Having a Baby After FIRE

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“Pitocin is basically a torture device. There’s a dial for them to turn it up to induce labour and it just keeps getting worse.”

“Oh don’t worry about vaginal tearing. All the other stuff will be so blindingly painful, you won’t even notice the tearing.”

“I was screaming so loud, the nurses down the hall thought I was being murdered.”

These are just some of things other mothers have told me about labour a few days before I gave birth. To say that it scared the crap out of me, is an understatement. Little did I know, what they warned me about wasn’t really the thing I should’ve been worried about. What I should’ve been worried about was far worse and lasted much longer. But before I get to that, let me just back up a bit and tell you about my birth experience.

My Birth Experience

Unlike most births, mine started at a funeral. My due date happened to be the exact same day as my father-in-law’s funeral. So, on top of coping with losing his father, my husband was also learning how to become one himself. Luckily, I didn’t go into labour that day. But the very next day, my doctor said I needed to be induced since the baby is LGA (large for gestational age) and it would be risky to go too many days past my due date.

When it comes to birthing a baby, there’s a lot of “hurry up and wait”, and after 2 whole days, an excruciating and bloody induction, during which the medical intern nearly put in the wrong catheter (they use something called a folly catheter, which is a thin rubber tube with a balloon at the end of it to dilate your cervix. It’s supposed to be quick and painless. It was neither), I was finally transferred into the birthing suite.

Labour

No one ever told me that once you start labour you’re not allowed to eat any solid foods. This is because in case things go south and you need to be rushed into an emergency C-section, they don’t want you choke to death on your stomach contents when they pump you full of anesthesia, which could cause nausea.

Idiotically, the last meal (which I shall refer to as “the last supper”) I had before active labour was McDonald’s. Had I known that was the last time I was going to eat anything for the next 2 days, I would’ve ordered something a lot more satiating, or at least consists of real food.

Ok, so now we’re going to start Pictocin,” said my nurse as she turned up the dial on an IV drip “Your contractions should get more intense, but it’s going to be very gradual.”

I shuddered at the word “Pictocin” and tried very hard not to freak out.

But then, after being on pictocin for 2 hours and not feeling much pain, I started getting cocky. All those years of childhood beatings and my wolverine-like pain threshold is finally paying off! I thought, congratulating myself.

Famous last words.

Once they broke my water, I wasn’t so cocky anymore.

A friend of mine once compared contractions to a bad period. Another said it’s like having 20 bones broken at once. For me, it was neither of those. The contraction felt like being stabbed in the cervix repeatedly with a miniature sword. Blinding pain doesn’t even begin to describe it. Wanderer gently reminded me that now would be a good time to ask for the epidural. The idea of having a sharp needle inserted into my spine wasn’t my idea of fun, but better than the alternative of “screaming like I was being murdered.”

Turns out the epidural, while scary (they have the nurse and your husband bend you forward and make sure you don’t move while inserting a needle into your spine) wasn’t bad and was over quickly. I didn’t have time to ruminate on the possibility, though tiny, of becoming paralyzed if anything went wrong.

After I got the epidural, I could breathe normally again. Sure, I couldn’t feel my legs. And sure, a nurse had to come and empty my bed pan every 3 hours, but the pain was reduced to just a strong pressure and I was even able to get a few hours of sleep!

I was feeling re-energized at this point and ready to get this baby out.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans for me.

Thinking “I got this” when I first checked in to the birthing suite. Ahh such sweet naiveté.

Emergency C-section

“I’m sorry, but you’ve been at 7cm for the past 6 hours and it’s not getting any better”, the doctor told me. “This baby is too big for your body. We’re going to have to do a C-section.”

No one quite prepares you for the moment where after 20+ hours of labour, you’re told they have to cut the baby out of you. 

When they finally wheeled me into the operating room, I hadn’t eaten, showered, or peed normally for days.

The operating room was cold, full of sterile bright lights and white coats. I counted no less than 6 specialists. One was there just to suction the baby’s lungs in the rare case he poops in the amniotic fluid and accidentally breathes in his own feces. Yup, that’s a thing.

“Whoa, this one is a squirter!” I heard one of the surgeons exclaim as he cut into me. I was suddenly super grateful there was a blue sheet blocking the “bloody crime scene” that is my lower body from Wanderer’s view. I was lying on my back, arms stretch out on both side of me, connected to an endless number of IV tubes and monitors.

