How to make sure your baby’s poop is blue and other ways to harm your child

I try to be a good mom. I do activities with my baby after every bottle. I try to. I have a list on my phone of activities we can do to fill up the times that he’s awake so that we can take a really good snooze at nap time, and so he’s not in front of the TV all day (I feel like he still is). The widget on my phone that lists his activities is next to the baby tracker, which records his food and sleep, and my notes app that includes his basic schedule. I try to be as involved and proactive as possible.

I’m usually pretty good about keeping him safe, warm, dry, busy and fed, but there have been times that I’ve failed in some of those areas. And I just want to put this out there for other moms who maybe feel incompetent, or feel guilty because of mistakes they’ve made. Nobody is perfect, and of course that includes moms.

I made my baby bleed when I tried to do his nails the first time. I had read that you don’t always have to clip fingernails, sometimes you can just grab an end and peel it off. This is true, if you’re talking about fingernails, and there’s an end hanging off, and you’re sure it’s nail and not skin. It is not true if it’s a toenail and you’re not sure what you’re pulling at. What I was pulling away was a flap of skin and I ripped that sucker out. There was blood everywhere.

I waterboarded my child because I was too tired to go downstairs. When we were still fortifying his formula, I would put 8 oz each into 2 Tommee Tippee bottles, put the lids on, and put them in an insulated lunchbox with ice packs. He was still in a bedside bassinet, so I would grab him out of bed, pour 4 oz from the TT bottle into a Doctor Brown and feed him. One night I had miscalculated the Doctor Brown bottles I would need, but I had milk left in a Tommee Tippee. I tried to give him that bottle but the nipple must have been too fast. He was spitting and sputtering, struggling , there was milk everywhere. We ended up doing about an ounce before I realized, hes not going to figure this out. And that is why we use Doctor Brown bottles.

My son watches just a ton of TV. I know that it’s not great for him. And I don’t want to say that I watched a lot of TV and I turned out fine because I didn’t turn out fine. But I have tried to be realistic about this. The TV is usually on at our house. He’ll watch anything. He’s likes Mickey Mouse, he enjoys most animation, he loves Rupaul’s Drag Race. But I’m not just sticking him in front of the TV and walking away to do something else. I’m cuddling him, or we’re talking about what’s happening on TV, or we’re doing PT. But right now, with me having zero energy, he’s been watching way more TV than I would like. But still with me or having a conversation.

Watching the Rescuers Down Under

Last week I let him cry it out for god knows how long because I couldn’t stay awake. I needed a nap so I laid down in the bed at about 9:30 after he went down for morning nap. I woke up at 12:45 and realized I had no baby monitor. When I went to get him, he was fussy but appeared otherwise unharmed. His room is next to ours so I would think if he had screamed I would have heard him. It turns out, that was the first in a series of 3 hour morning naps (which have been wonderful).

I recently dropped my baby on the back of his head. I was laying him down on the floor and my husband accidentally touch my butt while I was bent over. I dropped Ray about a half inch. He recovered, but he screamed pretty good at the time.

I’ve saved the best for last. This is funny. One particularly cold afternoon, I went to change his diaper and his poop was blue. I panicked. Red or orange would be blood, yellow or green seems normal, black is internal bleeding, white or gray is an infection… purple and blue don’t happen. I struggled with this one for a few hours but I finally figured it out. It was so cold the night before that I put socks on his hands. Blue socks. He’d sucked on them so much the ink turned his shit blue.

Every mom makes mistakes. My baby wasn’t seriously harmed by any of this and yours probably won’t be either.

Infant PT Day at Coronaville

My husband tested positive for covid-19 Monday. We don’t know how it happened. We are unbelievably careful, since my mom has a compromised immune system and my baby had a complicated start.

Ray and I won’t be getting tested unless we have to go to the hospital for some reason. We are just assuming both of us are infected. I know it’s a correct assumption on my part, I feel like complete shit. Okay, that’s not true, I feel a little bit like shit.

I can’t sleep, I can’t taste or smell anything, my nose is congested, I’m completely fatigued, and my throat is a little bit sore. I have not run a fever yet and neither has my kid. Brandon did and that’s why he decided to get tested.

He was feeling hot and cold so he checked him temp and it was over 100. He was tested and they called him the next day to confirm he was positive. He’d had a little cough for 2 days before his test but didn’t think anything of it. He’s been home from work for 6 days. He’s been hot and cold, had that super minor cough, some sneezing, that fever on day three, but his main complaint is muscle and joint pain, which is something I’m starting to feel now, too.

The worst symptom for me is the brain fog. I’m having a super difficult time with my short term memory snd I’m just not as sharp as I was a week ago. I recently forgot that “pajamas” was a word and called my tshirt and yoga pants a “night uniform.” I think the insomnia is contributing to this particular symptom. It’s also hard to draw the line between the virus making me so tired and the fact that I can’t sleep because of the congestion. And tonight, as I write at 3 am, it’s also because I’ve been in the shitter for about an hour.

We had PT two days ago, and obviously we couldn’t go in person so we had a Telehealth. I was already jittery and nervous because I’d had way too much caffeine that day. That was the morning I went to sleep at midnight and woke up at 1:30 am, went downstair, worked on my DBT homework for several hours, and made a super strong pot of coffee before starting my day. I think that was also the day we ordered groceries from HyVee and I had two energy drinks. TWO. I normally don’t drink them at all.

So the caffeine and lack of sleep made me weird. I was weepy. I was tired. I was starting to get paranoid. I dissociated harder than I ever have in my life. I was absolutely terrified that I was going to go check on my child and he would be not breathing.

So we had a physical therapy appointment over video. He doesn’t mind PT as long as he’s fed, dry, and alert, but that’s when his physical therapist does it. He hates doing PT with mommy. And this wasn’t just PT, it was an assessment. So I had to do 5 different exercises with him until a certain point, or until he stopped tolerating them. And she will watch him scream for a while before she tells me to stop.

He only did tummy time on the floor for 4 minutes. He’s not rolling over on purpose. He’s close, and he did it on accident 4 times one day and twice the next, but that was about 3 weeks ago. He’s not getting his ear to his left shoulder, and he’s getting his ear to the floor on the right, but not his cheek. He did great on sit ups and tummy time on the peanut ball, but it was eye opening for me that I need to be more consistent about doing his workouts at home.

I ended up hanging up the video chat without hearing what his therapist was saying because my child was screaming. He was fed and dry, but it was 4 pm and he’d only slept so far 2 hours and 20 minutes that day. Then he wouldn’t go to sleep. I tried the bassinet, he screamed in there for a while, then after my husband tried to tell me how to be a mom (“I think he wants you to hold him” yeah no shit, I need a fucking minute dude) I picked him up and sat on the couch and he screamed there, too.

And the reason I needed a minute was because it’s my fault. If I’d been doing the correct exercises at the right amount of times per day, he would be healed. His head would be round. It wouldn’t be so uncomfortable for him when I stretch him. And none of it would be happening if I was turning his head in his sleep. Or doing tummy time 5 times a day instead of 3. Or holding him for every nap.

And none of it would be happening at all if I had just PUSHED HARDER BREE.

