Daily Inkling Prompt: Dark Nostalgia
“Detail a time in your life of which you have fond memories, despite that time also being accompanied by many negative emotions.” Continue reading “Daily Inkling | Dark Nostalgia”
We all face challenges in our lives. These challenges, no matter how big or small, shape us. Imagine, if you will, that all you have ever known in your life is challenge. Continue reading “Article | The Lifelong Challenges of Adoptees”
As some of you know, I recently started freelancing, and have been doing social media copywriting and marketing work for a non-profit for a couple of months now. Continue reading “Article | Addiction and Adoption”
How are you feeling today? I know you’ve had some rough days recently. I know you feel like everything that is happening is your fault, and you’ve been feeling miserable. I know you’ve been hiding in the bathroom at school, crying. I know you haven’t been eating. I know you’ve been hurting yourself. I promise you, Jan, none of this is your fault. There was nothing you could do. He was already broken, and you tried so hard to fix him. You can’t blame yourself. I know other people will, but please don’t listen to them. They will come around.
Everything will be okay. You will see. Keep your head up, and try to survive this. I know you will. People are worried about you, even if they don’t tell you. People care so much more than you know. I don’t tell you this enough, but I love you. You matter, and you are important. Please stay alive long enough to realize that for yourself.
25-year old Jan
Today, my beautiful, baby boy turns one. I’ve had him in my life for a whole year, and it has been the most incredible experience. As well as writing a post about all of his milestones up to this point, I thought I would share the story of his birth. Warning, it is a bit graphic in some parts.
On January 23, 2015, my life changed forever.
I woke up at 5:07am with stomach pains. It was one day past my due date, and I thought I was just having Braxton Hicks contractions. I hadn’t had a single contraction through my whole pregnancy, and honestly had no idea what to expect. I waddled to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before I threw up. I hadn’t thrown up once during my entire pregnancy either. In fact, I hadn’t thrown up in years. After throwing up a second time, I walked back to my room, and tried to fall back asleep.
Several minutes later, more stomach pains caused me to jolt awake. I walked to the bathroom once more, and threw up once again. Then, it hit me. This was it. My son was on his way. I sat there for a while with my phone, timing my contractions, to see where I was at. They were anywhere from 8-13 minutes apart, and not too severe. I walked out to the couch and turned on Netflix, deciding to let Kyle sleep in a little longer.
Around 7:00, I walked to the room to let Kyle know that my labor had started, but told him there was no rush. He immediately got out of bed, and began making sure our hospital bags were ready for us to leave. I just laughed and sat back on the couch.
At 7:30, I decided to take a shower. I was still able to stand and walk without much difficulty, and my contractions were still around 7-8 minutes apart. I put on a little make up, double checked our hospital bags, and sat back on the couch to watch Netflix. I labored at home until around 8:45, when my contractions started coming every 2-3 minutes, and even walking them off was becoming painful. We left the apartment at 8:50, and arrived at the hospital just minutes later. I checked in (I had submitted all my paperwork weeks in advance), and waddled up to the maternity ward.
I changed into my hideous hospital gown, and waited for them to tell me which one of my midwives was on duty that day. I was relieved when they told me that my favorite midwife, Liz, would be delivering my son… if I gave birth that day.
Liz came in to check me, and was surprised to find that I was already 7cm. dilated, and that I wasn’t in much pain. She commented on being able to feel my son’s head, and mentioned that she could feel that he would have a lot of hair, which made me smile. She also mentioned that he was in the posterior position (head-down but facing your abdomen), which could possibly lead to complications during delivery, but I wasn’t too worried. She asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I quickly answered yes. The anesthesiologists came in to administer the epidural, and I made the mistake of catching a glance at the needle that they were about to insert into my back. The extremely attractive duo informed me that I would only feel a pinch, and then I wouldn’t feel anything.
They were absolutely right, and it was glorious.
Unfortunately, my painless high did not last. The nurse came in to check my blood pressure, which had been a bit high in the last week of my pregnancy, and informed me that they thought I may have Preeclampsia. They tested my urine, and sure enough, they found protein. Because I was already in labor, they chose to let things progress on their own. My heart rate was fine, and my baby was doing great. They gave me Pitocin to try any speed up my labor a bit, as well as a Magnesium drip for my Preeclampsia, and fluids to keep me hydrated, as I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything. I had forgot to have breakfast that morning, and I was starving.
The Magnesium drip made me so, so sick. I was able to get some sleep, thanks to my epidural, and was in and out of consciousness for several hours, only waking up to vomit, or when the nurses needed to check me. They did not insert a catheter, even though I had an epidural, and also had to wake me every hour so that I could pee into a bed pan, which was really awkward and strange. I couldn’t feel anything! Despite the nausea and exhaustion, I felt great, with zero pain. Kyle and I excitedly talked about the arrival of our baby boy, and Kyle started sending out the texts to let family know we were in the hospital.
Hours passed. Many hours. I could see that it had gotten dark outside, but I had no idea what time it was. The pressure was getting intense, and I could no longer sleep, so Kyle and I watched some TV for a few hours. The nurses kept coming in to check me, but it felt like I was stuck at only 8-9cm. dilated for the entire day. Finally, just after 7:30pm, they told me it was just about time to start pushing. Since 12 hours had passed, the anesthesiologists came in to touch up my epidural, which had started to wear off. I still didn’t feel any pain from contractions, but there was definitely pressure. And it was incredibly uncomfortable.
