My Second Birth : Another Natural Birth in a Hospital Setting

This June we were so happy to welcome another little boy into the world! I love the crazy, empowering, and miraculous experience that is childbirth. As I look back, it’s interesting to me to see the differences between my two birth stories. You can read my first son’s birth story here.

Birth is Beautiful

It’s important to remember that all births, women, and babies are unique. Your birth story may not look like mine. Your birth may have been un-medicated or with an epidural, vaginal or C-section. The thing we share in common is that we are both mothers, and we love our babies. I truly believe that is what is most important.

Personally, I have loved going the un-medicated route with both of my boys.

Here is my second birth story:

At 5:30 I woke up with light contractions that seemed to be sort of regular, but nothing to exciting. I tried not to get too hopeful, because this had been happening off and on for a couple of days. As I woke up I realized that my water had broken.

I woke up Levi and we started to get ready to go to the hospital. We showered, packed our bag, ate breakfast, and I snuggled the toddler. All the while I was having light contractions about 6-7 minutes apart. My goal was to labor at home, but I guess I was too excited and I knew that because my water broke I would actually go into labor. We left the house about 7:00-7:30.

I always tend to feel awkward telling the front desk, “I’m in labor,” when I am clearly calm and not “hee-hooing” or whatever (so movie cliché). But, in we went and told them my water broke.

When we checked in, they confirmed that my water had broken. I didn’t go into active labor till 11:00 am, so for a while we were just kind of hanging out with occasional contractions. We watched Netflix and walked in the tiny labor and delivery wing.

Active Labor

Finally things started to progress. Since my water broke before I went into labor, they didn’t let me get into the tub, so I showered for hours to manage my intense contractions. I would stand in the hot shower, or hold Levi and sway. He would whisper encouragement to me and stroke my hair or back. At one point I switched to the bouncy ball while I was being monitored, but that was really uncomfortable. Back into the shower I went.

Eventually that evening I was dilated to about a 9.5, but the baby still had to move down quite a ways. After the doctor checked my cervix I was so tired I just decided to try laying on my side and relaxing into every contraction. The hot water in the shower was wonderful, but since I was standing or sitting I couldn’t fully relax. The contractions were really powerful at this point, but with Levi’s help I started to really relax and was managing them well.

I relaxed so well that I started to fall asleep in between contractions! The contractions started to space back out while I slept. I was so exhausted that I needed this little rest before I started pushing. Throughout the whole process I felt so much strength and power enabling me and helping me. This totally unexpected nap was one example of all the little blessings that showed me how much divine help I had during my birth.

Birthing Positions

After a while I kind of realized that I needed to be upright for gravity to help move the baby down and out. I had a really hard time pushing for my first birth, so I knew I needed to do something different. I didn’t want the sports game environment with everyone telling me what to do, when to breath, or talking loudly. I didn’t want to squat because it took so much work and energy with my first.

I decided to be leaning on the propped up hospital bed, kneeling on my hands and knees. I could lay forward and rest between contractions, but gravity was still helping the baby out. I had a wonderful doctor who was really on board with me birthing in whatever way felt right and natural to me. In between checking on me, the nurse stepped away and let my husband and I work together without interruption. If they wanted to let me know how far along I was they whispered it to Levi.

Pushing

I could push whenever I felt ready. After waiting a while, I started to feel like I wanted to kind of breath and push at the same time. I did that for a little while. The doctor double checked my cervix and had me push while he moved a lip out of the way of the babies head. I was so nervous because I didn’t want to be pushing for a whole hour, and I told the doctor.

He said, “I don’t want to rush you or get your hopes up, but when you pushed just now I felt the baby move a lot. I think you can push really effectively. ”

This helped me realize that I was in control. I was powerful and I can do this! I whispered to Levi, “I can do this!” He kept encouraging me and telling me how strong I was. He got a little choked up, and so did I. Birth was such a beautiful and unifying moment for us as a couple.

After that I pushed with each contraction, but I let myself rest as well. The contractions while I was pushing were the most painful, but I pushed past it. I thought of it as power and strength, bringing my baby into the world. We didn’t know the gender yet, but all through my birth I was thinking of my baby girl, how I was going to meet her. I was totally channeling my wonder woman and power-warrior yelling through the contractions.

The nurse called the doctor in and they were ready to catch the baby. I gave a giant push and felt something pop out and explode onto the bed. I jumped! I thought it was the baby! But it was just the rest of my water breaking.

Meeting our Baby

After a few more pushes, I felt the pressure of the baby between my legs and a huge amount of strength and urge to push. I didn’t realize that the head was out, but the doctor said, “Okay, give me a push!” And I pushed so hard that the baby fell out onto the bed. I’m not sure, but I don’t think he caught him because he wasn’t expecting it to come so fast.

