First, two became one. And that was the day Milkman and I were married. We were going to wait a year before trying for a baby.
2 months into our marriage we decided to “leave it up to God and see what happens.” We were pregnant the next month. Just two weeks before our first wedding anniversary, we became a family of 3 when Captain was born.
We thought we would wait a year before trying again. And then when Captain was 8 months old, we got another positive pregnancy test. Our sweet Mamitas was born 41 weeks later, and we became a family of 4.
When Mamitas was 11 months old, we had another positive pregnancy test. We were so excited to be a family of 5! We cherished each moment we had, but at my 17 week appointment, our little baby love was no longer. I delivered Ezra’s sleeping body 4 days later, and we remained a family of 4.
4 months later, another positive test! Our rainbow baby was the greatest joy of our lives. Peachy was born that Fall, and then we were 5. We knew after such a difficult pregnancy and traumatic labor and delivery that biological babies would not be in our near future, but we had already completed our foster parenting requirements, so we trusted that our family would grow in time.
9 months later, we received a call for two sisters from our foster agency. Within 24 hours of getting a call, we were a family of 7. Three months later, they reunified, and for two weeks, we became a family of 5 yet again.
It was too quiet, so imagine our joy when we received a call for an “adoptable” 5 day old newborn baby boy. Sweet Warrior. He left us just under 3 months later to a non-family relative home. We were devastated.
And the calls stopped. We were just 5 again. For 6 months we sat by the phone, and no more children came. But then, a call. And we were 6, when little Chatito came to live with us. And 6 we have happily been, and 6 we shall remain for a little while longer. Then 5 again when he reuinifies, but not much longer after that…
And we will be a family of 6 yet again. Because the Lord has blessed us with the gift of pregnancy!
We are grateful to God for giving us another baby to love. Our hands are full, but our hearts are bursting. What a joy to have 4 children at my feet to love on while a 5th steadily grows in my womb! Join us in praying for a healthy pregnancy and a sweet, full of life baby in Summer 2018!
Today we will get cupcakes. We will buy 4 helium filled green balloons from the grocery store.
This evening, we will drive to the beach, unload happy children from the van, and head to the sand. We will sing happy birthday, and eat cupcakes. I will whisper happy birthday, and let go of one green balloon, and watch it soar into the sky. The kids will run and play in the sand. We will eat a special birthday dinner. After, we will get the kids dressed into their pajamas, and head home.
We will unload them from the car, place them into their beds, and kiss them. And when I crawl into bed tonight, I will look up at the top shelf of my closet, where there is a royal blue, velour drawstring bag. In that bag is a box that holds what is left of my son. And I will fall asleep to the sounds of 3 healthy children sleeping rather than 4. And I will wonder how my heart can feel so full and so empty all at the same time.
My sweet, Ezra Eugene. Today is your 2nd birthday. You aren’t here to celebrate it, and while that is tragic for me, I know you are safely held in the arms of our Father, you are feeling no loss, only complete contentment in the presence of the One who formed your tiny, little body. I miss you every day, baby boy. I can’t wait to hold you, again. But in the mean time, I will honor your memory, never forgetting that on September 26th, you were born breathless and still, but completely loved and cherished.
And so, sweet Ezra, I do not say rest in peace, but rather, play, run, laugh, dance, and sing JOYFULLY in the presence of the Lord!
The first time she nursed, she had just been born. The world was a scary, cold, and bright foreign land to her. She screamed with all the gusto her 8lb. 5oz body could muster– which was quite a lot.
She had an angry (and quite frankly and ugly) scream. The nurse had to move her over under the heat lamp for something, I don’t quite remember what, but Milkman was snapping pictures of her as I heard her scream. I kept saying “okay, just give her to me now, okay, please give me the baby, I just want to nurse her!” You see, that was the one phrase Milkman used to help me get through her 23 hour labor: “Just think about the first latch with your new baby…” So after weeks of prodromal labor, months of painful walking and moving, and a day of no sleep, all I wanted was to nurse that baby.
Finally, the nurse handed her over to me, and her ugly little scream filled the room ’til she latched on, I sighed with contentment and then– OW! She bit me as hard as she could almost immediately! That was the beginning of our 3 year nursing journey.
