Dear Postpartum Me: A letter for the struggling postpartum mama

Dear Postpartum me,

First off, Congratulations on the life that you are bringing into this world!

I know the last 40 weeks have been hard… Seemingly endless nausea, losing weight, late night heartburn, exhaustion, then the weight gain and still endless nausea.

Food aversions that leave you living on toast and Costco muffins, if you’re able to even keep anything down.

Slowly watching certain activities slip from your grasp, making you feel like nothing more than a spectator and the “pregnant lady” in the group. Throwing up at work, and having to come out smiling. Hip flexor pain, having a rib out, and difficulty sleeping.

The constant well- meaning questions about how you’re feeling, how far along you are as well as comments about your size. You ask yourself if anyone even cares about you aside from your pregnancy.

Trying to stay hydrated for yourself and your child and feeling like a failure as you wind up with two IV’s over the course of your 40 weeks…

Watching your once athletic body become something else.

The list goes on and on…

As you enter this wonderful, crazy, hard 4th trimester, (aka: Postpartum) there are a few things I want you to know…

Postpartum body image

You are incredibly strong.

9 months of pregnancy is hard, especially in a world that really doesn’t value life

You are beautiful.

There will be times where you stand in front of the mirror and pick your postpartum self apart. You will frown upon your stretch marks, your squishier belly, and wider hips. You’ll miss your smaller bra size.

You will look at pictures from two years ago and want to look like that again.

Please don’t do that.

Society wants us to think that beauty is only found in flawless skin and model-like curves. I’m here to tell you that beauty is found in so many other ways. Your stretch marks are no more ugly than someone else’s freckles, or dimples.

Change does not equal ugly.

You are no less beautiful or desirable to your husband. You will not be loved less by your family, friends, or your child.

Wear your stretch marks proudly. They are a reminder of your strength and what you did to bring life to another. Let your baby girl grow up seeing a mom who isn’t ashamed of them, in a world that will try to teach her otherwise.

Postpartum body image

Be patient.

I know this postpartum period is hard. You’ve been pregnant for what seems like forever, and now you’ve finally given birth.

You will be itching to do all the things you used to do, but you can’t. At least, not yet mama. You will have to be gracious to yourself, and recover. There will be days you feel fine but don’t be fooled by it…you’re only setting yourself up for failure by pushing your limits.

You’ve spent how many years living your life? A year of living a different life for someone else won’t kill you. It’s a sacrifice, yes, but one well worth making.

There will be days where you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Days where you want to go back to the simple life with just you and your husband. Days where the tears just won’t end as you struggle with pain, stress, and sleep deprivation.

You can do this.

That first month will be hard, but I promise you it gets better. Life with your precious peanut will get easier and you’ll find a new normal. Time goes by so fast and they’re only little once. Enjoy it in all the good moments, and pray harder during the bad one’s.

I know you so badly want to be “normal” again…

You want to run and jump and throw a barbell around.

You want to be intimate with your husband.

You want to not have to think about your every move and whether it’s ok or not.

I promise you, you will get there.

Postpartum body image

There are little victories to be found everyday. Extra chores done around the house, a slightly longer walk, a few extra squats, low-key sports where you basically stand and wait for your teammates to use you, finally using a Kettlebell..

Find those moments and appreciate them. You are getting stronger everyday, and setting yourself up for success by healing well so you can be the best mom, wife, and individual you can be.

Care for your body, love and appreciate it for all the incredible things it can do, and love on your tiny human. Because in the end, life isn’t about our athleticism, beauty, abs, or even ourselves. It’s about the legacy we leave behind.

Let your legacy to your children be your faith, and the knowledge that they are so much more than this world tries to make them into.

Lead by example. Show them they can be proud of “imperfect bodies”.

In a world that mocks and belittles motherhood, show them it is something beautiful and worthy of respect.

This stuff is hard mama, and I am so proud of you for trying to navigate your way through.

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Postpartum Essentials + What to Expect After a Natural Birth

When I first started looking up articles on postpartum care and recovery, I was shocked and terrified. I read posts where women talked about how horrible it was bleeding out for 6 weeks and wearing massive diapers that wouldn’t’ even hold it all, bathroom trips that hurt worse than labor, the seemingly bazillion products they were using just to make it bearable, and my brain just wanted to check out of anything postpartum related.

Postpartum recovery

Actually, it did. It was two days before my due date and I had nothing for postpartum. No nursing bras, pads…nothing. Zilch. Nada.

