I’m not even sure where to start with this post. I have felt so frustrated for the past couple weeks. Not like mad frustration but rather frustration that stems from both physical (not so much right now because I had a week off from work) and emotional exhaustion. A’s father left when I was about 23 weeks pregnant (March 2016), so I’ve been a single mummy for over a year. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m just now coming to the following realization; Being a single mum is hard! I guess it’s not all that surprising that I’m just now realizing this. When A’s dad left I was too heartbroken to even think about how difficult being alone would be, not to say that the thought didn’t cross my mind I just didn’t spend much time pondering it. Then after she was born she was so new and sweet and cute that everyone around practically jumped at the chance to help me. Plus she was a fantastic newborn, she was happy. She slept well and was just all around a sweet little bundle. When she became mobile everyone around was excited to watch her explore her new found freedom. But now that she’s more confident in her crawling and cruising skills she’s hard to keep up with. That being said no one is near as eager to help me with her these days. My mom and sister watch her during the week days while I work but when I am home she is obviously solely my responsibility. Which is fine, it’s not their job, if anyone should feel obligated to help it should be her father but I’ll let sleeping dogs lie. Although, my family has agreed to watch her one night a week while I have an “alone shower” and I will admit that I have opted to take said shower on my hair-washing day (it takes longer) a couple of times.
There are many things that I wish I could do. I recently started doing yoga and loved it but as you can imagine it’s not easy to get your zen on when your hair is being pulled or you’re being used as a jungle gym and have to limit the poses you do so that you don’t end up smashing a wee one. I even tried mommy and me yoga poses to see if that would work, it was a disaster. So my goal of doing yoga everyday has gone to… Well you know. I’ll be glad if I can do it once every two weeks. The point is I don’t get much of a chance to do things for me, with just me and that has me frustrated. I hope I’m not coming across as whiny I just find it so irritating that the person who did the least amount of work to bring this beautiful child into the world couldn’t even have the decency to meet her.
I’m not a person that really enjoys time alone but there are things, like taking a shower, that I miss doing alone. I don’t mind sharing my bed and I usually am not too upset by sharing my food but there are times when I think, Hey wouldn’t it be nice to be able to write without a child crawling across me and biting my chin or I pine over a bath in which no rubber duckies or splashing is involved. Then the dreaded mom guilt kicks in and I think about how much time I spend away from her while I’m working; And let me tell ya I feel terrible about that. I have always dreamed of being a stay at home mum. And I really thought it might happen because A’s father and I had discussed it and agreed that it may be possible for me to stay home after I delivered her or just work part time but that clearly didn’t happen. I would love to stay home and teach my baby and watch her grow. Not to say that I don’t love my job but being a preschool teacher and a parent can be difficult. It’s hard knowing that all day long I’m watching other people’s children develop while mine is at home with Mimi. It tears me up, I can’t let myself think about it for too long or I’ll just start crying. Anyways you get the idea, being a single-working mum is hard.
End of rant. I don’t think that anybody reads this but if you do I apologize and I assure you that my next post will have a more positive ring to it.
After waking I laid there for a bit wondering how much longer it would be before my wee one was in my arms. At that point it felt like time was creeping but looking back on it now it seems like time was flying by making everything jumbled in my memory. I mentioned that I had absolutely no perception of time, and I can’t explain it but that seems like an understatement. (If times seem mixed up that’s why.) Anyways I’m not sure how long I laid there dozing slightly and trying my best to take in the final moments of my pregnancy.
Eventually my nurse came in and upon realizing that I was awake decided to check my progress. I didn’t expect much, I had been told not long before that usually for first time moms it took an hour to dilate one centimeter (at that time I had been at a 6). So I, after getting my hopes up during previous checks, decided to be realistic and fully expected to be dilated to an eight. My nurse put her gloves on, sat at the end of the bed, her hand disappearing beneath my gown. I will never forget her expression. She looked up at me, hand still inside me, and said, “Oh, it’s go time!” I was shocked. Any bit of sleepiness vanished and I asked, “Now?” She nodded explaining that she could feel A’s head, I was fully dilated, completely effaced, and A’s head was engaged in the birth canal. She quickly left the room to call my midwife. I sat up, wide-eyed and at a complete loss for words. I had carried A within my being for 41 weeks and 4 days but it was finally time.
