Hi friends! I’d like to introduce you to little Owen, who arrived earthside on September 14, 2019 at 1:22 am, weighing 7 pounds 3.5 ounces And measuring 51 cm long.
He’s a healthy little dude and thankfully I had no complications in labour. I’ll get more into his birth story below, but first here’s a quick update about life in the fourth trimester so far.
Even though Owen is just shy of three weeks old, it seems like he’s been here for much longer — probably because nights and days just blur together and true sleep doesn’t really exist anymore. The pace is also so much slower now. Most of my time is spent just sitting to feed, comfort and cuddle Owen, and I have to remind myself often it’s only been X number of days since he was born so I stop trying to do so much — especially since my postpartum recovery plan included taking it easy for the first four weeks to allow for proper healing.
It’s been way harder than I thought it would be just to rest and recover. In the first week he was home we had family come over to watch Owen in the afternoons while I napped (Matt was installing new windows and finishing the nursery) as I couldn’t sleep unless I knew someone was watching him. Now that he’s sleeping a bit longer at night (by longer I mean 2-3 hour stretches before getting up to feed in between instead of waking up what felt like every hour), I’ve been attempting to do things in the afternoon instead of nap to feel a sense of normality (go for a short walk, get groceries with Matt and baby in tow, do laundry, put dishes away). This is okay sometimes, but other times it feels exhausting, especially if we also have visitors that day. And if Owen is having a fussy day where he wants to feed every hour then gets gassy and cries for most of the day, then no activities / visits happen as my anxiety goes through the roof. It’s like I need to give 100 percent of my energy to him and there’s nothing leftover to allow me to function. I know this will get better with time, but for now we’re trying to manage our days around Owen’s needs so I can keep it together.
I also have those intense new mom emotions where you suddenly become hyperaware of the passage of time and cry because you think your baby is growing so fast; that they will only be this little and fit so perfectly on your chest for so long. Every day is a constant struggle of wanting to get up and be productive to feel normal and a desire to just sit there cuddle with Owen, who just wants to be close to me. I always feel guilty when I have to put him down and he gets upset — I’d say this part has been way harder for me than the sleep deprivation.
The good thing is he also loves to cuddle and hang out with his dad, so that’s allowed me to get up and shower, make coffee (and actually drink it while it’s hot!), feed the dogs, etc. I’m just wondering how it will go when Matt goes back to work.
Aside from adjusting to postpartum life with a newborn and dealing with all the emotions than come with it, I’ve been healing really well and both Matt and I are absolutely in love with Owen. The little noises he makes, his new baby smell, his little neck rolls… becoming a parent is truly the best thing ever and I’ve been trying to appreciate all these sweet little moments to balance out more challenging times. I know every mom’s postpartum story is different, and I feel a little bad that my only issue with Owen is when he’s gassy or on a nap strike — he had no issues after birth so we got to go home within 12 hours of his birth; he never had trouble latching; it does’t hurt to nurse (although it is killing my upper back… I need to stop staring at him when I nurse and sit back properly); my milk came in right on time and he was up over his birth weight within a week; and he will sleep in his bassinet at night for the most part (during the day he likes to sleep on us or in his baby wrap — if we put him in his crib or pack and play he just stares and flails his hands). I feel lucky he’s been a good baby so far, but I know more challenging times are ahead when he starts to go through his developmental leaps.
I have more to say about postpartum life so far but I will save that for another post.
So here’s Owen’s birth story… if you’re not into reading about labour and delivery I won’t be offended if you stop reading now. I’m sharing this because I loved reading other mom’s stories when I was close to my due date, especially the ones that went well.
Owen’s Birth Story
A few days before Owen was born, I opted to get a membrane sweep (you can Google what that is if you really want to know) at my midwife appointment to try to move things along. I thought for sure he would be coming early, and really didn’t want to go too far past my due date for myriad reasons (over being pregnant, fear of a large baby, fear of pre-eclampsia that I was being monitored for, fear of still birth, etc.). At that appointment, my midwife said I was already 3 cm dilated and he was sitting very low in my pelvis — she said she thought for sure he’d be coming by the weekend.
