Friday, September 26, 2014

Priorities

It's been a while since I have written a post, about 3 months, to be exact. I have to say that I think I was a little over ambitious thinking that I would be able to keep up not one, but two blogs, work full-time outside the home, be a wife AND raise a new baby! But hey, it's all about priorities right? As much as I love to write, there are other matters that need more of my attention during this season of life.

This seems to be a common theme for me right now. I am beginning to put certain things on the back burner that previously would have been front and center in my life. I wouldn't say my life is over by any means, but I am learning to navigate my "new normal." The most surprising part about this "new normal" is that I am not at all phased by the adjustments that I have had to make. If you would have told me before EJ was born that I rather spend a Friday night in, snuggling with my husband, dogs and baby boy reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?" for the thirtieth time, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.

It all came to a head when I was in the grocery store the other day on a Wednesday evening after work. I was serving myself some beef and vegetable soup, when out of nowhere this young guy comes up to me pushing a shopping cart with nothing in it and says, "Excuse me sweetie, what are you doing around 7:30pm tonight?" I looked at him with a confused look and said, "I'm going to be taking care of my baby." He then precedes to say, "You can't get away and come out to our new club? It's going to be crazy." I look at him like, "Didn't you just hear me say that I'm taking care of my baby?" What would I look like just leaving my baby home to head out to a club? Do people really do that? And on a week night? I don't think I even went out to a club on a week night when I was in college. It was then that I had realized my priorities have completely shifted. Not just my priorities, my whole view of the world has changed.

I can no longer look at the news and see the reports and not think, "What if that was my son? What if that happened at his school? What if that were his babysitter, teacher, bus driver, you fill in the blank." I have turned into one of those moms who sees a pregnant woman going through airport security walk into the x-ray machine (or whatever that thing is called) and when she comes out, tells her that, "You know that you don't have to walk through those things when you're pregnant." (I actually did this and it wasn't received well...note to self, don't try to help other women protect their unborn babies.) I also routinely stare down people who have their baby's car seat propped on top of their shopping cart. (My husband has told me that I need to stop doing that.) When did I turn into this person??!!!

One thing remains, however, I am still the same me; just a better, wiser, more patient, gracious, understanding, helpful version of me, and who wouldn't love that?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Everybody Does

Before I begin, I must preface this post by saying that this is a vent post. Meaning, I am really just going to vent my feelings electronically. I can't promise that any of this will make sense, but hopefully I won't offend any one or maybe you can relate or empathize on some level.

Sometimes I feel that I'm not doing a good job as a mother and that I should be further along in the adjustment to parenting than I am, but I guess at some point, EVERYBODY DOES.

 I often feel guilty about working outside of the home and being away from my baby. Is what I'm doing for eight hours a day (more with traffic) really worth the time spent away from my child? But, I guess, EVERYBODY DOES.

 I feel like I am just "winging it," pretending that I have it all together when really I have no earthly idea what I'm doing, but I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

I look at myself in the mirror, at times, and think can I really love my new "mommy body?" Will I ever be able to wear a two-piece swim suit again? But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

 I feel awful about longing for days before the baby and "alone time" with my hubby. How could I feel like that? But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.


I'm SO TIRED all the time, not just some of the time, all the time. I feel like I'm in a daze and the world is just happening around me. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

Am I crazy because I check the video baby monitor quite frequently to see if my baby is still breathing? I don't know but, I can guess that EVERYBODY DOES.

It really saddens me to think that there are some things that my son is going to have to sacrifice because of mistakes that I made in the past. I really wish I knew back then what I know now and how my actions would effect my future family. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

Time seems to move faster than the speed of light. Are we sure that there really are 24 hours in a day? Because I swear I don't have nearly enough hours.  I spend most of my time loading and unloading all the "stuff" in my car. But I guess, EVERYBODY DOES.

I look into my son's eyes and it never fails, I am always brought to tears. Will there ever be a time that I look at him and I am not in awe? I cannot believe that God has entrusted me to mother such an amazing creation. I feel so unworthy. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

In my mind MY child is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. I could literally stare at him ALL day and I wouldn't get tired of it or feel bad about it. I feel that staring at him is my favorite pastime. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

Confession: I pretend to care or take into account unsolicited advice. I'm sorry (not sorry), but it's called unsolicited for a reason...WE DON'T WANT IT! Yeah, I said it. I mean it, and I think EVERYBODY DOES.

