Tongue-Tied

It’s 3:00am and I’m punching the bed, counting the seconds before I can unlatch my son. This is the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt, and it will happen again in less than two hours and every two hours after that.

I’ve been nursing now for over a year. If you catch me in public, “whipping out” my breast to calm my son, it might seem effortless to you. Please do not let my ease fool you. It was not always this easy, it was a long road fraught with pain, tears, blood, and anger.

I was cracked and bleeding before I even left the hospital. The lactation consultant called my son, O, a “lazy eater” because he wouldn’t open up enough to get a decent latch. I was told to squish my breast and “shove him on there,” but that didn’t work. I used lanolin by the tub, I didn’t wear a bra, I let them air dry, and all the other tricks. Yet less than a week in, I bought a shield to help with the pain. It helped in one area but hurt in another; a shield wasn’t our answer. When he was 10 days old, I took him to a support group where it was mentioned that he “might have a slight tongue tie.” I called the recommended ENT and made an appointment for the following Monday to have it snipped.

I held my tiny, less-than-2-week-old baby in my lap while a doctor held open his little mouth and snipped the lingual frenulum so tight that he couldn’t get his tongue out over his gums. There was blood, and tears, but he nursed immediately after and it was better. Not perfect, but better. I was told it would take a couple weeks for him to get used to it, and we had a follow-up appointment in four weeks. There was still so much pain, but the ENT brushed it off. He wasn’t trained in the mechanics of the tongue for nursing; he didn’t know what he was doing.

I started supplementing with formula when I couldn’t bear the pain. I nursed as much as I could, I pumped when I couldn’t, and I popped my after-delivery pain meds like they were candy. No one told me this was going to be so hard. My body was failing and I was pissed. I wasn’t going to be defeated. Nursing had become something primal that I was not going to give up on, and I was determined to make it work.

Those late night feedings were the worst. Exhaustion, dreading his cries for milk, the feeling of razor blades raking over my nipples, and his seemingly insatiable appetite were enough to send anyone over the ledge. On more than one occasion, overwhelmed by frustration and pain, I yelled at my son, screamed, “Why can’t you just eat right?” while he cried back at me. I was immediately wracked with guilt. He wasn’t hurting me on purpose, but I was broken and I needed help.

I started searching online, surely there was some explanation for this pain. I found that part of the issue was something called vasospasms cause by the trauma of the compressed nipple. Falling further down the rabbit hole, I found this video and a light bulb went off. This was my problem! His tie was not fixed correctly! I needed to find someone to do it right.

I found the tongue-tied babies support group on Facebook and found a preferred provider near me in their files. I was so relieved that someone could actually help me! My husband and I argued about getting the second revision done. He didn’t want to subject O to another painful procedure “just” so I could breastfeed. I worked hard to show him the research, all the things that can be impacted by an untreated tie. The deal-breaker was when my son spit up, and marbled in the milk and spit was a string of deep red color. My husband panicked, and I calmly explained that the blood wasn’t from him, it was from me. That is when it became clear that I was determined to make this work. We agreed to move forward with, at minimum, a consultation with the provider. I called and made an appointment. O was 11 weeks old, and I was returning to work that week. I was excited and terrified. This was it; this was the thing that would fix all of our problems.

The new doctor confirmed my suspicions: the first snip didn’t release all of the tie. He still had a very tight posterior tie and a lip tie. The procedure was quick. The worst part was his screaming while they held him down. They used a laser to cut the mucus membrane back and allow for more lift of the tongue. I chose to stay in the room while they did it, and my husband held me while I sobbed into his chest. Was I being selfish? Would he hate me forever for this? What if he refused to nurse?

My fears were quickly alleviated. As soon as they removed their hands from his mouth, he stopped screaming, and by the time I put him to my breast, he had calmed down. That first latch was life-altering; the difference was night and day. The feeling was completely new, and it no longer felt like he was chomping on me. He sighed and nursed for 15 minutes while we sat in the office chair. I spent the next 3 days nursing him through the discomfort, doing stretches to help the wound heal correctly, and ultimately being awash with relief.

