Born to be a mom.
Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I knew it was something that I was born to do. My husband and I moved to Chicago from New York in 2013, got married in June 2018, and had our first baby in November 2019. In November 2020, when the pandemic hit, we relocated to Munster, Indiana. We then welcomed our second baby in January 2022. Both of our extended families live on the east coast so it’s just the four of us. Here is my story and what I learned from the birth of my first child.
My first pregnancy.
When we got pregnant in 2019 with our first baby, my pregnancy was amazing. I felt great, was able to be very active and never had any food aversions or morning sickness. As his due date approached we prepared for our baby by going to birthing classes and reading all the baby books. I’ve heard a lot of stories and experiences of childbirth as my mom is a retired Labor and Delivery Nurse, so I figured with her by my side, we got this!
My birth story begins.
After my 39 week doctor’s appointment, I called my mom to tell her how dilated I was (2 cm) and how I was feeling. Based on that and her nurse instincts, my parents decided to get in the car and started driving to Chicago. At 7:00 pm that night, I started to have contractions and around 11:00 pm it was time to head to the hospital with my contractions just a few minutes apart. Around 4:00 am my parents arrived at the hospital from their 12- hour overnight drive. At this point of my labor, after doing all of the walking and breathing techniques, I decided I needed an epidural.
Dilated and ready to push.
We got a couple hours of sleep and at 7:00 am my doctor checked me. Turns out that I was fully dilated and they told me I was ready to start pushing! My mom came into the room on one side of the bed and my husband on my other. I ended up pushing for four hours, I was determined and wanted to continue trying if it was safe for me and the baby. I pushed in every position possible, but even with successful pushes he was stuck on my pelvic bone, and just not able to get any further. We were told that forceps, even though they would do a lot of damage to me, were the best choice for our baby. However, if that didn’t work, we would be running to the Emergency Room for an emergency C-section.
Unexpected turn of events.
At that point they started to give me more epidural, the team from NICU entered our room and my doctor started to prep. Since it was a teaching hospital, a resident was going to be the one using the forceps and unfortunately, I overheard the resident ask my doctor how to use the forceps the correct way! This was not a reassuring conversation to hear as the situation got increasingly scary. Even though they gave anesthesia I could feel them hitting nerves with the forceps which was causing the pain to shoot down my legs. On the second try they were able to successfully pull our baby boy out safely, just a bit bruised up.
Trying to breastfeed.
Later we moved to the mother/baby side of the hospital and I immediately tried to nurse. I really had no clue what I was doing and although I thought I was doing it correctly I was still very unsure. The lactation specialist at the hospital didn’t give a lot of advice so I continued doing what I thought was correct. Our last day in the hospital they told us his weight had dropped a little more than what they were comfortable with. They recommended seeing the pediatrician the following day instead of waiting two days.
Seeking help from a lactation specialist.
When we went home with our baby boy my hormones were all over the place as many new mothers are, which resulted in a lot of tears. I was still in a lot of pain from the forceps and sitting was very uncomfortable. I felt very unsure about what I was doing and wanted to keep him on a “schedule” for feedings. After that first pediatrician appointment they said his weight loss was too significant and that we needed to immediately supplement with formula. For a first time mom trying to nurse but also knowing and wanting to make sure her baby boy was happy and healthy, this was devastating. We fed him formula for 24 hours, and I decided to start pumping to keep up my supply. The next day at the pediatrician, his weight had increased and they suggested that I see a lactation specialist if I wanted to try to continue to breastfeed. A few days later the specialists came to our home and mentioned that I was extremely full so it was probably making it harder for him to latch, and suggested many different things to try. I ended up seeing the lactation specialist two additional times and tried endlessly for two months to exclusively breastfeed. Ultimately, baby boy and I couldn’t figure it out together. What worked best for us was me exclusively pumping, and I was successful doing that for 9 months. Even though that was working I was still struggling. I was crying everyday for a month, my recovery was slow because of the intense delivery, and I always felt very unsure of the best ways to take care of him.
Still recovering, mom guilt and regrets.
I still have a lot of regrets with how I handled everything with my first baby. This included trying to keep him on a strict schedule, trying to exclusively breastfeed, and needing help but not recognizing it. I felt like I could’ve been a better mom to him. Now, 2 1/2 years later and having my second baby with a very different birth and nursing situation, I’ve learned so much. Every baby is so different, has different likes and dislikes and you truly have to take it day by day.
It’s okay to ask for help.
It took me until having my second child to fully realize that what I was feeling was completely normal since your hormones are going wild while your body is changing and going through so much. However, what I learned from the birth of my first child is that it’s also normal and okay for you to need help along the way. Realizing the thoughts and feelings I was having were not safe for myself or my babies, I reached out to my doctor 3 months postpartum. She ended up prescribing me something to help and after a few days I recognized the changes in how I was feeling. My amazing, supportive husband also noticed the change in me and said that “I have my old Emma back”.
What I learned from the birth of my first child.
It took me a long time to realize that life didn’t have to feel this way after having a baby and that I could still feel “normal” in this new beautiful life I had.