The phenomenal Jenna Perry with her daughter Lucy (17 months). Jenna is also bonus mom to Cole (11) and has lost two babies to miscarriage. Jenna always wanted to be a mom. She is one of seven and knew that motherhood was for her from a very young age. Her youngest four siblings were born at home and she even got to cut the cord for one of her brothers, so she's been exposed to birth and babies for most of her life. Jenna thought she would be married younger and having children but it finally happened when she was almost 30 and she happily tells her daughter she's waited her whole life for her.
Jenna lost her first pregnancy in a traumatic miscarriage while in a previous relationship. She says it's one of those things that was devastating at the time but in hindsight led her to where she is today. About a month before conceiving Lucy, Jenna had another miscarriage which was less complicated than her first as it was very early and her daughters conception soon after softened the sting quite a bit. Her pregnancy with Lucy was fairly easy and all went very well. She knew she wanted to have an out of hospital birth but her partner wasn't quite on board with home birth so they chose to deliver at The Farm. They started care there from the very start and chose a midwife who had been there since the beginning. Jenna says she was sweet but straightforward and didn't sugar coat anything.
Jenna never had any issues throughout her pregnancy and was able to work as a bartender right until the end. Her water broke while in bed one night and she decided to get going right away. She rallied her partner and sister who was serving as her doula and they set out for the Farm. There, they stayed in a cabin next to her midwives house who she came and went while she labored. Things started off quite easily and progressed well. They got to walk through the woods while she labored and it was all very wonderful. Jenna tried to rest but was too excited and just continued to focus on her birth. 24 hours later, things got really intense and she was even pushing a bit. Unfortunately, she wasn't fully progressing and became stuck at 8cm. After trying the tub and consulting with another midwife they recommended she transfer to hospital. Jenna didn't realize it at the time but she was exhausted and dehydrated and now heartbroken on top of it. She was worried about not being able to pay for a hospital birth and shared that with her partner who told her not to worry.
They drove the 30 minutes to hospital where she was wheeled to her room and asked 50 impossible questions. Jenna was having a difficult time and needed the pain to stop so she asked for an epidural. She felt she could have made it through if she knew it was working and her baby was coming out, but, knowing her baby wasn't coming out she has reached her threshold. After the epidural, she felt amazing and even got a little bit of rest. She was worried about being given Pitocin and ultimately having to deliver via cesarean because her water had been broken for so long but consented and labored for 8 more hours before being ready to push. She pushed for about 20 minutes and they were about to pull the doctor in when Jenna saw her daughter's head emerge with a popping sound. The nurse held her head and told her not to push until the doctor came in. He arrived and she pushed her daughter out the rest of the way. Jenna remembers holding her baby skin to skin and just crying. She was told she had an incredibly prominent tail bone which could have contributed to her daughter having a difficult time making her way out.
Jenna had a time of feeling incredibly happy - and then came breastfeeding. From the start in hospital it hurt. She had always read and been told that it shouldn't hurt but it did. She tried to work through it, googled breastfeeding latch and support videos for help, and the nurses tried to help but things were still hard. They had to stay in hospital for 5 days due to blood count concerns with Lucy and she continued to try to make things work nursing. Jenna says that she read all the books and had all the knowledge but in the moment it went out the window. After checking for tongue tie, seeing a lactation consultant and trying to power through, she couldn't figure out why things were still so painful. She began pumping and bottle feeding, while still trying to nurse but things weren't working - she was still in pain. Jenna was diagnosed with thrush, then they considered whether she was having vasospasms, then more treatment for thrush. Jenna tried to stop the bottle and switch back to breast and her daughter wanted to be latched 24/7. She was constantly struggling to keep weight on her daughter, navigate the pain, feel like she was doing things right and maintain at the same time. Jenna says there was a two month period where she only left the house for doctor appointments and ultimately she reached her breaking point. Being a direct feeding mom wasn't working, being a pumping mom wasn't working. She feels like she never wanted anything more in her life than to breastfeed and it was making her feel crazy. She searched for stories of other women experiencing what she was but couldn't find them.
Quite strangely, It wasn't hurting when she was pumping only when she wasn't. She was told that perhaps she just had incredibly sensitive nipples. Everything was unknown. While Jenna never found a reason for her difficulties she had reached her breaking point and transitioned her daughter to formula. She had pumped and saved enough milk for her daughter to have one bottle of breastmilk per day until she was 6 months old but says she struggled with every bottle of formula until her daughter got to the age she knew she didn't need it anymore. Jenna looks forward to the day that she can give the nursing relationship she's dreamed of another go. She feels she's ready and educated herself even more now and it can hopefully happen, and if it doesn't perhaps she can be a little softer on herself.
Jenna says that above all else she has a beautiful daughter who she waited for her entire life. She is smart and healthy and here and that's the most important thing in this moment. She is here to celebrate being a mom. The tough and draining and incredibly rewarding are all worthy of celebration. A lifelong struggle with body image has led Jenna to want different for her daughter. Regardless what her size or shape, appearance or experience, she wants her to know that she is beautiful and feel empowered to celebrate herself.