It started with clogged ducts, mastitis, 6 months of undiagnosed ductal thrush, blebs, and lazy latches. Things didn’t get easier til she was almost 9 months old. I got pregnant not much longer after then wth Ezra, and weaned Captain right before I lost Ezra. I told Milkman that she would not nurse as long as her older brother, surely she would wean at 18 months. But she didn’t. Surely at 2! She’s such an awful nurser, and my milk had dried up from Peach’s pregnancy, but she didn’t. Certainly at 2.5, that’s when Captain weaned. But she didn’t. So when she was 2.5 I asked when she would wean and she said “I will wean when I am 3.” And so every night for 6 months we continued to nurse before bed. We have counted down, and talked about it. I have looked towards her 3rd birthday with eagerness to say goodbye to tandem nursing. And as it drew closer, I started to feel a sadness. The end of an era.
We picked Golden Slumbers by the Beatles as our weaning song. We listen to it, sing it, nurse to it, and cuddle. Every night this week I have asked her if she’s really, truly going to be done nursing and she smiles and laughs and says she will be all done at 3. Tonight, the day I have looked forward to with relief and sadness is here. Time to wean.
The last time she nursed she wore a pink pajama shirt and pigtails. She had just finished her cake and ice cream. I asked her if she was ready to nurse for the last time and she happily said yes and giggled nervously as I began crying. She asked for our song and we sang “… Sleep pretty darling, do not cry, and I will sing a lullaby…” And she wiped my tears off my face one by one while she nursed. Her big brown eyes held much more seriousness than her 3 years of age allowed. I didn’t time her or cut her off, and she nursed longer than she has in 6 months. I kept asking if she was done and she kept shaking her head no. And then, she popped off and said “Mama! I unlatched! What’s unlatched mean? Cos I did.” And gave a cheesy grin. And with that, she was done.
For 3 years I have hated, loved, resented, and appreciated nursing her. And in that one moment, it was over. This chapter of our lives closes, and it isn’t one that gets revisited again. I am so sad. But I know, as I learned from weaning Captain, that our relationship isn’t over. It’s just a new chapter.
I love you, big girl. Happy 3rd Birthday.
It all started on a Friday night in July and we were going to get drinks and listen to Brazilian jazz downtown, and I had a strange feeling that I should stick to the jazz and not the drinks. I came out of the bathroom and into the living room in the converted garage where we were living, and I said “it’s probably a false positive.”
And in that moment, your face displayed a joy I had never seen before. I just remember you saying “Babe! Babe! Babe!” and kissing me. I refused to let myself get excited because I was scared of the unknown. After googling “false positive pregnancy tests” I took another and it was also positive. You held me and you said “I’m going to be a daddy.” And that night I got a virgin Mai Tai.
And when Captain was born 9 months later, he was placed in your arms all swaddled, and I watched you from my bed while I cramped and bled and was sore, and nothing was more satisfying than seeing the man I loved the most hold the physical proof of our love– our son.
And 8 months later, I was tired and decided to take a shower after a nursing marathon with Captain, and before I got in the shower, I looked at the test on the counter to see 2 lines. I came bursting down the hall in piles of tears, so scared to be pregnant and nurse a baby, and you held me and told me it was going to be okay, and you once again had that look of joy in your eyes, though slightly dimmed by 8 months worth of sleep deprivation. I didn’t know you were scared about money in that moment, because you never let it show, you just held me and kissed me and said “We are going to have another baby!”
And when she was born after 57 months of pregnancy (okay, it felt like that) you stood over Mamitas’s screaming, pink body and she let out the most ghastly shriek I had ever heard, and you said your baby girl was perfect and beautiful.
And then 10 months later, Captain announced mommy had a baby in her tummy, and you gave me a look of astonishment and once again I saw that light in your eyes I had seen twice before, and you were so excited, you even ate the oatmeal I made for breakfast that day.
When I delivered his sleeping body at 17 weeks, it was just you and me in the room, and you cried with me. I sang “Stay Awake” to Ezra, and he couldn’t hear me, but you did, and you sang me and our still child praise songs and held his tiny body in a green blanket I made just hours earlier.
