So there it was…the haunting words from my sweet (and all too knowing) midwife: “You’ve made the decision now. Don’t let your emotions of ‘what if’ spiral out of control. I’ve seen women ruin the first few weeks of their children’s lives because they can’t let go of their ‘plans.’”
After being hooked up to Pitocin something was definitely happening now. Wowza.
Not only was I a moaning, groaning lady in labor…I was a wailing, crouching, sobbing mess. No amount of bouncing on a birthing ball while warm water gently cascaded down my back, or walking the halls and doing breathing exercises eased my pain. The Pitocin had me (and my uterus) in a vice grip.
“Can I please get in the birthing tub now? I know the water will help,” I pleaded with my midwife.
(In all honesty I think it had only been about an hour and a half or so since my drip had been put in, but it came on so hot and heavy, I wasn’t ready for this type of searing feeling)
“Let’s check your progress,” she said.
Just a little FYI here…getting a pelvic exam to check your cervix whilst going through contractions is not pleasant.
Again, I heard the unfortunate phrase…”Do you want to know?”
[Insert many swear words here]
At this point, I got back in the shower and emotionally came to grips with the fact that with no sleep for the past 30+ hours, and having my body produce crazy Pitocin contractions, I did not want to do this without the help of a little (OK…big) assistance.
I caved (I hate to say that, but that’s how I felt at the time) and decided to have the epidural team pay me a visit. At that point, I did feel a huge weight taken off my shoulders, er…uterus. I thought to myself, “Alright…I can relax a little bit now, I can do this.”
As the anesthesiologist and her (HUGE) team made their way into my room, I was told the most important thing for me to do now was to hold steady as I got a giant needle poked into my spinal column. OK…totally easy…and no problem at all while you’re going through full body contractions. Hah! Actually, I did quite well considering I had a contraction at the exact moment she decided to stick me. My husband, needless to say, was quite scared as he held my hands through the procedure.
I did hear a few rumbles of “Wow…she’s pretty good at this” from the other physicians in the room. Alright, I’ll take any credit I can get at this point because I was still harboring quite a few feelings of failure at this point.
About 20 minutes later is really when I could start to feel a sensation of being relaxed. The midwife told me to get some rest. I tried. But I failed. I was too worked up over the oh, you know…incredibly seismic life change that was about to happen. Can anyone relate?
One of the best experiences (or second best to the birth of my son) I had in the hospital was a visit from an energy healer from the Penny George Institute. This gentle woman came to see me after a request I put in through my midwife because I already knew I was feeling very low and frustrated over things “not going the way I’d planned.” She quietly performed hands-free energy therapy (somewhat like reiki) and she left me feeling even more pudding-like. But this time, I could feel it in my bones…and heart. I was happy to have experienced this before the big transition. I’m sure River was happy too.
[Insert more than a handful of hours here of just sitting in my hospital bed waiting for things to happen]
At about 5 p.m. (or so), the midwife stepped back in after a break and checked my cervix.
9.5 centimeters! FINALLY!
Her excitement was palpable and we all celebrated! My husband Bryan got to run out to our family in the waiting room (who had sweetly been there since the very early morning) to let them know it was finally time to push!
As he made it back into the room, I got started on the work that I was oddly most excited for all along. Call me crazy, but I love a goal and I’m a big expresser in the physical world, so I was ready to PUSH!
I had my special turquoise necklace from Sedona on, played my healing R. Carlos Nakai CD that I listened to every acupuncture treatment after my miscarriage and leading up to my pregnancy with River, and my husband by my side. It was the only feeling of perfection I felt during this whole experience. We were ready to meet our little one, and keep in mind, we still had no idea if it was a boy or a girl!
Apparently, I am very adept at pushing. It came very easy to me, as all the nurses said, but it still took me almost two hours to birth my baby. I think this is pretty normal though for first time mamas.
And then I was there: the final few pushes. I kept hearing “One more push and you’ll meet your baby!” And just like that…the final push was there…and then…my contraction stopped. “OK, just wait for the next one, Blair.”
Are you joking!? There was no way I could stop! Baby’s head was crowning, and oh boy, I could feel it. I looked at them like they were crazy and said, “AHH…can I push?? It’s right there!” So I did.
River Robert was born at 7:25 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 6 pounds and 19 1/2 inches long.
We were all in love. He was calm, alert, a perfect breastfeeder right off the bat, and had ten fingers and ten toes. There was nothing better.
