Pregnancy & Birth

End of the 4th Trimester

I can tell things are changing in my body as the end of this trimester has come to an end. For one, my skin is breaking out like it did when I first became pregnant and was adjusting to being pregnant, but now I am adjusting to NOT being pregnant. My brain is a bit more clear, I can focus on more things (but not much more) other than when my daughter ate last, when I pumped last and how many times she pooped in a 24 hour period.

Even though I haven’t slept a 3 or 4 hour stretch in three months, except for once when she was 5 weeks old and she slept for 6 hours and I woke up like a whole new person, I am less tired than I was in the early days. I must just be getting used to the lack of sleep. I read once that a new mom gulps sleep like a fish out of water gulps for air. It is exactly how I feel. Most days, all I can think about is when I get to lay down next.

End of the 4th Trimester

Penelope arrived on 11.11.09 at 2:46a. I started labor at 7:30p on the 10th, so a 7 hour labor total. Not bad right? Well, if you count the three previous stints of labor that lasted about 6 hours each, its a grand total 25 hours.

When it finally started on the 10th, it STARTED.

There was no early labor for me, no walking around the house and baking cookies. The first contraction came right after I had settled into the couch with dinner on my lap (or rather my huge belly) to watch a movie with Peter. After a couple of them, I started to have a conversation with my body. It went like this: “ok, body, no more messing around. If you are gonna give me painful contractions again, you better mean business. I am not doing another 6 hours of contractions only to have them go away again. I am sick of this shit.”

Another 20 minutes go by and I decide to go take a bath. Previously, when I had contractions, as soon as I would lay down to go to sleep or take a bath they would go away. So I thought might as well get them to go away now, so I can finish my movie. I get into the bath and get nice and relaxed, but they are not going away, they are getting stronger. I stay in the bath about 45 minutes and then I need to get out, I need to move, I need to change positions because they really hurt. So I go to the toilet and sit there for awhile.

Then it gets nuts.

I feel as if I am having an out of body experience. It was kinda scary. So I yell to Peter and say I think its time to call the midwife!!! He comes running in and gives her a page. Twenty minutes go by and she still doesn’t call. Now I tell Peter that I feel like I am dying. Obviously, I wasn’t dying but everything was so intense and overwhelming it was the only word I could think of to accurately describe how I felt. He calls again and finally gets a hold of her. She said she would be over soon. Then I felt the urge to move again. I stand and start walking, but oh man, it hurts SO bad. I make it to the end of the bed and hold on tight.

That contraction rocked my world.

I manage to yell to Peter, who is off filling up the birth tub, that I am going to puke before the next one hits. He was able to get the trashcan in place just as I explode. At the exact same moment that I am puking up my dinner, my water breaks. Inside I was so excited! There was no going back now. I was so happy it broke on its own. Somehow I am able to calmly say, “oh, look there’s my water” and ask Peter to get a towel. What does he bring back? Several clean sweaters that were on our dresser that I hadn’t gotten to putting away yet.

So now I am screaming, “NO!!! I! Said! A! TOWEL!!” So now what does he bring back? My FAVORITE towel, the one that was my grandmother’s, of course. Now I am really screaming, “NOT THAT TOWEL!!” He finally brings back an appropriate towel to have my water leak onto.

The towel was kinda white, so I am able to see very clearly that my water is kinda green.

I think, “Shit, shit, shit. I hope everything’s ok.”

Then I needed to go back to the toilet. Sitting on the toilet, I look at my sorta green amniotic fluid and I think of all the births I have seen where the water was a bit green but everything was just fine and I calm my self down. Peter finally notices it too and asks if it’s normal. And I am able to respond that its fine. Even in that fearful moment, I always had an overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be just fine. Even so, in the next moment when Missy, the midwife’s assistant arrives, the first thing I ask her is if the color is ok.

Layla, our midwife, finally arrives and I want to be checked. I am thinking I must be 8 centimeters. Layla checks me and I am 5 and half, then 6 by the time the exam is over. I holler, “6!?! I am only 6?!? Uuugggghhhh!!!” Missy calms me a bit saying “Uh, we JUST got here!”

