My plan was to have a natural birth and to breastfeed Elsie. As you know from my last blog post, a natural birth wasn’t the case. 

While I was pregnant, and even before I knew I was pregnant, people would ask me if I planned on breastfeeding. I always said, “that’s the plan,” and went about my day. I never thought twice about it. 

When I was at the hospital, the nurse showed me how to hold Elsie and my breast so that I could feed her. I remember being a little bit nervous and exhausted from previous events; adding one more task seemed impossible. Turns out, the nurse thought I was doing a really good job, in fact, she said I was natural at it…until later that night. 

I remember that evening, like it was yesterday. Elsie started to get hungry. I went about the normal steps with breastfeeding, but it seemed like nothing was working. She just kept on crying and getting more and more angry. I called for the nurse to help. The nurse came in and made it clear that the reason my daughter was being fussy, was because she was used to the formula that was given to her while I was in the ICU. She also brought with her a small plastic, orange syringe. I recall giving her a strange look as she explained what the plan was with the small tool. The syringe was to help with my nursing by filling it up with formula and then placing drops of the liquid on my nipple. Seemed easy enough. Elsie seemed to like that plan and started to suckle. The nurse directed me to use the syringe for a couple days, just until my milk came in. This new routine was working well, until we left the hospital and I had to feed her on my own. 

The hospital gave me a couple of syringes to take home. My plan was to just keep doing what I was doing. Fill the small tool with formula, put small droplets on my nipple while Elsie nursed. Easy. Once again, I was wrong. I was really wrong. I felt like I was wrestling with a hungry bear. Her hands would wave all over the place, while her face turned cherry red as she tried to find the source of her food. When she did latch on, she would suck and suck, but would come off still feeling hungry, so I would make her a bottle. It felt like feeding was turning into a dreadful task, and that is not what I wanted.

A week went by, and my husband, Elsie, and I went to the hospital to visit the lactation nurse. I mentioned to her how I was struggling with nursing Elsie. She told me to try breastfeeding first, then give her a bottle, and finally use the breast pump. This new routine sounded like it was a lot, but I was going to try anything to breastfeed my daughter.

A couple days went by trying out this new way of feeding. Our feeding started to turn into almost an hour, and before I knew it, it was time to feed her again. I could tell Elsie was becoming worn out and irritated with this new routine and so was I. I started to realize that nursing my daughter, something I had taken for granted, was not going to happen. That new realization would bring back memories of her birth story and how I wasn’t able to give birth naturally. Now, yet another “mom experience” taken away from me. I felt like what happened during my C-section was the reason I was not producing milk. To this day I am still not sure if that is the case. My doctor said it’s a possibility, but even she doesn’t know for sure.

I am extremely lucky to have such a wonderful husband. Shane has supported me through everything during our six years of being together, and the almost three years of being married. He reminded me that even though I couldn’t breastfeed, he still thought I was a great mom. I obviously knew this, but it was just good to hear that my number one supporter thought I was being a good mom and trying everything I could.

I ended up switching to just feeding Elsie with Similac, their Pro-Advance version, that is supposed to be their formula closest to breast milk.

Since my whole exploration of trying to get my milk to come in, I did try the breast pump a couple more times, just to see. I ended up getting less than one once. Of course, it was a little bit upsetting, but I am taking each day as it comes, as this new way of feeding becomes Elsie’s and my new normal.

Fast forward to today, and I am extremely happy with formula feeding and I can tell Elsie is too. I wish I knew what I know now, when people would ask me even before I was pregnant if I planned on breastfeeding. If I could answer that question now, I would say that we shouldn’t put so much pressure on moms to be an “Instagram mom”, meaning everything has gone and is going perfectly. From the birth, feeding, raising a kid, and everything in between. Instead we should support our new moms and current moms; because, trust me, they are doing their best and working hard to make that “candid” picture look good.

I made it to week 40 of my pregnancy. I had a suspicion that my daughter would be late, but at the same time hoping she would have already been here.

My last doctors appointment was during that week, and I was prepared to talk about getting induced. When I arrived, my doctor already scheduled my induction and was telling me what to expect. My induction was the next day. I was extremely excited and nervous all at the same time. I remember looking over at my husband and noticing his facial expression was the same as mine, excited but weary of the unknown. Weary, because we were both unsure how my labor and delivery would look during this pandemic.

The next day approached quickly, and all I could do to keep myself from worrying and overthinking about what would happen that day, was to continuously say a prayer over and over again. 

