Hello outside world! It feels good to be on the computer again. I have grown tired of staring at the tiny screen on my phone. I have been wanting to share Tiny Tummy’s birth story for over a week now. Two kids and I’m just starting to learn that not everything goes your way and that’s okay. My “this can wait” has grown exponentially and I’m sure it will continue to do so. Go figure. If you have found yourself wondering what we’ve been up to this past month then read on. It hasn’t all been full of joy. It’s been an overwhelming adjustment to make which is why it has taken me this long to make a post. Things are just now starting to fall into our new normal routine.
Today was probably the best day I’ve had since our new tummy was born. It was an unusually productive day. I did 5 loads of laundry AND got 4 of them put away. I cooked two meals. Well, about one and a half since papa tummy had to take over so I could feed the baby. I got a chance to clean the bathroom. Want to know the best part? I had the opportunity to take a nap and I did! It was a short one, but it happened. So here I am with both girls asleep, no one attached to me, and alone with a computer in the living room. All I need is some chocolate. Oh wait, I’ve got that, too! This is glorious!
The days leading up to the birth, actually through my entire pregnancy, I worried constantly about how I was going to handle taking care of a strong-willed toddler and a needy newborn. I pictured myself in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, and muttering gibberish as both children cried. I thought for sure I would want to run away by now. Or maybe check myself in to mental institution. Honestly, it hasn’t even come close to my worst nightmare. This IS doable. I got this! Some days are harder than others, but I always make it to the next day.
Tiny Tummy turned a month old on Sunday. It’s already been that long. Yet so much has happened within that time, making it feel even longer.
Early in the morning, while I was still laying in bed half awake, I felt a kick and heard a strange pop. I got up to go to the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and a lot more came out than I expected. On the way back to bed something was still coming out. I was leaking. I woke up papa tummy and very calmly told him, “I think my water broke.” That was the fastest I have ever seen him pop out of bed. If I knew that was the best way to wake him up I would’ve started saying that years ago. I told him to calm down because I wasn’t even having contractions and I knew it would be hours before anything happened anyway. I got back in bed and texted my midwife the news. Shortly after the cramping of contractions started.
As with little tummy I had another long labor. This one was at least shorter, but still took longer than a day. Thirty hours after my water broke (and 2 days after her due date) Luna Clover entered the world. It did not go as planned, which is to be expected. The home birth happened. The water birth did not. We had the tub set up and ready. I got in it once before my contractions got unbearable. Though when the time came, it came too quickly. Thankfully the midwives had the bed ready for backup. If it weren’t for my mom and the two midwives present, I would have given birth on the loo. Within a short amount of time after making it to the bed she was here. Things got a little scary in between as she got stuck and I lost more blood than I would recommend. Everyone came through okay in the end because I had some amazing professionals that knew what to do with each situation. They stayed for hours afterward and didn’t leave until they were confident that I was stable.
Papa tummy was right there with me. Somewhere in the middle of that 30 hour stretch he got sick, not like him at all. It was probably due to lack of sleep, adequate nutrition, and the stress of all that was going on. It hit him hard and he was passed out for the better part of my painful contractions. Once he heard screams from the bathroom that sounded like a woman possessed by a demon he woke up. Even though he was still not at a 100% I wouldn’t have known. He was there cheering me on and guiding me through every push while he made sure my hair was out of my face. And I heard him cry when Luna was finally free and placed on my chest. He was there when it mattered most and he is the most amazing man for it. He was all smiles after that as he got to hold her for some skin to skin time while I was being tended to. Anyone who is considering a home birth I would say having a supportive partner means everything. It is the difference between calm and panicked during a crisis.
No, this birth is not one that I would have planned. It was without a doubt more rough than I anticipated. It took a toll on my body as I am still healing a month later. The experience has left me uncertain if I do want to go ahead and have that third child I have always dreamed of. I don’t blame Luna for this. I’m sure she would like to have a more gentle birth story. Even so, it is her birth story and it will always be a part of her. She came with a fight and made it through like a champ. I do not regret the home birth one bit. It was wonderful to be able to relax in our home afterward. Would I choose the home birth route again? Yes, I think I would.