So I was standing in front of the bassinet, in front of my screaming child, with my husband telling me to pick him up because “those are real tears babe,” yelling over the noise that I just need to sit down for a second because on top of what Brandon was seeing, I was also exhausted and unwell and it’s easy for him to say that shit to me because he’s not the mom.

Sho now I guess we wait for recovery. I think Ray was already sick because of the way he was eating, sleeping and pooping starting about 10 days ago. He may have given it to us. I’m sure the three of us will be fine.

And guess what dear husband, you wouldn’t know this because you’re not the mom- they’re all real tears now.

How to get organized (have a manic episode)

I’m able to write today because Ray had a sleepover with Grandma.

CW- mental illness

Good morning, good morning! We slept the whole night through, good morning, good morning- to you!

I really love my baby. My sweet baby Ray. He’s super cute, he’s a good baby, and he’s all mine. He’s starting to do more than just lay around and eat.

Ray is 12 weeks old today. In the last 10 days, he’s rolled from belly to back, grabbed and held a toy on his own, brought a toy to his mouth, taken 8 oz of formula and not spit up, slept in his own room, and slept through the night.

Him hitting those milestones leads me to believe that he has fully recovered from the injuries he sustained at birth. And I know if he had been born anywhere else in the state of Iowa, he wouldn’t have recovered. He may not have survived.

The University of Iowa has the best neonatal care in the state, and some of the best in the country. They truly believe all babies deserve a shot. And I thought they believed all mommies do, too, but I’m unsure about that now.

I have continued my mental health care through the U of I via video chats and emails. I love my therapist, she’s one of the best I’ve had. But the doctors they’re giving me to manage my meds… they’re some of the worst.

They really don’t want to work with my pharmacy. I’ve had 3 scenarios where I couldn’t get my medication because the doctors wouldn’t return Hy-vee’s calls. It’s like they want me to use their pharmacy, but the U is almost 2 hours away. I’m not dragging my kid to Iowa city for pills.

I asked them at the end of October to put me on lithium (mood stabilizer), clonazepam (anti-anxiety), and rexulti (antipsychotic), because that’s always been the best cocktail for me. I finally got my rexulti 2 weeks ago. Not only would the doctors not return my pharmacy’s calls to clarify a few things to get it filled, I had to beg at three separate appointments before I finally got a prescription.

Last time I went to get labs drawn to check my lithium levels, there were no orders. So the receptionist at the lab called the doctor at the U, and guess what? She never called back. I still have no lab order.

These doctors are residents, and that’s fine. But I have a video chat with a new doctor on monday, she will be the third different resident I’ve seen since he was born. I’ve also spoken to 2 different attendings.

If you have bipolar disorder, you know what happens when your meds are wrong and you dont get enough sleep. If you don’t know what happens, this is how it goes for me.

About 3 weeks ago, I started to experience some depersonalization. This is my signal that I’m about to go depressed or manic. I was hoping for manic since it’s generally safer. For me, depersonalization feels like I’m dreaming all the time. Things around me don’t seem real. I don’t feel attached to anything or anyone. And once in a while, maybe once a day or so, I “wake up” for a few seconds, or a minute, sometimes longer.

It doesn’t sound awful, but it is. It’s the one symptom I hate the most. I actually hate this more than I hate being suicidal or addressing trauma. Or even grief. The worst part right now is that I missed 2 weeks of my baby’s life. I cared for him, of course, but I didn’t want to. He didn’t interest me. I didn’t hate him or wish him harm, but I didn’t like hanging out with him, and I don’t think what I was feeling was love, and it certainly wasn’t a bond. Not on my end.

I knew this was going to be a manic episode. I could feel the nervous energy building inside me. These episodes are the worst, but they make me super productive so I made a plan for what I was going to get done- clean the house.

I wish I had some before pictures. I’m not a hoarder like on TV, but when I looked up levels of hoarding, I’m a level 2, 3 if I’m depressed. We are not clean people. But since my baby has started rolling, we really need to keep the house at a safe level of tidiness.

So starting January 1, I cleaned. I made lists, I tracked my progress, I sorted, I threw stuff away, I organized. But I couldn’t stop. I scrubbed, I rearranged. The list making got out of control. My house was cleaner each day than it was the day before. The result is the good part. The house looks amazing. And I’m establishing some good routines and some great habits. Since I stay at home with Ray, this stuff needed to get done anyway.

This app is called Time Tracker
Great if you need to get organized-
But can you get too organized?
Yes, yes you can.

The bad part is the way I feel. That nervous energy burns a hole in my brain if I’m not doing something every minute. (I have no idea why I havent been writing, maybe expect more soon.) It’s feeling the constant need for something and not being able to get it, or even figure out what it is. I wasn’t cleaning because I just felt like it. It was a compulsive need and it was a matter of relief.

It peaked on January 7. My mom, Brandon, Ray and I were at the house and Linda and Brandon kept saying how clean the house was. I had mentioned to both of them that I was having a hard time. Linda was also having a hard time and needed some support, and I just kept saying, I’m not well, I need help.

But unfortunately, sometimes people with mental illness look fine.

So I flipped my shit on them. Right in front of my kid. I basically went on a long rant about how “you guys always tell me to say if I need help, I need some fucking help! I know you’re having a hard time, but I’m having an impossible time!! Stop fucking blowing me off!” Etc, etc, until they both were just like this- 😲😟🤐

I ended with, “HOPE THE HOUSE IS CLEAN ENOUGH FOR YOU, MOM.”

It was ugly. It didnt help anything. Nobody is mad now, Linda and I talked the next day. She said I do a great job of keeping this stuff to myself so everyone was shocked. Well, yeah, for years I went undiagnosed and everyone thought I was just being a bratty shit. They all told me to stop acting like that, so I try not to act like that. Anybody would.

Top left box is me, the rest are Baby Ray

I’m going to be switching med providers hopefully soon. This wasn’t supposed to happen again and I’m pissed.

Ray is sleeping through the night, which means I’m sleeping through the night. And I super duper hope that means this episode will be over soon.

Newborn math- 24 hours in a day minus 8 hours awake equals 30 seconds

My husband casually mentioned to me 5 days into my life at a stay at home mom that since Ray sleeps so much, I should be able to get just so much stuff done.

I don’t understand what’s happening or how it happens. How is it that my child sleeps 12-16 hours a day, and I don’t have 12-16 minutes to myself? How?

I’m not mad about it. I love hanging out with my baby most of the time. He’s sweet and cute and as well-behaved as one could ask a newborn to be.

He cries if he’s hungry, or if he shits, or if he’s about to fart. He cries when he has to have his blood drawn, when he has his temperature taken, and when I have to scrub his cheesy neck folds. He cries if he wants held. That’s it. Those are the only reasons he cries. I can almost always figure out what he wants. I read that newborns can cry up to 4 hours a day, and I’m not sure he’s cried 4 hours total in the 12 days I’ve had him home.

So I’m not mad about the amount of time I spend caring for him. I’m not really mad at all. But I am starting to feel burnt out.

I tried to do some housework today and I got 15 minutes in and he needed me again. When my husband told me how much housework I could get done, I had to explain to him what I was doing with my time.