On behalf of new mothers everywhere, thanks for listening. I just needed to get that out. WOO-SAH! Now, that's better.






Monday, June 9, 2014

...and Baby Makes Three

I always thought it was a smart decision to wait a while, after getting married, before having kids. I still believe that. My husband and I had been married for 5 years before I got pregnant. This gave us plenty of time to iron out the kinks in our relationship, get to know each other more, take trips, try to understand our finances, etc. etc. I truly loved the time that we spent together, just the two of us. I will always treasure that time before EJ (B4EJ).

Now that we have a little one, let's just say that our quality time is extremely limited. Don't get me wrong, we still spend time together, now it just consists of making bottles, feeding the baby, bathing the baby, playing with the baby, changing the baby (diapers and clothing), talking to the baby...you get the idea. Have we had alone time since the baby? Yes. I can count on three fingers how many times we have been out together, alone, without EJ in tow. I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I absolutely adore my son and I love spending time with him. It's one of my favorite things in the world. It's just at times, I would love to have a glimpse of my old life back, just for a moment.

My husband and I are fortunate in that we live very close to family and have wonderful friends who are more than willing to care for our son. This makes spending that "alone" time that much easier. However, as I experienced this past weekend, sometimes even when you do have alone time, the baby ends up there with you anyway. Let me explain.

Last Saturday, June 7th was my husband and I's 6th wedding anniversary. We knew we weren't going to be able to celebrate how we normally do, by taking a trip or a fun excursion, so we decided on dinner and a movie. This is a rare treat and it would be our first movie together since EJ was born. We had some wonderful friends agree to babysit for us. They did not live very far from the restaurant and movie theater we were going to, so we were able to drop him off at their home on our way out for our anniversary date.

We decided to have dinner first. Hold on, I must mention that the evening got off to a pretty rocky start for me when I was trying to figure out what to wear. Although, it's been almost 3 months since I gave birth, virtually NONE of my clothes fit. In an effort to make sure that I get back into shape and lose the weight, I have not bought any clothes in a bigger size. While this sounds like a good strategy, it does not make it easy when trying to dress for a "hot date." So after about 30 minutes of sitting on my closet floor and sulking I found something to put on. It was not the ideal outfit for an anniversary date, but it fit.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I was hoping for a quiet booth where just the two of us could connect and not think about the baby. However, the hostess escorted us to the center of the restaurant to a table surrounded by families with, you guessed it BABIES!!! All I could do was think about EJ. I wanted to check my phone so bad and text the couple that was sitting for EJ, but I remembered my husband and I had made a pact before our date that we would not bring our phones with us to dinner. I was a wreck. I tried not to get too distracted by the babies and enjoy my husband's company. I was able to do that and it was made that much easier with the glass of wine that I had with dinner. Soon I found myself feeling that familiar feeling that I had on many, many other dates with the man that I love.

We left dinner and headed to the movies. I was very excited about the movie. It was a high energy, action movie that both of us really wanted to see. I bypassed the concession stand when we got there, remembering my meltdown earlier about my clothes not fitting, and headed into the theater. The movie got off to a great start. We were both really enjoying it. Then it happened. I felt it. The feeling of sleepiness coming over me. Man, that glass of wine really did me in. I thought I could fight it. Surely, an 8:00pm movie isn't too late for me. I tried to hang on. I nodded off a few times and after hard fought battle, I decided to give in. I fell asleep, and had a nice nap at that. No interruptions from a crying baby, perfect temperature and comfy seat. Perfect combination for a wonderful sleep. At least my husband enjoyed the movie.

It will take time to adjust to my "new normal" and just when I've adjusted, I know something else will be thrown into the mix. But, with all of that being said, I wouldn't trade being a mommy for anything in the world, even if it means that I sometimes fall asleep on dates!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Role Reversal

Gender roles play a huge part in the make-up of "the family." Typically, the man/husband/father is responsible for working outside the home, providing financially, taking out the trash, yard work, etc. The woman/wife/mother is typically responsible for taking care of household chores and all things having to do with the kids. This works in some families, but not always in others. It turns out in my family there is a bit of a role reversal.

My husband has the privilege of being able to work primarily from home. When he first got the position he was overjoyed because it meant less time wasted due to commuting, more money saved on gas and the freedom of autonomy. Who wouldn't want that? But, it wasn't until recently that we realized what a blessing his "work from home" position truly is.