4 months later, I asked you to get my glasses off the bathroom counter on a weekday morning before work, and after you saw the test on the counter, you came back to me in the living room with tears in your eyes, and you held me and we cried, and I didn’t see your eyes because mine were too clouded from crying, but I felt that light and warmth and joy radiate through my body from yours, because we were going to have our rainbow baby.
And when we met Peach, after a very awful 48 hours of little sleep, and frustration, you cried at the sight of our baby girl– the first birth you cried at.
Late nights, and middle of the nights, and early mornings, you are present. When Captain cuddles up close in the dark of the night and I hear you kiss the top of his head, when you wash Mamitas’s hair in the bathtub and assure her you wont let the shampoo get in her eyes, when you take Peachy from me because I’m tired and put her in your Ergo and sing to her. When I get into bed and begin whimpering, missing our Ezra Eugene, and you hum “10,000 Reasons” in my ear and whisper that you miss him too.
Your children love you. There is some sort of magic in your relationship with each of them. Captain wants to be just like you, Mamitas wants to have your attention every second, and Peach? Well, she wishes she was glued to you 24/7 because you are her favorite person.
I hear so many say that women become mothers the second they see those 2 pink lines, and fathers have to grow into their role as a dad after the baby has born. You were different. I have grown into motherhood, but you were made out of the fabric from which the finest fathers are constructed.
And now that I think of it, it didn’t all start on a Friday night in early July, it started in a church parking lot in April, 14 months earler. We were both nursing confused and broken hearts and we sat on the curb in the middle of the lot and cars began heading home that Sunday night. We talked about our faith, and we talked about how we were raised. We talked about goals in life and morals and values. And we talked about children. And I had never seen a man my age so passionate about the idea of getting married and having babies and raising a family. And though in that moment I didn’t know for certain what would become of our friendship, a little light flickered in my mind’s eye– a little hope, that maybe those babies you seemed so excited to have one day, could be my babies, too.
When you don’t sleep for 4 years and you spend most of your life covered in some sort of bodily fluid from a child, the time that passes seems to grow into centuries. But here we are, babies, kids, family, and so much love.
And when you walk in the door every day after a long day of work, and you drop your work bag on the floor and your children see you, I see the same light in their eyes that I saw in your eyes each time you found out they existed– and that makes all the craziness worth it.
I love you, Milkman. Our babies do, too! Happy Father’s Day.
To My First (and only!) Nephew on His First Birthday:
Sweet little man, with the big, brown, round eyes and little smirk, you are one today!
I was there when you were born! Witnessing your birth was one of the most special things I will ever experience. It was such a privilege to be there.
Your mama labored a long time, and when I got to the hospital, she was ready to push. I have often referred to your mama as my “little sister” though she is older than me. I have always thought of her as fragile and in need of my protection. But as I cooled her head off with towels, and held her hand while she roared your little body earthside, I saw a mighty warrior. Though I had delivered 3 babies before you were born, I was in awe of her strength to go through her labor unmedicated!
You were placed in your mama’s arms and you smelled like the earth. You screamed and fussed your little head off while your mama and papa admired you, and while your little cousin in my tummy kicked away at the early hour of the morning. You were too fussy to latch to nurse, but your mama kept you warm and safe against her skin,
You were so tiny. I have never held a baby as small as you, and I remember thinking you had the cutest little rump, and you had your mama’s nose. Your papa snapped away pictures proudly, and after a while I made my exit, and got into my car.
It was very late and dark, there were few cars on the road, and I turned on Pandora to keep me awake on the drive home and blasted Kaskade with the windows down and wept. You were so precious. Your papa was so proud. And your mama? She was fierce.
A year later, I’m watching you grow. Loving the rare but flirty smiles you flash my way from time to time. Watching you and your baby cousin Peach play together. Wearing you close to me when your mama is getting things done. Seeing so much of my own first, sweet, shy boy in your personality. You are such a joy to your parents and such a wonderful addition to our growing family.
I really recommend avoiding non-positive birth stories when you are pregnant. I hate setting people up for fear. If a non-positive birth story will trigger you or cause you to fear birth, please pass on this for now, and instead go pay Birth Without Fear a visit.