If I’m not caring directly for Ray’s needs, I’m washing bottles. If I’m not washing bottles, I’m washing and folding laundry, trying to determine what goes in the basket next to me and what goes in the pocket of his bassinet. If I’m not dealing with laundry, I’m trying to feed myself. And if none of that is happening, I’m asleep.

Ray does wake up every 3-4 hours in the night for a bottle. And we are still fortifying his formula so it’s not just 2 ounces of water to one scoop of formula. I wish.

My husband has yet to wake up for one of these feedings, so I haven’t slept more than 3 hours at a time in 12 days. I knew this was how living with a newborn works. And I’m honestly not anywhere near as tired as I anticipated. But I’m still tired.

I honestly would rather have his help during the day than overnight. The reason I’m even able to bang out one post is because my child is asleep and my husband is on call in case he wakes up. I was also able to run out for coffee and donuts this morning and I will admit I spent 20 minutes in my car after I got home because I just needed it.

I’m so tired I don’t even remember what I was getting at or what I sat down to write. I don’t know.

I guess I’m just starting to burn out and I need to be careful. I don’t want a ton of help, maybe I think I should be able to do it by myself. And maybe I don’t trust anybody else to care for my child the way I do. And mostly, I dont want anyone, including his own father, to have to do anything besides hold him. And only for a few minutes.

I’ve heard moms say that being a mom is the hardest job in the world. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now. It’s not harder than being a brain surgeon or running a country. But I understand the statement now. It’s because you don’t get a break, and when you do, it’s absolutely not enough.

We need to talk about Chrissy

Content warning- baby loss, birth trauma

If you don’t like Chrissy Teigan, you can definitely keep that opinion to your self. This is not about a high-profile celebrity or her choices. This is about a devastated mommy and one choice. The most impossible choice she will ever have to make. This is about the 1 in 4 when that 1 is famous. This is about me, if everyone in the world knew who I was.

Chrissy and John recently suffered the devastating loss of a true miracle baby. After birthing 2 children, after complicated pregnancies, through IVF, they were shocked to find out they had conceived naturally.

They were overjoyed by this surprise, and since Chrissy is such an open and honest human, we got to share in their joy when they included their pregnancy announcement on a newly released music video.

We also got to share in the grief of these two parents, who desperately loved and wanted this baby, when they ultimately lost him to a placental abruption.

She writes about her experience here: https://chrissyteigen.medium.com/hi-2e45e6faf764

She knew that he wouldn’t survive much longer, and her life was in danger as well. She went to the hospital, got an epidural, had an induction and delivered him at 20 weeks. She had to make the choice to meet him while she could, or carry him until she went into labor or she became very ill. She decided to meet her baby. I would make the same choice.

This was not the termination of a pregnancy. This was an act of love. This was saying goodbye to a terminal pregnancy so these loving parents could say goodbye to their precious child. This was inducing labor to meet a premature infant. Calling it anything else is disgusting, and I will die on this hill.

When these parents decided to share the intimate details of this loss, Chrissy Teigan became my personal hero. I did the same, and I’ve reached a small audience. I did what I could, and I know I’ve inspired others to grieve in the way they need to. This act of sharing the ugly details of this situation has hopefully inspired other moms to do the same.

I followed the articles about this shared loss very closely on every news outlet available to me. I don’t know these people, obviously, but I was so proud of them. It’s a hard, brave thing to do.

I was absolutely appalled and disgusted and personally hurt by what people were saying.

“Why would you share pictures of this?”

“This needs to be dealt with in private.”

“I lost a baby 40 years ago and nobody knew because nobody needs to know.”

Who fucking cares?”

I will tell you who cares. 1 in 4 women. And their partners. And their parents, friends and living children. Parents who suffer silently because they think nobody cares. I promise you, people who care about you cared about that baby.

Why do we share photos? I shared photos of Terry when he was alive. I shared photos of Terry when he was dead. I share photos of Raymond now. Why wouldn’t I? I love them both. I have two sons. If Terry was alive, I would be sharing photos of him, why should I stop just because he died?

I talk about Terry constantly because he was part if me, he came out of me, I loved him then, and I will love him forever. He is my oldest son. When I talk about him, I use the past tense, but I didn’t stop talking about him just because he’s gone. I have a birth story and I insist on including both of my birth stories if it comes up, because both of my sons were born and it’s my right to discuss birth. And it is my absolute favorite when other people talk about him, too, and use his name. It doesn’t hurt to hear his name. It hurts when people pretend he never existed.

And as far as dealing with this in private, these comments were mostly from middle aged women or older who experienced their losses during a time when it was not ok to talk about. I cant imagine going through any pregnancy loss alone. Or with just your partner.

These poor moms lost their children and lived that reality alone. Of course they should be a hell of a lot nicer, but it makes me incredibly sad that the rules dictated silence. Those hateful comments are from a place of deep, buried pain. My mother went through this, and it wasnt until a lifetime later that she was able to process her loss.

I have tried to do my part to normalize and encourage opening the conversation about babyloss. But my voice is limited. I have reached so many around me, but it’s been people I know, people within my very small radius.

Chrissy and John are doing amazing work by simply saying, it’s ok to talk about this. And take pictures. And share. Reach out and get help, you’re not alone. This experience is always devastating, no matter the gestational age, and no parents should have to experience it alone. We all have a community around us that are eager to support us, and by sharing what we’ve gone through, we might be surprised by who has gone through the same.

I think it’s incredible that more celebrities are coming forward to share their own experiences with pregnancy, infertility and babyloss.

Kim Kardashian had a couple of difficult pregnancies and said, nope, somebody else can do this for me. And that’s ok.

Hilaria Baldwin documented her back-to-back losses to prove that there should not be a “silent period” or a “safe zone” when it comes to announcing the joy of impending motherhood. And that’s ok.

Laura Prepon revealed that she ended a pregnancy in the second trimester because her baby was terminally ill and she could endanger her own life if she continued the pregnancy. And that’s ok.

I think it’s important for people with a big voice and a big radius and a big audience to tell all these regular people, the 1 in 4, that it’s awful, and it can happen to anyone, and do what you need to do to heal.

I loved the letter Chrissy wrote to the world. I’ve read it several times and I’ve cried each time because I felt every word. It was real and raw, and it felt like something I could have written myself. She sounds like she’s doing well, considering, and I’m so glad that she was able to hear so many strangers tell her to never, ever listen to hurtful words about her choice regarding her sweet, precious child.

Finally, I would like to say, Chrissy, you are an inspiration. You have confirmed and validated the complicated emotions we all feel during babyloss. I don’t feel so stupid or weird about having shared my story now. I feel empowered to continue to do my own thing regarding my own loss, and to encourage those around me to do the same. Thank you.

Feeling the wrath of the anti-circumcision crusade

I would like to first state, I don’t feel like there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to circumcising babies. It is pretty standard in the US, and I had a lengthy conversation with my son’s medical team about the risks vs benefits. I’m saying there is something very NOT okay with bashing other moms for their choices. These activism groups have gotten out of control, that’s my issue here, not the moral implications of “mutilating” a baby’s genitals. This is NOT the place for that conversation.

