It’s now been over week since we’ve been home from the hospital, and Max is 11 days old. Next time I write will be all about him, but I wanted to do a follow-up postpartum post, for those interested in my well being ;) and reflections on my labor process. Also, I’m using this blog as basically a journal for myself, to be able to look back on these moments and remember the special details of the most wonderful time of our lives, so this is an important post to me. Last Valentine’s day was a day after I found out about our miscarriage, so it was a pretty gloomy day. This Valentine’s day, Kyle and I haven’t even gotten out the house to get each other anything to celebrate, yet I couldn’t feel more happy or blessed to be at home with him and our two wonderfully amazing and beautiful children.
Starting where I left off, the night Max was born Kyle and I experienced a whole spectrum of feelings: from me being at the most vulnerable position I’ve even been in, an adrenaline rush, helplessness, and exhaustion, to extreme happiness and relief that our baby was here, amazement at the process we just went through and how perfect he was, and many others. We were overjoyed yet shaken up. Honestly we were both a little traumatized afterwards. My first question to moms who went natural was always: “Would you do it again?” Everyone answered yes. My answer that night was “Hell no!” so I was worried of being left with a negative memory instead of my ideal wonderful, peaceful, natural birth experience I had desired. That night, I got cramps from nursing, and cringed with fear every time, thinking it would bring on another awful contraction. I looked over at my once favorite cup that I drank out of during labor, and cringed at the memory, vowing I never wanted to see it again.
We got a little rest that night, finally at 3 am, once little man was bathed, swaddled and asleep. And within the next few days, the “traumatic” memories had began to melt away, as we fell more in love with our son. Though it seemed like 10 hours, we were at the hospital only 2 1/2 hours before Max arrived. That’s exactly how I wanted it to be. We may have not been fully prepared for that last hour of superintenseandextremecrazypressure contractions, but I did it! I felt bad knowing I had asked for the epidural, but learned that’s part of it: a mental breakdown, a test. It was baby and God’s plan for me to do it the way I wanted, and fate came in with perfect timing to allow that. When it was finally time to push, that’s what the whole thing is about. It was the greatest, most rewarding feeling ever. I’ll never forget it and that moment, literally feeling your baby exit your body and enter the world. It was awesome, and to know that’s what I accomplished.
I’ve seen childbirth be compared to running a marathon. A long and hard process, with a great reward at the end. It takes endurance and mental toughness, especially the last 6.2 miles in a marathon and the transition period of labor, when you think you’ve hit a wall. Even I, someone who never ran a day in her life, trained for and made it successfully through a half- a 13.1 mile race. It was empowering! Lots of people can run that race, if you set your mind to it and want it. But I knew someday, I would want bigger goals, and a bigger medal. I know I am just as capable of doing the FULL marathon, as long as I have the time and make the effort to train for it. Phew, 26.2 miles seems like a long way to go, though it’s the training that’s the hardest part. Natural labor was fuel to the fire. Now that I’ve pushed myself through the hardest thing there is, I know I can run a marathon, or anything else I choose to pursue. I had one chance to accomplish the huge goal I set for myself, (if and until I had more kids) and I did it! Two and a half hours later, I got my medal, and the biggest reward- my baby. THAT is what I look back on and think about now. Thousands, well I guess billions of women over time, have done the same thing. A natural and beautiful way to bring a baby into the world, and I am a part of that.
People ask, why? Why would you want to go through pain if you don’t have to? Technology is there, enabling you to feel nothing and enjoy the birth experience painlessly. That’s what I was asking myself at the end, too. Why am I doing this when I was relaxing, playing Words with Friends, right before it was time for Harper to be born? I was sleeping, hanging out, feeling good, and pushed with ease. It was also an awesome, happy birth experience. Kyle didn’t understand, if it went so smoothly, why mess it up? But why run a marathon? Why put the strain on your body and crazily run 26.2 miles? What’s wrong with 5 miles or even 13? The medal, the honor, the pride, the journey, the test, the experience, the empowerment. You still get the greatest gift either way- going all natural, being induced, having an epidural, a planned or emergency c-section. The most important thing is having a healthy baby, and I applaud everyone who’s been through any kind of childbirth, because they all have difficulties, and that’s just the start of how hard it is to raise a child.
There were also other reasons why I wanted to go natural. Just the thought of the baby and God choosing when he wanted to be born is cool. I was in such a hurry with Harper, anxiously wanting to meet her, that I would have been induced the moment the doctor said I could. I wanted to experience what it was like for my water to break, or strong enough contractions to head to the hospital. For Max to choose his own birthday. I definitely did not want to be induced, and if I was, it would have made natural birth more challenging. A documentary: The Business of Being Born, sheds light on the fact that having babies is a business for hospitals in the US. They want you in and out, as quick as possible, to make more money. Pitocin, the induction drug, helps with this, and it’s administered to the majority of women giving birth in America. The movie touched on the fact that epidurals have led to an American culture shift, for the “easy way,” thus disabling women to feel confidence in their own child birthing abilities. The media and tv shows portray childbirth as something torturous, scary, and painful, with women just screaming in pain. It doesn’t always have to be like that, and I wanted to see for myself and do it the way women have for years before now. And for health reasons: it’s obviously better for the baby to not have unnecessary pain medications pass through their system, and they are born more alert. Pitocin causes unnatural, stronger contractions that can be hard on the baby, and also raises the stakes for having to get a c-section. I’ve seen so many moms recently with that fate, because they were induced early and their bodies not ready for it. Further, the ability to move around freely: I didn’t want an IV, needle in my back, a catheter, or to be bed-ridden! I hated that I couldn’t feel my toes last time, along with the uncontrollable shaking. And finally, I desired a faster recovery. I was able to get up from bed much sooner this time. I had less ripping because I could feel how hard I was pushing. Overall, the recovery, which I didn’t know what to expect in comparison, has been awesome! I had a couple pain meds in the hospital, mainly for cramping, and have needed nothing else since. It’s been a very quick recovery, which I am thankful for, and credit the natural labor along with it being my second child. (I feel like I just wrote a college essay.)
