*note, I have been working on this post for a while but it’s been emotional so I have taken many breaks.*
I started a 40 week entry a few days before my due date but didn’t get to finish it because my little man came on time! Let’s rewind.
Sunday night (February 9), my husband and I got through the mid season premiere of The Walking Dead without any baby interruptions. We also spent some time walking around and had dinner at CiCi’s around 6:00 pm. He’s not a fan but every now and then I crave it and the spicy Olé pizza. I joked “It might be my last meal…” I didn’t know how true that statement would become.
While we were out, we bought brand new bedding – sheets, pillows, and pillow cases. I made another joke as we were making up the bed that night: new sheets? Watch my water break.
I woke up to pee twice Sunday night/Monday morning. And then when I awoke for good, I thought, “I actually don’t mind going into work today.” I had worked the weekend and my body didn’t want to go at all but Monday was different. For the first time, I was content despite it being my due date. And then I rolled over.
At 7:00 am, I had a strong cramp in my stomach and then a small amount of liquid ran down my butt and legs. I said, “I hope that wasn’t my water breaking.” (why? Why would I say that? That is EXACTLY what I wanted. I hurried up and ran to the bathroom where I emptied my bladder. I looked in the toilet: yellow. Okay, pee. My legs were wet, though. And it didn’t feel like pee. Like any prego woman would do, I smelled the liquid on my leg. It didn’t smell like urine – it didn’t have a smell. I wasn’t sure. So I wiped and headed back into the bedroom where I told my husband, “You may want to keep your phone…” and then more liquid poured out. There was a stream running down my leg. My husband took one look and was suddenly in baby mode. He convinced me that it was definitely my water that was breaking. I was 100% sure when as I walked around grabbing things I needed the waters kept leaking… They continued through the car ride and for several hours after once I was at the hospital.
It was incredibly exciting – experiencing my water breaking, getting ready to go, and then heading to the hospital. I couldn’t believe it was happening for real.
I stopped at registration and was told to go ahead to the L&D desk. I was immediately taken to a room with my husband and then he was sent to the waiting room while they checked me and asked all the questions. The nurse then confirmed that my water was indeed breaking. I was also 2 cm and 80% effaced.
They started me on an IV and then moved me from triage to a labor and delivery room where they eventually started me on pitocin. It worked really well; the contractions picked up quickly and by the time I was at 4 cm, I asked for an epidural. The funny thing is, I don’t even remember how painful the contractions were at that point because when I reached 9 cm at 6:30 pm, my epidural had begun to wear off and they had to up it because those contractions were excruciating. 2 and a half hours later, I was still at 9 cm, 100% effaced and at -1. Some repositioning failed to assist Roman in descending further down the birth canal and his heart rate increased to the 170s and 180s.
I was instructed to push to see if we could get Roman to come down lower. I tried and tried but the little guy wouldn’t budge. He moved up, especially when they checked me.
My nurse, who I couldn’t stand, was slow as a sloth and really bad at answering questions. “What happens if putting my on my right side doesn’t work?” I asked. “I’m trying to keep the doctor out of here,” she replied. “But what happens if it doesn’t work?” I pressed some more. Silence. I knew the answer (c-section) but I wanted her to say it. My husband asked, “Can you give her more pitocin?” It had been working but when I reached 9 cm, my doctor requested it be shut off and from that point my labor slowed. “I’ll go see,” the nurse finally responded.
Fifteen minutes later, she returned with the doctor. My OB checked me. I held my breath… I knew it was coming… 9 cm. -1 station. And then she said what I had been dreading. “We are going to do a c-section.” As she explained the reasons (fetal heart rate, risk of infection due to my water breaking over 12 hours earlier) I began sobbing. I had done so much hard work. My water broke on it’s own! My contractions started before the pitocin was administered! I knew that the safest thing was a c-section but I didn’t want it! I wanted to PUSH my baby out. My mom had me via c-section and I wanted to be the first to deliver naturally – I had always been told I had child bearing hips after all.
