I wanted this blog up sooner. I thought I’d be more on the ball when it came to blogging and getting work done while on maternity leave. The truth is, I was naive. I honestly had no clue how beautifully intense motherhood would be, especially in the first month. My journey to this point eight weeks postpartum hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s one worth sharing. This new season of my life I am in has changed my life completely!
For the record, if you’re not into child birth, birth photography or TMI, you may want to skip out on this blog post.
I was nearing 39 weeks pregnant and was growing even more nervous. I wasn’t nervous for childbirth. I was nervous that this little dude would decide to come late. I didn’t want to be induced and I wanted my body to do the work on it’s own. At my 38 week appointment, I was starting to dilate, efface and cramp so I knew my body was preparing. The week following brought on much more cramping. When I went to my 39 week appointment, I was super sad to hear that my body hadn’t progressed at all. Lou and I shrugged it off and decided we were going to go get some lunch and go to the grocery store, so that’s what we did. Walking around Walmart, I kept telling Lou that my cramping pain was getting worse. There were times I needed to walk verrrrry slowly or even stop because I was feeling so uncomfortable. We were both thinking that it was false labor - there was no way this was the real thing. Boy, was I wrong!
We got home and I decided to take a nap. Little did I know, that was the last nap I was going to get for a while! I woke up to find my cramps were still there and coming on faster. I shrugged it off again and we went outside to cook on the grill. It got to the point that I realized that these were real contractions and I needed to start timing them. I managed to not burn dinner and even tried eating, but I could barely make it through my meal. The contractions were getting stronger and closer together. I looked at Lou and told him we needed to call our parents because we were going to end up in labor and delivery that night. It turns out, my mother’s intuition was right.
An hour or so later, we started grabbing those last minute items to put in our hospital bag. My contractions were 5 minutes apart and then very quickly shifted to 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2.5 minutes. My OB gave us the go ahead to get to the hospital and we went at the perfect time. I could barely get into my hospital gown because my contractions were overlapping, so I thought for sure I was progressing quite a bit and was hoping to be getting close. When they checked me and told me I was only 4 cm dilated, I wanted to cry. What kind of pain would be past 4 cm when that was seriously excruciating!
REAL TALK - I went into this hoping I could have a natural birth. I wanted to avoid an epidural if I could, but was open to drugs if I felt like I needed them. When they told me I was only 4 cm dilated, I immediately asked for the IV pain meds because I needed to take the edge off and relax. It was going to be a looooong night. I hated everything about the IV pain meds. I hated not feeling in control of my body. That’s the whole reason why I didn’t want the epidural, but the IV meds were seriously worse than the epidural. Everything was loopy for a while, and once my brain came down from the clouds, the contraction pain was still intense. My blood pressure was going up and I could feel just how anxious I was. The doctor decided to break my water and I knew there was a chance the pain was going to intensify quickly, so I asked for the epidural. I wanted to calm down and really enjoy the rest of the birthing process. That was the best choice I made! The epidural was phenomenal and I was finally able to relax. I could still move my legs and feet, which was a huge relief for me. I still had some control of my body! I was beyond grateful for that and was starting to enjoy the wait.
I got the epidural at the perfect time because my body progressed very quickly. I think I got it around 1:30am and within a couple of hours, I was 7-8 cm dilated! I woke Lou up to warn him that it was close to baby time! He went back to sleep and my friend Christie and I just hung out and chatted. My adrenaline was too high to sleep - there was no way I could when all I kept thinking about was how I was going to meet my son very soon. This was a moment I’d been waiting for forever it seemed.
Maybe 15 or 20 minutes went by and I was feeling a lot of pressure in my butt, so I asked Christie if that meant it was close to pushing time. She had two kids, surely she’d know :P Her answer was maybe, so I called the nurse back in to recheck me. Sure enough, I was at 10 cm! I was shocked! While I was fully dilated and effaced, Atlas wasn’t fully engaged and still needed to drop down some more. The nurse propped me up in my bed and put my feet on the pedals in hopes that gravity would bring this little dude down. So I sat like that for two hours, ate ice chips and banana popsicles and just hung out. The vibe of the night was super chill and everyone was so relaxed. There was no rush, no pressure to get this baby out quicker and nothing slowing down the process. It was everything I needed.
A little after 6am, my nurse came in and said it was time! HOLY SHIT. I kept asking myself if this was real. If this was all actually happening. It was a moment I dreamed about for so many years. All of our infertility struggles and our loss, and soon enough I was going to meet my son for the first time. It was such an emotional moment. My nurse got into position, Lou went to my left and Christie to my right, and away we went with the first round of pushes. After those three pushes, I looked over at Lou and he was teary eyed. I started crying of course and Christie tried to hold it together. Even my nurse was going to start crying! It was such a raw moment that I’ll never forget.
I continued to do my pushes and we continued to chat and laugh in between. The mood was so perfect - fun, emotional, hard but positive and very joyful. We talked about kids, life, work, Lou’s inability to handle blood or basically anything that was about to come out of me except for our son (hah!) and other random things. The pushing went by so quickly. I pushed for probably about 25 minutes and the nurse brought in my doctor. The next round of pushing, I felt something, looked at Lou to see pure shock on his face and asked if the head was out. Sure enough, it was! One more round of pushing and the rest of my little dude was into the world at 6:49am on April 12th. I pushed for only 30 minutes, which is another thing to be grateful for. They put Atlas on my stomach and I started full on ugly crying. I couldn’t believe I was holding my baby boy. Once I fought my way through my tears, I looked over at Lou and he was in tears. One of the first things I said was, “He’s so cute and not an ugly baby, and he doesn’t have a big nose!” Haha! We both have big noses so we thought for sure he’d end up with one. But he was just so tiny and so perfect. He weighed 6lbs 4oz and was 19.5 inches long.
I think my doctor pushing my placenta out was the worst part about childbirth. I just had to see it though! Call me crazy, but I really needed to see where my little, fresh, new baby boy was living for the past 39 weeks. It’s hard for me to conceptualize or even believe that this kid grew in my belly, that life happened and grew and thrived in my body. Like, what?! It was so cool for me to see the home that kept Atlas safe looked like. Christie, bless her heart, reluctantly took a picture of my placenta for me. She thought I was gross for wanting to see it, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her shoot faster hah! So warning, that photo is towards the end of the blog. Just an FYI if you don’t want to see blood and what not.
It took quite awhile for my doctor to sew my lady bits back together, but I didn’t mind any of that because I had my sweet little boy on my chest to snuggle. It was the best feeling in the world to have him in my arms. Once we got into recovery, I had some issues of my own right off the bat. My knees, legs, ankles and feet were instantly swollen to the extreme, which was worse than what I experienced while pregnant. The nurses told me it was normal and it’d go down within a couple of weeks, so I tried to ignore the fact that my legs felt like two giant logs. I also couldn’t really walk the day I delivered - not because of the epidural but because I became anemic from delivery. Every time I tried to stand, I got light headed so I had to chill in bed until I felt steady enough to walk on my own. I was so exhausted at that point that I didn’t mind the extra laying down time. Our families came to meet Atlas and we soaked in all of the goodness of that first day.
The next day is when things got difficult. To be continued…
All photos in this blog by the amazing Christie Leigh Photo.