As I write this, little baby Austin has been alive a whole 9 days! I wanted to document this amazing experience while the feelings and memories are still fresh on my mind.
Last September, Jose and I discovered that I was pregnant- not soon after, we found out our baby was a boy. My pregnancy was remarkably difficult, and I am so blessed to have had an outpour of support from all of our friends and family. Despite the 9-months of struggle, Austin is beyond worth it; I have never before felt so obsessed and in love with another creature.
I was induced into labor on the night of Tuesday May 4th. Jose and I checked into the hospital at 8pm alongside his sister Claudia. My mother later met up with us and took Claudia’s place in the labor room. My nurse in Labor and Delivery was lovely, and explained the process of induction to us very clearly. I was also opting in to get an epidural, and she was able to answer all my questions about that as well. She explained that depending on my level of dilation, they would start me with a dissolvable pill placed on my cervix that is used as a “ripening” agent to get the cervix soft and to begin the process of labor. After I became dilated at least 4 inches, she would be able to switch me to pitocin to start the harder, more intense contractions that speed up the process. The nurse also explained to me that most first time moms take a long time (usually over 12 hours) to fully dilate and push, so to be patient, and communicative of any pain and issues I was having. She checked my cervix (which was RIDICULOUSLY painful, by the way… they basically gotta stick their whole ass arm up you to feel for dilation), and told me I was not even dilated yet- so she placed the pill around 10pm and we began the “marathon” process of labor.
Within an hour and a half, I was having consistent, strong contractions every minute. My nurse had advised me that I could ask for an epidural at any point, so I called her in to let her know I needed one. My anesthesiologist came in shortly after to administer the dose, which was actually a relatively easy procedure. I felt a couple of pokes but otherwise there wasn’t a ton of pain like I imagined a needle in the spine might cause. The medication helped relieve my discomfort for about an hour, until I began feeling my contractions again and asked my nurse for help. She administered extra dosages to my epidural multiple times, but I was still in severe pain. My nurse checked my cervix again around 4am (a much easier experience now that I couldn’t feel the process), and I had dilated to about 3cm. She went ahead and called back the anesthesiologist who provided a different, stronger medication which ended up completely numbing me and allowing me to get a bit of rest. I felt MUCH better after this new dose, because before then I was nearly in tears with pain. My poor mother and Jose had to deal with me repeating “This is stupid!” over and over, as well as insisting that this would be Jose’s first and only child.
Around 6am my nurse returned to start my pitocin. She had literally plugged my IV up to the bag of medication when she mentioned that she wanted to check my cervix again… which thank goodness she did! She told me that I was already dilated FULLY to 10cm and she could literally feel my baby’s head! She told me to try my best to relax, as she needed to call my OBGYN for him to get to the hospital. I was so shocked- this meant that the entire process of labor took much less time than expected. I did not even start the pitocin before baby was down and ready to go. I immediately became incredibly nervous. For over 9 months I had created and carried my baby, felt him kick against my ribs and tummy, talked to him and sang to him, and finally it was time to meet him. I was really panicking, because something inside me still felt completely unprepared to hold and look at a little human I created. I was overwhelmed with hormones and emotions, none of which I really could process because within half an hour my doctor was in the labor room and it was time to PUSH!
My nurse and another labor nurse assisted my OBGYN. They lifted my (numb) legs into the holsters and explained to me that during my contractions, I would lift up the top of my body into a “curled” position and HOLD my breath for three rounds of a count of 10 seconds. During these round I needed to focus and “push” towards my booty area as best I could. My mom and Jose were by my bed behind me, and kept their excitement contained as best they could. They had a better view of what was going on than I did, and they told me as I pushed that they could see that baby had so much hair! I did about 5 of these breathing sets before baby was OUT with the assistance of forceps, and immediately he placed on my chest. He was alert but a bit blue because he had his umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck. Jose cut his cord and the nurses immediately took him, as he had inhaled fluids which needed to be sucked out from his lungs. Baby Austin handled the situation very well, and after being examined was weighed in at 7lbs 4oz and 19 inches long. I was cleaned up and able to hold baby Austin again. We took lots of photos and were incredibly overjoyed. Claudia, cousin Angel, and Jose’s dad had stayed in the family room overnight awaiting his arrival and finally got to come in and see him! Everyone was overwhelmingly happy and in love with Austin. He was so sweet and calm, and did not cry or fuss at all. We all were very surprised that he looked so much like me! His blonde hair, light eyes and chubby cheeks were nearly identical to my baby photos. I almost felt sad that he didn’t look closer to Jose at birth, but honestly I am a bit happy to see that I did not spend all that time cookin him in my tummy for him to look nothing like me. I am sure that he will look a lot like Jose as he grows older.
Before I was moved into the delivery unit, a lactation nurse visited me and Austin to show me how to breastfeed. The nurses asked me what my preferred method of feeding him would be, and I explained I wanted to breastfeed if I was able; truthfully, the experience was difficult but I was told it would get better over time. I believe the nurses might have been a bit too biased towards breastfed-only, because once I was moved into delivery I continuously failed at getting Austin to feed yet none of my nurses suggested any other feeding alternatives during my two day stay. I was soo exhausted during my time at the hospital, as I was up almost non-stop trying to feed a crying and upset baby. None of the nurses (or the lactation nurses) could get him to latch even after multiple visits to our room. I attempted to manually extract colostrum/breastmilk to feed him, but it was a long and very painful process. My boobs were super sore and my nipples were raw from the baby chewing on them and angrily receiving no milk in the process. I finally was given some relief when one of the last nurses assigned to me suggested I feed him donor breast milk and attempt to pump my own milk instead of breastfeeding. I graciously agreed with her and had great success pumping milk, and Austin was finally a happier baby after being able to eat a sufficient amount.
Aside from breastfeeding issues, I was also exhausted because of the visitors coming and going. I am beyond grateful that so many (vaccinated and masked) folks wanted to come see my baby and congratulate me and Jose, but I was SO tired that staying awake enough to tend to baby and to visitors was a difficult balancing act. I found myself nodding off pretty often, and besides my mom staying with me I had little help. Jose of course was there with me, but unfortunately he still had to return to work the day after Austin was born. He was gone during the evenings and passed out when he returned, so although he was so sweet to still want to be present, I knew he was much too exhausted to fully assist until after his shifts for the week ended. It was a very tiring and difficult time for everyone, but finally we were discharged Friday afternoon. Jose and I left the hospital and drove to my mother’s house down the block, where I would stay for the weekend while he worked. My amazing mother had set up Austin’s bassinet and changing station, provided me with pads and other post-labor bathroom supplies, and had cooked us lunch all while waiting for our arrival. (I can not express how thankful I was (and AM) for my mother and family for all the fantastic care they provided me and Austin in our days after his arrival.) We all ate and got adjusted in the house, and I was able to FINALLY sleep after days without rest.
Since our first weekend home with Austin, Jose and I have continued to adjust to our new lives and schedules. We are both tired and anxious about having a new baby around, but overall we have been doing just fine caring for him and taking turns sleeping, feeding him, and changing diapers. Jose is so thrilled to be a dad and watching him enjoy Austin is a beautiful and heartwarming feeling. I adore them both so much and to see my beautiful son being doted on by his dad is absolutely precious. Despite having such a difficult pregnancy and exhausting labor experience, I do find it all to be more than worth it to have little Austin around. The intense love and admiration I have for him is beyond any emotion I have ever felt- it has come so naturally, so fluidly and so abundantly. I am so excited to continue growing alongside my son and husband, and to see what the future brings us.