Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things Nobody Told Me

After you get pregnant, people will tell you all sorts of things. Some good, some bad. When people found out I was having a natural childbirth... at a birth center... with a midwife, a lot of people freaked out and would love to tell me the horror stories they have about such and such almost dying because of this and that. So I can't tell you about other people's stories. I can only tell you about mine. For my friends that are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, remember, these are just MY experiences and things I wish people had told me about so that I could have prepared for them.

Now that I've experienced pregnancy and childbirth and am in the process of experiencing motherhood, when I talk to other mothers about what's going on (the good and the bad) they all say, "Oh yeah the same thing happened to me" or "Yeah, I had a hard time with that too". Really?! Why isn't anyone telling people this stuff? I think it's important to know that you are not alone in your struggles and joys and that there have been other women that have gone before you and have experienced the same things. So here are some things that I've learned that may or may not have been told to me by other mothers before they happened to me:

  • Pregnancy does not always equal morning sickness (or all day sickness), outrageous cravings or massive amounts of stretch marks.
I never once had any bout of sickness in the whole 9 months. I did have some cravings, but nothing that were too out of the ordinary; mainly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, eggs (any kind), grapes, and chocolate milk. And although I did have a few stretch marks on my hips, it's nothing that I'm losing sleep over. And, by the way, yes, I did use lotion and it didn't work.
  • I was no longer able to sleep on my stomach or back (not that I was ever a stomach or back sleeper, but just knowing I couldn't made it worse) and sleeping on your sides starts to hurt after awhile.
Sure, it starts out comfortable, but after about 4 months of sleeping on your sides, it starts to get old. Plus, towards the end, you can't roll over very well and so it makes for turning pretty difficult.
  • Towards the end, it starts being uncomfortable.
I gained about 30 pounds while pregnant (I'm not ashamed of it either), and so walking, sitting, standing, laying down, bending over, getting in and out of cars, off of couches, etc, starts to get hard. When I dropped something, I always thought, "Man, do I really need that?".
  • Contractions don't always start from the top of the uterus and work its way down.
Mine felt like massive menstrual cramps...only about 10 times worse.
  • Labor is scary. Delivery is even scarier.
Now since I had a natural birth, I felt everything. And I mean everything. It was the most pain I had ever been in. I was scared through a lot of it. I kept thinking, "I can't do this." "I'm not strong enough." Of course, in the end, I was strong enough. But it didn't make it any less scary. Even now, if I found out I was pregnant, I would be scared of having to do it over again. But it is definitely something I want to experience again, maybe even multiple times over.
  • Breastfeeding is not always easy and does not always come naturally.
Aaron and I are having the hardest time figuring out this whole breastfeeding thing. He won't latch on to me and it's frustrating. It has brought me to sobbing tears on more than one occasion...or maybe even more than half a dozen times. I've been told multiple times over that other women had problems too and it will get better. It will get easier. Or that they weren't able to do it and just went to formula feeding. Why didn't anyone tell me that? My grandmother, mom, aunt, and sister were all able to breastfeed. My sister has recently had 2 kids and made it seem effortless. Come to find out, she had a really hard time with her first child. Why wasn't I informed of that? Aaron will latch on to my sister just fine, but won't latch on to me. Do you know how incredibly sad and heartbreaking that is for a new mom? It hurt me so bad to know that it wasn't was me. He didn't want me. Very sad. Now, we are still working on the latching on, but I've been told by numerous experts that he will need to grow more and then it will get easier. That he has all the right parts to breastfeed, he just needs to figure it out. I still have faith that we will get this, but for now, we are pumping and using my milk to feed him. It's not ideal, but at least he is getting my milk. We will get there.
  • Natural childbirth will make you walk funny for a few days.
I don't think this one needs any explanation. I think it was a good 3 or 4 days before I was walking completely upright. A good week before I was able to sit and stand at a regular pace, put on jeans or other "regular" fitting clothes. I lived in pajamas for a few days. At that point, comfort is everything.
  • Every theory I had about parenting went out the window as soon as we brought Aaron home.
Nuge has taken off work for 4 weeks. That's more than what most men are able to do. So I figured that with him around, we would be able to do a lot of things on our own. But with my labor starting at 2:30am, having Aaron at 5:20pm, and coming home at 9pm, it made for a very long day. Plus with the trials of breastfeeding and Aaron not sleeping in his crib, we were exhausted the next day. My parents came over the next morning, cooked us breakfast and lunch, cleaned our house and watched Aaron while Nuge and I took a nap. The next night, Aaron was up for 13 hours straight, so Nuge and I were dead tired. At about 5am, I caught my mom online and asked if she would come over and watch Aaron for us while we got some sleep. She did and it was amazing! Once again, she cleaned and did our laundry for us. We have also gone over to my parents house to hang out. But secretly, or not so secretly, it has been so we can take naps while the grandparents watch Aaron. It has been a huge blessing and I can't believe I ever thought we could do it completely alone.
  • The meals that people bring over are one of the best gifts anyone can give new parents.
We have been so blessed by the amount of food people have brought over for us. It is really a lifesaver for us. It's so hard to find time to eat and so when our friends have brought food, we've welcomed them in and asked them to join us. It forces us to sit down, take a break, and eat. Plus, it gives us awesome fellowship with our friends and family.
  • You will wake up and check on your baby to make sure he is still alive.
I am guilty of waking up from a dead sleep to check on Aaron. And babies breathe so lightly sometimes that it's hard to see them move. So I have also been guilty of poking him or putting my hand on him so his startle reflex will kick in and I can see that he's still alive. Also, I have been a victim of Satan's scares. He likes to put horrible thoughts about something bad happening to Aaron in my head. It's a terrible feeling of not being in control, but ultimately, Aaron is in God's hands and it is up to Him if He wants to take Aaron from us. I can do everything I can to protect him, but it's the Lord's doing. I just have to trust in my faith in the Lord to know that He will keep my son safe and alive.
  • Parenting is unreal.
It's been over 2 weeks since we had him and I still can't believe he is our son. It's amazing. It's scary. It's nerve wracking. But it's an awesome feeling!
  • Your kid really is the most beautiful thing in the world.
I know we are all guilty of saying, "Yeah, that baby just isn't that cute." Nuge and I were prepared for our child to come out looking like a monkey. Both he and I have massive amounts of hair, so we were certain that our child was going to be covered in hair. We were also surprised that Aaron didn't have eyes in the back of his head or teeth coming out his nose (Nuge and I both have terrible eye sight and our teeth...well we won't go there). But nope, Aaron came out looking so perfect and beautiful. I have never seen such a beautiful baby. Of course, I'm biased and I'm sure all you parents out there feel the exact same way about your kids. That's just the way it is.
  • The nastiest things in adults are the most adorable in your child.
Who ever thought that poop, pee, burping and spit up can be cute? The only time it's not cute is when your son's "area" is not positioned properly and pee comes out the front, side, and back of the diaper and gets all over you. Or when you hear the "dirty diaper" cry, you say (in your cute baby voice), "Did you go poopoo in your diaper? Oh you sure did. Well let's go take care of that so you can be all nice and clean" It's a totally strange thing. But as soon as you change the diaper, they stop crying and all is right in the world. Your child is happy because of something you did.
  • You truly have a better idea of how the Lord sees you as one of His children when you have your own.
I love Aaron so much that it's unreal. It pains me to think of something bad happening to him. But my love for my son is NOTHING compared to the love the Lord has for me and the rest of His children. When Aaron is having trouble latching on, he can taste the milk that is coming out, yet he still refuses to eat it. I get so frustrated with him because it's right there in his face and he is tasting what is good, yet he still refuses to drink from it. How must the Lord feel when over and over we reject what is good and holy? We know the truth. It's right there in front of us, yet we still refuse to drink from His fountain of Life. I just think about how frustrated He must get at His children, yet He still loves us more than anything.