The anesthesiologist turned a dial way up on my IV and then suddenly the room was spinning. What little I ate—a spoonful of soup and some apple juice—made an appearance as I proceeded to puke my guts out.  I also started shivering uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering so loudly it drowned out all the other sounds in the room.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, there was a loud wail, and I heard the surgeon say “congrats! You have a baby boy!”

You know how people say “I cried tears of joy when my kid was born?” and they thought “this is the happiest moment of my life”?

Well, I threw up when my kid was born and my first thought was “oh shit. What the hell do I do now?”

It was also at this moment that the sheet hiding the part of my body with my guts hanging out decided to fall down. I give Wanderer a tremendous amount of credit for not screaming his head off at what he saw. He would later tell me he was “screaming on the inside.”

What followed was a blur but I was told it would take another hour to deliver the placenta (which Wanderer describe as looking like a bloody octopus) and stitch me up. I wouldn’t let them put my newborn on me for skin-to-skin because I was still shivering uncontrollably and ice cold like a corpse.

They announced his colossal birthweight of 9 lb and wheeled me into the recovery suite. It would take a full 12 hours for the room to stop spinning and for me to feel my legs again. Luckily my baby was not interested in anything but sleep during that time so thankfully I had some time to figure out how to stand without violently throwing up.

Bloated and exhausted with unwashed hair after 3 days in the hospital

Recovery

In Asia, we have something called postpartum confinement ( 坐月子), which sounds like a punishment for mothers, but is actually the opposite.

You see, birth is pretty traumatic. Your body and your mind gets beaten up and while you’re surviving on 2 hours of sleep and trying to recover, you get handed this shrieking creature that you now have to care for 24/7. To quote comedian Louis C.K “it’s like you’re drowning and someone hands you a baby.”

That’s why in Asia, there’s a whole month dedicated to a mom’s recovery. You get fed a concoction of herbs and bone broth that speeds up your healing process. Plus, there are family members or hired help to take care of the baby and take care of you.

But in the western world, you recover for a day or two in the hospital and are sent on your merry way to take care of your screaming mc-screamer pants on your own.

By the time I was discharged from the hospital, it was 3 days later, I still hadn’t showered (because of the C-section I wasn’t allowed to) and was wearing a mattress-thick adult diaper that was continuously soaking through with blood.

Oh and I’d also slept a grand total of 5 hours in all 3 days, on account of the fact that the first day after surgery a nurse comes to check on you every freaking hour. This is on top of your newborn needing to be fed every 2 hours and the other newborn in the ward taking turns at having a shrieking contest with your newborn.

I was so thankful to be home after all that and to finally be able to shower and sleep. Unfortunately, after losing that much sleep and running on pure adrenaline, my body completely lost the ability to stay asleep for more than 2 hours and would jolt me up in bed and force me awake even when Wanderer was watching our baby—aka “Little Matchstick”—so I could sleep.

Luckily, my doctor prescribed me some sleeping meds, and told me to “pump and dump” to avoid contaminating my breastmilk. After that, I finally was able to stay asleep.

No wonder so many mothers get postpartum depression. It’s not just a hormonal thing. It’s emotional and mental exhaustion. You’re filled with thoughts of “is this my life now?” and every day feels like groundhog day.

Lucky for me, I only felt this for 1 week. After the sleeping meds kicked in and we figured out a system, Wanderer and I were each able to get 6-7 hours of sleep a night.

Pregnant belly at 37 weeks. I gained 35 lbs!
Postpartum belly 2 weeks after giving birth. I can’t believe how elastic the human body is!

I have said it many times and I’ll say it again. Thank goodness for financial independence. After carrying a massive baby for 9 months, being in caregiving jail for 3 months and coping with my father-in-law’s passing, a 20+ hour labour, an emergency section, and losing the ability to sleep, I am so grateful neither of us also had to deal with work on top of ALL that.

Enjoying my first sushi after a 9 month ban. I may or may not have dropped some rice onto Little Matchstick’s head

Anyhoo, so after that traumatic birth story, let me get back to what I said in the beginning. The thing that the other moms should have warned me about, wasn’t labour.

