Advice For My Sister-In-Law

In a few short weeks, Jack is going to have a little cousin to play with! My sister-in-law is expecting her first child, a little girl. They are going to be wonderful parents, and that little princess is going to be very well-loved by the whole family.

When I was buying presents for the baby shower a few months ago, I tried not to buy them frivolous things. Just the stuff that I didn’t even think needing before Jack was born. That got me to thinking about the stuff I wish I would have known before I had a baby. Rather than just lecture her to death over this, I’d thought I’d make a post so she can read it as she needs. And any other mom can share in the advice to.

Advice For My Sister-In-Law:

Labor and Delivery

  • Childbirth is a pain you cannot compare to anything else. I am not even going to try to explain or compare it. It’s something unique and you need to experience to understand. But the phrase hurts like a mother f**ker doesn’t even begin to explain it. And I had an epidural!
  • But you will feel like a goddess for doing it. A gross, sweaty, fat, exhausted goddess. But a goddess nonetheless! You created a life! You are superhero!!
  • Listen to your body. Trust that your body knows how to do this (because it actually does!). If something doesn’t feel right, tell someone. I did not want to lay flat on my back during labor because it didn’t feel right. So, despite the doctor insisting, I stayed on my side because Jack and I were just fine. Later on the pain was different and I wanted to be on my back, suddenly Jack started to crown. My body knew what to do and I am glad I trusted it. This also includes if something doesn’t feel right. Tell your nurse immediately if you even have the slightest bad feeling. Be your own advocate.
  • Don’t be upset if your birth plan doesn’t work out. All that matters is your baby is healthy. Vaginal unassisted, epidural, induction, planned c-section, emergency c-section—all just semantics.  I suggest having a good birth plan so you know how to be your own advocate and can make informed decisions when issue arise. My birth plan went out the window as soon as I was admitted. I just stayed focused on my baby and everything worked out fine.
  • Bring snacks for your husband. Whether your labor be quick or slow, it will be hours  before he can walk away to get food. You are really going to need his support and he is gonna need his strength to do so.
  • Bring something to pull your hair back. Hair ties, headbands, scarves or whatever. Not only will hair in your face piss you off, it might get in the way of medical procedures. I had to put my hair up for the epidural and when the they put the oxygen mask on my face.
  • Push like you have to poop. Seriously. Push like you have to take the biggest poop of your life. I did not get pushing until a nurse said this to me two hours later. Save yourself the trouble, do it from the start. And if you actually poop in the process, that’s okay. The doctors and nurses have seen it all before!
  • If there is not a medical emergency, demand skin to skin contact right away. Pop that baby out and plop it on your chest right away! It is one of the most magical moment in your life. This tiny human that you made will know who are instantly and snuggle up. This time is also important as it helps regular baby’s temperature, breathing, and heart. And encourage the needs to nurse. And if by some chance you can’t do it, have your husband do it. Tell him to take his shirt off and snuggle that baby as soon as possible. Your baby needs that comfort!
  • Try breastfeeding as soon as possible too.  Not that you can’t do it if you don’t try right away, but you will have a higher success rate the soon you try.
  • No visitors until baby and you are situated in the postpatrum room. Your needs that family bonding time. A visitor will interrupt your skin to skin contact and breastfeeding time. They will want to hold the baby and hog up this vital time. No offensive to them, I know they probably mean well, but this is not their place. The only thing that baby needs is mama and papa for the first hour or two. Everyone else can wait. And if they aren’t respecting this, call security. And I am so not kidding, they need to respect your wishes bottom line. Everyone respected this for me so there was no issue. My mom while Jack (followed by Michael) went to the nursery for testing. She helped me get situated in my postpartum room, which was a really nice bonding experience for us. Once Jack came back to me and we had a few more nursing attempts, then I invited the rest of family to come see.

