Since Bruce is turning 6 months old, it is time to finish his birth story! In part 1, I covered the events preceding labor up to when I was holding my baby in my arms in the tub, with the midwives wondering if I was going to see if I had a boy or a girl. Sure enough! That little kung fu fighting baby inside me turned out to be a Bruce Lee… er… Lim after all!
Choosing A Name
As a side note, yes, our name choice had something to do with me asking my baby “What are you doing in there?! Are you practicing your kung fu again, Bruce Lee?” But also, on some baby name site, it says that Bruce is of French origin. French names were acceptable candidates in our name searches.
Why French? Last April, I found out that I was pregnant when David was gone with his family for a month-long trip to France, Reunion and Mauritius. Mauritius is the birth place of David’s dad, who, when he moved to America, chose the name Louis, after Port Louis, Mauritius.
Another cool thing about the name Bruce is that it means woods. The Chinese character of our last name Lim means forest. Along with that, the name grew on David because it seemed to have a masculine and strong quality to it, at least with our associations to the other Bruces we know of: Bruce Willis, Bruce Wayne, Bruce Banner, and William the Bruce.
Even with all of those connections, it took me a while to quit calling him Vi. But enough bunny trails!
A Few Tears After Giving Birth
There are some wonderful things about having a baby, but there are also some realities about the road to parenthood such as this: pain does not stop after the birth. I got the shakes from the huge surges of labor-causing hormones still raging through my body. There was still the birth of the placenta afterwards. And then the getting of stitches for the tearing. And then there was the continual cramping and shrinking of the uterus. What they say about the cramping getting worse after more children is so true!
Every time I nursed Bruce, I was crying through painful contractions, and breathing as hard as if I was still in labor over the next 3 days. I chose to not take pain pills because, A) they don’t work well enough to do any good, and B) drugs tend to hurt my stomach. A heating pad, however, gave a smidge of comfort. Sitting on stitched up wounds is a very delicate matter, as well as feeling incredibly bruised throughout the entire pelvic region. My whole body was in a heightened state of nerve pain.
Poor Bruce had trauma being born too. He was well cushioned with my bag of waters through the entire birth until it burst and suddenly his head and body were slammed on all sides by the birth canal. It probably startled (scared/shocked) him. It took only 5 minutes to push him out after my bag broke, but he sure took his time hollering and telling us all about it afterwards. Baby Happy was not happy at all! He finally calmed down in his daddy’s arms. I love that David is such a calming person.
Birth Center vs. Hospital Experiences
Bruce didn’t really want to latch on and nurse much at first. When the midwives were done weighing, measuring and giving him his vitamin K shot, he did get a little colostrum and then slept between us on the nice big bed. Such a nice difference from the hospital where there was only room for me and the baby in the bed, and poor David had to sleep on a fold out mattress from an arm chair with his arms hanging off the skinny bed.
The best thing about the birth center was that the doulas would wait until they heard the baby wake up and nurse before checking our vitals. I remember with Kadie in the hospital, the nurses came in at all hours, waking us up, or waking Kadie up after I had just got her to sleep.
The birth center also had a kitchen where David could either grab the food I brought, or ask the doula to heat something up. They would also go get food from local restaurants for both of us as part of our package of staying there. I think the hospital would only cover food for me, not David. After Violet was born at Alma, we first found Nicholas’ Lebanese food that we enjoyed the goodness of again after Bruce was born.
The doula on duty also simmered up some kind of healing herbal sitz bath concoction all day until I was ready for a bath in the nice big tub. A super hot bath felt amazing!
Baby Meets Family
David’s folks brought the girls in to meet their brother for the first time, and the first thing Kadie said was, “Wow! Look at the bath tub!” Then she noticed Baby Happy, now dubbed Baby Bruce. Violet followed with comments on the bath tub too, and then immediately wanted to pick Baby Bruce up and hug him like one of her dolls. The girls took turns holding their brother, giving him his birthday present, opening their gifts we got them from their brother, and taking pictures of him. My folks came to see Bruce at the same time, and then the laboring mother in the next room cried out, so we decided it was best if everyone leave. My folks took the kids to their house for a few more days.
Jack came to visit after that and he held Bruce for a while, talking to him, and calling him Master Bruce as Alfred would in his English accent. Jack and David had a great time talking and joking. I enjoyed Jack’s visit too, except when he made me laugh so hard that my stitches and innards hurt. Two hours later, I tried kicking him out because I was very tired and the laughter kept hurting me. Jack agreed but wanted to sing to his new nephew first. So there stood Jack and David, singing “Happy Birthday (it was such a touching moment…) then the brothers looked each other in the eyes and sang “dear Batman!”
“Jack!!! Get out!” I yelled laugh(hurt)ing.