I was fortunate enough to stay home with our son EJ after his birth for about 8 weeks. I treasured the moments that I got to spend with him and all the growing and developing that I witnessed in just that short period of time. Unfortunately, financially, our household would not survive on just one income, so I needed to go back to work full time. This would take me away from our son for at least 8 hours a day, if you don't count the time spent commuting to and from work. The thought of finding someone to care for our son while I was away made me sick. I couldn't imagine someone being able to care for my son like I could. Not to mention the fact that this person would be witnessing all of his firsts and possibly some major developmental milestones. After searching and searching we found someone who we deemed fit to fill in for us while we were away. However, the cost of sending EJ here full-time would be too much of a financial burden for us. We knew that we could probably swing part time though. In order to make this work, my husband stepped up to the plate and took on the role of the "Work from Home Dad," or as he would call it a "WFHD."

My husband has taken on making bottles, feedings, running errands, going to doctor's appointments, changing and dressing our baby (that's been interesting...I'm now laying out all of his clothing the night before. Just kidding, not really.) all while working! On the days that EJ does go to daycare, my husband is the one who takes him there and picks him up since I have such a long commute to work. I love seeing him with that diaper bag on his shoulder. It's such a wonderful scene. :) Due to this duty that my husband has taken on, he really and truly understands the balancing act that most mothers must perform. He knows what it's like to wonder when you will be able to take a shower or waiting until your spouse comes home to get dressed. He's been there and does this daily. I am so thankful for this "WFHD." The world needs more like him.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Working Mother




Working Mother: this term is pretty redundant if you ask me. It can also be pretty insulting. For instance, if you are a mother and you do not work outside the home, this term could imply that you do no work at all. This could not be further from the truth. I am a mother and I work outside the home. I can wholeheartedly say that being a mother is, hands-down, the hardest job I have ever had.  I have never worked longer and harder doing anything else in my life!

Before I had my baby boy I would have, what I like to call, "maternity dreams" about what my maternity leave would be like. I would be home all day with the baby and get to hold him and love on him. I would be able to clean the house, relax and sleep. It would be nice not having to think about or go into work everyday. I was going to get to visit with people that I hadn't seen in a while and I would get to spend quality time with family. Like I said..."maternity DREAM."

I won't say that being home with my baby was nothing like that, it just wasn't that picturesque and dreamy. I never got enough sleep to have any dreams...except for the times I caught myself napping with my eyes open. I think the part of my maternity leave that I really underestimated was the sleep deprivation. Everyone tells you about it. I  even read about it, but you just don't understand until you've BEEN there! The best way that I can describe it is; think of a time when you have been up all night long, maybe this was during college cramming for an exam or you have a job that requires you to work long shifts, either way you know the feeling. After the exam was over or your shift had been completed, what would you do? Most people would go home immediately and sleep. Now imagine how it would feel if that was EVERY night and there was no time in the near future that you would be able to recover..EVER. Yeah, it's something like that. I have fantasies now about long naps and a full-night's sleep. *sigh* I also read that sleep deprivation is used in some countries as a torture tactic. They will let the prisoners sleep and right before they get into REM sleep they would wake them up (insert baby cry in the middle of the night here). Once you get past the lack of sleep and just accept it as your right of passage into parenthood, you learn to adjust. This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to have a spouse or partner that is co-parenting with you. My hats off to all of the single parents out there. I really do not know how you do it. I have help and there a lot of days that I spend, literally the whole day in a fog.

Another thing that has shocked me about parenthood is how much "stuff" that those little people need!!! It's unreal. How can someone so small have a list of demands and product needs as long as Mariah Carey's when she's on tour?! And have more wardrobe changes than Diana Ross! Trying to gather everything up to leave the house just to go to the grocery store is an adventure. I can't imagine how it will be when we finally go out of town. You always have that nagging feeling that you are forgetting something when you leave the house, and you hope and pray that it's not the baby! Then there is the time when you actually do forget something, something big and you beat yourself up and think that you are the most terrible parent in the world. This happened to me just yesterday when we were dropping EJ off at Waumba Land at church (Birth-4yrs childcare). We realized as we were taking EJ out of the car that we had neglected to put any bottles in the diaper bag. Yes, we were going to send our child to church for a couple of hours without food! I was so embarrassed by this until I ran into a friend of mine at church and told her what happened. My friend is an experienced mother of three and let me know not to feel bad because she had accidentally sent her son to school with no shoes just that week! There's just so much stuff to remember that eventually something will fall through the cracks.