By this time the birth tub is ready and I needed to get in asap. I didn’t want anyone touching me or talking to me I just wanted to get in the water. I don’t know how long I was in the water, but it really got me relaxed and I was able to rest in between the contractions. It got to a point where I felt like I was too relaxed, coping too well, and things were slowing down, so I thought to myself, “I can stay in here where I am coping just fine and be here for several more hours or I can get out, get up and make the contractions more painful and get this show on the road.”

So I hurl myself out the of tub and get to the bathroom. Just from walking from the tub to the toilet and sitting down makes me feel like pushing. It was a sensation I couldn’t ignore.

I wasn’t actively pushing, it was like my body had completely taken over and had a mind of its own. I was pushing whether I wanted to or not.

Missy hollers from the couch at that point and says, “That sounds like a push, are you pushing?” So I ask to be checked again. After Layla checked me, she announces that I am 8 centimeters. I reply the same, “8!?!…I am only 8!?! Aahhhhhhh.” I walk around for a bit. I want this baby out of me!

I get back in the tub at some point and it’s getting close. I can feel Penelope moving down my pelvis. I keep telling Missy that I have to poo. I am still liking being in the warm water, but I feel like I can’t get grounded enough to really bear down so I stand up during several contractions and get into a deep squat then submerge back into the warm water after the contraction. I finally get into a hands and knees sort of position that works.

At this point, Penelope’s heart rate has dropped a bit, nothing to be alarmed about, but combined with the slightly green amniotic fluid, Layla thinks its best to put the oxygen mask on. It’s super annoying and I want to rip it off my face, but I focus on breathing for Penelope. Her heart rate stays good for awhile and I am able to take it off.

At this point, Missy tells me to see if I can feel my baby. I put my hand down and my fingers in a bit and there she was! I think to myself, “Holy crap! pushing is working! She is coming out”

She is going to be here soon!

I look Peter in the eye and smile for the first time. I ask him if he wants to get in and catch her like we talked about. He shakes his head and smiles. I am actually relieved because I really wanted to catch her myself. Later he told me it was because he didn’t want to get in the water. The water was bloody and poopy and he was not about to get in it!!

Now I am really pushing. I tell Layla, “I feel like I am tearing!!” She said “GOOD! Go with it!” I am like, “No really, I think I am tearing!!” She said, “That is what you want!” I don’t really believe her, but in my head, and I felt like she was dismissing me, but I am like, “Ok, here we go, even if I tear, here we go.” It burned SO bad. Ring of fire is no joke. But then her sweet head was out! I kept feeling her head and feeling her squishy skin and wet hair. I could not wait to hold her.

Not sure how many more pushes it took, but out came the rest of her. I caught her with my own two hands and pulled her out! At the same time I sat back on bottom and leaned against the side of the birth tub. From here on out its like I am in a dream. At first it was hard to get her in a good position to hold her on my chest because her cord was wrapped around her neck once. Layla helped me unwrap it. Then I held her close and looked her straight in her eyes. I could not believe she was here and that I managed to push her out. She was so perfectly alert and peaceful and oh so beautiful. I kept looking up at Peter to look at him and make eye contact but he was entrained on her. She fussed for a moment and I sang the song to her that I sang to her every day while taking my nightly bath when I was pregnant.

Then the contractions start coming again and I wanted the placenta OUT!! It wasn’t very long but I wanted to be done and get out of the water. I pushed for a little bit and then decided to stand up and out it came with a PLOP! At this point Peter has Penelope and we walk to the bedroom so I can lay down and nurse her or as it turned out, attempt to nurse her.

From the very first moment, breastfeeding, or lack there of, has been difficult. She sort of latched on, but not really since my nipples are flat and she was having a hard time. She passed out a few moments later anyway. At that time I didn’t think anything of it, I thought I am not going to stress about it, I will just let her lay here skin to skin and let her smell me for now.

I thought flat nipples were our only problem and I knew that was easily overcome with enough support and guidance from IBCLC. She ended up pretty much sleeping for the next 12 hours. And I just stared at her in absolute amazement. I couldn’t believe that I MADE her and that I PUSHED her out myself.

