OMG, I’m back!
I feel like it’s been a million years since I posted anything to my beloved Packing for Plenty…BUT for good reason!
We have a baby!
Our birth story
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Written by: Stephanie
Fair warning- this post talks about pregnancy, periods, breasts, birth, blood, etc. If you are squeamish or one of my brothers – stop reading!
Isn’t she a cutie?
I’m not sure what I really want this post to be – probably just a mind dump. Somewhere to write out what pregnancy and having a baby was like. Or just somewhere for me to remember everything because what they say is true – it goes SO fast.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Pete and I were married in the beautiful Zion National Park in May 2018. We knew that we wanted to have a baby soonish because hello 30s, you came up quickly.
We were casually trying for a few months – isn’t that such a weird thing to say – “we were trying for a baby”. Trying and trying and trying – cue exhaustion- but we were not having any success.
There was one month that I was 99% sure I was pregnant but kept getting negative tests. I was experiencing alllllllll the early symptoms – nausea, vomiting, sore breasts, exhausted, constant need to use the bathroom, etc. But negative after negative. My period finally showed up about a week late. That was our first time thinking “this is mentally exhausting.”
I know people have a much more difficult time getting pregnant and I can’t compare my story to theirs. But everyone has their own journey and are entitled to feel what they feel and express those feelings.
Trying to conceive is difficult whether it takes a few months or several years. Honestly, the whole journey takes such a toll on one’s mental state. And it’s truly unfortunate that it, infertility, and loss are so often hidden as if it is something to be ashamed of.
Beer and cheese and sausage – oh my!
After that, I felt pretty defeated and I basically said, “if it happens it happens”. I was trying not to stress too much because we were going to Munich for Oktoberfest (!!!!) and TBH, I didn’t want to be pregnant for that.
As luck would have it my period came right on time, about 1 week before we left for Germany. It was a bit of a relief because I didn’t have to be constantly thinking “what if I am pregnant”, “I shouldn’t drink this beer or eat this cheese or sausage”. I obviously would have been ecstatic if I was, but it would have put a damper on this amazing trip we’d been dreaming of for a long time.
Let’s get it on
When we get home from Germany we decide to actively try again, all while saying – if it happens it happens, if not we have time and options and it’ll be fine.
It’ll be fine…it’ll be fine.
We’ll still be fine.
And what happened:
The positive test
I honestly didn’t believe it, as I didn’t have any symptoms whatsoever. My period was only two days late. And the only reason I am taking the test is that I have an appointment at the gynecologist that evening.
I placed the test on the counter, took Izzie to the bathroom, came back a few minutes later and picked it up to casually check that it was negative and then toss it.
I’m gonna lose my shit
I made some sort of noise that was a mixture of muffled laughing and crying. Pete was still in bed and I didn’t want to wake him up.
I took a picture because I knew I would be questioning the positive result all day long. Work that day was an epic clusterwhat because I couldn’t focus on anything longer than 1.3 seconds. I downloaded about 8 pregnancy apps and figured out I was 4 weeks and 2 days pregnant. No freakin way.
I kept thinking I can’t believe all of this is real. I can remember sitting at my desk with my hand on my belly…I’d nearly break out in tears every time I thought about the baby.
At my office appointment, that evening, the doctor and I talked all about pregnancy and what this means.
Things I can and cannot do.
Ultrasounds and future appointments. Yanno, all bases covered.
We even talked about birth and induction if I was over a week late. It blew my mind. It was the middle of November and I was due at the end of July. I couldn’t fathom how far away that felt, but how quickly it would come.
Also, I had no idea moms don’t have their first ultrasound until 8-9 weeks pregnant! What do ya think of that little info nugget? Having to wait another month to confirm the pregnancy and see the heartbeat was an eternity. I remember thinking the two-week wait between ovulation day and cycle day 1 lasted forever. Two weeks was child’s play!
Do I tell him?
So this all happened on a Wednesday, which is our weekly date night. I had a long discussion with the doctor on whether or not to tell Pete. We are heading to New Orleans in about 4 weeks and I want to wait until I have my first ultrasound before I tell him. I am absolutely petrified of having a miscarriage and I figure if that happened I didn’t want him to know and wanted to handle it on my own.
The doctor had a good point that if I had a miscarriage I would want his support, whether or not I knew that. And he would likely be wondering why I was crying so much just because I had my period. Which was true, if that happened I would want him to know, of course. Logically all of that made sense, but it was still scary AF telling someone else. Even if that someone else is my husband.