My nurse re-entered a couple minutes later saying that she couldn’t get in contact with my midwife but that it was alright she would just get the room ready. There were panels on the walls that opened and pulled out and were equipped with all the baby needs. And she set up a very intimidating table filled with medical equipment including, scissors, cotton swabs, a large bowl that I assumed was for the placenta, and various other medical supplies. After that was finished she said she was going to try to call my midwife again.
Once again my nurse came back explaining that she still had gotten no answer and repeated that it was alright, we would do a couple practice pushes. She explained to me how to push and with my sister holding one leg, my mother holding the other I tried. I was taken aback. It was so much more tiring than I had expected, I knew it was going to be hard work but I had no clue that it would take so much mental focus. After a couple more tries I kinda got the hang of it, though I wasn’t giving it my all because my midwife was still not there. My nurse joked with me, telling me that in the previous week she had delivered a baby in the bathroom so she was glad I was in the bed. I remember thinking that it was funny but I think I was too focused to actually respond appropriately. I could feel the contractions, they didn’t feel like contractions though. It simply felt like I was flexing my abdominal muscles involuntarily. Since I could feel the waves ever so slightly my nurse told me to let her know when I felt one so that I could push along with it (before she had been watching the monitor and telling me when to push). After two or three more pushes my midwife burst into the room. She was still in the process of tying her shoes and pulling her hair back, she was quite winded when telling us that she had run as quickly as she could.
After she had dawned gloves and scrubs she sat at the foot of my bed. My nurse took my sisters place so that she could take pictures. I pushed and pushed. And pushed some more. I got too hot and ripped my gown off, nearly ripping my IV out in the process. Modesty had flown out the window, I didn’t care that there were strangers viewing my nude body or that my grandma, for the first time that I could remember, was seeing me naked. My nurse gave me a cool, damp cloth that I sponged along my hairline and on my chest. After this quick “cool-off” break I began pushing once more. I pushed and pushed, taking small sips of water and wiping my brow between contractions. In the blur I recall frantically thinking, Oh my gosh she’s stuck, they’re going to have to cut her out. A pediatric nurse had entered the room and was joking with my nurse. Apparently there was another patient that was getting super close to delivery she said that it was kinda like a race between the two of us. And my grandma, phone pressed tightly against her ear, informed me that my brother and grandpa were getting impatient and asking how much longer it would take. This caused me to worry a little more. But if my midwife was concerned she certainly didn’t show it. Instead she suggested that we use a sheet. I was instructed to hold one side while my nurse held the other and sort of play tug-a-war. This seemed to do the trick and soon my midwife said that A’s head was crowning. I looked over at my mom and for reasons unknown even to me I asked her if I could feel A’s head.
My midwife heard my silly question and moved her gloved hands and told me to go ahead. I reached down and felt the round curve of A’s head, the soft hair sprouting from her crown. A few tears spilled down my cheeks, I was more determined than ever. I pushed with all my might, the only thing that held me back was the fact that every time I pushed I felt like I was going to vomit. But after a few of those super-concentrated, I-really-wanna-hold-my-baby pushes she was on my chest.
A was born July 29, 2016 at 6:39 p.m. weighing 8 pounds 9.4 ounces and 21 inches long. And other than a few stitches, I had a second degree tear, I was fine. Although I was a little frustrated because after my hour of skin to skin cuddles with A they took her off to the other side of the room to be weighed and I couldn’t go with because of the silly epidural. I remember asking the nurse, “Can I go see her?” To which the nurse responded with a baffled look and said, “No sweetheart your legs aren’t going to work yet.” Anyways A was, and still is the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on. I didn’t sleep much that night I was too distracted, between itching (the PUPPS didn’t go away until A was about a month) and holding my sweetie. All night I kept taking her blanket off and observing her knees and belly and counting her toes, I even checked to make sure she was actually a girl. We went home July 30th at about 9:30 p.m. At first the doctors were a little hesitant to let us go so quickly but A and I were both doing great, A had even gained weight in that 24-hour period which I hear isn’t common (it was like half an ounce but still).
