My popped balloon

February 29, 2016

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The face after your balloon pops, literally.

The worst, and I mean absolute worst part of pregnancy, in my opinion, is the deflated balloon effect after giving birth. I quietly accept the 9-10 months of growing a watermelon inside my body, the separating abdominal muscles, the widening of hips and loosening of joints for the miracle of life that is to come. But the aftermath is just plain ugly. And empty. Looking at the deflated mess that was once a beautiful round and glowing belly feels so lonely and discouraging. Add to this the crashing of hormones that make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster of crazy, the physical handicap-ed-ness of recovery which doesn’t allow you to do much about it, and the never ending job of a taking care of a newborn which drapes you in the sweet smell of spit up-poop combo, and you’ve got the recipe for optimal insecurity.

“What if I just look like this forever…?” I questioned my husband, seeking the reassurance I so desperately wanted to hear. I wanted him to tell me he liked the new me with the extra curves. I wanted him to grab one of my many new love handles and give some sort of moan of approval. I’d love him to notice that my boobs grew 3 cup sizes since giving birth, but he politely pretends to not notice. (Actually, “pretend” might be giving him too much credit – I’m not sure if he notices at all.) While I appreciate the respect my husband has for me and all women, every once in a while I simply want him to find me physically attractive.

“You won’t.” was his answer. Not only was this the opposite of reassuring, but it presented me with a new sense of pressure. I guess he EXPECTS me to not look like this forever? Here I am trying to embrace my new extra large muffin top, (the same one my toddler still kisses thinking I have a permanent baby inside, and my other two children keep telling me needs to “go down” as they point and giggle) and he thinks it’s reassuring to tell me that it will go away? As if all I have to do is be patient and in a few months I’ll open my eyes, look in the mirror and smile at the return of my 6 pack? I guess that is all he has to do anyway. Meanwhile I’ll be attempting to do kickboxing my living room at 5 a.m. with my toddler screaming for a third napkin to wipe up her spilled bowl of cereal and the newborn crying until I pause the workout to wrap him in the moby all while my husband sleeps soundly…dreaming of my 6 pack.

