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08 June 2008 @ 10:32 am
Let's sit in a circle, shall we?  
The Birth_____________

I started feeling contractions around 4:30 PM on the 6th. At my appointment earlier that morning my midwife, Jennie, spoke of pre-eclampsia fears and I dreaded the blood draw. That was all that was on my mind all day. I told Carlos, right before heading to work, "I felt a contraction." He replied with, "keep it up, darling," and then kissed me good-bye. I continued on with the day as normal visiting with my neighbor and explaining to her that my contractions were getting more and more intense and although they were very sporadic, this might be real. I eventually went to bed (early) and started writing down times on a slip of paper. They were anywhere from two minutes apart to twenty. I was annoyed, but excited at the same time.

When Carlos came home around ten that night I showed him the post-it note. "These are all contractions?" he asked. "Yes," I said, "There's more on the other side." He began to get things in order, checking bags, and making snacks easily accessible. He then showered, and we lay down to sleep. I slept some, but woke up often. I called the on-call midwife, Cathy, around 3 AM and explained what was going on. Since we had the pre-eclampsia scare, I was instructed to go to Publix later and use the blood pressure machine. My blood pressure dropped, so Cathy called for my blood test results. They were normal. I was instructed to rest as much as possible and call her when the contractions were closer. Friday was a somewhat normal day. Friday night I didn't sleep. I took three warm baths in a tiny dormitory bathtub. I wiggled in pain and opened the contraction calculator only to be disappointed over and over again. They were spaced just enough that as soon as I'd start to drool on myself I'd wake up.

I called Cathy again. "Take Tylenol PM," she said. I didn't want to because I was so against taking anything these days. I was stubborn, but at ten o'clock that morning with no sleep I called her again. Exhausted, "Do you think it is too late to take one?" I asked. She explained that if I took it and labor progressed then it would make me too tired to push. But if I wasn't well rested I'd be too tired to push anyway. So the decision was up to me. On that note, I took one. Carlos bought me Subway while I waited for the medicine to kick in. I slept, still waking up during the contractions, but getting enough rest in between that it was worth it.

When I woke up I called Cathy back. "I feel much better," I said. She told me she was going to come over after church and do a home visit to check my cervix. She doubted there would be much progress because I always seemed fine talking and if I were in labor "for real" I wouldn't sound as calm as I'd been. Around seven she came over and checked my cervix. "Four centimeters, 100 percent effaced! I can't believe it!" she said. "I would not have guessed... you're a good laborer." She then explained what would happen next. "Tonight or the morning," she said. Finally, we'd be meeting our little girl. She left and we tied up loose ends. I called Missy, Amanda, and my father. They were all coming from Sarasota and needed at least 2 hours notification. "Just come here," I was saying, "and we'll drive together to the birthing center."

I didn't have that much time. About an hour after I made the calls I felt intense pain close together. I had to actually stop talking to deal with it and so Carlos decided it was time to go. We called Cathy. The poor lady probably just got home. I felt really bad; I kept saying “I’m sorry,” and she just kept saying, "This is my job. I love it." I then called my father and my friends and told them how to get to the birthing center. The drive over was hard for me. The express way is not fun for laboring mothers.

When I stepped out of the car I had to stand still and take another blow from the angry uterus. Then I went inside and chose the room with the birth tub bathroom. I wanted a water birth, so this made the most sense. Cathy checked my cervix - 5 centimeters. I labored on the birth ball for a bit. My father and both of my friends showed up. Everyone was so excited to see me. Missy's presence really made me feel beautiful. She kept reminding me that I was bringing life into the world, and that kept me going.

As the hours grew later everyone grew tired. Nothing was happening and with my energy running out, Cathy decided it'd be best to break my waters for me. I stalled it as long as I could, but at this point I just wanted it to be over. I was tired. She was probably right. At 1:30 AM I agreed and I laid back and let the warmth pour out. And just like that, things got serious.

