Laurel’s Birth Experience and Breastfeeding

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about birth experiences and breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 


I had it all planned.

I was going to deliver naturally no…matter…what.  No excuses!

It’s not like I had pressure or anything.

One teeny tiny fact kept crawling into my mind…

All the women in my family have had natural births.

But whatever…

I wanted a natural birth, as that is what has been modeled for me in my family.  From the women in my family, I received support, energy, and invaluable education from their stories and their experiences.  I read books – oh, how I read so many books – and as I read each on different natural birthing practices, I felt invigorated, powerful, and maybe for the first time in my life, I truly felt beautiful, strong, and womanly.  I didn’t “fear” the birth of my daughter, my first child.  I was excited.  I was emotional.  I was proud.

My husband listened patiently as I relayed all of the wonderful information to him on natural births.  He was supportive, and we were excited to NOT use medication for the delivery of our baby girl.

I watched, daunted, as most of my friends started asking for epidurals 3 months before they were due to have their babies.  I knew that I wanted to feel the birth experience, not be numbed up throughout it.  I knew I could handle a natural birth.  I’ve been told I have a high tolerance for pain, and I believed it!  Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis for [at the time] 7 years, I was used to pain.  Heck, my pregnancy was painful.  Not like other pregnancies where the women are complaining about how “big” they felt or that they were “kinda” sick, but painful as in “I don’t know how I am physically going to get my butt out of bed and work a full day at my job because I can’t even move and my knees are so swollen they look like cantaloupes, but maybe an hour-long bath (which I can barely get in-and-out of) might do the trick.”  Few understood, and frankly, I didn’t expect them to.  Most of my co-workers at the time didn’t even know I had RA, so I hid it pretty darn well for 7+ years.  I didn’t want sympathy from those that would brush off my pain as regular pregnancy symptoms.  In my heart, I knew very well that this pregnancy could be my one and only – my first and last all together.  To already know and feel that is very powerful.  I wanted to enjoy it, relish in the glow, and bond with my baby as much as I could.  Even though the pain was unbearable at times, I feel that I was very happy during my pregnancy.  I didn’t take for granted the experience, and I was looking forward to the birth, rather than “dreading it” as some of my peers so eloquently put it.

I had my hospital bag packed a month before my due-date.  I carried my camera in my purse all the time, just in case!  At work, I was working like a maniac to get everything completed before my impending maternity leave.  I was tying up loose ends, as they say, as I didn’t plan to return to work, although I hadn’t let my intentions be known at that time.

The morning of January 7th, I had one of my weekly doctor’s appointments.  I wasn’t feeling all that great – thought it was the pork chop from dinner the night before that didn’t sit well with me – and almost cancelled my appointment so I could just get more work done and not have to go anywhere.  Glad I didn’t cancel.  My mom picked me up from work on that frigid morning (my husband had a meeting, and we decided he didn’t need to come to the appointment, as they were pretty standard at that point).  We sat and chatted in the waiting room until I heard my name being called.  My mom came back with me.  The nurse took my vitals, and got a very concerned look on her face.  Mind you, everything had been s.t.a.n.d.a.r.d up until now, so this was frightening.  My blood pressure was quite high for me (I have very low blood pressure normally).  The nurse excused herself, and the next thing I knew, my wonderful, fun, energetic OB/GYN, who is usually found to have a bright smile on her face, flew in the room looking a bit panicked and harried.  She started talking to me about the ramification of high blood pressure at 38 weeks, and all of a sudden I heard the word “induction.”  I must have zoned out a bit before then, as I thought she would just send me on my merry way and tell me to take it easy – come back next week – yadda yadda.  When I heard “induction” I snapped to at full attention, and nearly burst into tears.  Not the way this was supposed to happen!  Not to me.  Not to MY baby.

The doctor told me she wanted me to be admitted to the hospital and have the induction, but first they would put me on a magnesium drip (used because one of the side effects of high blood pressure is seizures).  Oh great!  The news just kept getting better.

All I could think was THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!  I know I wasn’t too early, but I thought I had another 2 weeks, at least, and I wanted that beautiful, natural birth I had been dreaming about.  Some of my friends would have probably given a kidney or their right arm for having a doctor want to induce 2 weeks early, but I was heartbroken. Plain and simple.

My husband rushed to the hospital, after I called him in a bit of a frenzy, interrupting his lunch (and as a side note, when I finally returned home after having our daughter, I was unpacking his lunchbox one day and found a cookie with ONE bite out of it…he said that he had just taken that bite when his co-worked ran down and said he was wanted [by me] on the phone and I sounded a bit nervous), and it was a great relief to have both my mom and husband with me.  I was admitted, and I was induced.