Motherhood is one of the only jobs that no one else can do better than you. This is why, as a mother who works outside of the home, it was difficult to go back to work and leave my little one in the hands of another. When you look into their eyes as you are leaving them for the first time, it almost rips your heart out. It does make it easier though, when you are comfortable with who is caring for your child. I recommend doing lots of research and interviewing potential childcare candidates. Also, think about the specific needs that your family has. Not all childcare options work for all families.

So I'm still dealing with the sleep deprivation, demands from my baby, remembering things, being a good wife and now throw in my duties at work into the mix. Lord, give me strength. I know I can do it, because I'm a mom and all moms are SUPERHEROS!!

Take a look at this video. You may have seen it before, but this really describes how much work goes in to being a mother. Thank you to all of the moms out there. You all are AWESOME!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It was the Milk!

As you all now know from my last post, I am a planner. Motherhood has really made this aspect of my life a lot more challenging. As you learned in my birth story, things don't always go according to plan. In addition to planning to have a natural childbirth, a huge part of my plan was to breast feed my baby. Again, I was influenced by the women in my life (my mother and grandmother) to make this decision. I was breast fed and I knew all the benefits of breast milk for your baby. Not to mention, people pretty much look down on moms nowadays who don't breast feed. It's almost like feeding your baby food from McDonald's. Also, breast milk is free. Why wouldn't you choose to nurse your baby? Due to my track record, you can probably tell where this is going. Yeah...me breast feeding, it didn't work out so well.

When EJ was first born and we were in the recovery room after the c-section, he was given to me to begin nursing. They placed him on my belly and he crawled up to my chest and immediately began rooting. He latched on without any hesitation or problem. It didn't even hurt. I was ecstatic...#winning..LOL. My excitement came to a screeching halt when the nurses took EJ for the routine newborn procedures. I noticed that they were feeding him formula out of a bottle. I mean, he was fresh out of my womb and they're giving him formula!! From the other side of the room I notice this and ask what was going on. I was planning on breast feeding exclusively. It was then brought to my attention that EJ was born with very low blood sugar. It was necessary to feed him formula to get it back up. I would have to supplement my breast milk with formula everyday until his blood sugar stabilized. As you can imagine, for a mother who was planning to breast feed exclusively, this was a huge blow and yet another deviation from my "plan."

I continued to breast feed him while my husband would feed him the formula in the bottle. EJ did well with nursing for the first 2 days. Then on day 3, while still in the hospital, EJ was taken to get circumcised and when he came back, he began to struggle with the latch. He just would not latch on. He would attempt and then just start screaming. You don't know how frustrating this was for me. He was latching fine before. What was going on?! After meeting with lactation consultants, it was determined that I was not producing enough milk and my supply was not enough to sustain EJ on its own. After a visit to our pediatrician, she suggested that I pump as often as we feed EJ his formula (every 2 1/2 to 3 hours) in order to increase my supply. I took her advice and did just that. Unfortunately, I still was having significant issues with my supply, even after taking herbal supplements, drinking beer, etc. You name it, I tried it. I began to feel extremely guilty and saddened that I had missed out on the critical initial bonding that nursing provides. Aside from that, in order to avoid confusion, my husband was exclusively feeding EJ out of the bottle. I couldn't feed my baby at all. I didn't want to give up. At this point EJ was almost 3 weeks old.

Since we were going through lots of formula and the samples of the brand name formula we had gotten from the pediatrician were about to run out, we decided to purchase a generic version of the formula. We had heard from friends and through research that it was the same stuff, just cheaper. We began feeding EJ the generic formula. After a few days we noticed that EJ seemed to be in a lot of pain when moving his bowels. We also noticed that he had developed a redness on his bottom that was getting brighter and brighter red with each day. He would scream in agony with every diaper change. We knew that something wasn't right and it was time to take a visit back to the pediatrician. We were told that he may just have very severe gas and that is why he was in pain when moving his bowels and the redness was due to his stool being acidic and it was literally burning his skin. That was a good reason to change back to the brand-named formula. So we took the doctor's advice and changed back to the brand-named ($10.00 more expensive) formula. After a couple days back on the formula, we saw no improvement. Actually, the exact opposite happened. It got worse. The redness was not going away, the screaming continued and, a new development, there was blood in his stool. I couldn't take it. I couldn't take seeing my baby in agony and I didn't know what was wrong.

