The holidays are here and a whole lot of good cheer! I've been absent for a while but all for a very good reason! Our daughter was born!
It's definitely different having a newborn in the house. In a lot of ways, our lives have been turned upside down and our schedules now revolve around our little Jellybean. At first, there was some resistance on our part to our daughter's schedule, and not being able to do whatever we wanted anymore. But we quickly learned that our sanity depended on our adapting to her schedule and needs. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out what our daughter wants when her basic needs have already been met and those are times I think every new parent feels helpless. But we keep trying to figure out what she needs and eventually she'll settle herself.
I was telling a friend of mine that it sometimes doesn't feel like I'm now a mother. I sometimes feel like a milk cow being hooked up to a breast pump, a dirty diaper changer, and a shusher. But there are times when its just my daughter and me and I get so overwhelmed that my husband and I created this little person that I cover her face and hands with kisses until her next wet fart. I don't think I have an "Aha!" moment where I realized I became a mom, it's been a gradual realization through action.
My husband has been wonderfully supportive this entire time, assuming all the house work and letting me have time to bond and care for our daughter and rest. I knew he was a keeper a long time ago, but there's something so endearing about a husband who will go to the store and buy maxi pads, nipple shields, breast pumps, and diapers for you. I feel so lucky to have married him!
There are 2 parts of the day I love most, besides having the opportunity to sleep or shower, and those are the times when my daughter is awake, alert, and processing her surroundings (not crying), and when my husband gets time to bond with her after work by holding her to his chest or feeding her.
Jellybean's Birth Story
At 38 weeks pregnant, I was already dilated 1.5 cm and 80% effaced. I felt some menstrual cramping sometimes with the Braxton Hicks contractions. I was undecided up to a few days before our scheduled C-section if I would give birth surgically or the old-fashioned way. When I finally decided to cancel the C-section and go naturally, I regretted that I had cancelled the lamaze classes. So I read up on how to manage pain naturally and was undecided if I wanted an epidural or not. This of course, was 38 weeks going on 39 and going on 40 weeks pregnant and not knowing what labor pains felt like. My husband told be I'd better get the epidural. (Note: if you look up what labor pains feel like, you will find every bit of information unhelpful, such as what I found here.)
One Sunday night, at around 10pm, my strong Braxton Hicks contractions with menstrual pains started to go from mildly ignorable to not ignorable. I was able to sleep through most of it but around 4 am, the pain woke me up. Sometime through the night, the Braxton Hicks contractions with menstrual pain morphed into pain that felt as if my entire intestinal tract was being petrified and carved out of me with a blunt razor blade. My contractions were regular at 5 minutes apart for an hour, then became irregular again. I thought for sure I'd get admitted to the hospital because I had never felt pain this intense, where I needed to focus on either holding my breath or breathing through these contractions.
We got to the hospital and got to triage, where the midwife and nurses asked me what level of pain this felt like on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the absolute worst pain ever.
"Nine," I said, trying not to moan or grunt through one of the still irregular contractions.
The midwife examined me and said I was only 2 cm dilated and discharged me, telling me that I was supposed to wait until the contractions became stronger and closer together. I think my eyes must have bugged out of my head because what came out of my mouth was, "It's supposed to hurt more?!" The nurse discharged me with 2 pills for pain.
My husband drove us back home where I spent the next 12 hours on the couch, sleeping between contractions, and noting during contractions that the 2 pills must have been sugar pills because they weren't working. During those 12 hours passing out between contractions, the pain morphed again and became more intense.
So, what did the worst of my labor contractions feel like? Like the above, intestinal tracts seizing up and being carved out with a blunted razor blade, then simultaneously feeling like my insides were going to drop out of me and that I was being pulled apart and was going to tear at the lower abdomen.
Holding on to my husband, yelling, moaning, grunting, holding my breath, breathing through the contractions, and counting numbers helped get me through it. At around 4 pm, I couldn't take it anymore. I told my husband we needed to go back to the hospital and they simply HAD to give me something for pain regardless if I was 4 cm dilated or not. I wasn't going to leave without something for the pain.
We got back to triage and the midwife examined me again and said the blessed words, "You are 4 cm dilated!" My words were, "Thank God! Please give me the epidural now!" It actually took more than 2 hours for them to hook me up to the epidural because I needed to be formally admitted to a delivery room and had to answer a questionnaire. But once the epidural was administered, my labor pains subsided and I did not feel a thing. My legs became numb and at one point my left leg flopped off the delivery bed and I wasn't able to get it back onto the bed without some help.
One of the nurses had given me Stadoll through an IV drip in triage. It didn't do anything for the pain, I feel, but it did make me so sleepy. So, with the Stadoll and the epidural, I slept from 8 pm to 12 am the next morning. And that's when the midwife came in to tell me my contractions were 2 minutes apart and we needed to get ready to push.
"Whaaa...?" I slurred. I didn't think my contractions were that close or that the birth of my daughter was going to happen right then an there. I hadn't felt a thing!
It took the nurse and midwife some time to prepare for the pushing, which gave my mom just enough time to get to the hospital. All in all, I pushed for 15 minutes and got to feel my daughter's head as she crowned, when her head came out, and I got to hold her to my chest the moment she was out. I saw my husband cut her umbilical cord, and I laughed and cried as my daughter took her first breaths and let out her cute little wails.
I've said during my pregnancy how much I wanted to see my husband hold his daughter for the first time. I think he felt bewildered and deliriously happy and also terrified all at the same time. I can't say I felt much different than him those first days. But I'm pleased to report that after so many days of getting to know our daughter, we both have a new kind of confidence and faith in our little family.
My hat's off to the women who do this more than once and for the parents who go at this alone. It takes a lot of strength, patience and love to do this.