You guys, it was hard.
To be fair, I knew it would be hard. The labor part, that is. I had read the books and articles. I researched. We had taken classes. I knew labor would be hard. And it was.
Still, I wasn’t at all prepared for the emotional turmoil I felt in the hours and days after Will was born. From the books and articles and advice from friends, I knew to expect tears and hormones and emotional craziness. I knew to expect “baby blues.” But I wasn’t prepared, not really.
I found myself feeling so conflicted. In the midst of the unexplainable joy I felt over the birth of our son, I found myself almost mourning the end of the pregnancy as if I’d lost a loved one. Will was here, in my arms, and wonderful, but I missed him being only mine…only mine to touch and hold, safe and secure inside me.
I missed feeling his kicks and knowing he was growing in there, nurtured by my body. No longer perfectly and automatically nourished in my womb, I found myself in a battle of wills against the very life I had just birthed, struggling to feed him in a way that seemed to only upset him more. I wasn’t prepared for how hard that was, to immediately enter into a fight, both for and against my precious child. I was surprised by how fast and how hard that aspect of motherhood hit. Surprised by how tired I felt…how easy giving up felt in those early days when all I wanted was sleep, comfort, and peace for our little family.
I felt foreign in my own body. I’d grown so used to the reassuring roundness of my belly and the firm, tight, bundle of joy I carried there. Now I was left with squishy skin that just felt empty and hollow. My chest ached with the weight of producing more nourishment than our little one could possibly eat. I felt the sting and the tug and the ache with every feeding. My lady parts felt…well, let’s just say, everything felt foreign there, too.
I also desperately missed the way our little family was before. I missed having Wyatt all to myself whenever I wanted him. I missed lazy evenings on the couch with ice cream and TV. I missed sleepy mornings cuddled in bed for “just 15 more minutes.” Now there was a screaming little boy who demanded our attention at all hours of the day. We barely had an hour together during naps to scarf down something to eat and prepare for the next round of feeding and diapers. In the first few days, we were lucky to sneak a few moments together to hug and to nestle into each other. I missed the sense of carefree couple-dom that we had enjoyed for the past 10 and a half years.
And yet, when Will snuggled into my arms or nuzzled into my chest, my whole body felt full with the overwhelming joy of this miracle. He was amazing and perfect and sweet and beautiful. Miraculous and beautiful. It was as if I couldn’t get enough of him, just breathing him in and savoring his newborn-ness.
Still, it felt foreign and crazy and exciting and scary… and wonderful….always wonderful.
I cried. I mourned for what felt like loss. I felt guilty and ashamed for those thoughts. I loved our son fiercely, yet struggled to move into this new phase of life. I was also desperate to protect our privacy in those early days, not wanting help or even many visitors. And I’m so thankful we were able to keep those earliest moments to ourselves. Somehow, in my soul, I felt this was a journey we needed to travel on our own as we transitioned from our roles of husband and wife, best friends, and lovers… to all those things and more… parents.
I knew we would never have those precious moments again, never feel those feelings of utter joy and parental desperation for the first time, never again whisper those first reassurances to each other softly in the dim early morning after a night of no sleep. Of course, there will hopefully be other transitions with future kids, but never these exact, early moments, with just me and Wyatt and Will, figuring out how to be a family of three.
It was hard. Beautifully hard.
I debated sharing this story. It’s such a personal experience that Wyatt and I weathered together in those bleak, wonderful, early days. But, I believe every story is worth telling. It helps the world feel a little smaller and a little kinder when we can reach out and touch one another through words, opening our hearts to honesty and compassion. We all enter into this journey in our own way, but somehow, each story makes us feel a little more connected.
But more than that…. for several days, weeks even, I didn’t take the time to truly process how wonderful Will’s birth experience truly was. I had prayed for a natural, unmedicated birth, and I wanted desperately for that to happen. It was perfect and wonderful, but I barely had time to praise God for that while fighting to figure out our new family.
And so, this story is for myself, for my memories. Because I want to treasure every moment of this in my heart, even the hard parts.
Especially the hard parts.
Because it’s easy to savor the sweet moments of newborn baby bliss, the ones everyone remembers and imagines life with a baby to be. It’s harder to treasure the tears and the worries and the pain. Having this story here, out in the world, is a wonderful way to help my own heart move past these quiet, stressful, sleep-deprived newborn days and onto the rest of our lives as we work our way through every exciting adventure that each new day brings.
Without further ado, here is the story of how Will Samuel Shipman entered the world and took over our hearts forever.
I woke up at 8:00 am on Saturday, July 18, with contractions. I’d been having them off and on for a few weeks, but this morning, they were more constant. Not regular or long or super painful yet, but they kept coming. Wyatt left to to go play indoor soccer with his team, the Michael Bolton Wanderers, at 9:00 am. They won their game 5-3.
While he was gone, I had breakfast, showered and got ready for the day. Then, I painted both my fingernails and toenails, which was exceptionally difficult because I had to really stretch to reach my toes while still having contractions. I had to stop and take a few breaks and I rushed painting my toenails and had to redo a couple of them because they were messy. I had been timing contractions all morning, and no real pattern had developed. I even texted Wyatt to say I thought they were slowing down. Still, they kept coming. I played around with our new Netflix subscription and found Good Eats on there, so I had a good morning by myself on the couch.
I had wanted to find something fun for Wyatt and I to do that afternoon, so I tried to look for ideas online. But it was so hot that I couldn’t think of anything that sounded good, so I was a little bummed, thinking about “wasting” one of our last days before the baby. When Wyatt got home, he brought me some mini blueberry muffins after I had been wishy-washy about wanting donuts. I wasn’t thrilled because I prefer chocolate chip, but they actually tasted really good to me, so I ate the entire little cup of them.