Hospital Stay Advice

  • You will probably get little rest at the hospital. Between the nurses come to check on both of you and the baby wanting to nurse all the time, it’s exhausting. But try to rest as much as you can. I regret not sleeping more the first day so much. I was excited to show off my baby to everyone, despite being exhausted. Don’t be afraid to visitors out when you are ready to sleep. Like I said, they need to respect your wishes bottom line. No one was rude and stayed later than I wanted, I just should have asked them to leave sooner.
  • Going to the bathroom for the first time after birth is scary. Everything hurts down there (and if you had a c-section, the incision hurts when you walk too) and you will probably be exhausted. I’m pretty sure I looked like Bambi walking for the first time, I was so glad the nurse goes with you. The nurse will show you how to wash and clean yourself (especially if you have stitches). Take your time, listen to the instructions, and let them help you. I was still a little numb and needed my nurse to help me do everything.
  • Don’t be scared by the giant pads and mesh panties. They will probably put them on you right after birth. I was so fixated on Jack that I didn’t even notice. But I was horrified when I saw I was wearing a GIGANTIC pad. I had heard about them but they were way bigger than I Imagined. They are really more like open diapers. But once I saw how much blood had come out of me, it made sense and I got over it. And the mesh panties—they totally do not look like the ones stripper’s wear. They are more like mesh shorts. But they are soooo comfy and easy to put on. I took a few pairs with me when I left and wore them for the next few days until I was less sore and less bloated. Embrace them, they are amazing.
  • Eat everything you can. Once you relax and your appetite comes back, you are probably going to be starving. Eat all you can! Eat the food the hospital gives you. Demand your family bring you something from your favorite restaurant. Pack plenty of snacks. You just burned as many calories as a climbing a mountain. Stuff your face, you earned it! Plus proper nutrition will help you milk come in.
The Fourth Trimester (The first three months postpartum)
  • Limit visitors for the first two weeks after birth. This is my biggest regret after Jack was born. Too many came over the first few days and I got very very overwhelmed. I was beyond exhausted and ended up crying after people left one day. And Jack wasn’t happy either. He just wanted to be held by me and nurse, most visits ended with him screaming. It also interfered with us getting nursing down quickly. My advice is after immediate family has their initial meeting, close off visitation for two weeks to give everyone time to settle in.
  • Do not accept uninvited visitors. It doesn’t matter than Aunt So-and-so happens to be in town and wants to see the baby. It’s not about her! She is a grown up who will get over it and can come see the baby later. If you let her come over, I guarantee other people will think that mean it’s an open invitation for everyone to come whenever. Or they will get mad they didn’t get special treatment and cause drama. Spare yourself, you have enough to worry about. So when Auntie knocks on the door, ignore it.
  • Require people to either bring food or do a chore for you if they want to see the baby. I read this piece of advice before I gave birth and thought it was rude. How could I ask my guests to do that? After Jack was born I got it. They aren’t guest, you just had a baby and have no reason to play host to them. You are doing them a favor to see the baby, so they should be paying you back for your generosity. When they contact you about coming to visit and you approve a set time, ask them to help you by bringing food. Even if it’s just a loaf of bread or a cake. You will be so happy to eat a big piece of cake when you are nursing the next night at 2 AM. Or, ask them when they show up if they can please throw the load of laundry in the dryer while you nurse the baby first? That way the baby will be content and you will be free to chat instead of running around. Please you shouldn’t be running around, you need to recover. Your  visitors should understand that. And if they chose not to come when you ask them this, that person isn’t nice and shouldn’t be around your baby.
  • Don’t be afraid to kick visitors out. If you are tired, baby needs to nurse, or you are simply just annoyed, tell your visitors good-bye. Thank them for coming and let them wave bye to baby, then kick them out. And if they won’t leave, take the baby into another room and don’t come out until they are gone. It’s not rude, you are doing what is best for your family. It’s rude that they didn’t respect your wishes!
  • You don’t have to listen to every piece of advice. You are going to get a ton of advice. Some good, some bad. Some wanted, and some very unwanted. Listen to it, and say thanks for sharing. If you like it, give it a try. If not, forget it and never give it a second thought. This includes my advice.
