One week ago today (tonight, really), our sweet baby girl finally made her appearance. In some ways I can’t believe a week has passed since that moment, and in other ways this last week has felt like a year. This week has been such a life changing whirlwind and I thought I’d share a brief summation of Nora’s birth story, along with some of my thoughts and feelings over this past first week of motherhood.
The Birth Story:
Nora grew significantly in my belly over the last four weeks of my pregnancy; so much so that at my last OB appointment, after consulting with doctors and a physicians assistant, we decided it was best that I be induced in the few days left before my due date. I’d sincerely hoped to avoid a c-section with the induction, but I was aware that the chance of a c-section was still great, considering the baby’s size and the fact that my body was 39.4 weeks along and showing no signs of labor. So, the induction was scheduled for Saturday, February 7th at 7:30 am. Shawn and I spent the night before finishing our packing, some cleaning, and trying to relax and enjoy our last night together, just the two of us. At 5:30 Saturday morning, I received a call from the birthing center informing me that my induction would be pushed back to sometime later that day due to the high volume of patients currently waiting to be discharged. So, we waited. That felt like the longest day of my life. Little did I know what was in store for me in the coming days.
Finally, around 2:15 Saturday afternoon, I received a call from the on call doctor, letting me know we were welcome to come check in at that point, but knowing my desire to avoid a c-section, he discussed with me once more that an induction wouldn’t necessarily decrease my chances of a c-section, and he just wanted me to be aware. After a conversation filled with tears and fear with Shawn, and going over everything the doctors had told me, we decided to continue with the induction, knowing it could still very well lead to a c-section. Considering the odds were so high that Nora would be born via c-section regardless, but that I still wanted the opportunity to try and deliver her myself, we finalized our decision with the doctor and made our way to the birthing center.
We checked in, were given a new birthing suite, which was fantastic, and settled in while we waited for the doctor to see us. He discussed everything with us once more just to be thorough, and then the nurse took over. Around 4:30 pm, I was checked and given a dose of medication to get things started. Slow to start, I was in early labor until around midnight, and after being given a second dose of medication, active labor began. I was in active labor all day Sunday, my water broken by the doctor around 10:00 am when the really painful contractions began, and then the epidural administered around 11:20 am. I spent the next few hours with dead legs and the inability to keep anything down, which was extra miserable considering I hadn’t eaten in at least 24 hours. I labored until 6:00 pm when I was checked and told I was finally complete and could begin pushing. A mix of incredible exhaustion, anxiety and the lingering woosiness from the epidural caused me to become sick again, while I was trying to deliver. After two long hours of crying, throwing up and exhaustive pushing, Nora still showed no signs of coming. It was then that the doctors felt that a c-section was at this point very necessary. Through hot tears, I looked at Shawn, shook my head yes, and they went off to prepare the OR for me. I was given a second epidural and wheeled into the OR around 9:45pm. The whole day had been difficult, to say the least, but this part was without a doubt the most traumatic for me.
For my fellow Mad Men enthusiasts, the next 45 minutes felt like the episode where Betty gives birth and is swarmed by a nauseating dream like state. I was so sick, I kept throwing up throughout the surgery, I couldn’t hold back any tears. I was so anxious and scared, I felt so alone and all I wanted was to go home and be with my cat. At 10:11, our girl was delivered and Shawn was with the doctors as they cleaned her, cut her cord, and collected her stats. She was a whopping 9 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long. When they brought her to me, I didn’t even want to look. I was so miserable and scared and sick and all I wanted was to be out of that damn operating room. Shawn was so comforting to me and eased me enough for me to be able to enjoy looking at our girl for the first time.
Finally I was wheeled back to our room for recovery, where I found some of our dear friends waiting with gifts and hugs and the support that I so desperately needed at that time. We spent the next 72 hours at the birthing center while I recovered and we tried to wrap our heads and hearts around caring for this sweet babe. We were released on Wednesday, February 11th and the three of us went home to be a family.
The First Week:
Having a baby is hard. I don’t think people talk enough about that. I’ve felt overwhelming guilt at times throughout this past week for things I shouldn’t feel guilty for. I’ve spent every night since she was born in tears. I’ve felt annoyed with her for needing me. I’ve been so frustrated that I have had moments where I couldn’t look at her, let alone hold her. I’ve passed her off to Shawn because I’ve been so overwhelmed with anxiety, doubt, fear, utter exhaustion. My body is so sore from trying to deliver her only to be given major surgery. My eyes are so tired from sleeping an average of two hours per night since her birth. My soul is weary from feelings of sadness over the loss of my old life. My ego is bruised from the belly that now hangs over my c-section scar. This isn’t to say I don’t love my baby or that I hate being a mother. This is to say that having a baby is fucking hard. And that’s okay. We can do hard things.
At the end of these long, long days, I have a beautiful, healthy daughter and a brave, strong husband who has yet to tire of being a rock for us. This first week has been challenging, to put it extremely lightly. But the rewards will come. The sleep will happen, the anxiety will wear off, the fear will surely dissipate.
I didn’t write this post because I wanted to be a downer. I wrote this to be honest, and to offer some encouragement to any other moms out there who feel like it’s not okay to feel their feelings, no matter how dark they may seem.
My daughter’s full name is Eleanor Lee McEntyre. Eleanor means “Shining Light” and Lee means “Healer”. Despite the rocky beginning, this sweet girl is going to help me heal, and bring a light into these dark moments. I’m so humbled and grateful to be hers.
I wanted to include a short list of some items that I have fallen in love with or have proven to be such a help and comfort to me during this last week.
Josie Maran Lavender Calming Mist (similar) – I spritz myself with this once in the morning and once in the evenings to promote some sense of calm as I prepare to tackle the day and as I try to find some rest at night.
4moms rockaRoo – Shawn and I put Nora in this when she’s napping and we don’t want to put her in her crib, or when we both need to be doing something and want to keep her close. She absolutely loves it and it keeps her so soothed and comfortable.
Little Hip Squeaks Every Mess Cloth – Perfect for cleaning up little spills or spit ups.
Maxi Cosi Mico AP Infant Car Seat – Shawn says this car seat is magic, and I have to agree. Nora is instantly cozy and calm in this and it makes car rides so enjoyable.
Stay and Co. Organic Blanket in Oatmeal Stripe – This is the softest, most comfortable baby blanket I have ever experienced. It’s lightweight organic cotton, incredibly soft, and perfect for keeping Nora warm without overheating her. I also adore this romper we got from Stay and Co. as well. I almost never take her out of it.
Ollie Swaddle – THIS SWADDLE IS A GAME CHANGER. I’m obsessed with the Ollie. It is so light-weight and cool, and the velcro is a total lifesaver for us. We swaddle Nora in this every night and she sleeps so soundly. I highly recommend this swaddle!