Last night, I posted on Raymond’s facebook group that he was having some setbacks with his feeding and our discharge date keeps getting pushed further into the future.

I started the post by mentioning that I went home because I needed a break before I started to get frustrated with myself or my kid. That seemed like a reasonable thing to do, giving us both a break so I could return in a couple of days and start over after a few nights of sleep.

I ended the post by saying that he’d had a blood draw to check the quality of his blood because my husband has a family history of thin blood, and his blood was clotting well and he was cleared for his circumcision, which had happened at around 2:30 yesterday after I left the hospital.

I had 44 members in this group. All of these people are personal friends of me myself, my husband, my mother or my sister. The group is public because I hope that any parents going through something similar have access to my entire story, and maybe find some strength or hope in what I’m writing.

Somehow, my post was shared to a pretty large anti-circ group. Very quickly. As in, within 5 minutes I’d received 3 scathing comments about mutilating my child. Then I started getting inbox messages. And the comments kept coming.

“You are not worthy of being his mother
Adding more pain to a baby who already suffered so much makes you incapable as a mom and nothing more than a child abuser.
Babies need love, not knifes.”

“Can’t even eat and you risk his life for genital mutilation.. are you happy with his penis now mom and dad?”

“Your child won’t eat…so you add trauma to him? Did they not tell you babies refuse food after mutilations?”

There were more, but I couldn’t read them. I deleted the post and immediately set my group to private. I guess the process of changing a groups privacy settings require a 3-day waiting period because it’s permanent.

These people moved to my personal page. I have always kept my profile public, for the same transparency I maintain on that group and on this blog. They hijacked a group of photos I had posted of my sweet baby. I had captioned the photos, “This kid’s resting face is a smile 😍”

They found this post and once again bombarded me with hate, telling me I’m a worthless mother, I don’t deserve my babies, they hope he dies of SIDS, and I might as well be a child rapist because consenting to a routine procedure is equal to raping a child.

Of course I understand that there are tons of reasons a person may choose not to circumcise their babies, and I totally respect the choice to not do it. All I wanted was the same respect.

I have been on the fence about having it done since before Terry was born. And of course, he didn’t make it to that point so it didn’t matter. My husband and I have argued about this for a while, but since it really ultimately doesn’t matter, and Brandon will be the one talking to our son about his body, it was his call.

This was a horrible experience and it went on for a few hours. I ended up blocking all the people commenting, both from my personal page and the group.

A few friends of mine were pretty heated and replied to every comment, telling these people to fuck off, and I believe the C-word was thrown around some. My sister, who isn’t always terribly involved with us, messaged every one of the commenters and told them to fuck off. She told at least one of them, “I hope you get to watch your own child die one day”. That probably wasn’t cool, but dammit that felt good, since that thought did cross my mind.

I have been flooded with kind and positive words from people I actually know, validating me as a human and a mother, and confirming that circumcising your child is a legitimate and common choice. Most of my boy mom friends have had it done. One did run into a health issue after the procedure, I think it was a bleeding issue and I was very careful to insist on testing to make sure Ray didn’t have that issue. One friend chose not to do it, and messaged me that her boy had bad infections for a while and she wishes she had done it. One friend told me about a man she cared for in a nursing home who was circumcised in his nineties because he had ongoing infections the staff and doctors couldn’t control.

I may catch some heat for posting about this here, too. I’m prepared to deal with that, it’s an occupational hazard when you publish writings on the internet.

I’m not saying I was right or wrong to opt for the procedure. I’m not saying other parents are right or wrong to choose not to have it done. I don’t know the right answer. I only know that I let the parent with the penis make this call, and I was comfortable with that choice, and I am now.

I’m mostly recovered from most of the comments. I know I didn’t do anything wrong by making this choice. It just means I have to have extra conversations with myself for a while because the guilt and doubt are creeping in more frequently today. I’m fully equipped to handle those thoughts.

There was, however, one comment that I’m not over. I may struggle with this for a while. I’m unable to address this myself because I cried, hard, when I saw this one. It’s been in my mind for most of the last 24 hours.

“I don’t often comment on these posts in an angry way because I believe that love, understanding and education is the way forward. But I’m honestly horrified that anyone would post such as you did about getting frustrated with your baby not feeding, given everything YOU put him through. I understand he’s unwell, but that’s even more of a reason not to cut him leaving an open wound. Of COURSE he would be off his feeds. And you get FRUSTRATED with him?? WTF”

I had stated that I walked away from him so I wouldn’t get frustrated. I feel like ALL parents get frustrated directly at their children sometimes. I know it’s extremely common to walk away from a baby that won’t stop crying because the parents can have really scary thoughts about what will happen if they continue to be around their child.

My frustration with him is a natural feeling that comes up that I’m usually able to address and kiss goodbye. I couldn’t yesterday. I have been living in his hospital room for 6 days and handing most of his feeds. It got to the point that I just kept thinking, your stomach is big enough, I’ve seen you take a full bottle. It’s not your fault, baby, but why won’t you just fucking eat? It doesn’t make me a bad mommy. It makes me a human mommy who went to the hospital 20 days ago expecting to bring home a healthy baby and THIS is what happened. Again.

So now, on top of losing my first son, almost killing myself during pregnancy, giving birth to a not breathing baby, again, dealing with an unbelievably traumatic birth, dealing with the guilt of willfully walking away from him, splitting my time between the hospital and my home 90 miles away, and trying to manage 4 different mental illnesses during the postpartum period, I now have to tell myself every ten minutes that I didn’t do anything wrong and that being a parent is hard under normal circumstances, and this situation is far, far beyond normal.

I think that I narrowed down who shared this. It was shared to two intactivist groups, and this woman, who I’ve never met but considered a friend, was listed as a member on both groups. She is now blocked by me, but she’s been arguing with my mom all day that she didn’t do this. She said somebody must have searched facebook for “circumcision” and, somehow, my post on my tiny, boring little group came up on a search and was coincidentally shared within 3 minutes to two groups she is associated with. I don’t buy it, and I’m pretty fucking pissed.

The good part about this whole thing is that I have connected with friends I didn’t know I had. If I received a large amount of hate last night, I was bombarded with 10 times the love. My son and I are loved beyond what I could have imagined and I’m just so grateful to know that.

I get to see my big chunky fatso tomorrow, and I know when he looks into my eyes, I’ll remember that I’m his home and I’m his world and I’m still a good mommy.

Postpartum care when your baby splits your butt open

Content warning: birth trauma, postpartum

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This is not medical advice. This is anecdotal information based on personal experience.

Edited to add on day 12 postpartum: the staff at my hospital are usually amazing, but there was an oversight regarding my care and I am PISSED. I was admitted for 3 days after delivery and not a single one of my nurses told me about the numbing burn relief spray that every mom is supposed to get. I have it now and I’m so unbelievably angry that I was allowed to leave the hospital with this injury with no knowledge of a product that would have saved my ass, literally, for 12 days. So pissed.

