I am not going to sugar coat this for you. My birth was most definitely not what I wanted...not what I would have planned and certainly not what was expected, but in the end it was my birth story of our beautiful Lucian James Christopher. Our Year of the Monkey, month of the Rabbit baby arrived in his beautiful and oh so special way embraced by the chaos that transpired around him...as you will soon read.
The Arrival of our Lovely Lucian...
Lucian was born on March 9th, 2016 weighing 8 lbs. and 8 oz., an entire pound and a half larger than my daughters. And with that...My uterus is officially closed (figuratively, that is)!
All three of my children were birthed at home. Estee, my first, was a long miserable experience...but as my first, a 16 hours labor was anticipated. My second daughter, Isabella, was easy...painful, but the labor was quick - 2.5 hours start to finish. Lucian was a long and immensely painful 9 hour labor; which I’m sure was due to the fact that he has a gigantic head.
Labor is a funny thing. When I hear of women telling me about their birth plan, I secretly smile. You aren’t in control during labor. You have no idea how it’s going to go down until it happens.
My contractions began around 3:00 pm on March 9th. They were mild and coming between 3-5 minutes. Unfortunately, this rate never increased. I wanted another fast and furious birth...as I had with Isabella, but it wasn’t happening. The extra down time allowed doubt and frustration to build. I had too much time to think about how INSANELY STUPID I WAS TO BE GIVING BIRTH AT HOME WITHOUT AN EPIDURAL. I kept thinking about my sister-in-law who had given birth at 36 weeks to a healthy, five lbs. 4 oz. baby. They induced her in the hospital and then gave her an epidural. She slept during the entire labor and then her beautiful baby girl magically popped out without any pain...or at least that’s how remembered her story as I lay at the foot of my bed in agony.
Throughout the birth I repeated to myself that the pain was temporary and it would soon be over; by hour 7 it felt like eternity. I became doubtful that this situation was actually ever going to be over and wondered if I would spend the rest of my life in labor.
I remember asking my midwife, “Worse case scenario, how much longer can this kid stay in here?” I think she smiled, but I remember her cackling hysterically.
Around hour 8 my midwife and her assistant decided my body needed to be contorted into unnatural positions to facilitate the girth of the aforementioned large head. Finally after an hour of unrelenting pain, Lucian was out.
What happened to my body?
After some intense probing, my midwife reported a large hemorrhoid (GREAT) and to add insult to injury (literally), a first to second degree vaginal tear that she offered to stitch up. For some reason, I imagined her suturing me without anesthesia, which sounded horribly barbaric so I declined. This was a decision I regretted three days later. (I learned at my six week visit, that, yes indeed, she does use a local anesthesia to suture vaginal tears).
Who is this man that I call my husband? And what is this chaos going on around me? Keep me out of it PLEASE!
Then my husband came in. As I lay in bed holding our healthy baby boy, I imagined how thrilled he would be to find out that we now have a son. But he did not seem thrilled, and in fact, he told me that he was exhausted. Evidently, our 4 year old had been puking all evening and he hadn’t slept because he was doing laundry and taking care of her. I actually wanted to punch him in the face but couldn’t because I was tired FROM SPENDING THE LAST 9 HOURS PUSHING OUR GIGANTIC SON OUT OF MY VAGINA. I lay back on my pillow, kissed my son’s sweet head and thought of how nice it would have been to clean up vomit.
My oldest daughter had recovered nicely by morning and so the next 36 hours proceeded without incident. My husband is a pro at cooking for me after labor...I get lots of red meat in the evening...Lucian is an easy baby...everything is moving along nicely. But nearing hour 40, about 9:00 pm, my husband and youngest daughter are showing signs of the Norovirus. Izzy has diarrhea. By 10:00 both she and my husband are projectile vomiting. As I lie in bed listening to them take turns being sick I realize, that for the first time in my life, I’m glad my mother is coming to stay with us.
Nope...I get to be part of it too. Oh LUCKY me!
The next night is my turn. Yes, with my torn and sore perineum, large hemorrhoid and in between nursing sessions, I hobble to the bathroom with my very own bouts of gastroparesis. I instantly regret not getting stitches and mourn any hope that my vagina might some day recover. The worst of the virus is over by 5:00 am and I’m finally able to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up my mom is there to help.
Fast Forward to Present...
Lucian is now 4 months old and everything is back to normal at our house.
I am happy to report that I was able to learn quite a bit from Lucian’s birth.
- First and Second degree vaginal tears can heal without stitches. You must confine yourself to bed rest and keep your legs together for about 3 weeks. Herbal compresses are also vital to the healing process. I used a salve compress made up of Mama Bottom Balm by Earth Mama Angle Baby, Tieh Ta Yao Gin (available at YAO) and YAO Oil (available at YAO) on a cosmetic pad and applied three times a day.
- One large hemorrhoid can indeed be immensely painful. My first attempt at treatment was a frozen Witch Hazel compress; this did nothing. Then, I tried a Chinese hemorrhoid ointment (Mayinglong Musk Hemorrhoid Ointment Cream - available at YAO); the searing pain in my butt was so severe I had to take it off within 15 minutes. I believe this reaction was most likely due to anal fissures that had also occurred during labor. My next step was a Yin Care (available at YAO) compress. This actually took most of the pain away, but after using Yin Care for two days, the size of the hemorrhoid did not reduce. After rifling around in my medicine cabinet, I came upon a tube of Ching Wan Hung a Chinese ointment used for burns. I read the list of ingredients...heat clearing herbs, blood moving herbs, herbs used for trauma...and thought it sounded perfect...and it was! The herbs not only addressed the hemorrhoid but also the fissures. Ching Wan Hung (available at YAO) was the winner; my hemorrhoid shrunk within 24 hours and I was able to sit and poop without pain.
- Chinese herbs and supplements work well for reducing postpartum emotional disorders (PPD). (You can read about my experience here.) Because I had such a difficult time feeling good after my second daughter was born, I wanted to be extremely proactive in preventing any psychological distress this time around. I was diligent in taking herbs for the last 3 months of pregnancy and I also increased my fish oil and kelp (sold at YAO) consumption to reduce inflammation, protect my thyroid and ensure that my body had extra trace minerals and omega 3s to prepare for the hard work of having a baby.
Back on Track...Back at YAO
I am having some invasive thoughts, but not as significantly as I have had in the past. My libido is coming back as well (HOORAY!) and my mind isn’t foggy (uh...that's helpful). I would say the herbs and supplements helped by 65%. I am enjoying getting back to work at YAO. I've been there for nearly 4 months now and am filling up on Saturdays which is fantastic. I love seeing all of you and working closely with your health care. We've had two new YAO Year of the Monkeys born just in August. Double Monkeys! Year of the Monkey and Month of the Monkey!
In case you haven't seen or read the fun articles and interviews done on Denver Natural Moms, be sure to check these out:
Taking Care of YOU
Don't forget that after you've had YOUR baby...the journey of recovering your body is not complete after the baby comes out. There is some healing to be done. It can be our propensity to only care for the baby...taking baby to the requisite well-visits, etc. However, we have found at YAO that in caring for the Mommies we are caring for the whole family. If Mom is well nourished and healthy, baby and family...every one gets regulated and experiences JOY!
SO book your visits with a monthly regularity. Make it your New Mom Well Visit MONTHLY appointment. Looking forward to seeing you soon!