It was…breastfeeding.

To quote comedian, Ali Wong: “Breastfeeding is brutal. It is chronic physical torture… Breastfeeding is this savage ritual that just reminds you that your body is a cafeteria now”.

The first time I watched “Hard Knock Wife” I couldn’t relate to any of this, but now I know.

As traumatic as my birth experience was, I’d rather go through it a hundred times just to avoid the even bigger trauma of breastfeeding.

But that’s a story for another time.

For those of you who went through it, how did you feel when your kid/kids was born? How was the experience? And for those who haven’t gone through it, on a scale from 1 to 10, how much did that story make you want to get your tubes tied/get a vasectomy? Let me know in the comments below.


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84 thoughts on “Having a Baby After FIRE”

  1. Congratulations! You entered motherhood with the ritual bang and then the continued assault on all you know as normal. This is your new normal now, and you will be awesome! As an OB/GYN who had both my kids in residency and 4 week ( YES ) maternity leaves, I remember it as cruel and unusual punishment. But I lived and now I have a 29 and 27 year old who are both reading Quit like a Millionaire. You hang in there, it will all be a distant memory soon, in about a year or two. Enjoy that 9 pound Matchstick!

  2. Congratulations and welcome to motherhood! I craved sushi, too, after my triplets arrived. I thought I knew what it was like before I had my children. I was sorely mistaken. It’s taking baby steps with baby. Take it easy and know someone out there is also feeding baby at 2 AM. You’re not alone. So happy for you both.

    1. It always nice to know I’m no alone. Wow, triplets! You are a superhero mom. Even just one is so much work (but also rewarding :))

  3. Oh my gosh, solidarity–I also had ~24 hours of labor followed by an unplanned C-section for my enormous nine pound first child. Recovering from labor plus a C-section was really hard, and it definitely took a toll on my mental health for a while. Postpartum confinement sounds like a dream compared to what we go through in the US and Canada. It sounds like you’re in a good place with knowing that the stress of newborn days are truly not forever–you will feel like yourself again! Becoming a parent is like a crucible, but the things that truly make you yourself will always be there, and you will be forged into a stronger version.

    1. Oh wow, we are labor twins!

      The good news is I’m starting to feel like myself again after two months. It is getting better.

      1. Yup, right down to the vomiting and shaking too hard to hold the baby. I’m really glad to hear you are feeling more like yourself again. New parents forge themselves in fire, (and FIRE in y’all’s case, sorry not sorry.)

  4. Oh. My. Glad that you and yours are doing well! I was so fortunate to have my mother help a lot. I had so much postpartum anxiety around something happening to my baby if no one was watching him around the clock. I was very very fortunate to have 16 weeks of time away from work. Pumping and breastfeeding was made so much easier by awesome coworkers, employer support, and a boss to pave the way. So many jokes and laughter around, “what is that sound?” in conference calls. But I don’t miss those days!

    1. Wow, that’s great that you have a supportive work place and could rely on your mom.

      Unfortunately my mother and I have a complex relationship and isn’t very helpful, but I’m grateful to have a super helpful hubby 🙂

  5. OMG!! That sounds a lot like my first c-section delivery (and went on to have two more). Funny how no one mentions the throwing up, not being able to get warm. Also in my case the anesthesiologist topped me up too much and I couldn’t even feel my arms – so when they wanted to hand me the baby, I had to say no, terrified I’d drop him. But, somehow you make it through and if you are really crazy – you might just do it again!

    Tip for breastfeeding – lanolin is your best friend, apply it constantly. Also it hurts like hell for the first week… I call bullshit if anyone tells you differently.

    Congratulations – can’t wait to hear where this new journey takes all three of you!

    1. “and went on to have two more”

      Oh wow. Not sure if I can ever do that again.

      And yes to lanolin being my new best friend. I’ve been using that shit like crazy.

  6. Thank you for introducing us to FI! We aren’t FI yet but our pursuit of FI has allowed us to take extended parental leave to enjoy the 1st year and half with our 1st baby.