I was worried that doing the procedure and then returning to work would sabotage our nursing relationship, that he would learn his new latch with bottles and develop a preference to them. That wasn’t our story, though. The 8-hour break from nursing him turned out to be a welcome one, for both my traumatized nipples to heal and my mind to disassociate his hunger cues as pain cues for me. Our bond grew, our nights got easier, and breastfeeding finally became about more than just food for him.

All-in-all, we saw two lactation consultants, two pediatricians, and one ENT who either misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed my son. If I hadn’t had the access to information online, I would have failed at my goal. I’m not the only one who has been failed by the medical community when it comes to breastfeeding and it breaks my heart. I often wonder what those early days would have been like if I’d had the knowledge I have now. 

It’s 3:00am, I pull him close, let him latch, and stroke his skin while drifting back to sleep. 

Graphing Motherhood: The Shenanigans of a Toddler and Dog in Cahoots

Q: What do you get when you cross a mom with a science background and flying squirrels twin toddlers?

A: Graphing Motherhood!

Our very own Bex started a series of hilarious graphs, flow charts, and all things that visually display not-so-scientific data in an effort to chronicle life with her exuberant toddlers.

Here’s one inspired by our team member Lauren’s toddler and dog. We’re sure that parents of human and furry babies alike will be able to relate:

toddler-and-dog-flowchart-graphing-motherhood

To see more in the series, visit Graphing Motherhood on Facebook.

When I’m Sleep-Deprived…

When I’m sleep-deprived,
it’s because my daughter wants to
nursenursenursenursenurse
every two hours at night.

So my adrenaline spikes and

I can’t fall asleep
my anxiety increases
I have no energy
I lose patience
I have shouted
then I cry
and
f
u
c
k
i
n
g
hate myself

💔

When I’m sleep-deprived,
(which is all the time
but days like today are the worst)

I am extra critical of myself.

Why can’t I get my shit together?
The house is a mess.
I’ll never have a career.
How would I cope with two kids?

💔

When I’m sleep-deprived,
I am filled with doubt.

When will I get a five-hour stretch of sleep?
Is that asking too much?
Am I safe to drive today?
I know I am forgetting something,
but what is it?

💔

When I’m sleep-deprived,
I hold myself to unrealistic beauty ideals
and, even though I know it’s irrational,

I hate my stupid, infertile body
I hate my hips and thighs
I despair at the extra fat
and the new pot belly
and the unwashed smell
and then
my skin breaks out
my back hurts
and I hurt all over.

💔

When I’m sleep-deprived,
it’s because my 15½-month-old daughter
still doesn’t sleep through the night,

and I wonder

what I’m doing wrong
what other parents are doing right
why my loving touch isn’t enough comfort
why months of sleep-training hasn’t worked
if it would be different if she came from my DNA.

💔

When I’m sleep-deprived,
I remind myself that I am so grateful to be a mom.

Truly, I am.

But it doesn’t change the fact that
extreme sleep-deprivation means

I am not the mother I want to be
I am not the wife I want to be
I am not the friend I want to be
I am not the best Me I can be.

💔

When I’m sleep deprived,
it’s hard to be anything

except really tired.

This post first appeared on On Fecund Thought and is reproduced here with permission.

We Are Not Superheroes: An Open Letter

Be grateful. Don’t take it for granted. You’re one of the lucky ones.

It starts when you finally become (and stay) pregnant.

It starts shortly after you get that first positive test, when you feel that first bout of morning sickness. You shrug it off, because you know you’re lucky to be feeling so sick. You hang your head over the toilet, heaving for hours, but you don’t falter. You’re hyperaware of so many who haven’t (or can’t) experienced it themselves. As you wipe the vomit from your lips with a dish towel and eyeball the sleeve of saltines on your kitchen counter, you remind yourself: I need to own this. It’s part of pregnancy, of this wonderful amazing thing I’ve tried so hard to get for so long. It sucks, but it’s part of the experience. And this reassures me that everything is okay, right?