  • Hold your baby, hold your baby, hold your baby!!! I know I said please to ignore advice you don’t like, but please listen to this one. You cannot spoil a baby this young. Please hold your baby all you want. Your baby only has a few needs the first few months, and your comfort is one of them. Don’t listen to people who say you should let your baby cry it out and learn to not be held. It’s horrible advice, your baby will become very stressed out and not develop properly. I also suggest babywearing, they make some very simple carriers that are easy for anyone to use. Or give woven wraps a try, I love mine.
  • You are going to get very little sleep. Between all the feedings, diaper changes, and taking care of yourself—sleep will become a luxury. And of course try to sleep when the baby sleeps, but you will probably spend it worrying the baby is breathing.
  • Breastfeeding is hard. While it is the most natural thing your body can do, it doesn’t come naturally to most women. You will need a lot of time, patience, knowledge, and support to be successful. It might hurt, your baby might gave tongue or lips ties that need to be surgically addressed, or you might have a medical reason interfering. All that being said, breastfeeding will become natural overtime. Now I can nurse Jack anywhere, anytime. I love Jack and I breastfeeding relationship, it’s such a powerful bond.
  • But don’t give up when it gets hard. But with the proper help, you CAN overcome most issues. It might not be easy and it might not be a quick fix, but keep going. I almost gave up 3 weeks in, but I turned to La Leche League’s website and gained the knowledge to overcome our struggles. Do everything possible. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Keep trying, you CAN do it!
  • Join La Leche League. Or some other breastfeeding support group. You don’t have to struggle alone. Do you know why the official book or La Leche is called “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”? Because breastfeeding is an art! You need to be taught by someone with experience on how to do it and talk to your peers on how to advance your knowledge. Obstacles will come up that will blindside you, your fellow lactating mothers will talk you through it.
  • If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, that’s okay too. After you have given it your all and you realize breastfeeding just won’t work for you, it’s okay to switch to formula. Your baby will still thrive. You didn’t’ fail, you just tried something that didn’t work. All that matters is your baby is fed and happy.
  • Don’t look at the clock or follow a schedule for nursing.  “Your baby should nurse 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours.” THIS IS THE BIGGEST LOAD OF CRAP EVER! Most babies do not nurse like this. Nurse your baby whenever they show you hunger cues (rooting, hand sucking, fussiness) and nurse them as long as they want (and you are comfortable).  The best advice I ever got was “Never unlatch a suckling baby”.  Who cares if it’s been 45 minutes, your baby needs it. Even if they are not eating that whole time, they are comfort nursing—which is just as important as eating. It stimulates your milk production and comforts your baby. However, if your baby keeps popping off after a minute or two, make sure you at least keep trying to latch your baby for 15 minutes. Likewise, if it’s been more than 4 hours without your baby nursing (like they are sleeping), latch them on and get them fed. There isn’t really a thing as too much nursing, but they can nurse too little. That’s the only time you should watch the clock.
  • Give yourself time to heal.  The first few weeks the only things you should be doing sitting on the couch nursing your baby or laying in bed nursing your baby. Nothing else. Cooking, cleaning, work, etc.—that all can wait. You are gonna be sore ALL over. You are going to be exhausted. You are going to be worried about your baby constantly. Just sit down, hold your baby, and rest.
  • Don’t worry about losing the baby weight quickly.  Odds are you will not be that one out of a million woman who looks exactly like she did before she got pregnant right after birth. But that’s okay. Just focus on caring for year newborn and healing yourself. Once you are cleared by your doctor, start taking some small steps back like walking with your baby and eating a healthy diet. It took 9 months to gain it, give yourself at least 9 months to get it off before you go crazy. I have lost all my baby weight plus 7 pounds by doing nothing but eat whatever I want within reason that is healthy, walk and nurse. And I’m only 8 months postpartum.
Other Stuff that I can’t explain, but you will understand soon enough:
  • You are going to love your husband even more now.  
  • You are going to love your mom even more now too. 
  • You are going to be a different person from now on. 
  • Your body will never be the same, but you will respect it’s power. 