If I didn’t think about it maybe it wouldn’t be that bad, right? Honestly, I’m really bad at taking care of myself sometimes. My life motto seems to be grin and bear it, and I hate buying stuff for myself most of the time.

{ I actually have three life motto’s… the one mentioned above, fake it til you make it, and, when in doubt, park way out. Those are the three main motto’s I live by. Anyway…}

That day I went and bought bras and pads. I was set. Or, so I thought, and then little peanut came along, and I had a 4th degree tear thrown into the postpartum recovery mix. Thanks for that, schnookums.

Obviously everyone’s recovery is different, but I can tell you this…6 weeks sounds like forever, but it goes fast, and your body was meant to do this, so it will heal if you’re smart and don’t overdo it before you’re ready.

It wasn’t a fun process, and because of how Amiya’s birth went I couldn’t do anything for myself. I had to have a stool to get in bed, My husband shaved my legs for me, and I couldn’t even bend down to pick up a q-tip when I wanted one. I survived that though, and I’m hoping it will make recovering from a normal birth seem much easier.

For you overwhelmed mamas, these are some of the products I used, and my thoughts on them, and even a few things that I had and didn’t use like I thought I would.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission from purchases made from them, at no additional cost to you.

1: Depends adult diapers

This is one I literally didn’t think I would need or want. When I left the birthing center this is what they put me in though, and let me tell you…

These highly attractive undies were amazing.


You can say goodbye to your more snug fitting clothing during the postpartum period, so it’s not a problem that these are a bit on the bulky side.


I liked that I never had to worry about leakage, and they were far more comfortable than having a giant pad.


Do yourself a favor and just grab two packs. You might not need them all, but better safe than sorry. I went through a pack and a half, and got a medium which fit great for my 5’1″ 130lb frame.

I had purchased regular large pads from walmart and ended up never even touching them because the Depends were so much better!

The hospital will send you home with massive pads and snazzy mesh underwear, but those drove me nuts so I stopped using them about a day into it.

2: Dermoplast spray

This wasn’t something I expected to use because I didn’t buy it and didn’t think I’d end up at the hospital, but when I went for my stitches they sent me home with two cans.


I’m so glad I had it! It’s for relief for burning and itching, and I used it liberally after every bathroom trip/Depends change.


If you’re using a hospital they should send you home with some, but if they don’t just ask for it. If you run out, or are doing a birthing center/home birth you can find it on Amazon for pretty cheap.
For me personally it would have been worth every penny, and if you’re on the fence, just do it.

3: Tucks Cooling pads

This was also something that the hospital sent me home with. You line up two or three like tomatoes on a sandwhich on your pad, and honestly I didn’t like them.

I used them off and on for a bit when I was feeling extra sore and wanted to do aaaaaall the things for relief, but I found them more irritating than anything. They kept bunching up and sitting in places that didn’t feel good, and sometimes it almost seemed like they made my swelling worse.

They gave me two containers of them and I only used half of one.
They’re worth a try if they give them to you, but they just weren’t my thing personally, and it’s not something I’ll probably have on hand after my next birth.

4: Peri Bottle with Herbal perineum rinse

This stuff. This was my saving grace.


Again, The hospital gave me a peri bottle, and my mom made up some herbal perineum rinse to help with healing down there. She made a big pot of it, and kept the extra liquid in a mason jar in the fridge so I could refill my bottle as needed.

Some people might not like squirting cold liquid down there and may want to find a way to keep it lukewarm, but I loved that it was cold. I did this after every bathroom trip/pad change as well.


Out of everything I used, this stuff and the dermoplast spray were my favorite.


It was a mixture of Chamomile, Calendula, Comfrery, Lavender, Epsom salt, and Lavender essential oil.

If you’re super ambitious you could make your own mix, or if you’re lazy like me you could buy pre-made stuff online.


If you don’t know where to look, you can contact Kelly Menne at The Nurtured Mother and tell her you’re interested in a peri-bottle blend.

5: Padscicles

Just like it sounds…Frozen pads. They have a mixture of Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera gel, and usually Lavender.


A friend gave me some and I used a few.


While I enjoyed the coolness it offered, the size of the pad was just a bit too big and bunched up too much which irritated my stitches. Definitely worth trying if you make them ahead of time, or know of someone who would do them for you. Just be sure to pick a comfortable pad size.