As you crawl towards the second trimester point, hanging on every ultrasound and Doppler heartbeat with anxiety that makes your head spin and your stomach turn, you hold your head high. This is what I’ve been fighting for all these years. You spend every day from start to finish hoping against all fucking hope that this baby won’t be taken from you, but you embrace the opportunity. At least you can get pregnant, right?

You work through the second trimester, and you’re diagnosed with symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). You treasure the movements you’ve waited for from your little one, until they become painful…but, you grit your teeth and think, It’s okay. It’ll be worth it in the end. I am grateful for this pain. It’ll be worth it in the end. It’ll be worth it in the end. It’ll be worth it…

The third trimester rolls around, and the nausea comes back. You’re starving all the time, but can’t keep anything down, and whatever you can keep down fills your overcrowded stomach in an instant. It hurts to stand, sit, lie down, walk, be still, move. Your back aches, your feet swell to the point where it hurts to bear weight, and the carpal tunnel makes it impossible for you to write out thank-you cards to everyone who showed up to your baby shower. But still, you white-knuckle grip the window sill in the middle of the night as you’re working your way through a godawful combination of Braxton Hicks contractions, back pain, and SPD, and think—Soon, this baby will be here. Soon everything will come full circle. I’m so lucky to be able to experience this, I should be grateful.

All this, before our beautiful rainbow or unicorn babies are born and safely in our arms. All this, we bear, before we even hit the finish line of pregnancy…the starting line of parenthood. All this.

It’s not that we aren’t grateful. It’s not that we take it for granted. It’s not that we don’t realize how lucky we are for becoming pregnant, for being able to afford the infertility treatment we needed, for having viable eggs, for maintaining a successful pregnancy. We still remember what it was like to be on the other side. We still remember the way we looked at pregnant and parenting infertiles and felt that burning jealousy, that searing anger when we heard the slightest bit of a complaint.

You should be grateful, you shouldn’t take this for granted, you should consider yourself lucky.

We thought those exact words. We muttered them under our breaths. We blinked away angry, resentful tears. We had every right to feel the way we did. We couldn’t help it.

We didn’t know.

Now we do.

We’re on the other side, and those words we thought and muttered to ourselves haunt us during the harder moments. We remain all too hyperaware of what it’s like to still be stuck across that line dividing childless and parenthood. These thoughts and feelings we once thought and felt, that we know others still think and feel, weigh us down. We so desperately want to do right by them. We so desperately want to do right by the community that backed us when we were without hope, without light, without direction.

But we aren’t superheroes.

So, my darlings, this is for you…

For the parent struggling to find happiness in the presence of your new baby because your birth didn’t go according to plan—it’s okay.

For the parent unable to hold your newborn in those fussy night hours because the weight of the darkness is getting to you—it’s okay.

For the parent crying more than the baby as you struggle to recreate the latch the lactation consultant helped you achieve only hours before—it’s okay.

For the parent fighting through the haziness of the baby blues—it’s okay.

For the parent taking antidepressants and seeing a therapist for postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, wondering why the hell you just can’t be happy that you’ve finally, after all this time, got what you wanted—it’s okay.

For the parent clutching the handle of a coffee mug as your infant screams his or her way through the four-month sleep regression, wondering when the bleeding fuck things will go back to normal—it’s okay.

For the parent sitting on the floor in the hall outside the nursery, sobbing hysterically as you practice your first night of cry-it-out (CIO), wishing things were different—it’s okay.

For the parent whose tears are falling onto your baby’s soft forehead as you stare at the fistfuls of your own hair in your baby’s hand—it’s okay.

For the parent on the edge of sanity, pulling your babies off the couch and the baby gate and the coffee table and the TV stand and the bookcase and the kitchen chairs for the fiftieth time that morning—it’s okay.

For the parent desperate for some alone time, wanting to leave the room for more than a few seconds without the hysterical wails of a child too used to being close to you—it’s okay.

For the parent spending every hour away from home at work wishing you could spend more time with your little miracle—it’s okay.

For the parent cradling your toddler close as tears stream down your face because, in a moment of sheer exhaustion and frustration, you yelled at your child to stop crying every two goddamn hours, every goddamn night—it’s okay.