Postpartum Recovery

It’s been six weeks since I gave birth to my beautiful son. This so called “fourth trimester” is the most challenging so far. I not only have to take care of myself and recover from the trauma of giving birth, but I have to care of a tiny little person who is totally dependant on me as well. As hard as it’s been, it’s been so rewarding. Jack has honestly made me a better person in these 6 short weeks.

As far as my recovery, some  pregnancy symptoms vanished. Some lessened, And some new ones have appeared. So let’s start from the beginning…

After Delivery:
Giving birth to an 8 lbs 9.6 oz baby will make anyone feel a million times better. My acid reflux vanished. My stomach settled and I was actually hungry for the first time in weeks. I also just felt a tremendous relief, all my internal organs were no longer squished! And thanks to the epidural, I felt no pain down there for the next two hours.

Selfie about an hours after giving birth, I
looked pretty good for being exhausted!

However, I was beyond exhausted. I rested a little bit after Michael with Jack to the nursery but nurses kept coming in the to check me so it wasn’t that peaceful.  My right nipple really hurt, Jack badly bruised it on his first attempt at nurse. How is a girl supposed to relax with a throbbing nipple? My left knee was still numb too, making it hard move into a comfy position. I needed the nurse to pretty much hold me up when they wanted to move me to my postpartum room. The epidural also left me freezing cold. The nurse gave me a ton of warmed blankets, but it took forever for me to warm up.

Hospital Stay:
Shortly after I got to my room,  Michael came in with Jack. Jack wanted to nurse again so I tried the the other breast, and he bruised that one quickly too. Now both my boobs hurt like hell, but I still didn’t mind because I knew it was best for him.

The nurse then helped me go to the bathroom. I was so sore, it hurt to stand. Plus, my knee was still numb so I really had to lean on her for support to walk. She sat me on the toilet and explained everything. I could not wipe myself for at least a week, or as long as I felt my stitches. So I had spray everything clean with a peri bottle This is when she pulled out the lovely mesh underwear and the huge pad. (look more like a puppy training pad than feminine hygiene product). Then, I was even more horrified to discovered I already had a pair of the mesh underwear on with a giant pad on! They must have put them on after they finished stitching me up and I didn’t notice because I was mesmerized with Jack. Once I saw how much blood was on the pad, it all made sense though.

As the day went on, the bleeding was less and less. And the pain and soreness lessen too (with the help of some Motrin). And about 2 hours later the feeling came back to my knee. Once my IV was finished I got to take a shower. Let me tell you, that was the best shower of my life!!!! It felt good to just have a moment of peace to relax. And it felt soooo good to wash off all the sweat and blood. I brought some of my favorite products so I didn’t have to use generic hospital stuff.

About 12 hours after giving birth, not too bad.

I examined my belly in the mirror once I got out of the shower. I looked about 5 months pregnant still, except my belly was all squish this time. Overall, the damage wasn’t too bad. And right then I didn’t care, I was just happy that squishy belly made my beautiful son.

Then there was the thing pregnant women are warned about and dread…going poop for the first time after delivery. I read some pretty dramatic accounts on other blogs. I will spare you the details and say it really wasn’t that bad. Take the stool softeners they give you, drinks plenty of water, and take it easy. Don’t stress over it.

I was happy to be discharged. I was sick of the nurses coming in every 2 hours to check Jack and I—especially at night. We would have just gotten him to sleep and someone would wake him up to check him. Then we had to start the whole feeding, changing, calming process again. Then another nurse would come in and we had to start all over again. How do they expect new mothers to recover properly if you wont leave them alone!?!?

Weeks 1-2:
I was very tired and very sore when we got home. I was still bleeding and my whole lower body hurt if I stood for too long. For the first week it was pretty much a cycle of feed Jack, change his diaper, put him back to sleep, nap, and wake up to fed him again. Jack only slept 1-3 hours at a time so it was hard to get good rest. My parents were here so my mom was cooking and cleaning for us. I really recommend for at least the first week having someone do this for you so you can rest.

I weighed myself for the first time since giving birth 4 days after. I had already lost 15 lbs! My belly was going down but still all squishy.

2 weeks postpartum, not that pretty.

At week 2 my stitches dissolved. My bleeding slowed down a lot, more like a light period. It would get worse again if I was too active though, which would cause the soreness to come back. I quickly learned I still needed to take it easy. My hormones ran totally wild during this week too. I cried about everything and snapped at people for no reason. My advice is to just not have visitors the first two weeks if you can help it. It’s just too stressful, I really wish I would have know that beforehand. Next baby no one until week 3.

