The after birth journey has been just as much of a process as the actual birth. And a large part of it has simply been the time and energy it takes to processes the birth and everything that happened.
It was only a 14 hr labor, but most of it I was in back labor. I had gotten in the birth tub, but contractions got so painful I couldn’t even relax between them. I got so discouraged with how hard it was. But when my midwife told me I could go in for an epidural if I wanted, I knew I really didn’t, and that confidence overpowered the discouragement. My midwife ended up manually turning the baby around with her finger (so painful), and I got in the hot shower to try and relax. It really helped, cause I started feeling the need to push. I decided to lay down on the bed instead of get back in the birth tub, cause I really needed to be able to rest between contractions and had to support myself in the tub. So I gave birth on my left side with my sister in law holding up my right leg. For three hours I pushed, taking it slow so I didn’t tear, but also because after each contraction my back and hips seized up and it was excruciating. When his head was born, he immediately started crying and wiggling! It was the strangest experience! And apparently he was stuck that way for three whole minutes, his fist was folded up by his shoulder and caught in my perineum. All I remember after hearing him cry was my midwife telling me to push as if my life depended on it, and I knew his did. I pushed from somewhere I didn’t know I had, and he was out safe and sound. One of the special things to me was that my midwife didn’t announce the gender, none of the six people present said anything til I brought him to my chest and peeked under his leg. That was one of the most special surprises I’ve ever had in my life!
I was hemorrhaging from an internal tear, and my midwife called 911 to take me to the hospital in case I didn’t stop on my own. By the time we got there it had stopped, but they gave me some pain meds and a few stitches to my perineum, and we stayed the night to see if I needed a blood transfusion. My midwife hadn’t gotten the chance to weigh or measure him, so was asked a nurse to do it and he came out to 9lb 15oz, 20 3/4″ long! Though at our 2 day home visit he only weighed 8lb 5oz. At our follow up appointment at 3 days he had gained a whole ounce and my milk was coming in well, so both the Drs and my midwife are sure 10lb was an innacurrate birth weight, and he was probably much closer to 8lb 15oz.
I was just shy of needing a blood transfusion, so they sent me home, warning me that the amount of blood loss would make my recovery a bit slower.
For those first few days I was just overwhelmed with how much had happened and all there was to process. On top of the initial recovery pains from labor, birth, blood loss, learning to breast feed, and hormone changes. All while trying to process the fact that I am now a mother and this baby is my son I carried for 9 months. It probably took me a good four days to catch up to being able to process the events of the moment, right in time for the die off of adrenaline and the hardest part of recovery. I had a good two days where I cried from being sore, unable to move much, feeling faint every time I stood up, feeling like I was taking steps backwards, splitting headaches from crying, not getting well fast enough to go to my friend’s wedding today, not being able to change my little boy’s diaper.
But I’m learning to celebrate the baby steps, like being able to stand without a headache or feeling faint. Watching my stomach shrink and stop pulling when I stand and cramping when he nurses. Being able to fill my own peri bottle before going to the bathroom. Being able to draw my own bath. Having the energy to wander through the kitchen to look for a straw.
As difficult and discouraging as the recovery process has been, I have this little boy named Jack. We’ve been learning together how to breastfeed, we’ve had conversations about wether he’s hungry or just wants to be comforted, we sleep together chest to chest, we’ve spent time just gazing into each other’s eyes, and I got to change his diaper today.