Amelie Dawn – A Birth Story {The After}

Amelie, 4th of July

If you read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of Amelie’s birth story you know we were blessed with a great pregnancy, labor and delivery – despite some sickness and mommy panic.

With all the happiness and blessings I thought it wouldn’t be prudent to end with rainbows and stardust.  Because even with the best birthing experience comes some disappointment and baby blues.  And I want to be real about that.

Society, as a whole, puts a lot of pressure on mom to have “her perfect birth experience” and when she doesn’t (because she won’t) there can be a lot of sadness, regret and anger.  Even when things do go “perfect” (as in Amelie’s case) there can be problems afterward or those rotten post-partum hormones can lie to you and throw you on an emotional roller coaster.  To illustrate…

Problems Afterward

Amelie hanging out in the warmer

We had a great first night with Amelie, she was calm, quiet and nursed like a champ.  Then came day 2.  She was still calm, quiet and a good nurser – but she was having trouble regulating her temperature.  She had to be placed in the warmer several times (blessedly the warmer was in our room).

The nurses explained that low temp can be a sign of Strep B in newborns.  They took her blood that morning but the results wouldn’t be in for 48 hours.  Her temp was consistently low all day, the nurses explained if she had a low temp once more they would take her to the nursery, hook her up with IVs, and start antibiotics as a precautionary treatment.  Thankfully, after one last time in the warmer, her temp stayed up and they didn’t have to take my baby.  Although we did have to stay an extra day awaiting her bloodwork results.

FYI the cultures came back negative, she didn’t have Strep B.  So it all worked out but it was a very scary day.  Strep B is rare and complications even more rare.  But it can be very dangerous.

Lying Hormones

By Wednesday afternoon we were home with our blessed bundle.  I had shed a few tears at night in the hospital, missing my 4 year old Bram and knowing he had cried missing me.  Other than that I was in good spirits and feeling great physically.

Then came day 7 – Crazytown as I like to call it.  I cried all day.  I managed to pull myself together for an hour when my mom visited but other than that I spent the day fighting tears, wiping tears and telling God how mad I was at Him.  Why?

Remember this is Crazytown.

1 -Her Birthdate.  Remember how I hoped that Amelie would be born on my father’s birthday, June 4th?  She was born at 11:09pm June 3rd.  We missed it by 51 minutes.

When labor started the evening of the 3rd I was so hopeful.  When I was in such pain and ready to push 51 minutes “early” I could have cared less when she was born, I just wanted labor over and her safely out and about.  But those Crazytown hormones creep in and…

Suddenly I was sad, heartbroken and MAD that God would be so cruel as to bring us so close to a dream only to snatch it away.  It felt so mean.  I was born on my great grandmother’s birthday and have always felt a special connection to her through that.

I felt my girl had been robbed of that connection with her grandfather.

And I told God so through angry tears.  “How could you?  51 minutes!  That was so unfair, so mean!  You’re GOD, you couldn’t have worked that out??”

I told you.  Crazytown.

Amelie with her Pappy and Granny

2 – Her Name.  I shared that we couldn’t decide on a name.  In fact, we didn’t give her the name Amelie until day 2.  We just couldn’t decide.  We eventually settled on Amelie Dawn – a nod to my Grandma Lee and Shane’s Grandma Dawn.  My grandma had recently lost her battle to cancer and Shane’s grandma is currently in her final days with cancer.  We wanted them both to have a namesake.

On day 6 we took Amelie to see Shane’s grandma.  While there, we learned that Shane’s cousin also has the middle name Dawn.  And that was all it took.  The next day I was a mess.

“We named our baby the wrong name!  How could Shane not know his cousin’s middle name is Dawn??  Now it’s too late.  We can’t change her name now that she’s already been named after someone! What have I done to my baby girl??”

And it went on like that.  All. Day.  I went back and forth between the name and birthday issues.  I kept myself sequestered in my room, taking care of the baby, crying and crying and being angry with God.

Shane asked me if we needed to call the depression number the hospital provided.  That suggestion just made me (you guessed it) mad.  It had only been one day of Crazytown after all.

The Other Side

Amelie and Mom (looking rough) after a nap

Thankfully it only really lasted that day.  I had a few flare-ups and tears in the morning the next two days but the non-stop crying went away.