For the parent feeling frustrated because you haven’t nailed down the transition from breastmilk- or formula-feeding to solids, or the transition from bed- or room-sharing to crib sleeping, or the transition from in-home nanny to full-time daycare—it’s okay.

For every parent experiencing a moment of doubt, anger, resentment, frustration, exhaustion, selfishness—it’s okay. You are not a bad parent. You are doing the best you can. You are not ungrateful, you are not taking parenthood for granted, and you are completely aware of the wonder that has been bestowed upon you.

The struggles don’t make you a bad person. They don’t make you a bad person.

If anything, you’re the complete opposite. You’re a compassionate, thoughtful, and incredible parent after adoption, loss, or infertility. You understand 110% what it means to be able to care for a child of your own, and you know what others would give for the very same chance.

But we’re all human. We all have our frustrations, our doubts, our setbacks.

We are not superheroes.

crying child
© Slava via Flickr Creative Commons under this license.

Fading Memories

Last night, I realized that I couldn’t remember what my son’s newborn mewl sounded like. I was hanging out with a group of women, two of which had babies under 2 months old, and one of them let out that sweet cry that only newborns have. I was shocked when it was familiar, yet not the same as O’s. But I couldn’t figure out the difference—I couldn’t remember his cry before it changed.

This set off a tailspin of realization that those first memories are slipping further away. Sure, I’ll always remember that his nostrils were perfect little triangles, but it’s becoming harder to recall his wrinkled, old man face. His sweet newborn smell has been replaced by a stronger, little boy smell (complete with stinky little toes). His hands no longer curl around my fingers on reflex, but he makes the conscious decision to hold on. I have to push to remember how light he was at 9 lbs, and how little he was when he laid on my chest. Our breastfeeding relationship—something that is so sacred to me now, and I have no memory at all of his first latch. The hospital stay is becoming a blur. Photographs and blog posts are vital already, moments frozen in time to help me remember.

There is a silver lining to these fading moments. Those sleepless nights have been replaced with cuddles. The evenings of the dreaded screaming witching hour have turned into giggles and babbles as we read bedtime stories. If someone would have told me then that I would struggle to remember, I would have laughed (or probably cried, or become violent, or all three).

As each season wanes, new memories replace the old ones. New skills take over, new faces are captured, new words, new sounds, and it moves quickly. They tell you it’s quick, they tell you to cherish every moment, but you never anticipate just how quickly it goes.

So take a thousand pictures and a thousand videos of your little one because every day, those memories fade a little more—and they will become a treasure trove of the time your baby was still a baby.

Adoption After Infertility

This is a piece written for us by a member of the infertility, loss, and adoption community.


My name is Lindsey and my husband’s name is Jim. We met at work and fell in love. We always knew we wanted kids. He is one of five kids and I am one of four; we only knew big families! We got married and started trying to have a baby right away. We knew we were meant to be parents and wanted three or four kids. Good plan, right? No.

We tried, month after month. We tried everything! Take Mucinex, take aspirin, no sugar, stand on your head (okay, not really). Every month we were disappointed and discouraged. All of our friends were getting pregnant left, right, and center—why not us? So, we went to see a reproductive endocrinologist. We had everything tested. I went on a strict diet and took several medications to improve our chances of success. Nothing. I had surgery to remove endometriosis. When I came out of surgery, my husband had to tell me that I had a bicornate uterus. This meant that there was a septum in the middle of my uterus. It was the worst news I could have received. There was not a good chance of a healthy pregnancy. I was devastated but I also wouldn’t accept it. So, we had 10 IUIs and two rounds of IVF. The IVFs were so hard. The doctor made it sound like we really had a shot. But once our embryo formed, it just died. Every time. Maybe on day three or four, or even on day five. But they all died. We were heartbroken.

I kept going back to knowing we were meant to be parents. This had to happen, right? What to do? Adoption! I was excited and scared, my husband was hesitant. Would it feel like our baby? Would it be the same? What if the birth parents changed their mind? What about the cost? Would our families accept this baby?

