. I was so relieved to see him! If there is one thing I learned throughout my pregnancy it is to make sure you love and trust your Dr. I had a different Dr. for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. He was uncomfortable to talk to, and honestly kind of rude. I was so glad I changed to a Dr who was understanding and loving. He was so relaxed when he came in, and I could tell it relaxed Trevor too. He was telling jokes and encouraging me as I continued to push.
Pushing a child out of your body is no joke. When I started to push the nurse coached me on how to do it, and then said these horrible words: “Just be prepared, first time moms usually push for about 2-3 hours.” I knew that was the case, but hearing it out loud made it seem so much worse. I felt determined that would NOT be the case for me. I’ll spare you the pushing details, but it truly is amazing what a woman’s body can do! Trevor was a total champ. He was by my side the entire time and was a wonderful coach! The time passed so quickly!
Suddenly the Dr. walked in and took a look and sat down calmly encouraging me. I felt relief wash over me knowing he was staying and was getting ready to deliver baby girl. I remember watching him kind of rush to put his gown and gloves on and then he coached me through the last few pushes.
In one of the most surreal moments of my life I felt my breathing slow and saw the doctor catch my baby girl as she flopped out into the world. The room was a whir as nurses took control of the situation and my baby was placed on my chest. She was crying as they suctioned her and cleaned her up. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I started cooing at her and saw her sweet little eyes search for me as she heard my voice for the first time outside the womb.
After 50 minutes of pushing (take that 2-3 hours!) our beautiful baby Janie was born at 2:10 pm. She was healthy and strong and we could not have been more in love with her.
About an hour and a half after she was born we were wheeled out of labor and delivery and taken to recovery. They played a lullaby as we were wheeled across the hall for all of the hospital to know a baby had been born. The nurse that had been with me throughout the majority of my labor and delivery was just the sweetest. As she said goodbye to me in the recovery room she gave me a big hug and thanked me for being such a sweet patient! I held her tight and thanked her for being such an outstanding nurse.
I thought recovery would be peaceful, it was very much the opposite! I was on such an adrenaline rush after Janie was born, and that lasted for several hours. Once that wore off the exhaustion hit. However the nurses were checking on Janie’s vitals and my vitals every 2 hours or so. Then there were other tests they took Janie for, and tests they ran on me. I felt as if I would fall asleep and then a knock would be at the door just minutes after I fell asleep. The sleep deprivation was almost instantaneous from there. I’m a girl who loves her sleep and it definitely was something I struggled with to go from 9-10 hours a night to 2-3.
Our cousin in law came and took beautiful pictures while we were in the hospital! We will treasure these precious moments forever.
The rest of our stay is nothing to write home about. We were discharged Saturday afternoon and were welcomed home by my sweet parents who had grocery shopped and cleaned up for us. We were so happy to get home and out of that tiny hospital room.
The first week home is something I honestly don’t look back on with fond memories. I hesitate to share this, but I also hesitate not to share my experience. Women all over the world experience birth and recovery. Recovering from birth is so much more intense than I ever anticipated. My body felt like it had been rammed with a bus, or a truck, or a train, possibly all three (again, dramatic). I could barely walk and everything hurt. My mind was foggy from sleep exhaustion. I handed Janie off to her daddy to watch the Duke vs UNC game, and went upstairs to sleep. I woke up and had missed my pain medication, the pain was intense to the point of tears. I quickly learned how crucial it was to take my pain medicine on time every time.
The hardest part for me was the hormonal imbalance. I have struggled with anxiety off and on, especially when major life changes occur (AKA HAVING A BABY!). My anxiety was worse than I have ever experienced during that week. I was not myself. I barely ate anything and laid in bed for hours. My parents were worried, my husband was worried, and I was worried sick about not being fit to take care of my baby. I called my Dr and scheduled a visit. I ended up seeing him when Janie was 1 week old. Trevor went with me and our sweet Dr, who had squeezed me into his schedule, spent 30 minutes with us as I sobbed and sobbed. My body was shaking from pure exhaustion and hunger. He calmed my fears and reminded us that everything I was feeling was normal and that him and his entire staff were there to support me.
He was incredible and just talking about my fears and anxieties calmed me down. We left the office knowing that this phase would not last forever, and that if my anxiety didn’t ease up I was not going to be left alone. Fortunately it did ease up after several more days. The more time I took to recover the better my mind became. I felt so lucky to have my parents there with me and my husband home with me that first week. Having a support system in place is huge.
Now, almost a month later, I can confidently say I am in charge of my anxiety and I am in love with my role as a mother. I know it is not always an easy fight for some women, and I know that my days will not all be wonderful. Sleep deprivation is still very much apart of my daily life, but each day gets a little better. I know that having people involved in what is going on for you emotionally is important. Once I started talking about how I was feeling and just let my tears flow I started to feel a little more healed each day. I involved people from my church, I reached out to family and close friends to ensure that I would not be alone mentally and even physically once my parents left and my husband returned to work.
For those of you new moms that have struggled with postpartum depression, baby blues, or anxiety please know you are not alone. I feel I only glimpsed how hard that can be for a new mom. My Dr. told me how easy it was for that to take hold of a new mom because we all feel the need to put on a pretty face and act like we are the perfect Instagram ready mom. When in reality we are all struggling one in the same. We all need each other. He said that if we just remembered to reach out to each other instead of shut ourselves in our homes that we would have a lot less women struggling because we wouldn’t be comparing our lives to each other.
Being a mother has been my greatest adventure yet. I am so thankful to have our sweet Janie. I am so thankful for my incredible husband, my love for him has grown so much as I have watched him become a father. It truly is incredible what love can create.