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Cecilia Opal

I had been ready to meet you, but not really ready for you to be here. I had felt so physically uncomfortable and sore, worn down from the stress of the pregnancy, emotionally drained from caring for 2 toddlers, exhausted from my anemia. I just wanted you here safely, even though the thought of adding a third baby scared me. Each week , I told myself “just make it one more week”.” At 37 weeks, I felt it was safe for you to come, and I started to prepare my body a little more while praying you would make your entrance without needing to be induced.

38 weeks along, I had an ob appointment with an ultrasound to check your weight and fluid. Looking perfect, wiggling on the screen, measuring right on track and an estimated 6 pounds 12 ounces. I was already 3-4 centimeters, and my doctor stripped my membranes.

The following morning, Wednesday the 16th, I was having some spotting and discomfort. I had my iron transfusion that day, then picked your brothers up from school and it was just a regular day.

It was on Wednesday night, after a busy evening, that my water broke. I felt the rush of excitement and the nerves of anticipation. I hadn’t started labor and anxiously waited for contractions to begin. I pushed any negative thoughts to the back of my mind, praying that all the worry of the pregnancy would be for nothing.

We called nanny to come over while I tried to clean up and absentmindedly packed my hospital bag. I ran on autopilot-some nursing bras, pajamas, a gown for me, swaddles, outfits, and hats for you. I was preoccupied thinking of your arrival.

We headed to the hospital around 9:45 that night. I had never labored through the night before. I anxiously wondered if you would come before midnight or keep us waiting. I looked at “famous” birthdays and we decided the 17th might not be so bad anyway.

I got checked in, confirmed my water broke, and was still 3-4 centimeters. The process felt like forever as I willed my body to start contracting. Still quiet, still calm. You were letting me rest before your quick entrance.

By 11, my nurse suggested I lay down and rest for a little while. The doctor was going to come back and check me at 1am and I might need pitocin. Either way, she said I would need some strength. So I laid down, still not really having any consistent contractions, and put on a playlist of some gentle worship music. I had brought some oils with me, and being monitored and under the care of my team, I felt comfortable to use clary sage oil which is supposed to help induce contractions. I rolled some on the insides of my ankles and tried to rest. My mind was racing and I just couldn’t relax.

By midnight, I was having some stronger contractions but nothing that felt consistent. Your dad was resting on the couch. My nurse encouraged me to get up and start trying to get more regular contractions going, so I started walking the halls. Soon they came, one after another. Slow at first and I was able to smile through them, then quickly more intense. I went back to my room and used a labor ball to bounce and sway.

Just before 1am, I woke your dad up and asked him for help. He used some peppermint oil on my back with warm washcloths to help with contractions. I found the most comfort in standing by the bed with my head and arms resting on the bed while it was raised. Contractions came one after another. I felt like there was little relief between them. I could tell when another one was starting up, like a small surge that started and then grew and grew until suddenly it stopped, but just for a moment before another one started. My nurse came back at 1 and decided to wait until 1:30 to check me because she wanted to be sure I was progressing.

More swaying, clutching the sheets, fighting to get through each contraction with deep breaths. It couldn’t have been 5 or 10 minutes later that I called out because I was feeling so much intense pressure. She came in to check me and told me I was 7 cm. I think I nearly felt like crying at the thought of going another 3 cm.

I felt outside of my body. Like I was not giving birth but birth was coming from me. Somehow I crawled on to the bed, and I remember laying on my side, gripping the hand rail of the bed through contractions. Eyes squeezed shut, wave after wave. One more contraction and I said “I can’t do this, I just want her out of me.” I knew you were close. My nurse reminded me that when you feel like you can’t go on, you are right at the end.

Two more contractions, five minutes later, and I had to push. The instincts of birth took over and it was no longer any conscious work from me. I only remember pushing twice. First a head, and then everything else, and then immediately up to my chest. Months of fear and guilt that my body had failed you, redeemed in a few short minutes. As soon as I held you, I knew you were perfect. At 1:20 am, sharing a birthday with Betty White, you came earthside and you have been my golden girl ever since.