Looking back now, I have a different opinion than the night right after. It’s been an experience that brought my husband and I closer together, because if he can see me through that, I feel comfortable with anything. He also learned what to expect for next time! ;) Wait, what? Although I wouldn’t change this one, I still don’t know if I would do it again. Only time will tell, several years from now. I love that both of my children have completely different, but equally special birth stories.
Now let’s talk postpartum. During the last several weeks of pregnancy, my anxiety levels were way heightened. I’m sure it’s normal for pregnant women– the nerves of first time moms, or even second or third time moms, adding another person to their family. I felt like a crazy person, and Kyle thought I was a crazy person. This whole pregnancy wasn’t the easiest to go through, mentally. After a loss, and then the down’s syndrome scare, changing doctors, and the home life of a busy Etsy shop, demanding toddler and dog, taking care of my grandmother, attempting to keep up with household chores, and maintaining a romantic relationship with my husband, without getting any alone time and staying busy with routine. It was a lot of work! And yet, many women do all of that, along with full-time jobs. I couldn’t imagine! Luckily, I do get to stay home, so I had some downtime. Everything was perfect and easy health wise for me and baby, so that’s a blessing. However, toward the end, being pregnant was naturally wearing on me. It’s hard when you’re so big anyway, don’t have the energy to do what you used to, and can’t even reach down to tie your shoes!
My anxiety included: my new and unwelcomed stretch marks ALL over my stomach, feeling huge and not at all sexy, getting my notorious to-do list finished, trying to get Kyle to help with said to-do list and get on board with natural birth, getting mad when he didn’t understand the point of doing such things, that Harper (already extremely Daddy’s girl) wouldn’t like me anymore when the baby came, that she wouldn’t like the baby, that we would not get to video tape her meeting Max, that he would be born with a deformity, health issue or something, that I wasn’t practicing Hypnobabies enough, if I could handle natural labor and how that would go, if I could possibly love another baby like I did Harper, that my boobs would be so sore for weeks, that the nursery would never get finished, how we would handle bedtime for two, how we would have time to be a couple, how we can afford everything, on and on. Mostly normal stuff, but I was really concerned about getting baby blues or postpartum depression (PPD). “Baby blues” is a normal occurrence among new moms, due to all the change in hormones, and includes anxiety, crying spells and mood swings. PPD involves a more severe, long-lasting depression. I even cried at the hospital the morning we were supposed to leave, because Kyle was rushing me and I wasn’t ready yet.
I said all of that because I just want to brag on my baby. I feel almost bad to say it, because so many women struggle with newborns, especially with lack of sleep and breastfeeding challenges. But, we are happier than ever and doing wonderful. Max is the easiest baby. He sleeps all day, eats often when he is awake, and sleeps most of the night. He barely cries. He’s healthy, and gained not only back to his birth weight, but a whole pound extra. Breastfeeding is obviously going well. Way easier than last time around, now that I’m experienced I guess. I have less engorgement, way less soreness. It’s funny at the hospital, the lactation consultation said I was doing the “advanced hold,” not the one for beginners. But Max has definitely caught on, and I even feel confident to nurse in public or around people in general, with a cover. I get more sleep now, than I did before he was born. It helps that Kyle has been off for two weeks, and still has two more weeks off. How awesome and is that. But, Max and I have been sleeping in until 8:30, while Kyle gets up between 6-7:30 with Harper. Added bonus: he’s super cute too! And cuddly. I
could just do sit on the couch all day and hold him. I know it won’t always be this easy. The doctor said expect him to eat even more around 3 weeks, and be awake more. We are trying to establish a routine with Harper, while Kyle is home, to make it easier for everyone. She fights naps and bedtime with a passion. Her adjusting has definitely been the hardest part of it all. And whether we had a baby or not, it was going to be this way because she just turned two and it going through changes, becoming more independent yet also more whiney.
At home, with all the anxiety, I also felt alone at times. Going through my birth preparations myself, and then the fact that anytime Kyle is home, Harper only wants him, and Cooper is the same way. It hurt my feelings some. Well now, I have my own little buddy! He needs me, and I need him. A new meaning for life. This is definitely why I am on Earth- to be a mom and live and spread God’s glory through my children. Over the past couple of weeks, I have felt SO full of love. It’s overwhelming and wonderful. I tried to cherish every last “only child” moment with Harper over the past few months, held her close, and now I’m so excited to begin life with two. She doesn’t show much interest in him yet, but I know they will become best of friends (sometimes), and we’re looking forward to making many exciting family memories.
Thanks for reading my novels :) In a few hours, I will find out whether I’m getting a new niece or nephew this summer. Also getting a new niece in May, and everyone else I know is having boys. So excited about all the babies!!!!