I went into the final days of my 42 week pregnancy armed with hopes and plans of what my experience as a new mom would be like. I arrived at the hospital on my induction date with a nervous smile and the naive expectations only first-time moms possess. The construction of my carefully laid out birth plan took hours of classes and research to complete and it likely wound up covered in coffee rings as a coaster at the nurses’ station.
Breathing exercises and meditation were far from worthy opponents to the max level pitocin that possessed my body. After 10 hours of back-to-back contractions I tearfully relinquished myself to the magic hands of the anesthesiologist. My disappointment in myself was short-lived when a relatively painless 35 minutes later I delivered a perfectly healthy baby boy.
Following his birth, we settled into our two night stay at the hospital and I happily accepted all the help and advice I was given in the unfamiliar territory of nursing. While my attempts were not entirely fruitless, a delay in the arrival of my milk meant higher-than-desirable bilirubin levels in my helpless baby. We squeaked by with a barely acceptable test level and were sent home as expected with the promise of a follow up visit in 24 hours. That visit resulted in a frantic call from our pediatrician’s office that a room was awaiting us at the hospital and we needed to be readmitted immediately. His levels had spiked during our short stay at home and he was entering the range that frequently results in permanent damage.
For 27 long hours we remained in the hospital receiving light treatments and hourly feedings were followed up by pumping to supply our baby with much needed fluids during his time under the lights. The 30 plus hours with no sleep and the constant feedings allowed no time for my body and my nipples to recuperate. The damage done in those 30 hours resulted in open wounds and bruises that remained for 5 months after I had discontinued nursing. Being a new mom, I had read that nursing would hurt. But no blog or article prepared me for pain so intense that my husband would have to latch our son while I white knuckled the chair and sobbed through 20 minutes of torture.
My guilt in giving up breastfeeding was only compounded when weeks of colic and painful gas revealed blood in our baby’s stool. Tests revealed an allergy to the milk proteins found in the formula we had been giving him and the initially manageable cost of formula doubled overnight.
Fast-forward 10 months to learning we were expecting our second child. My excitement was laced with fear and nervousness as I recalled the trauma and dashed hopes of my first delivery and the weeks that followed. While a second baby seemed manageable, I immediately swore off any subsequent children. I was entering my second round of motherhood with cynicism in my arsenal and absolutely no preconceived notions or expectations.
This ‘reverse-psychology’ train of thought worked wonders and I was blessed with an expedient and complication-free delivery, a textbook nursing experience and a healthy and very happy four-month-old baby girl. Much to my husband’s dismay, the flawlessness of events with my second child has me longing for another pregnancy, another delivery, and another perfect baby to complete our tiny family. He is quick to remind me of the surety with which I decided two kids was enough. But the pain and tears and disappointment continue to fade and as we successfully clear hurdles on which we previously stumbled, my resolve to have another baby grows.