This motherhood journey of unconditional love and sacrifice started off with a bang. As you’ll probably be able to tell from my story, giving birth was the hardest experience of my life, and I’ll be recovering from it for a while. That said, I am happy to tell the story of the birth of my beautiful son, December Snow (Ember for short).
At 4am the morning after my last blog post about feeling anxious about my baby’s arrival, my water broke. It wasn’t an all-out gush, but I started to feel the trickle, and the contractions that I had been having became regular and painful for the first time. I was hesitant to rush to the hospital, as I didn’t want to drag all of our bags in for a false alarm. I was on and off the phone with the birthing center, and we finally drove off a few hours later for the last time without being parents.
Once at the hospital, a test confirmed that my water had broken, and we were officially admitted. My body somehow knew that I was at the hospital, and my contractions started to kick into gear almost immediately. I wanted to give my best go at a natural, unmedicated birth; however, after 13 hours with little progression, extreme pain, nausea, and tears, I got an epidural. I was really nervous about it, especially since it initially took to one side and not the other, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Noah was even able to watch and comfort me. Looking back, that was the best decision ever, because I had no idea of the chaos that was about to unfold.
After 24 hours of labor, including 3 hours of active pushing (the maximum amount that my hospital was comfortable with), December Snow was pulled out by my doctor with forceps. Even though my pushes had been good, he was stuck with his face the wrong side up. Noah had my head in his hands to rub my temples, and nurses that I hadn’t seen before were consoling me as I pushed through 2 contractions. Oddly enough, the warm air in my face mask was something calm to focus my labored, deep breathing on. I honestly don’t know how to describe the pulling sensation, but it was so surreal (especially knowing that your baby is what is being pulled on). Finally, with 5 pushes on the last contraction, I felt the pressure leave, and the crowd told me to look down and see my son. I had already told Noah before things got crazy that I would be a crier when he was born, and I definitely lived up to that. The tears of happiness, fear, pain, and relief were all consuming. The whole situation was overwhelming. Then, fear and maternal instinct stole the show. My little baby’s cries were weak, and I could tell the nurses were worried.
Because my boy was stuck with his face up instead of down and literally squeezed on for hours, his body was exhausted to the point that he was forgetting to breathe on his own. After getting his lungs opened up, the nurses decided to take him to the nursery to help him breathe and get oxygen. I got to hold him for about one minute before I saw him rolled away. Thankfully, Noah was able to go and watch over him despite COVID-19.
As you can imagine, forceps are rough on the body. My doctor told me that there was a lot of tearing and that he had to make a deep incision to get my boy out. Thank the Lord for epidurals, because I couldn’t feel him stitching me up. Finally, Noah came back to the room alone, and that’s when I lost it. This wasn’t how I had hoped or planned for this to go. I didn’t know if my son was okay, and I didn’t know what recovery journey was ahead for me too. Instead of calling my mom in happy tears, I needed her to tell me that everything was going to be okay. After what felt like forever, a lactation consultant came and was going to start teaching me how to pump, because they didn’t know how long the baby would be without me in the nursery. Again, this isn’t what I had planned for my first breastfeeding experience. The consultant left the room to get some supplies, and when she came back, I found out that God had answered my cries. My boy’s vitals had quickly changed for the better, and they brought him to me to nurse instead of pumping supplies. He was still on a portable monitor, but I felt relieved knowing that the nurses still had their eyes on his health.
From there, everything in the hospital was wonderful. Ember latched well, passed all of his newborn screenings, and didn’t lose much weight post birth (even though he pooped on me when he came out). We stayed one night, and we were both discharged the following morning. It turned out that Ember’s recovery was much shorter than mine will be. One of my nurses explained to me that I have 4th degree tearing. I innocently asked how many degrees there were, and she responded with 4… that’s when I knew I was in trouble.
Flash-forward to almost a week later, and I now have cautious optimism about my healing. I can barely sit in a comfy couch seat. Each step I make, especially with stairs, is intentional and slow. Going to the bathroom can be a process, but that has improved dramatically since his birthday. What I find the most difficult is not being able to get in and out of chairs with Ember in my arms or not having the strength to help out with all of his changings and the household chores that come with having a newborn. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go before I can function normally and without pain medication. I don’t know what l would do without the best husband and mom in the whole entire world. They swear that I’ve been a rock star, but that title should go to them and the team of doctors and nurses that helped me in the hospital.
Would I be a new mother if I didn’t talk about how stinkin cute my baby is? Truthfully, I can (and do) stare at him for hours. His little face is incredibly expressive even though he’s so tiny. While he’s sleeping, he’ll go from disgruntled to surprised, frowning to smiling, all in a matter of 15 seconds. I don’t even want to know how many pictures I’ve taken in the last week, and they are all my favorite. When he’s bundled up in my arms, I feel such joy and peace. All of the anticipation, pain, and lack of sleep is worth it. This Ember of mine has stolen my heart and made me a different woman already. I still can’t believe I’m a mother, but I can feel that he was meant to be my son.
So, no. Labor and delivery did not go smoothly, and it definitely did not turn out like I thought it would; however, I would do it all again to hold my sweet December Snow.