life, love, and maybe babies

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Birth Story: Part 2

The other day, I shared with you all the story of how my little buddy came into this world. It was long, tiring and scary but we made it through and Hubs and I left the hospital with a perfect baby in our arms government approved car seat.

I was amazed about how my expectations of the birth were absolutely nothing like the reality, and I had a sneaking suspicion the "after baby" experience would yield the same results.

I was right.

Rather than tell you the long version of what happened after baby, I'll use one of my trusty lists to tell you about the post production of having a baby.

(I realize there are already a ton of lists out there on the internet, but they're all things like "you have to wear giant maxi pads after giving birth." I mean, duh. But I, dear friends, am going to tell you the real stuff.)

Things No One Tells You About Birthing a Baby:

1. You will have no modesty left

Like I mentioned yesterday, there's no need to cross your legs like a lady and try and hold your hospital gown closed. You will have more people up in your lady business than you ever thought possible. A few times Hubs even said, "the nurses are getting more action from you than I've seen in weeks." They've got to check your cervix, adjust really annoying monitors on your belly and after delivery, and take out your catheter. They don't care if you've shaved and they don't care if you fart. Do what they say and it will be over a lot faster than if you fight it.

2. You will forget how to pee 

I can't speak to vaginal delivery because I had a c-section, but I can tell you that after it was all said and done and my catheter came out, my nurse took me into the bathroom to pee. But I couldn't go. It was like my bladder had shut down and gone on strike. The nurse gave me a little bottle to spray warm water on my lady bits (like I said earlier, they see it all) to trick my body into peeing, but it didn't really work. Ultimately, there's one way to make sure it finally happens. (Brace yourselves.) When you take your first shower and the water hits you, your bladder will go "OH! I remember what to do!" and you will pee in the shower.

Gross, but you will be so, so happy.

3. You'll Heart Stool Softeners

If the doc and nurses don't offer you a stool softener as part of your postpartum care, ASK FOR IT. Constipation is a legit phenomenon after birth. I realize it's TMI, but I went almost a week after delivery without a BM. And don't think you can just tough it out, because you will regret it when you're pooping out what feels like glass mixed with sand paper and a splash of bleach. TAKE THE STOOL SOFTENER.

4. Your stitches aren't going to rip open- but it will feel like it

This is for you c-section gals. The first time you cough/sneeze/laugh, you will be positive you ripped open your incision and your guts have trickled into your lap. They aren't. Your stitches will withstand just about anything. If you're so lucky as to accidentally choke on some Jell-O like I did, you will experience a large coughing fit and get to feel your incision on a catastrophic level. It isn't fun and it doesn't feel good, but rest assured your stitches are going to hold. Also, be sure to check out your incision in the's pretty bad ass.

5. Your first shower will be better than sex

A lot of things happen to your body while and after you giving birth. You sweat, maybe throw up, and leak various fluids out of every hole your body has. So it should be no surprise that you, stink. A shower is necessary (if your doc okays it). Grab yourself a chair for the shower if your bathroom allows for it, and let the warm water do its thing. You will feel like a new woman. Oh, and you'll probably look down at some point and see a lot of blood going down the drain. That's normal and it will probably continue to happen for another few weeks. Yay.

6. It's open season on your boobies

Breast feeding? Lactation consultants will be your BFF...and they will touch your boobs. A lot. This sort of goes back to #1, where being modest is just not going to get you anywhere. When you first try to breastfeed, it will feel weird and foreign and you'll be afraid that you'll break your baby. Let the consultant help you. I didn't realize my milk wouldn't come in right away and freaked out. The consultant explained that my breasts would only produce yellow, gooey looking stuff called colostrum at first, and it is super good for my babe. But, there's a chance it might not come out without some coercing. When my colostrum wasn't showing up on its own, my lactation consultant massaged my boobies with both hands for a good 10 minutes. And I so didn't care. If it means your baby is going to get what he needs, you won't care either. It got to the point where I would have both of my girls out in the open when nurses would come in to check on me. No one blinked twice. They see it every day.