I made an appointment with an agency and we met with a woman named Hillary. When we walked into her office, she had a whole wall of baby pictures. I knew we were in the right place! She told us that she only did open adoptions. Open? No. We wanted closed. She gave us some books to read and a home study checklist and we went home to think about it. Jim and I panicked, and then we researched. Open adoption means that the adoptive and birth parents know each other. We learned that it is better for the child and their self-esteem long term. So, we agreed. We completed our home study (which included being fingerprinted at the police station for a background check, creating budget worksheets, reading several books, and having a home inspection). It was a long process. We also made a book about ourselves for birth parents to look at when they were picking adoptive parents. We second-guessed everything! We wanted to “look” perfect, but settled for being ourselves.

Then it was time to wait. Just work, save money, be sad, and wait. That was probably the hardest time of our lives. Putting ourselves out there and then waiting for someone to pick us was so hard. We put our story on the website for our agency. We had our books at every adoption attorney in the area. Wait. Wait. Wait. After a year of waiting, we were very discouraged. Then came The Call!

“A baby! Due in six weeks… The birth mother is in North Carolina and she wants to talk to you… Don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl… There isn’t much prenatal health information… Are you ready to be parents?”

Yes!

We were so ready! There were a number of red flags, but we didn’t bat an eyelid. That night, my husband and I wired money to a networking agent (a middle man between agencies) and talked to the birth mother. She was shy, scared, nervous…and so was I. She had a thick Southern accent that I could hardly understand. She’d had several other kids that had been taken away or adopted by family; she wanted to meet us before the baby is born. We got the baby room going, ordered furniture, bought a car seat and some clothes, and booked our flight to meet her.

She was beautiful; I felt like I had known her forever, but also, like I didn’t know her at all. She had a lot of secrets, some drug-related, that she didn’t want to talk about. I was okay with that. We had an understanding that if she didn’t want to tell, I would not ask. Jim and I flew home, glad that we had met her but also exhausted by the emotions of everything. Two days later, she was in labor, so we headed back to North Carolina to meet our baby. It’s a boy! We weren’t there when he was born, but they took some pictures right after. We heard him cry over the phone for the first time. As soon as we held him, we knew he was ours!

Reality set in quick. The birth mom signed away her rights and checked out of the hospital just 12 hours after giving birth. As soon as she was gone, the nurses and doctors let Jim and I know that the baby had drugs in his system and was going through withdrawal. His heartbeat was high, his respiration was low, and he had a cleft palate which made feeding him difficult, sometimes impossible. We were grateful he didn’t need to go to the ICU and never needed Methadone, but he cried for almost a week straight. We were mad that the birth mother would do this to him; he wasn’t even a day old and someone had already hurt him. The silver lining was that the only way to get him to stop crying was to do skin-to-skin, which jump-started the bonding process! My husband and I had to stay in North Carolina until paperwork was filed in both states, so we took turns in the hospital. Our son was almost always lying on one of us. He was our miracle, and we were going to fix it.

Finally, the paperwork was completed and we could go home. Our families couldn’t wait to meet him; everyone was so supportive! We had showers and “sip ‘n’ sees,” days filled with complete happiness.

We had our son’s cleft palate repaired when he was a year and a half. He had speech therapy to help him use his mouth correctly, but hit all of his milestones early. We mailed pictures and letters to his birth parents once a month. They would call if they needed to talk, and I could call them if I had a question. We were Facebook friends. Then, one day his birth mom posted a picture of herself with a very pregnant belly. I couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t she tell us? Was she mad at us? I emailed her to say we would be open to adopting the new baby. I let her know that I trusted her decisions, but we were open. She emailed back saying yes!

Baby #2 was due in a month. We dusted off the car seat, moved furniture, prepared for travel, and savored our last few weeks as a family of three. It was another boy! This time was so much less scary: We knew what to expect. She knew what to expect. He did have drugs in his system at birth, but never went through withdrawal. He has been a happy, chunky baby since the day he was born!