Haley over at Let’s Mama has a super easy tutorial on how to make them so definitely check that out, and also look through the rest of her blog for other Postpartum tips!

6: Sitz Bath Bags

Also something given to me by a friend. I used one for a bath, stayed in for all of 4 minutes and got out of the tub.

I’m really just not a bath person and got bored. I didn’t notice any amazing relief from that, so Instead I used one of the bags to refill my peri bottle.
Some people swear by Sitz baths, but not me.

7: Colace

This is a very important one, and if you’re on the fence, stop now and just go get it.

Yep. The stool softener. I remember reading one gal saying that first postpartum poop was worse than birth. After getting stitched up it was highly recommended I take it to avoid possible issues, especially since I was already so swollen, and I’m so glad I did. I only took one, or occasionally two a day, and I had no issues whatsoever with painful bowel movements.
Get yourself some, and have one less thing to deal with.

8: AAAAAAALL THE SNACKS!!!

Maybe not what you’d originally think about for postpartum care, but stock up on as many easy snacks as you can. When you’re tired and in the middle of nursing, or crawling back in bed at 3 A.M, out for your postpartum check up, etc, youre going to want something quick you can grab. Just like everyone says… breastfeeding leaves you starving and parched.

Some of my favorites to have on hand are the Lenny & Larry’s cookies, namely the double chocolate chip. They’re vegan, which is great for those who eat that way, have a decent amount of protein, and are a yummy way to get those calories in while nursing.

Postpartum snacks

I really struggled with eating after having Amiya, so I like this for a more substantial snack. Plus they’re incredibly filling. Follow the link and use the code BA124613 for 20% off your purchase.

Some other great options are…

Nature Valley Granola bars (I like pretty much all of theirs)
– Quest Bars
-Kind Bars
-Lara Bars
-Cliff Bars
-Almonds
-Peanuts
-Homemade energy balls
-Fruit
-Lunch meat & cheese
-& Greek yogurt cups

I keep my diaper bag and cupboard continously stocked with some kind of bar because I always have the munchies. They can be kind of pricey so keep an eye out for coupons, or check your local Grocery Outlet or bargain store for snacks. They usually have them for a fraction of the cost.

9: Mother’s Love Nipple Cream

For Amiya and I, nursing was incredibly difficult. My milk came in hard and fast two days after birth, and I was ridiculously engorged. I cried a lot, suffered (and once swore) through painful nursing sessions, with my teeth gritted and toes curling.

One time I just cried and said, “I can’t do this anymore.”
She would leave my nipples cracked, blistered and creased, and I would feel so defeated.


I had to start pumping and syringe/bottle feeding simply because she had caused so much damage that I couldn’t handle her nursing anymore. Even showering became painful…


Once I started using this cream religiously after every single pumping/feeding they healed up really fast.
So many people told me nursing would get better and they were right…It might seem like it will never get there, but hang in there!

For me it took seeing a Lactation consultant, a Chiropractor who specializes in infants, lots of jaw and neck exercises for baby, seeing an oral specialist in Portland, and finally going to Dr. Ghaheri who specializes in tongue tie for a tongue revision just to get things working right.

Hopefully you won’t have to go through all that, but if you do, I’ve been there! It’s not fun, but you’ve got this mama!
If you have questions about my experience with a tongue tied baby, feel free to shoot me a message!

Postpartum recovery after a natural birth

If you’re like me, you’ll look at this and start to feel overwhelmed all over again, and wonder how and when to use everything, so I’ll share my “routine”.

I kept everything on a shelf right by the toilet for easy access.
I also had a cup on the shelf, and everytime I went to the bathroom I would fill it with luke warm water, and rinse.

Some people have a burning sensation when they pee, (I didn’t), and the water can help with that, or just feel good in general.


After using the bathroom I would liberally use the herbal peri-bottle water all over the sore areas.


I would then spray the Dermoplast down there, and if I was using the tucks pads I’d get fresh ones.

Compared to what some people shared it was easy and quick. I wish I could say painless, but…birth.

If this is TMI, I apologize, but this is what I was wishing someone would have shared when I was researching postpartum care.

What recovery from a 4th degree tear was like for me:

The first two weeks were by far the worst.

When I walked it felt like someone tied a string from my sternum to my pelvis and I literally couldn’t stand up straight. I opted out of the stronger pain meds they prescribed me, and just took Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

Everything was so sore and swollen down there and I can’t even really describe what it felt like. Just like a jumbled up puffy mess that hurt.