So we find ourselves back at the doctor. Thank goodness for emergency Saturday appointments. We actually were able to see our regular doctor. (She was on-call that day. Did I mention that I love her? The only thing is she is pregnant with her second baby and will eventually be gone on maternity leave. Not happy about that, but anyway...) She asked us to bring a soiled diaper with us. (This was a new experience, but apparently it's not uncommon in the world of parenting.) They tested his stool to confirm the blood. It turns out EJ has an allergy to cow's milk protein. This was causing his intestine to be enflamed which explained the bleeding. This also caused the acidic stool. What was the solution? New formula! This time it is $20.00 more...YES! Can you sense my sarcasm? But, all joking aside, I am happy that the doctor was able to provide us with a solution. I would pay any amount of money to make sure my baby is healthy. The type of formula is called Alimentum (and no it's not soy-based...he would be allergic to that too.) So what about my breast milk? I'm glad you asked. If I wanted to continue to "try" to nurse EJ I would have to have a completely dairy and gluten-free diet. This was what I needed to hear to make the decision to let go of my nursing dreams. With the little bit of milk that I was producing, it just wasn't worth it. Not to mention, foods that contain dairy and gluten are just the types of food you need in your diet to help with milk production.

So now my baby is strictly formula-fed. I'm shaking my head. If I haven't learned anything else from motherhood, I've learned that I need to stop making plans or actually, better yet, make plans just be flexible. As my yoga teacher always says, "Blessed are the flexible. For, they will never be bent out of shape."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Expect the Unexpected: The Story of EJ's Birth