I went to Target and bought a little onesie and card, wrapped it up nicely and gave it to him that evening. He swears he knew because my appointment had gone on so long. But who knows!? We went out to dinner at one of our favorite burger places and I had my first mocktail! I am pretty sure we didn’t talk about anything other than the baby. We had to decide when we wanted to tell people, should we buy a house this year, how our lives are going to change, if we can still travel (because we discussed that first, obvi).
4 – 8 weeks pregnant
Holy buckets I am so tired. The one thing I remember most vividly from early pregnancy was the incredible amount of fatigue I had. It is like nothing I have ever experienced before.
Bedtime is 10:00-10:30 pm and that quickly shifts to about 5 pm, haha. I was sleeping most of the night, working during the day, and barely making it to about 3 in the afternoon. I was falling asleep as soon as I got home, waking up for dinner, and going right back to bed. It sounds more glamorous than it was, haha.
Fatigue persisted throughout the entire pregnancy but did ease up around 25 weeks. Only to return with a vengeance a few weeks later when my belly was too big to sleep comfortably.
I had the first ultrasound a couple of days before we went to New Orleans. I called the office and legit begged them to move it up a week because I didn’t want to go out of town not knowing if I was still pregnant or if something terrible had happened.
Thankfully, everything was perfect! As soon as I see the heartbeat I am so relieved that I start ugly crying and can’t stop.
9-13 weeks pregnant
Everything was pretty status quo through these few weeks. I was feeling decently well aside from some bloating and fatigue. But NO MORNING SICKNESS! I dodged a bullet with that one. I only vomited twice – once in reaction to a horrifically smelly patient at work. And the other to the random thought of slicing raw chicken. WTF pregnancy brain?
At 10 weeks pregnant, I underwent genetic testing…really just for fun as I was super curious about the gender. Pete and I waver on whether we want to find out or have a surprise at birth. We keep saying we want a surprise, but we’re basically cats and didn’t want to die.
Several old wives’ tales point to a boy and Pete is convinced it is a girl. A few days after the testing I received a call from my doctor around 9:30 pm.
He had called me late before so I didn’t think anything of it. The first thing he asked was if Pete was around and if we were alone. My heart sank and I knew that something was terribly wrong.
Now, what am I supposed to do?
He tells me that the tests show there is a 33% chance the baby only has one X chromosome, which in most cases leads to deformities if she survived (at best and it could be a range from minimal to life-altering), but most likely spontaneous abortion in the second trimester. We spent nearly an hour on the phone discussing options and further testing.
I could opt to do the CVS testing at 12 weeks or wait until 15 weeks for an amniocentesis. The CVS sampled the placenta which could still show a false positive and sometimes leads to extremity deformations. The amnio is more accurate as it samples the genetic profile from the baby, but was riskier.
There are pros and cons for both options, but I and my doctor feel that the amnio is the best choice. However, the downside would be an incredibly long 5-week wait.
Those weeks were the hardest of my life…I cried nearly all day every day. Work was impossible, I barely ate or slept, I had no interest in anything. All I wanted to do was lay in bed and cry. I read everything I could about the test brand, the incredibly high false-positive rate when it came to sex chromosomes, Turner syndrome, etc. Somehow the more I knew the better I felt.
At some point during that time, I decide I can’t handle being depressed anymore. I knew that I needed to change my mindset. All parents should believe in their children and now is the perfect time to start. Instead of crying and thinking about the worst-case scenario I started thinking about the best case with her being totally fine. Just that simple shift in my thought process made my days at least bearable.
Notable first trimester moments
- Very first symptom: Hiccups!
- Most persistent symptom: Fatigue and bloating
- Love: Orange juice, toast & jelly, and very cold things
- Hate: Eggs! Oh my god, I still don’t like eating eggs.
- Things that make me nauseous: Brushing my teeth & very strong smells
- Worst moment: The genetic testing
- Best moment: Seeing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time
Weeks 14 – 27
Entering the second trimester was so bittersweet. I was SO happy to have made it to week 14 as the risk for miscarriage drops. But I am still about one week out from the amnio. As much as I try to be positive I was intermittently absolutely terrified. I had made peace with what was happening, but as the amnio loomed I started feeling intense anxiety.