That's all I can think of right now. I'm sure there are more and as I come across them, I'll probably add them to another blog. For my friends out there that are wanting to become parents, I hope this helps and I hope you find comfort in knowing that whatever struggles you may have, you are not alone. Don't be afraid to talk about your struggles with other people, because I'm sure someone, somewhere along the way had the exact same thing happen to them and they might be a great source of comfort, support, and knowledge for you. Parenting is not all rainbows and sunshine all the time. It's hard, it's frustrating, it's heartbreaking, it's rewarding, and it's fun. Hope this helped or gave insight. If not, oh well. It was great therapy for me to get it out.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Birth - The Husband's point of view

Caren wakes me up at 3am Sunday morning saying she's been having constant contractions and cramping that felt different and more serious than other "false contractions" she's had. I was thinking (our baby's not due for another 11 days and ah man he's coming right now? It's 3am! But I was also very excited). So I got up and we tried to start timing the contractions for about an hour. They were kind of random and not all that consistent as far as timing goes. She said she couldn't exactly tell when a contraction was starting. Caren texted our midwife Lisa to let her know the situation and we tried to lie down so Caren could have some energy for the laboring process. I laid down and fell back asleep pretty quick, but Caren couldn't sleep so she got up and talked to her Mom and other random people on the computer. I then got woken up at 7:30 by Caren saying "Honey if I'm going to be up you've got to be up" and she said that the contractions have gotten a bit more intense. I got up and we started timing them again. Caren was saying "We can go ahead and go to church, then labor at home for a while" but as she would go through a contraction she would moan somewhat loudly and we decided that going to church probably wouldn't be the best idea. I can't imagine the random moaning going on during the the contractions were about 4-5min apart and lasted between 50-80 seconds. Caren texted the midwife to tell her the situation and told us to come in whenever we were ready. When about 9:30 rolled around, Caren decided it was getting a little too intense and wanted to go ahead and head up to the birthing center.