Not wanting to breast feed? I won't lie, you might catch some flack for it. Try not to take it personally; lactation consultants know the benefits of nursing and they want you to recognize it, too. But hey, it isn't for everyone and some women don't produce milk enough to sustain their baby. Don't be afraid to tell your nurse firmly (but nicely) that you have made the choice not to nurse and to please respect that.

7. Your nipples will be on fire

It's the truth. You will probably dread feeding baby the first few weeks. But trust gets easier! Your nips will toughen up. If you're in total misery, it could be your baby has a bad latch. Don't be too stubborn to call the lactation consultant and ask for help. That is what they're there for. They want to help and they want you to succeed at breast feeding. Hang in there, champ. You're doing fine.

8. You'll want to leave...I mean stay...I mean leave

Leaving the hospital might be harder than you think. One would imagine that getting away from that sterile smell and uncomfortable furniture would be welcome, but you have to remember that once you've left, you're on your own. And that can be pretty scary. Be prepared to have mixed feelings about saying goodbye to your room and the staff who have taken such great care of you and been with you every step of your delivery. I was surprised at how choked up I got when we left. I knew we had to go, but a big part of me wanted to stay and continue to get help on demand. But alas, the time came, and it was time to move on.

9. You will experience love for your spouse/partner like never before

You already love your spouse. They've been with you for the entire pregnancy, dealing with your mood swings, cravings, and heartburn. But now? They are your rock. Your sanity. Your partner in every sense of the word. This little person that just entered your life will require more work, effort and attention than you ever thought possible, and sometimes you just won't have what they need. Your spouse will be there to make up the difference (and vice versa). They will scratch your foot when you can't reach it because your stomach (or vagina) is still on fire from delivery. They will move your water glass 2 inches to the left so you can reach it. They will wake up with you when baby screams and comfort you when you feel like you're going to lose your mind. They will be your third and fourth arm because I promise you, two arms aren't enough for all the things you need to do for a newborn.

Lean on your spouse, because otherwise you are going to fall over. Let him help you in your darkest moments. Shower him with "thank you's" because chances are, he's feeling as helpless and lost as you are. Together, you've got this.

There are many other surprises and pleasantries that you will experience after your delivery, but the most important thing is to stay positive and realize all of it will pass eventually. Being in the moment can be stressful, so call on friends and family to help you out. No one should go it alone.

Love to all my mamas and hopefully-soon-to-be mamas out there!


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Birth Story, Part 1

I've wandered into uncharted territory. 

I'm a mom.

Holy moly, it feels strange to write that. After 4 years of wishing, hoping, praying and offering sacrifices to any God that would listen, I am a mother. I realize this is technically an infertility blog, and I still plan to write about infertility because that part of my life will never be scrubbed from my mind. But, in fairness to myself, I want to continue to write about my life and what's happening in it, and bloggies....that now includes a baby.

I promise to let you know when my posts are pregnancy related so you can guard your heart if you're feeling vulnerable or down. I know a lot of my readers are infertiles and I certainly don't want anyone to feel like i"m being insensitive.

Today I'm finally getting around to telling the birth story of my son, Ames. I promised to write this well over two weeks ago after he was born, but let me tell you something - newborns kind of demand a lot of attention. So I'm writing this little by little in between feedings and cry fests and nap times. 

Bear with me.

To say that birthing a baby is an exercise in letting go of any semblance of control is the understatement of the year. I didn't really have an official "birth plan" because I wanted to allow room for change and improvisation and boy, did we end up improvising. Let me just say that any plan you have for the birth of your child pretty much flies out the window the second you check into the hospital. Or at least for me it did.  

Here's my story (and it's a long one, so you've been warned):

My due date was September 24th. My son laughed at this. For my weekly checkups leading up to his due date, the doctor had the same report every week. "You're not dilated, you're not effaced. Nothing is happening." 

I tried everything to get thing moving. I ate pineapple, walked on curbs, had sex, ate spicy food, took hot baths, did squats - nothing made a difference. The weekend after my due date, I was convinced something finally happened. I began to feel tightening in my stomach and things just just felt different. My doctor appointment on Tuesday was surely going to show that I had dilated to at least 2 centimeters, I just knew it.