    We had a water birth at home with our little one early November. It was a fast active 5hr labour. I didn’t feel ready because I was told usually your 1st takes a while to be born but thankfully my partner, mom and midwives supported me through it. Having a water birth at home was not something I thought of but when the birth centre closed unexpectedly in Ottawa we had to change our plan. I’m grateful for the experience. It was amazing to be in the comfort of our home, have the water to relieve the pain and pressure of the contractions and postpartum I could shower and sleep in our own bed 2 hours after the delivery with a sleeping newborn. You’re right about breastfeeding. I’d rather do labour over and over to avoid breastfeeding. It’s so much harder and painful than anyone let on. Thank you for acknowledging it and comparing it to your traumatic birth. I wasn’t sure if because my labour was relatively straightforward this was my hurdle to get over so it’s a relief to hear I’m not the only one who struggles with it.

    PS. If you could do a blog post about how to setup and structure a RESP our little one would really appreciate it!

  7. This sounds all too familiar. It’s a brutalizing process. I went through two of those, and I feel like your retelling brought me back to the operating table. Breastfeeding was a nightmare. So much pressure to feed baby with huma fluids. Missing from your story, and perhaps this wasn’t true for you, was the horror and trauma of pushing out that first bowel movement after a week of morphine induced constipation. Like trying to give birth a second time and terrified your stitches are going to tear open on the bathroom floor. Fun times. It’s a tough freaked time, but the cuddles with the little one, all those new firsts, all the new skills they’re pretty great too. So it’s both. Hang in there, Amiga.

    1. oh yeah, the constipation was definitely a problem. It’s just there were bigger other problems that I forgot all about that one. Good thing a friend told me to buy Dulcolax and bring it in my hospital bag. Ahh good times.

  8. Breastfeeding gets easier! Get a lactation specialist! That sounds like a very tough birth. Mine were planned C-sections which is a pretty calm way to do it. Ask for anti nausea meds next time. It all becomes a bit of a blurry once you get a year or two down the road. Congratulations!

    1. Yes, you’re right, breastfeeding does get easier. Though it took me 2 whole months to finally enjoy it and the lactation specialist definitely helped.

      Did not think to ask for anti-nausea meds before the surgery. That’s a good idea. Wish they’d told me I had that option.

      1. I am so glad you were able to get help and get to the easier part!

        I learned about the anti-nausea meds after seeing my SIL go through what you went through. She now knows to ask for it before surgery.

        Enjoy the little guy!

  9. I couldn’t even finish this article before wanting to pass out. Congrats on the birth, and thank you for confirming I never want to go through this.

    1. I’m with you, Nicole. This is true for every birthing and most pregnancy stories I’ve ever read, to be fair, and now I’d be a geriatric pregnancy so all the more reason not to sign up for it.

      I am surprised they don’t warn people about shock with a c-section. Or, from the sound of it, help people with it. That’s what the throwing up, shaking, and cold is. It happened to me both times getting an IUD (why don’t we get any anaesthesia for that, and guys do for vasectomies, eh?).

  10. Ah that sounds rough — been there, done that. My first (now 35) was almost the same with 24 hours of pitocin labor leading to emergency c-section. He came out with a cone head as he had been squeezed too long. Thankfully brilliant and normal head now. My next was also a c-section then vbac, another c-section and 5th a vbac (across 3 different countries). So while you may not in anyway imagine having another child right now, don’t let anyone tell you that you must have a c-section again unless you want to:) Breastfeeding is tough at first too but honestly so easy after the first couple of weeks. Might be some help here: https://www.attachmentparenting.org/breastfeeding

    1. “My next was also a c-section then vbac, another c-section and 5th a vbac (across 3 different countries). ”

      Wow. That’s epic.

      Thanks for the breastfeeding resource. I will check it out.

  11. I loved this article and all the comments. Now I am tearful and happy. I hope one day your baby matchstick can be friends with my baby and the world will certainly be a great place for them both!! <3<3<3

  12. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, I urge you to read this:

    https://fedisbest.org/

    There is nothing wrong with formula. My wife did not produce enough milk for the first few weeks, so we ended up doing a mixed regimen until she had plenty of milk. Hope everything goes ok!

    1. Oh I love that site! Discovered it when I was going down the rabbit hole one night feeling guilty about not figuring out breastfeeding. Fed is best, all the way!