Prior to having the test I have to meet with a genetic counselor to discuss Turner Syndrome. I was so angry about this. I think she meant well, of course, but the last thing I want to do was hear about the fate of girls with Turners before I even knew if my daughter had it or not. It was literally the dumbest thing ever.
Thankfully Pete handled it much better than I did. At one point I walked out of the room in tears and waited in the hallway until I could have the procedure.
The actual amnio is significantly easier than I had anticipated. It is performed right in the office in a cozy exam room. The nurses are very nice, and I have an ultrasound prior which helps to ease my nerves. The procedure takes maybe 10 minutes, tops, and it isn’t as big of a needle as I think it will be. There was no pain, only some pressure, and pretty intense cramping, especially when pulling the fluid out.
I have to wait in the office for 20-30 minutes to make sure I am okay and that I can walk. We are given strict instructions that I am to remain on bed rest for the next two days. So once we are home I make myself a cozy spot on the couch and binge-watch 90-day fiance. Livin my best life.
The next morning the genetic counselor calls to tell me that everything looks great and there is no need to worry anymore. I can’t describe the immense relief I felt. As soon as I am off the phone I start crying and can’t say anything other than “she’s okay, my baby is okay”.
When thinking about my pregnancy I view it less as trimesters, but more as “before the amnio” and “after the amnio”. So after the amnio and all of that drama had settled coupled with the lower miscarriage rate, I finally started to enjoy my pregnancy!
I joined a prenatal yoga studio, started meeting some mom friends, bought some much-needed maternity clothes, and got to work on our registry, nursery, and planning our baby shower!
Is that my baby moving?!
At 19 weeks, Pete and I were at a scotch party (oooooo ya fancy) and the only non-alcoholic drinks were La Croix. I don’t usually like carbonated drinks, but instead of being a party pooper I have a couple. I am leaning against the counter and out of nowhere feel this ripple start below my ribs on the right side and quickly move to my left. It completely caught me off guard and I stopped everything I was doing to see if I would feel it again. Unfortunately, I didn’t, but I know without a doubt that it is the first time I felt her move!
My placenta was anterior, which means that it was on the front of my body and it insulates me from a lot of her movements. I am told by the doctor not to expect to feel any movements until 23-24 weeks. And even then it would be muffled. This placenta placement was the bane of my existence, especially later in pregnancy when I thought she stopped moving.
The day after that party I bought a couple of cases of La Croix and tested my carbonation theory over the next week, but they weren’t related. I didn’t feel her move again for several weeks.
Notable second trimester moments
- Persistent symptoms: Fatigue, increased appetite, frequent bathroom breaks, and nasal congestion
- New symptoms: Pregnancy brain! I could not understand the SIMPLEST things and was so forgetful
- Love: Orange juice, pineapples, cold things
- Hate: Eggs! Stilllllll
- Things that made me nauseous: Brushing my teeth
- Worst moment: The amnio
- Best moment: The negative amnio, feeling her kick for the first time, and the 20 week anatomy scan
It’s the third trimester! By this point, I was starting to feel pretty great. I was still getting in some yoga three to four times a week and I joined a new gym. I started lifting weights and doing some more cardio and always felt so much better after working out. The best way to feel like a badass is to walk through the gym with a big ole pregnancy belly #gitit
It is sometime in the third trimester that I move from the “totally freaking out” to the “I can’t wait to meet the baby” stage. I hadn’t thought too much of labor and delivery, but at a yoga class one night when I was about 18 weeks pregnant, the instructor has us focus on our pelvic floor and imagine pushing the baby out. That completely freaked me out, haha. By the third trimester, I have come to terms that I would, in fact, be birthing this baby and there is no way around it.
Baby or queso?
At 28 weeks we had a 3D ultrasound which was really fun. The ultrasound isn’t as clear as I thought it would be or as clear as they advertise. The photos sort of look like a bowl of queso, but we did end up with a few good pictures. She likes to keep her hands by her face and it was a bit of a struggle to get a clear image. The ultrasound technician figures out her orientation and has me poke my belly where her butt was. For some reason when poking at their butts it causes their hands to move away from their faces. Watching it happen in real-time was so funny.
A few days after the 3D ultrasound we had our maternity pictures taken! We hired a young photographer from St. Cloud to do our maternity, fresh 48, and newborn photos!
Everything was pretty status quo over the next several weeks. Pete and his dad started building our changing table. I had my first Mother’s Day as a baby mom and not just a dog mom. And we went on our babymoon to San Francisco and Big Sur, California.