Brothers. We have two sons and, biologically, they are full brothers. It’s amazing to me. These boys have healed our hearts in every way imaginable. At first we were worried it would be weird having children that weren’t biologically ours, but it’s amazing! They surprise us with their spunk and energy every day! Everyone says they look just like us, but I see their birth mother’s eyes in their eyes, and their hands are their birth father’s hands. I am so glad I know their birth parents so I can tell them these things. They love to hear their birth stories, but they don’t like to talk to their birth parents. I think it is just too much for them to process at ages two and four.

Our family is complete! We went from thinking we needed three or four kids to thinking we wouldn’t have any to having two amazing kids that I couldn’t imagine life without. Adoption is amazing and so is the human heart…full of forgiveness and love. Now, you’ll have to excuse me: “Superman” (Baby #1) needs help with his cape and “Captain Cold” (Baby #2) is potty training!

Adoption After infertility

Aislinn’s Birth Story — Part 2

Read Part 1 of Aislinn’s birth story here.

As soon as my OB said “c-section,” the room burst into a flurry of excitement. Surgery nurses came in and started prepping us. The incision area on my body was shaved, I got a hair net, I had to take out all of my earrings, and and I had to drink seltzer water to neutralize my stomach acid so I wouldn’t throw up during surgery. I was given another dose of epidural and my nurse placed a catheter. I said goodbye to my husband and family, and was wheeled down the hall.

Aislinn_labor_ready
© Aislinn Noltie

As my husband waited outside of the OR room, I was transferred to the surgery bed. My abdomen was prepped and the blue sheet was placed just under my chin. Warm blankets were placed over my arms that were strapped to the edge of the bed. I was shaking so hard from nerves that the anesthesiologist gave me medication to calm me down.

Around 11:50pm, my husband was brought in and seated by my head. He held my hand as my doctor started the surgery. Every time she would cauterize a cut, my stomach muscles would involuntarily jump. At 12:07am, my son was worked out of the birth canal (with an audible pop!) and my doctor asked my husband to look over the curtain. At 12:09am, my son K was born and we heard his first cries.

K was given to the pediatrician, who did an initial look-over. My doctor had left the umbilical cord long so that my husband could cut it, which he did at this time. K was then brought over to me for a few seconds on his way to the nursery. I was sewn up, given more pain medication, and another dose of medicine to stop my shaking.

In the nursery, K had his heel pricked to check his blood sugars which came back at a 43 (units of measure unknown). The pediatrician called down to the OR to see if I had been transferred to the recovery room so I could breastfeed, but I was still in surgery. After 5 minutes, they checked his sugars again and they had dropped to 33. We were later told that around 30, babies can have seizures from low blood sugar, which is why K was given formula to bring his levels up.

I was eventually moved back to my original delivery room and was able to hold K for about 30 minutes, during which we attempted to breastfeed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of this. I’m not sure if it’s due to the medication, or the shock my body went through, but I have no recollection of those moments.

K was brought back to the nursery to get bathed and warmed up. I was moved to the mother and baby room, where we would stay for the next few days. My OB later told me that K’s head measured at 14.5 inches and was too big to fit through my pelvis. He also had broad shoulders, so even if his head had made it through the birth canal, there was a good chance they would have had to break his collar bone to fit his shoulders through.

At around 3:00 in the morning, K was brought into the room after getting his Vitamin K shot and eye ointment. We were told that his blood sugar level was not as high as the pediatrician wanted, but it was high enough for him to room with us.

At 6:00am, a nurse came to do another check via prick to his heel. Unfortunately, his level had dropped again, so he was taken to the nursery to get a sugar water IV placed to bring his levels up.

IV_foot
© Aislinn Noltie

The nurses had a hard time placing the IV, so K had bruises in both hands, both feet, and both arms. As much as I wish I was there to comfort him, I’m glad they did it in the nursery. I don’t know if I would have been able to handle his cries from them poking him over and over again.

We were told that to keep his blood sugar up, we would have to feed him 2 ounces of formula every three hours, as well as try to nurse him and feed him any colostrum/milk I was able to pump. Feeding every three hours during the day wasn’t difficult, but the nighttime feedings were tough. K would want to sleep through at least one of the feedings, so we’d have to unswaddle him, tickle his feet, rub his back with cold hands…do whatever we could to keep him awake long enough to at least drink the formula. Pair this with lack of sleep and high emotions, and nighttime was a very difficult time for me.