On Tuesday the 29th, Hubs and I headed to the doc. I laid on the table and let the doc do his thing to check my cervix, convinced he was going to admit me. And then I saw him frown. "I'm sorry," he said, eyebrows knitted and bracing for impact. "I can barely even get to your cervix, and what I can feel is...well, it's closed. Completely closed."

I almost lost it. Past 40 weeks pregnant, you're just over it. So, so over it. As I fought back tears the doc said he didn't think another week of waiting would do any good. We probably needed to induce. We agreed that the next night (Wednesday), we would check into the hospital and get things going. It wasn't ideal, but clearly our little man wasn't going to be coming on his own. If he had his way, he'd come out a toddler.

On September 30th we checked into the hospital at 6:00 PM. Naturally I was quite nervous but was immediately set at ease by the awesome nurse who explained in thorough detail everything that would be happening as it occurred. And all went well. The IV went in beautifully, the blood draws were painless, and I was feeling pretty content. The nurse explained they would be giving me a dose of Cervidil. You can look it up (because my explanation is rather elementary) but basically it's a drug that helps to soften or ripen your cervix in the hopes that it will cause dilation to occur. 

The drug is encased in this little tampon looking dealie -majig that is inserted up behind your cervix. Therefore, any modesty I had upon arrival of the hospital was immediately gone. I mean, they've got to get up in there, high and tight. Once the Cervidil was inserted, I had myself a nice Subway dinner, a little pain medication to help me relax, and then it was off to nighty-night ville. I slept pretty soundly, only waking up a few times because of all the monitoring that was being done. But I felt very little pain or discomfort. In fact, at one point the nurse came in, checked my vitals screen and said I had been having several contractions. Really? I wasn't even feeling them! I was amazing!!!

At 6 AM, the nurse came in to check how much progress I had made overnight.

Except there was none.

Not even a milliliter. 

The nurses then explained that this sometimes happened, and we would go ahead and start the Pitocin. For those that don't know, Pitocin is a drug that makes contractions begin. Again, it's used in the hopes that you will begin labor on your own. The nurses explained that yes, it was rather rare for Cervidil to not work overnight, but not to worry. The combination of the Cervidil and the Pitocin together would likely be enough to really begin my labor. And so I had high hopes.

As we waited for the Pitocin to get going, I told Hubs to take advantage of the calm before the storm to go home quickly and get a sweatshirt (it was 62 degrees in our room and the thermostat didn't want to work) and a few DVD's. Of course, three minutes after he left, I felt something happen. I called the nurse, convinced I was internally bleeding, but she just informed me that my water had broken. It was only leaking out slowly (because I was still closed up like Mother Teresa) but she was encouraged. This meant things were progressing! YAY!

I texted Hubs to let him know that the water had broken, but I was okay and to just get back when he could. 40 minutes later the contractions hit, and they hit hard. Because I wasn't at all dilated, the hospital wouldn't give me an epidural, so I just had to deal with the pain. By the time Hubs had returned, I was miserable and trying cope as best I could. ("Miserable and trying to cope" is code for crying a lot and wanting to die.)

Something to remember about Pitocin is it makes your contractions go all Kanye West and be "harder, faster, stronger." I was having contractions about every 45 seconds and they were a bee-otch. I tried to remember the breathing techniques, but dangit, it's hard. The pain is intense and even though it's only for seconds at a time, those seconds are pretty miserable. And so it went for six hours hours, contractions every minute or so. I changed positions, sat on a very phallic looking birthing ball, sat on the toilet, stood next to the bed, squeezed Hubs' hand and breathed. Okay, and vomited every now and again. 

It wasn't fun.

At around 2:00 PM I begged the doctor for a break and to check to see how far I'd dilated with all these contractions. I think I even told her to give me a break or I'd jump out the window. I was exhausted. Surely six solid hours of contractions had done something and they could take me off Pitocin so that I could have lighter contractions on my own. The doc checked my progress.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

I cried.

I was now in the 25% of women who Cervidil and Pitocin didn't do anything. How I love being a rare statistic. We were told that they would take me off of Pitocin to give me a break and we would do another round of Cervidil that evening.