Ohhhh the burn
In hindsight, visiting one of the hilliest cities in the country probably wasn’t the smartest idea being nearly 8 months pregnant, but I had a great time! Our first day in San Francisco we walked 14 miles, 32,000 steps and the hill equivalent of 30 flights of stairs, haha. Ouchhhhhhh.
My baby shower is hosted at my mother-in-law’s house – we had a fiesta/taco themed party that was really well attended! I don’t have a very close extended family and my mom and sister are the only ones who live in town. Thankfully, Pete’s family is a dream and even the extended family get involved in all the happenings. Several of them came in from out of state which made the whole day perfect.
The first time I really “felt pregnant” was around 34 weeks. Obviously I felt pregnant before, but by the time 34 weeks rolls around I am so big and so uncomfortable. It was to the point that bending over, getting off of the floor, sleeping comfortably, or finding something to wear was nearly impossible.
I started slowing down at the gym and was only visiting once or twice a week, but I was still walking a couple of miles a day and at that point, that was good enough for me.
Let’s get it started in here…maybe
At 36 weeks I was visiting the doctor weekly and having cervical checks every time. Every visit I am hoping for some progress, but every week I hear the disappointing news – no progress. I dilated to 1 cm around 37 weeks and didn’t get any further than that.
39 weeks brought a little bit of stress. Over the course of a few days, I had felt her movements decreasing. Because of the location of my placenta, I had learned not to pay that much attention to fetal movement, but something felt off. I go to the clinic for a non-stress test which isn’t looking great. Then I have an ultrasound that looks marginally better. The doctor is being extra cautious and has me go to the hospital for closer monitoring. By the time I made it there she was moving around like a madwoman and everything was fine. But because of that little hiccup, I was going into the clinic every other day for non-stress tests.
I mentioned pregnancy brain earlier so here is a funny story highlighting the truth of that. I am 40 weeks pregnant and going to a coworker’s bridal shower. My job is to bring the cake and I really love the Nothing Bundt Cakes. On the day of the shower, I go to pick it up and the lady told me to grab a sample on the way out. I see a lot of little chocolate cakes scattered around the store so I grab one of those. Once back at the car I took a bite of it and it was hard! I figure it had been sitting out too long so then I tried to smush the icing- that was hard, too.
Obviously now I realize the cake was fake and being a million years pregnant I am pretty emotional and I start bawling my eyes out! I was mainly crying because I stole it and I am absolutely mortified that I have to return it. It takes a few minutes to calm down, then I bring the cake back and say: “sorry, pregnancy brain- I thought these are the samples!”. She just laughed and said, “grab a sample”. Honestly, I don’t think she even knew what happened. I think she thought I was coming back in because I forgot to get a sample, hahaaaaaa. Facepalm.
I texted all of this to my husband who is actually presenting at a meeting. When he gets my message he stops talking and glances at it and sees the words “arrested” and “hysterically crying” so he obviously has to read all of it. He thinks it is so funny he reads it to the room of people he was presenting to, who also think it is hilarious. Double facepalm.
Notable third trimester moments
- Most persistent symptoms: excitement mixed with anxiety, swelling, cramping, movement in my belly
- Love: Very cold things, pickles, cereal
- Hate: Still hating eggs
- Things that make me nauseous: Brushing my teeth
- Worst moment: Blowing past my due date
- Best moment: All the time we spent reflecting on our relationship and lives up to that point. We had no idea how things would change with a baby
Operation baby watch – 2019
On Thursday, (5 DAYS PAST MY DUE DATE!) I wake up with this moderate nagging lower back pain. In order to get labor going, the day before, Pete and I went for a 5-mile walk so I assume that is why I am not feeling that great. As the day goes on, I start to feel very light cramping, but not what I think a contraction should feel like. I spend the day on the yoga ball, doing some light yoga, and walking around my neighborhood meanwhile trying not to get too excited that I might actually finally go into labor!
After dinner, I am laying on the couch and things start to change. The cramping/contractions that I am feeling every few hours quickly increase to every 15-20 minutes, lasting about 30-45 seconds and are becoming a bit painful. I am able to keep talking through these, but they are definitely making me stop and catch my breath.
Around midnight the contractions (I am now convinced I am in labor- haha first-time mom!) progress to 10-15 minutes, some coming as quickly as 8 minutes. Every contraction became more painful, mostly in my lower back, and I start crying with each one.