After our family came to celebrate, hug, cry, and share in the tremendous joy, it was time for them to leave and time for our new family of three to get to know each other.
Here is where the nurses informed me that because River was born nearly full term and “only” 6 pounds, he was to be carefully monitored for his vitals even though he showed no other signs of stress.
I was pretty scared, pissed, and confused. What did I know? I was a brand spankin’ new mom and this was my first time at the rodeo.
So, because of his weight “issue” his blood had to be drawn every three hours to monitor his blood sugar levels.
My rose-colored view of his “Welcome to the world” experience was tarnished. I did not want him coming into this new life feeling immediate pain, discomfort, and stress. But there it was. We were diving head first into it and I was not at all prepared to have a “sick” baby who was going to feel unnecessary pain…I say unnecessary because it turned out that nothing was wrong with him. He was perfect.
His “he may be an unwell baby” trip continued as we stayed in the hospital. After our first long, sleepless night of practicing breastfeeding, changing diapers, and introducing him Earthside, we had our first visit from the pediatric hospitalist.
He took all the standard vitals (every one an A+), but again brought up the concern over his weight. And the most mind boggling comment of the entire stay came up: “Be sure to not let him cry too much, he will loose too much weight from all that crying.”
OH REALLY? Keep him from crying?? He’s a newborn!
I could not believe those words, I knew they were ridiculous, but I still got stressed about it. How could you not, being a new mom?
He also stressed about breastfeeding and how important it would be for his safety and health because he was so small. He ordered a few visits from the lactation consultants (good in general to do as a first timer I think) and a home visit. I all of a sudden felt so abnormal. Like I was doing something wrong, like my body had already failed me, even though anyone with an intuitive eye would look at our situation and say nothing was going wrong.
I felt sick. I had no idea what was going on with our little one. Who did I believe? Me, or the people around me?
Just when I didn’t think it could get much worse, we had a visit from a pediatric intern later that afternoon as we had visitors in our room.
Right off the bat she deadpans with “River? Wow. I’ve never heard such a name. Very interesting.” Sigh.
Then she takes River’s vitals again and quickly proclaims she thinks she hears a heart murmur. This new mom quickly sent into another tailspin.
Turns out: no heart murmur.
After, she continues onto his weight, pretty much harping on the same things as the hospitalist. “Keep him from crying, make sure you try to feed him every hour or so, you need to stay an extra night in the hospital to have him monitored, looks like he may be jaundice, yada yada yada.” Here’s where my sleep deprivation really starts to catch up with me.
“I understand you’re trying to do the best you can at your job, but I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with my son,” I said with tears in my eyes and shaking in my heart.
I had to stand up for myself and for him. Even though I conceded and decided to stay another night in the hospital because I wanted the “best” for River.
She apologized, and told me she was only doing her job, and I get it. I really do. But something needs to change.
My head was spinning with the possibilities of all that could be wrong with him. I do not appreciate the way that (many) hospitals choose to tailor their patient care. It is full of “let’s find out what’s wrong first” talk, it’s all about “covering their own asses” in my opinion. This is completely the opposite of how I choose to live my life. I tend to look “what’s best” and “what’s going right” first.
The heavy dose of pessimism I was given during my hospital stay had a lasting and severe effect on my postpartum experience. Tell someone what’s wrong with their life, and they will tend to focus on that. Tell someone what’s going well, and they will focus on that.
Something needs to change in the way we teach our medical professionals on interacting with patients. They have the opportunity to make a huge shift toward wellness in our world if they only looked at their patients like humans and not textbooks. Oh I hope I see the day.
Because of all this swirling, the second night I could not sleep either. Mark this as three and a half (maybe more?) days of no sleep.
I thought…all will be fine once I get home, and get in my own bed.
On the morning of March 28th, we bundled up River in his warm woolen coat, handmade hat, and unfortunately, with a sense of stress from mom and maybe dad a bit too.
The real world was calling, and I was so ready to get back to a sense of normalcy. We were greeted with a house full of flowers, cards, well wishes, gifts, and tummy-warming food. But I couldn’t experience any of it.
My two days in the hospital paired with three and a half days of no sleep, and oh, you know, just a major life change had my mind pushing the pedal to the metal. It was on overdrive and the gear was stuck. I couldn’t turn any of the negative and scary thoughts off. They were all consuming even though I had this amazing bundle of joy by my side now and a husband with dedication and care.
But all I could think was…”Tonight I will get a good night’s rest and everything will be OK in the morning.”
Well, you know how that turns out…