Everything is better with a plan, right? I truly believe that and the birth of a child is no exception. I am a master planner and I didn’t want to experience the birth of my first child unprepared. However, I was not prepared for how my “birth plan, “ or lack there of, would affect me and profoundly change my outlook on life.
Some of you, who have been following my pregnancy journey through social media or if you have the pleasure of being a friend or family member, already know that a “natural” childbirth is what I desired for the birth of my son. When you are asked about your intended birth plan during your pregnancy and you say you want to “go natural” most people think you are crazy; in this country, that is. Do you know that about 90% of all births in this country have some sort of medical intervention involved and if you were to poll labor and delivery nurses that have been working within the last 10 years, most of them would tell you that they have never seen a natural childbirth in the hospital. Quite interesting, isn’t it? Most other countries around the world, like the UK for instance, still use midwives for childbirth and a small percentage of the births require medical intervention. They also get 1 year paid maternity leave in the UK and if you have multiples, you get a nanny as well. Just some interesting food for thought.
Why did I choose natural childbirth as a part of my birth plan? It was something I always knew I would do. My mother gave birth to me naturally and my grandmother did the same with her children. I thought if they could do it, why can’t I? I grew up thinking that is how you birth babies, with no drugs and through your vagina. The only exception was in my mother’s case with my sisters who are twins. She had every intention on delivering them naturally and vaginally, however they were not in an optimal position. She got a pass for that one. She also carried them full-term during the summer. She was definitely a trooper.
So halfway into my pregnancy journey I began to research different techniques for natural childbirth. Yes, there are different techniques. This is not something that anyone should go into lightly. You need training. It’s like saying, “I’m going to register to run a marathon,” and then never train for it. Childbirth is a LOT more strenuous than a marathon, believe me, I know. After careful consideration and a conversation with a friend, my husband and I decided on The Bradley Method. This method is a very extensive 12-week training program for expectant couples where the father-to-be takes on the role of the “Coach.”  His role is a very active one. I would even argue that the mother would not be able to succeed without him. This is a far cry from a panicked father in the delivery room pacing back and forth or fetching ice chips. This class/training gave my husband and I a totally different outlook on the childbirth experience. I went in wanting a natural birth and came out fearing what would happen if I couldn’t have one. Not only did we learn how to manage the pain of labor without drugs, but we also learned what said drugs could do to your labor and birth experience. This is something called “the domino effect.” One medical intervention leads to another and another and so on until you ultimately had a c-section. I did NOT want this to happen to me.
As people began to tell me their birth stories (which always happens during your pregnancy) I would pick them apart in my mind and pinpoint where exactly they went wrong and what led to the outcome of their experience. After our 12 weeks of Bradley training, my husband and I were ready. We knew everything we needed to know backwards, forwards and inside out. You couldn’t tell us we weren’t ready to have this baby the natural way. I even had other expectant mothers that I knew asking me for advice on natural childbirth and those who had given birth wanting me to share my experience with them.
Week 40 came and went along with my due date. This was the first of many shockers for me. I’m not na├»ve. I know that most first-time moms deliver after their due date and less than 5% of women actually deliver on their due date. I also knew that you could look at when your mom delivered to get an idea of what your experience would be like. That being said, my mother and grandmother both delivered within a few days before their due dates. I just had to follow suit, right? Wrong. The first doctor’s appointment that I had after my due date passed was so difficult. I couldn’t believe that the baby still had not come. I had taken my maternity leave 2 weeks before my due date because I just knew my baby was coming early and I was bored out of my mind and there was no sign of this baby. The further I got from my due date, the closer I got to the induction date that my OB had set for me. This was the LAST thing that I wanted. I didn’t want to have any interventions, including induction of labor. I heard about a technique to “naturally” help labor to begin called “stripping of membranes.” Those who had this done could expect for labor to begin within 24-48 hours. This was something that could be done by my OB in the office. There was no guarantee that it would work, but it was worth a shot. At this appointment I asked her if she would be willing to do this and if she thought this was a good course of action for me. She agreed that it was and did the procedure that day. I wasn’t sure how this would all turn out, but I was hopeful. Just to be sure, I picked up some raspberry leaf tea on the way home. My husband and I also decided to go out for eggplant Parmesan for dinner. (Both are actions that are said to induce labor.)
My doctor’s appointment was on Wednesday, March 12th. On the way to dinner, at about 7pm that night, I had my first contraction. I was able to make it through dinner with my contractions coming about 15 minutes apart. We decided to head home and by the time we got there my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. At this time I was thinking that it was getting late and I really needed to get some sleep before I went into active labor and the contractions were closer together. We learned in our Bradley class that if you want to slow down your labor, in the early stage, you should take a bath. That’s exactly what I did. However, it didn’t work. My contractions were still coming 10 minutes apart. This made for a very disruptive night’s sleep. I woke every 10 minutes to manage a contraction. This continued all night long. I knew for sure that we would be headed to the hospital in the morning.
