Fourth trimester: Recently finished my ‘fourth trimester’ and I’m sitting here waiting for my three+ month old to wake up. The time has flown by. Pfeiffer has changed my life more than I ever could have thought.

But let me back up. I’m going to try to give a brief overview of my labor and delivery story. So my last post was from September 23rd in my 41st week of being preggers. Little did I know that the following day during the 41 week checkup things would change. My original OB was scheduled to be in Italy during my due date so she set us up with one of her partners so we’d be in good hands while she was gone. So we went in that Monday the 24th and during the ultrasound everything looked great except for her amniotic fluid (it had dropped significantly in one week). The nurse quickly stated that she’s sure the doctor would have us go to the hospital for me to receive IV fluids in hopes that that would increase the amniotic fluids for the baby. Sure enough, when we saw the doctor she wanted that. She also was quick to point out that we could have an emergent situation on our hands if we didn’t get the fluids or if they continued to drop (not that we were fighting her on getting them by any means). If they did get better than she was going to be fine letting me continue to progress on my own and we schedule another appointment for that Friday. At that point I was not having noticeable contractions but was effaced and dilated so I was on my way to getting the show started. I did decide to have a membrane sweep while I was in the office. I did not want to be scheduled for an induction but also knew that if these fluids didn’t help then we needed to get the baby out fairly quickly and I felt as though the sweep was the most ‘natural’ option to having some help (besides what I had already been doing at home on my own). I left that appointment feeling like my body was betraying me. I felt like I had been doing everything right so why couldn’t I just have a baby? Why did I need help? Why couldn’t I just do it on my own? After I somewhat calmed down after that and we got home to get some things together before heading to the hospital, I had this idea in my head that we could go get fluids and then we’d be back to ‘normal’ and continue on with our lives  and then labor at home when the time came. I couldn’t comprehend staying at the hospital but thank God my husband thought that way (he was physically and mentally prepared for that) because spoiler alert, we stayed there.

So we went in and I was hooked up to fluids and in the effort to try to keep the story short, they didn’t help. In fact, the amniotic fluids kept dropping. I knew my water hadn’t broken yet so they weren’t sure if I had a slow leak or if my placenta had just abruptly reached it’s expiration date (which happens). They then informed us that we wouldn’t be leaving the hospital without a baby. I like a plan and this, my friends, was not going as planned. I tried to get over it and just look at the excitement of knowing we were closer to meeting our little girl and knowing that being upset or stressed wasn’t going to change the situation, it would just make it worse. My body continued to progress and they could see how the baby was doing (as we had to be continuously monitored but I was extremely happy to find out that I could still walk around and get into the tub while being monitored). They started discussing Pitocin if my contractions didn’t amp up fairly soon because they worry that with such low amniotic fluids that the baby could get into an emergent situation. I wanted to see if the membrane sweep would help and they were very receptive to giving me time and allowing me to be in control of the process. We continued to progress but we reached a point where it was clear the sweep wasn’t going to push me as far into the labor process as we needed. Again, they gave me more time and allowed us to eat a good meal and wander around the halls but around midnight we did decide to go ahead with the Pitocin. Yes, I wanted to labor at home and be in the hospital as short amount of time as possible and do everything all naturally but my biggest thing was that I didn’t want to do anything that wasn’t medically necessary and we crossed over into a situation where having some help did become necessary. I was not going to put my daughter at risk of a stillbirth or emergency c-section or in any other ‘scary’ situation. We called our doula Christa to come in at that point because we knew things were going to amp up and we’d want her help. After countless walks around the halls, time on the birthing ball, using the peanut ball, listening to everything from Post Malone to Fleetwood Mac to Christian jams, using essential oils, eating Italian ice, getting into the tub (twice), my water broke and it was time to push. Pushing was the easiest part for me. I was in the zone. I could channel the unmedicated pain into progress unlike before where I just had to ride out contractions. After around an hour of pushing and baby girl was here. Pfeiffer Mackenzie Bell (although at that point we still had not settled on this name) was born on Tuesday, September 25th at 1:11 PM (after approximately 24 hours since we arrived at the hospital). Jeff cut the cord and she latched on and breastfed right away. I could not have done it without the team I had (incredible husband, awesome doula, wonderful nurses). Everyone played their own separate, different yet vital,role. Oh and remember how I said my regular doc set us up with another doc to deliver? Well that doc was no longer on call so we actually had a third doc deliver our baby but we liked her so that was good at least.

The bliss and exhaustion were unlike anything I’d ever known. I kept repeating how much I loved her and embracing her and cuddling up to my husband. Apparently I internalize my pain and close my eyes to try to focus so by the time she was born and I started letting the tiredness creep in I could barely keep my eyes open. All in all, as I told Jeff and Christa, the birthing process is not glamorous but it is beautiful. It didn’t start as we had wanted but I was happy with how it went and sticking to my wants of not having anything that wasn’t medically necessary and of course I was beyond thrilled with how it ended.

Back to how the last 12+ weeks have gone. I understand how people say that being a parent is simultaneously the hardest yet best job they’ve ever had. I have days where I cry when she cried and feel like I can’t do anything right and then have days where I feel like superwoman and am in awe of our creation. I knew being a parent would be special but I don’t think I had any expectations because I really didn’t have any idea what it would be like. But like I briefly mentioned in the beginning, it’s way more than I could have ever thought- more joy, more worry, more every type of feeling imaginable, more life-change, but most importantly more love. And not only do I have a whole new love for my husband but with her I am experiencing a deeper love than I have ever known possible.

What I’ve learned/little tidbits from my experience thus far:

  • Further proof that God exists. None of this is by accident.
  • Our bodies are incredible, incredible things. Creating life and then sustaining it.
  • Deeper respect for my mom. I’ve always known she’s had a difficult job of being a working mother (single at times) but now I can empathize with some of what she went through. As I mentioned, being a parent is the hardest job but mothers carry a different type of burden. I don’t know how she did it all (work, raise three kids, and act as both a mother and father figure while keeping her cool and loving us to death) and on the days when I’m struggling I try to gain strength from her situation. That goes into my last blurb…
  • I am so beyond lucky to have the help I have from Jeff. And just to have him period. The flexibility he’s had lately that has made him able to spend lots of time with us has made our family bond and grow more than I ever could have hoped for. Not to mention, it’s just so wonderful to have help while trying to navigate this new life. I am so blessed to have him. He is honestly the best dad. He and Pfeiffer already have a strong relationship and I know this will continue.

I am so thankful I’ve had such an abundance of love and support from our family and an easy postpartum experience (maybe that placenta ingestion helped??). I have loved being in my newborn bubble and focusing solely on caring for her. As much as I try to put things about this journey thus far into words, nothing could explain these feelings. All the good, bad, easy, hard parts that are motherhood. Someone asked me if I feel like I’ve found my identity in being a mother. I’m not sure if I’ve found myself in her but I have definitely found part of myself that I didn’t know was missing and know that this is the most incredible thing I have ever done. I’m excited for every stage of her life and continuing on my motherhood journey.

A huge thank you to Wave Photo by Aislinn Kate for capturing these newborn moments.

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