For the first two days we were in the hospital, I wasn’t getting anything when I pumped. On the third day, however, I was getting a milliliter or two of colostrum that we’d suck into a syringe and feed K. I can’t explain how ecstatic I was when I started getting colostrum. It felt like my body was finally starting to do something right, something that would feed my baby and keep his blood sugar levels in check.

mom_syringe
© Aislinn Noltie

When K first got his IV, it was set to 16 (units unknown). We were told that every time his sugar level came back at 60 or higher, the IV would be bumped down two points, and once it was at zero, we would be able to take him off the IV to see if his body could regulate itself. Once he was able to go 24 hours without an IV, we could go home.

A nurse would come by every six hours to check his blood sugars with a prick to the heel. Some of the nurses were wonderful at pricking and squeezing his tiny heel quickly to get the blood, then allowing me to nurse him, but some nurses had a lot of trouble getting a drop of blood, which caused them to prick him again and make him wail. Eventually we learned that if his heel was warmed up with a washcloth for a few minutes, his blood would flow easier. By the time we left the hospital, both heels were purple from being pricked so often.

Eventually, K’s body began figuring things out, and we slowly started turning down the number on his IV machine. We did have a small bump in the road when his IV line became clogged, so they had to take him back to the nursery and place it in his other foot. Saturday morning, we finally turned it down to zero and he was unhooked from the IV machine. We were finally free to move around the room without having to worry about crimping the IV line when we’d swaddle him, or pulling it out when we’d pass him to visitors.

On Sunday, we were given the okay to go home, all three of us. We were instructed to continue feeding him formula, breastfeeding, and giving him any pumped milk every three hours until his follow-up appointment at one week old. At that appointment, we were told to stop the formula and only breastfeed.

While my labor and delivery was not at all what I had envisioned, I am forever grateful for the result. Things may have started off on a bumpy road, but I now have a strong, vibrant, funny 18-month-old constantly keeping me on my toes.

Aislinn’s Birth Story — Part 1

My birth story really started the afternoon of Monday, July 14 when I started noticing timeable contractions at 36 weeks pregnant. They weren’t painful, but they were 3-5 minutes apart and lasted around 45 seconds. We decided not to go to the hospital because it just didn’t feel like it was time. I also didn’t want to be that pregnant lady who came in thinking she was in labor when she wasn’t.

I continued having contractions all night, but was able to sleep through some of them. When my husband woke up on Tuesday, he asked if he needed to get ready for work or to go to the hospital. I still didn’t feel like I was in labor, but I figured since I had been having consistent contractions for over 12 hours, we should go just in case.

We arrived at the hospital around 7:00am. I’m pretty sure the ER nurses thought I was crazy for coming in because of how easily I could walk and talk, but they took me back anyways. When we got to Labor & Delivery, I put on a gown and was strapped to the monitors. My nurse checked me and said that I was still 2 cm dilated and about 50% effaced, like I was at my appointment the week before.

The monitors showed that I was having contractions, which made me feel reassured that I wasn’t imaging them. My OB came in and said that she didn’t feel like I was in labor, but she’d let me hang out for a few hours to see if anything changed since my contractions were coming every 5 minutes.

Around 11:00am, my nurse checked me again and said I hadn’t progressed, so we decided I would be discharged. L&D got busy right after this, which stopped my nurse from getting my discharge papers. During this time, my contractions started to increase in frequency and pain. I had to focus on breathing through them and they were showing up more intense on the monitor.

Around 1:00pm, my OB came in and said that she had noticed my contractions were increasing and she was worried I was going into actual labor. Since I was 36 weeks, it would have been okay for my son to be born that day, but my OB wanted to stop things if possible. She suggested giving me IV fluids in case my contractions were caused by dehydration, as well as a shot of pain medication with the thought that if we could get my body to relax through the contractions, they might slow down and stop.