I got into the birthing pool. I wanted to cry, but Cathy kept telling me not to. Carlos tried to help, but little did he know just being awake and there with me was good enough. I can only describe my pain as the worst menstrual cramp I've ever felt, times ten, long and drawn out in two minute intervals. I pushed down a little during all of this because that made things feels better. After a while the birthing pool seemed "gross" to me. It got cold after time and I saw little bits of me and my baby floating around and it was distracting. I felt uncomfortable, but I was too shy to say so. This made me hurt more I'm sure because I couldn't focus or relax. It felt okay to cry, so I did a few times. I needed to in order to regain my strength. So I had a system of crying for a few seconds, and then turning it into the strength to endure.

The birth assistant arrived just as I felt like pushing. I could take it anymore and the urge was so great. My cervix was only 9 centimeters dilated, so I had to get out and birth on the bed. I didn't mind the idea so much, but having to move with a head in your pelvis proved difficult. I got up and stepped out of the pool. Carlos was standing facing me and I grabbed his shoulders and with the next contraction I peed all over the floor. I laughed as I apologized. I then pushed down so hard I didn't feel Carlos could hold me. I somehow made it to the bed and began pushing.

Cathy tried to get me onto my side, but as awkward as it was I felt more comfortable on my back. I felt like I had more leverage here. Cathy had to stretch my cervix as I pushed and so it hurt. I didn't cry then. I felt better pushing than I did during the whole "contracting and enduring" bit. I was really embarrassed over defecating in front of my midwife, the assistant, my father, and Carlos. But this baby needed to get out. She was kicking me or punching me all the way out! I could feel her movement inside as she got closer and closer to escaping. I pushed and pushed! Finally, relief came when her head just slid out. "Reach down and grab your baby," Cathy said. I was so shocked. "No, you do it!" I replied.

At 4:53am, on Sunday, December ninth, 2007, my wonderful midwife lifted Gaia out of me and onto my stomach. And Gaia just looked at me and cried. And the first thing I said was, "What do I do now?" and then I began to rub her because her cries were not yet perfect. Then I said, "Carlos, she has your eye shapes." I looked at Carlos and he was crying. And my dad was crying. I was just in awe. I created, grew, and birthed a beautiful baby girl!

I had to get two stitches for my perineum. And Gaia had some problems breathing. She was crying, but not as pink as she should have been and there was a wheezing for her exhalation. We let her cry for ten minutes and when that didn't change Cathy tried some homeopathic things. There was talk about the NICU and I was crying silently trying to stay strong and not worry. At the very last minute my baby girl started turning pinker and her wheezing ceased. She was perfect and healthy.

Missy and Amanda came in after my perineum was stitched and cleaned a bit. They were sleeping in another room until I started pushing and felt out of place coming in. They all commented on how perfect Gaia came out. Her head was round and besides having the newborn chub she didn't look newborn at all. She was absolutely perfect.

As much as I read on breastfeeding, it proved to be quite difficult. Especially that first latch. She grabbed only the tip of my nipple and I assumed the soreness was normal since this was a new experience for me. She kept popping off and it took quite a while to get her interested. I switched sides, and she latched onto that side better and fell asleep against my chest. Carlos, Gaia, and I cuddled for the remainder of those early morning hours.

Missy and Amanda left around 7am and my father took blood samples to the lab and then went to Carlos's dorm to nap. I handed Gaia to Carlos and I attempted standing to go to the shower. I got to maybe the foot of the bed before becoming lightheaded and laying back down. Cathy rushed in and aided me to the shower. There was a stool inside for me to sit on, which was helpful. I remember being amazed by how much blood came off of me and how lightheaded and weak I was after such an event. My muscles in my legs were sore from pushing and standing was really hard.

After dressing and playing with my new diapers, I was given a bottle of stuff to help my perineum and some green stuff to raise my iron levels. I couldn't leave until I peed, so we had to wait around for that to happen. When it did, we got little foot prints and a souvenir birth certificate and we were off. We were taking our little baby girl home.

And it was the most wonderful day of my life.

Nursing Adventures_____

I spent the next days nursing and sleeping and changing diapers. My milk came in quite fast and Gaia loved it. I enjoyed nursing; I found it to be very endearing. The first few nights were very hard though. I felt angry because Carlos would sleep and I would be up feeding the baby. It began to even hurt after a while and by the time my three-day post partum check up came I realized I had thrush. Since I was also moving, my midwife prescribed antibiotics.