I call my doctor at 3 am and ask him to talk me off a ledge because I don’t think I can handle this. He says that because the contractions are still pretty far apart (I want to choke him through the phone) that I should try to stick it out and see if it keeps moving in the right direction. My heart drops as I say that I think I can keep going.
After I spoke with my doctor I set up a few beds around the house- one on the couch, on the floor, and sitting up in the glider in the nursery. I try to get some sleep, but obviously I can’t. The contractions are pretty consistently at 10 minutes apart and I am crying almost continuously because of the back pain.
Around 6:30 am I call my doctor again and tell him that I am going to the hospital because something is wrong and I can’t do this. I wake up my husband and we leave right away. By the time we get there, I am 100% miserable and can’t stop crying. As we are rolling into the assessment center I feel an immense relief that this is almost over and I get to meet my baby.
I am hooked up to a non-stress test and everything looks great with the baby. Contractions are now 8-10 minutes apart, but I am still dilated at a 1.5 – talk about a crushing blow. I have been 1 to 1.5 for the last few weeks. All those contractions were doing nothing. I feel so helpless and overwhelmed. All that pain for nothing.
Back home we go…
Before I am sent home, I am given a muscle relaxer and some Tylenol and asked to be active, but also get some sleep. I call the clinic a few hours later asking for a prescription for the muscle relaxer cause that won’t last much longer. My husband went out to pick it up and it’s only a couple tablets with the instructions to take every 6 hours as needed. I did some quick math and figured this would only get me until Saturday night, not until my scheduled induction on Sunday evening.
I start crying. Everything is making me cry. I was never so emotional in my life. I feel totally hopeless, an incredible amount of back pain, and feel like no one was helping me.
The rest of Friday is more of the same – contractions every 8-10 minutes apart, unable to get comfortable, can’t sleep, can’t eat. I spent the evening and the better part of the night pacing the hallways, leaning over the counter, bouncing on the yoga ball, squatting on the ground – anything I can do to get a mere second of relief.
Around 2 am I lay on the floor and cry my eyes out. I can’t describe how alone I felt. I start crying with anticipation of the next contraction, cry through the contraction, and stop just before the next one starts. And I’m pretty tough, I don’t let things get to me and certainly don’t cry often. Sometime after that, I carry about 10 pillows into the nursery and prop them all up in the glider. With every contraction, I rock back and forth and think about holding my daughter in that chair. I am 100% convinced that thought is the only reason I survived the night.
My husband woke up about 7:30 Saturday morning, took one look at me and said I needed to call the doctor. I spoke with the doctor who tells me she was happy to induce me if I was ready. I had a momentary panic attack and said that I wasn’t ready and I could wait a couple of hours and see if I progress on my own. So so stupid.
By 11 am I am done. I have hit my breaking point. Pete was on his computer on the balcony- I go outside and ask when my mom is coming to pick up my dog and he says she is planning to come this afternoon.
I am 90% sure I roll my eyes and say that isn’t going to work…we need to go to the hospital now. By the time we make it back to the hospital, I can barely walk. We skip the assessment center and head straight for labor and delivery. The first exam shows I am 90% effaced and dilated to a 4-5. Huge progress since the day prior!
I feel a huge wave of relief and the weight of the world is lifted off my shoulders. Someone is finally going to take care of me. I also feel like a stone-cold badass for laboring at home for so many hours. I am placed on a non-stress test which shows good fetal heart rate control and contractions anywhere from 2 to 9 minutes apart.
Getting things moving
Before having an epidural I need some IV fluid and while that is infusing I am using nitrous oxide for pain management. Which is a trip. By 2:00 the anesthesiologist is in the room and I am prepped for an epidural. All I can think is sweet Jesus – FINALLY!
Just like the amino, the epidural is not near as bad as I thought. It is over in just a few minutes and as soon as it is over the medication kicks in and the heavens open up. I feel instantly better and within an hour couldn’t feel anything. For the first time in three days, I am able to relax and breathe again.
My contractions are still 2-9 minutes apart so I am now started on Pitocin to get the party started. Those few hours are a blur as I finally sleep a little bit and binge watch HGTV. Five hours later I am fully effaced and dilated!
