One of the things I want to write about is pregnancy/child birth/new baby stuff. And this is a great time for it because I am pregnant with baby #3. We have never found out before what we were having, but this time we know that it is a boy!
I have so many things I’d like to write about, but I think I’m going to start just by sharing my past birth stories and pregnancy experiences. Giving birth is such an important moment in a mother’s life…full of intense joy and intense pain! It is an experience that leaves a huge impression on us and I think we need to share it. It’s fun to share and hear other’s stories too, because every story is different.
First Time Pregnancy
With Big Sis I was a fairly typical first time mom. I researched everything, ate all the right foods, made sure to do prenatal yoga several times a week, and took a Bradley Birth Class. (I intend to write more about my birth class experience and natural, husband-coached birthing in a later post!) I packed a bag, made freezer meals, posted a pregnancy photo every month to facebook, had some professional pregnancy photos done, made a baby corner (we were still living in a one room apartment at the time), and excitedly awaited the arrival of our new baby.
When people talk to you during your first pregnancy, you hear the usual questions “Are you finding out if it’s a girl or a boy” “Are you excited” “When are you due” etc. You get a LOT of advice and opinions. We shared name ideas at first and regretted it so we stopped and kept our names a secret. You also hear, “Oh you’re so cute. Look at that tiny belly!” because not only does your belly not pop out as quickly, but you haven’t gained weight in previous pregnancies that you haven’t lost yet and you don’t have other kids running around to make you too tired to eat the right foods or do your exercises! haha
Pregnancy was pretty easy as far as being sick goes and has been pretty much the same each time. I had a hard month or so of being really tired and constantly just a tad nauseous. Then it’s over. This first time I got the flu just as my first trimester was over and I thought that I’d make it through the whole pregnancy without throwing up…but then I did. I also got what we think must have been some little kidney stones- I never saw any but that’s what the doctor thought it was. I was in horrible pain for a day or two and then it was over. I also got a really terrible UTI and had to take antibiotics and a really bad cold that of course you can’t take anything for. So although pregnancy itself was ok, I got all sorts of stuff during that time that made it a little more miserable than it needed to be!
My water broke in the middle of the night. It was this sudden gush that got everywhere. We jumped out of bed laughing and my husband went to get a shower curtain and towels to lay on so we could keep resting until labor progressed. But I couldn’t lay down. Contractions were really intense right away and I had to sit up. Plus, fluid gushed out with every contraction and it was just easier to labor on the toilet. (Sharing personal stuff like this is making me giggle…but don’t worry…I won’t go into all the gross details!) We sat in that bathroom for hours timing the contractions. I tried to eat a little but couldn’t eat much. It was painful but with what I learned from the birth class, I was able to handle it just fine. It was more tiring than anything else. We hadn’t gotten much sleep and like I said, the contractions were really intense right away. We labored for 8 hours at home. When the birth center told us we could go in (I will write a later post on why I chose the birth center and what my experience was like) I got in the big bath tub and labored for another 7 hours or so in there. And then, I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing I did about an hour of pushing. 16 hours of really intense labor. Big Sis was faced backward so the back labor was hard. I was so tired by the time I was ready to push that I couldn’t hold myself up so I would lay down until it was time to push and then Jason and the nurse would hold me up. Not the most efficient way to give birth. It seems weird but it actually took me a little while to figure out how to push and really accomplish something, so that made the pushing last a bit longer too.
In my tired, crazy-birthing-lady state of mind, I said things like “it’s stuck” and when people assured me that the baby was not stuck and that the head was starting to come out, I insisted that I knew better and that it was definitely stuck. haha I didn’t really think it was stuck. You just find yourself saying things. My husband leaned forward to whisper some encouraging words at one point and I said, “yeah, yeah, yeah, get out of my face.” Hehe. Whoops 😉
Big Sis was born around 6pm after a really long day. When they told me it was a girl I sighed with relief and said, “Oh good.” 😀 Although of course I would have loved a boy or a girl, I really wanted a girl. I was an only child with a single mom and when I imagined myself becoming a mom someday, I always pictured having a little girl.
My midwife was amazing. I don’t know if Big Sis had a really short cord or what, but the cord detached from the placenta. I didn’t even know that it had happened. But she asked if I could push out the placenta and I said no and she reached in and pulled it out! Ahh. Ok, that is the only semi-gross thing I will say. But after what I’d just gone through I barely noticed. I didn’t understand why she did it at the time, but it was so cool because I just sat there cuddling my new baby while she handled this little problem so smoothly. The placenta can’t stay in you without the cord because it will bleed inside of you, but you have to be careful taking it out because parts of your placenta can stay in your body and cause an infection. She knew exactly what she was doing though- I barely noticed it happening and didn’t have any problems.
Taking Her Home
The birth center sends you home right away which I love. They monitor you for a few hours and they make sure certain things are going the way they are supposed to and then you get to go home and sleep and cuddle in your own bed. They come to your home to visit and check on things the next day if you want, but we were out anyway doing the pediatrician appointment so we just went there instead.
My favorite part of giving birth is, of course, the baby at the end. With Big Sis it was once we were home and we just laid on the bed staring at her and sleeping with her for days. That’s pretty much all we did. We took her to the appointments and stopped at the store to get some things and had a picnic in the park on I think day 3. But otherwise we just laid on the bed in awe of her and watched movies and episodes of Friends. It was amazing.
Breastfeeding was a big challenge for me at first. Someone had asked me when I was pregnant if I was going to take a breastfeeding class and I was surprised. How hard could it be? It actually wasn’t difficult, it was just really painful. And everyone told me that if the baby was latching right, it shouldn’t be painful. So I went to a lactation consultant they tried to show me the “right” way to do things and none of it felt right or natural and it didn’t seem to really be working for Big Sis. It was getting more painful and I felt like I must be doing something wrong, but she was eating really well and gaining weight really well. I found a cream called Mother Love that saved the day (which I highly recommend and now buy for all my friends and use it for everything!) It made me feel better almost instantly and the blisters went away quickly. I had a friend who told me to give breastfeeding five weeks and then it should get better. It was like clockwork. At five weeks I finally was completely pain free and had gotten the hang of everything…even nursing in public.
Another thing that I wasn’t prepared for was my recovery. I could barely sit or walk for weeks…the pain “down there” lasted a really long time. I was using ice packs and taking ibuprofen but it just was not getting better. Finally I was talking to someone about it at church and she told me that everyone was going to be out of her house that afternoon and that I should come and take a bath. All I had at our little apartment was a shower. I brought the herbs that the birth center had given me and brewed it as directed. I added it to a hot bath and just like the mother love cream, it saved the day! I felt better right away after that. I wish I had done it sooner.
It is a little funny looking back at this experience now. Everything was so much easier the second time. I will write about that next!
What was your birth experience like? What did you experience that you weren’t prepared for? If you have had more children, how were they different? I’d love to hear from you.