Birth of David, 2006
Our second baby, was planned. We planned 2 of our 6 children :) We had gotten married the year before, in summer 2004, when David was home on 2 weeks leave from a year long deployment in Iraq with the Army Reserves. In September 2005, we stopped using birth control and to my surprise, got pregnant 2 weeks later. I’d always heard that it sometimes took many months (and we went through that with our 3rd baby). I did not rush to the doctor this time. We had no insurance and I had no idea how OB billing worked, I assumed it would be cheaper if I waited longer to go. But that’s not how they do maternity care in many places. It’s often a flat fee, no matter how many times you come in (or was then anyway lol). Looking back, I actually LOVE that we had no insurance, because it was the reason I made many decisions, like not having an ultrasound, and going home right at 24 hours, things that later, my reasons for those same choices had drastically changed.
I loved being pregnant, again. I started doing yoga sometime in my second trimester. It made me feel so much better! My 3 year old daughter would do yoga with me. I had a friend who was starting a photography business, so she offered to do maternity photos for no charge. I stopped working when I had so much pelvic pressure that it was uncomfortable to stand. I wore an incredibly uncomfortable maternity belt, which did help, but I wish I’d known about baby wraps and belly wrapping with them, because they’re so much more comfortable. I really don’t remember a lot about my pregnancy with him, to be honest with you. I walked. A lot. I tried many “self induction” methods… well, all that I could find online at the time. I used my single breastpump, raspberry leaf tea, as people had told me they’ll induce you. (a note here: NOW I’m 100% convinced that NOTHING short of Pitocin will actually induce, and that anybody who swears by any method needs to understand that it was a coincidence. I do believe these methods may possible speed up a labor by a few hours, but will do nothing if baby isn’t ready to come).
The morning he was born: I was miserable and was done being pregnant. I had a doctor appointment that afternoon and I packed my hospital bag, hoping my doctor would send me straight to the hospital. I took my daughter to story time at the library, then home for lunch, then to her great grandma’s house while I went to my appointment, with my packed bag.
My doctor checked my cervix, to find some pink mucous, announced that she had “bloody show” (this is NOT what “bloody show” is …. ) and she was sending me to the hospital! I was ecstatic and nervous. I left the office, called my husband at work, telling him to stay at work, because it was about 2:00 and I wasn’t at the hospital yet anyway. His usual work day lasted to 5:30 and there was no reason for him to come that soon. I even did a bit of shopping first. I got to the hospital around 3, got upstairs and settled about 3:15. They started me on PIT, said I didn’t need cytotec as I was already dilated part way since I was 40 + 5. I have no idea how much PIT they had me on, but my doctor said it wasn’t much as I was already having contractions. I always wonder when his birthday was meant to be, since he was forced out sooner than he was ready. I think I’d have been in labor in the next day or 2, or 3 on my own and his birth would’ve been much better.
The nurse wouldn’t let me go potty without checking my cervix. “wouldn’t want the baby to be born on the toilet” … as if they just fall out… as if being born on the toilet would be horrible (hospital germs, gross, yes, but toilet in general, it’s happened throughout history). They suggested I lay on my side, but never suggested I move around. They were surprised when I repeatedly turned down pain meds. I said that I had given birth before without meds, I could do it again (I had a spinal block the first time, but it wore off before she was born).
The nurses and doctor stood at the foot of my bed, watching me. Just watching. Waiting. I wish I had had a doula. Seriously. I had no support. I called my husband … again… he “was on the way”. He arrived at 6:30, 20 min before our baby did. He wanted to take pictures, but I told him no. … Why did I tell him no? ☹ makes me so sad now.
Time to push. Feet in stirrups. Count to ten. Push hard. Push harder. People screaming at me. Panic. Nurse pushing on the top of my belly (my fundus), doctor pulling. Hard. They pulled him out, took him to the warmer. Clearly his cord was cut quickly, and I don’t remember those moments well. I do remember when blood started squirting like a fountain. Everywhere. His cord clamp had come off. The doctor had gotten up from stitching me, to take care of him. Not that I was even aware of what she was doing to me. I don’t remember the placenta at all. His cord was clamped with a hemostat, then tied with surgical string. They had to wait on the pediatrician to come down to stitch up his bellybutton. They had cut it too close to be able to just reclamp it. 2 hours. I didn’t get to hold my baby for 2 hours. They finally (no idea how long actually) rolled the warmer over so I could hold his hand, but they wouldn’t let me hold him. The surgical string may come off, they told me. Until finally the nurse said I could hold him, but I just had to be careful (I’m still mad that they didn’t give him to me sooner). I don’t remember how our first nursing time went. Just that I had to be careful of his cord. I don’t remember how long it took for the pediatrician to come and stitch him up. My doctor came in to explain a bit, finally. She told us they had to stitch his cord, and that he had broken his collar bone, but babies heal fast. There was no more explanation. (this eventually led me to learning more about dystocia, nuchal hand, position of baby and of mom). David held him. Burrito baby. A bit of back story – all through my pregnancy, I kept asking what names he liked. He never responded, never suggested, nothing. … until this moment, when holding our burrito baby. (you know… swaddled, resembles a burrito… anyway…) He said “I was thinking David Wilson.” And I was still traumatized so I agreed to whatever. Later, when filling out the papers, I paused, wondering what the heck I’d agreed to. Having 2 people named David in my house? … sure…. I still don’t like that part of it, and he’ll be 11 this year.