Gaia had developed jaundice as well, so we had to deal with that at the same time. She was too sleepy to eat and when she ate she'd fall asleep. I had a plugged duct from all the milk rushing in to feed this baby that didn't want to eat. My mentor form Adopt a Mom (on livejournal), Toni, gave me some Kellymom links and I referenced my La Leche Legue handbook. The plugged duct had subsided before turning into something worse, but not after getting worse and scaring me into bedrest. It took two days of massage and uncomfortable nursing positions. The jaundice was cleared with sunlight, and the duct with patience.

With Toni's help I began fixing my latch, realizing that this was the main reason the yeast beast invaded my territory. The pain subsided for one day, but then thrush flared again. I moved again. I tried Gentian Violet with no success. I moved again (this time alone with baby in tow), it now being three weeks since Gaia's birth. I was now crying while nursing and I cringed thinking that my baby might be hungry. I went to the Emergency Room in Ohio once. The trip cost me 700$ in total to be told that I should stop nursing and buy formula. "Or at least just pump," they said. I was heartbroken and pissed off.

I tried a manual pump, but I hated it. I bought the Evenflo electric pump, but my nipples were too big for the flange (and they don't offer bigger ones; go figure). I developed a milk blister in the escapades of wrongful pumping and was told Grapefruit Seed Extract could not only help with that, but aid my battle against thrush as well. I bought some GSE in liquid form. I added it to my diet, my laundry, and my nipple wash. I took three rounds of Diflucan, and during the last round began taking a probiotic.

When Gaia turned three months old, I could safely say that I now enjoyed nursing. And we nursed upside down, on her tummy, sitting at the dinner table, in the Mai Tei, in the Ring Sling, in the car seat with mommy's boob thrown over the side... everywhere. With painless nursing there were endless possibilities!

She began teething at 4 months (as we moved in with Daddy) and my nipples began to get sore once again. I feared going back to lanolin because tha stuff harbors yeast. After the run around I went through, I avoided the stuff. My friend Megan had sent me her All-Purpose Nipple Ointment to help with my nipple soreness during the thrush times, but it expired and I was sad. My grandmother reminded me about Chamomile tea and it's amazing healing properties. With her advice and my good friend Karmala's saviour, Comfry Leaf, I didn't struggle with it for very long. And Chamomile tea is so cheap! (We also use it for diaper rashes now.)

At five months we moved back in with Carlos's parents and I returned to work. I now owned a Medela Harmony and was confident in returning at this time. Gaia never took a bottle, so we went right to the sippy cup. Unfortunately, my supply started dropping and so I was prescribed Reglan. The Reglan made me anxious and uneasy. My husband and I bought formula "just in case," and with my difficult boss we sadly had to use it once a day while I was gone.

After two weeks of feeling a little guilty, I switched to only four hours a day and started Gaia on solids. I realized my supply hadn't dropped, Gaia just nursed more efficiently. So we nursed when I was home, and if she got hungry while I was gone my husband just gave her some solids. We only used the formula occasionally for rice cereal, but I breastfed her right afterwards to wash it down. It wasn't long before we stopped using the formula for anything but emergency feedings when I was gone. It's amazing how easy it is for a mother to freak out and pick up bad habits.

At seven months Gaia started biting. She'd nibbled a bit before, but eventually it escalated to something I couldn't help but fear every time I latched her on. I had to toughen myself up so I could bare unlatching her and putting her on the floor. "No biting," I would say. I soon began to recognize the signals that she wasn't hungry, or that she was ready to play. The occassional bite would slip in every now and then, but the severity subsided. It took more strength on my part, but the strength catered to other situations as well.

I eventually came to realize that the biting was only frequent during heavy teething days and for weeks and sometimes months at a time I could forget about about the possibility of her teeth clamping down on my breast. And when she made me bleed I'd take a picture and print it out and add it to a collage I made in her baby book so one day she can look back at it and I can say, "See, mommy loves you."

By a year I had some fantasies about weaning, but nothing solid enough to make me go through with it suddenly or irrationally. I admit that by this time all that she required of my body and my time seemed a bit daunting. Like, "Oh no, not milk again!" It fluctuated with my moods though and I had to calm down and look at her and tell myself, "Look, she's still just your precious baby girl." I knew she'd most definitely be weaned by two, and probably that summer. I needed to take the time out now and enjoy these last few moments. The time really did fly.