The birth was over and then the breastfeeding journey began. With little tummy this was a breeze. She was a great feeder from the start. Being the person I am I like to think of all possibilities, good and bad, so that I can mentally prepare myself. The possibility that nursing tiny tummy would be a different story did cross my mind. The specific problem we have encountered with her was not one of those possibilities I prepared for. That made this all the more difficult.
I knew something was wrong. That first week with little tummy was uncomfortable, but I didn’t remember it being this painful. I’m talking scabs, bleeding, full-body cringe at the moment of latching. I was having to take ibuprofen because the amount of pain was giving me an endless headache. I have always been able to manage any pain I have without medication. I hate putting any form of drugs into my body. That’s how bad this was.
Soon the problem worsened and I developed a case of mastitis in my right breast. It was too painful for her to nurse on so I started exclusively pumping from that side and nursing her only on my left. I had to go to urgent care where they drew blood, gave me an antibiotic shot, and a prescription for an oral antibiotic. I haven’t been sick in years. I haven’t needed any form of medication in I don’t know how long. I don’t even have a normal doctor outside of the midwives I have seen. I was starting to get discouraged and depressed. I was not enjoying the experience of nourishing my child. I was not enjoying my child at all. I found it hard to bond with her when all she was doing was causing me pain. I was waiting for things to miraculously get better. I had waited too long. I decided it was time to talk to a lactation consultant.
I went to a breastfeeding group to get some advice. The lactation consultant took a look at how tiny tummy was latching. Then, she felt around the inside of her mouth. She told me that tiny tummy has a tongue tie and a lip tie and referred us to a dentist that specializes in this problem to get his professional opinion. I made an appointment as soon as I could.
We went to that appointment last Wednesday. We learned a lot from an unexpected source. It kind of threw me off that this young, single, dentist guy knew so much about breastfeeding. He asked all the right questions and knew all the symptoms I was experiencing before I even told him. Apparently, he sees three babies a week on average to treat this condition. His experience was evident. He filled us with knowledge and made us feel comfortable. Then, he looked inside tiny tummy’s mouth. Right away he confirmed that she did have a tongue tie and a lip tie. “I would recommend getting both cut,” he told us.
At this moment, my thoughts were: I was expecting tiny tummy to have allergy issues like little tummy and we would deal with that when the time came. I was not prepared for her to need a medical procedure done, such as surgery, especially so early in her life. I don’t know what it is about our girls. I’m certain these challenges are being thrown at us for a reason and one day we will find out why.
So a few minutes later the doctor and his assistant took tiny tummy into another room to make two cuts in her mouth with a laser. About five minutes after that they returned. It was quick and simple and she wasn’t even crying when they brought her back. I was really surprised. I needed to nurse her right away so that we could make sure a difference was made and because breast milk is a pretty good painkiller. It was difficult as she was still a little numb and she was exhausted, but I could tell it had already made a difference.
A week later and she is getting a little better everyday. I’m no longer in pain which has made the biggest change in our day-to-day routine. She’s still learning how to use her tongue properly and it will be another few weeks before she is completely healed. Our breastfeeding journey had a rocky start, but we are on the way to a smoother path. I’m hopeful.
The one thing that has caused me to smile numerous times during these dark days is watching our girls interact. Little tummy took on the role of big sister without hesitation. She gives her kisses, rubs her head on hers like a cat, strokes her hair, asks to hold her, talks to her, and tries to play with her. She gets the biggest smile on her face just looking at her sister. Whenever someone comes over she runs over tiny tummy and points to her as if she’s showing her off like a proud sister. I also love that she has observed my actions while taking care of her sister and then mimics them with her baby doll. She seems so mature for her age at times. She constantly amazes me with what she is able to understand and do. I can’t believe my big girl is turning two TOMORROW!
Our family is growing. It’s an exhausting and exciting time.