Weeks 3-4:
This is when I started to feel a lot better. My bleeding all but stopped by week 3. I was a lot less sore and actually wanted to start doing things. However, Jack had other plans. He had major growth spurt and wanted to cluster feed all the time. This resulted in major engorgement. I pretty much couldn’t leave the house because I would start leaking. And the scabs on my bruised nipples turned into cracks. So you can imagine how much fun his constant feedings were…

The next week was a lot better. Jack started sleeping almost threw the night and stopped cluster feeding. I got to sleep and regain to sanity. And, my bleeding totally stopped and I was not sore at all. And I was happy to see I lose another 5 lbs, making me only 7 lbs away from my pregnancy weight!

4 weeks postpartum, everything going back into place.

These two weeks were the peak of night sweats. I’ve had them since about 25 weeks pregnant, but it these two weeks was like I was sleeping in the flames of hell week 3 and 4 postpartum. I would wake up drenched in sweat. It was awful.

Weeks 5-6:  No pain, no soreness, and no bleeding at all.But I felt kind of weak still. So I started going for walks with Jack 4-5 times a week too to get my strength back.

I lost another 2 lbs as well, but my stomach is still all stretched out. My non-maternity jeans do fit, but they are not comfortable around my waist. I am not that upset by it, I know I will get back in them in time. I mean really, even having them almost fit less than 2 months after giving birth it pretty freaking amazing!

6 weeks postpartum, I looked deflated.

My nipples are healed and it no longer hurts to nurse. I am still having some leaking issues, but I wear breast pads most of the time so it’s not an issue when I go out anymore.

My hemorrhoids are still there, but getting better. To be honest, I slacked on caring for them because I was busy with Jack the first few weeks. If I stayed on top of them all along, I bet they would be gone by now.

So worth it, look at his big eyes!

Overall, I am very happy with my postpartum recovery. I probably should have focused a little bit more on myself at times (like getting more sleep and not trying to do too much), but when your baby is crying you drop everything to make them happy. But now that Jack and I have a routine established, I am able to do more stuff for me. It’s surprising how just brushing your hair and putting clean yoga pants on makes you feel pretty again.

I love my boys so much.

Speaking of feeling pretty, something that really helped me emotionally recover from all the changes to my body was my husband. As much as appreciated him doing anything I asked him to do with Jack, what helped the most was him just telling me I was the little things he said. Like after I was done nursing Jack and I wanted to cry from the pain, he would kiss my forehead and say thank you for feeding him. Or when I showed him how my stomach is stretched out more on one side because that’s were Jack attached, he put his arms around me and said I was beautiful. He was without a doubt the best thing to help me through these past 6 weeks.

Cluster Feeding and Comfort Nursing: What New Moms Need To Know About Breastfeeding

The minute I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. It’s “free”, helps you lose weight, and provides the best nutrition. Plus it’s great bonding time with your baby. Why wouldn’t I do it? It seemed like a no brainer!

I took two breastfeeding classes, and some of the other child care classes went over it too. They talked about the various holding positions and how to get the baby to latch on properly. And how often to feed them so they gain weight. Seemed pretty basic and easy to follow. Boy was I wrong…

My mom told me that it is harder than you think. She said her mom helped her when she really struggled with it, so I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. I knew your nipples will be sore and you may have painful blocked ducts. Also that your uterus contracts when you nurse and you may leak milk when it’s close to feeding time. And that you need to be near your baby most of the time to feed on demand. But all that seemed reasonable, I wasn’t too scared.

Then the time came. Jack was born and he started rooting for my nipple the minute they put him on my chest. The nurse sat me up and told me offer him my breast. Jack took it instantly—and OH MY GOD DID IT HURT!! But I looked at him happily sucking away and just tried to ignore it. Later when he came back from the nursery, I tried to feed him again and he wouldn’t latch. I started to feel overwhelmed—not to mention that was I exhausted too. My mom helped me get him on but it still really hurt (he had already bruised my nipple).

My nurse called the lactation consultant and she really helped. Jack wasn’t latching on wide enough and I needed to wake him up more so he eat enough before falling asleep. I thought it was all good after that. Wrong. That night he cried every hour to be fed and I didn’t know what to do. The nurse came in and explain it was all normal, and showed me how to massage my boob while nursing to get more out. The feedings in the hospital went a lot better after that.

Then once I got him home he cried to be fed all the time, which once again totally overwhelmed me and I started to doubt myself. I am not making enough milk? Is there something wrong with my milk or my breasts? Is he still not latching right again? Maybe I should just give him formula, maybe it will make him happier?

