Life After Birth

It's like waking up after severe trauma to a world which has changed so dramatically it's nearly unrecognizable.

Life hasn't been the same since 12:26 am on November 23rd, 2010. As many of you know, that's when Hector was cut out of my uterus by a skilled team of medical professionals at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, after nearly 47 hours of labor.

That's right. Remember that whole plan to have a low stress, unmedicated, natural birth? Yeah, that plan got fucked, and subsequently nothing has gone as I'd expected or planned. Well, nothing except that Daniel and I have a healthy and perfect little boy in our life now.

Here's how it went down:

Eleven days before my official Due Date, homeboy decided he'd had enough of being cramped in my uterus. Since I'm so far behind on updating this goddamn blog, I'm going to attempt to make a long story short.

Essentially, I was in the transition phase of labor - which is when a woman transitions from active labor to active pushing, involving a period of intense contractions that come on hard and fast, one right after the other, and typically only lasts up to about 45 minutes - for 5 excruciating hours.

The pain was UN-BEARABLE. I do not say that lightly or with any amount of drama.

Knowing we had wanted an unmedicated birth, the midwife eventually gently suggested an epidural so that I could get some rest. And by that point, I really didn't care, I just wanted the pain to stop.

The epidural is a story in and of itself. Suffice it to say, teaching hospitals are not always the best environment to be in when one is experiencing intense pain; and, my husband proved himself once again to be my champion.

So after the sweet relief of the epidural, I slept for two hours and by the time I woke up, all the stars were in alignment to PUSH that kid out. Except he wouldn't come out.

After an inspection by an OB, it was determined that homeboy had gotten himself wedged in my pelvis in a transverse position during my prolonged labor. That's when we were told the only way the kid was getting out of there alive was through surgery.

It may sound melodramatic, but this news was absolutely devastating for me. 1.) After all our meticulous preparations and being in labor for 47 hours, I felt like a complete failure. And 2.) I was beyond terrified of surgery. I had not mentally or emotionally prepared for even the possibility of surgery, and that was a huge mistake.

I'm not going to lie, the whole birth experience was beyond traumatic for me, and even now, two months later, it makes me tear up writing about it. It's a lot to process, and I have no doubt that many women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and post-partum depression after a difficult birth.

My life was so suddenly and so stunningly altered by this tiny human being. Besides the perfectly normal insecurities and uncertainties of caring for a helpless little person, I struggled with overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and failure. Recovering from major abdominal surgery left me physically incapable of caring for my baby the way I wanted to or felt I should be able to.

Daniel and I had requested no-separation care for Hector during our stay at the hospital, which meant that he would room-in and not be in the nursery at all. Again, failure with a capital F. We soon realized that with me being incapacitated with post-surgery limitations, and suffering from edema and spinal migraines, that we needed the help of the nursery just to get through those four days in the hospital.

The first 6 weeks post-hospital were rough, y'all. Nothing can prepare you for your first child. And maybe that's a good thing. Because without actually feeling the intense love and joy that only your newborn baby can elicit, knowledge of how new parenthood utterly destroys you, would surely deter people from procreation.

But here's the thing: It's Worth It.

Dear god, I heard that over and over from other parents during my pregnancy and I thought, "yeah yeah, I know...it's hard but it's worth it, I get it". I SO didn't get it. I don't think it's even possible to get it until you hold that baby in your arms and feel him breathing against your chest. You don't get it until he's looking at you with his big blue eyes and they crinkle up with laughter. You don't get it until he holds your pinkie finger in his hand while he eats.

Hector is now 10 weeks old and life is just getting better and better. I am becoming more confident in my abilities and Hector is adjusting beautifully to life outside the womb.