  13. Yes, yes and yes, all of that to produce miracle baby. Then retained placenta and a trip to the er a week later…..no offer of pain meds until after 6 hours of vomiting from pitocin when I refused to get back into bed, then they said, oh, did you want pain management? That was an option 6 hours ago??? The cramps felt like an Indian sunburn on the inside 😫 Never had the full nursing amount plus mb eats a lot so supplemented with formula. If you can remember, at 9 months, mb started biting when nursing. Luckily another mom was a nanny also and said to pinch her nose. Tough to do, but she stopped biting. I ate early in labour but threw it all up two days later, maybe labour stops digestion? Anyhow……excited for you and the adventures ahead, love mb and Tigermom

    1. Yikes that sound awful. I can’t believe they didn’t offer you pain management!

      I had no idea pinching nose stops the biting. Will remember that with LM starts teething.

  14. Congrats, Mama!
    I experienced very similar things when my first daughter was born, I was very worried about giving birth and it was awful indeed, and I didn’t even remembered to think about breastfeeding , and that was actually smoother. All I can say is that’s the perfect rite of passage for something that will change your life forever. Enjoy, it’s crazy and amazing, and will make you a much selfless and tired person. Big virtual hugs

    1. Crazy and amazing is a good way to describe it. Not sure about the selflesspart. I’m still a hot mess, with or without kids 😀 Tired is definitely true though.

  15. Whew! Congrats on the new baby!!! It WILL BE wonderful, you just have to get through the trauma of childbirth and difficult parts first. 👍 God, but they are cute when they are little, my favorite part is between 3 or 4 and about 12 yrs old. You have so much to look forward to!!! Never liked the helpless baby part as an auntie. Hate not knowing what the hell is wrong with them when they are screaming and crying. So stressful! hang in there!!! I never wanted to have a 9lb bowling ball (my two sisters had large babies too!!!) come out of my vagina, sounded and looked horribly painful! Only in my 40’s did the biological clock start clanging- it’s a real thing!!!- but at that point I was working as a high school counselor and well, as much as I loved working with teens- there were enough distraught, helpless parents and sad stories that it almost worked like birth control! LOL! Along with the fact that my husband didn’t want any more after his first failed marriage and losing that one child to the ex-monster. So I missed that bullet! 🤣 Just kidding, I also missed the joy of parenthood but I was a good auntie to my 2 nephews and niece. 😊 I sent Mother’s Day cards to my sisters and thanked them for having babies for me. 😊 You are going to love your son more than anything in your life! Wishing the new family all the best!!! Oh and if you need help feeling connected- sniff his sweet little head often! “Smelling a baby’s head gives mom a particularly strong boost of oxytocin and lights up the reward centers in her brain (even people who’ve never had a baby get this reward center activation when they smell a newborn’s head!).

    1. “my favorite part is between 3 or 4 and about 12 yrs old”

      Oh good! I have that to look forward to.

      “Smelling a baby’s head gives mom a particularly strong boost of oxytocin”

      LOL. LM’s head smells like old breastmilk. May need to give him a bath soon…

  16. Similar first birth experience here, I agree we don’t support women enough around the birth and first few weeks, particularly after long labours and complicated births, it is so tough. On breastfeeding-I got mastitis and nearly gave up, my nipples were raw and I cried every time he attached BUT with a lactation nurse to get attachment right and the lanolin, I ended up breastfeeding first for 11 months and enjoying it and second was a dream (birth not so much but breastfeeding-easy!). Big hug and hope you find some moments to just wonder at the little person you have made.

    1. “mastitis” –> Oh yikes, that sounds terrible. I almost got that before I figured out how to break up the milk in my clogged pours. It sounds so painful.

      1. Well it gives you flu like symptoms- I remember crawling across the floor as I was too sick to walk and people were visiting and it was Christmas- uggh, now he’s 23 this week and is a beautiful young man ❤️

  17. You’ve got this. Yes, it is crazy, CRAZY hard and you will get through it. Try to keep your sense of humor and if nobody dies, you’re doing AMAZING. High five! Keep going!

    1. Thanks, TDHill! I’m lowering my standards on productivity and just calling the day a success if I can keep him alive. Hooray for low standards!

  18. What a crazy story! Thanks for taking the time from being vulnerable and sharing all these details with us! It really gives us a peek into what expecting moms go through.

    Do you think Bryce managed to keep up with everything on his end? How did he feel? That delivery sounded intense! Super glad everyone’s doing well now.