They left the room to begin preparing and I just sobbed (I would continue to struggle once I was discharged – I felt like I failed as a woman). My husband tried to support me but I was devastated. I cried so hard that I threw up every last bit of bile in my stomach. An hour later, after the anesthesiologist drugged me up with some heavy general anesthesia, I was wheeled into the OR alone.
It was my first surgery and I was scared out of my mind. I immediately thought, what if I don’t make it? My husband would be devastated and he’d be taking care of Roman all by himself. Or what if something happened to my baby? I had to shut my brain off. I started drifting from the heavy dosage of anesthesia. They asked if I was okay. I said I was cold – very cold. They told me it was the medicine and then draped my arms with several hot blankets. The sheet went up, they asked if I could feel any sharp pains on my abdomen. No, only a sensation of being touched. I couldn’t really speak though. It was like my vocal cords were paralyzed. I thought, oh I won’t be able to talk to my husband. But then he came in and sat beside me and my first words were I love you. And he kissed me. And then we waited.
It seemed like an eternity but roughly 15 minutes after being wheeled back, my baby was born. 11:03 pm on Monday February 10, 2014. They confirmed Roman was indeed Roman. I smiled. I had my boy. I heard his cry and said, is that him? It didn’t sound like a cry. My husband said later that he cried on his own; he didn’t have to have a spanking to get him going. 🙂 The pediatrician came around and told me he was healthy. I waited and waited to see Roman. My husband at some point left to be with him – I don’t remember this. And then they brought him around.
He was beautiful. I asked to kiss him and once I did, they whisked him to the nursery where they did some testing and bathing him. Meanwhile in OR: I was being fixed up. They removed my placenta and membranes and stitched me up. This was the painful part. It wasn’t sharp, just heavy, tight tugging. Not enjoyable at all. I winced and groaned and cried out. They injected me with more pain relief. And finally they were done.
45 minutes after Roman’s birth, I was wheeled to a recovery room. It was 11:45ish and I was told that I would remain in recovery for 45 minutes and then I would be taken to my room… 45 minutes turned to 2 hours. Edwin came down and sat with me while the sloth of a nurse pressed on my uterus every 15 minutes and took her sweet time doing whatever needed to be done. Roman was not brought to me during this time because he was getting his bath. 😦 I missed that initial window of opportunity to breastfeed.
At 2 am, I was finally taken to my room where I was left with an aggressive nurse. She wasn’t pleasant at all. I can’t remember exact details, but I didn’t like her one bit. Roman was FINALLY brought to me and we began breastfeeding immediately. He seemed to be latching pretty well but there was minor pain.
The next few days are a blur at this point – I had a multitude of nurses – some I liked, others I did not. I continued breastfeeding – all the nurse said he was latching on just fine and the first lactation consultant agreed. I didn’t get any sleep during my stay as someone came in my room roughly every 30 minutes – hour.
Roman’s weight began dropping in the hospital. By the time we had left he had lost 8% … he went from 7 lb 15 oz to 7 lb 4 oz.
The day before we were discharged, Roman was circumcised. Immediately following the procedure, a second lactation consultant came in and repositioned my son, who had been nursing fine. She must have thought I was doing it wrong as she kept repositioning him aggressively all while saying “he’s really tired from his surgery.” He became agitated quickly and was crying constantly. My heart was breaking. It was clear that my son was upset and did not want to be moved around so much, especially after his surgery. I was fighting back tears but eventually they gave way and I started sobbing uncontrollably but yet she persistently readjusted him until giving up and heading out. I hated her. I didn’t want her coming near me or my son. He had been doing fine and then she came in and made me feel like I was failing. I couldn’t follow her instructions and began doubting myself. And from that point, breastfeeding was an issue.
We went home on Thursday, our 1 year wedding anniversary. That night was awful. I was in so much pain while nursing and he seemed to want to nurse constantly. He wouldn’t stop crying and I was in tears from the pain and frustration. My husband called our pediatrician’s office, with whom we had an appointment the next day, to ask what we should do and if we could supplement with formula. The nurse said that the doctor would return our call. Several hours later we still had not spoken with him. I continued breastfeeding through the pain with hopes that Roman was getting enough.
