Alright moms, grab your tissues. I have to preface Leah’s story with the conversation in our initial email. First, is a comment from her husband, that we all need to hear.
Her email reads, “Shortly after watching me give birth, Michael said ‘I had no idea how many bad ass warriors are just casually walking among us every day.'” See? I told you to grab your tissues!
I also want to thank Leah (and all mamas) for sharing their story with me, and this community. I’ll let Leah say it,
“I had no idea how bad I needed this.
At one point, while writing about what didn’t go as planned, I actually found myself getting really light headed. I laid in bed dry heaving for a few minutes, until I felt the blood rush back into my face. I could not believe that reliving it would bring on such powerful feelings.”
Without further ado, here is Leah’s story. Enjoy!
Introduce yourself (name, age, job, etc):
Leah Mae S., 28
I work remote for a tech company, Dyntek (Sales Operations Rep). Moved to the area from NY after my husband was hired at Norwich. Absolutely hated working from home full time at first. Nothing lonelier than moving to a new town and sitting in your apartment all day. I do love it now and am beyond grateful for my son’s company!
Introduce your little one(s):
How old are your babies?
How did they enter your world? (Natural birth, c-section, IVF, surrogacy, adoption, etc)
I’m not sure mine could be considered natural. Vaginally + epidural.
Did baby arrive on time, early, late?
2 days late
Did you have a specific birth plan? What was most important to you going in to your birth?
I did not have my heart set on a specific plan. I had hoped to deliver naturally (he had always seemed to be in position to do so), but was very much okay with the possibility of plans changing.
Of course Tristan arriving healthy was most important, but I would say having Michael there was what I ultimately needed to get through it all. I fully understood that I was going to be the one squeezing that baby out, but I surely needed a hell of a lot of support to do so. We did not get a chance to take any birthing classes, which did not ever scare or phase me until I heard them say, “It’s time to push, do you remember what you learned?”
I arrived to the hospital around 6:30 pm. I was 3cm dialated, but progressing fast, so they decided to admit me. Almost as soon as I changed into my gown I got my “bloody show”, which was the first time I felt confident that I was in actual labor, LOL (I had a lot of false alarms). By 8:30 pm, the contractions were so intense and I could not stop throwing up. That’s when they suggested a bath. The bath was the most amazing feeling ever. It almost completely eliminated the pain, but of course that eventually ran its course.
By 12 am I was begging for an epidural. They asked if I could hold out a few more hours. By 1 am my contractions were unbearable. They would reach a peak, start going down a little, then turn and go right back up! I was getting absolutely no breaks. I hit the call button and did not even have to say anything. She looked at the pattern of my contractions and said, “Okay, I will grab the anesthesiologist!” The epidural was amazing and allowed to me get a few minutes of sleep (LOL, I was too excited). However, it did stall my labor quite a bit. They ended up having to induce me and break my water.
I honestly can’t remember much of the progression after this point. I just know that I had a concerning high fever around 11:45 pm. The nurse left the room and came back with a whole team of people that stormed through the door and started scrubbing in. I started crying and screaming that I wasn’t ready. The one nurse calmed me down and assured me that she would be there with me to walk me through it. I found an unbelievable amount of comfort in this lady. She’s the happy red head in one of the attachments.
What didn’t go to plan?
My placenta got stuck. The doctor had to go in and pull it out (5 minutes before surgery would have been required). Michael handed Tristan to my mother, grabbed my hand and watched in horror as the doctor shoved his entire arm in me to aggressively detach my placenta.
He later told me that he could see the doctor’s fist punching through my stomach (he was being dramatic and meant uterus) from the inside. It was the most nauseating pain I have ever felt. When it was over, I looked down and saw blood up to his elbow.
This very well may be a common occurrence, but it caught me off guard and quite honestly ruined a bit of my experience. It left me feeling weirdly violated and disturbed. A time when I should have been on top of the world… I felt vulnerable and just wanted to curl into a ball and cry.
I just had a man stick his entire arm up me like a puppet (no but really, involuntary noises were coming out of my mouth the whole time). I felt 100% out of control of my own body. It did not belong to me anymore. It was there for the nurses, doctors, and my son’s use. It no longer had anything to do with me or my soul.
For a while I felt so incredibly lost, as if I were walking around in a foreign object, just trying to find myself again. I think that is why I struggled so much with breastfeeding (we’ll get the that in a few questions). Everyone talks about how important the mental health of the mother is, but I truly believe it gets shoved down to the bottom of the barrel.
I never really admitted that to anyone before. It felt really great to get that out there.
What would you do differently?
I would be confident. Not going to lie, there were times during labor that I genuinely thought I must be dying. There is no way the human body is meant to endure this kind of pain, there is no chance I come out alive. Please tell me I am not the only one who felt that way? LOL.
Anyway, I would attack the process with confidence and be proud of how bad ass the female body is. Oh, and I would spend much more time in the bath tub. A bath during labor is severely underrated! It almost completely eliminated the pain. I guess I get why women choose water births.