There were only a few places I could actually sit comfortably. The couch and bed. Forget the rocking chair. Getting in and out of a moving chair without a ton of discomfort was impossible, and it’s hard to slowly raise yourself from a rocking chair.


I basically couldn’t do anything, and had to rely on other people for everything. All my meals were made for me, my pain meds were brought to me, and I couldn’t even refill my water bottle.


I just sat and snuggled my baby and pumped, with the occasional shuffle to the bathroom, which is basically what you should do postpartum, but I physically couldn’t do anything more than that.

Actually, funny story… The day after I gave birth I was trying to nurse at home, and it was so hot in our house I couldn’t handle it anymore. My mom and I walked (or rather, shuffled) next door to my in-laws house so I could sit in the air-conditioning while my hubby got ours installed.

My midwife was horrified when I told her I had done that. After that I did a much better job at staying down…mostly.

I also had someone staying with me 24/7 for the first two weeks. All things considered I healed really fast, and I credit it to all the people who stayed with me and did every little thing I asked.

By week three I was pretty much walking normally and was super happy to not feel like my stitches were always about to rip like something from Winnie the Pooh. Still moving slow, and trying to stay down as much as possible, but doing a few things around the house each day. My bleeding had also basically stopped and I was just using a tiny sports pad

I started getting out of the house around week three, which made a huge difference, because I get major cabin fever.

Still didn’t do anything crazy, but I was able to drive myself to the frisbee field, and went on my first solo trip to walmart with a baby. That felt like a major accomplishment considering the week before I could barely get off the couch.

For me I feel like week 4-5 was when I started to really feel more like myself and started going on a daily walk.


I’m now 8 weeks postpartum and am feeling pretty good, but I still have some occasional soreness, and have started a really gentle workout plan that I’ll be sharing soon.

Postpartum recovery looks different for everyone, but For those who have a birth with no complications, it will look much different than mine.

What can you expect postpartum to look like?

-Soreness in your perineum area, and some swelling.

Despite what some say, it’s not the worst thing ever.

Just stay down as much as possible, ignore the fact that your rug needs to be vacuumed (better yet, ask someone to do it for you), and be prepared to shuffle.

With a 4th degree tear, I had to painfully scoot my bottom in and out of bed, and even just getting situated on the couch was super hard, but if you don’t tear, this won’t be nearly as much of an issue.

-Difficulty with bowel movements

But if you take Colace or some other type of laxative, it’s not a problem.

You probably won’t have one for a day or two, which is normal, and you should avoid anything that could cause issues, especially dairy. I know, it’s hard…especially with people loading you up on cheesy lasagna.


Keep your diet pretty boring and healthy to help avoid issues.

-Bleeding (go figure).


It will be heavy for a few days, (but shouldn’t soak more than a pad an hour. If it does, contact your midwife/OB), and will lighten up then turn into something more like spotting here and there. Some articles led me to believe that I would be bleeding out heavily for 6 solid weeks, but it’s nothing like that.
Like I said, mine pretty much stopped by three weeks, but I continued to wear a tiny pad for the random spotting that happened here and there.

-Cramping


This is one thing I don’t remember real well about those first few days postpartum. I remember having bad cramps, but they mainly seemed to come on while nursing. Which, with my nursing experience, was awful. Breastfeeding was already so painful, and then throw cramping into the mix and it’s no wonder I was a crying mess.
This only lasted a few days though for me. It wasn’t 6 weeks of cramps, hallelujah…

-Aaaaaaall the emotions


I was a complete wreck for a while. I was tired of being in what seemed like 52 different kinds of pain, and watching other people go on with their normal lives.

Meanwhile I could hardly even scoot up in bed to nurse.

Combine that with sleep deprivation, pumping and bottle feeding every two hours which basically feels like having twins and missing my family who lives almost three hours away, it’s a wonder I haven’t cried my eyeballs out.

-Exhaustion


No matter how long your labor is, it’s crazy hard work. I was so tired, but for me it wasn’t that “so exhausted I couldn’t function” feeling.

One thing I wasn’t expecting was to feel super weak, shaky and out of breath just walking to and from the bathroom.


My tired brain couldn’t understand why I felt like that, and then I went, “Duh. You lost a lot of blood yesterday, as well as went through something ridiculously painful, you ding-bat!”
Honestly, this was one of the hardest things for me.