My sweet Valentine

February 22, 2016

I write this because reading other’s birth stories has helped give me the courage and knowledge I needed to manage labor. I also want to remember the beauty of our son’s birthday for the rest of my life. Now if only I could somehow journal the scent of the top of his head as it lays on my chest and the sound of his sweet baby breaths. Is there anything better in life?
When I hit 36 weeks, I started having practice contractions and feeling very uncomfortable. I remember telling Erik I didn’t think this baby would stay in until February. I frantically began my nesting projects in hopes that I would finish at least packing my hospital bag before it was time. We told the kids the baby would be here any day and they became extremely excited, adding a special prayer to the bedtime routine for the baby to come out to-DAY! Weeks went by, and then my due date went by. And then nine more days. Finally, it was Valentine’s morning when baby B decided it was time to make his appearance.
As with all of my labors, contractions started at 3 in the morning. The previous deliveries I would awake with excitement, brew some tea and have my last moments of quiet time with me and the baby in the darkness of the house. This time around I knew I needed rest, and part of me was in denial. I stayed in bed but started timing contractions with my app. I noticed that they were irregular. Hoping that I had one more day of pregnancy, I did my best to keep sleeping in between the contractions. They were anywhere from 8 to 25 minutes apart. Around 5:45, my 2 year old was asking for breakfast, so we went downstairs and had cereal. I set up the table for Valentine’s with my cards for the kids and chocolate cupcakes. While I was moving around the contractions picked up the pace and were coming about every 5 minutes. They were also starting to pick up in intensity, but still manageable. I went back to my bed, again hoping that if I rested they might dissipate. What can I say, I love being pregnant, and the thought of delivery is always terrifying! I soon found hopes of delaying delivery was a lost cause, and set out to get in the zone.I sat on my birthing ball, drank some tea, and listened to relaxing music while the kids watched some TV and Erik ran around finishing our last minute prep. The kids were very excited and checked on me periodically. Then I got in the tub, which was really the best part! Contractions were manageable there, but really started picking up in both speed and intensity and were now 3-5 minutes apart. I sent my mom a text that we’d be leaving for the hospital in an hour or so, and I could tell Erik was getting anxious. He even said he was scared. I thought to myself, “why would you tell me that? haven’t we been over this? You’re suppose to be my rock!” But it was ok because I was in a good zone by then and not worried. And I suppose husbands get to have their moments of anxiety too. When my mom got here I got out of the tub, and suddenly the contractions became extremely intense – enough to where I needed to moan, (think yoga chanting) and didn’t want anyone to touch me. I was also getting nauseous. I gave my kids a fast kiss goodbye and headed for the car before the next one hit. I didn’t want to scare them with my moaning! It was a little after 11:00 a.m.
When we backed out of the driveway I had to have Erik stop the car for a minute. Then I geared myself up for the rest of the way, breathing/moaning through each contraction and then watching the clock and focusing on relaxing for the next 3 minutes. When we made it to the interstate I told myself it was easy from here – no more sharp turns or bumps. The ER was extremely busy, but they saw that I was in the midst of very active labor so I was rushed through the crowd. (side-note: I did not enjoy moaning through contractions in front of a crowd of sick people) I had a few more contractions throughout the paperwork (isn’t this why we preregister? Just get me a room people!) and finally we were off to the the LDR. I changed into my gown, moaned through another contraction, and the nurse asked me to lie down so she could check me. I hate laying down during labor, so this was the most excruciating part. She was not gentle with me either. I felt like she was scooping her whole fist around and I even asked her to “please stop!” I mean really, give a good estimate and get out of there, right? Then she wanted to put the fetal monitors on and I needed an IV, which meant I had to be tied to the bed. Not exactly the mobile birth I wanted. The next 3-4 contractions were so intense I couldn’t even moan through them. I begged for the epidural. Erik told me I didn’t need it, and the nurse said the same. This made me so angry! I was in pain and I couldn’t move. I din’t know how on Earth I was going to push a baby out when I was in so much pain. I just wanted a breather. I said some nasty things to them in my head, but Erik assured me later that no foul language actually came out of my mouth. Finally they caved and gave me the paperwork for the epidural. But just as soon as the anesthesiologist came, my water broke. Never mind, baby is a coming! I remember feeling the bag of water bulging during the contractions and then an instant relief when it popped. At that point I couldn’t do anything but push. I mean I couldn’t have stopped pushing if they asked me to. This part wasn’t as painful as the contractions leading up to it, but it was intense. I heard the nurse call my Dr. and tell her they turned the anesthesiologist away and that I was grunting. She came running in and told me to do what my body was doing. I focused on her face, it was the only thing I could see and she was very calm. (She has been my OB for all four of my babies, and has delivered 3 of them.) The baby was out in 3 pushes, at 12:08 p.m. I heard “it’s a boy!” and felt the little wrinkly nugget laid on my chest. We did it! And I’m so glad I didn’t have time for the epidural. I got to experience the whole birth in all it’s natural and painful glory. It’s worth every second and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Immediately after the birth and for the next 45 minutes or so my body began shaking uncontrollably. The nurse gave me a blanket, but I wasn’t cold. I think my body was just in shock. I wanted so bad to have that euphoric moment after birth where all the pain leaves and you fill with love and excitement, but I was still in so much pain. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited, falling in love, and beyond happy, but at the same time I was mad at my body for not turning off the pain switch. This is one benefit of the epidural I suppose. After the shaking left, my recovery was fairly easy.
Bently is absolutely perfect, and he is so loved by his siblings. Gwen wanted a girl, but I know she doesn’t mind a boy to even things out. She’s been a big help for me around the house, and treats B with the gentleness of a loving big sister. Toby is ecstatic he got a brother, and loves holding him. I can’t wait to see these two grow and bond as “bros.” Charlotte is also very kind to B., waking in the night when she notices I’m not in bed and joining me on the rocking chair to snuggle momma and stroke Bently’s head. I couldn’t have asked for a better family. My eyes fill with tears every time I think of how blessed I am.

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