My pregnancy with you taught me faith like I’ve never known. My delivery with you taught me strength like I’ve never known. Your first year of life taught me independence, confidence, and determination. You have illuminated parts of my soul that were lying in wait, and I only hope to one day be able to guide you in the ways you have already guided me.

Postpartum hacks from a postpartum nurse: how to survive the first 2 weeks

This was really really hard to write! How can I possibly cram all the postpartum things into one blog post. For anyone who has experienced the postpartum period, you know there is no real way to prepare for that roller coaster ride. So I decided to split this in to parts and tackle the physical recovery first. So here it is!

Continue reading “Postpartum hacks from a postpartum nurse: how to survive the first 2 weeks”

Cecilia’s birth: the events

At 38 weeks along, I had an ob appointment with an ultrasound to check on the baby’s weight and fluid. It had been a long time getting to this point, and I was half praying she looked perfect, half praying they felt the need to induce me. I just wanted her here ASAP, but didn’t want any medical interventions like being induced, and also wanted to have everything perfectly prepared even though I had not started preparing at all. Normal pregnant lady stuff.

Continue reading “Cecilia’s birth: the events”

Another letter to my second born

Just over a year ago, we were still adjusting to life with you.  You were not even 3 months old when I wrote you your first love letter.  Now a year later, about to welcome your baby sister, I have so much more to say to you.

“Middle child syndrome” is something I’ve heard a lot. And to be honest, I thought it was a bunch of bs whenever anyone said anything about it. But now that I’ll have a “middle child” of my own, it crosses my mind quite often. Continue reading “Another letter to my second born”

through fear and faith

It is hard to talk about something as an experience when the outcome is what you wanted. Like sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t talk about my struggle to get pregnant, because here we are-2 and a half kids later. Or with this pregnancy, I shouldn’t talk about our medical concerns because they seem to have resolved. But I have learned that the experience is in the journey, not just the outcome. So while the outcome may be exactly the opposite of the struggle, there are still lessons learned and perspectives to share with others. Continue reading “through fear and faith”

life as a working mom

This should really be titled “I feel guilty” but I don’t want to focus just on that.  My life as a working mom is different than most because I’m a nurse.  So working 12 hour shifts is a totally different ball game and while it’s “only three days a week” (insert eye roll), it is 14 hour days of emotionally and physically taxing work.  But does it really matter? It doesn’t matter if you work a 9-5, 5 days a week or a 7-7, 3 days a week. It doesn’t matter if you work from home or have to commute.  We are all in it together.  The guilt, the pride, the choices, the struggle-it’s all the same. Continue reading “life as a working mom”

PPD triggers and how to overcome them

First, thank you so much for the response on my last post about my experience with PPD! So many of you reached out to offer support or identified with the purpose, and it really means so much to me!  I wanted to offer a little more insight into triggers and risk factors, as well as touch on some “plans” you can make with your support system to help overcome these triggers.  Some of you may think it will be difficult to involve your partner, or maybe you and your partner are at odds with the adjustment into parenthood and you think they don’t “get it”.  Let me say, usually, by the time you realize you are struggling, your partner and support system have already seen it.  They see you struggling, they realize you don’t seem the same, they are hurting for you and they want to see you back to the YOU you used to be.  So let’s just jump in! Continue reading “PPD triggers and how to overcome them”

bringing home baby: newborn essentials

I remember going into Babies R Us when I was pregnant with my first son to complete my registry. I didn’t know places like this existed, and I walked in to baby stuff everywhere.  Hormones took over, I had a mini meltdown of “oh my gosh, what is all this stuff”, and ultimately decided to google every baby list there ever was. Now as a second time mom and baby nurse, I like to think I’m a bit smarter in narrowing down what we actually have used in these first few months.  So I’ll break it down by section and share with you what we’ve used and why we love it.

*Some of the items in this post were provided to me for free to facilitate a review. All opinions and statements are mine.  Thank you, Owlet and iBaby Labs, for allowing me to try your products! And thank you all for supporting the brands I love!

Continue reading “bringing home baby: newborn essentials”