Throughout the afternoon I had been bleeding quite a lot and developing a fever. The doctors and nurses were a bit concerned but kept saying the solution is to deliver, which is what we are doing. At some point, they started saying I may have chorioamnionitis, which is an infection that can affect mom and baby. This usually happens when the water has been broken for a couple of days, but mine had not been. So that added another layer of fun to the equation. I was getting antibiotics and knew that once my baby was born she would need them as well.
Around 8 pm I start pushing for real this time. We had previously tried but had to back off the epidural just a bit as I was a little too numb. After the first push is when I start to realize this is really happening! I couldn’t believe I was actually at this point and my whole pregnancy is coming to an end. I became super existential. There are so many emotions floating around and I am terrified AF. I want to stop but something takes over my body and I just go with it.
We try several positions and with each one I am thankful that I did yoga throughout my pregnancy, otherwise I feel like I would have been physically stuck, haha. Laboring is totally an act of flexibility. After about an hour of pushing and not making much progress, we figure out that she is face up and stuck in my pelvis. This also explains the excruciating back pain as her spine rubbed against my pelvis with each contraction. I felt a great sense of relief and pride that I labored for three days AT HOME with a baby that is FACE UP! #likeaboss
I continue pushing, trying different positions, and taking a couple of breaks. At one point one of the nurses brings in a mirror thinking that would help me focus. As time went on I began to get flat out exhausted and was quickly losing the energy to keep going. So we stop for a little bit, chat with the nurses and make plans for if she doesn’t come out.
Time to meet the baby!
One of Pete’s favorite stories to tell: The doctor tells me how much hair she has and I can’t believe it. I didn’t have hair for years and Pete was bald for a long time as well. I deadpan, no expression, say I wonder whose baby it is and Pete laughs and says “should I leave the room then?” All the nurses paused for a second as they weren’t sure whether or not I was serious. Once I started laughing they thought that was funny, too.
About 10 minutes later we start talking about a vacuum delivery as her heart rate was creeping over 200, she was pooping, and my fever was increasing. We are taking a break to get prepped. I am told I get 3 pushes with the vacuum and if she isn’t out we have to go to the operating room for a cesarean. The doctor steps out for a few minutes and comes back with about 12 people- mid-levels, nurses, technicians, etc. I learn that some are extra OB nurses, some are from the OR and the rest are from the NICU. Our quiet delivery room just became jam-packed with very serious-looking people. I don’t think the doctor knew how she was coming out or if she is going to be okay so we had all of the bases covered and are ready for anything.
I did not want a cesarean so I had a pep talk with myself and said I just have 3 more pushes…that’s easy…let’s get it done. With the next contraction, the doctor placed the vacuum, and it quickly popped off because of all her hair. We were ready to go with the next contraction and I gave my best and longest push and she was born at 9:41 pm weighing just under 8 pounds and almost 20 inches long.
Love at first sight…sorta
As soon as she is born I start bawling my eyes out. I think it was a combination of the fact that I just did something awesome for the first time, hearing her cry, seeing that she was okay, and the sheer joy that it’s all over. I didn’t feel like a mom though, which is normal, of course. It ended up taking a week or two before I really felt like a mom.
Because of all the drama surrounding delivery, she is taken to the NICU almost immediately. My husband didn’t know what to do and as she was being wheeled out of the room I practically push him to follow her. He was able to stay with her for a couple of hours and we had the nicest nurses running back and forth giving me updates on her and giving him updates on me.
When I was pregnant I had all these grand plans for doing skin to skin, nursing right away, and spending two glorious hours with her laying on me before moving to the mom and baby unit.
Just like with pregnancy, the delivery and first few hours after birth were the complete opposite of what I wanted.
But everything was fine
We did most of what I wanted just on a much-abbreviated plan – delayed cord clamping, skin to skin for just a minute, nursing for a couple of minutes, etc. Not having those two hours with her did not affect our bonding and didn’t damage our breastfeeding journey. So moral of the story – just relax, throw out all of your plans because nothing is going to go that way, and just enjoy it because it goes by so fast.
The time away from my daughter seems like an instant. Delivering the placenta and getting sutures from the tear (ouuuuuuuchhhhhh) take about an hour. Just one more and I can see my baby! After all of that happens I am finally allowed to eat – my first meal is toast with peanut butter, milk, and apple juice. It was no doubt some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, haha. I spend a couple more hours having checks and letting the epidural wear off.