I wake up the next morning on Thursday, March 13th to find that I had slept for the last hour without waking up. My contractions had slowed down. They now were coming at about 30-45 minutes apart. What!!?? How could this happen? I just knew this was it and we were going to the hospital today. So in order to speed up the contractions, I took a shower and my husband and I headed to the mall to walk. I will tell you it is a very interesting experience to be in labor in a public place. I thought everyone was staring at me, especially when I would have a contraction. The walking helped slightly. The contractions did speed up, but not enough for us to go to the hospital. We left the mall feeling frustrated and tired. We had the car packed and were not expecting to make this trip back home. Once we got there, I called my doctor to let her know what I had been experiencing. She confirmed that I was actually in labor, but a lot of first time moms have contractions that take a long time to establish a pattern. She let me know that I should head to the hospital if my water broke, I felt the urge to push or if my contractions sped up to 5 minutes apart. We had made it to Thursday evening and at this point the contractions had slowed down so much that I almost forgot about them. My husband and I went to bed that night with little to no expectations for the day ahead. Boy, were we wrong.
At about 3:00am on Friday, March 14th I was awakened from my sleep with a strong pop that I felt in my stomach. I knew from talking to other moms that this sensation is what it sometimes feels like when your water breaks. I immediately felt around in my bed for dampness. My sheets were completely bone dry. I got up out of bed expecting a trickle to come down or maybe even a gush, but there was nothing. That’s odd. I was about to shake it off and chalk it up to nothing when out of nowhere I felt the most excruciating pain known to man. What in the world was this? It couldn’t be a contraction. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. It lasted for about 2-3 minutes. Contractions aren’t supposed to last longer than 70 seconds right? All of the contractions that I had felt over the last 2 days were manageable. Notice I did not say pain free, but manageable. This was on a whole different level. So much so that I just knew something had to be wrong. I was remembering what our Bradley instructor had said about knowing the difference between a muscular contraction and a pain that feels like an injury. This pain was definitely injury status. I cried out during the pain like I had never done before and my husband jumped up out of his sleep to find me sobbing in a squat on the side of the bed. I told him that I thought something was wrong. When the pain had stopped, I decided to get back in the bed. About 45 seconds later, the pain came back, just as strong and as painful as before, only this time I felt the urge to use the bathroom. Those of you who are experienced mothers know that the urge to push feels like you have to make a giant BM and that was just what I was feeling. I headed to the bathroom doubled over in pain. I could barely even stand up. I remember just barely making it into the bathroom before the pain began again. These things were coming less than a minute apart and they were lasting for about 2-3 minutes. I was scared. We hadn’t studied anything about pains like this. As I continued to feel the urge to push, I just knew that the baby was coming and we weren’t going to make it to the hospital. My husband enters the bathroom as I have turned myself around and am seated backwards on the toilet (another technique for managing pain that we learned in our Bradley class). He sees how much pain I am in and how close the pains are coming. With no recovery time in between the contractions, I am exhausted and he is scared. He asks if he should call 911. I tell him no. Then after experiencing another excruciating pain, I told him to call. I remember hearing bits and pieces of my husband’s conversation with the 911 operator. I have to admit that I think I may have blacked out a little due to the pain. I just remember him trying to get me off the toilet and the operator asking if he could see the head. I heard him say that the paramedics were on the way. All I could think of at this moment was that I didn’t want the paramedics to see me half naked. (I know, that’s a bit crazy considering the amount of pain that I was in and that they are paramedics. I’m sure they have seen worse.) As my husband went downstairs to unlock the front door and put the dogs in their crates, I was attempting to put on clothes. I am still wondering how I was able to do this. I heard the paramedics enter, so I decide to make my way downstairs, all while still having monstrous pains. My husband looks up at me like I’m crazy while I scream and moan through another pain. The paramedics ask if my water has broken and I say no. Their whole mood and sense of urgency changes after finding out this bit of info. They say, “Oh, you have plenty of time to get to the hospital if your water hasn’t broken, you guys can definitely make it.” I’m still on the fence about this, but the thought of riding in an ambulance and having to bear these pains did not sit well with me. My husband and I decided that we would brave it and try to make it to the hospital on our own. My husband helped me into the car and went back inside to do a last minute check and lock up the house. While he is doing this, I am screaming in agony in the garage as I had about 4 more of these pains. He finally gets in the car after, what seems like and eternity, and we make our way to the hospital. One thing that is in our favor is that it is about 5:00am on a Friday morning and rush hour hasn’t begun yet. We are about a block away from our house when my husband mentions that he forgot to grab my cell phone. I give him a look that I’m sure would have caused anyone to drop dead. We circle back around and he grabbed it and we continued back on our way. (I recently found out after the birth that he had my phone the whole time in his inside coat pocket! I’m so glad he left that out until after all of this was over.)
We arrived at the hospital in about 15 minutes. Again, this seemed like the longest 15 minutes known to man. I felt like I spent the whole trip in pain. We pulled up to the front and it happened, my husband just froze. He didn’t move for almost a whole minute. Of course I go crazy. I say, “What are you waiting for? Help me out.” This is the first time throughout this whole experience that I visibly saw the fear on my husband’s face. I began to wonder if he was going to be able to handle this and get me through this birth. We walk in and I am in mid-contraction and the ladies behind the desk are looking at me like, “Oh boy we’ve got one of those.” Mind you, my whole goal in life was never to be one of those women who came into the delivery room screaming as if someone was torturing them like a prisoner of war. But, yes I was that person. They grabbed me a wheelchair and wheeled me to a window. They began to ask me questions. These questions irritated me because as everyone knows when you are in extreme pain, you have no filter and I had already pre-registered so they had all of this info. I yell out, “Don’t you already have this info? Why am I answering