A little later, we took a nap together, and even though I warned Wyatt that I didn’t want him to wake up grumpy, I didn’t do a very “gentle” job of waking him (his words), and we argued for awhile about him being upset at me, for what I felt was no reason. My contractions were regular from the time I woke up from the nap, though, so I made it a point to quickly resolve our issue and insist that I couldn’t fight with him, not while working through contractions and trying to figure out if this was the real deal. We made up, but I could tell he was still a little grumpy. I left him alone for a bit and he calmed down quickly.
He went outside to check the air conditioner. It had stopped working two days before and he’d had to repair it the previous afternoon. Everything seemed to be in working order, and I was very thankful for that.
A little later, just before 2:00 pm, I decided to eat something for lunch. Wyatt made me some cheese and veggie wraps, which was my latest favorite food. They were fresh and cool and delicious with our garden produce. I managed to get two of them down even though I was now having painful contractions every five or seven minutes.
My sister called from the airport to chat. I managed to talk to her for several minutes and through three contractions without letting on I was in labor. We weren’t planning to tell anyone until we were admitted to the hospital.
At about 2:30, I was fairly certain I was in active labor, since I’d had contractions for about 7 hours now. I got to work finishing up the packing for the hospital and we tackled all the chores on my to-do list for the house, things like taking out the trash, running the dishwasher, checking the garden, and cleaning out the fridge. Wyatt did most of the work as I had to stop and lean over the couch every five minutes to breathe through contractions.
Still, even with the pain, I was unsure about going to the hospital. I didn’t want to get there, just to be sent home. I was certain I was in labor but felt the pain wasn’t severe enough that baby would be coming super soon. I wanted to be home and comfortable as long as possible. Still, I hadn’t felt Beanie moving around much all day and I was starting to get nervous that maybe he was in distress. I made the decision that it was better to go to the hospital and be sent home than to wait at home and have anything happen to our precious babe. I think Wyatt was grateful as I could tell he was a little concerned that I was wanting to stay home as long as possible. Little did I know how important that decision would be.
We were finally ready to leave for the hospital around 4:00. I debated stopping on the way to return some Shatto milk bottles to the grocery store that had been on our counter or in the laundry room for months, driving me crazy, since we kept forgetting to return them for the deposit. I ended up deciding it wasn’t worth it. I needed to know Beanie was okay and I’d never forgive myself if anything was wrong and we had stopped to return those darn bottles instead of rushing to the hospital.
Wyatt and I shared a kiss in the driveway before throwing all the bags into the car and driving off. We were both so nervous. The entire trip from home to the hospital felt so surreal, as if we were just pretending. We both felt the weight of the huge transition we were about to go through. The next time we were at our house, there would be three of us. Not to mention, I was extremely nervous about the next few hours.
I asked Wyatt if he was ready for this, and he gave me a nervous, excited smile and a shrug.
I kept timing contractions in the car using the app on my phone I’d been using all day. These contractions were really difficult because I had to sit up straight instead of leaning over the couch like I’d been doing pretty much all day. I was thankful we’d taken the labor yoga class and had a few different positions to try, but that was the most comfortable place for me to manage each contraction.
Still, I couldn’t believe we were really going to be admitted. Even though I knew my contractions were getting more regular and more intense, it felt like we’d have hours and hours to go before meeting our son or daughter and I was more than a little scared.
We pulled into the parking lot and found a pretty good spot close to the main doors. Since we were arriving during regular hours, we didn’t have to enter through the emergency room entrance. Wyatt was a little surprised about that. He had been sure I’d go into labor in the middle of the night.
We carried all the bags into the hospital with us because I didn’t want to send Wyatt back out to get them later if we needed them. However, a small part of me still assumed they’d be sending us home instead of admitting me. I seriously couldn’t believe we were about to have a baby. We sat in the car and waited out a contraction before heading in so I wouldn’t have to walk while in pain.
Still, I had a contraction as we walked across the main lobby to the elevators and Wyatt kept asking me if I needed to stop and sit down. I told him no, and half walked, half waddled to the elevators, wondering if anyone knew how excited and nervous we felt. I don’t remember if anyone was staring at us, but I imagine it was pretty clear we were nervous and excited first-time parents. When we got to the third floor and went to check in at the desk, my nervous excitement took over and I found myself chatting more than necessary with the nurse there, apologizing several times if they ended up needing to send us home if I wasn’t far enough along. She was very reassuring that we had done the right thing by coming in to check on things. I assume she thought I was a crazy momma-to-be who had come at my first sign of a contraction.
We had already completed the pre-registration online but there was still a lengthy check in process and I had to pee really badly so I was very impatient. But, my contractions had really slowed down, which was disappointing. I only had one bad one while sitting at the desk. I was more sure than ever we were about to hear, “Nope, not time yet.”
However, once we got into the triage room and a nurse started monitoring me, she assured me that I was, in fact, in active labor. My contractions settled in again and intensified quickly once I got hooked up to the monitor, and because I had to lay in the bed instead of move around, they felt even more painful. Still, Wyatt and I were both comforted by the steady heartbeat we could watch on the screen, knowing Beanie was doing just fine.That’s enough words for one post today. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the story, where I share about the whirlwind turn labor took in the next few minutes! UPDATE: CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2. CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT OUR PREGNANCY STORY AND OUR JOURNEY OF WAITING FOR OUR BABY.