I have been avoiding writing this and posting it for several reasons. One of those reasons has to do with my own trauma surrounding Peach’s birth, I’m actually nervous about re-living it right now to write it. The other is because the community in which I live has a very tight knit birthing, baby wearing, and breastfeeding circle. I am thankful for these wonderful women, but many of them have had such different experiences from my own using the same care providers, and I am anxious to post this for fear of extradition from these circles because of their loyalty to the care providers I chose.
If you know me, or have read much of my blog, you know this to be true: pregnancy is unkind to me, labor is an enemy most cruel. In spite of this I am obsessed with babies, and just this week told Milkman how much I miss the feeling of contractions. I have real issues.
After losing Ezra, Milkman and I were elated to be pregnant. The anticipation of our rainbow baby kept my head above water through the insane amount of appointments I had, doctors I visited, specialists I tried out. It kept me hoping when the pregnancy threw my body in a blender and spit me out, leaving me to hobble with a cane, til I resorted to a walker, and right up until I succumbed to a wheelchair. Though pregnancy and its disabling effects on me were unescapable, I was determined to have a better birth experience. I had difficult back labors with Captain and Mamitas. Captains labor clocking in at 34 hours and Mamitas at 24. I just can’t seem to progress past 5cms and I stay there for hours and hours til my body goes into crazy person exhaustion mode. Its at that point where I will go for an epidural– only to have them fail. Every. Time. This time, I had decided would be different.
We saved and planned so that I could have a birth center birth this time around, wondering if a different environment would help me to progress better. I also had some trauma surrounding delivering at the hospital where I delivered Captain and Mamitas… Because the last baby I delivered there was dead. My sweet Ezra.
We were planning on going with who seemed to be the most respected midwife in the county. I will refer to her as HMF for Head MidWife. Turned out we couldn’t afford her. She recommended a doula that worked with her. We met with the doula and she informed us she was training to be a midwife (Lets call her DMF for Doula MidWife) and could offer us half off at the birth center as our midwife, with HMF watching over the birth as well. The price was right. In fact it was JUST right. The exact monetary amount we had set aside for a birth center birth.
Pregnancy progressed, I had some moderate risks due to losing Ezra, my MTHFR, my SPD, and so I saw my medical midwife (I’m gonna give a huge shout out to Margaret “Peggy” Colby at Kaiser!!!! She is one of my favorite care providers ever), an OB, a Perinatologist, and DMW/HMW during my pregnancy. (This does not count the chiropractors, acupuncturist, physical medicine doc, and physical therapist I also saw during my pregnancy! Can you say APPOINTMENTS??). Milkman had finally agreed to let the baby’s sex be a surprise after refusing my request for my other kiddos. I was elated, and this made my pregnancy and its pain seem all the more tolerable. Everything was seeming awesome, apart from the pain til my 36 week appointment. My perinatologist, who was very sweet by the way, knew that gender was supposed to be a surprise. HMW and DMW told me I needed to ask the medical side of things for baby’s measurements. As it is, I was uncomfortable with even knowing percentiles because of how off they can be. But as they were insistent I went to the medical Midwife, Peggy, to ask to see what the perinatologist had recorded for baby’s stats. As we scrolled past her notes, she listed the baby’s gender in the chart. I held it together in the office but when I got to my car I cried. Hysterically. And continued to for the remainder of the day. I knew this didn’t change anything, I was still having a baby, I was still excited, I didn’t really care what was between my baby’s legs, but I was so disappointed for the surprise to be ruined. We decided not to tell anyone else that we knew, but it was incredibly difficult to have gone that long without knowing only to have it ruined. This was my first downer leading up to my birth.
Once I was full term, I was aching to get my little baby born. I am a huge believer in trusting your body to birth when it’s ready. However, when you can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning without help, and need a walker or wheelchair to get around because of the pain you are dealing with from the baby, it’s hard to wait.
The week before I was due, I checked in with DMW who informed me that she had attended many, many births in a row. Most midwives and doulas have a cap for how many patients they care for in a period of time, but because she was working as both, she essentially had double the case load. I told her I was having contractions and after telling me that the babies had tried to kill her (just too many births in too few days) that we should have “none of that”. After trusting her and liking her during my prenatal care, I all of the sudden felt very nervous. Why would she say that? Was I an inconvenience? Would she collapse from exhaustion at my labor? Would she be able to hold up her end of the bargain? I had one of my weird atypical migraines I get with pregnancy the next day. It acts like a stroke, and I lose the ability to move and feeling in half my body, as well as my vision, hearing in one side and I cannot speak clearly. I checked in with her and once again she seemed hesitant about my ability to birth at a birthing center, even though the OB on call at the hospital spoke with her and gave her the OK.
