WARNING: This post can be considered too graphic in nature for some. Both in words and in photos. So if you think you cannot handle it, please stop here or proceed with caution. This is my birthing story and I am not ashamed of it or anything we went through.
Two weeks ago today, on April 7th, 2014 at 14:46, our little miracle was born.
Weighing in at 6lbs., 11oz., and 19 beautiful inches long, she stayed strong and powerful throughout my entire hard, long 15 hour labor. I am so proud of her. She is strong, like her Mommy and absolutely gorgeous like her Daddy.
Our lives completely changed in the matter of hours. And this unexplainable deep intense love overcame us. We fell completely and utterly in love. We fell in love with her and we fell in love with each other (all over again).
It was the best day of our lives.
My labor was not an easy one. Like all the nurses said: “they wouldn’t call it labor if it was easy”. But I went into it expecting the worst pain possible and was ready to take it as it came. I was so proud of myself.
It has taken me some time to sit down and write this post because so much has happened. Both with me, my body and my emotions. I cannot possibility express in this post how I truly feel about my beautiful daughter and my wonderful husband. Nor can I write with confidence what happened that day because a lot of it is a blur.
So I will try my best.
Here is what I remember:
Sunday, April 6th, Bobby and I spent the day doing our usual housework. And I bounced on my birthing ball, drank Raspberry Leaf Tea and did many, many squats. By the time it came for us to go to bed, I said to him: “I’m sorry that Josie didn’t make her presence this weekend. I know you were really looking forward to not going into work tomorrow”. I said it as a joke, really. We laughed, he kissed me goodnight and we went to sleep.
Side Note: As you all know, at week 35 my doctor told me that I might have to have a C-section because my pelvis was “small” and I was too little to get her through the birth canal. Not only that, but my pelvis was “odd shaped” and had a “lip” that would be difficult for baby to pass through and around. In most women it is flatter. But mine was curved downward. I left that appointment in tears; devastated about the possibility of a C-section and not being able to experience the vaginal natural birth I wanted. My “plan” was non-existent at that point. So I came home, did my research and asked many, many questions on forums and to other moms. I bought a birthing ball and tried other ways to make her move down on her own into my pelvis. I was determined I was going to have a vaginal birth regardless. She HAD to be able to come out the way she went in. I kept telling myself that I was made to bear children. I was pregnant. I am a woman. I CAN do this. And I AM doing this!
On Monday, April 7th, 2014 around midnight, I woke up to what I thought was just more annoying Braxton Hicks contractions and prodromal labor. They were painful, hard and strong. I grabbed my phone and saw that I had only been sleeping for about 2 hours. I kept telling myself that this is no big deal and it was just another crappy night sleep. No biggie. But then they kept coming and getting more intense and closer together. At one point I actually thought that I was making it up. By 1:00am I opened the contraction counter on my phone to track them. They were 1 minute long and 5-6 minutes apart. And they were consistent. After moaning and groaning in bed, I got up to eat (thinking maybe I was hungry). I ate a few yogurts and a banana. And I even thought it may be gas pains and made myself use the bathroom. But they still kept coming. They were getting stronger. After trying to lay back down and rest, I decided to get back up. I quietly walked out of the bedroom (I didn’t want to scare Bobby just yet) and frantically searched for the on-call phone number for my doctor. My mind was all over the place. The pain was so intense when it came that I couldn’t remember what I was doing when I was doing it. Why on Earth did I not add this number to my favorites? After finally finding the phone number and getting in touch with the doctor, she insisted I head to the hospital because she believed I was in Active Labor.
I had always said throughout this pregnancy that I wouldn’t go to the hospital so soon because I didn’t want to sit there and labor all day when I could be home eating, drinking and doing my own walking around without IV fluids and monitors attached to me. So when I woke Bobby up to let him know the situation and what the doctor said the first thing he said was: “I thought you were going to stay here for a while?” I may have said that before, but these were not BHC. They were the real deal. And they were scaring me. The last thing I wanted to happen was for me to change so quickly and not make it to hospital (although it is only less than a mile away). So I decided to take a hot shower while Bobby packed the car and drank his coffee. We took our time getting things together. I wanted to go to the hospital as soon as possible, but I didn’t think it was necessary to rush there. It was nice to have time to get the house together and make sure we fed the cats extra food before we walked out the door.