Then I turned to the internet, I needed more information. If I was doing something wrong I needed to find out how to fix it. To my surprise, I was actually doing things right. Turns out breastfeeding is actually that hard in the beginning. But I found there were a few things I could do to make it easier.

So the following list is things I found out the hard way. But I wish they advertised these better to new moms so they don’t get overwhelmed and give up breastfeeding.

  • It will hurt for the first few weeks. Seriously, it will hurt a lot. A combination of sore/burning/stinging/throbbing. If your baby bruises your nipples like Jack did to me, it will be even worse. And for the first few weeks your uterus will contract as you nurse, it’s like mini labor all over again. Not mention you are exhausted and hormonal, making all the pain a hundred times worse. You may cry as you nurse. It’s okay, let it out.
  • But the pain does go away. I promise. I am 3.5 weeks postpartum now and it just barely stings when he latches and throbs a little bit after. It may piss you off when people tell you to just nurse through the pain, but it seriously works. The more you nurse, the more your nipples toughen up and begin to heal. As you are crying through the pain, look at your sweet angel’s face and remember why it’s worth it.
  • Make sure the is latch correct. Jack bruised my nipples because I let him latch incorrectly the first time and he kept doing it. The lactation consultant showed me to open his mouth wide, put my nipple in bottom first, and gently push his head so his mouth takes in most of the areola. Once I had him on correctly, it was a million times better and I didn’t dread feeding him. Check out this link for more info on the proper latch.
  • Soothe your nipple in between feedings. Put a heating pad on before you nurse if possible. It opens up the ducts so the milk will flow easier and your baby won’t have to suck as hard. After you nurse, put lanolin on your nipples. It’s not vegan, but it’s all natural and works very well. I tried coconut oil but it wasn’t the same. This is one time I am fine with a non-vegan product because I know it is for the okay for my son. Also, if your nipples are still throbbing, put an ice pack on.
  • You won’t have much milk you at first. But you don’t need that much at first.You’ve probably been told that your baby’s stomach is small and so you don’t need a lot of milk at first. So don’t be concerned if when you try to express milk from your breast only a few drops comes out.  It’s totally normal (Ameda)
  • But your supply will increase.  As your baby gets bigger, so will their little stomach. And your body will up your supply with the increasing demand. Keep nursing (despite the pain) and it will stimulate your body to make more (Ameda)
The next two are the most important things I wish someone told me beforehand. But first you need to understand growth spurts. Your baby will go growth major growth spurts several times during their first year of life. During this time they will need to eat more, probably want more snuggles, and sleep more. The first few will be around 3 days, the next around 7-10 days, then 2-3 weeks, and 4-6 weeks. These first few ones will be a major struggle since you still exhausted and recovering from birth.
  • Cluster feeding. I thought something was wrong with my milk supply at the hospital. However, when I pumped between feedings when I got home, I discovered I was making plenty. I didn’t understand why Jack was eating all the time. Then I Googled it and cluster feeding came up instantly. When your baby is going through a growth spurt, your baby may need to eat more frequently, like every hour instead of every 2-3 hours. And they may want to nurse for a longer period of time. Then suddenly they will sleep for longer than normal, like 4-5 hours instead of 2-3 hours. Then wake up and want to start the cluster feeding/sleep cycle all over again. This is all normal—though it will drive you mad. You will feel like you are nursing back-to-back for hours. Your nipples will be throbbing and all you can think about is a nap. Then suddenly the baby is out in a milk coma and stays asleep for hours. As much as you enjoyed your much needed 4 hours nap, now you are all worried something is wrong. I kept thinking, “Why did he sleep so long? Is he okay?”  Then suddenly they are wide-awake and eating their hand because they are so hungry! Now you feel like a horrible mom for letting them sleep so long between feedings. Then the back-to-back feeding starts all over again, stressing you out more. Like I said, it all sucks, but it’s normal. (Sources: Kelly Mom, La Leche)
  • Comfort nursing. I have no problem rocking Jack to sleep and comforting him whenever he wakes up. But I wanted him to get used to falling asleep on his own (trying to avoid co-sleeping because I have insomnia issues and it’s not safe for him to be in our bed if I take a sleep aid on occasion). But sometimes he would be so insanely fussing when I tried to put him to sleep. The only way I could calm him was by nursing him until he fell asleep. Sometimes this can takes 30 minutes. He doesn’t actively suck the whole time, maybe only 10-15 minutes. Then he just gently sucks as he dozes off to sleep. Then he would gently unlatch himself and be sound asleep on my chest. Only then I could transfer him to his bed without him waking up screaming. I was worried I was starting him on bad habit that would lead to him only sleeping in peoples arms or co-sleeping. So I Googled it again and discovered he was comfort nursing—and that it is normal. And it won’t last forever. I like how they phrased it, do you honestly think your child will need to comfort nurse the rest of his life? That they will never outgrow it and be an independent person? That’s ridiculous to believe, he just needs my nurturing and affection right now. So, if I nurse Jack to sleep right now I will not need to go with him to college to nurse him to sleep. (La Leche, Kelly Mom)
If you are truly struggling, ask for help. Contact a lactation consultant at the hospital where you delivered. Talk to  friend or family member who nursed before. Even your doctor or pediatrician can help. Breastfeeding is hard at first, but you don’t have to suffer alone. And eventually you won’t suffer at all, just keep going!