This should have been my sign to back out, but I felt like we had already paid too much money and I was afraid of disappointing people (my own made up fear) by not going through with it, so I shut up that voice in the back of my head and continued on.
(Here is the log of what I wrote in real time during my labor).
October 4th, was here. My EDD. Sunday morning. I woke up to a big contraction at 8:20am. Captain and Mamitas ran into the room to tell me daddy had made apple crisp for breakfast and to get out of bed. I sat up and felt a small gush. I went to the bathroom and saw I had some show, and put a pad on. We went to church, and I brought a chux pad to sit on in case of membrane rupture in church. I had a feeling this was the day I would go into labor.
I got home and had a surge of energy and stamina. I scrubbed the bathroom. Nothing worse than laboring in a dirty bathroom. I even took the shower drain apart and bleached it! I wanted this labor to be perfect.
I had Milkman take a full body picture of my, thinking this would be my last day pregnant. I sent him to the store for gatorade and ice. I sat down on the couch to watch Call the Midwife, and and eat a snack and I felt another small gush. at 2:15, a HUGE gush. There went my waters! I hobbled to the bathroom to get cleaned up and texted Milkman to let him know. I had never had my membranes rupture spontaneously and never before labor. No contractions. I got nervous for a little bit, but I decided to remain positive. I got on the ball and was hula moving back and forth in hopes to make something happen. When Mamitas woke up from her nap, I asked if she wanted to nurse, hoping that might get things moving, her response was, “I want to nurse FOREVER mama!” And so we nursed for what seemed like forever.
I kept in touch with DMW via text and Milkman installed the carseat while the babies and I paced the backyard and then came in to make some chocolate chip cookies! It started to rain. Odd for October in California.
We fed the kiddos dinner and cuddled a lot. My mom came to get the kids in case I went into labor. (I wish I hadn’t done this. It caused a huge upset in my mood, I missed them so badly I couldn’t keep it together emotionally).
Milkman took me out to dinner and we came home to get some sleep. STILL no regular contractions. DMW told me that contractions would likely pick up in the night. But they didn’t. They stayed erratic.
Monday morning I woke up and cried. Where were my contractions? Why did I let my babies go last night when I needed them close? DMW told us to meet her and HMW at the birth center to test to make sure it was amniotic fluid I was leaking and to talk about a course of action. The test was positive for amniotic fluid. They sent Milkman to the store for sprite and castor oil, and set me up with an IV of antibiotics. Unfortunately, DMW couldn’t get a good vein anywhere except antecubital, and that’s a crappy place for an IV. The antibiotics burned, as she had the drip too high. HMW seemed peeved with DMW and I felt even more nervous about birthing with this team, but I was determined to take it back to a positive. The castor oil began working its effects. I threw up most of my pregnancy and had nausea throughout. Nothing like how awful castor oil makes you feel. I would ask for pitocin a hundredfold over castor oil if I were to do it over. It was awful. HMW told us to go walk, but I was terrified to get too far from a restroom. We attempted to walk the mall, and my memories of walking the mall are like a cloudy nightmare. Intense nausea, intense contractions, aching back, aching and tired body. We went back to the birth center.
Contractions stayed steady, but I wasn’t progressing. At one point I was crying for my babies and DMW came in and said in a strangely unfamiliar tone “You need to get that out of your system, crying like this is going to stall your labor. Stop focussing on your older two children and focus on getting this one out of you.” At this point I was shattered. Had I been allowed to display my emotions, I would have felt better about progressing, but because I had been shut up, my walls came up, and I felt like I had made the wrong choice to birth with this woman. Even still, I refused to vocalize these feelings to Milkman or to myself, because I wanted to remain positive. I dried my tears and tried to lay aside my mistrust for my care providers. Hours passed. Contractions became erratic. I walked as much as my aching, hobbling body would let me, willing my body to progress. Reciting scripture, praying, singing hymns.