The pain medication was a trip. I was warned that it might make me sleepy, but it made me feel like I was tripping on something! I would focus on a spot on the ceiling, but everything else in the room would continue to move. My words were slow and slurred, even though I consciously tried to speak clearly.

Around 5:30pm, my OB came in to check me. I still hadn’t progressed, so she allowed me to go home and rest with a request that I take the next day off work and decrease my hours from there on out.

For the next four weeks, I had steady contractions that were 5-10 minutes apart. Activity made them pick up, so I did a lot of lazing around when I wasn’t at work. Around the 38-week mark, I resumed normal activity since I was so close to my due date. At 39 weeks, I actively started to induce labor. I would walk every night and we had more sex in that week than we had the rest of the pregnancy. Even though K was so eager to make his entrance four weeks early, I actually ended up making it to my due date…and a few days past.

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© Aislinn Noltie

After four weeks of consistent contractions, my husband and I went to my last OB appointment at 40 weeks and 2 days where we decided to induce the next day due to my son’s projected size (he was measuring 8 lbs 6 oz at an ultrasound two weeks prior).

The next morning, we got up at 6:00am to head to the hospital and begin the induction process. Unfortunately, L&D had experienced a very busy night, so there wasn’t a room immediately available. We were instructed to wait in the L&D waiting room until a room became available.

Around 7:30am, my husband and I were brought into a L&D triage room to begin monitoring. Baby and I had to be monitored for 20 minutes before they were willing to start the induction process.

At 8:15am, we were brought into the labor room. I changed into the hospital gown, had my vitals taken, and had an IV started in my left wrist. We decided to do a Pitocin induction because I was already dilated between 3 and 4 cm, thus making any cervix-based inductions useless. Pitocin was started at the lowest dose and set to increase every 10 minutes until my contractions were steady.

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@ Aislinn Noltie

The contractions I had from the Pitocin were manageable, but I had intense back pain. Around 11:30am, I asked for my first dose of IV medications which made me feel as loopy as they did in our early labor scare.

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@ Aislinn Noltie

At 1:05pm, I felt a pop and a huge gush of liquid as my waters broke. The next few contractions were the most intense feeling of my life. I remember rolling onto my left side, clutching the side of the hospital bed, looking my husband in the eyes, and begging him to let me get an epidural. My nurse checked me and said that I hadn’t progressed and was still at 4 cm.

We waited an hour and a half for the anesthesiologist. As he walked in, my nurse checked me and announced that I had progressed to 8 cm! I figured that if I had progressed that quickly, I could go the rest of the way without an epidural, so we sent him away. There was a flurry of excitement; the nurses brought in a large table with all the equipment needed for delivery because everyone thought I would be delivering within the hour!

I labored another 1-2 hours, during which my body started spontaneously pushing. Everyone was telling me not to push, but it wasn’t something I could control. I would get a contraction and feel the muscles in my abdomen contract and push down.

My OB came in to check me and said that I was back at 6 cm, which was the most heartbreaking thing to hear. She said that my cervix was swelling from my body pushing, so she suggested getting an epidural to let my body relax. While we were waiting for the anesthesiologist, I got another dose of IV pain medications which let my body relax enough to labor to 7 cm.

I was so nervous about getting an epidural because I’d had four rough spinal taps in the past, but everything went perfectly. As much as I had hoped to have a medication-free birth, I had to admit that the epidural felt amazing and let me relax.

Around 9:00pm, my nurse checked me and I was dilated to 9 cm with only a bit of cervix lip left. She announced that we were ready to push, so we did a few practice pushes and the cervix lip moved. During this time, my epidural started to wear off, so the anesthesiologist was called in to give me a second dose.

I ended up pushing for over two hours. We got close enough that the nurse could see my son’s hair, but he got stuck behind my pubic bone. Around 11:00pm, my OB came in to check on our progress and started studying the printout of my son’s heartbeat. She told us that his heartbeat had started decelerating at the wrong time which was a sign that he was in distress. She checked me one more time and said that my son’s head was too big to fit through my pelvis. We decided that a c-section was the best course of action.

To be continued in Part 2.