What is your favorite moment from your birth experience?
Watching him come out! I was able to sit forward just enough to see them pull him out and it was so surreal.
Did you face any judgement for any of your decisions? How did you handle it? What advice would you give to other mamas facing the same judgement?
Ohh girl, don’t even get me started on the mom-shaming.
Part of the reason it took so long for me to reply (this has been sitting as a draft since the day you sent it out) is because I am so nervous to admit what I faced judgement for.
I can’t emphasize the amount of crap I received when people found out I was bottle feeding. I find myself wanting to explain myself and why I stopped breastfeeding, why it was not working out for me and my baby, why I eventually had to stop pumping and switch to formula altogether.
However, I feel like that is not what you are looking for. You want to hear about how I overcame all the negative or backhanded comments. The truth is I didn’t. I still feel terrified when another mom brings up breastfeeding, praying that they won’t ask me about me and my experience. It was the first question out of everyone’s mouth, even complete strangers…
It always felt like a personal thing to pass judgement on, but then again, I guess everything related to your baby is.
As I grew a little more confident with my decision, I would stop combating comments with my reasoning. I started to just explain to people that Tristan was thriving, that we still get that close skin to skin bonding time – he just has a bottle nipple in his mouth instead of my own. That my husband also gets to share in bonding time with him and thanks me everyday for that opportunity. I’d mention how healthy he is, or how he started sleeping through the night at a ridiculously early age.
He is the happiest baby ever and so undoubtedly loved by two people who want nothing but the absolute best for him. I was always very content with bottle feeding, but society did not want me to be. All passive aggressive comments began sounding like “you are a terrible mom” to me.
I guess I would tell other mamas to just rock your decision. Don’t defend yourself, not everyone deserves an explanation. Maybe start going into explicit detail about your nipples and it will make the haters uncomfortable? You are a good mom and you were making a decision that was best for you and your baby.
My heart goes out to anyone experiencing mom shaming for anything at all. We are so caught up on being the best mothers possible, that we take judgement to heart. It also seems that anyone who has ever touched or seen a baby in their lifetime, thinks that they qualify to offer advice…. Am I right?!
What fears did you have?
I worried how we were going to do this on our own. I broke down sobbing on the way out of the hospital. Michael sat me down and asked if I was in pain or if I was feeling down (we had recently watched a video about baby blues). I told him “I’m just so scared.”
Our nearest family/friends are over 3 hours away. I knew that once we left the hospital (aside from some visitors the first week) it was just him and I. A few short months later, basketball season would be starting. At which point, I would be pretty much on my own with a newborn… both day and night.
About 4 days postpartum, I woke up at 4 am to a strange feeling “down there.” I went to the bathroom to find a blood clot the size of a tennis ball had fallen out of me.
Let me start by saying this is 100 % normal. We, however, did not know that. I woke Michael who went into full blown panic mode and started to dial 911. I calmed him down and reminded him we need to call my doctor first.
While we waited for the call back, we started to discuss what our options were if I did need to go back to the hospital. We had none. No one we could call in a bind at 4 am. Of course our family would rush to our sides if needed, but not having them local was a little tough.
Honestly, everything ended up going well. We never really found ourselves in over our heads. When Tristan went through his colic period, we figured out a good system so that neither of us would get overwhelmed. There were absolutely times that we turned against each other. But it was easy to remind ourselves that our unity was most important during these days.
I have recently found out I need knee surgery. I will be on crutches for 2 days or 4 weeks- we won’t know until surgery. We are also approaching basketball season…. So, I guess you could say I am feeling a whole lot of that fear once again. I am adamant about finding a way to carry Tristan while on crutches. I like to think that us moms are somewhat superhuman and can make anything work. We’ll see!
What were you not prepared for, or over prepared for?
As soon as we found out I was pregnant, we decided it was necessary to live as close to campus as possible. Michael knew that I was going to need all the help I could get. Our best bet was to live close enough for him to run home during lunch breaks, or in between office hours and practices / games.
I had no idea at the time how much I would need those hours, minutes, whatever he was able to give me. I guess we thought ahead in that sense, however…. We did not have a nanny lined up. We actually believed that we could somehow both balance our full time jobs while raising a newborn.
We were beyond lucky to be able to find a nanny so quickly after we realized you can not get ANY work done with a newborn around. Yes, I know this makes us both sound ridiculously naive… we were LOL.
Again, I want to thank Leah from the bottom of my heart for being so honest and transparent. That’s the beauty of our strength, mamas. Whether you can relate or not, you can absolutely celebrate.
Remember, if you’re struggling with anything- reach out! That’s what we’re here for! And if I can’t relate, I can still listen.
Show some love in the comments for Leah and if you’re feeling inspired and want to share your story- connect with me! Drop your email in the comments, go ‘like’ Lukewarm Coffee Mom on Facebook and send me a message!
Lukewarm Coffee Mom