these questions again?” I began to get so belligerent that they suggested that they just take me to triage. Once I got there, I was asked to remove my clothes, put on a gown and give a urine sample. Wait a minute, WHAT a urine sample? Did they see how much pain I was in? How did they really expect me to give a urine sample?? I looked at my husband and said that I didn’t know how I was going to do this. I was convinced that the hospital staff just did not believe that I was really in as much pain as I was saying. However, I was able to get undressed and give the sample, by the grace of God. I leave the bathroom on my hands and knees crawling my way over to the hospital bed. After this everything is pretty much a blur. They hooked me up to the monitors, although I don’t remember that and they checked me to see how dilated I was. Remember, my contractions were less than a minute apart and lasting for about 2-3 minutes and they had been this way for almost 2 hours. Once I was connected to the monitors, the nurses could see the frequency and strength of the contractions and their sense of urgency began to shift. I could tell that they were expecting this baby to come soon. Well, they checked me and they said I was 2, yes only 2 cm dilated. You have got to be kidding me. When I heard this, all I could do was cry. I knew that I had a long road left until I was pushing and I didn’t think I had enough strength left to handle the pain and then deliver the baby. The nurse stepped out to page my doctor and my husband and I discussed what our next step would be as far as continuing with our plan for a natural childbirth. This was that hardest decision that I have ever had to make, especially when I am making it in between contractions. I was literally sobbing because I knew what decision that I had to make. It had been well over 36 hours since I began labor and I was tired and weak. My husband and I made the decision to have an epidural.
They admitted me and moved me into my labor and delivery suite. All I could think of was having some relief and rest. It couldn’t come soon enough. I was also thinking about “the domino effect” that we had learned about in our Bradley Method class. Was this going to happen to me? At this point I felt like I had plunged down the “rabbit hole” of medical intervention with no chance of return. When I got the epidural and it kicked in, I didn’t seem to care as much. After that, we were all good. I got a kick out of watching my contractions on the monitor. I remember saying, “Oh wow that was a big one,” all the while feeling numb to the pain. I went along like this quite well until about noon when the calvary of nurses entered my room. I’m so glad that there were no alarms that I could hear that were going off in my room, because if so, I would have freaked out. My baby was in distress and I needed to be put on oxygen. After about an hour, I was able to come off of the oxygen because my baby had stabilized. At this time, my doctor comes in to check my progress. She checks me and I am about 5cm dilated. She seemed ok with that, but wanted to see some more progress, so she mentioned she would break my water and asked if that was okay. I told her yes. To my surprise, when she went to break my water she asked me if I was sure my water didn’t break. Of course I was sure. I think I would notice if I was leaking fluid from my vagina. I told her that there was no leaking. She said my water had definitely been broken because she could feel my baby’s hair. I asked how that was possible. She said that in rare cases the bag of waters is behind the baby. This means that when it is broken, the baby acts as a plug and prevents the water from leaking. The water would come out behind the baby as it passes through the birth canal. So now this changes everything. Remember the pop I felt at 3:30 that morning that woke me from my sleep? That was when my water broke. So we were approaching 12 hours since this happened. My doctor then informed me that my contractions had taken on a pattern that had slowed down the progression of the labor. She let me know that I was experiencing protracted labor, which is characterized as labor that lasts 20 or more hours. Right now, I was working on 48. I would continue to progress, just very slowly. Since my water was already broken, this presented a huge issue. So here we go with the “domino effect.” Pitocin was started. I spent the afternoon and early evening on Pitocin waiting for my labor to progress so that I could deliver my baby. During this time, my baby went into distress about two more times. I was put on oxygen and I spiked a fever. I had to be given two different antibiotics to prevent infection. At about 10:30pm on Friday, March 14th, I was 9 cm dilated and not budging. My baby was still showing signs of distress and the decision was made that I needed to have a c-section. This, to me, was a fate worse than death. My husband and I, along with my parents and sisters, who had arrived at my bedside by now, took a moment to mourn our destroyed birth plan. We prayed for a safe delivery and surgery and I headed into the OR.
After 52 hours and 38 minutes of labor, Baby EJ was born on Friday, March 14th (My husband’s father’s birthday) at 11:38pm. He was 6 pounds 2 ounces and 18 ¾ inches long. Like I stated earlier this experience has had a profound effect on me. It is one that I could have never predicted. Everything in my plan was completely deviated. However, my baby was born healthy, which was definitely part of the plan. It has taken me a long time to cope with my birth experience. I have even felt that since I didn’t push my baby out, I didn’t truly give birth to him. I find myself envious of other mothers’ birth experiences and wondering what I could have done differently. Almost every day after EJ’s birth I have gone through every part of my birth story with a fine tooth comb to figure out what I could have done differently. People have said that although we have our plans, God’s plan is ultimately what will be carried out. I believe that 100%, but how could God’s plan leave me recovering from a surgery and having to care for a newborn?
Writing this post has been very therapeutic for me. I am learning to cope with all that has happened. One thing that helps is for me to look at my beautiful baby boy. It wasn’t about just having things go “my way.” It was more about what was best for my baby and I thought going “natural” was it. I guess my experience proves that is not always the case. In church this morning, my pastor mentioned this:

Real Life Is:
Unsystematic
Inconsistent
Random
and Messy
Yup, that about sums it up and I am loving every minute of it. 

Baby EJ (2 days Old) 

Due Today


No, I'm Not in Labor


EJ's Domain


Hero


Book of EJ



I'm having a baby! Ahhhh! Is this for real?!! This is the beginning of my journey into parenthood. I will begin by journaling about my last 30 days kid-free right here on my video journal.