Check out these links for my information and encouragement:

Jack’s Birth Story: What To Do When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Work Out

I was going to do update last week about how my maternity leave is going but…I had my baby!

At 39 weeks and 4 days along, bright and early in the morning, Jack made his entrance into this world. My labor and delivery did not go as I had planned, but it ended up all working out. All that matters is Jack and I are both safe and healthy. AND that my wishes were respected all along. Birth trauma is a real, serious issue. If you feel you were disrespected or even harmed during your birth, speak out and get help! Some links are listed below. I am referring to when thinks don’t go according to plan due to natural circumstances.

I had made a birth plan on babycenter.com and was pretty intent on sticking to it. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I wanted to try for an unmedicated, natural birth. I wanted to be free to move about and labor in any position I wanted if possible. I wanted to be able to push in any position possible too. I only wanted an episiotomy if I was not tearing cleanly. I wanted only Michael present in the delivery room and for him to cut the cord. I also wanted to breastfeed as soon as possible.
Out of that list, only the last two sentence came true.
That Monday I had been a little extra crampy. My mom said that was a good thing and her labors started that way. Random braxton-hicks would start up, then die out. Overall I knew my body was getting ready for labor but I didn’t think too much of it. I was looking for the timable contractions.
That night I was up administering Spring recruitment for my sorority online until about 11 PM. I had to sit up on the couch because my cramps bothered me more laying down. I thought about walking around the house to get them to turn into contractions, but was too exhausted. I went to bed. Oddly enough, Michael was exhausted that day too. He came home from work and took a 3 hour nap randomly. My mom joked he subconsciously knew he would be up soon to take me to the hospital.
I woke up around 1:30 AM because my cramps were suddenly horrible. Then I felt something wet, I assumed I peed a little. So I went to the bathroom and the minute I sat on the toilet a small gush of clear liquid came out. I put on a new pad and decided if I soaked the pad again quickly, it was for sure my water. I woke up Michael and as I was telling him I noticed I had already soaked the pad. So he jumped out of bed and I woke my mom to tell her we were off to the hospital. I went to the car and I started having contractions as soon as I sat down. Four minutes apart and lasting 1 minutes instantly. I slowly leaked amniotic fluid with each one too. I am so glad I grabbed a towel to sit on so I didn’t ruin my car.

We got the hospital in only 15 minutes. There is no traffic in the Bay Area at 2 AM luckily. If it had been rush hour, it could have taken an hour. Also luckily, there was no one else going into labor when I got there so I was taken back to be checked quickly.

The triage nurse had me do the standard pee in a cup, take your vitals, and get hooked up to the monitor. All while my pain is getting more and more intense, and I am leaking more and more fluid. The nurse did a swab to confirm water broke and then got the doctor. The doctor checked my cervix, I was at 2 cm. Then they told me I would be admitted shortly.

