Tomorrow marks 7 weeks since our latest and greatest project came into the world… the new addition to our family: a baby girl! While this strays from my usual topics of DIY, and home decor, I wanted to take a moment to share with you all, who have been so supportive of my family through the years, a few pictures and the story surrounding the birth of our newest daughter. I share about my HG pregnancy, and what I’ve learned after 4 C-sections to make the healing process smoother and faster. If you know anyone who would benefit from my story, I would be honored if you would share this.
If you have been a follower around here, you know I ‘disappeared’ for awhile last fall and winter, after I found out I was pregnant. I became extremely ill, nauseous and was bedridden for weeks and weeks. It was, by far, the hardest thing I have physically endured in my life.
If you are wondering, this pregnancy was not an accident. It was something I had been praying over for years and we had been trying for, for awhile. In fact, I was unsure if/when it would happen so I relented to my husband and children’s requests and we got a puppy in September! Not two weeks later, I discovered I was pregnant.
I knew I would be pretty sick based on my previous pregnancies, but I was unprepared for this level of nausea that lasted 24/7. I was advised to not take Zofran until I had passed 10 weeks gestation, because of recent studies linking to birth defects. In addition to the nausea, I had a powerful throbbing in my head which kept me from sleeping well, dizziness from any movement, extreme sensitivity to smells, temperature changes (touching water felt painful), and sounds (everyone had to whisper around me). I remember just looking out the window at the fall leaves and it would send me heaving. Even now, thinking about the sights and smells of fall makes my stomach turn.
I would throw up literally everything I ate and lost weight. At one point I was hooked up to IV fluids at home for about a week, after a couple urgent care/emergency room visits. Once I was able to take Zofran, I developed very bad constipation (a lovely side effect from the medication, and lack of movement), so I had to stop taking it for the most part. While I wasn’t officially diagnosed by my OB, after doing quite a bit of reading, I believe I had a Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) pregnancy.
I didn’t even start to feel somewhat myself until the 3rd trimester, but even then my energy levels were very low. My final trimester was wrought with anxiety. Every day I worried about everything and imagined horrific scenarios where I would lose my baby, or something awful or heart-breaking would happen to her when she was born. I prayed and prayed throughout my entire pregnancy, and while I never felt alone, I had many moments of doubt where I wasn’t sure if there was a higher ‘reason’ for my worries (like warning me or something), or if it was all just in my head. The last few weeks I tried to keep those thoughts at bay by focusing on finishing our master shower. But the weekend before she was born, when I started cleaning our home and packing my hospital bag, I broke down several times because I was so scared. Each time, Bruno was there to comfort me and bless me.
I was reminded over and over through these past 11 months that God knows me, knows my pains, worries, heartaches, and through all of it, he will not leave me alone. His plan is better than what I think I need or want, and has sent me angels through family and friends to bear me up.
The physical suffering and emotional struggles I endured made me not only more empathetic to the suffering of people around me, but it made my baby’s arrival so much sweeter. The level of my joy and relief when she arrived healthy and whole superseded the level of my previous pain.
She arrived via scheduled C-section, on May 14th, weighing 7 lbs 11 oz and 20 1/2″ long.
We named her Nina Marie.
I had a scheduled C-section with Nina because I had 3 previous cesarean births and my doctor and I agreed it would be the safest way to deliver. If you are wondering, my first was an emergency C-section, and my 2nd and 3rd were V-Bac hopefuls. Meaning my doctor agreed we would try for a V-Bac if my body went into labor on it’s own, but it never worked out (even after waiting 2 weeks over-due with my 2nd) so the surgery was scheduled.
Having recovered pretty quickly from 4 C-sections, I thought I would offer what I have learned that’s made my recovery smoother.
-First, after having had an epidural for my first, a combined spinal epidural for my 4th, and a spinal block for my 2nd and 3rd, I can tell you I 100% recommend a spinal block. Make sure to discuss what is best for you with your doctor, but this is what I found worked best for me. Multiple reasons for my recommendation, but the main one is I felt less nauseous afterward and the nausea completely went away a few hours after surgery with a spinal block. The combined spinal epidural made me throw up (even though I thought I felt fine enough to eat normally) up to 12 hours after surgery and I felt the itchy side effects of it 20 hours after surgery. A spinal block allowed me to eat normally within 4-6 hours after surgery (I had to get the ‘ok’ from my doctor ahead of time so they would allow ‘normal diet as tolerated’ instead of liquid diet) which was important for recovery IMO.