After getting home I healed quicker than I expected and I feel that I adjusted to motherhood fairly smoothly (not to toot my own horn). And the rest is history…
When beginning this birth story post I didn’t realize it would turn into a project. To keep the story as accurate as possible (for my own purposes) I have been checking dates and racking my brain to remember all the details. I want to be able to refer to this for the details surrounding such a beautiful day. And of course since I started writing this it only seemed appropriate to pull out her baby book and reminisce. Anyways I suppose I’ll pick up where I left off…
I had read in several books that after a woman’s water breaks the contractions become more consistent and intensive. And let me tell ya, the books were so right. It only took about 15 minutes for strong surges to begin rocking my body. The first couple times it surprised me so much that it took my breath away. My dear sister was respectful and quiet, rubbing my back or offering a hand for me to hold and nearly crush. There aren’t words to express how much her very presence meant to me. It didn’t take long before no swaying, back-rubbing, or hand-holding could help me through the pain.
I requested to get in the bath shortly after realizing that no other method was helping. I was told that there were a couple things that the nurse needed to check first, one being dilation. Every time I was checked for any dilation I got my hopes up way too high and was inevitably shot down. This time I was super hopeful, thinking I would be at 7-8 centimeters dilated. No such luck, I was at a 5 or 6 I don’t remember which but I do know that it wasn’t what I had expected. It took forever for the other testing to be done but I was finally given the go ahead to get in the tub. Before doing so I decided to use the potty and had super loose bowels. Never before in my life did I think that I would be excited about diarrhea but I had read that it was a “good sign” of labor progression.
I truly thought that the warm water would help my discomfort and it did, but not enough to even be noteworthy. I recall thinking that perhaps I should stand up and sway a little. I did stand up, with a great amount of heaving and the support of my sister. I grabbed the safety bar in the shower just in time for a wave to hit. This was the most painful one I had experienced and it was at this point that tears spilled down my cheeks. My thoughts were as follows, I do not need an epidural or IV meds. Then, I do not need an epidural, but I do need something. At this point I succumbed to IV medication, “just to take the edge off.” The nurse was so patient as I explained this to her with tears dripping from my chin, she quickly got me prepared and administered the pain reliever. I felt great! I could still walk around to speed things up and, for the first time in hours, I wasn’t writhing in excruciating agony. This lasted a grand total of thirty minutes. I buzzed for the nurse again and she was by my side in no time. I told her that I needed more pain reliever and she asked if I wanted an epidural to which I responded no. She agreed and suggested that I get out of the tub and lie down for a bit to try to relax while she checked A’s heart rate. She, my mom, and my sister carefully helped me out of the tub then I began the treacherous walk to my bed (it was only 5 feet). Every minute I had to stop and squeeze my mom’s hand, hoping that I could actually make it the short distance to my safe zone.
I was less than a foot away when a contraction came along, I cried out and my nurse graciously gave me the pain medicine right there. It was almost instant relief, the surges still hurt but were bearable. My mom helped me put my gown back on so I could roam around the room without violating my grandma who had stopped by to see how things were going. I stood and rocked for a bit and I remember mumbling something about “adoption next time.” But only twenty minutes after having the medicine given to me the contractions were unbearable once again. I believe that I tried to talk myself out of an epidural one last time but I knew that I couldn’t just keep having round after round of medicine pushed into my veins. Trying to convince myself didn’t last long and I was soon shouting to my mom that I needed an epidural, begging her to get my nurse.
The nurse entered the room with a friendly smile and I feel as though I growled at her, if not audibly I definitely did in my head. I explained that I didn’t really want an epidural but I needed one. She was lovely and hastily found an anesthesiologist then gave me a paper warning me of the risks to sign. I only skimmed over it but I’m certain that I would have never signed it under normal circumstances. The anesthesiologist came quickly- he seemed a friendly guy, quiet and focused. I’m sure it was just the pain medicine but I recall thinking that he looked like a vampire and that I owed this man a splendid reward. I was instructed to sit on the edge of my bed and lean into the nurse, I complied as fast as I could. Vampire man was efficient and kind while prepping me but just as he said, “Alright, hold still” a contraction came. It took all the concentration I could muster to keep myself from curling my body around my belly. I sobbed shamelessly, tears and mucus draining from my face and onto my nurse’s scrubs. Once the pain was gone I was suddenly very embarrassed about this and I believe I apologized to the nurse for not only dirtying her uniform but also any ill mannered behaviors.