Here is where my birth plan went totally out the window. I was already in a lot of pain and knew there was no way this was going to take long. And I was still exhausted as I only had 2 hours of sleep. I also started to throw up a bit too. So when the nurse asked if I wanted to go ahead with the epidural paperwork, I instantly said yes. It took an hour get my admitting paperwork, the epidural paperwork (both of which Michael signed because I was already kind of out of it from the pain), and draw my blood. In the mean time, they gave me shot of pain medicine and Zofran for the nausea in my IV. I was very grateful to say the least.

The only labor picture I let Michael take.

The doctor came back to check me and I was now 4 cm. She quickly got me to a room since I progressed so fast. My bloodwork was still not processed yet so I still couldn’t have my epidural. I was crying for it at this point, and I mean seriously crying. I asked for another pain medicine shot since the first was wearing off, but they were having a hard time picking up Jack on the monitor. I couldn’t have another until they could track him better. They wanted me to lay on my back to pick him up better, but that was SO uncomfortable I couldn’t do it. I wanted to sit up or stand, but they said I couldn’t because of the medicine. Finally they got a good read on him and gave me another shot.

The doctors checked on me again about an hour later and I was at 6 cm already. The nurse kept refreshing her screen for my lab results so I could have my epidural. I was seriously pleading for it at this point. I am not a wimp when it comes to pain at all, but this was something different. It was happening so fast and was so intense.

Another hour went by and I suddenly felt the urge to push. The doctor came in to check me, I was at 9 cm with just a slight lip left. She let me try pushing, but it was not working. I wanted to push on my side, but the doctor said that I needed to be on my back because of the way he was positioned. But it did not help. I was too tired. I did not have the energy. I asked if I could still have the epidural and the doctor said yes. I was elated, I needed to relax and calm down before I could push effectively.

I laid back down and dealt with the contractions for like an 30 minutes. Then suddenly the nurses sat me up and said the anesthesiologist was coming right then. He was squeezing me in quickly. He did everything quickly and efficiently. He gave me only a half dose so I would still feel the pressure to push. The doctor then gave me 10 minutes for everything to kick in and for me to relax. It was a huge relief. I calmed down and actually wanted to push.

I did not get pushing right away. I was pushing into my legs. The nurses kept telling me I need to push into my butt, “Like you need to take the biggest poop of your life!” one kept saying. His head was 1/3 of the way out for the longest time. Then finally—over an hour later— I got the pushing thing right and he started coming out faster.

At this point is when I looked over at Michael. I noticed he was getting a little pale. He doesn’t do that well with blood. He had been holding my leg and encouraging me the whole time though. He was exhausted too and I think it all got to him. The nurses told him to sit down for a minute to recover.

And suddenly, they said Jack was coming out. The doctor told me to keep pushing continuously and Michael to come back over quickly. Then Jack popped out! Just like that. They cleaned his nose and mouth, then put him on my chest. I started crying, I couldn’t believe it.

I can’t even explain the joy I felt.

He was prefect. He looked just like Michael, just in like the ultrasounds. I loved him instantly.

They started a line of Pitocin (which was not on my birth plan either actually) and delivered my placenta. I tore cleanly and naturally, but the doctor did a small episiotomy to give Jack some more room. So she had to stitched me up down there, but I didn’t even notice. I was just mesmerized by Jack.

Then they sat me up a little so I could breastfeed. Jack was rooting and sucking his fist as soon they had put him on my chest so he had very little trouble latching on. Not gonna lie though, it hurt like hell and he did bruise my nipple. But I didn’t mind, I was happy to have that bonding experience.

So, am I upset that Jack came into this world totally not like I planned? No. Not at all.

It would have been nice to have followed my plan, but all I cared about was having a healthy baby. It happened so fast, I was so tired, and I was in so much pain that my plan was not practical. I am glad I made a plan though. I educated myself on giving birth and knew the options open to me. I also knew the possible procedures that could be done so I was not freaked out when they did something new (like the Pitocin).

My advice for any expecting mom is to have a birth plan so you can be your own advocate, but in the end do what your body tells you. My body said it was too tired to handle such an intense and rapid experience on its own. Don’t be upset if your birth reality doesn’t match your birth plan. Just focus on what needs to be done to have a healthy baby.

I will do a post about my postpartum recovery soon. But right now I want to go snuggle my son 🙂

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