-Second, I took stool softeners and gas pills around the clock as soon as I was able to post-op, for the next 4-5 days at least. With a major abdominal surgery like a cesarean, your intestines sort of go on ‘strike’ and everything becomes very sluggish. Those pills will help you get to feeling normal again (but it’s typical to have 3-4 days go by before you have a BM).
-Third, I moved around as much as I could tolerate, while listening to my body to not overdo it. Walking around helps things get moving in the intestines, gets blood flowing to prevent blood clots and that extra blood flow helps healing faster as well. With my 3rd surgery, I remember I didn’t move around enough and I had gas travel up into my shoulder. It was excruciating! Walk around, squat, sit in different positions, get on all 4s… these all helped me prevent the gas from traveling in my chest cavity.
-Fourth, an abdominal binder makes walking around more comfortable. I had to ask for one from my doctor right before surgery so he could put the request through, but as soon as I regained full movement in my legs and was walking around, the binder made things less painful, and it also compresses things (good for gas movement).
-Fifth, I drank lots of water. Water helps the healing process, gets you urine output sufficient so you can get the catheter removed faster, and it helps with milk production.
-Sixth, I kept swelling and pain under control with prescribed medicine and ice. I never let my ibuprofen lapse (took it every 6 hours) because it served as my ‘base’ so I wasn’t in too much pain. Then I took narcotics as needed. Narcotics pass through breastmilk (albeit a very small amount) and it can numb the pain to the point of over-doing movement, AND it is easy to develop a dependency, so I only took the prescribed narcotic when I was at an uncomfortable level of pain. Once you leave the hospital, it is important to listen to your body because you won’t have a nurse coming around every few hours to ask about your pain scale and monitoring you so closely.
-Seventh, and last, I gave myself time to heal. Besides having a limit on the amount of weight you can lift, it’s normal to feel sore and tired for weeks. Stay in bed a lot, sleep as much as you can with a newborn, and let people do things for you. I had some sharp muscle pain above my incision (they cut the fascia, not the muscle but the muscles do get stretched in surgery) when I was walking around or standing for longer periods, up to 4-5 weeks post-op. You will feel much better if you give yourself adequate time to heal.
I forgot to schedule a newborn photo session ahead of time, so when Little Miss was about 10 days old, I decided to take her pictures myself. Finding inspiration online, I bought a bunch of grocery store flowers, arranged them in a partial wreath shape on top of a white sheet in front of a window, and lay her down in the middle, swaddled. The flower arranging was the most fun, and the taking-pictures part was the most sweaty. Haha! But she slept through the whole thing and I got a couple of keepers. I used these for her baby announcement.
This is a pretty easy thing to duplicate. I just lay down some greenery first, then some filler flowers for texture, and then a variety of tulips, roses, spray roses, and a few fresh peonies from my back yard for pops of color. I also placed a large mirror at her head, so the light from the window would reflect back and make the shadows less harsh.
I am hoping to start posting a bit more often. With summer here, it’s been a struggle finding time and energy to get back into the swing of things after my ‘maternity leave’ but I miss blogging. It’s weird because I didn’t think I would already… but I have started thinking about what I would like to share that isn’t too difficult or tiring. I might start posting shorter, simpler things about our life– small updates that we do, more progress posts, recipes, crafts… that sort of thing. I also want to share soon the progress we have made in our basement! We finished the ceiling and bought a new sectional and even though it’s not 100% styled and ‘finished’, it is a much more comfortable and inviting space now and worth sharing.
I’m loving this slower life with a new baby, and the disruption of our previous routines. I am incredibly grateful to have a very involved husband and older children that absolutely adore their baby sister. Owen, my 13 year-old spoils me by watching the baby every time I need to run an errand, take a shower, or take a nap. Life is truly sweet and even though I know obstacles will come our way, I’m cherishing these moments of heaven on earth with a newborn. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing my past projects. Thank you for supporting me and encouraging me to take my time.
P.S. If you have ANY questions about ANYTHING please leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer them!