On July 17th, 2009, I had to leave my 19-month old daughter for a whole weekend to take a workshop a few hours away. We were at that stage where she was old enough to make this be it. So I nursed her that morning and left. My husband told me he would remind GAia that there was no more milk, and when mommy got back the milk would be gone.

The following Saturday my breasts were huge and sore. I hand expressed throughout the day to relieve pressure, and then come Sunday breastfeeding was a thing of the past. When I returned home my baby girl asked for milk twice before bed, through a moderate tantrum while falling asleep. (The going to bed thing is what I was really worried about, but it wasn't as bad as I had imagined.) The next day she asked, but when I explained the milk was all gone she readily accepted her sippy instead.

I do miss it on some level, but it was time for all of us. Although I'm not objective to extended nursing, but this time with this baby and at this stage in my life I felt it was time to wean. She didn't put up too much of a fuss. And she still checks in every now and then... patting my breasts, "all gone?" "Yes, sweetie, it's all gone."
Shary Love___evagination on June 8th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
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This story will be edited as time goes by and details are added.

Edited at 2008-06-08 06:02 pm (UTC)
muffinwundermuffin on June 9th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
oh man i SO enjoyed reading this. <3
Shary Love___evagination on June 9th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm glad. :)
Deniseglimmeringhope on June 9th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
I think the routine you guys have gotten down sounds great! Pumping is so hard, and doing it with an unsupportive boss is damn near impossible. I know lots of mama's who use solids to tide baby over while working. Heck, once we start solids (which will probably be once we get back from the amusement park this week; she's ready even if I'm not, lol) she'll get them mostly while I'm at work so pumping isn't as much of an issue.
Shary Love___evagination on June 9th, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
It is what works for us. I used to think my baby will never get formula. At least, that's what I said when I was going through all of the pain with thrush. I was stubborn. But then I realized she didn't really need formula and we could do just fine with solids. And that alone made me happy... knowing that I was willing to use formula but I didn't need to.
Courtneythisl0veisreal on June 10th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
I'm sure the pain and sore muscles were all worth it because you have such a beautiful babygirl. ♥
Shary Love___evagination on June 10th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
Of course!
(Deleted comment)
Shary Love___evagination on June 10th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Awesome.
They're tricky for sure.

I felt really bad having to shop for formula and even started crying. Carlos doesn't understand.

She's growing right now. I just want to chop my boobs off and run away. LOL.
pressitonyoupressitonyou on June 11th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
This is really good and entertaining information. My best friend is about two months off of given birth (and she's HUGE), so this will help her. I bought her a breast pump, but I'm not sure if her nipples would fit as she hasn't even given birth yet and they're already double the size. I might have to re think that!

I'm glad that you were honest about everything that happened. Most people tend to sugar coat given birth and breast feeding as being beautiful and easy, which tends to give most people unrealistic ideas. I hope to have a child in the next couple of years, and I'll definitely remember everything you've written.

Also, chamomile tea actually works? I've heard a lot of contradicting stories about this, so I wasn't sure.
Shary Love___evagination on June 11th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
It is an awesome healing herb. :)
~*~: Stock - roseschnullybaby on June 13th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
I have to say you really touched me with writing this down...
I think a birth is an unforgetable experience and yeah... it must be wonderful to hold a new born baby in the arms.

And I never thought that such problems could came up with nursing... and it was pretty interesting to learn more about. But I'm glad you don't have any problems with nursing at the moment (or does the Reglan etc count?).

I think when I'll pregnant you'll be the first I'll ask for advice and stuff.

And Gaia is such a cute baby, I think everyone loves her...
Shary Love___evagination on June 13th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
Nursing is still a challenge sometimes. Gaia is biting now so there are constant worries. The Reglan I've started taking again just because I still feel like my supply may be dwindling.
C. Lynnalmostparadise on August 8th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
These were both amazing stories and I feel great about having you to guide me through my breastfeeding experience(s)!!! I CAN'T WAIT!

Shary Love___evagination on August 8th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
I'm excited, too!