After my complicated delivery and the interventions necessary to deliver my 10.5 lb baby, I had a moderate to severe 3rd degree tear. It went into the sphincter tissue. It has been incredibly painful, and now one week postpartum, I have finally mastered caring for my tear.

Please take my story as a cautionary tale- don’t be a hero. It hurts. Bad. And you’re going to be a better mommy if you’re comfortable. Your baby doesn’t care if you’re wearing a diaper. Your baby is also wearing a diaper. If your partner isn’t wearing a diaper, maybe they should try- it’s pretty awesome.

If you can find adult diapers that fit, they’re 100% a sound investment. They may sound expensive, but the amount of blood and pee and poop coming out of you will have you changing your pad every two hours, maybe more. And you may ruin several pairs of underwear in a day. The diaper goes up, and comes down, and goes back up. Go up one size from the weight guide. Your weight is still all in your belly and you want your diaper to work with you, not against you.

If it’s just not your thing or you’re planning on wearing underwear at all for the first two weeks, get a package or two of extra high rise briefs in the biggest size you can hold up comfortably, or just continue to wear your maternity underwear- but be prepared to throw them all away when you’ve got a little more control and can put your own undies on again.

If you’re like me, you’ll gag on a french fry and empty your bladder all over the front seat of your car because you wore only a pad on day 3 postpartum. Or you’ll try to sit up in bed and your torso and genitals are so worn out, you’ll just piss right there in the bed and maybe not even be able to get up anyway. Or maybe you’ll just have shit coming out of your butt and have no clue because you have no butthole anymore.

The alternative to shitting yourself uncontrollably is infinitely worse. DO NOT GET CONSTIPATED. Girl, take your stool softener. Pooping with the stitches doesnt hurt if it’s soft. It just comes out. That solid poop is a problem though. It can be hazardous for the stitches for a while, but that’s only an issue until it starts to heal. After a few days your incision might be pretty tender still. And the angle your body is at sitting on the toilet can tug a little on the incision. If you’re hurting there AT ALL, it’s pretty tortuous to stay on the toilet long enough to poop. And beware of hemorrhoids.

When I say “soft”, I’m talking borderline diarrhea. Right now, I’m trying to remember the last thing I ate that gave me the shits so I can go get some. Some stuff that I’ve been consuming that has absolutely helped keep it soft: apple juice, raisins, grape juice, garlic. I had apple juice boxes with every meal for the 3 days I was in the hospital. I was drinking 6-10 little juice boxes a day. Think about what foods make your stools looser and stock up on those.

Use the sitz bath they send you home with. Trying to get in and out of the tub is awful. If you can do it, do it, but don’t overdo it. They will tell you to use warm water for the first few days, I did and it felt amazing. But when you get home and your stitches are SORE, you may want to try cool or cold water for a soothing effect. I’m sure ice has the same effect- I have been recovering in a hotel, our freezer is tiny, and ice machine is broken, so I haven’t had the opportunity to find out.

Bring the peri bottle home with you. Squirt it down there every time you pee. Dab and blot. Do not wipe. Just rinse and pat dry.

There will be times you don’t want to wear a diaper or you’re caught without one, or you didn’t use them at all and you’re using pads you’ve bought yourself. Be very, very careful about the pads you use. When I researched pad rash, there was a specific brand that kept coming up as a potential irritant specifically for postpartum moms.

Do a little research and find out what pads are recommended postpartum and what to avoid. The last thing you want is a pad rash. On day 6 postpartum, I started to feel burning and stinging on my outer genitals, inner thighs and inner butt cheeks. Then it felt like it started to crack. It was almost unbearable and I couldn’t get away from it.

Part was the pad being an irritant and part of it was chub rub. My entire area was swollen and parts of my body that had never met before were getting a little too friendly. This was torture and it just didn’t stop.

Here is the routine I came up with after a nightmarish 24 hours with this discomfort- do it all, do some, do none. You’ll figure out what works for you, but have all these supplies on hand: toilet sitz bath, throw away towel, baby washcloths or cloth diapers, diaper rash cream or other barrier cream, adult diaper or pad and throw away underwear, witch hazel spray, with hazel/tuck pads.

Take a shower. As hot as you want, as cold as you want. Just to relax your body and make sure your area is clean. Alternately, take take a bath. DO NOT use soap below the belt.

Sit in a cold sitz bath on the toilet for as long as you can tolerate it. For me, this is less than a minute, but the initial relief feels amazing.

Using a SOFT cloth and warm water, wipe the outer genital area to clean up any residual fluids you may have missed. Do not use soap, just water. A baby washcloth would be great for this, or a cloth diaper. Wipe OUTSIDE ONLY, do not touch your stitches, do not enter the vagina.

Free bleed on a towel in a comfortable place for at least 10 minutes, just to air dry. When I was pumping every 3 hours, I would take the opportunity to sit down and pump.

I used a barrier cream (diaper rash cream) on the areas where my labia met my upper thigh area- don’t do this unless your doctor says its ok.

GET SOME WITCH HAZEL.

This is the number one piece of advice I wish somebody had given me. The hospital will hopefully send you home with some tucks pads. You can also buy the pads and spray.

Spray every pad and diaper with the witch hazel spray. It’s ok for tears/stitches/incisions. Take your providers seriously when they tell you about witch hazel.

There is a reason they call them tuck pads. Roll the pad up and stick it in your butt crack. Shove it between your labia and groin. Line your pad with them. If you free bleed on a towel, put down a layer of tuck pads to soothe your entire bottom area. These have SAVED me these last 4 days.

Take it easy, mommy. Your baby needs you to be healthy so you can take care of them. Your partner or a friend can do the things you think you need to do like dishes, laundry and cooking. The first two weeks is about you and baby. Your full time job is to care for your body and baby’s body. It’s time consuming, so prioritize this.

Just remember- cobwebs can wait because babies don’t keep. Enjoy those precious moments of just you and baby, you won’t get them back.

NICU round 2- the good, the bad, and the ugly

Content warning- PTSD, bipolar, BPD, babyloss, birth trauma, NICU, language, graphic details

After 39 weeks of a painful and unpleasant but medically sound pregnancy, my son is in the NICU for complications from shoulder dystocia.

We were supposed to be at home right now, enjoying the important bonding time just the three of us. I’m supposed to be sitting and resting as much as possible. Focusing equal time on my baby and my own recovery.

It is an overwhelming experience to have a baby in the NICU for any amount of time and for any reason. It’s a complicated situation. You have to make impossible decisions and you have to do it fast. There are a thousand things to line up and no time to relax. And if you do relax, you’re going to feel like shit because you have a sick baby. And you may not get to hold or even touch that baby.

There are a lot of things to sort out and it can be so hard to keep track of the practical side of things along with the emotional side, and the trauma. So here is my experience of the good, the bad, and the ugly of life in the NICU.

The Good

The one thing I can do to help my baby is pump. I have actually been really successful with this. Megaboob (the one on the left) is very responsive to the pump. She’s the one I thought would really produce, and she does fine. But Ultraboob (the other one) is very emotional and assertive. If I look at Ray or sometimes even think about Ray, she let’s me know its time to pump. I’m getting 1-2 oz per session, and I’ve produced at least something every pump for 4 days straight.