The upside of having my third child is that my milk came in fast – as in the very next day. The downside of my milk coming in is engorgement. I forgot that it isn’t all milk that makes them as hard as rocks and heavy as two half-gallon jugs. There is a lot of extra fluids trying to exit the body all at once. The painful swelling is from edema. The cure? Drink and pee a million times a day, and eat lots of watery fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, celery, etc. Also, cabbage leaves in the nursing bra helps with the pain.
We were wanting to stay at Alma another day because it felt like we were vacationing in a bed and breakfast place, and it was so nice to just hang out, listen to Christmas music, take pictures, treat with microcurrent, eat good food, and chat with the doulas and midwives. No other kids to feed or take care of. Just relax together. Rest. Heal.
Unfortunately the woman next door was still laboring. She was pretty quiet most of the time, but periodically there would be a cry from her room. She had been there before we arrived at o’dark thirty in the morning and was still going late into the night. The poor woman was taken to the hospital and ended up having a C-section. She was a first-time mom, and her baby was 10 pounds 13 ounces!
Two days after birth, I was in Dr. Libby’s office getting an adjustment and FSM treatment. Things needed putting back in place – things like my sacrum was pulled down. After her adjustments I felt so much nerve pain relief! And I could walk so much better!
It takes a while for the big load of hormones to stabilize after birth, and so for quite a while I had to sleep on towels and bed pads and change my shirt several times in the night because I was sweating so much. Maybe part of it is the body trying to get rid of fluids through the skin tissues as well as peeing a million times at night and during the day. Yes, not only does the pain not stop after birth, but the excessive peeing continues. Sigh…
Dare I mention sleep? Sleep, shmeep. Who needs it anyways?
All Star Team
One thing I loved about the whole experience of this pregnancy and birth was that we had a team of three midwives that were with us from start to finish, and beyond. For one thing, Kori is awesome as a person, and excellent at what she does. Corinne was also great and both she and Kori were involved with us for Violet’s birth. And we got to meet a nice intern, Whitney. At the hospital, we didn’t know who would be at Kadie’s birth, and, in fact, three different midwives had their shifts while we were there for my 12 hour labor. At Alma, most of the births are at the mother’s home, and the midwives go to them. Even though we chose to have Bruce at the birth center, the midwives gave post natal care and baby care by coming to our home for the next couple of weeks.
It was very nice, too, that I did not have to have any vaginal exams for my entire care there. Even at the birth, they did not check dilation or anything. They offered, but I didn’t feel like anything was going wrong, so I declined. The focus of the birth really centered on me laboring, doing the work of letting my body open, and trusting my body to do what it was meant to do. In contrast, in the hospital, it feels like the measuring of dilation is a measure of how good or poor a job I am doing at giving birth. The fact that I was only at 3 cm when I had been working so hard for so long made me feel so discouraged – like I couldn’t keep doing this anymore. I felt like I wasn’t doing a good enough job. The nurses would check the baby about every 15 minutes too, which added pain.
It seemed like the midwives checked the baby less often, which let me focus more on what I was doing instead of the irritation of the hospital nurses touching me too much. I’m sure there are some great nurses in the maternity ward, but I had a few who seemed like they were tired of being around crying birthing women. Not that everyone in the hospital is desensitized, but it seems like they see so many births everyday, and so many who are drugged to do it that it just becomes regular procedures. It’s not as personal or comfortable is my point. Don’t get me wrong. If there was a need for the drugs to save me and my baby, then I would do it. But don’t get me wrong again, that I feel better than anyone else for doing it el naturale. Every woman needs something to help them through this scary painful event in life.
My aversion to drugs was actually from fear of what it would do to me or my baby, since I already have health issues. And I had a sense that I could probably make it through the pain because I had already been through a lot of pain in my life. Had I known just how much more painful birth would be… well… let’s just say what you live through doesn’t kill you. (I apologize if you are a first time mom-to-be reading this. Maybe this is a little too brutally honest.) To be a little more positive, though, this pain came to a wonderful end that was worth it all. And the pain did end… over time.
Parting Thoughts Of A Tired Yet Thankful Mom
Anyhow, the things people don’t tell you, or maybe they do, but you don’t really get until you go through it first hand is that the 4th trimester is the hardest! Having a newborn is both the most difficult, yet most wonderful thing in the world. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it just like that! It’s the nights and days that go by so very slow, but the years fly by. Here we are and Bruce is already half a year old! He’s starting to eat avocado and artichoke. He’s sitting on his own a little. He keeps getting cuter and cuter.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful son you’ve given me! And thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps me going every day with caring for three young children along with our health challenges, and the ongoing construction project in our home and neighborhood. And thank you, Dear God, for my husband and all of the hands that hold me together through this season! Amen!