I have a huge respect for those who experience full blown post partum depression.  One day of that feeling is all I want.  Because it’s real.  It’s not in the mother’s head.  Whatever is bothering them is a true concern.  And even if there isn’t an issue – if they just feel sad and mad – they’re true feelings that cannot be controlled.  It’s hormones.

There were a few things I did which I think helped snap me out of my funk sooner rather than later.  My tips for dealing with minor PPD and doing what you can to come out the other side:

  • Talk. I shared my issues with my husband and mother.  I felt ridiculous being so upset about a birthday and name.  Feeling ridiculous about it made me realize I wasn’t thinking rationally and I needed some input.  In addition to sharing with hubs and mom, I even worked up the nerve to put out a tweet.  The advice and concern I received from Shane, my mom and online gave me a healthier perspective.
  • Cry. The more I fought the tears, all the more wanted to come.  Just giving myself permission to cry and letting the tears fall (and fall and fall) helped.  The release of it makes a big difference.
  • Sleep. It’s true. You need to sleep when baby sleeps.  Sleep is such a critical part of good mental health.  The dishes and vacuuming can wait.  I promise.
  • Own you anger.  I’m of the belief that it’s okay to be angry with God.  He knows we’re human, he created us.  He knows there are many things we won’t understand and as humans that can make us scared or angry.  He’s okay with it.  Really.  He can handle our puny anger.
  • Trust there is a reason. Along with my angry tirades at God I confessed that I knew he Had a reason I didn’t understand.  I told Him I didn’t like His will but understood He had only good planned and His way is better than mine.  Trust Him.
  • Think positive. While you’re crying and angry, remind yourself of the positives.  There are always lots of positives – the most important being your health and that of your baby.  I thanked God for my health and Amelie’s health.  I told myself that God felt Amelie was so special she needed her own birthday but knew it would be fun for her to be born so close to her Pappy’s b-day.  I assured myself that we settled on Amelie Dawn because we love the name and significance, that is what was important.  Stuff like that – whatever happiness you can squeeze in.

If you experience PPD, tell someone. Don’t suffer in silence.  Seek out the help you need sooner rather than later.  You’ll thank yourself later.  Getting better sooner means you’ll be a better mom to your children and wife to your spouse.

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Amelie Dawn – A Birth Story {Part 3}

If you need to catch up, click to read Part 1 and Part 2.

I left part 2 sharing that I had gone into a mental panic – worried about my baby and scared what pain labor would bring.  Thankfully my mother prayed aloud and it really helped me to refocus and calm my nerves.

I began to trust that God would bring my baby girl safely into this world, and that no matter what labor brought, every contraction was one contraction closer to holding my baby.

About this time my doctor made an appearance and checked me.  I was 2 centimeters and 50% effaced…exactly the same measurements I was at my doctor’s appointment the week before.  I wasn’t too happy.  But rather than get discouraged I said a prayer of thanks that I wasn’t in transitional labor while hooked to the monitor.

My antibiotics showed up with the doctor so I was given the i.v.  My water had broken about 7:15pm.  I’d had to make my way home to pick up Shane and due to the road being closed it took us longer than usual to get to the hospital.  Then the check-in, the monitor, etc.  By now it was about 9:00pm.  I was starting to feel regular contractions and since this labor seemed to be progressing more slowly than the last, I was extremely hopeful I’d make it to midnight and my baby girl would share a birthday with my father.

The next hour consisted of me sitting in bed with the monitor and i.v., my husband bringing me water and ginger ale and my mom timing contractions.  They were only 2 minutes apart the whole time, but started very weak and slowly intensified to the point of having to breathe through them.

That hour also included me dragging the i.v. hangar (which my mom called Jr. because that’s what my Grandma Lee called hers when she was sick) back and forth to the bathroom several times as I was experiencing my usual early labor diarrhea.

By the time 10:00pm rolled around the contractions were much stronger.  I was very thankful the antibiotics were about finished because being tied to the machines was making me crazy.  I was ready to move.  I took it upon myself to remove the baby monitor as I had been hooked to it for long enough, thankyouverymuch.

The doctor arrived again to check me.  I was unhooked from the i.v. (oh thank you!) and told I was 5 centimeters.  Okay, I said to myself – the hard labor will be coming soon – time to prepare mentally for the challenge ahead.