I have been fortunate enough to experience very little bleeding. My doctor even commented that I bled way less than normal after delivery. I’m still wearing a diaper, but even overnight the bleeding is not enough for more than a few spots. I’m wearing the diaper for a different reason, and I would really encourage moms to look into depends or something similar for post partum, it’s been a game changer.

My body is coping pretty well, considering what happened. I got up and moved around that same day, and while I definitely overdid it for a while there, I think ultimately my recovery will probably be shorter because I was so active.

I feel like my body has bounced back relatively quickly considering what happened. I know now that my bump was all baby. I thought I had just eaten too much, but that was all Ray. Here’s a before and after, keep in mind that before pregnancy I was 5′ 2″ and about 248 lb. I haven’t been weighed since delivery, but on the day the before this was taken, I was 286.

10-15-2020, day of scheduled induction
10-23-2020, 7 days post partum

I feel like I’m down to about where I was right at the end of the first trimester, but just really saggy and squishy. I think all the pumping has really shrunk my uterus. I could feel it yesterday every time I pumped.

Closest I could find to 14 weeks, I popped at that point and had a cute little bump. I don’t think my belly is too far off from this now.

I have been staying incredibly busy. I had so many loose ends to tie up that I just kept everything written down to try to stay on top of not only self-care, but the legal and financial aspects as well. The last practical thing I had to take care of was lining up housing for the rest of our stay, and I got that done yesterday afternoon. All of that took 3 days to get sorted, and I went through about 35 notebook pages trying to stay organized. All I have to do now is care for the three of us until it’s time to go home.

I’ve also been doing very detailed to do lists, brain dumps, gratitude journaling, listing questions for the doctors and nurses, taking notes on mine and Raymond’s health, tracking pumping, tracking my pain meds, listing topics I need to research on my own, and keeping track of blog ideas.

The very best thing I have been able to do is writing really long letters to myself, 3 or 4 pages long. My goal is to refer to my brain dumps, and one at a time, addressing each issue I think might cause me any trouble later. I acknowledge the feeling, imagine best and worst case scenarios, recognize any cognitive distortions and reframe the statement. I try to look at it from an objective standpoint and respond to myself with the statements I would make to a friend expressing the same struggle.

Last night I was having trouble feeling better about a handful of issues, so I reached out to my mom and told her in a pretty assertive way, I know these thoughts are ridiculous but I need you to validate me right now. We texted for about an hour, addressed each issue and just very briefly recognized each emotion, validated each one, said goodbye to it, and moved on.

This process is very time consuming, but it has been worth every second because as of this morning, I’m feeling very empowered and in control. I am so grateful for the 10 years of work I have put in mastering these coping strategies. It has finally paid off.

The last good thing is the best good thing. My social worker told me about a charity called The Little Al Foundation, run by a former NICU parent who had to travel from Iowa to Michigan several years ago with his wife and sick baby snd stay for 6 weeks so the baby could get treatment for a terminal condition. The foundation donates gift cards to NICU families in Iowa to help offset the travel, food and lodging expenses, and the income they’re losing.

We were approved within hours based on Raymond’s condition, our previous experience and the distance from our home to the hospital. I filled out a survey to let them know what gas, grocery, fast food and dine-in options we prefer. In the additional comments, I added that we were prioritizing gas, groceries, fast food and then dine-in as what we needed most. I added that we had options for housing that weren’t coming out of our pockets so don’t worry about lodging at all. I had anticipated a couple hundred total, and I felt like that was even a little too optimistic.

What this foundation gave us absolutely blew my mind. Let’s just say we’ll be ok until we get settled at home.

I’m so glad I had that good news yesterday, because even though it could really be much worse, the bad has just kind of sucked.

The Bad

I have not been able to sleep in a bed in 3 months except while I was admitted to the hospital. I was only able to do it there because the beds are so low and they have rails and I could call for help if I got really stuck. Three nights ago, I slept in the hotel bed for a couple of hours until I had to get up to pee. I have no muscle tone in my core right now and my abdominal wall is like jello. I was stuck on my back like an overturned turtle and I grabbed on the the only thing I could reach, which was the head board. I pulled it right out of the wall.

The hormones kind of lingered until day 4, then all left my body at once. Brandon and I had a short 10-minute blow out. He was super exhausted and we had spent about 3 hours in the NICU waiting to hold Ray, but there was a delay so we left to get food. I had assumed we were going back to the hospital, but he just refused. I am normally very good about recognizing his motivations for doing what he does, but I couldn’t make sense out of this one.

I had waited 39 weeks to hold my baby. Then 4 days. Then 3 hours. I was not waiting another minute, it was absolutely imperative that I get back to the NICU to hold him. I was unbelievably angry at him because it felt like he didn’t love our baby and he didn’t love me. I did scream at him. I cried. I said to his face that he didn’t love us. It was awful. I eventually convinced him to just get me to the parking ramp, and I was able to go in.

It’s about a 10 minute walk from the parking ramp to NICU. I walked there, held Ray for 45 minutes, and walked back. I definitely paid for that choice the next day.

I was up and moving around the day he was born, as soon as the epidural wore off. I walked to Ray’s room by myself the day after. I did that walk twice the day after that. The day I got to hold him was a Tuesday. Wednesday, I once again walked to NICU from the parking ramp by myself. On Thursday, my body went on strike.

Holy shit. I don’t know if the adrenaline wore off, or if I had been in shock and now I wasn’t. But I’m guessing I just pushed myself way too hard physically. I called NICU on Thursday to check on him and let the nurse know I wasn’t going to come in that day. She told me that I had better not, that I need to take care of myself.

I left the hotel once on Thursday and zero times on Friday. I wouldn’t have been able to make it from the car to a wheelchair on either of those days.

If you’ve ever seen a latex glove inflated, that would be an accurate representation of my feet Thursday night. I have never had swollen feet before, my feet and ankles are the thinnest part of body. Even the day I delivered, they were not swollen. It hurt so bad to walk to the bathroom Thursday night, I thought I might have to call an ambulance.

My torso hurt like a bitch, particularly my upper back. I had pushed with my ankles up by my face and my butthole pointed at the ceiling, and the after effects of getting into that position every two minutes for 2 hours really hit me Thursday.

Friday, I started feeling after pains. It started when I was pumping, and with every shot of oxytocin through my body, I was getting moderate cramps. They may have been severe, I dont know. It was almost as intense at that first contraction I had when the pitocin hit.

I keep forgetting how big my baby was and the physical trauma involved with a delivery like that, plus the doctor’s fingers inside of me. I tore bad. I had a moderate to severe 3rd degree tear. And it hit me hard Thursday. It’s just sore. It stings sometimes. It itches sometimes. Sitting on the toilet just spreads and stretches everything. I’m most comfortable sitting totally upright with my feet on the floor, so I’ve had to remind myself to alternate between that position and reclining so my feet don’t get any bigger.

But the biggest discomfort I’ve had since delivery- a fucking diaper rash.

Good god. This hit me yesterday and it was brutal. I have not had much bleeding, so I thought I would be ok with just a pad and cotton underwear. I should have ditched the pad and free bled. Which is what I ended up doing for two hours before bed, on a towel in just my bra.

