Strength. Patience. Understanding.
We were about to leave for the hospital and my brother-in-law kept saying these words as he prayed for me.
I felt a strange sense of peace. I had been so anxious about giving birth as a single mom. I was so scared I was going to have to drive myself while having contractions or that I’d have to call an ambulance and leave my children behind. However, the week before, I received the news that I’d have to be induced.
Induction was something I never even considered before. I had had three natural, unmedicated vaginal births, and I wanted to have that experience again. I wanted to put my pain tolerance to work and to do what I felt my body knew how to do.
I had told myself there was no shame in agreeing to a necessary medical procedure, but I also needed to honor my emotions, which included sadness, fear, and shame. It was an agonizing decision, for sure.
With Elisha, my firstborn, my water broke around midnight and after 13 hours of moaning, groaning, relentlessly practicing the breathing exercises I had learned in Lamaze Class and being examined by seemingly just about anyone that was on call that day, I pushed a healthy, 6 lbs. 10oz., wide-eyed bloody baby out into life. What a miracle.
I went home the next day and, not having a tear or a care, I re-incorporated to my regular life, except for the sleepless nights, that is.
When Elyssa’s birth came around, Elisha had just turned one and she was in the room with me. I came into the Naval Hospital at 7:00 a.m. and I was already dilated 8 centimeters, so it was all done by 10:25 and she weighed 6 lbs. 5.6 oz. There wasn’t much time for breathing or for The Bradley Method between the intensely painful contractions, so I was an exhausted mess by the time she crowned.
While I was pushing, I pondered about my large capacity to forget just how hard this was. I have never screamed so loud in my life, even when I had screamed for my life, but as she was placed on my sweaty chest, I remembered it was worth it.
We went home early the next morning: two carseats, two girls, increased happiness, and restored strength. Recovery – and weight loss – were even easier this time and tandem breastfeeding was a breeze.
Almost 10 years later, I went back to the Labor and Delivery ward, I had been re-married for less than a year. I had overcome ovarian cancer and been a single mom for many years after a painful and traumatic divorce. I never thought I’d be a mom again, even without the stigma of being over thirty-five.
Elisha and Elyssa came into the birthing room with me and it was a beautiful, peaceful, and intimate hypnobirthing experience. Eliana was born at 6:14 am., weighing 6 lbs. 4oz., just a little over five hours of my being admitted into the maternity ward at Baylor Hospital in Irving TX, on what would have been the first day of my forty-second week of pregnancy. The bliss was unspeakable.
When I got the news that Elydia was safer out of my womb than inside it, I wept. I knew I had to do what was best for my niña, but I had been attached to this idea that I could mostly stick to my birth plan, just like I had in my other childbirth experiences. On the other hand, I felt relieved that the uncertainty of what was going to happen if I went into labor spontaneously.
I had time to pack my hospital bag, take fun pictures, and plan for my brother-in-law to pick my daughters and I up. He even brought my mom along, so she could embark on the multi-day journey to the hospital with us.
Strength. Patience. Understanding.
Those words kept resounding in my brain as I filled out the registration forms and felt the urge to explain why I checked the married box but had no birth partner, as I changed into the cute red gown my friend Carol had gifted me, and a sweet nurse inserted the IV that I had fought against with stubborn resistance the last time I was about to deliver a baby.
All four of my pregnancies were rough, but this one had started with trauma and filled with risks and scares. Little did I know that was just preparation for what was about to happen.
The induction process started a little after eight o’clock and I counted on having an uncomplicated vaginal birth, with as little intervention as possible. I had ruled out C-section, because Elydia flipped from her breech position, just like Eliana had while I was pregnant with her, so that was certainly a good sign.
I had been treated by the most capable, competent, and compassionate midwives in the Fort Worth area, and I had the confidence they would do what was best for the baby and I, as they had been from week 13 to the first day of week 39, which was about to begin.
My midwife even found me a doula who volunteered to be my birth partner – the best I’ve ever had. It’s like she could read my mind, like she knew what was in my heart, and like she could feel what my soul needed. She even recited the hypnosis affirmations that had been playing on a loop on my computer.
I had the most caring people around me, trying everything possible to give me the birth I wanted, but labor was progressing very slowly, and the fetal heart rate monitor started to show signs of distress. My midwife suspected that the baby’s umbilical cord may have been wrapped around her neck. I began to panic.
Strength. Patience. Understanding.
After 18 hours of pitocin and painful procedures I had sworn I’d never go through, I agreed to an epidural and rushed into the OR for an emergency C-section.
My sister made it just in time for the chaotic birth show and she held my hand as I prayed my baby would be safe, I grieved the birth experience I was giving up, and I tried to convince myself I wasn’t one-hundred-percent attached to it, anyway. When baby or mama are at risk, safety is a higher priority.