I was checked so many times. I was under the impression that you should not be checked often with ruptured membranes for fear of introducing bacteria. Every time I hesitated at a check I felt like I had to.
After a very long time, I asked why I wasn’t allowed to go into the birthing tub to labor since my back labor had kicked in. With hesitation I was allowed to labor in the water (this was the number one reason I picked this birth center, so I could labor in the bath). The water was warming and comforting, but I could hear HMW and DMW talking about me in the other room in hushed tones, and I couldn’t block it out. I felt so awful. They were tired and not offering the support I had hoped for. At 2am I told Milkman I was scared. HMW came in and said very forcefully during a back contraction “If you are scared you should not birth here, you should transfer.” I wanted to scream. I was scared because I was scared of having to transfer and lose out on alllllll the money we paid out.
At this point I faced the women who were supposed to be supporting and comforting me and asked for them to be realistic with me. I had been ruptured a long time. 36 hours. I was stuck at 5cms and had been for a very long time. How realistic was it that I would deliver at the birth center? HMW was honest with me at this point (for which I was very grateful). She told me that likely I needed pitocin to progress as well as a pain reliever so I could sleep. I had been awake too long, my body was too tired. It was time to transfer. They checked me for the umpteenth time. Still a 5.
We got to the hospital just a block down the street. DMW said she would meet us there, and though I didn’t want her to, she had agreed to taking the role of a doula in the event of a transfer and I needed someone to help Milkman help me through contractions. She got there and her demeanor seemed one of someone who is apathetic. The nurses insisted I have yet ANOTHER check. I refused. I was told I would not be given pitocin or meds until I was checked. I looked at my DMW hoping for some support, she gave me a “Well, what are you gonna do?” look and began scrolling through her phone. I wanted to scream “HELP ME.” but I was too busy breathing through contractions. I finally agreed to a check. Epidural was placed. Epidural failed. Second was placed. Second failed. Pitocin was kicking my uterus into high gear and there was no relief. Though the epidural was placed, it was leaking into another part of my back, so no pain relief was brought but it was still being pumped into my body. I have very low blood pressure normally, so at one point the nurses came in and told me I needed ephedrine for low blood pressure. Through a contraction I tried to inform them that my BP is always low. I looked at DMW for her to speak up and let them know that my whole pregnancy she would joke with me about this very fact. I said “No… ephedrine. Please. Its… normal. Low blood pressure. NO. NO. NO!!!!” and it was shot into my IV. Here I was. I was becoming one of those stories where the interventions keep piling on top of the other. I looked at my DMW and she gave me a look again, unsympathetic and went back to her phone. Hot tears seared my cheeks. I was so angry. I told DMW she was free to leave. She kept refusing to. I asked her to get food or go take a break, and though she seemed like she would rather be getting a root canal than stay with me, she kept saying, “No, it’s okay, I’ll stay.”
Finally another anesthesiologist decided to give the epi a try. He told me my scoliosis curved right where the epi was supposed to fit, so he eyeballed it to the right and got it in. It offered temporary relief and I was able to sleep for a while. Milkman passed out, DMW passed out at my feet. I woke up once the epi stopped working to breathe through my contractions. I stared at sleeping DMW with tears in my eyes. I wanted her gone so badly, but I didn’t want to be rude. I could slap myself now for caring about that in the moment.
I woke her and Milkman up to help me through contractions. Milkman went to the restroom at one point and I looked up at DMW during a very hard contraction and reached my hand out to hers for her to hold mine. I swear to you, the look that returned to me scared me. It was almost sinister? She refused to hold my hand and stared at me with a grimace on her face while I went limp and breathed. This happened several other times. Once again I told her she could leave, once again she refused. I still don’t know why she stayed other than maybe she wouldn’t have gotten paid if she left?
After a few rude nurses, it was time, I was a 10. New doctor on call came in and I told her due to my SPD I could not push on my back and would need to be on my side. The doctor said she hadn’t delivered with a mother on her side, I said that was nice, and I would be her first. If DMW would not advocate for me, I would advocate for myself. DMW offered to take pictures, I got in place. 3 contractions, Peach was born. Relief. Tears. She was here.