The doctor then informed me she was going to break my water.  I was confused as my water had broken 3 hours before.  Apparently, I learned, we have forewater and backwater sacs and only one of mine had broken.  The doctor wanted to go in and break the second.

Umm. No.

The doctor wasn’t crazy about that answer.  She was very kind, but tried to persuade me to allow her to break the water.  Looking back I think she wanted to speed up labor to get the baby out of that meconium tainted environment, but all I could think of was the extreme pain and pressure I felt during Bram’s labor and I wanted nothing to do with breaking the second cushion!

She respected my decision.  And I was happy with my decision.

Because 30 minutes later the contractions had reached the intense level.  The I can’t do this, God help me, I need pain medication level.

And let me tell you.  Having the i.v. equipment docked in my arm, the ease of having some pain meds delivered was very, very tempting.

I had tried pacing a bit, and I went through a few contractions on my hands and knees trying to alleviate the back labor.  Neither one helped very much.  Holly, the nurse, brought me a heating pad for my back and that felt so good…until the next contraction hit and I wanted to jump out of my skin.

I was surprised to find myself most comfortable laboring in bed.  I laid there, at the breaking point, talking myself in and out of pain meds.  “I don’t want to do this.” I admitted the pain was just too much.  I was ready to cry in disappointment. “I’ll be so disappointed in myself if I don’t do this naturally.”  It was around this time I remember mentioning that “I’d love to wring Eve’s neck right about now.”

I was thankful Shane, my mom and the nurse all rallied around me, encouraging me to do what I needed to do.  There was lots of assurance that there is no shame in pain meds – because there’s not!  And I know that – it’s just my own crazy self-imposed expectations.  I decided to go for some pain meds in my i.v. – but asked the nurse to check me first because I was suddenly feeling like I wanted to push.  Holly said she would be sure to check me as they don’t give pain meds once you reach 8 centimeters.

This brought another internal freak out.  Here’s what went through my head –  What??  Why didn’t they tell me that before.  C’mon 7 centimeters!  I can’t do 3 more hours of this!!

I was 10 centimeters.  Well no wonder I was in so much pain.  I went from 5-10 centimeters in less than an hour.

So does that mean I can push?? (oh please oh please oh please)

I was able to bear down on the next contraction.  The room became a flurry of movement.  The doctor, Susan, was called and appeared what seemed like immediately.  Two baby attendants slipped in and were waiting in the wings along with some type of special pediatric nurse they called in since we were dealing with green water and positive strep b.

Susan checked me again and here I learned something else new.  Our cervix not only dilates and effaces, it also (kind of) rotates during labor from a posterior to anterior position.  Mine didn’t fully move out of the way – I had an “anterior lip“.  So I was really more like a 9.

“I want her out.”  I realize that sounds awful, but I didn’t mean it in the ‘get this baby out of me’ way it was meant in the ‘this can’t be good for her, she needs to come out’ way.

Here’s where I admit that I wasn’t happy with Susan when she wanted to break my water.  But from here on she was exactly the calm and direct person I needed.  I was so impressed with and thankful for her.  She instructed me to go ahead and push while she reached in and tried to move the lip out of the way.  We tried this a few times.  Ouch – and it didn’t work.

It hadn’t been too long, but by now my urge to push was unreal.  I was pushing so hard and nothing was happening.  I was doing the grunting/growling push you see in the movies – I don’t think I’ve ever made that sound in my other births.

Susan then instructed me to do something…interesting.  Go labor on the toilet.  She explained the squatting position can help move the lip out of the way.  She had me sit on the toilet with my legs spread wide, back straight, shoulders not slouched and push.  Very attractive I know, but it worked.

I pushed about 4 times.  Susan had to remind me each time to unslouch my shoulders, and a couple times she told me not to push too hard.  And again, I asked my mother to pray.  She offered up a prayer of mercy and movement.  In no time I felt the baby move down.  So it was back to the bed.

I think I would have been more comfortable pushing her out on a birthing stool, but I’m guessing they didn’t have one handy, thus the toilet.