My doula also came into the room with me and I stared into her eyes, as they assembled a blue tent-looking-thing around me to block the view of my belly. I had given birth to three kids already, but this was all new and terrifying. Scratch that. It actually was a little too familiar to those times I had been close to death.
At 3:40 p.m, Elydia was born at 5 lbs. 12oz in a brightly lit operating room filled with doctors and nurses, cut straight from my body, and with her cord tightly wrapped around her neck twice.
I was numb to physical pain, but the emotional pain of hearing her first cry and not being able to see her, hold her, meet her was excruciating. As I was sewn back together, my doula reassured me she was healthy.
Seizures and convulsions began, and my blood pressure decreased. The memories of the epileptic episodes of my youth were vivid and they filled me with anxiety as I tried not to drown on my own saliva.
My sister took care of her until I was stabilized and then she placed her on my chest to breastfeed. She opened her eyes for the first time when she heard my voice and she wouldn’t let go of my sister’s finger.
The joy of finally meeting her was indescribable.
Baby and I then were wheeled into the recovery room, where she met her sisters and her grandma for the very first time. It was magical, all of a sudden.
Even when I validated all the feelings I felt about the induction, the oxygen mask, the epidural, the catheter, and the impending abdominal scar, I had to get out of my own way and remind myself that the way I experienced birth was not what mattered: It was the first day of her life – the first day of our journey together.
She was definitely not planned, but absolutely wanted.
My daughters and my mom ended up rooming with little baby Elydia and I for a few extra days because of her jaundice level. Even with all the complications, we felt blessed because of the staff and the few visitors that came our way – even my little nephew!
My brother-in-law drove us home and my mom stayed a few days. It was sweet that after three births, I was finally around family.
The fourth trimester was nothing like the ones I experienced before and certainly not the one I had imagined. I was usually able to bounce back to my active self quite quickly after delivery and having major abdominal surgery offers no such option.
Strength. Patience. Understanding.
No lifting up anything heavier than my preemie-sized muñequita, no going upstairs (the clutter up there is unthinkable!), and absolutely no driving – which was really tricky since I was the only driver in our family.
My postpartum recovery was lagged by an allergic reaction to the adhesive in my incision. When that healed, I fell and broke a bone in my foot and injured my back, but I didn’t find out about those injuries until recently.
Life sure hasn’t been easy, but I have used my Ergobaby Embrace carrier to help me be involved in baby Elydia’s life, to bond, and get to know one another. It’s been perfect to keep her close and snug since the early days, while still being as productive as I can and practice the self-care I need.
The Ergobaby Embrace carrier is simple and easily adjustable. The knit fabric has been gentle on both of us and allows us to stay comfortable and connected. My favorite feature is that you can fold it and bring it with you anywhere. Plus, it distributes the weight evenly and provides support, which is ideal for my condition.
The Ergobaby Swaddler is perfect for my infant baby to soothe and stay closer as we navigate this stage and learn about each other. As Elydia sleeps longer and I’m confident that she is secure, I get more restful sleep so I can heal properly. Plus, it’s easy to change her diaper without having to unwrap my newborn baby’s arms in the middle of the night.
Special bundled deal: Receive 20% off when you bundle Ergobaby Embrace and Swaddler!
Besides using the Ergobaby Embrace carrier and the Ergobaby Swaddler, my baby and I use listening to soothing classical music as part of our routine.
I have also removed myself from any interactions that added drama to my life, because this is a time for my daughters and I to heal emotionally from the heartaches and the struggles of the last year. It’s a time for me to physically recover, and for all of us to exclusively love on this new ray of light we have been blessed with.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum are risky, rigorous, and humbling processes that require strength, patience, and understanding – and a little help from Ergobaby!
You may relate to my story, or you may have experienced the opposite: wanting to deliver with pain assistance and having to go natural, or planning a c-section and dealing with unexpected early labor. Either way, we must come to terms that no birth is the same, that the the birth process is unpredictable – there is no guarantee that it will go exactly as we envisioned, no matter how much we planned or prepared for it. Anything can happen.
I don’t feel defeated as I thought I would. I didn’t fail because I let go of the birth I planned for. My abdominal scar is a reminder that I had the support I feared I wouldn’t have, and that I was provided the strength, patience, and understanding my brother-in-law prayed for.
Did your labor and delivery go as planned? How did you make things easier for yourself during the fourth trimester? The Ergobaby Embrace carrier and the Ergobaby Swaddler can make a positive difference! Buy both the Embrace and the Swaddler for 20 percent off.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Ergobaby.