The lovely Laura Clark and Leona (14 months). Laura has always had an innate feeling that she's meant to be a mother. She watched 'The Business of Being Born' long before she was ready to have her own children and it strongly informed what she desired for her own pregnancy and birth experience.
Laura had her IUD removed and was able to conceive after having just one cycle. Her pregnancy was amazing and she loved every second of it - she would do it a million times if she could. So much so, that she hopes to become a surrogate/gestational carrier after she's done having children of her own.
Laura knew she wanted to deliver at a free-standing birth center and had all of her prenatal care there. She took hypnobabies courses and read all the books she could to prepare for natural childbirth. Her water broke at 40 weeks 5 days but labor never really ramped up on it's own. A non-stress test revealed that Leona was doing well and her midwives gave her a cotton root tincture to try to get things going. After returning home to labor, Laura went back to the birthing center the following morning in hopes that the transition would help things pick up. She was only 2-3cms, too early for the birth center to allow her to stay there, so she went to a hotel and ultimately did everything they could to get things going - more tincture, inversion, nipple stimulations but nothing was helping. 36 hours after her water broke she had reached the maximum time the birth center would allow her to labor so she was transferred to hospital.
Laura went through transition while on the ride from the birthing center to the hospital and was nearly 8cms when she checked in. While it was what was needed, at the time it was a shock to suddenly be in a hands on sterile environment. She decided to get an epidural and cried tears of joy that she could finally relax and breathe. After about 4 more hours she was fully dilated but the baby's heart rate wasn't responding through contractions so they wanted to stimulate and once they stimulated by touching her head her heart rate was through the roof. Laura pushed for four hours and ended up having a vacuum assisted delivery. There was meconium present and Leona had an infection when she arrived earth side.
At the time, Laura was so caught up in the joy of her daughters arrival she didn't realize until the next day that nothing had happened the way she had dreamed for so long. For 4 or 5 months she found herself up in the middle of the night crying and unable to sleep thinking about how she could have done things differently. In hindsight, she realizes she may have had some postpartum depression. She feels lucky, thought that Leona has been an amazingly happy baby and joy to be with even though her birthing dreams weren't what she had hoped for.
Laura is a teacher and has been around kids her whole life so she thought motherhood would be a breeze. It's been quite the humbling experience learning that it's so much harder than she ever imagined but also that it's more amazing, she never knew you could love someone so much it almost hurts.
She thought breastfeeding would also be easy - "It's just what you do!" - and she didn't realize how hard it could be until she started. Leona had a very severe lip tie that led to a lot of pain with breastfeeding, nipple injuries and anxiety due to the pain. A lactation consultant helped her learn how to use a nipple shield which she continued using for her first three months. She is grateful it allowed her nipples to heal but it made feeding, and even more so feeding in public much more of a chore. Leona had two lip tie revisions before she was able to nurse without discomfort.
"Our bodies are so capable and amazing to create these little humans but our bodies are so changed in the process". It is a myth that breastfeeding causes the weight to melt away, that hasn't happened for me and sometimes I want my body back, but this body is the one that has grown and nourished her and I need to respect that".