Postpartum Essentials to help you survive the postpartum period

Is the postpartum period hard? Yes. Absolutely. Is it the worst thing ever? No.

In the moment it might feel like the world is ending. I had occasional moments like that, but rest lots, hydrate well, snack often, and nap like your life depends upon it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for whatever you need, let yourself heal from what your body did for 9 months, and enjoy snuggling your tiny human, because it really does go crazy fast and they’re only tiny for a short while.

What are you most nervous about postpartum?

Posts you may like:

Amiya’s birth story: My experience with a natural birth

Prenatal stretches for back and hip tightness

Fit in 15: Full-Body Burner {Pregnancy Safe}

Core Strength During Pregnancy

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Amiya’s Birth Story -My Experience with a Natural Birth

Birth story, Natural Birth, 4th degree laceration, birthing center

It’s only taken me 6 weeks to post this…It’s hard to put such an amazing experience into words, but I know I’ll forget a lot as time passes, so here are most of the details. There are lots of little moments that I know I’ve left out, but here is most of it…

I remember during one of my last midwife appointments asking if I would know what a contraction was. I was assured I would, and if I was sleeping it would probably wake me up.


My due date got closer and closer and I would have weird twinges and think, “Is this a contraction???” Then my due date arrived and nothing, which made a lot of people happy because my husband was part of an ultimate Frisbee league and the rest of the team really wanted him there for their final game, which happened to be two days after my due date.


He also had co-workers out that same week, and many of them frequently mentioned how they would appreciate if I could wait.


Part of me wanted to give birth on my due date just to spite them all, but my nicer side took over and I did everything I could not to have this baby until the following week.


As in, I didn’t do squats of any kind, I didn’t lift anything even moderately heavy, I stopped climbing on counters, I even quit going on my daily walk. I just laid low.

My due date, June 7th. came and went. People in the store or at church would ask when I was due and I would tell them, “Yesterday”. To which they would always reply, “You look amazing for being over-due!”, or “I remember being 9 days over-due with my first…”


People…never, I repeat NEVER tell a pregnant woman who’s in the last days of pregnancy how late you were, or how late she could be. 40 weeks feels like an eternity when you’ve thrown up for 21 solid weeks, had what feels like a rib out for a few months, can’t find a comfortable sleeping position, are hot constantly, have lost all athletic capabilities that you once had, and just want to be DONE.


My “Yesterday” response to people’s question turned into a “Two days ago”. It was now June 9th, and all things considered, I was feeling pretty good. We went to church that morning, my hair looked fabulous, my makeup wasn’t half bad, and I felt like an adorable little pregnant woman.

Plus, today was the day of the final Frisbee league game. So far I had not gone into labor which people were happy about, and there were no signs of it happening any time soon. I think everyone was holding their breath a little bit though…


We showed up at the game and I cheered, yelled, kept time and the score like usual, feeling normal. Our team won the season undefeated and to celebrate, someone busted out the silly string.

{Fun fact: Never in my life have I used silly string, and it’s been on my bucket list. }

I took that can, probably with an evil glint in my eye, and did what any smart, 40 weeks pregnant person would do…started a war with my husband. he took off down the field, and I sprinted, (yes, you read that right. I SPRINTED) after him, yelling, “I MIGHT BE FAT BUT I CAN STILL MOVE FAST!!!”
Stupid move. I ended up pulling a muscle in my groin. Not fun.

That night was ridiculously painful because I couldn’t even roll over in bed and I thought to myself…”Hope I don’t go into labor like this.”

Midnight came, and I felt 2 small “possibly contractions”, and made a note on my phone of them and promptly went to sleep. 2:00 am I woke up to go to the bathroom, and lo and behold…there went my mucus plug. I wasn’t expecting to see that so I got excited, but then thought, “Eh, it could still be days from now…”


3:45-ish in the morning I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work, just like normal, but decided not to say anything to him. He might think it was gross anyway…lol

Early labor


6:30 am I was sleeping soundly when all of the sudden I woke up with this weird feeling.


You know in the movies where all the sudden they’re like, “this is it!”? That’s how I felt. Everyone said I would know what a contraction was when I had one, and they were right. It wasn’t overly painful, but definitely strong.

