When I was preparing for our daughter's birth I read every birth story I could get my hands on. It helped me overcome my fear of the unknown and accept the fact that every birth is different. It helped me really internalize the idea of relaxing and trusting my body and my instincts.
The problem was that all the stories ended as soon as the baby was born. I knew I would need some recovery time and probably bed rest. I knew I would be sore. But, in reality, I had no idea what to expect. So, when I sat down to write our birth story nearly two years ago, I included the first few hours after L.'s birth. It doesn't cover my entire recovery period but I feel it is an important part of our birth story.
As I adjusted to my newly not-pregnant body and remembered how to breathe deeply in lungs not being squished by a baby, I began to process my daughter's birth and accept my new role as mother. It was emotionally overwhelming to realize I had conquered my fears and accomplished something amazing. I had birthed our baby. I had the birth I wanted. She was born without pain medication or pitocin, in the water, and into my husbands hands.
When our midwife told me I was bleeding and needed to get out of the tub, I stood up and started to climb out. They put a towel around my shoulders and helped me to the bed. I still wasn't feeling any pain but vaguely remember seeing blood running down my legs.
Once I was lying down on the bed the midwives gave me a pitocin injection to help my uterus contract and stop the bleeding. J. cut the umbilical cord even though it hadn't stopped pulsing. The cord was short and tight and putting pressure on my uterus. They massaged my belly and a few moments later I felt my body pass the placenta. I was still bleeding. L. came into the world very quickly with her elbow by her face and I had torn badly. I also had several burst blood vessels and another small tear. Our midwife was amazing. She went right to work, stitching me up and stopping the bleeding. I was barely aware of what she was doing. She gave me a local anesthetic shot but I didn't feel it. She told J. the basics of what she was doing but was very focused and did not talk much. Her assistant helped me get L. to latch on and nurse.
After a little while I heard J. ask our midwife if everything was going to be okay. I heard her said that everything was going to be fine. She spent an hour and twenty minutes cleaning me up. I had a third degree tear and three burst blood vessels that all required attention. The other little tear did not require stitches. The pitocin had taken care of the hemorrhaging. I was pretty out of it throughout everything. I knew that L. was nursing and that I was worried she was cold. I was a little cold. Conveniently, I was still attached to the fluids I had been receiving during labor and someone had placed blankets on me and L. We were skin to skin and L. was wearing a little hat.
When our midwife was done, they helped me put on a pajama top and lie down more comfortably to rest. L. and I slept for what seemed like hours. At some point my mother brought us breakfast (eggs and hashbrowns and bacon and sausage). I think that must have been before our nap. When I woke up the midwives helped me sit up. I felt dizzy and short of breath. They explained that this was a normal feeling as my lungs adjusted to having so much room to expand. It was really overwhelming and I started crying. I had expected to cry when L. was born but I hadn't. It took me a while to process that we actually had a baby and it really struck me when I sat up and could breathe--my body felt different. I wasn't pregnant anymore, but it didn't feel like my body either.
They helped me to the bathroom but I couldn't pee. My bladder was really full from all the fluids I had been receiving and emptying it would help my uterus contract further. I felt like I had forgotten how to pee. I was really unsteady on my feet and was helped back to bed. They ended up using a catheter to empty my bladder. I was able to rest a little longer. At some point they examined L, weighed and measured her, and gave her a Vitamin K injection. We had decided ahead of time we wanted to do the injection and were glad we had. She barely noticed. She had some bruising on her head from the birthing process (it was gone by the next morning) but she was a healthy, alert, and relaxed baby.
The midwives stayed with us until I woke up again and was able to pee and have a bowel movement on my own.
Due to the extent of the tearing and the resulting stitches, I was told to avoid stairs for a minimum of two weeks. This obviously ruled out the possibility of going home to the boat with stairs to the boat cockpit and a ladder into the cabin (and the dock ramp is worse than stairs at low tide) . We could stay at the birth center for twenty-four hours. J. and I had already been planning to spend the next few days at a hotel and we quickly made plans to move up to my parents house for a few additional weeks.
And with all that, not necessarily in that order, L. was a few hours old, J. and I were tired, and we settled in for our first night as parents of a newborn baby girl.
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Happy Birthday to my sweet girl who is two years old today.
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