12 hours later, after an epidural, 5 bags of liquid dripping simultaneously into me from various IV’s, and 2 shifts of nurses later, I gave birth to the most beautiful girl in the whole world.  My epidural had worn off, so I was able to feel the birth, and I watched myself pushing her into the world with a mirror that a kind nurse was holding!  Most amazing experience of my entire life.  Nothing will ever compare, nor do I want it to!

About an hour after the birth, I started to feel some huge pains again, but this time they were MUCH worse…I was confused (was I having another child? What was going on?), alone (my husband was with our baby in the nursery getting bathed, measured, etc.) and I was in such pain I couldn’t even push the button for the nurse.  Finally someone heard my shrieks (which was unfortunate, as I never yelled or even raised my voice during the actual birth), and doctors, residents, and nurses flooded into my room.  I tried to explain the pain in between my heavy breathing, but it was hard – real hard.  I finally said it felt like I was going to give birth to a bowling ball, and the on-call doctor said he had heard someone else explain something like this before.  I was whisked off to the OR, where I was informed that I had a blood clot the size of a bowling ball (ironic, right?) behind my stitches, which is why no one saw or could feel anything.  They removed it, and I was sent to recovery while my husband tended to our daughter.

It was HOURS before the hospital staff allowed me to hold my daughter.  I felt fine, but couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t allowed to see her, to hold her and comfort her.  Finally, a kind nurse brought me my baby, and I held her and cried, and cried, and cried.  It was such an overwhelming experience for all of us.  I was just glad to have her in my arms.  My husband and I named her in the recovery room.  I will never forget that day.

After settling into my room in the maternity ward, I wanted to nurse my daughter.  She was pretty sleepy, but I was able to arouse her, and she started breastfeeding, albeit with some prompting.  I had the help of a great nurse, and a lactation nurse, as well, whom they called the “baby whisperer” because she really did have a way of getting our daughter to breastfeed.

Home a few days later, I was able to continue to nurse her on-demand, which seemed to me the only logical way.  I was keeping track of how frequently she was nursing, and once in a 24-hour period of time, she nursed 22 times.  I was exhausted, but I loved it!  Our nursing time was healing for me and for our family.  I was able to spend a good portion of my days holding, comforting and feeding our daughter!  Although I didn’t get my “natural birth” by any stretch of the imagination, I was blessed with a healthy, happy baby, whose need to suck was strong from the beginning, and who knew what she wanted, when she wanted it.  My “baby” is now a very active, attentive, caring two-and-a-half who continues to nurse multiple times per day.

If this is my one and only shot at motherhood, I feel thankful that I have had this breastfeeding relationship with my daughter.  Nursing gets us through good days, bad days, boo boo’s, illness, toddler eating habits (or lack thereof) and stress.  Nursing has been a lifesaver, a time-saver, a lifestyle blessing, and a wonderful addition to my husband’s and my relationship.  If I get another shot at motherhood, I know what I want, but I also know that plans don’t always work out the way you want them to.  The un-natural birth of my daughter at first brought me guilt, but come on – don’t we have enough guilt in our lives?  My daughter still knows what she wants, when she wants, and I suspect she will continue to have those characteristics well into adulthood!

Being able to watch her run in our backyard, say “I love you, mommy” with a huge smile on her face, say “thanks” to the librarian and smell our flowers…those are the moments I want to focus on for the rest of my life.

Thank goodness for the healing powers of breastfeeding!


 Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.


Filed under Birth

7 responses to “Laurel’s Birth Experience and Breastfeeding

  1. mknighton

    Beautiful story, Laurel! I love the part about “healing through nursing”. How true!

  2. Marilee

    Laurel, this birth story is so precious. My first was not born under ideal circumstances, either. The way you describe how you dealt with that emotionally and using nursing is really meaningful. Very inspirational, thank you!

  3. Laurel, I love reading this and “hearing” you tell your birth story (which I’ve heard a few times before). . . what a sweet and wonderful girl you have and what a gift she has been given having you as her mother! This brought me to tears 🙂

  4. OMG Laurel, I am crying right now. We have SOOooo much in common. I too have RA (for almost 20 years) Holy crap that makes me sound old! My first pregnancy was a rough one and I had high blood pressure and was induced early (the deets are in my post for today). I am so glad that everything turned out wonderfully for you in the end and yes, I am a strong believer in the healing powers of breastfeeding for mamas and babies alike!!

  5. theadventuresoflactatinggirl

    Absolutely inspiring!

  6. Rachel

    Wonderful story Laurel! Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  7. Pingback: Laurel’s Story « The Adventures of Lactating Girl

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