I laid back down and 10 minutes later, on the nose, another one came. It was impossible to sleep because right off the bat they were coming every 10 minutes lasting 20-30 seconds. They weren’t terrible, and naive as I was, I was like, “man, I don’t know what people complain about…these aren’t bad.” I called my mom to let her know what was going on since she’s a few hours away, and the plan was to wait it out a bit longer just to make sure this wasn’t a false alarm, and I would call her when I thought she should leave.


I hadn’t even called my husband at this point so he was clueless, and it was almost 8:00.

I was doing fine and didn’t want him to feel like he had to rush home, but on his 8:00 break I let him know I was pretty positive I was in labor. Of course he asked if I wanted him to come home, but I said I was fine.

Every time a contraction hit I would stop and kind of double over, then I would continue on my way, so I didn’t think it was necessary for him to skip work because it could be hours, and hours before we needed to leave for the birthing center.


I used this time to fix the swimsuit skirt I bought for labor, packed my bag, swept and mopped the floors, washed dishes,etc.


Contractions were sporadic, but strong.

I would have some that were 10 minutes apart, then 3, then 7, etc. At 10:00 am my mom and I decided it was a good idea for her to start heading up. I was pretty much fine laboring alone and it still wasn’t bad, but by the time my husband’s 11:00 break rolled around I was wishing for a hand to hold, and for some company.

I said if he wanted to come home I wouldn’t be opposed, but in the end we decided it was best if he just finished his day.


Someone asked him how he handled it when I told him I was in labor. He said he was kind of in disbelief because I was cracking jokes, and sounded normal through texting…

By 12:20 my contractions had gotten a lot stronger and I wanted him home, but he only had 10 minutes of work left, and a short drive, so luckily I didn’t have to wait long. My mom got here about 15 minutes later, and all the sudden contractions went back to being 10 minutes apart.

I was still puttering around the house, leaning on the counter when I needed to, finishing up some last minute things. My mom suggested Abe and I go on a walk to see if it would get things going again and I kept saying I didn’t want to. With her gentle encouragement I finally agreed to it, and we set off for a slooooow walk around the block.


For most people that’s supposed to speed things up. It made my contractions almost come to a grinding halt, and I had maybe one.

One sad lonely contraction.

I started to feel guilty, like maybe I made a wrong call, and little Amiya wasn’t coming for another day or two.
Since things seemed to be calm, mom went to the bakery for more bread for the post birth meal, and I encouraged Abe to eat something and go nap. There was no telling how long this would take so I wanted him to eat and sleep while he could, much like me.

Shortly after my mom left, My contractions were suddenly 2-3 minutes apart and much stronger. Abe had just laid down and closed his eyes, my mom walked in the door, and I said, “We need to go, and we need to go NOW.”

Procrastinators that we are, he threw a few things in his bag, in case we had to stay overnight, and gathered the car seat, camera bag, diaper bag, and my bag as I hugged my mother-in-law, and little sister-in-law goodbye.

They were so sweet and brought me a few bananas which were life savers.

Active labor


We had a 25ish minute drive to the birth center, and let me tell you…there’s something about cars that make contractions so much worse. They were coming every 3-5 minutes, and I was basically bracing myself against the floor boards, and the door trying to breathe. So much fun.


We got there around 3:00 I think, and I walked in myself while Abe parked the car. I briefly joked with the wonderful receptionist, and she commented on how I was still laughing and joking.

It’s often times my coping mechanism for pain…just find something humorous about the situation and its not as bad.


Someone in the room next to me was giving birth and obviously in the pushing stage and as I settled on the bed, feet dangling nervously, listening to her cries of agony, my only thought was, “I don’t want to be here. I want to go home.”


Abe followed shortly along with a midwife who asked to check my cervix. My contractions were still about 3-5 minutes apart and stronger now, and i was really curious to know what I was at.

Naive person that I am, I had no idea how they check how dilated you are. In my brain I was like, “Do they shine a flashlight up there or something???”


Oh Emily. Bless your little soul.


I was at a 5, which I was told was a good thing, since that’s halfway there. I heard the midwife say to someone else that she thought I would be at a 2-3 and have to send me home, and I almost said, “Nope. I knowed it wuz time. I just knowed.”
But I refrained.


To me, that was one of the worst parts. It hurt like crazy and I cried during and after, thinking to myself about how if this was this bad, what would birth feel like???
I made Abe come over so I could hold onto him while I sobbed. Emotionally I was a train wreck. I was excited, terrified, and in pain. Between him, my mom, and me cracking a joke, I got myself calmed down.


