The amazing Chelsey Jones and Zephyr Sibelius Lindbloom (7 months).
Chelsey and her husband weren't quite ready to have a baby yet, but another partner of hers was so they made the decision to go ahead and have a baby with him. She conceived without issue and had a great pregnancy. Chelsey says her biggest struggle was actually with body image issues. She'd struggled in her teens and twenties but had finally come to a place where she was felt really great, loved where she was with her body, felt sexually charged and energized, and enjoyed where she was with her career. Throughout her pregnancy she worried that this would all change. Sure enough, around 6 or 7 months as her body began to change swiftly she struggled with the way she looked, as well as connecting, with her baby. She saw what was happening more as if it was a science experiment and held a little distance. She wasn't hard on herself about it, though, just knew that's where she was in those moments. Thankfully, she's come to a place now where she loves how she looks again with her stretch marks and soft tummy and realizes it was just an evolution she needed to get through.
Chelsey hired a midwife and planned to deliver at home, she wasn't against a hospital birth but trying it at home just seemed like the right choice for them. The midwife she chose and loved left the practice to have her own baby, and Chelsey's care was transferred to a different midwife in the practice. At around 9 months, however, that midwife parted ways as well and they were placed with a new midwife who they didn't really know. Chelsey went into labor on a Friday at 41 weeks and called her midwife. The midwife was going out with friends and told her to call her in the morning. Chelsey labored through the night with her doula and things were getting really intense but there weren't any other signs of labor outside of her contractions. Her midwife checked in on Sunday but didn't want to check her dilation. By time Sunday night rolled around, Chelsey was also having terrible back labor. She couldn't focus on her baby and didn't feel empowered anymore so she asked her midwife her options.
After having labored for 4 days, Chelsey decided to go to the hospital for an epidural and had the most amazing experience. As she had meditated on her labor and delivery during pregnancy she had always imagined it happening during the day in a bright room with a lot of windows and that's exactly where she was. There was a nurse midwife on staff who was wonderful and after four days of labor, Chelsey had only got to 4cms at home but after 6 hours with the epidural she was complete and ready to push. Once Zephyr was here, Chelsea never could have imagined or prepared for the love that she felt. It was amazing!
Chelsey is grateful they went to the hospital because it was such an amazing experience but also because it ended up being just the right place for them. After Zephyr was born he spent some time skin to skin with his dad and they all got to hold him but when they went into recovery an hour later, Chelsey's nurse realized he had a lot of fluid on his lungs. They decided to send him to NICU for X-ray and Chelsey says that in this moment she felt especially fortunate to have two partners. Zephyr's dad was able to stay with him and Chelsey's husband was able to stay with her. X-rays showed there was extra fluid on his lungs and he stayed in NICU for the next 4 days while they waited for all of the tests to come back. While it was an intense and scary time, it was nice having someone there to give them a crash course in caring for their new baby.
Zephyr was on formula from the start as it took a week for Chelsey's milk to come in and the hospital was wonderfully supportive of her choices. They showed her how to pump, allowed her to breastfeed every three hours for thirty minutes before bottle-feeding and they always felt really supported. Part of sharing her story is to share how amazing an experience they had in hospital. In the months since, Chelsey has transitioned to exclusive breastfeeding and has enjoyed being able to pump so that her baby can share that time with his dad as well.
Getting to a place where she is mentally, physically and spiritually happy after struggling with body image issues and depression has been huge for Chelsey. She feels so proud of herself as a woman and mother and has been able to use self-talk coping mechanisms and reach out to her network to feel supported when she needs it. "As women and mothers we're not honest enough with each other in the most simple things", she says. Rather than refrain from sharing our stories both positive and negative to protect other people, we need to share. It's not fair to ourselves and others if we aren't honest. Finding a place where she can talk more honestly and encourage others to do the same is so important. Chelsey's greatest advice is that you should over-prepare for your birth experience but remain flexible. "Be loud and vocal about what you want and then assume that nothing is going to go as planned. Even if it's perfect or ideal, it's often not what you thought. Remember that it's a moment. A very important moment that you'll remember forever but it's just a moment. You as a human will keep progressing and learning to grow."