I knew that labor could be long, so I ate some breakfast and took a hot shower. After the pains were still there, (now 4 minutes apart), I really knew that this was it. I thought to myself: we weren’t coming back to our house alone. When we leave, it will be the last time it will be just Bobby and I. We will be bringing home our daughter. This thought brought on a load of emotions and excitement that caused me to feel like I just ran a marathon or drank about 100 Red Bulls. I was so nervous and ecstatic! After only sleeping about 2 hours, I had more energy than I ever thought possible.
We headed to the hospital at around 4:00am.
We made our way to Sweetwater Pavilion. It was a ghost town. Where were all the babies being born? It seemed like it was just us.
We took the elevator to the 3rd floor, which was the Labor and Delivery floor and checked in at the front desk. They had us go into a triage room to have my cervix checked to determine whether I would stay or they would send us back home.
Within about 15 minutes, the nurse came in, checked me and said with a chuckle: “you’re definitely not going home. You’re about 4-5cm and she is right there.” Completed elated, I looked over at Bobby, sitting on the chair across from me, and I just started crying so hard.
Thoughts were racing through my head. Oh my gosh! We are really doing this! And she is coming all on her own. What a miracle, I thought. If my pelvis was really that small, she must know it’s her time. That if she got any bigger in utero then she wouldn’t be able to pass through. I was 37 weeks, 6 days pregnant. She was ready. And so were we.
We were shown our room and given everything possible to keep us comfortable. The nurse that drew my blood and gave me my IV (right before shift change) was absolutely amazing. In fact, I must say now, (before I go any further) that each and every single nurse and PCA were fantastic. I honestly cannot imagine our stay at Methodist Sugar Land being any better. I was very, very comfortable. I take great pride in working for such an amazing hospital.
After shift change, the 7am nurse came in to introduce herself. Her name was Tracy. And she was wonderful. When she came in to introduce herself she had a very strong personality. And very straight to the point. There was no beating around the bush-mumbo-jumbo. She was the perfect amount of “I’m going to tell you like it is” and “I’m going to be here for you and hold your hand”. It was so important to me to have a nurse who wasn’t going to tolerate any crap. And who was empathetic enough to make me comfortable. I couldn’t imagine having a nurse that would treat me like I was about to break, be too overly sweet or talk to me like I was a child. I needed a strong woman (or man) to do this with me. And I absolutely loved how Tracy came in and strongly told me what was going to happen and that she was not going to leave my side. I gained an intense amount of respect for her and for all the Labor and Delivery nurses. What they do is truly amazing. And the vast knowledge, patience and experience they have shines right through. I was very lucky to have her as my nurse when Josephine was born. And I honestly cannot thank her enough for all her support during my hard long labor. But mostly for believing in me and encouraging me. That was so important to me. She frequently reminded me that I could do this. And when I had any sort of doubt she talked me right out of it in a very stern “STOP IT” type of way. It was exactly what I needed. It was perfect and it was necessary. She made me swear I wouldn’t say “I can’t do this”.
At around 10:15am, my water broke. And after that, honestly, much of which is a blur. The pain came on (just like the books say) like a punch in the face. Or I should say a hammer to the face. It was not easy. Oddly, I felt zero pain down in my pelvis. I felt no stretching or burning. What I felt were restless thighs and a cramping butt. Weird, I know. But I’m being completely honest. It was a pain I could never, ever describe.
After my water broke, Tracy gave me a birthing ball to use while I waited for the contractions to come on hard and strong. I bounced on that for a little while before returning back to bed to rest before the storm hit.
I only lasted on this ball for about 20 minutes.
I did not have an epidural. I knew I could do this on my own. I needed to get to and past that transition stage so I could tell myself: “it’s too late Stacy, you’ve made it this far and it’s too late for that epidural now, you can do this.” But when the pain in the back of my thighs came and I was having a contraction that I needed or wanted to push through, it was like the pits of hell I was walking through. It was literally the longest 1 minute of my life when those contractions hit. Every time I tried to push it was impossible. Josie didn’t move. Her heart stayed stable the entire time. Strong and hard. She was ready to come out, but I just couldn’t, for the life of me, get her out.