After receiving the epidural I was hooked up to machines and had my legs poked, all the while the nurse was asking if I could feel this or that. I said no and giggled while informing her that it was weird. She grinned knowingly and told me to get some rest, and I really tried but I couldn’t stop watching the monitor. It was so strange seeing my contractions come and go but not feeling a single thing. At one point I felt my heart fluttering and briefly wondered if that was normal. My nurse scurried in a couple minutes later and pumped two bags of fluid into my IV, adjusted the monitors on my belly and in my vagina (A’s heartbeat couldn’t be detected through the monitors on my belly so they had put one on the top of her head), and told me to order some breakfast although I’m fairly certain it was closer to lunch time. My perception of time was way off during my labor because I didn’t have a window and my room was very dark and looking at a clock was not a priority. I ordered oatmeal and bacon which I had difficulty eating once it arrived. Not only was the oatmeal dry but I was incredibly nervous and antsy. After gulping down a couple bites I went to sleep for about 45 minutes.
A is only a month away from being an entire year old, and I am feeling rather sentimental about it all and have decided that a birth story seems appropriate. Now just a fair warning, this is my absolute favorite day to think and talk about. I could talk about it for hours, I could tell the story then immediately tell it again if anyone were willing to listen; you’ve been warned. After almost a year I have still never taken the time to actually write my birth story so my fingertips are itching to finally type it out. Anyways without further ado…
I suppose I will start with my due date, July 18th, 2016 although she was not born then. It was a Monday and since I hadn’t had many contractions the evening before (and I was convinced that it would help speed things along) I decided to go to work. When I pulled into the parking lot I had one small shooting pain that began at my navel and wrapped all the way around my body to my spine. I shrugged it off and began my trek across the parking lot, in the short span I had a couple more “pains.” Of course when I got in the building I notified my boss but told her not to worry, these pains had been coming and going for a week. She would have none of it and quickly (and I think secretly excitedly) instructed me to sit in her office and time the pains. I did so willingly, after all I was a first time mom and could be overestimating (ha-ha) the intensity of contractions. Somewhere deep down I knew that this wasn’t the day but felt hopeful especially after realizing that they were coming every five minutes for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes they nearly disappeared and I insisted that I could work. My boss agreed with two exceptions, I was only working until noon and I was to stay in a big, comfy rolling chair that she had taken to my classroom. It was difficult to sit still in that big chair as 14 two-year-old kids surrounded me questioning the chair and why I wasn’t playing catch with them, but I managed although I do have to admit that I did get up and sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with the kids one last time.
After that day I was told, both to my dismay and relief, that I was not to return to work unless I was dropping by to show off my precious gem. The next week came and went uneventfully. I was truly beginning to feel that I would forever carry this child within my body. I walked every night, I bounced on a ball, ate pineapple, took evening primrose oil, briefly considered nipple stimulation, I even danced, but to no avail. Well not entirely to no avail, I did have contractions every night from 10 until about midnight. I was miserable; eating was nearly impossible as I could only manage a few bites before becoming full, and sleep was entirely impossible since I could only lay still for a couple minutes before getting a cramp either in my legs or back not to mention I had Restless Leg Syndrome during that time. Also added to my list of discomforts was a rather irritated rash that ran across my tightly stretched belly, which I self diagnosed as PUPPS. If you know anything about RLS or PUPPS, you can imagine that I was a mess. I cried from exhaustion and pure anticipation at least once a day. Finally on July 27th, a total of nine days past my due date, I was told that I would be induced the following day at 7:30 pm. I spent the rest of the the 27th packing excitedly, then spent the 28th worrying and basking in an odd bittersweet feeling.