I looked at her warm wriggly body and I cried out “She’s alive! This one breathes. She’s not still like Ezra was. This is my baby and SHE IS ALIVE. Thank you, Lord, she’s perfect!” I cried for a long time. It was quiet in the room, and the air felt thick and awkward, but the only thing I cared about in that moment was gratitude for this gorgeous little creature I held in my arms.
After a while the room cleared out and DMW finally announced she would be leaving and a great wave of relief washed over me. She assured me she would send the photos and when the door shut and it was just Milkman, Peach, and I, I breathed easy for the first time in 48 hours. Peach latched on and looked up at me with one eye open, and I marveled at her perfect skin and face.
Once we got into our recovery room in postpartum, my mom brought Captain and Mamitas to come meet their little sister. It was so wonderful to have my little family all together, if only for a short period of time. Captain was feeling homesick and it made it hard for me to say goodbye when they left.
That night, I sat in the hospital bed, nursing the baby and eating dinner and I looked over at Milkman and asked, “What did you think about DMW?” He pursed his lips and (wisely) asked me, “What did YOU think about her? Did you find her helpful?” I started crying. I told him how unsupported I felt, how I felt like a burden to her. How I didn’t want to talk with her or have anything to do with her. How she made labor that much harder. How when I reached out for her she ignored me. He nodded his head as I talked and came over to hold my hand. I asked him again and he said he felt very much the same as I did but didn’t want to bring it up in case I hadn’t caught on to it because he didn’t want to put a damper on the experience. I wept and he held Peach and I while I shook with angry tears. He agreed that any contact with the birth center and either of its Midwives would go through him, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.
We picked up my placenta from her a couple days after delivering, all the correspondence though Milkman still. She never did send my birth photos. I wept much in the weeks following my birth. None surrounding my baby, or the usual baby blues, all in relation to my awful birth experience and the care I was promised and paid for but was not given.
6 weeks later we finally heard from HMW and she asked why she hadn’t heard from us to schedule my follow-up appointments. We hadn’t been contacted til that point. Milkman was a saint and explained that I was dealing with birth trauma and I couldn’t bear to go to the birth center. Right after he sent that we heard from DMW for the first time in those 6 weeks saying she was concerned she hadn’t heard from us. It felt awful, all over again. Like it was my fault she hadn’t done her follow-up. And it confirmed all the more that she didn’t care enough to contact us sooner. Milkman went to the birth center to pick up my records and asked if someone would please send the pictures from my birth.
A while later we received an email with the photos, all thumbnail sized and poor quality. I asked for her to re-send them at a higher quality, as these were the only pictures I had of the birth, and were intimate and meaningful to me. She never replied and I haven’t heard from her since.
Since all this happened, I attended a birth trauma session at MommyCon and spoke with the ladies at Integrated Birth. At the end of the session where they offered advice for avoiding birth trauma (like hiring a doula, birthing at a birth center, using people who came highly recommended, etc). I began crying very hard (thankful my sister was there with me to hold my hand and cry with me). There was a Q&A time so I asked “What happens if you did all those things, you did everything right, all your research, picked the best people, and it still went horribly?” I was told that most likely DMW had taken off more than she could chew and was in birth burnout mode, and most likely shouldn’t have taken me on as a client. I was told that I was supported and to not be afraid to write my story, whether or not I ever shared it with anyone. The compassion I received from the fellow attendees and from the presenter and the Integrated birth team was AMAZING and empowering. We all cried together. At once point Laney from the Mommycon team came over to me and hugged me and she said she understood how I was feeling. For the first time I felt like people other than my sister and my husband understood me, and actually cared. That my concerns were valid and real.
I still occasionally break down thinking about Peach’s birth because it brings up a lot of angry and hurt feelings, but I am on the road to emotional recovery, thanks MOSTLY to Milkman and his love and patience and understanding. He’s heard me hash it out so many times, cry over it so many times, and never once has he dismissed those feelings. Peach is the happiest baby I have had and this has also helped tremendously. Had she been as high needs as her big brother and sister, the physical and emotional healing would undoubtedly have taken much longer. Every smile reminds me just how worth all the pain really was. She is magic.
If you’ve made it thus far, you are dedicated! Thanks for reading. If you are dealing with birth trauma and want someone to talk to, feel free to reach out and contact me, I’m here to support you!