Joy and rapture.

The good news, I was told, was that only about 15% of women have two rounds of Cervidil and don't go into labor, so the staff was confident that things would go better the next morning and the baby would be in my arms before noon.

That night we did the second verse, same as the first. Cervidil went up, some food went down and I tried to sleep. Considering the helluva day I had experienced, I thought I would sleep soundly. Unfortunately, I didn't account for the fact that the day of Pitocin and water breaking had started my own contractions, which I experienced about once every 10-15 minutes. They were mild, but enough to keep me awake a lot of the night. But I didn't care. In the morning, I would surely be in full blown labor.

The daylight of October 2nd arrived and with it, a new doctor. She came in to check my progress...and discovered that once again, nothing had happened. I was now officially a freak of nature. How could I have all these drugs whose sole purpose for existing is to cause a woman to go into labor, and somehow I wasn't? 

My doctor started to refer to me as Steel Cervix.

At this point, it was time to start Pitocin again, which I was completely dreading for good reason. The nurses brought in the IV bag and I watched as the drug drip, drip, dripped into my IV and the pain started. I would now like to take this time to send a virtual hug to any woman who has made it through an entire labor without drugs of any kind. You are truly amazing. Three hours into my second day of contractions and I was ready to kill anyone and everyone. It didn't matter what position I moved into, the pain was awful. The nurses were so encouraging, reminding me that the drugs were making the contractions extremely hard and fast, and I was doing great. I didn't feel like I was doing great. I felt like a big, fat failure. Hubs was there every step of the way, stroking my hair, holding the vomit bag, kissing my forehead. I think a few times I remember even hitting myself with frustration and he held my arms down. That's love, man.

Eventually I told the nurse I had to have something  for the pain. She recommended a pain med through my IV. I took it (duh) and almomst instantly regretted it. All the IV medication did was make me ridiculously sleepy and drunk feeling. Yes, sleep is a great thing, but when you're having contractions every 30 seconds, you're not exactly getting rest. In addition, when the pain wakes you up, you don't have any time to prep for the coming contraction so you just end up panicking and being in more pain. SO MUCH FUN.

At 1:30 PM I had had it. The contractions were getting stronger, I was getting louder and likely scaring my pregnant neighbors, and was finally told I could just have the damn epidural. 


Mr. Anesthesiologist came in all business like and read me all the risks and potential hazards of an epidural. He relayed how there was a very small percentage chance that the epidural wouldn't work and blah blah blah and sign this piece of paper. I signed what I think was "F*ck you, give me the drug" and he went to work. After four tries, I felt the pain subsiding. 


The doctor acted quickly on my numbness and inserted some sort of balloon thingy in-between the baby's head and my cervix. The details on this are fuzzy because I was in la-la land, but the gist is, the balloon was filled with a liquid to create a gap, otherwise known as dilating me the hard way. I couldn't feel it since I was numb. I was so elated after the epidural kicked in that I just kept saying to Hubs, "I'm so happy. I'm so happy." And then I passed out for two hours. 

The happiness was short lived.

I awoke to pain. Not as much pain as before, but something wasn't right. My right side felt like it was on fire, and it was getting progressively worse. The doctor was called in and he confirmed it.The epidural wasn't making it over to my right side. Apparently I have slight scoliosis in my back (there's that fun rare statistic again) and therefore, where my back curved, the epidural was taking a detour and not making it over to my right side. Neat. The anesthesiologist gave us three options:

Option 1) Pull the epidural out and try and put it back in again so it would be on both sides. There was no guarantee it would work and the potential was there for it to not get back in at all. I passed on this option immediately.

Option 2) Be happy the epidural was working at all and deal with the pain on my right side. Better than feeling the pain everywhere.

Option 3) The anesthesiologist could add in a little bit stronger medicine and see if it helped alleviate any of the pain.

We went for option 3 and additional medication was administered. I do recall that it dulled the pain in my right side a small amount, but not by much. The good news was, the balloon thing had worked and I was dilated to 3 centimeters. The doctor wanted to take up the Pitocin very high to see if we could get me any farther along. She promised we'd only do it for one hour if I could handle it. I agreed if it meant it would all be over soon.