Finally the lactation consultant came over and helped us get her latched on. It was quite a production. Peter had to actually squeeze my nipple and then between the both of us, with all four hands, we could get her on. Little did we know then that even though she was on, she wasn’t transferring anything. Only when she stopped pooping and we went to see the LC again later that week did we realize she wasn’t transferring any milk and had to start pumping and finger feeding, but that leads us to a whole other story, one that is not yet complete and ready to be told.

In the end it was a perfect and beautiful birth, just like I always hoped and dreamed. However, I would give it all up to be able to breastfeed. I would have rather have had a cesarean and been completely under than to have breastfeeding taken from us. But Penelope is healthy and beautiful and I love her more than anything else in this world.

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  • Melissa
    July 15, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    What a beautiful birth story. It brought tears to my eyes. I had a hospital birth, but like you it was perfect and beautiful. Breastfeeding was much more difficult than I ever thought it would be. I know you have a much more complex BF story- but those rough starts… are really hard. Smiles for you now though since BF wasn't "taken from you" completely, and your beautiful Penelope is growing well and strong from your BM!

  • Anonymous
    October 25, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    Wonderful birth story. I just had a c-section 9/18/10 and delivered a 9lb 11oz baby girl Hannah. From there everything went downhill. Hannah's sugars were low and the dr's heard a heart murmur. She had to be transferred to another hospital before I even had a chance to hold her or meet her. Two days later I was released from my home hospital and finally got to go meet my daughter. She was in the hosptial for 3wks. During this time we found out she has congenital heart disease and will require an open heart surgery at 6mos. She also needs to take heart meds 4x/day. She was on a feeding tube for the first 3wks and wouldn't nurse or bottle feed. We finally got her to bottle feed (my breast milk) and were able to take out the feeding tube 10/11/10. Unfortunately she still will not nurse. I am so upset because I feel like I was robbed of so much with my first baby. I had to have a c-section because she was breech and then finding out about her heart and being in the hospital 3wks. Somewhere in my heart I believe "well atleast if she would breastfeed, it all would be ok". I'm still trying to nurse daily but she really has no interest. It breaks my heart.

  • Stephanie
    October 26, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    Congratulations on your baby girl!!

    My heart goes out to you, by the date of your birth, it sounds like your wounds are literally still fresh. I can say, it does get better with time. Although I had a perfect birth, the post partum was a nightmare. I explained to my husband like this: "its as if someone died,and not just anyone died, its as if my beloved father died, that is how bad it hurts, how much pain I am in" It is a death, and you need to grieve just like a death. And people need to treat you like your are grieving a death. You don't just "get over" a death and you can't just get over this experience either.
    Sending you love and big hugs.

  • Anonymous
    May 11, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    I feel exactly the ame way about greiveing breastfeeding, I had a vbac for my 5 week old twins, and would endure a billion to be able to BF normally. I say this as I EP here for the second time, ugh.

    [email protected]

  • Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life
    August 7, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    a friend sent me the link to your blog. my daughter is due 11/10/11 and is having a baby girl, too. (i'm hoping for an 11/11/11 birthday.)

    congrats on your beautiful little girl.

  • Stephanie
    August 7, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Hi Teresa! Congratulations on your soon to be grand baby!

  • goreke
    December 26, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    I have just recently been introduced to your blog by way of pinterest. I am truly inspired by your birth story. After an attempt at a natural childbirth went horribly wrong and ended in a c-section under general anesthesia, I find myself with unexpected conflicted feelings about the whole situation. That being said, I was really touched by one of your last statements of the blog,
    "In the end it was a perfect and beautiful birth, just like I always hoped and dreamed. However, I would give it all up to be able to breastfeed. I would have rather of had a cesarean and been completely under than to have breastfeeding taken from us."
    I discovered your blog at the perfect time in my life. Lately, I have found myself thriving on stories of women delivering naturally and yearning to have had that with my son, but your blog has made me realize, there are some things that don't go as planned in your life. My breastfeeding relationship has gone flawlessly with him and I am able to appreciate that so much more after reading about your struggles. I guess life is a give and take. Thank you for sharing. It has truly put my experiences with my son into perspective.