With Shane by my side, my mom in the outskirts of the room, a handful of pushes, and a few shouts of “Oh God please!” and “Ow, it hurts, it hurts!” (another first I’ve never shouted before), some numbing gel applied by the doctor as it looked like I might tear (she didn’t ask, just did it) and our baby girl was brought into this world pink and screaming – and covered with vernix.  She was absolutely the cheesiest baby I’ve ever given birth to.  It was 11:09pm on June 3rd – she arrived about 4 hours after my water broke.

They placed her on my chest, her back was to me so I had to ask – “Is it really a girl?  Was the sonogram correct??”  It was.

After a few precious cuddles they whisked her to the other side of the room where she was cleaned up and well inspected.  Daddy was by her side the whole time.

As they cleaned her up I birthed the placenta and was given pitocin as I was bleeding more than they liked to see.  Then I was cleaned up and I laid in bed with my usual post-birth trembling waiting to hold my little girl again.

She was deemed to be healthy with clear lungs so I was soon given back my little girl…and there began the love affair.

Did you miss Part 1 and Part 2?  Be sure to check out the ending The After too!
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Amelie Dawn – A Birth Story {Part 2}

Part 1 left off with me arriving at home, jumping in the passenger seat and Shane and I heading off to the hospital – all the while I was having an internal freak-out over green water and strep b.

The drive to the hospital takes only about 15 minutes…but on this particular evening there had been an accident of some sort and (surprise!) the road was closed.  We were rerouted along back roads adding an extra 10+ minutes to our drive.

Shane was doing his best to keep me calm, telling me I was doing the right thing by going directly to the hospital and accepting the antibiotics.

Thankfully, even though my water had broken about 30 minutes before I was not yet experiencing contractions.  But that also made me a bit concerned given that when my water broke with Bram contractions came hard and fast almost right away.

We eventually made it to the hospital and I hobbled in with one towel between my legs and another wrapped around my waist.  We went to registration.  This should have been a quick process because I’d pre-registered online…but I forgot our insurance had changed and I hadn’t updated it.  Oops.  More waiting.  It didn’t take too long, but given my state 10 minutes felt like an hour.  I was starting to get, uh, testy.

We then made our way down the hall to maternity.  The receptionist took one look at me in my towel, smiled and said “I bet I know what happened to you!”  She was very nice, but since maternity is locked down and I had to wait for someone to come escort me to a room, I didn’t feel like playing nice. I wanted to shout “Open the freaking door woman!!” But I didn’t, I smiled instead.  I think I deserve extra credit for that.

From here things started to pick up.

We were taken to the labor/delivery/recovery/all-in-one room where I met our amazing nurse, Holly.  I wish I could adopt her into my family.  She was fantastic.

Holly took my information, hooked me up to the monitor, calmed me down when I wanted to freak out about needing to be hooked to the monitor for 30 minutes and again when she told me I’d need to be hooked to the iv for an hour at a time with antibiotics.

You don’t understand, I like to m-o-v-e when I’m in labor.  I need to move.

She understood. Somewhere in the midst of Holly hooking me to the monitor and leaving to make sure my antibiotics were on the way, my mom made it to the hospital.  This was the first time she’d made it to the hospital in time to see me before I have the baby (again, my labors are generally fast).

I never thought I’d want my mom, or anyone other than Shane, in the delivery room with me, but seeing my mom in that moment gave me so much peace.  I was a little girl again wanting her mama. My mom told me numerous times “if and when you want me to go, just say so, I don’t mind, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”  I assured her she was welcome as long as she wasn’t “front and center”.

So there we were, my mom, my husband Shane and me on the bed hooked to the baby monitor feeling the first faint hints of contractions.  And this is what was going through my head.

I can’t do this.  What was I thinking?
My baby – God please let her be okay.
I can’t be tied down like this.
I just can’t do this, it’s too dangerous for her. 
When the doctor comes I’m demanding a c-section.

Panic.  Full blown mental panic.  I turned to Shane and my mom and told them I was scared, that I just didn’t know what to do.  I tried to be calm, but I’m sure they could see I was close to tears.  I was scared, I had no answers yet about the green water, was scared about strep b and just as scared about the effect of the antibiotics, and I was terrified of having another hard labor like Bram’s.

And my mom prayed.  Hallelujah, my mother prayed.  That was a turning point and I was able to refocus.

Did you miss Part 1?  Be sure to read the end with Part 3 and The After.

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