The day my son, Ocean, was born was the most amazing, most painful, most difficult, most beautiful, and most transformative day of my life! Remembering this day is the best feeling in the world. I learned that just because something is painful or difficult, doesn’t mean it’s bad. But, that wasn’t easy to understand at the time. I was going through a painful delivery, as many women do. “How am I going to survive this?” I wondered. What I didn’t realize is that pain and pleasure, struggle and strength, life and death — they’re all intertwined. Laying there, meditating, praying, and looking into my soul to manage my pain as best as I could, I learned that our judgments of “good” and “bad” are meaningless. We are capable of doing impossibly difficult things. We can accomplish more than we can possibly know. If it wasn’t for the pain, I don’t think that I would have ever truly understood. I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to find that inner strength inside of myself that I never knew I had.
O cean came at 42 weeks. We had just moved into our new house the day BEFORE I went into labor! 😮 As soon as I set up the nursery, my contractions started. It’s funny how he knew the right time!I was actually scheduled to be induced in the morning since I was already a couple of weeks past my due date. Thankfully I naturally went into labor the night before my induction. My contractions started strong, but then calmed down a bit, so I didn’t actually realize that my labor had started. I went to seep. When I woke up I didn’t feel like I was in too much pain, but my contractions slowly got stronger and more frequent throughout the day. By the evening I was in a lot of pain, and it quickly progressed. I knew that it was time to go to the hospital!
The car ride was VERY difficult as my pain level was accelerating rapidly. After I got to the hospital, my lower back pain was unbearable, I was throwing up from the pain, it was hard to speak, and in between contractions, I asked for an epidural.
I had originally planned to have a natural birth. I had taken Bradley Method classes. But I don’t really think that any class can fully prepare you for the level of pain that you experience. Childbirth is unlike anything else. 😮 And this is coming from a person with great pain tolerance! I also think that my pain was much stronger than normal due to issues with my back.
Getting an epidural wasn’t easy. Not only do you have to sit still between contractions (realllllllllllly hard to do!), but the epidural placement also felt very uncomfortable and even painful at times. I remember the doctors placing it, but felt no relief. They tried moving it around. It didn’t help. For a minute I felt a mild tingling of pain relief on one side, and I tried waiting to see if it would start working. It didn’t. Another doctor came in. They took it out and tried again. They reviewed my X-rays for guidance. They all met together to discuss a strategy. They tried again, but ultimately due to scar tissue around my back from the past surgery, the doctors weren’t able to successfully place the epidural in order to give me pain relief. What I finally got was a very mild relief on only one side of my body. I was still in tremendous pain.
What followed was hours of relentless back labor, of pain so bad I wondered whether I’d be able to survive it. I vowed I would never have children again (I still do want a few more!). I said things that I wish I hadn’t. I really wish I would have hired a doula to be there with me and help guide me. 😳
Eventually, I gave up and started meditating and praying. For some time, I was at peace. BUT then hours later I started feeling the urge to push. And, I finally felt relief in my lower back. All I could do was push and push. They called my doctor, and she came quickly, but by the time she got there, I had already almost pushed my baby out. She didn’t even have time to change into her hospital clothes! I pushed him out in a record 11 minutes. It was truly amazing. And no tearing! I was very lucky. Our bodies are truly amazing! It’s funny that the pushing was the easiest and LEAST painful part of the whole experience!
I got to hold Ocean on my chest, while I delivered the placenta. He seemed so big! I was amazed. It was the best feeling in the whole entire world getting to meet my baby the first time! I mean does anything REALLY beat that? And his smell, there is NOTHING better in the world than the smell of your newborn baby. I was so lucky to have delivered such a beautiful and healthy boy. But, he didn’t nurse right away, as I had been expecting him to do. And I think that due to my painful delivery experience, I didn’t know how to guide him. I wanted to take some time to myself, but I wasn’t able to. There was too much going on in the room, and my boyfriend’s family came in IMMEDIATELY even though I really wanted no visitors for a while. I told them but they wouldn’t listen. It was terrible. And I had no privacy, No one talks about the less glamorous parts of childbirth, like the bleeding afterwards, and having to wear a giant pad. It’s not exactly Hallmark movie-worthy stuff, and certainly not the bright, pithy story most people expect to hear when they ask about your baby’s birth. I wasn’t prepared for it. I had to walk right in front of my visitors in a hospital gown that wouldn’t close with a giant bloody pad and ice pack in my underwear, and could barely use the bathroom. Ugh. You have no idea how terrible I felt. I’m the type of person that likes to have their privacy. Worst of all, I never had that alone time, and I really miss not having it. I will definitely change things around next time! I really think that the mother/baby bonding time is critical in so many ways and everyone should do at least an hour of alone time after birth.
We switched hospital rooms and got a more comfortable bed but I still wasn’t able to nurse my son, so they gave me a pump, and I started pumping, although I had no milk yet. I always thought that breastfeeding would be instinctive, but it wasn’t. We stayed a couple nights at the hospital, with no luck breastfeeding. I gave him whatever drops of colostrum I could pump out, but eventually Ocean’s blood sugar got too low. We had to supplement with formula until my milk came in several days later. Ocean ended up not being able to naturally breastfeed until he was 5 months old, and I had to pump milk to feed him during this entire time (more on that journey in another post). We also met the pediatrician the next day, and they told us that Ocean was one of the strongest babies they had ever seen. He was even able to hold up his head on his own. Really amazing!
After we came home, I was in heaven cuddling with Ocean all day long, admiring his little expressions, and having lazy days in bed. There is nothing more special in the world than these early moments, and I am so grateful that the days passed by soooooo slowly. They were also the most exhausting times of my life, and it is crazy that I was able to function on so little sleep. I had to pump milk for 30 minutes, every 2 hours, sanitize and clean the bottles and equipment from pumping, set up the SNS cable and nipple shield, feed Ocean, put it all away and sanitize and clean the bottle, nipple shield, and SNS cable, and then do it all over again. It was such an involved process. It seemed as though there was barely any time for anything else. And I was always pumping so it was difficult to go anywhere or leave the house. Lucky for me, Ocean was a great sleeper, but the doctors recommended that I wake him up to nurse every 3 hours at night. Same process, but every 3 hours. lol. I would dream about being able to naturally breastfeed. But eventually we both learned and he is still nursing to this day! Being a mother is truly the most amazing gift in the world! 🙂