At 5:30 pm on Friday the 13th (of course), one day past his due date, I felt a little pop and gush of fluid just as I sat down in our sunroom to start reading a new book. I knew right away that was my water breaking, and got up to go the bathroom to make sure the fluid was clear and didn’t have meconium in it. It was clear, so I texted Matt who had just gone to get us takeout pizza for dinner then phoned our midwife who was already at the hospital delivering another baby. She told me just to monitor things until contractions start, take Gravol and Tylenol before bed and to try to get some rest — she’d meet us at the hospital when it was time. She made it sound like it could be a day or so until active labour would begin, so we sat down to have our pizza and started watching the movie IT (I do not recommend watching this during early labour, haha).
As soon as we finished eating at around 7:30 pm, contractions came on fast and increased in intensity each time. I went from, “oh, so this it what it’s like. Yeah I guess it’s like a really bad period cramp,” to “holy crap what is happening to my insides” in about an hour. When I could no longer talk through contractions and had to just sit and breath with my eyes closed to recover in between, Matt called the midwife to let her know that we were coming in.
Even though we’re only about 10 minutes from the hospital, that car ride felt like an eternity as I had to be in the back seat on all fours just trying to manage the contractions. We got to the hospital around 9:30 pm, checked into our room and that’s basically all I can recall for exact details at that point. I remember needing to be on all fours for most of labour, hanging off of Matt during contractions, throwing up, trying to sip juice to keep my energy up, and making some really disturbing sounds and wailing as it was the only way I could manage the pain. It’s crazy how focused you become — all I could do was breath and wail, and tried to take instructions from Matt, our midwife and the nurses in the room in between contractions. I didn’t ask for any pain meds as it didn’t even cross my mind to ask. All I could do was focus on breathing and getting him out.
I read the hypnobirthing book Your Baby Your Birth by Hollie De Cruz and listened to her birth affirmations almost every day during the last few weeks of pregnancy, but I have no idea if it helped or if I even thought about it during labour. Maybe on a subconscious level? I must have been thinking about something during the three hours I spent labouring and hour-ish spent pushing at the hospital. All I wanted to do was get him out safely.
After an hour or so of pushing on all fours, the midwife had me lie back so she could check my progress and discovered Owen’s head was slightly turned so he was a bit stuck. She ended up having to turn him so he could come out — I remember that part was incredibly painful. Once he was in a better position, they had me push again. The nurses had set up a mirror so I could see his progress, which helped me muster up everything I had to get him out. I was so exhausted by that point. I remember seeing his head coming out, but I had my eyes tightly shut for most of the pushing until I felt the rest of him slide out and he was plopped on my chest.
I was so happy to see him and see he was doing well, and was just kind of dumbfounded for the first hour after delivery. I had some minor tearing and gladly accepted nitrous oxide while I was getting stitched up (I highly recommend using the gas, I wish I did earlier — it made me feel like I just got home at 2 am buzzed from a great night out, haha). Within half an hour I was up in the shower and in my own pjs, then ate some snacks we brought with us (the hospital’s idea of a post-delivery meal was a roast beef deli sandwich on white bread and a cup of pudding – bleh) before heading to the mother-babe unit.
Since the hospital was so busy that night (it was also a full harvest moon!) we didn’t get the private room we had signed up for, so Matt had to go home for a few hours to get some sleep. I basically just lay there in recovery from 3 am – 6 am processing what happened and staring at Owen. I was feeling so incredibly grateful and lucky to have Matt support me through everything and helped me to have to labour and delivery I wanted, and that everything turned out perfect. Owen was healthy and passed all his tests with flying colours, so we were able to go home just after noon that day.
Now I know you may by wondering what I thought was harder: running an ultramarathon or giving birth?
I have to say that running an ultramarathon was harder — with childbirth your body just does its thing; you’re just along for the ride and all you have to do is breathe and manage the pain. There’s also no option of giving up when it comes to childbirth — that baby is coming out no matter what! I was lucky in that my labour wasn’t as long as some first time moms’… maybe if it was 36 hours or more I’d have a different opinion. But thankfully Owen decided to go easy on me.
I’d do it all again 1,000 times over if I had to just to have him here.