They kept saying push like you’re going to take a big crap. Well, I did. In fact, I pushed so hard that the capillaries in my face busted as well as some in my eyes. My face looked awful and swollen.
As I was pushing with every ounce of force I had, the only thing that kept coming out was urine. I must have peed over a few dozen times all over the bed and everything. I had no shame. Nor did I care. At this point, I was ready to claw the bed apart as I was on all fours trying to push. I tried everything and every position. I tried standing, squatting, kneeling on all fours and using the pull sheet method. My fingernails dug into the back of my thighs as I pulled my legs close to me to push. I felt nothing. It wasn’t until the next day that I saw the nail indentations and dried up blood from clawing myself.
Eventually they pulled out the squatting bar, which I think helped a little, but really killed my thighs. I was completely and utterly exhausted after this method. I vaguely remember saying “I’d rather die than keep going”. That wasn’t the same as “I can’t do this”, was it? I kept apologizing to Tracy and Dr. Evans for how long it was taking and how my pushes did nothing but exhaust me.
It wasn’t long after this position that Josie came. But she didn’t come without the help of several other methods. Dr. Evans knew that I was at my end. My energy to push was spent. I was exhausted. I vaguely remember her saying the words C-section. I think it was: “okay, Hun, if you can’t get her out with this last round of pushes, then we’re just going to have to go C-section.” That last push was hard and strong. I remember hearing Bobby throughout the time I was pushing, consistently telling me how well I was doing and “you can do this babe!” or “you’re doing so great!” or “I can see her head, keep pushing, harder, harder, harder.” Not once did I want to punch him like most women say they do to their husbands. It was so helpful for me to see his emotion when I’d push and her head was visible with all that hair. There was this glow on his face. It lit up with excitement. More like “push babe, I’m so anxious to see what she looks like.” I knew I had no choice but to seriously push with all my life at this next push. I did. And it didn’t work. I begged for other methods, pleading for no C-section. The last resort was vacuum assist. It’s not as bad as it sounds really, but Josie had to be vacuumed out.
They attached this handheld suction to her head as I pushed and Dr. Evans weaned it back and forth to try to get her over the pelvis bone. Eventually after three rounds of pushing and a 4th degree episiotomy and several tears up and down my vagina, Josephine Rose Sock was finally out and and in my arms at 2:46pm.
It was so important to me to have her immediately put on my chest for skin to skin. She was perfect and I was honestly in shock. I could not believe I just had a baby. I could not believe that we made her. She was beautiful.
Daddy cut the umbilical cord and she was sent to the nurses next to me to be cleaned up.
Her APGAR score was 9 and 10. I was so proud of my little bundle of love.
I would have never imagined I’d be so swollen after birth and the days following. No one ever told me that. I never read it in any of the books and I wasn’t prepared for the worst swelling of my life.
And I also never knew what pain was until I went through a natural labor.
I had a 4th degree perineal tear/episiotomy. Which is no walk in the park. My recovery has been anything but easy. Unfortunately, after just a few days home from the hospital it became infected. The stitches weren’t working and the wound became separated (sorry, this is where it becomes graphic). Dr. Evans was pretty shocked to see it which really worried me. She mentioned the possibility of wound care at the hospital a few times a week and then eventually once the infection was gone, we’d have to wait for it to heal on it’s own and then re-cut the area and add more stitches again to make it back to “normal” again. This was the hard part. It scared the crap out of me. I was so worried and in pain.
The good news is after almost two weeks of going and having it cleaned by Dr. Evans and my wonderful husband doing it at home, it has healed enough that I will get stitches this week to start the healing process all over again. She told me that she does not think I need wound care at this point and was very happy with the healing so far. I prayed to God that things will continue to improve. It’s so hard to move around. I thank God that I have my husband and my mom here to help with everything. I have a hard time sitting still (with my Type A personality), so It’s still so hard to heal because of that. But I know that after I go and get these stitches this week, I really need to not do a thing. Then once I heal, I’ll have to go back in and get re-cut and stitched again.
This may have been an unfortunate setback, but luckily I called my doctor before it got too bad. It was/is already bad enough having this huge tear down there. But to have this pain to go alongside it (that is literally impossible to manage), is a lot of work on top of trying to tackle the job and learning the ins and outs as a new mother.
