I made a promise with myself to be honest about pregnancy, and I wanted to do the same with motherhood and birth. I’m writing this almost at the one month mark, and I want to be real. Really real.
I’d heard the first couple weeks were hard, and I tried to brace myself, and I still underestimated it. I think it’s hard for every new mom – maybe for some it’s only a couple of days, and for some it’s several weeks, but it’s hard. And I think it can be hard for different reasons.
First up, the c section. It made it really hard for me to move the first two weeks, and almost impossible the first week. I felt terrible, and it that was hard for me to deal with. And, I had to rely on Gabe for help A LOT, which he was so great about, but was just a little hard for my ego.
Then, the sleep deprivation. I won’t lie, this was probably the hardest thing for me. Especially once we brought him home – he’d wake up around 2 or 3 and then he would just be awake for hours. Babies don’t come out knowing night and day, and this proved to be tough on us. I will admit I’m lucky and he breastfeeds like a champ, though I did end up with mastitis once. Breastfeeding is the physically hard part for a lot of moms, but sleep was it for me.
Once we started getting used to the sleep a little bit, it was also mentally hard for me to be the sole caregiver night and day. 2 weeks after I gave birth, Gabe was back at work and it was just me and Ollie, all day. And then at night I tried to let him get some sleep. So all day, and all night. And don’t get me wrong, my son is amazing and beautiful and fantastic but it is not easy giving one demanding human being 22 hours a day of your time.
I think we’re finally starting to get the hang of things. And I repeat, I love this kid. He’s adorable and he’s my son and I love him to death. But I had to say it. The first couple of weeks are hard. But if you’re expecting, or a new mom – it is true, they do get better.
The whole pregnancy I was determined to read as much about everything as I could, so I did a little research on what to pack in my hospital bag. Gabe thought I over packed it, even my sister said “well you seem…very well prepared”. And since I ended up having an emergency c section, it was perfect. Here are some of my hospital bag must haves:
- Toiletries – Really, everything you can think of. I packed a hairbrush,deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, and shampoo and conditioner. Since I had to wait a couple days to shower, and tack on the time I hadn’t showered before I got to the hospital…well I was funky. And that shower felt amazing, and having my own stuff made it heavenly. I brought this Earth Mama Angel Baby body wash so I didn’t have to worry about something too harsh. I actually tossed in some EMAB body butter too.
- More toiletries - I also packed dry shampoo and face wipes and this was a good choice. Monday morning, I could bathe but I felt so gross and these helped a little.
- Hair ties – bring like 5. I kept losing them, and I have no idea how, but you can’t have too many
- A robe and nightgown – the night gown was just a nice to have, but I was really glad I packed the bathrobe. They encourage you to walk around, so I wore it while walking around the floor, and when I had visitors, which was nice. The nightgown was a last minute addition, and it just felt so good after I finally showered to be able to wear sometime soft that was not a hospital gown. I picked up something cheap from Target, so I wouldn’t be bummed if it got ruined, and made sure I could slip the front down for breastfeeding.
- Nursing things – I wore a nursing bra there (my plan), and I also packed some disposable and reusable breast pads, and nipple cream. My hospital gave me some nipple cream so I used that, but I would pack some just in case.
- A snack bag – It’s true, they only let you have ice chips, so originally this was mostly for Gabe. But it actually turned out to be handy in the days we stayed in the hospital when we wanted a good snack in between meals. I packed some protein bars, beef jerky, almonds, chocolate covered almonds (as a treat for me) and an orange. I’d had this ready to go for a couple weeks prior.
- Slippers/flip flops – that you won’t mind getting ruined. Just trust me.
- Baby stuff – None of it’s necessary. We brought a little going home outfit, but the hospital stocked us with plenty of shirts, just in case. And I brought him a blanket, even though the hospital provided plenty of swaddling blankets that we could have taken home. But at least with the blanket, it was nice to have something of our own. However, seriously, the hospital gives you everything you need, so it’s totally up to you. You do need a car seat.
- Going home clothes – I’d packed sweat pants and a nursing tank top, and then last minute threw a maxi dress in there just in case. This is where packing just in case comes in handy – there was no way I was wearing pants, so that dress was a great addition. So pack for the just in case!
- Phone charger
We threw the birthing ball in the car, but we didn’t use it at the hospital at all. We did also bring a small blue tooth speaker that we have, so we could play music in the birthing room.
Honestly, I know it can be a burden to carry around a heavy bag or a bunch of stuff you don’t need, but when things don’t quite go as planned, it’s better to have this stuff on hand. I mean, I might not have needed dry shampoo if I’d had a normal vaginal birth and was able to shower the next day, but that was not case.
Well nearly a month later it’s mother’s day and the baby is asleep in the swing and I’m finally finding the time to try to get some of my birth story down. Parts of it are starting to get fuzzy, although parts of it were fuzzy right after.
I was set for an induction on Monday April 14th and we were set to go in Sunday night to start the process. The Wednesday/Thursday morning before I had felt a couple contractions. They weren’t strong and they weren’t really painful, so much so that I was a little relived that at least my body knew it was getting close to baby time. I had a doctor’s appointment Thursday afternoon, and I was told I was dilated almost a centimeter. Which sounds like nothing, but when things had been tight and closed it was good news.
Thursday, April 10
That evening, I started having contractions that were a little more strong, and a little more regular. I made chocolate chip muffins, and went to bed early because I thought this could really be it. I was asleep for maybe 2 hours before the contractions woke me up. They were getting painful and real. I alternated between the birthing ball, laying down and standing up. Around midnight I took a hot shower to try to get some relief, and it slowed them down for a while.