I had been wearing a certain popular brand of pads that I found out, after it was too late, are notorious for giving the wearer pad rash. On top of it, every part of my undercarriage is extremely swollen, including my inner butt cheeks, inner thighs, pubic mound and labia. Body parts that have never met are now rubbing together with every step.

So now my entire protruding crotch is rubbing itself raw on the surrounding areas. The rash and chub rub came to a head last night. I experimented with various home remedies and finally found something that helped! COLD sitz baths, a diaper, and tuck pads rolled up and wedged into every fold of my exterior genitals.

I have recovered enough to move around comfortably, but I’m refusing to walk into any building that doesn’t have a wheelchair or electric cart.

Moral of this story- if you plan on having any kind of vaginal delivery, take home the sitz bath they give you, use cold water, and get some damn tuck pads.

The Ugly

Dealing with this situation with my mental illnesses is a nightmare. Nobody should have to go through what we’ve been through the last few years, and I have more mental and emotional problems than most.

In order to get to Raymond’s room, I have to walk past the room where I watched my oldest son die in my arms. It’s horrible. I haven’t allowed that to effect me much yet, but I feel like my mental fortitude is failing. I don’t know when shit is going to hit the fan on that one.

My bipolar has been mostly under control, but I think it’s sent me into a hypomanic episode. No, not think. I know it has. I’m enjoying the energy for the most part, I’ve been very productive. But shit will hit the fan on this too. I need to really keep an eye on this, I’m scared to bring home a medically vulnerable child if I’m manic.

My mind is out of control. I can’t relax. I can’t enjoy anything. I get today’s issues sorted out, then I start to worry about tomorrow. If I’m not working on a project, I’m planning a project. If I’m not planning, I’m planning to plan. I have lists for every area of my life. It’s become too much, I’m obsessed. It’s been healthy up until yesterday, when I had finished everything on my list. I’m lost. I don’t have a purpose.

I can always tell when I’m going into a bipolar episode. I distance myself from reality. I become totally detached from myself. I have a hard time connecting to myself and everyone else.

I’m afraid that I’ll lose my attachment to my baby.

We have said from day 1 of my first pregnancy that we wouldn’t care what disabilities or limitations our child had. We declined all screenings and genetic testing with both boys. But I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around this perfect pregnancy that may have resulted in a special needs child for no reason. I’m pissed. This was never supposed to happen. He’s alive, but I’m still angry.

I’m making impossible descions every day. It’s heartbreaking to have to be logical and prioritize myself over what my heart is telling me my baby needs from me. It’s the opposite of every instinct I have.

I hate the fact that my body hurt him so badly.

The Beautiful

This is what has made every painful, heartbreaking, frustrating moment 10000% worth it.

Raymond Bernard

How to survive a traumatic birth (you don’t have a choice)

TRIGGER WARNING: There are a lot of really intense emotional details and graphic descriptions near the end so if a traumatic birth is a trigger, just be careful. I’ll warn you before it gets there.

This is the briefest account of Ray’s birth story I can manage. The timeline is messy and I don’t remember a lot of it. It’s true that you get some sort of one-time amnesia after delivery and you forget so much. But I think when it’s bad, you remember a lot more.

We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 pm October 15. I was so sure I was going to have him Friday evening. Brandon insisted it would be Saturday. I don’t know why I can’t trust his instincts, they’re better than mine. When I tested positive, he told me it would be a boy, and he would be big, and I would labor for a while and eventually need a c-section. I didn’t get a c-section, but I’m not sure things would have happened this way if they had known his size.

My cervix was checked at around 8:15 and I was offered a cervical ripening agent plus a Foley balloon. I said I would rather just try the agent and see what happened. My cervix was dilated to 3 on the outside and just barely opened on the inside. I’ve heard the balloon can be uncomfortable and can take up to 12 hours to dilate the cervix to 4 cm.

The medication was applied at around 9 and I started to feel some cramps. My nurse gave me an IV medication for the pain and we took a nap. They wanted me to try to sleep until contractions really started. Brandon slept on the pull-out and I fell asleep in the recliner.

I woke up positive I was dying. I couldn’t breathe. I forced air into my lungs and out of my lungs. Ok, I can feel that. I stopped forcing it, I stopped breathing. Ok, that was weird.

So I forced breath in and out again. And I stopped, and again I wasn’t breathing. I wasn’t getting dizzy, my lungs felt fine, I just wasnt breathing. I vaguely remembered having a kaleidoscope-style dream that involved some very strange images like really weird looking sheep and Mickey Mouse.

I was still forcing myself to breathe so I wouldn’t die. I thought about how much I hate Mickey Mouse. Like, seriously fuck Mickey Mouse. (I do not hate Mickey Mouse.)

I finally woke Brandon up because I didn’t want to die. He told me they wouldn’t give me something that would kill me. He went back to sleep. So I hit my call light. It took forever to find it, and it took forever for the nurse to get there.

I calmly explained to her that I felt weird, and that I was trying not to die, but if I fell asleep I would stop breathing. I went on and on about the experience I was having, and I was tearful but calm. She got me some crackers and said it happens sometimes, that it was a narcotic and people can react in different ways.

The doctor came in, we’ll call him Ned. He asked to check my cervix. Fuck off Ned, I’m having an acid trip! I calmly explained that I was having a bad reaction to the drug and I would prefer to wait until I felt a little better. I decided to stay up until it wore off, you know, so I wouldn’t die.

Except that’s not how it went down. That’s how I remember it.

I guess I was able to say I couldn’t breathe, and I felt like I had smoked way too much pot and I wanted to feel better. But mostly I just cried hysterically for god knows how long. It was awful. I was so scared. I thought my baby was going to come out high. I have done acid twice and mushrooms once and I’ve had a bad trip every time. But this was the worst I’ve ever had, and that’s not what you want on your baby’s birthday.

I tried to go back to sleep, but I still felt like I would die if I went to sleep so I just stayed up. I tried to enjoy my high like the nurse suggested, but it was just bad.

That all went down around midnight. I finally felt ok at around 1:15, and at my cervical check I was 5 cm and about 75%. I was feeling encouraged because I had responded really well to the ripening attempts and agreed it was time for pitocin.

I felt one contraction and requested the epidural. I had planned for an epidural right away and my nurse knew that, so she called in anesthesia. I told her that I had felt that one contraction, I felt satisfied that I’d had the experience, it hurt so I wanted to not feel that again.

I have been watching birth vlogs and it seems like it’s pretty common to labor, with epidural, for a long time, but not necessarily have a ton of pain. Then push push push, it’s hard work and there’s pressure, but not necessarily screaming pain. That was what I wanted. But you can’t always get what you want.

The epidural was applied at around 2 am and my nurse kept telling me how great I was doing, I was so laid back, I was chatty. Brandon had run our laptop through the tv and we were listening to 80s tunes on youtube. Typical friday for us. I was able to eat breakfast and have coffee.