We walked in the hospital with our masks on. Before we went up to the maternity ward, we were greeted by two nurses, who took our temperatures, marked our hands with a green “x” and told  us where to go. Shane and I walked into our room, where we would end up living for the next couple of days.

As I entered the hospital, I was sitting at three centimeters. I got to our room and the nurse gave me my medicine to help with the induction; I was at a six by the end of the day. I felt like the first day was a success and thought for sure by the next day I would be having Elsie naturally just like I had intended. Well, my body had other plans…

That evening the nurse was instructed by my doctor to give me Pitocin to help with my contractions. The nurse kept increasing the dosage until I was at the highest recommended amount. As the evening turned into the middle of the night, I started to get a high fever and Elsie’s heart rate was going up as well. The nurse decided to stop the Pitocin and gave me Tylenol to bring my fever down and Elsie’s heart rate down. 

The next morning I felt great and was ready to meet my baby girl! But, like I said before my body had other plans.  

The day lingered on, and still no progress on my dilation. I was still sitting at a six. A few hours went by and my doctor came in to check to see where I was at and told me I was at an eight. I was so excited! I only had two more to go, and I would be having my baby girl naturally. To help me get further along, my doctor decided to put me back on Pitocin. A couple hours went by and I started to get a fever again, and Elsie’s heart rate was going up once again. The nurse came back in and gave me Tylenol. I slowly went to sleep and took the best nap I have ever taken. When I woke up is when my dream of giving birth naturally was crushed and turned into a bad nightmare.

I was woken up by the rustle of my blankets on my hospital bed and my concerned doctor. She told me that I have an infection in my uterus.I believe she called it Chorioamnionitis, which basically meant that my uterus wasn’t working properly. This is why I was having those fevers and still sitting at an eight. With tears in her eyes, because she knew how badly I wanted to have a natural birth, she also told me that we were going to have an emergency C-section. At that moment my heart went to the pit of my stomach, eyes swelled up with tears, and a huge lump formed in my throat. It was all I could do not to start crying at that moment. 

Before I went into the operating room, Shane and I said a prayer. We walked solemnly to the operating room with the nurse. My doctor informed me that the procedure should only take eight to ten minutes and then I would have my baby girl in my arms. Well mine took about three hours.

Elsie arrived at 4:45pm healthy and beautiful. I knew that I would only be there for a couple more minutes to get my placenta out and then I would be done. The doctor told me that I would feel a little bit of pressure. Which I had expected, except the pressure seemed to get more and more intense. As the pain increased the anesthesiologist kept giving me all sorts of medicine to help the pain go away. It wasn’t working. At one point I threw up. The last thing I remember is Shane being asked to leave and a breathing mask being put over my face.

I woke up at almost eight in the evening, to what seemed like tons of people in the room. I remember yelling for Shane. I noticed, as I was trying to wake up, him coming over to me. I was in the recovery room. While trying to keep my eyes open, one of the nurses brought Elsie over to me so that I could try and breast feed her. As I was feeding Elsie and trying to stay awake, the nurses asked me what seemed like thousands of questions. One of them informed me that I would not be able to stay in the room that night with Elsie and Shane, instead they wanted me to spend the night in the ICU to make sure I was recovering okay from my surgery. 

Early the next morning I was able to see my daughter and my husband. I was extremely excited to see them and to see my parents. They called me the night before to see how I was doing, and planned their visit to come and meet their new granddaughter. Well because of COVID and the confusing wording on the hospital’s website, my parents were not allowed to come and visit us like they thought would. Once again another moment of my pregnancy that was robbed, due to COVID.

The next couple of days in the hospital seemed like it lasted forever. It felt like a month went by. Shane, Elsie and I were released from the hospital, after being there for four days. We were finally able to start living our new life with our gorgeous baby girl.

Fast forward to now, Elsie is almost two months and I still think about that evening in the hospital when I had my C-section. At my post-op, one of the midwives who was in the operating room, explained what happened that day during my surgery. She told me that I had a hemorrhage and lost three quarts of blood, and I had to have a blood transfusion. She said that having an infection in my uterus made it even harder during the surgery. I was told I had the “perfect storm”, that everything that happened to me, normally does not happen. 

There are days that I really struggle. I feel like I didn’t even have her, and the C-section was an easy way out. I feel angry and frustrated at times, because I feel like I failed for some reason, even though Elsie and I are perfectly healthy. My birth experience was scary and traumatic for not only me, but for my husband as well.

Each day I feel better,stronger, and healthier. I thank God every day for letting Elsie and I both come out of that surgery alive and healthy. I might have had the “perfect storm”, but now I have something that makes the storm seem a little bit more distant… my beautiful daughter Elsie.