Levi called out, “It’s a boy!” Which was a completely joyful surprise because during labor I had convinced myself that the baby was a girl. I turned around and layed down as fast as I could to hold my baby boy, He was perfect, and beautiful. We had to rub him to make him cry, but as soon as he got situated I put him up to my breast and he latched on and nursed easily right away. I cried with joy and relief. Birth is beautiful. Life is beautiful.

Love, Jess

A Behind-the-Smile Look at Postpartum Depression

Today, let’s get real about a struggle lots of women experience alone because of a ridiculous stigma: postpartum depression.

I love to talk about the joyful and beautiful moments of motherhood, but the truth is, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. None of us are perfect moms, but we are doing our best.

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It’s for this reason that I’ve decided to talk about the struggles I face as a mom. I don’t want to focus on the negative, but I do want to offer support and understanding to the moms who also struggle, because all of us do.

My Postpartum Depression Story

Before I start, you need to understand that during my darkest moments I never went to the doctor or a therapist. I know now that I should have, but I was never diagnosed with postpartum depression. It wasn’t until the cloud started to lift that I felt like I’d actually had minor postpartum depression. Every mom has a different experience, and I don’t pretend to understand the heartache felt by those who suffer more extreme depression than I did. I share my experience with you so that if you have one similar to mine you know that it’s okay for you to seek help. If I had, I might have felt better months earlier.

A Behind-the-Smile Look at Postpartum Depression: Why I didn't See a Doctor, but I wish I had. stitchesandsunflowers.com

It all began with intense difficulty breastfeeding. I love nursing now, but at first it was extremely painful both physically and emotionally. I would sometimes bite my arm or hit my head on the wall because it hurt and I was so overwhelmed with anxiety surrounding nursing. As the weeks went on, I kind of sunk into a fog.

 

Happy Moments and Deep Dark Pits.

Although I had good days and fond memories, I also had dark days. When I was out and about having a good day, I’m sure no one would have noticed anything wrong. I smiled and talked like normal. But, it felt like when my day was dark I was in a pit too big to even see the top, or that I was drowning.

We lived with my parents for a few months while my husband was on vacation from school. I spent happy days with my family, but also long hours isolated in our bedroom. On bad days I would lay on the bed and look out the window. I’d get the urge to just jump out the window or I’d make a plan (one that I’d never carry out, of course) to run away. I wasn’t really suicidal, but sometimes I couldn’t stop thinking about my own death.I thought I must not have depression if I had happy days (1)

I was certain that my husband was avoiding me, or didn’t want to be with me. I agonized over this, obsessing over it. I melted down so often, paralyzed. Often simply because I couldn’t make a small decision.

I would randomly get overwhelming feelings of rage. Once, I smashed my glasses case on the side of the crib because I felt I had to outlet for these strong emotions or I would hurt Littles or myself.

At times, I thought about getting help. My dark thoughts often scared me, but the next day (if I felt good) I would feel like there was nothing wrong. I loved L, and I went and did fun things with Levi. I thought I must not have depression if I had happy days, so I didn’t need to see a doctor.

 

Then, the cloud started to lift.

I thought I must not have depression if I had happy days (2)A few weeks after we moved back to Hawaii when L was four months old, I had a feeling that I can only describe as a cloud lifting. I started feeling moments of deeper happiness than I did before. I started having more and more happy days that went uninterrupted by feelings of darkness.

I still fell into ruts and had meltdowns. I still struggled. I still fell into patterns of negative self-talk. But something was different, and I started to realize that maybe I HAD been struggling with postpartum depression.

I spoke with a therapist a few times. He helped me learn healthier ways to think and deal with the residue of emotions I had felt before, but gave me no diagnosis. It was hard to be honest about how I had felt before when I was smiling, and mostly normal now.

It took more months, but slowly I started to feel completely normal again.

 

This too, shall pass.

The scariest part of my whole journey was the hopelessness I felt. Even if the day before had been bright, sometimes it felt like I would never be my normal self again. If you remember only two things from reading this post, know that

  1. It’s okay (good, even!) to get help, even if you are unsure you “really” have postpartum depression. I wish I would have reached out for help earlier, because it might have helped me feel better and been easier on my husband.
  2. Things WILL get better. Please, seek out the help that you need and know that postpartum depression does fade.

Although it was a journey, the postpartum depression eventually left completely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still imperfect, I still get overwhelmed, or have occasional mommy meltdowns. I also experience great joy, reach for my dreams, and I’m learning to forgive myself and let go of that critic in my head. That’s life.

If you are struggling with postpartum depression, I am sending love and hope your way. Please know that I support you.

Love, Jess

I am not a doctor or phycologist, I am only sharing my story. Please don’t substitute my words for professional help.