  • Stephanie
    December 27, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    @goreke…thanks so much for your comment and sharing your story. I am so glad breastfeeding has gone so wonderful for you. And like you mentioned, that last statement, was to convey, that ALL mothers are suffering from some sort of trauma. And the trauma comes from life being different from our expectations about how we want things to be. The specific situation may different but the let down and feeling of disappointment from unmet expectations is the always the same. Lots of love to you.

  • kate
    February 6, 2012 at 3:43 AM

    Thanks for sharing your birth story. I have a long and complicated one for my first child, who was delivered via c-section after I pushed for hours. (His head was lined up side-ways.) A beautiful, healthy boy… and I cried for months when anyone asked about his birth. Nursing him was not easy — and we had to use nipple shields and pump and use droppers and tubes and ya-da-ya-da-ya — not at all what I’d imagined. As you say, we must grieve the loss of what we had expected… then we can embrace the new, unimagined beauty that is. Thank you for your openness! Blessings to you and your family!

    • Stephanie
      February 6, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      Thank you for reading. Blessings to you too!

  • Brittany
    March 1, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    I read this and BAWLED my eyes out. We had planned a natural home birth, but after 2 hours of pushing, my little guy was not coming down, and was posterior. His heart rate started to go up and down, and so we were transferred into the hospital, where he was delivered by c-section on Sept 19th 2011, after another 2 hours of pushing. Breastfeeding was also a huge challenge, and kept me in a depressed state… after 2.5 weeks of trying, we gave up. I was heartbroken… but my husband said he could not stand to see me like this, and we needed to do something about it. When we switched to formula, I went through a grieving process, because everywhere you look and most people you talk to, are “breastfeeding is so good for your baby, etc, etc.” and its not that I didn’t agree with that, but I felt judged. But I somewhat got over it… I still am a little ashamed when we have to go somewhere and I have to make a bottle in front of others… silly, I know.
    I find I need to KEEP reminding myself that I couldn’t have had a home birth is I WANTED to, because his life was at risk… but I still realize how much it affects me when I hear about people having successful natural home births, I find a hint of jealousy! 🙁 It still feel like its an open wound and my little guy is 5.5 months old now!! when will this END? LOL
    Anyways, thanks for posting this. I’m glad your home birth went well and can empathize with bf not going so well but the one thing I am happy about is that both our children are healthy! 🙂

    • Stephanie
      March 1, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Thanks for sharing your story. I hope you wounds heal in time. Love to you.

  • Emily Clark Montgomery
    March 8, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    I found your website via Pinterest and absolutely loved your birth story! I’m expecting my second baby in 5 weeks and we are doing a home birth for the first time. Some days I’m terrified and wonder if I can do it, but then I read stories like yours. Your strength and courage is reassuring and that’s incredible to say you delivered and caught your own baby! Very belated congrats, she’s absolutely beautiful!

    • Stephanie
      March 9, 2012 at 1:38 AM

      Congratulations on your pregnancy and upcoming birth, how exciting!

  • Carrie
    March 22, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Stephanie, I am so so happy I found your website. I cannot believe how similar your story is to mine. My daughter was born about 4 months after yours. I had a natural birth and a midwife and totally identify with your birth story. We also were not able to achieve breastfeeding and I exclusively pumped for 6 months. It really melted my heart to see that you were able to nurse your baby for real after that struggle. I so envy you! Again, it’s so awesome to read all of your posts and I love your site.

    • Stephanie
      March 22, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      Hi Carrie! So happy you found it too, welcome! Look forward to getting to know you more!

  • Melissa
    September 3, 2013 at 2:54 AM

    Did you try using a breast shield? They worked wonders for me. It elongates the nipple so the baby can latch on. I couldn’t get my son to latch without it for the first 6 weeks. Some people gave me grief for it saying he would never latch but he did and I never had to supplement formula thanks to those shields.

    • Stephanie
      September 3, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Yup. When she was a newborn, she latched for a few days but only with the nipple shield. It was great because my nipples were so flat, but even though it gave her something to latch on to, it made it harder for her to suck because of her other issues. If flat nipples had been our only obstacle, then they would have been very helpful.

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