The Virus

Robb just got back this past Sunday from being out of town for two weeks. That meant two weeks where I was 100% responsible for Caleb. Why I do care for him the majority of the time, I rely on Robb a lot to get other stuff done around the house and for late night diaper changes.

I started not feeling well before he left though and that feeling only intensified. By the time week two rolled around, I was feeling a bit miserable. My muscles ached so bad that I could barely pick Caleb up, my nose was stuffy, my throat was killing me and surprise – all of that led to my body being susceptible to viral pinkeye! Good times! I don’t remember my body ever struggling like that. In fact, when I told Robb that I felt worse now than when I had my c-section, that prompted him to call asking if I needed to go to the hospital.

But I kept going. I applaud all of those single moms who just keep going because they have no other choice, because they can’t stop. I took three days off of work to rest some and theorized being able to straighten up the house, but since it hurt to just switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer and I would feel faint after minutes of pulling weeds in the garden, I didn’t get much done.

I maintained Caleb’s routine. Yeah, he might have missed a few baths but I still kept him fed and changed and we managed to have play time. We didn’t have a lot of snuggles though out of worry that I would pass something on to him. The thing about Caleb though is that he really is an easy baby and we have been so blessed by him. During this time when I felt so poorly, I was especially thankful for that.

Then Saturday came. I went over to Mom’s for a yard sale and she saw first-hand how poorly I felt. That evening, my temperature crept up to around 102. I had been texting my mom all evening with updates on my temperature and she kept asking if I wanted her to come over to watch Caleb. But I kept saying “No, no. We’ll be fine.” I knew that my mom was tired and that she needed her rest as well. Finally, there was a knock at my door and when I opened it, my mom was standing there, night bag in hand.

My mom knows just by looking at me if I’m running a fever. She always has and we never owned a thermometer growing up. Another thing about my mom is that she knows when I probably do need her, even if I don’t say anything. She got to work helping me clean the house for when Robb got home and sacrificed her own sleep that night so I could rest.

I started feeling better on Sunday. Even though I’m still not completely well, I’m getting there. I think that having her help went a long way in my recovery.

We all need help sometimes but why does it seem so hard to ask for it? I’m not one to really ever ask for help. I like to think that I always have it under control and my mom raised me to be fiercely independent. But when it all boils down to it, there is nothing wrong with having someone to step in, is it?

A Letter To My Son

Dear Caleb,

Yesterday you had your 4 month shots. I can’t believe that I have only been your mom for 4 months. It feels like a lifetime already. You make it so easy to be a mom, to be your mom. I cuddled with you most of the afternoon while you slept because I knew you needed it. I knew that you needed the warmth and safety of mom’s arms. Yes, I had to take leave without pay from work but it was worth it. You’re only going to be this small once.

You slept all day and into the evening. Even though I knew that I should wake you, I let you sleep. I knew that your little body needed the rest, even if it meant that we would be up all night. Sure enough, at midnight, you woke, ready to start your day. It made for a long day at work only having 3 hours of sleep, but how could I be upset at you? All you wanted to do was “talk” to me last night, to play with your toy, to share your happiness. Every time I looked over, your brown eyes looked right back at me. You would smile, a smile that filled my heart with joy. I know that you don’t understand the concept of love yet but you know that I am your person, your protector, your provider. I am your world.

But it won’t always be like this. As you grow bigger, as your world grows bigger, you won’t look at me the same. Sure, I’ll always be your mom and you’ll always love me, but things will change. Someone else will come into your life and I want that for you… one day… That’s why I had no problem staying home with you yesterday. I know our time together is short.

I’ve already watched you grow so much since you were born – cooing, reaching for things, holding your head up, interacting with others, TEETHING – it has been so amazing. I can’t wait to see where this journey continues to take us.

With love,

Mom

Tips for a Cesarean Birth

April is Cesarean Awareness Month and the goal is to raise awareness and educate people about cesareans. I was fortunate that I had a positive experience with my own planned cesarean of a 9.9 pound breech baby but so many women struggle with the mental and psychical trauma of having major surgery, especially if it was an emergency cesarean.

Even more so, women are typically told that if they had a cesarean, they will have to have one next time. According to ICAN – recent studies have shown that there was an over 80% success rate for VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean)! My OBGYN said that it was entirely possible for me to have a VBAC next time if that is what I wanted but confessed that most of the smaller hospitals tend to pressure women into having a cesarean because of the perceived risk.

In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; the United States current rate is over 30%!

If you have to have a cesarean birth, here are a few tips for you.

  1. Own your birth. I had planned a vaginal birth from the very beginning. Having a c-section never crossed my mind. So many cesareans are unplanned which I feel leads to the risk of physical and mental trauma for the mother. Even if you are 100% confident that you will have a vaginal birth, take some time to research cesareans – read a couple of birth stories, look up some of the recovery information. That way if it turns out that you do need one, you may feel a bit more prepared for it instead of having everything thrown on you at once.
  2. Explore Gentle Cesarean Options. Many hospitals are moving towards gentle cesareans – an option that is more mom and family centered. Some of the things you can do is:
    1. Request skin-to-skin while in the operating room and have the attendant help you initiate breastfeeding right there. This is key. On top of this, see if your baby can stay with you while your incision is being closed up. I was separated from Caleb for about 10 minutes right at the end (when they had to move me) but my partner went with Caleb to the recovery room where my mom was waiting to see him. It can be traumatizing for so many women to have their baby just taken from them as soon as he is out of their body and I was blessed to have such a nurturing staff.
    2. See if pictures can be taken in the operating room – they may not allow an additional photographer in there but we were allowed to use a cell phone and one of the attendants even took our first family photo while they closed me up!
    3. Ask if the hospital would still practice delayed cord clamping and see if your partner could cut the cord again. Typically the doctor will cut it during a cesarean but did offer the opportunity for my partner to trim it afterward (I think he declined).
    4. Check to see if your doula can be in the operating room with you. Even though your partner will typically be in the operating room with you, chances are that he will be so overwhelmed that it will help to have someone to attend to your needs and keep you calm.
  3. Get moving! The next day after my cesarean, I started getting out of bed. Sure, I would only take about 5 steps but I was doing something (even better, I only needed help once getting to the bathroom)! As soon as you can, start moving your toes and your legs. Moving will help prevent blood clots, get your bowels moving, and help eliminate the gas buildup. Just don’t overdo it!
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Moms deserve to taken care of during the postpartum period by family, friends, or by postpartum doulas. Don’t worry about sounding weak. If you are in need of something, make it known!

Over all – give yourself time to heal and enjoy your new baby.

Did you have to have a cesarean?