The first anesthesiologist I saw had told me it’s never too late to apply an epidural. You can have one during transition. You can have one at cervical completion. She was in the middle of an epidural once, the mom said, “hold on, I have to push,” she pulled the catheter out, the mom laid down and within minutes had delivered her baby. She said if an epidural fails and you want to try again, they’ll do it if you can hold still.

After I ate and had my coffee is where the timeline gets dicey. I want to say I ate three times between starting my induction and giving birth, but it may have only been once. I’m not going to be able to say what happened when until the last 10 minutes.

They had given me a button to push if I felt like my epidural needed a boost. I tried to push it and the nurse said I had to wait for the light to flash green. The light indicates that I’m allowed to have a dose. I thought I just kept missing the dose because I wasn’t really paying attention to the button, so I never pushed it.

At around 7 cm. I started to hurt. But it wasnt like it started and got worse. It started off already worse. It was the most ungodly pain I had ever felt. What had been a 10 on my personal pain scale was now a 4. When I was asked to rate it I said that if a true 10 is passing out from the pain, this was a 9.5.

Normally if you labor without an epidural, the pain gradually builds through early and active labor and hits hard at transition, but along with the pain, you’re building endorphins and adrenaline to help cope. I went from pain free to transition with no warning.

They asked if I wanted to try a second epidural. I said, “get that guy in here now. I can’t.” But I did. I had to, it’s not like they can pause labor. The second epidural took about an hour and a half to get set up and applied, but it finally took.

They again went over how to boost the epidural with that button, and explained the flashing green light. I said it just never flashed last time so I figured the epidural was working. They said that’s not how it works, it should have flashed. So they brought in some equipment person, maybe a woman, to check out that button and why it hadn’t flashed.

THE BUTTON WAS FUCKING BROKEN.

At that point, I didnt even care that it hadn’t worked before, I wanted it to work now.

So we went back to jamming tunes, I know at this point Ned was checking me regularly and the best nurse on planet earth, Kelly, was keeping us entertained. When Kelly walked in the room, I knew it was party time. Let’s have as much fun as we can, do the work, meet our baby.

We were exhausted. I was pushing that button every ten minutes, Brandon might have taken a snooze. I remember people kept telling me during my labor, your husband is a great sleeper. So we had fun, we partied, and I was getting checked regularly.

I had a tiny bit of cervix left on one side, so I laid on that side. Getting moved from side to side with an epidural in is a huge ass ache. Baby was at a weird angle at one point, so Kelly had me lay as far onto my stomach as I could to turn him.

Ned checked me and said I was complete and baby was at 0 station, maybe +1. So I should do a few practice pushes to evaluate my technique.

The exact time I did the first practice push was 8:37 pm October 16. I asked if the 16th was baby day and they said definitely. That was a lie.

I guess my technique sucked. I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. I tried with my hands behind my knees for a while. Probably 2 hours. Kelly had my left leg. The person at my right leg was supposed to be Brandon but we both refused that idea. He was in charge of water and my green button. The person who ended up at my right leg was a med student we will call Tanner, because maybe that was his name, who knows.

A female doctor came in at some point to see which way baby was facing. That particular exam downgraded my previous 9.5 to a 9. When they told me later to try to get mad at a spot on the wall to push better, I told her to her face I would just imagine her because she sucked.

They thought he was in the right spot and I could keep pushing. The pressure was unreal. I remember so vividly trying to get him out so that pressure would be gone. I have no clue even now if the epidural was working at all because that was unbelievably bad.

They could see his hair now. He would start to crown, then go back in, then start to crown, then go back in. I think this was about when Dr Abbey came in but I really have no clue. She wanted me to try grabbing my heels, pointing my butt at the ceiling, and pushing from the top of my belly into my butthole.

I understood that. I wish somebody had just told me that exact thing sooner. Things got moving at that point. Push push push. Get mad. But relax your face. Keep your eyes open. Push harder Bree. I can’t do it. Yes you can. Get him out GET HIM OUT GET HIM OUT.

I had started my induction 29 hours ago. I had been pushing for 4 hours. My contractions were coming every 2 minutes or closer and I had rested for about 10 of them, maybe more but I don’t think so. I had ditched my glasses. I was soaked. My hair was matted to my head. I was so desperate for this to be over.

This is where it really turns. This is ugly, in case you need to stop.

His head was completely out. They’re yelling at me to push push push but this wasn’t like, yay, we’re happy, he’s almost here!! This was IF YOU DO NOT PUSH THIS BABY OUT OF YOUR BODY HE’S GOING TO DIE.

I’m telling them I can’t push any harder, I can’t I can’t I can’t. YOU HAVE TO BREE JUST PUSH HARDER. Then I hear: “oh shit.”

I was pushing as hard as I could, but I knew it was just not enough. I was not enough. Real women do this every day. Real women do this in their homes with no pain management. Real women do this more than once.

I was failing my baby. It was going to be my fault if I lost him. Because I’m a worthless, lazy human who can’t even work hard enough for 5 minutes to keep her child alive. He was going to die because I wasn’t trying hard enough.

They had pushed the NICU button. WHERE IS NICU?

Kelly was on top of my body. She was pushing my uterus, trying to get him out.

This is the moment I will never forget: Dr Abbey had her hand inside my vagina. While my child’s head was out. While they’re calling NICU. while they’re screaming at me to GET HIM OUT. While Kelly is bearing down so hard on my fundus it feels like my organs are going to split my sides open.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS IS NOT HOW BABIES ARE BORN.

They pulled him out and laid him on me for one second. He was not the right color. They took him to the NICU cart and I’m not sure how long he was silent but it was long enough for my life and my world and my heart and my soul to be completely crushed. Again. And this time I was not going to recover.

My second child, like my first, was born not breathing. My perfect child from my perfect pregnancy was going to die and I was going to die with him. Every second of grief I had felt with Terry for the last 728 days of my life filled my body. I did not want to live. I truly hoped that I would just bleed to death if I did not hear him cry.

I had failed again.

Kelly leaned over me, and I looked in her eyes, and I saw the concern in her face and I knew she was about to tell me that my shitty body had killed my baby because I didn’t push hard enough, because I didn’t dig deep enough to JUST GET HIM OUT ALREADY.

All I could say- I can’t do this again. I might have screamed it. I might have whispered it. I might not have even said it. Like most of this story, I really don’t know.

“Can you hear that?” Yes. YES. That’s my baby. He’s crying.

He was not dead. I didn’t kill him. He was alive. I DID NOT KILL HIM.

Oh my god. The relief. It wasn’t over, and it would be minutes before I knew he was stable. Hours before I knew he was being treated or what was wrong. Days before I knew I would be bringing him home. But the relief in that moment, when heard him cry, was enough to keep me alive.

The most recent pain I designated as a 9.5 was now 8 or 6 or less, it doesn’t matter because after the maneuver to get him out plus Kelly pushing on my belly, nothing else qualifies as pain.

People will tell you that you won’t remember labor. And I think if you have a straightforward deliver with a good outcome, it’s easy to forget. You probably should. The whole thing sucks. But when it happens like this, it stays with you. I had to dig deep for some of the details. And I’m sure I got a lot of it wrong. But to me, this is how I almost lost my second child.

The rest of the story is for another time. The rest of the story is really, really good.

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