We’re trying to get our schedule back to somewhat normal. We fall asleep so late, get up so early and the days have been flying by. I think we are finally reaching some sort of routine on breastfeeding times, which is a huge relief.
My mom came to visit after a few days and it has been absolutely amazing to have her here to help. Josie loves her Grandma.
Also, without the amazing help and support of my husband, I wouldn’t be able to get through this. He’s so incredibly patient with me in times where I just cry or feel like giving up. He puts things back into perspective and gives me the encouragement that I so need. And not to mention he waits on me hand and foot. He is amazing.
I can and must say that breastfeeding is a lot of work. And now I can totally understand why some mothers (especially if they already have babies running around), give up and switch to formula. I was sadly mistaken when I thought I’d be able to just plop her on my breast and call it a day. Nope. There’s so much more to it. So much more work and dedication.
I never knew while I was nursing one side I’d be leaking the Amazon river out of the other breast. So breast pads became my best friend. I sadly didn’t realize it until my shirt was completely saturated. Needless to say, I went through a lot of wardrobe changes in one day.
Luckily my milk came in fast and plentiful. In fact, it came in even before I left the hospital. I couldn’t wait to get home to pump because my breasts were so full, so sensitive, so tender. Those first few days were rough. My nipples needed time to adjust. They were sore and blistered. But the important thing was that I took care of them. I put cream on them, kept them dry, didn’t wash them with soap and water and kept them moist with milk/colostrum after Josie fed. She latched on right away but the downside was that she’s a “gumer”. She likes to gum down on my areola at times (not all the time) as if she’s chewing. She’s quite a sleepy baby and it’s hard to arouse her sometimes to take my breast. Getting up to feed her every 2-3 hours in the beginning days felt like torture. I barely slept, (if at all) and she was just too tired, too flaccid and too fatigued to latch on. It was a lot of work.
After so many hours of trying and the frustration set in, I had to keep telling myself that “this will pass”. Because that is what they all say, right? That is what all the books say. And they were right! She may only be two weeks old today, but I honestly feel like I’ve learned so much about my baby. We’ve made it through many difficult moments. We learned. What she wants and how she wants it. The rights and the wrongs and all the trial and errors in between. I now feel like we’ve established our technique. Not so much a routine, because she’s the boss. It’s up to her when she wants to feed or sleep. I’m just here to help her and facilitate it. And after two weeks, I feel confident that I can feed her now. When before it was so much a challenge I often felt like giving up. It helped me to remind myself that this isn’t about me anymore. It is about her. And I needed to make breastfeeding work for her, not for me. It was so important to me to breast feed. It is also very nutritionally important to her as well, which is why I never gave up no matter how many times I cried and said: “I can’t do this anymore”. I am a strong person. I’ve been through a lot. I knew I could do this.
No matter how many books I read or research I’ve done before Josie came into our lives, nothing prepared me for her. And I say that because there was no book of “Josephine Rose Sock’s personality-What You Need To Know”. It was all about learning her, watching her and working with her. And once I figured that out, the rest just fell into place. My doubts as a mother slowly faded and I feel more and more confident everyday that I am giving Josie the best I can give today and even better tomorrow. Everyday is easier. Everyday I learn something new. Everyday she teaches me something. Everyday I fall more and more in love.
This love is unexplainable. So intense and overwhelming that sometimes I just stare at her and cry. I literally love her so much it hurts.
I remind her how much I dreamed of this moment. And how much mommy loves her to the moon and back. I let her know how much she’s loved and how beautiful she is. I tell her she’s perfect and that I’ll never leave her side.
Though I had a long hard labor, complications and a tough start to breastfeeding, I can say that we’ve been blessed with the most wonderful newborn baby we could ask for. She’s such a sweetheart. She only cries when hungry (sometimes-unless I need to wake her up to eat), when she’s wet or when we’re changing her diaper or outfit. I know that could change at any moment and she could become a colicky baby. But that’s okay. However, during these days of learning, trial and error, frustrations, sadness, aches and pains and emotions, it was been a blessing to have such a sweet little bundle of love enter our lives. I thank God every day, every morning, every moment I’m in awe of her. She is so prefect, so precious and so sweet.
Josie was and always will be the best moment of my life.