On Friday, at 10 am, we met with Roman’s doctor (not the doctor that was on call the previous night). He had gained some weight – he was at 7 lb 5.5 oz which was reassuring. I explained to the doctor about our feeding problems. I told her that my nipples were bruised, cracked, bleeding – this hadn’t been the case in the hospital. She looked at Roman and determined that he was tongue tied which can cause problems in nursing. She scheduled a same day frenulectomy at the children’s hospital to fix it. In the meantime, she told us to supplement with formula and pump and ordered me to sleep for 6 hours. Once the procedure was done, we could breastfeed if I had healed. I pumped throughout the day and Roman alternated between breastmilk and formula. By that evening, my nipples looked a lot better thanks to lanolin and medela soothing gel pads. I attempted to nurse Roman. He got through two feedings successfully, only minor pain, but the third was downright excruciating. Over the next few days I struggled with pumping. My nipples were worst than before I started. It was at this point that I decided that I needed to make a decision.
I had been considering switching to formula for a few days. I spent so much time focusing on breastfeeding. I had my heart set on it from the beginning. I didn’t even buy bottles because I was convinced it was the best thing for us. But like my delivery, this didn’t go as planned either. Even when it was successful, it wasn’t comfortable emotionally. I wasn’t feeling a bond or connection with my son. I couldn’t focus on hi, only on breastfeeding. I wasn’t happy. I was crying constantly about nursing. A sense of dread, resentment developed. Why wasn’t I happy to give my son what he needed? And when I pumped, my supply decreased over the few days instead of increasing. I knew deep down that I need to switch to formula. My mind had already decided that I wanted to formula feed as breastfeeding depressed me so much. But then I thought about how much of a failure I would be and I cried and cried. I went back and forth between pumping exclusively and formula feeding for days until one day, when pumping, my nipples went from healed to completely destroyed. I had to dump the milk from both sides due to the blood mixed in. I gave up. I finally decided that my son need a happy, healthy mother – not one who was emotionally taxed. So, after speaking with my husband, I decided to use formula. And initially, I felt guilty (I even had a coworker make me feel terrible when she voiced her opinion about me switching) but relieved. I could now see how much my son was eating. I could focus on him while feeding him.
I felt like a failure but I knew that this was the best for our family. I struggled with depression in the past and had a c-section, both of which increase the risk of postpartum depression. I already had the baby blues – crying, panic attacks, feelings of insecurity – and was so fearful that I would end up with PPD. Breastfeeding further upset me. Each day since I chose to switch has left me feeling exponentially better.
The baby blues have passed mostly but I still have moments every now and then. No matter how ready you think you are, nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent for the first time. It IS NOT easy. The sleep, eat, poop, and cry. It breaks my heart when Roman is fussy. I want him to be alert and all smiles all the time but he gets fussy about once or twice a day. He can be soothed rather quickly but sometimes it’s difficult to decipher what he wants exactly. Hunger is easy – as soon as he starts sucking his hands/rooting, I know that he’s ready to eat. But other times I have no idea what is bothering him and it makes me sad. On top of that, the monotony that comes with having a newborn is difficult to adjust to. Also, I hate being confined to the house. I try to get out every other day or so, even if it’s just for a few minutes but it isn’t enough. Winter keeps us from being outside. I need it to warm up so I can take Roman on walks. I need sunshine and outings. I’m not a homebody by any means. And finally, we had Edwin’s mom and sister here for about 2 weeks. It was absolutely wonderful having family here and now that they are gone, there is emptiness. I suddenly want to be near family. I feel like we are isolated.
With that said, parenting is definitely special. I love this little boy more than I thought. He’s the best cuddler. He makes awesome faces and when he smiles or coos, I light up. I look forward to those days when he laughs, when we can interact, when I can do something that makes him visibly happy. I look forward to all of the things we will get to do together soon like walks in the park and our family trip to Myrtle Beach in May.