Around midnight I am finally able to get out of bed (which is an experience all on its own! I felt like my organs were going to literally fall out of me, my nurse nicely reassured me that they were not…thank god) and my nurse wheels me to the NICU when I get to really see my baby for the first time. I start crying my eyes out because she is so pretty and perfect. And because she has an IV in her scalp.
I’m a mom now…holy crap
She hasn’t eaten yet so her nurse gets me set up in the recliner and we try nursing for real for the first time! She was pretty sleepy and didn’t latch well so I hand expressed some colostrum and fed her from the cup. Which was kinda weird… I didn’t even know that was a thing. We stay with her for a little bit, but I was flat out exhausted and needed to get up to the mom and baby floor for my assessment. On our way up we order a pizza (it’s now about 2 am, haha) and text our family that she’s here and healthy, but she is in the NICU for closer monitoring.
I didn’t get much sleep that night, of course. I was back down in the NICU about every 1.5 – 2 hours to feed her. We had some family show up the next morning around 7 am (which was annoyingly early) and 9 am. Once everyone had arrived I took my mom and mother in law down to the NICU to meet her.
An hour or so later she was able to be discharged from the NICU after only a 12-hour stay (YAY!). Once we make it back up to the mom and baby floor, Pete introduces her to his dad and brother. Her middle name, Magdalene, was Pete’s aunt, who passed away last year. When his dad heard that he turned around and started crying…he was very close to his sister.
I can’t believe she’s real
We spend some time with the family before kicking them out for the day and trying to relax. Just a general PSA: If you know someone who is having a baby, do them a favor and don’t insist on visiting them in the hospital. Mom and dad are exhausted and do not want to play pass the baby. Be respectful and let them be together for a couple of days. Waiting until they’re home to visit the baby won’t kill you, and it will be so appreciated by the new parents.
The rest of the hospital stay was pretty uneventful, thankfully. I love sushi and missed it my entire pregnancy and I all talked about for 9 months was that I want sushi for my first meal after delivery. I didn’t get it for the first, but I did get it the next day. Mmmmmmmyesssss
I am technically discharged from the hospital on Monday morning, just two days after delivery. Ella was still needing to go down to the NICU every few hours for antibiotics so she was not discharged until Tuesday. Thankfully, I was able to stay in my room and not sent home because Ella wasn’t officially a NICU patient.
We spent all of Monday doing various things for Ella – hearing tests, congenital heart disease screening, weights, her first bath, meeting with a lactation consultant, seeing the pediatrician for the first time, partaking in a research study, having her fresh 48 photos done, etc. Monday was one of the busiest days of our lives. By that afternoon Ella was completely over it, she hadn’t really napped because as soon as she’d fall asleep someone else would come in and wake her up for something. I felt so terrible for her.
The drive home
Bright and early Tuesday morning we saw the pediatrician again and he discharged Ella. We are headed home by 11:00!
Pete obviously drove home and he still remarks at what a scary drive that was. We only live 5 miles from the hospital, but it took us about 30 minutes to get home, haha.
Walking into the house for the first time with a baby is a feeling I’ll never forget. We left the house in such a hurry a few days prior that I didn’t even think that it was the last time we’d leave home with just the two of us. But walking in I felt like everything had changed, which it had.
I remember seeing all of my little beds set up around the house. Water bottles. Ice packs. Heat packs. Snacks. It felt like such a lifetime ago that I was that person. It’s so trippy. Truly an indescribable feeling.
Where is the nurses’ call bell?
I gingerly take her out of the car seat for the first time…being careful not to break her…and lay her down on her snuggle me on the couch. I think it was that moment we both look at her and say “Okay, now what do we do?”
Throughout my pregnancy, my mom always said she had this “oh shit” feeling as she was leaving the hospital where she questioned whether or not she’d be able to take care of me. But it didn’t happen then for me. Nowadays parents do much of the work for the newborn in the hospital with them sleeping in the same room, feeding, giving the first bath, etc. That “oh shit” moment happened as I laid her down and looked at her. I can remember thinking “Oh my god, she’s actually ours and she’s here and we have to do things with her.” Haha, it’s so weird to write all of that out, but it’s a strange feeling.
Spoiler alert: we figured it out 🙂
Stephanie is a travel obsessed, food-loving baby girl and dog mom from beautiful Minnesota! She is a mom to Ella, wife to Peter, yogi, baker, amateur photographer, and family-friendly travel blogger. Come along as she explores Minnesota, the Mid-West, and the world beyond…with a baby and sometimes, a dog, in tow!