I think I was just in shock that this was all already happening...and we both were still somewhat doubting that this was actually the real thing. So we drove up there and Caren was going through some contractions wondering why we were hitting every red light. Meanwhile I kept reminding her that these pains were all normal and this was how God made childbirth to be. I least I hope that that was helping her. We arrived at the birth center just after 10am. We went inside and I could tell that Caren was getting in more and more pain and I just kept praying for God to make this as easy as labor could be. Our midwife Lisa looked to see how dilated Caren was and she was at 3cm. We were somewhat bummed because it sounded like she still had a long way to go. We then went upstairs into a bedroom that we wanted to stay in and Caren sat on an exercise ball. Then I think we both realized that this was the real thing....this was actually happening right was a mixture of emotions. For me it was exciting and I was a bit worried for Caren because I knew she didn't get much sleep and I thought this was going to be a marathon labor that would last like 24+ hours or something. Plus I knew that her pain tolerance is not very high so this would be a whole new ballgame...

So she's sitting on this ball going through these contractions and we were just sitting there and Caren said this is boring. So Lisa told us they had movies we could watch. We end up putting in the Father of the Bride and I decide to run out and pick up a burger and a bunch of tacos from Jack in the Box (with permission from my wife and Lisa of course) to last me for this whole marathon. I left and came back and sure enough this labor was no longer "boring". Caren was starting to be in a lot of pain meanwhile our phones are blowing up from people wanting an update, which I thought was hilarious. Everytime she would go through a contraction I would try and rub her back and press on this heat pack (which was hot rice in a big sock) on her lower back. Now what was funny was that I had never seen Father of the Bride before and I was actually getting interested in watching the movie lol! So I was like whoa Ryan focus on your wife here!!! So God gave me a quick slap to the back of the head to get me sucked out of the movie.

Caren then had another contraction and she said she felt like she was going to throw up. So Lisa runs to get a big bowl and I saw that she was starting to spew a bit, I then ran over and cupped my hands to catch her vomit so it wouldn't get all over the birthing center's carpet. I think Caren really tried to hold off until the big bowl came over but she couldn't and vomited right in my hands. Then the bowl came like 4 seconds later...then I was thinking, Wow...I hate throw up, I can't believe I had the impulse reaction to catch her vomit and it didn't even bother me at all. I realized I must be in like Survival Mode or something. Anyways then Caren apologized quite a bit for doing that.

At this point the fun was over, Caren was no longer smiling at all, no longer wanted to joke, it was all business and straight-faced because the pain was getting to be too much. Lisa then talked Caren into taking a warm shower, so we went up there and she got in the shower somehow and was in there for about 15 minutes and kept telling me that she was scared. I kept telling her to not be scared and that this is all classic labor pain stuff. This is how God made it to be, it's in God's hands, it's all normal stuff. I think this helped a little but she was still fearful. She then got out of the shower and was in quite a bit of pain. So I asked if she wanted to get in the bed in the bedroom. She got into the bed and would have a pretty ridiculous contraction then would doze off in the bed....this pattern repeated for about an hour and a half. While she would doze I was praying over and over in my head asking God to make this happen quick and easy if it was His will. I kept telling Him "you know Caren can't tolerate much pain...please, please just help her get through this. Please...we're your know us...we can't do this without you." and that was some awesome God time and he delivered! So after this Caren asked if there was another position she could try and Lisa told her she could try the ball again. So Caren was on the bed still and was on her knees leaning on the ball and she had another contraction, and her moaning on this one sounded like extreme pain mixed with a desperation cry. It made my heart sink but I knew that this was classic labor stuff. So then Caren cried out "Can I get in the tub now?!!" So Lisa told her she needed to check her to make sure she was far enough along. Lisa looked and by the grace of God she went from 4cm at 1pm to 9.5cm at 4pm! So she said she could get in the tub. We all then helped Caren down the hall to the tub and Caren said she had the urge to push and Lisa said to go ahead.

Caren then somehow made it to the tub and I could tell she was just ready for this baby to get the heck out. At this point I was very excited!!! I knew that this was it! So Caren would get the urge to push and her phone seriously went off like every 4-5 minutes and Caren said "I hate that phone!" funny stuff. (of course it wasn't at the time). So I was kneeling on the end of the tub closet to her head and Lisa was on the other end and I was holding Caren's hand and she would SQUEEZE and pull pretty hard! But she was doing awesome and every time she would push we would encourage her that she was doing so well. So then she got the urge to push again and this baby came out of nowhere! Lisa was like oh geez! and told me to pick the baby up and put it on Caren, so I picked up the baby and put it on Caren and Caren's face was priceless. I think she was in a random state of bewilderment that this baby was suddenly lying on her! Then I was like YOU DID IT and it took a good couple of seconds for her to realize what just happened. Then we were like what is it, what is it? Then Lisa said take a look Daddy, so I looked at the "area" and said IT'S A BOY! IT'S AARON JOSHUA! It was awesome. So all the pain and stuff was nothing in comparison to this creation by God that was lying on his mommy.

To summarize I would say it was very uncomfortable seeing my wife go through more pain then she has ever been through in her entire life, but it was awesome to see the birth of our son. God really helped Caren through this, I believe he allowed Caren to go into labor early so the baby wouldn't be quite as big as a "normal" baby and He made the labor only last from start to finish a total of less than 15 hours, which is pretty good for a first baby. So God is awesome!!