Everything seemed to be going fine with breastfeeding, the nurses gave him a pacifier (instead of suggesting I nurse him more), and we went home right at 24 hours. Like I was packing at 22 hours, asking if they “could do the 24 hour blood test NOW”. I had all the papers filled out, just had to sign the final release paper and we left as soon as “they’d let us” (I wish I’d known we could just go…). We went home, settled in on the couch and slept. Finally slept. Slept with my baby in my arms. Cuz nobody ever gets sleep in the hospital.
I’m not sure which day, but in the first week I began having excruciating nipple pain when he nursed. It was so bad. I didn’t know what to do. How to fix it. Who to ask. My mom was at my house, but had nothing to say about it, she had no idea either. It was less painful if I nursed him laying down, so I did that. It got so bad that I would pull back right before he latched on. In tears. Toes curling, crying. Deep deep breaths. Doing whatever I could to let him nurse, while trying to keep my mind distracted because it hurt. Hurt so much.
The first time I gave him a bottle. He was so hungry. I couldn’t feed him. I had gone from pulling back before he latched to not being able to let him latch at all. And yet he had to eat. I cried as I got him a bottle. Breastfeeding had been so easy the first time. Why wasn’t it working this time? But he had to eat. I cried the whole time he drank the bottle. I don’t remember, but I must’ve pumped. When back at the doctor, she told me “to put some ice on it. Peas work well, cuz they form to the whole breast”. If only she’d actually helped me. I nursed some, but it hurt so bad. I finally borrowed my sister in law’s double pump. And I then pumped and bottle fed for a couple weeks before finally stopping to just use formula. Then one morning I was freezing cold. It was July and I was freezing. I realized I should take my temp. It was HIGH. I called my doctor and got right in. My little David ofcourse cried the whole way, as he always did. He hated his car seat. Screamed the whole time, anytime we went anywhere. I had mastitis. She gave me a high dose, strong antibiotic. It was about $80, since I’m allergic to all they cheap antibiotics. She didn’t tell me that I needed to continue to get the milk out, that mastitis is caused by a clogged duct. She didn’t ask if I was still nursing, if I needed help. Definitely never asked how his latch was, never asked if I’d talked to a lactation consultant. Just gave me meds and sent me on my way.
And so, apparently, I was done breastfeeding. I was so sad about it, but didn’t realize how sad it made me. My husband noticed. He sent me to get a massage for my birthday (in August). I started googling. Not sure what I started with, but I ended up finding an article about induced lactation for adoptive moms. It had been 3 weeks since I last extracted milk from my breasts. I called the lactation consultant at the hospital, who referred me to an IBCLC with La Leche League, Vicki Swanson (who is now one of my favorite people). She talked to me for 2 hours, doing what she could over the phone, and set a time to come to my house in the next day or 2, I can’t remember, it was 11 years ago lol. She thought it may be a tongue tie, and she’d check when she came. I had already started pumping again, trying to get him to nurse. He did latch, but wouldn’t drink for long.
Vicki came. She explained to me that I had more milk than I thought I did, because I could hear him swallow, said he did have a tongue tie, but since his latch no longer hurt it was up to me if I wanted to have it snipped or not. I, of course had no idea what any of that meant, and even though she explained it, I wasn’t really sure. She brought a supplemental nursing system, helped me learn how to use it. She brought herbs: fenugreek and blessed thistle to help with my supply. She wrote down, told me to ask my doctor to prescribe Dr. Jack Newman’s all purpose nipple ointment, told me to pump at least every 2 hours if he wouldn’t latch/nurse, especially during the night. He slept most of the night, so I set an alarm for 1am and I pumped. She told me how to power pump, told me to eat oatmeal every day. His latch no longer hurt, and I never did get his tongue clipped. It was a long, hard few months. I can’t remember the last bottle I gave him, but it was 3 months of regular bottle use, and another of occasional bottle use if I remember right. We went on to breastfeed until 2 days before he turned one. And again, had I known then … he would’ve nursed longer. I didn’t know that giving milk in a sippie cup (because I was afraid to nurse in public) would make him wean sooner. I was so sad when he wouldn’t nurse anymore. After all I had gone through.
I wish I would’ve gone to La Leche League meetings then. Maybe I’d have felt the courage I needed to nurse in public, to not give a sippie cup of milk. I have no idea how things would’ve been different, but they’d have been different in some way.
I learned so much from his birth and breastfeeding experience. So much. And even though I didn’t acknowledge my desire to learn more for another year, this is where it sparked. My love for all things birth and breastfeeding started from a traumatic birth and breastfeeding experience.
This was hard for me to type. I’ve wanted to share this full story for a few years, but haven’t. I’ve shared bits and pieces. I’ve shared my relactating story many many times. And I’ve shared snippets of the birth story with certain people, but never the whole thing. Going back there in my mind is so hard for me. And I am remembering things I hadn’t remembered before. And I know there’s so much I missed, because I blocked it out. And other things I don’t remember because it’s been almost 11 years. I think this story is why it warms my heart to see women seeking birth knowledge before they get pregnant. There’s simply too much to know to be able to learn it all in 15-25 weeks. Especially if all you have is mainstream books. It’s taken me years to find some amazing books. Years of being in the birth world. I can’t expect any mama to know what books to get when it’s taken me that long to gather my books wish list. The internet has helped so much. 20 years ago, it was limited to whatever your library or book store had. Now we have Amazon and almost any book imaginable.