I watched the nurse up the Pitocin. Several times. She was sadistic, that one. The spot on my right side was like a hot poker surrounded by spikes. I don't honestly know what was worse...feeling a lot of pain throughout my entire stomach or having that pain isolated to one small spot. It's kind of like trying to figure out if I'd rather be burnt with a blow torch or fall into a fireplace. Neither option is appealing.

I started screaming expletives. I told Hubs I hated the nurse while the poor gal was standing right next to me. Hubs was at his wit's end. Thankfully an hour passed and I started looking toward the door for the doctor. She didn't show. At the two hour mark I was inconsolable. I couldn't do the breathing anymore. I was physically wiped out. Nurse Ratchet had increased my Pitocin high enough that I think she was just trying to see how much pain she could cause me. I started screaming for the doctor, asking why she wasn't back yet.

At long last, the doctor arrived and did a final check. I hadn't dilated any further. I was stuck at three and going nowhere fast. My water had been broken for well over 24 hours and the risk of the baby getting an infection was growing higher by the minute. It was time to make a move. The doctor recommended we go to a c-section.

And then I lost my shit.

I'm not sure why the idea of a cesarean freaked me out so much since it was a means to an end I was so desperately wanting. I imagine it was the exhaustion coupled with fear, but I was convinced I was going to feel myself being cut open and then die on the operating table. The hospital staff and my husband went into overdrive to calm me down. They explained the entire procedure in great detail and the doctor assured me she had done over 1,000 of these before.

I don't remember a lot about the next 15 minutes, but I do remember Hubs. At one point I looked up at him and tears were running down his face. I think he was freaked out about me going into surgery, but also knew how much pain I was in and wanted more than anything to make it stop. All this time he had been there for me, holding my hand, talking me through the contractions and telling me what an amazing woman I was...and now he would be helpless as the baby was removed. It was all in the doctor's hands now.

I was wheeled into surgery and given a spinal to numb me from the chest down. Hubs wasn't allowed to come in until I was completely numb and ready for surgery, and even when he was brought in, he wasn't allowed to watch the procedure. I remember feeling a lot of tugging (when I think about what that tugging meant, it nauseates me), a lot of chit chat from the doctor and nurses that I didn't understand, and my husband's eyes. I remember him looking at me, telling me it would all be done soon and our son would be coming any moment if I could just hang on a little longer. 

I heard the baby before I saw him. Just a quick little cry that I now know so well. And at 3:44 PM, there he was. He wasn't covered in goo like in the movies. He was perfect. The second I saw him I was overcome with emotion. The little dude that didn't want to come out had finally arrived. 

8 pounds, 7.5 ounces. 21" long. Blue eyes and huge feet. My son, Ames Wellington, was here.

Looking back, that time in the operating room was a blur. I was semi-aware of what had to be occurring, but at the same time completely oblivious to what was actually happening. But when he came out and was healthy, I didn't care about myself anymore. He that was all I could think about. I wanted to hold him and simultaneously was scared to even breathe near him. I was pulled in two different directions: fear and love. 

As they placed him on the scale, I heard the nurses ask if Hubs wanted to take a picture. Of course he did, and as he raised his phone to snap a photo and I was instantly taken back to the room at our fertility clinic when the embryo was transferred in. I remember Hubs being asked if he wanted a photo of that as well. Ten long months between that embryo transfer and the birth of my child. So much time, effort, money and emotions had passed over the course of four years, and yet here we finally were.

Hubs and me the day of our embryo transfer

Despite the odds, despite the complications and despite all the "what ifs" that turned out to be realities, we have done it.

We are finally parents.

Our new chapter has begun.

Daddy and Ames


Quick note: We ended up staying at the hospital for 6 days because Ames had an infection from my water breaking longer than 24 hours before he was born. In those six days, we had a handful of nurses who were absolutely amazing. No matter what I did or what insults and obscenities I hurled at them, they just did their job and told me I could do it. If it weren't for my amazing husband and those angel nurses...I don't know what I would have done. Thank you.

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