As instructed I called the hospital at 6:45 pm on the dot to assure that I could go to the hospital to be induced. I understood why it was asked that I do this, if there was suddenly a great influx of women in labor there would be no room at the inn so to speak, but I remember finding it strange and somewhat comical. After being given the green light my mom, sister, and I all piled into the car and headed towards the hospital. We were all so excited, we had all painted our fingernails pink, but a nervous energy flowed between us. I’m sure I looked like a dear in headlights upon entering the hospital with my overnight bags and a stack of crossword puzzles. I walked straight up to the desk, trying not to show my hesitance. I asked the lady where labor and delivery was to which she replied with a few general admittance questions before asking, “Are you in labor Hun?” I stifled a giggle and shook my head no. She sighed, perhaps realizing that she should have began with that, and pointed me in the correct direction.
After being weighed, poked, questioned, and hooked up to various machines the midwife entered my room. She explained my options for beginning the induction, most of which I have to admit I can’t remember. After inquiring about various methods I decided to move forward with the Foley Bulb, basically a balloon that is inserted inside the birth canal and gradually filled with liquid causing the cervix to open. This balloon has a “string,” I suppose you could call it, that was taped to my leg (were they afraid it would be suctioned into me and be lost forever?) and I was told to give the string a tug every now and then. Having this device inserted was a unique type of pain that I will never forget, I remember my hands being in fists and staring at a light bulb hoping that the strain on my eyes would distract me from the discomfort. It felt as though my stomach was being pushed into my throat. After the initial pain I was surprised to find that I only was experiencing mild cramps and contractions.
It didn’t take long though for some more powerful contractions to come. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking or feeling during this period but I do know that I spent a great deal of time in the tub. I know that I groaned, moaned, and rocked a bunch and that I found great comfort in breathing in deeply through my nose and forcefully exhaling through pursed lips. This style of breathing is known as “J breathing” and was one of the only things that I found truly helped me during labor. Along with taking specific breaths you are supposed to envision pushing your baby through the birth canal with your forceful exhales but I don’t believe I was thinking clearly enough to picture this.
It was either late evening, July 28th or very early on the 29th, when my midwife entered the room again and revealed to me that she was going to have to check my progress. I felt somewhat discouraged as she snapped gloves on, I had been told that the balloon would fall out once I had reached 3-4 centimeters dilated but it hadn’t and therefore I assumed that my hard work had been in vain. I laid back, spread eagle and tried to think positive thoughts as she began her work. After a little tug and some prodding I heard a surprised “Oops!” Naively I didn’t realize what had happened and lifted my head to meet her eyes. She apologized for startling me and explained that she had accidentally broken my water.
It seems terribly strange to type out an introduction of myself, fully expecting no reply, but I have thought of no other way to begin this blog so here goes nothing.
My name is Makayla, I am the mother to lovely “A” (not her actual name but I will refer to her as “A” or “moose” for privacy reasons). She is eleven months old and clearly the center of my little world. I am beginning this blog because over the course of the past year I have been amazed by this wonderful little creature, as well as humored, frustrated, and exhausted; I would like to share these stories, provide new ideas for other mums, and hopefully send out a ray of hope for young and/or single mamas. I also have a slew of hobbies and ideas that I would love to share with others.
I discovered I was pregnant November 2015, I was eighteen and had just graduated high school a few months prior. To say I was scared would be a grand understatement, because not only was I young, I was also homeless. I became pregnant from what was supposed to be a one-time thing so A’s father was not super interested in offering much support and left half-way through my pregnancy (a story I may or may not share in the future). Shortly after he left I caught a break and found a place to live and thankfully haven’t been “couch surfing” since. My pregnancy was very smooth and honestly boosted my confidence a lot. I was able to work full-time at a daycare up until my due date, although I went nearly two weeks past it. My labor and delivery was also free of any terrible complications and I was blessed with a content, quiet baby. She has since turned into a wild, mess-making, climber-of-all-things, sleep-fighting little dear, I wouldn’t change a single thing though.
I’m sure that I will go into more detail about my pregnancy, labor, and delivery in later posts but for now I think this little background will suffice. And hopefully I can become more creative when it comes to title making and concluding my posts, but bear with me.