On March 15, 2014, Nathan and I welcomed the most beautiful baby girl into the world. Sadie Elizabeth Poolman was born at 7pm on the dot via C-section, weighing in at 6 pounds 15 ounces, and measuring 20 inches.
The labor….ah the labor. Yes, I had a C-section, and no, I do not feel disappointed about it. On the 14th I was having contractions but they were not regular. I cancelled plans with a friend since they were painful. Luckily I had quit working a few days before due to lack of sleep. I think my body knew what was coming.
At about 11pm that night I just knew something was up. The contractions did not feel like descriptions I read in books or learned about in our birth class. I can’t even really describe it–it’s like my whole body from neck to hips just got really tight and hurt. We went into the hospital, and of course got stuck behind a train. By the time we got there I was in so much pain I threw up in the garbage can in the lobby. After bringing me back to triage, I got the most thrilling news–only about 1cm dilated. REALLY?! The nurse offered something for pain and told me I could walk around, or they could give me pain meds and I could go home and try to sleep. Since I knew I had a long journey ahead of me if I progressed, I chose sleep.
The pain meds only really worked between contractions. Luckily Nathan got some sleep and I dozed off between contractions. At about 3am I took a bath, as the nurse said that would help–no such luck. At 5am I woke Nathan up and told him I didn’t care how dilated I was, we had to go in. He said, “Why don’t you take a shower?” Apparently men can sleep through anything since the bathroom is literally right next to his side of the bed.
When we got to the hospital my water started leaking and I was about 3cm, so they admitted me. I asked for an epidural immediately and had to wait a couple of hours. Poor Nathan tried to talk to me but apparently I snapped at him. All of that time is really a blur. After I got the epidural, I felt much better and slept. I did have to get Pitocin to speed things up though. I wasn’t ready to push until 5pm. I pushed for about an hour and a half with no progress. After about 45 minutes the doctor got the ultrasound to see what was going on–Sadie was head down but what they call “sunny-side up.” This means her head is down but facing my abdomen causing her head to keep hitting my pelvis. The doctor tried to turn her for the another 45 minutes with no success. He finally gave me the option of trying to push for another hour or two and possibly still wind up getting a C-section or just getting a C-section. At this point, my heart beat was much higher than normal and I had a fever. We opted for a C-section.
Sadie came out with a conehead from all the pushing and her poor little head hitting my pelvis. She also had a fever and elevated heartbeat when she was born. Our baby was in the NICU for two days as a precaution in case she had an infection. Mom, Dad, and Sadie all left the hospital safely four days later.
The first two weeks Sadie was home were the hardest weeks of my life. I’ve learned so much and come so far since then. Below are the things I wish I knew before I had her.
1) When you get home you could feel like, “Can I please take my baby back to the hospital?” even though you love them, and wanted them so badly. Sadie was so wanted and so loved, but those first two weeks are so overwhelming. But each day gets better and better, and like Nathan and I kept telling each other, “This won’t last forever.”
2) A lot of women get the baby blues, but few talk about it. My emotions were a roller coaster. I would cry because I was happy, cry because I was sad, cry because I thought people thought I was crazy, cry because I was tired….Your hormones are completely out of whack and are out of control. Be patient with yourself, talk to your spouse, and don’t let other people get to you.
3) While you will want help the first few weeks, it’s hard to have someone stay with you the whole time if you want to establish some sort of routine. I love my parents, and they were so helpful–more than I could even imagine. But I think having them at the house for that long while my hormones were out of control was not a good idea. I couldn’t gain my confidence as a mother, it was hard dealing with the baby blues when you have so many people around you, and you feel like you need to be a hostess. I knew I was being crabby with them and that just made me feel worse. I couldn’t get my footing and I just kept feeling like I was disappointing them.
4) Say yes to help, food, and people visiting but set your boundaries. We had SO many people wanting to visit almost as soon as we got home. While it was helpful since most people brought food with them, it was also very overwhelming. I wasn’t feeling my best, so I didn’t really want people to see me that way. I was also really protective of my daughter, worrying about her getting sick, getting overstimulated, and visits upsetting her schedule. I am the type of person who finds it very hard to say no, but I found that I really had to get over that.
5) Some people will not agree with your parenting decisions and LOTS of people will give you unsolicited advice. My in-laws came for a few days and my mother-in-law would jump every time Sadie cried. I don’t even think Sadie cried for ten seconds before my mother-in-law was like, “Is she hungry? Is she wet? Is she in pain? Are you going to go get her?” People would also ask me how things were and I would say, “Oh good. Sadie had a little trouble sleeping last night, but I’m sure tonight will better.” I would then receive an email of what to do during the day to ensure she slept at night, and how late to keep her up before putting her down for the night, etc. The advice was nice and coming from a good place, but was not what I was looking for. If I need advice, I will ask for it.
6) Breastfeeding is not nearly as easy as it seems. I agree it is the best thing for a baby, but I don’t believe a mother should be made to feel bad or feel pressured into doing it. Due to Sadie being in the NICU, my milk not coming in right away, and her getting supplementation, breastfeeding did not work for us. It got to the point where I was in tears, Sadie was in tears, and poor Nathan didn’t know what to do to help. We saw a lactation consultant, went to a doctor on a Saturday, etc. I’m pumping, so my daughter is receiving all breast milk (and so what if she wasn’t–my kid, my decision), but I still have doctors and people asking me, “Well have you tried again?” Yes, I have and she just cries. It’s not worth the stress, which could cause my milk to dry up, or my daughter not gaining enough weight because the breastfeeding isn’t going well. She’s gained over the amount of weight she should (an ounce a day), and she is healthy. That is all that matters to me.