When it comes to birth stories and postpartum experiences, just as no two people are the same, neither are two births, two journeys through healing from childbirth, and neither are two postpartum experiences - emotional and physical.
Today we're featuring Heather Lake, new mama and avid runner in San Diego. If you're local to San Diego, you might recognize her as a local feature reporter for the morning show on FOX 5. She's a mama to her 2-year-old, Sebastian, and newborn, Lucy, and wife to Sean. She and her husband love the beach & the mountains. They're always outdoors, and if they're not swimming and surfing in the ocean, you can find them snowboarding in our local mountains. Heather is hoping to get back to her goal of completing a marathon in every state.....with 9 down, and a lot to go! When she's not working or playing with the kiddos, she's writing and working on her new blog www.thatgirlonthego.com. She's been working for FOX 5 for 10 years now.
Today, she's giving us a little peek into her life as a mama and becoming a new mom by sharing her birth story...
Heather's birth story:
Many OBGYNs describe my birth as “classic second child”, but I’d like to say it was a monumental accomplishment in my own mind and especially for my body. I had studied hypno-birthing methods going into my second birth and wanted so badly to have a natural childbirth. The delivery of my first child was dramatic….like straight out of a movie scene. My water broke in a restaurant (check please), contractions started in the car and were followed by 3 hours of violent dry heaving (thankfully our Thai food never made it to the table or that would have ruined my favorite take-out for life). Needless to say, several hours later and no end in sight, I opted for the epidural and delivered a healthy baby 12 hours later.
My little girl came into the world a little different. Instead of taking a Lamaze class, I studied hypno-birthing and went into this delivery with a very different mindset (and trust me, I believe that any class you take is fine because you truly never know what the body/baby is going to do). The goal is simple: deliver a healthy baby….so I’m not going to tell you some self-righteous story about how I delivered au naturale…I’m just going to tell you how beautiful it can be if everything goes just right and you put your mind in the right place to make it happen.
My contractions started at 3 a.m. and were 15 minutes apart. I called the doctor, went in for a quick check and sure enough baby was going to be here (but on her own schedule of course). That day, I had my hubby take me to acupuncture (which I had been doing regularly), where she let me relax and breathe through contractions (which were now coming every 10 minutes). She put extra “to-go” ear needles on specific stimulating points for labor, and I was on my way home to relax and breathe. I spent an hour in a warm bath and a few more hours in bed (moving from side to side felt best). After finding arrangements for my 2-year-old, we were on our way to the hospital and my contractions were 3 minutes apart. I honestly couldn’t believe I was doing this and doing it so well. Things were getting serious though and my mind was starting to fail me. We were on the road and I started to just close my eyes and breathe. Through each contraction I would sing “twinkle twinkle little star” because it was about 30 seconds long and I knew that when the song was over, the contraction would be over (thank you hypno-birthing). We arrived at the hospital at 4:30 p.m., and a healthy Lucy came into the world at 5:47 p.m. It was the gnarliest thing I can say I’ve ever done in my life (this all coming from a girl who has done IRONMAN triathlons and a handful of marathons).
I remember purposely not looking at the monitors in the room, nor the faces of the nurses. I just needed to focus. The nurses were so amazing though and helped my hubby coach me throughout the whole experience. The beauty of not having an epidural was that anytime I thought I wanted to throw in the towel, I could change positions, move my body and continue on with my breathing. It wasn’t easy, and I honestly don’t know if I could ever do it again, but I’m so happy my body was able to complete the task. In the end, the most beautiful part was being able to hold my baby girl on my chest for the first time. Every birth is truly a miracle. I feel very fortunate that my body performed the way my mind was envisioning. I’ll never forget what I told the labor and delivery nurses and what they wrote up on that white board: “Delivery Notes: Wants to deliver as natural as possible.” I clearly had doubts but was so happy when I looked up at the board post delivery (obviously had a little laugh) and realized I had done it!
I tell you this lengthy birth story because it has such an impact on how my body has reacted postpartum. I literally stayed at the hospital for 24 hours and then went straight home with my new family and settled into real life at home with two babies. Delivering unmedicated made my recovery seem like a breeze in comparison to my first birth. It was a pretty cool moment to walk around the room 2 hours postpartum and go to the bathroom without being carried there. Everything about recovery felt like it was happening in “warp speed” as opposed to my last baby (was this for real?).
With all that being said, I have a way of always being really tough on myself (who doesn’t?). Around baby’s one-month birthday, the idea of being ecstatic about my delivery had died off, and I was now staring at my postpartum body in the mirror and getting bummed out. “Why was my stomach not flat yet?” and “Why was my booty all of a sudden flat?” I can’t tell you that these thoughts go away, but I can tell you that there are ways to help them be less “loud” (minus the fact that you’re so busy with two kids that you don’t have time to look in the mirror, ha ha.) At six weeks postpartum I started working out with friends, doing Stroller Strides workouts, and realizing that all of our bodies have done a beautiful thing and that’s giving the gift of life. Of course I’ll always feel self conscious in a swimsuit, and I’ll constantly envy the trainer at the gym who walks around in the perfect leggings and sports bra, but for now, this is me. My hubby loves me, my babies love me, and I’m healthy and alive. I’ll exercise for them…to give them a healthy and happy mommy and to give me a great sense of self. But I’m trying to make a promise to myself that I won’t be hard on my postpartum body, instead celebrate it….the big nursing boobs, the flattened glutes, and the less than flat abs! Put in the hard work and your body will love you back. Instead of calling it my “constant struggle,” I’m calling it my “constant journey” as a momma, a wife, and a woman.
What was your birth story like? What has your postpartum journey been like so far? Share with us on Facebook and Instagram by using the hashtag #MonthOfMama along with your story/post!
Cheers to motherhood and all the different ways to enter into the journey and beauty of mamahood.