    Can’t wait to meet the little guy! 🌟

      1. Wow, Taipei would be an excellent place for him to learn and immerse himself in Mandarin.

        When we first landed in Taiwan in 2020, we had the pleasure of meeting a couple from the UK who arrived with their ~2-year-old. Fast forward to now, their son is 5 years old and speaks solid Mandarin (and English) through class in his cool that are tough half in English and half in Chinese.

        Another option could be to visit Taiwan during the summer and have your kid join a summer camp. We know a Taiwanese friend from San Francisco who does this to ensure his son continues to immerse himself in Mandarin. Although, I must say, the summer weather can be quite hot and humid, as you probably already know.

        Anyway, if you need any connections with expat parents in Taipei, feel free to reach out, as we’ve met quite a few during our weekly hikes!

  19. I’m so sorry for your traumatic birth experience. While the focus is on the safety of the baby of course, it’s like the mother’s experience is an afterthought. I went thru h-e-double hockey sticks with breastfeeding. Today they are healthy and on the honor roll despite being formula fed. Being on the path to FI allowed me to provide not only formula, but continued good nutrition, education, and healthcare to my kids. Thank you guys for your guidance in helping me achieve that for myself and my family!

    1. Thank goodness for whoever invented formula! I would’ve been so screwed with out it. Glad to know your formula fed kids are healthy! Too much mom-shaming when it comes to breastfeeding. I hate it.

  20. This might just well be your best entry yet (and it’s not financial…sob), but definitely could relate. Loved it, although in my experience, breastfeeding was….relief.
    Best Wishes with The Matchstick!

  21. I’m glad that you’re well! Remember to sign that baby up for Spanish lessons with Uncle Dan in Taiwan!!!
    Hey, FYI, the Spanish-speaking world has a post-partum practice similar to the Chinese version. It’s called the “cuarentena”:

    https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/giving-birth/what-the-u-s-can-learn-about-the-time-after-birth-from-cultures-around-the-world/#:~:text=The%20Latin%20American%20practice%20of,sex%2C%20and%20even%20rapid%20movements.

    Dan V
    Taipei

    1. LOL of course! You can probably teach him mandarin too since you speak more of it than his dad 😛 Hope to see you again in Taiwan when LM is a bit older.

  22. Wow you guys have been through a lot. Sorry to hear about your father-in-law. Thinking about you guys and sending you a virtual hug.
    Congratulations on your baby boy! So happy for you guys. What a crazy delivery. I’m glad you guys are doing good now. You look so happy eating your sushi again. 🙂

  23. My condolences for the loss of your father in law. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! I’m single, 46 and don’t like to get married or have any kids. Thank you for confirming that I’m making the right decision. LOL!

    1. Thanks, GirlOnFIRE! Glad I could be of service 🙂 Society glamorizes motherhood and birth way too much. Everyone needs to make their own decisions on what’s best for them. Kudos to you for confidently making yours!

  24. 100 percent right! I went back to work after 4 weeks with both kids, delivered easily with an epidural. Breastfeeding sucks, though my kids got some mom milk for 4-6 months each. Our culture is not built to teach us total selflessness.

    You may avoid the most difficult thing our family has experienced, though: childcare!

  25. I also didn’t have that immediate connection to my first and then had so much guilt for not having it. I think there was just too much happening, and I was in shell shock at the time. I also agree that post-partum isn’t just hormones, it’s so much more about sleep deprivation and the complete 180-degree shift to your life!

  26. Good luck with your new life. I’m glad that you’re financially set.
    For me;
    I knew instinctively as a kid that I didn’t want to have siblings to deal with. As a teenager I understood that having a child is is akin to ball and chain that would restrict my life, and adding complications should I ever have to divorce. I still see no reason to bring another being into this failing world.
    There already are plenty of children that could use support. Whether they’re orphans or coming from a broken home.

    1. Totally agree! Whether you have kids or not, as long as the decision is made intentionally, it’s the right decision! Don’t listen to society or give into the pressure. It took me forever to make this decision and I don’t regret it because I went into it with both eyes open.

