I sit here on Harper’s due date writing and rewriting her story, our story. I want to be real, be honest about pregnancy, delivery, and motherhood. I’ve come to realize how much it has been glamorized by movies, tv, and now social media.
It’s going to be a long one, but here it goes.
The day that my daughter was born was by far the hardest and best day of my life. I found love in a way that I can’t even begin to describe, I truly feel that she has filled a hole in my heart I didn’t know existed.
All I have ever wanted was to be mom. Everyone who knows me knows this. From the day I found out I was pregnant I felt as if my wish had been granted and I did everything I possibly could to be safe and take care of the little girl I was growing. I’ve loved her from the second I saw the positive test.
The thought of childbirth kept me up many nights during my pregnancy. My mom was pregnant a lot during my childhood. She birthed 5 children, suffered numerous miscarriages and later had my youngest sister via surrogate. Being the oldest, I looked up to her and she made it all look so simple. She always bounced right back, wearing her pre pregnancy jeans not long after giving birth. She had five c-sections, and I always thought I would have a similar experience.
It all started two weeks ago today, on Memorial Day, when I realized that labor was coming very shortly. I had taken most of the week before off from work. I was carrying so much water weight, I was only 38 weeks pregnant exactly on that day but my swelling and contractions had made it completely intolerable to walk, sleep, and function. My doctor recommended I stay in bed and take it easy until the baby came. Chris and I spent that day finishing up Harper’s nursery and getting the house in order to be gone for a few days.
We both showered before bed with the anticipation that my water would break overnight. I had such a strong instinct that it would, and I was right. 3:00 AM rolled around and I got up to make my third trip to the bathroom that night, when I realized my water had broken. My whole life had been leading up to this moment. I knew I’d be meeting my daughter soon. May 30th, 2017 would be her birthday. As scared as I had always imaged myself to be, I wasn’t at all. I calmly woke up Chris, we finished packing our bags, gave my dogs kisses and left our house knowing we’d be coming up next with a new member of our family.
We were admitted to labor and delivery but I wasn’t at all dilated. I was quickly given cytotec to start my induction. It was 4:15 AM and I knew I had a very long day ahead of me. My contractions were the same intensity that they had been all week, I was uncomfortable but in no real pain at all. Chris pulled out his camera and started documenting our journey. We were so excited. I took this time to do my make up, knowing I’d want photos later and that I’d be having visitors. I decided to get some sleep since I was feeling good and told Chris to do the same.
Side note – the doctor that I had been seeing my whole pregnancy is someone I know well and trust. My mom has been a patient of his for the past 28 years, he delivered all of my siblings. He assured me when I first became pregnant that he had no plans to go away in June, and even if he wasn’t on call when I went in to labor he’d be there for my birth, night or day. However, he had planned a trip Memorial Day Weekend. I had hoped that my baby girl could hold off until he came back, but unfortunately he was traveling home the entire time I was in labor.
Residents kept coming and going from my room all morning and around 7:00 AM i was awoken by another doctor in the practice that I had seen a few times over the past nine months. She assured me that when it came time she’d be there for the birth of my daughter. This made me feel a lot more secure about the way things were going. She also let me know that I was already 6 cm dilated without even having to take piton, my body was doing the work on it’s own. I realized around this time that my contractions were getting a lot worse, and my left hip was throbbing. I got the epidural, which was a lot easier than I had expected and felt incredible. The next few hours were a blur. I slept a lot, relaxed and just was so excited to meet my daughter.
Around 2:00 PM Chris went home to feed our dogs and my mom came to stay with me, my dad all the while in the waiting room. I was checked again while Chris was home and was told that I was fully dilated! I was ready to push. My dad came into the room to give me a hug and kiss good luck before I became a mother. I called my husband, who was shocked that it all was happening so quickly and he raced back to the hospital. I started pushing around 3:00 PM and from then on I was in and out of consciousness.
I pushed for almost three hours before my doctor came into the room to realize that the baby was turned sideways and that it would be nearly impossible for her to come out the way that she was. Harper should have been facing with her head to my spine, but instead her whole body was turned to face my left side. The pain in my hip was worsening and I felt like I was losing all the strength I had to push. A decision needed to be made about vacuuming her out, or going into the operating room for an emergency c-section. At this point I had been fighting so hard to get my baby out the way she was, I did not want to have surgery. It would have been more complicated than it needed to be. I had Chris and my mom talk to my doctor and ultimately I begged for one more try. God was watching, because on that last try, after over three hours of pushing, at 6:05 PM I got Harper Christine into the world turned the way she was supposed to be. 7lbs 20.5 inches of pure love. She is my miracle.
The hour leading up to her birth was the scariest of my life . The trauma from the whole thing stayed with me for a few days. To spite the pain, it was blissful two days in the hospital, enjoying every second with my baby girl, and then we were finally home as a family.
Coming home was a tough transition. With all of the help I received from my mom and my husband I was in a lot of pain. A lot more than I thought I should be in postpartum, but I didn’t want to worry anyone so I kept quiet. It wasn’t until day 4 of my daughter’s life that my fever spiked did I start freaking out. I was quickly put on an antibiotic and told by my doctor to keep watch of my temperature. Throughout that night my fever came and went but I felt no worse. It wasn’t until the next morning that it reached 102.2 degrees that I had to be rushed to the emergency room.
Leaving my daughter home with Chris, my mom rushed me to the hospital where I was quickly probed, given two IVs, taken into all kinds of tests and more blood was taken from me than I had ever experienced. I was treated as a true emergency. With all the pain I had been feeling post delivery all of this was making me feel a million times worse. I was hysterical. I was quickly admitted and being treated for what they thought could be multiple infections.
This was not how I imagined my first weekend home with my daughter. With the news that I’d be spending the night away from her I couldn’t control my crying. Chris asked my parents to please watch Harper so that he could come stay in the hospital with me. As a nurse he wanted to be able to decode everything they were telling me. It killed him to see me in the state I was in.
My doctor took great care of me, insuring I was put into a suite where I would have my own nurse and be watched around the clock. I was being prepped for surgery the next day and I had never been more terrified.
I made it through the night and awoke Monday morning to a broken fever and word that my infections could possibly be taken care of with antibiotics, I wouldn’t need the surgery. I was monitored that day and night and thankfully headed home sooner than expected. I was so scared leaving the hospital the second time, my worst fear that i would end up back.
A week later I am just starting to feel like myself again. My body has changed a lot since pre pregnancy. I gained more weight than I thought I would, but lost more than half of that weight in the time since she was born. It’s been an emotional roller coster. I cry at the drop of a hat, I’m more sentimental than I ever thought I could be. Having a baby has made me appreciate my body more than ever, but it has made me incredibly self conscious. My stretch marks show that I carried a little girl but they make me realize how much I’ve changed. The fourth trimester is something I’ve been reading about, and it is very real.
I felt so empowered to bring life into this world. I still look at her and can’t believe what I accomplished in getting her here safely, especially under the circumstances.
As the days pass and I get better and better, the trauma of the past few weeks is starting to subside. I had originally thought I could never do this again, but I now realize I would do it a million times over. Harper has been a true light in our lives and I feel so incredibly blessed. I can’t wait to watch her grow. I look forward to sharing her and our experiences with all of you.