Friday, April 11
Around 5 AM I woke Gabe up and I told him this was it. We called the doctor on call, and her advice was that unless they were so strong I was “grabbing at the walls and throwing F bombs” that we should try to wait it out more. I didn’t want to go in and be sent home so I thought we’d just wait it out. We tried walking around the complex and I spent a lot more time sitting on my birthing ball. But the contractions stayed irregular all day – the more painful ones were far apart.
Saturday, April 12
Another mostly sleepless night. We waited all day, and several times Gabe asked me if it was time to go to the hospital. I was really trying to hold out because at this point, I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. This is where he and I have an interesting conversation about pain tolerance – I generally have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so his logic was (sensibly) that maybe my 8 on the pain scale was another persons “lets get to the hospital”. Late that afternoon we called the doctor again, and were told to come on in. We called our parents, who were pretty surprised – we hadn’t mentioned the contractions the past couple days.
Walking into the hospital was sort of surreal. I’ve had a few “this is getting real” moments, and this was one of them. And, it felt weird to be pretty calmly walking up and checking in – in the movies everyone is frantic and there’s a wheelchair. Anyway, I was immediately hooked up to a monitor, poked prodded and told that I was at 4 to 5 centimeters, which was great news.
Originally my plan had been to do this without pain medicine, hence the birthing ball and all the laboring at home. But after 2 nights with almost no sleep, I didn’t think I could labor all night (or close to it) and then be okay with having to take care of a newborn. So I caved. And I have no regrets. The preparation helped me while I was at home, and it helped me when things took quite the turn.
Sunday, April 13
My family and Gabe’s mom arrived at the hospital sometime between 11 and 1ish, and came in to say hi. I was really happy with my epidural decision at this point. When the doctor came in to see me, she told me my blood pressure was really high and that we needed to relax. This is where the aforementioned pain management tactics came in – we dimmed the lights, put on our relaxing Pandora station and did some breathing. And waited.
Around 3AM the nurse decided to check me again, and told us I was getting close to being able to push. We were shocked, since I thought that wouldn’t be happening until morning, but excited. The doctor came in to check, though, and this is where things take a turn. She said I was still at 5 cm but that my water had broken (what? when? I have no idea). She realized that what the nurse was feeling was the baby’s head being swollen. So they started some pitocin and he did not like that. His vitals went haywire, and next thing I knew there were 5 nurses in the room, I had an oxygen mask and they were hooking up and internal monitor to the baby.
I panicked. I had told myself I wouldn’t but things were not looking good. Dr. Boswell looked and me and said “I need you to not do that”, which is good advice because my blood pressure was still really high. After they stopped the pitocin the baby stabilized enough for her to explain to me in a calm manner that even though it wasn’t what I wanted, it’s what she needed to do (vs rushing us off down the hallway which was the way things were looking just a minute beforehand). So we did. They brought Gabe scrubs, my step mom and mother in law came in to offer some words of encouragement, and were off.
They had music on as the prepped me in the operating room which I found reassuring. They were playing Brave which I remember thing was a little corny, but totally fitting. Once everything was ready to go, they let Gabe in. The anesthesia they gave me made shake really bad. I didn’t know that was a thing, but then again I was so convinced I wasn’t getting a cesarean that I skipped over it in all my birthing books. Once they were in there, I could feel a lot of pressure, and it seemed like hardly any time at all before they held my son up over the blue curtain.
Gabe walked over to watch them clean him off, and I just laid there, still shaking uncontrollably but so relieved. They brought him over and let us have skin to skin for a little while before we moved off to recovery.
Even though it wasn’t the way I planned it, I am very grateful to have had a doctor that was able to use her experience to quickly figure out when something wasn’t quite right, and she was really great at calming us both down. I’m also very glad that the Women’s Hospital of Texas has such a commitment to breastfeeding – a lactation consultant met us in recovery and helped me nurse, and I was so tired and out of it I’m not sure I would have been able to do it on my own. I know a lot of women don’t end up breastfeeding after a c-section and they were a big help to me.
We stayed in the hospital until Wednesday morning, there was a lot of healing (physically and emotionally) to be done. And the next two weeks were no joke – but that’s another story.
Even though we’re having a boy we still went with a neutral yellow/grey color scheme. He’s also unintentionally got a children’s book theme going on also which is pretty cool.
You may remember the dresser from this post. The banner is from my baby shower, and the two blankets on the side of the crib were each made for Oliver – one from his grandmother and one from a friend of ours.
A close up of one of the framed poems, from Where The Sidewalk Ends. The other is “Hug O War”.
A friend made the “Oh The Places You’ll Go” picture. The pram was Gabe’s when he was little – isn’t it neat?! The puffy things hanging from the ceiling were also from my baby shower. I love that we were able to use elements from it to decorate the room.
His book/toy shelf and laundry basket. We’ve already played with the dropcam several times. It’s a video feed that you can watch on your phone or computer, and you can even talk back to the baby. The image is super clear and it has night vision. You can also get alerts on your phone if there’s loud noise or movements.
We had a baby shower on Saturday, and it was amazing. My step mom and sisters worked really hard at decorating, and everything looked amazing. We went with a children’s book theme, and the details were so cute. Gabe’s aunt ordered this invitation from Etsy that set the tone, and people brought children’s books to fill up his library.
There was also this adorable diaper cake:
And even though most of our family knows the baby’s name by now, this still felt like a big reveal with his name all over the place. It made it feel so real!