Time escaped me completely and I never once looked at a clock. We hadn’t been there long and mom walked to a store nearby, and I decided to get in the tub. I personally don’t like baths anyway, and I got in and sat there for a bit, not noticing any obvious relief and couldn’t figure out a way to get comfy.

Not that there is necessarily a “comfy” way to give birth, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

I wasn’t in there long…maaaaybe 10 minutes at the most before I got bored and decided to try sitting on the birthing ball.
I was sitting there, moving my hips in a figure eight pattern, enjoying the tiny bit of relief it provided when all of the sudden I felt a “POP!”. My eyes got wide and I looked at Abe and pretty calmly said, “My water just broke”.

He looked at the floor, a bit confused because there was nothing there, so I stood up to prove my point. I waddled to the bathroom while he cleaned it up, because we’re tidy like that. We weren’t sure if we were supposed to tell someone my water had broken or just wait until they checked on me, so luckily my mom came in right then and let them know.

Transition


My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I remember after my water broke that my contractions were SO INTENSE.

I felt like I had the flu with the way my whole body ached with each contraction. There was now nothing pleasant about this and I laid miserable on the bed. I tried the tub again now that things were stronger, and I just couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want to sit, I didn’t want to kneel, I don’t think I could have physically squatted.

At this point I started to want to give up and get an epidural at the hospital. Mom tried the hip squeezing technique and it was the only thing that offered any relief. She leaned over the tub squeezing, her arms shaking and I made her and Abe trade so she could take a break.

I couldn’t take it anymore so I got out and crawled back on the bed. I was so hot, so we opened the door facing the street and the turned a fan on me which helped immensely, and I didn’t even care that I could hear all the traffic on the other side of the privacy fence.


I was basically in a child’s pose on the bed knees out, leaning on my forearms, and was having cold sweats, and nausea. Abe was behind still squeezing my hips and mom was in front holding my hands, and I was pressing my head into her chest.

The midwife who I had really wanted to have for my birth came in and put a drop of peppermint on a paper towel in a stainless steel bowl in case I needed to puke.

That bowl was a lifesaver even though I never threw up in it. The smell was so refreshing, and when I wasn’t having a contraction I would turn my head towards the wall with my cheek pressing on the edge, and when I would have a contraction I would stick my head in the bowl, pressing my forehead on the edge as hard as I could to distract me from labor pain.


I was afraid I’d be one of those women who snaps at their husband and doesn’t want to be touched but no. I wanted to be touched and held a lot, and I kept apologizing.
I’d timidly ask him to change up what he was doing and then apologize for being so needy. I even remember telling him he was doing a great job and I appreciated what he was doing but could he please maybe move his hands down a touch?


I also remember saying sorry for feeling like I wanted to push, because for some reason I thought it was too early. My sweet midwife told me to do whatever my body was telling me, but I think I still resisted the urge.

The pushing phase


All the sudden the urge to push hit me so hard I physically couldn’t have stopped it even if I had wanted to. I was not expecting that sensation, and I was totally powerless as my body started to push our baby out.

My head went back into the bowl again, and my yell, (I don’t scream…I yell) echoed. It makes me laugh when I think about it now.

In between pushing wasn’t a long break, and I would stare blankly at the wall either moving my lips silently praying, or just laying there in sheer exhaustion while mom and Abe encouraged me on.

Instead of moving around, my midwife was now sitting on the bed with me, and that gave me enough strength to keep going. If she was there I figured it must be close.

I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere with pushing, but I wouldn’t move like mom suggested to let gravity help. I hurt too much to move.
Probably 30 minutes into pushing and yelling, my midwife brought over the peanut birthing ball and got me upright more and told me I was really close.

I was hitting my limits, working on holding my contraction a little longer even after the feeling had passed. I just wanted to give up and go to sleep. Then the midwife said those words we all love to hear… “I can see your baby’s head.”


I got so excited, and said, “Come on baby girl!”. My brain shifted gears and went into over drive. I wanted to see her so bad, and pushed with everything I had. I could feel her head coming out, and it was sheer agony.

There was also something that felt like a pop, or a tear, but everything happened so fast I didn’t really think about it, and I felt her little body slide out, apparently with the cord around her neck, around her body, and through her legs.

My midwife later said she was amazed at how fast it went from seeing about the head about the size of a nickel, to being completely out.


After only 45 minutes of pushing I was getting to see my baby.


