She’s here! Now what?

I remember how quickly the first few days flew by after my baby arrived. I had all the emotions you can find in the dictionary. I was tired, anxious, happy, sad, hungry, joyful. It’s the “fourth trimester.” The trimester no one tells you about. It’s the special time you spend with your little one alone or with your partner and/or family member(s). It can be awkward and a little weird. It can also be exhilarating  and joyful at the same time. In this “trimester,” you are trying to learn how to take care of a new little human, which could be for the first, second, third -or even forth time.

As a first-time-mama, it was a little challenging trying to manage a flux of emotions, waiting for my breastmilk to come in, figuring out the best way to take care of my baby, receiving guests and trying to get some sleep.

Below are some tips that helped me settle into this phase of motherhood.

1.       Limit the number of guests visiting at a time: Recovering from childbirth is no joke. I had my daughter vaginally and know how much rest and sleep my body needed. During this time, your baby is using all their senses including smell and touch to differentiate you from other people they meet. It is recommended to keep visitors to a minimum to allow your baby connect with you as you get used to your new family. You also just need a break after the long marathon you and baby just finished.

2.       Ask for help: This is one thing that I cannot over emphasize. It is more than likely that you will receive a ton of well-wishes and congratulatory messages from family, friends and loved ones after you have had your baby. Don’t hesitate to ask for help as much as possible. “What would you like?”, “would you like me to bring you anything?”, “how can I help?”. Someone can make you food and bring over, another can help you with your laundry, a friend can do your groceries etc. Just make sure you get the help you need because the last thing you want during recovery is stress.

3.       Sleep is a priority: Getting enough sleep is very important in the first few days and weeks after delivery because it helps you heal quicker. After feeding and bonding with baby, try to get some sleep while baby is sleeping. I took advantage of all the help I received in the first three weeks after my daughter arrived. When she napped, I tried to nap. Getting in small dozes of cat naps goes a long way.

4.       Drink lots of water: Drinking a lot of water after childbirth is pertinent to help you stay hydrated. It also helps with your initial breastmilk production for baby. I had my sister who came by for two weeks three days after my delivery to fill my 64ounce bottle with water every 1.5hrs.

5.       Chat with experienced mamas: if you are able, have a chat with close friends and or family members who are mamas that have gone through the process before. You will be surprised by how much you may learn. While doing this don’t forget that your experience will be different that others so don’t fall into the trap of comparison. Each journey is different.

23 hrs and 20 mins

mandiaphotonessanewborn-1.jpgAll it took was 23 hours and 20 minutes for my life to change forever.

At 3:23am on Monday, Sept. 18th, 2017, I felt a gush of fluid trickle down my thighs as I laid in bed and the first three words that came out of my mouth were “babe,” “babe,” “water.”
My husband who is naturally a light sleeper jumped out of bed and responded, “babe, are you okay?”
I immediately knew our little miracle was getting ready to greet the world sooner than expected.
We had both saved the labor and delivery lines on speed dial anticipating this day and called right away.
The attending nurse asked all sorts of questions and the conclusion was to come down to the hospital for checkup and observation.
The first round of checks were performed by Lexi who confirmed my water hadn’t officially broken. Uhm, lady, what does that mean if I felt a gush of fluid just less than an hour ago? Lexi said “you are fine to go back home and monitor any acute pain or early signs of  contractions and call back as needed.”
My husband and I drove back home and everything seemed normal for a few hours until 7pm that evening. This was when it went down.
Before 7pm, I had washed and conditioned my hair with hopes that the false alarm will remain a false alarm until the next day or later in the week. After all the due date wasn’t for another week.
Nope! The real contractions started right after I had braided the last plait on my head. Funny but true.
It’s like baby wanted to give me time to get myself together before making it out of my birth canal. How selfless!
At a little past 7pm that evening, the contractions started to occur every 10-13 minutes and lasted for about 4-5 minutes each time. It was the pain I never felt in my life. I couldn’t walk a step without screaming, I couldn’t take a seat without yelling, I couldn’t catch my breath without crying. I just couldn’t.
Interestingly, I felt more sorry for my husband than myself because he looked helpless and not sure if saying “babe, it’s okay, take a deep breath, you are almost there” was enough.
We managed to get downstairs to the lobby of our apartment and drove back to the hospital. Luckily, the hospital was only 1.3 miles away from our house. However, this didn’t exempt me from screaming through the whole ride from the unbearable pain.
Lexi’s shift was over and Kristi was the my new attending nurse. She saw my state and said “I think we will just check you in”. You think?
Dr. Sarah was on call and came in to check how far I was dilated. Hello there, she said, “you are in early labor and about 3cm dilated.”
Nurse Kristi asked if I had a birth plan and all I could recall saying was that I wanted epidural to end this terror.
After check-in was complete, I was moved to the labor and delivery unit where the real miracles happen.
An anesthesiologist came in my room to introduce himself and walked me over the process for receiving the epidural.
“Yes, I agree” is all I can remember before I lost all sensation from my waist down. It was the most beautiful relief ever.
Hours and more hours passed with different doctors, and nurses dropping by to tell me how far dilated I was.
“You are now 5cm dilated.” “It’s 7cm.” Oh, and your water just broke by the way. Really? That’s good to know, I muttered. How far am I now?

“You’re at 8cm.” And after about an hour, I heard “You are almost at 9cm.”
At a point I didn’t care how far dilated I was anymore because one of the biggest hurdles had been crossed. The PAIN!!!
Kristi’s shift was over and it was time for Jessica to take over.
“Wande, I am going to teach you how to push okay?” Okay!
“Now, whenever you are experiencing a contraction, I need you to push through it. Don’t push until I say so. Got it?” Yup, got it.

In the middle of pushing, Jessica said, “ I can see her head. Would you like a mirror so you can see it too?” Uhm, no thanks, I said. That will be distracting. Can we get back to pushing please?

My husband held my hand the whole time, which kept me calm. We were a few minutes away from being parents. Priceless!
On Tuesday, September. 19th, 2017,  at exactly 4:58pm, our little angel was born. The pain, the tears, the aches, the fears all disappeared. What was in front of me was more precious than life itself. Everything else never seemed so far away. Our 2.95kg baby girl was all that mattered.
All it took was 23hours and 20 minutes, and my life changed forever.
What was your birth story like? I’d love to hear.