Suddenly, I was terrified.
Liz, my team of nurses, and Kyle were at my side. Liz and Kyle each held one of my legs, and I was instructed on when to push, and what I should be feeling. After several minutes of practice pushes, Kyle left the room. While I had expected this to happen, as Kyle has a weak stomach, and does not do well in high pressure situations, it scared me, and I suddenly felt alone. Liz took charge, instructing one of the nurses to grab my other leg, and the pushing continued.
Once again, no pain. Tons of pressure.
After 45 minutes of pushing on my back, Liz instructed me to get on all fours, and rest my chest on the top of the bed. This is when I started to feel some pain. Or something.
I found pushing in this position to be much more difficult, but Liz informed me that it was progressing much more quickly that way. I don’t remember much, just a lot of pushing, and the nurses laughing at me when I responded with, “I can do better!” when I was told that I was doing great.
Another 45 minutes of pushing, and Liam was finally here. He came out sideways, of course, and caused quite a bit of damage with his shoulders. One of the nurses passed him to me between my legs, and I was able to finally lay my eyes on my son. He was perfect. His head was covered with thick, black hair, and his skin was perfect, and not wrinkly or splotchy like some newborns are. He looked just like his daddy. I remember thinking, that is a BIG baby!
Kyle came back into the room to cut the cord, and I remembered repeating, “Hello, baby boy!” over and over again, before they took him away to get him cleaned and measured. I sobbed with joy. And shock. Kyle was at my side, holding my hand when I was instructed to push again, to push out my placenta. It came easily, and unfortunately for him, Kyle got to see the whooole thing. He handled it quite well!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold my son, or attempt to nurse him, for another hour and a half. Liz informed me that I had a 4th degree perineal tear (the worst kind), probably because of the position that I was in when I delivered, and the position Liam was in when he came out, and would need a lot of stitches. I then met the newest doctor to the practice, who was almost unbelievably good looking, and he proceeded to sew my lady parts back together.
I remember Liz and the other nurses laughing and commenting on how calm and talkative I was, considering that I had just gone through 14 hours of labor, and 1.5 hours of pushing, and a pretty significant degree of tearing. I was calm. I was happy. I was exhausted. I still wasn’t feeling any pain. I wanted to see my son.
There was also a comment made about how my lady parts didn’t look like “ground hamburger“, which apparently some look like after experiencing this type of tearing… good for me?
My baby boy came into this world at 9:01pm, at 21 inches long, and 7 pounds 15 ounces. He was absolutely perfect.
Unfortunately, despite my plans to exclusively nurse, Liam was unable to latch. There was nothing wrong with him, he just didn’t want to, no matter what we tried. Even the lactation consultant couldn’t help us. He also would not use a nipple shield. I ended up pumping, but it broke my heart, not being able to have my baby latch onto me, to feed him from my breast.
It got worse.
I was in the hospital for a total of 4 days. For the first 2 days, I was horribly sick from the Magnesium that I was on, and was extremely nauseous and drowsy. Kyle also spent most of his time throwing up, due to stress and exhaustion, which made for a very stressful environment. I sent him home on the 3rd day so that I could have some quiet.
I also received harsh criticism from Kyle’s family, who were not allowed to visit in the first 24 hours, which was hospital policy, and was told that they wouldn’t be visiting because that was the only day any of them could come, despite only living 15-30 minutes away. Kyle’s youngest sister, who was 17 at the time, was also not permitted to visit, because no one under the age of 18 is allowed to visit the maternity ward during cold and flu season, once again, hospital policy. For four days, I had no one. No one came to take pictures. It was just me, my broken body, my beautiful baby, and my baby’s father, who couldn’t get up from the couch without throwing up. Not to mention, the unnecessary drama that my son’s birth had created. It was hard, and it hurt.
When we went home, Kyle was called back into work immediately, despite having taken a week off to help me in our first week as new parents. He went back to work early, and I was alone with our baby, who still refused to nurse. He also would only sleep if I was holding him, and refused to sleep in his bassinet, swing, or bouncer, which made finding time to pump impossible. I had no help from anyone, and experienced a lot of frustration and depression over not being able to nurse or breastfeed. After a few weeks, I switched to formula, and have harbored so many regrets.
My healing process was relatively smooth. When I went in for my 6 week postpartum exam, she commented on how great a job the doctor had done sewing me up. Despite my 4th degree tear, I didn’t have much residual pain, my bleeding had completely stopped, and I hadn’t experienced any incontinence. I felt great… despite having some pretty bad postpartum depression, which I wish I had talked about more. I gained 31 pounds during my entire pregnancy, but lost all of it, plus an extra pound, before we even left the hospital. I was put on blood pressure medication, but after a few months, my blood pressure returned to normal, and I haven’t needed it since.
I also ended up sleeping on the couch for 3 months with Liam, before we got a new couch (our old couch was actually a small love seat), and Kyle switched with us, allowing Liam and I to co-sleep in the bed together. When Liam was 6 months old, I transitioned him to his crib, which went fairly smoothly, and he has been sleeping on his own, mostly through the night, ever since. My back, however, has still not recovered from those several months of love seat sleeping.
It has been quite a journey, this last year… but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not one, single thing.
And I can’t wait do it all over again in the future.
Thanks for reading, friends.