I moved as fast as I could, which wasn’t fast, to slide my body over hers on my knees, and picked up her tiny little 6lb body, holding her to my chest in disbelief. I was crying, Abe was crying…not sure about mom…mom, were you crying? Lol.

She was so small, with a headful of hair, and just so perfect. She fit so perfectly in my hands, and I couldn’t believe it was all over. I can still remember how my chin felt with dried blood on it from where I rested it on her head.

Everything from here on out is a bit fuzzy, but I remember my whole body shaking so hard from adrenaline I had to clutch Amiya to my chest, and it felt like forever until I calmed down.

After a little bit we got me a bit more comfortable and cleaned the bed up, Abe and I had some alone time with our baby, and ate the most delicious meal I’ve ever had…a turkey sandwich and pineapple.

seriously… if you’re in need of ideas for a meal after the birth, do sandwich stuff and fruit. Easy and delicious.


I think it was when two of the midwives came in after this, that they said I had torn, but they couldn’t tell how bad, and needed to check me out. I so badly wanted it to just be a little tiny tear, because I’m terrified of stitches, and who really wants to tear down there?


They stayed very calm, which is good, otherwise I would have been shaking violently again, and they said something to each other about it looking like a third degree laceration. I had no idea what that meant but didn’t think it could be that bad.


Megan, the midwife who was attended my birth, told me it would require me to go to the hospital, and laid out a rough timeline for what needed to happen before I was transported there, and left the room briefly. I don’t remember if it was Abe or I, but one of us must have asked mom how bad it was. She very honestly said, “Well, she tore one of the worst tears you can tear.”

Natural Birth story, birth, birthing center, 4th degree laceration


We were there for about three hours after the birth, and it went by crazy fast. Amiya got weighed, measured, and all that stuff, while Abe and I worked on paperwork, and then I got cleaned up and dressed.

the walk from the bed was difficult, and I had to hold on to the assistant just to get there, in and out of the tub, and dressed. I had literally just finished pulling my shirt over my head when in walked the people there to transport me to the hospital.


This was my first time on a gurney, and in an ambulance and I hope to never repeat it. My mom took Amiya in one car, Megan took her own car and was going to facilitate our transfer and head back to the birthing center.

Abe was in the front of the ambulance and I was in the back.
The hospital we went to was massive, and I could feel myself getting more and more nervous the further we went. The only thing keeping me from starting to hyperventilate was the fact that I was holding onto Abe’s finger as he walked beside me.


In case you were wondering…I don’t like hospitals.


It was now after 10:00 pm, and they were getting me situated in the bed, and getting stuff ready when Megan, mom, and Amiya came in.

I had started shaking again, and was trying not to look at anything. My favorite moment of the whole day, oddly enough, was lying there scared, and my mom bringing Amiya over and putting her tiny little body on my chest. I can’t explain, or even describe how special that was.

She was so small her cute little newborn footie-jammie outfit was far too big on her, and her little legs were all tucked up.

I was not at all thrilled to be at the hospital, but I had just brought this precious person into the world and it made it all worth it.


Unfortunately I had to pass her off as they got started, and all I could do was turn one ear into the bed pillow, plug the other one so I couldn’t hear them talking, hold Abe’s hand, stare into his eyes, and listen to his voice to try to take my mind of what they were doing.

I had opted for just local anesthesia, otherwise I would have had to stay the night, and I wanted to go home.


Turns out I had a 4th degree laceration…uff da. I had to have them numb me up several times because I could feel more than I wanted to feel, and finally at the end I started to loosen up and was cracking jokes. My surgeon and nurse were amazing and would joke right back which helped so much, and Megan was phenomenal…instead of leaving she stayed with me the whole time and even rubbed my foot.

She told mom and Abe all the postpartum care instruction so I didn’t have to try to remember anything, and we were all set to leave around 11:00.


We were home a little after midnight, and we were all exhausted. Overall, I really did have a crazy easy, fast birth…

Natural birth story


12 hours of labor total, 6 of which were done home alone and were a piece of cake, and only 45 minutes of pushing to bring Amiya into this world.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I would have preferred not to tear because that brought a whole ‘nother aspect to postpartum recovery, but I’m so grateful our peanut was safe, and now I can sympathize with other’s who have had a similar experience.


Any other mama’s have a similar experience? Let me know!
And if you have your birth story written, send it to me! I love reading them.

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