  27. Congratulations and thanks for sharing. Your birth experience reminded me of mine: my water broke at midnight without contraction, after two rounds of pitocin like 40 hours but still only 3 cm dilated, I developed a fever due to infection, then went to emergency C-section when my husband witnessed low blood pressure during the procedure but finally we had a healthy boy. It was not something we wanted to do again, yet we have two different neighbors who went through similar processes for their first child and then went ahead for 2nd or 3rd. I also gave up breastfeeding after the first week and went for pumping for 14 months (my parents were living helpers for a couple of years, huge help especially in the first couple of years). After two-month of maternity I was happy to go back to work though to get away from diapers, pumping and pajamas etc.

    1. Yikes! That sounds traumatic. I can see why you’d want to get away from all the parenting stress.

      I’m at 2 months now and thankfully it’s way better. I figured out breastfeeding and can sleep well now. I’m also very lucky to have a supportive partner. But yeesh, parenting is not easy.

  28. Oh my god, congrats. As I was reading, I saw myself going thru the exact same process with my wife w/ both our kids (except the C-section). It’s exactly it..Pitocin IV and it happens…I can’t imagine the pain tho, this is one of those times we feel so lucky to be born male.
    But tell me, did Wanderer cut the unbiblical cord or he wussed out?

    1. “But tell me, did Wanderer cut the unbiblical cord or he wussed out?”

      I looked like I was in bad shape from the puking and shivering so he stayed wih me, holding my hand to warm me up.
      otherwise he prob would’ve cut the cord.

  29. As someone with a 5 week old baby lying next to me, I just want to chime in with support on breastfeeding being a giant PITA. My baby was 3 weeks early and came out a bit over 8lbs, so she’s extremely hungry; if it weren’t for formula, I would not be able to feed her nearly enough, despite being on the pump 8x a day with what the lactation consultant has deemed good supply. Frankly, we’re coming up on 6 weeks and if I can’t get her to latch and take more than a few millimeters directly from the breast (or at least see progress toward that goal), I’m drawing things down and switching her to formula, and to hell with the Mommy Wars.

    1. wow, congrats! You’re in the infants trenches with me 😉

      I’m now at 10 weeks and finally figured out breastfeeding. The learning curve sucked! The good news is once they get older their mouth size increases so it hurts less. They can also latch better overtime. But if it doesn’t get better, just do formula like you said. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. You can’t pick a formula fed versus breastfed person out of a lineup anyway. Fed is best!

  30. Congratulations on the birth of your Little Matchstick! So exciting! And I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your father in law. What a year it must have been. I’m so glad that thanks to being FI you were able to spend quality time with your father in law before his passing.

    Have you guys read Emily Oster’s book Cribsheet? She’s an economist and breaks down key baby related questions with data and spreadsheets!

    We have a new baby too. During her first year we spent multiple months travelling/backpacking with her. Not sure if you plan to travel with your little one, but we found the five to ten month period an ideal time for travelling. In terms of travel gear, in case this is helpful, would recommend: the Guava lotus travel crib (full size crib that folds up easily into a carry on size backpack and has a peekaboo zippered window), ergo baby carrier, Babyzen yoyo stroller (folds to carry on size with a comfortable shoulder strap and has a parasol for shade), Clek baseless car seat (you can use it easily in Ubers/taxis), and Indestructible books (chew proof, rip proof, waterproof, and thin enough to fit easily into a pocket of a bag).

    So excited for you guys! Can’t wait to read more about your FI life as a family. It’s wonderful to be FI at this stage in our lives.

    Huge hugs!

    1. Thx, Liz! Yes, I’ve read Cribsheet–it’s great!

      Thanks for all the great family travel tips! Where did you end up going? And did your little one have any trouble with equalizing their ears on the plane? Did you do breastfeeding or bottle feeding while traveling?

      1. We travelled within Canada visiting family (she was between three to six months) then backpacked in Europe (she was between six and a half to eight and a half months), then travelled again in Canada (she was between nine and ten months). Like you guys, we cashed in our travel points and flew business to and from Europe. Definitely worth it. Breastfed while travelling, including during the ascent and descent of the flight, which really helps their ears adjust. And our backpacking was pretty flexible in general. If she was teething, we wouldn’t do too much that day, or we might stay a few extra days in a place to make it easier. We took it day by day. We didn’t book much in advance. We also took a RyanAir flight once in Europe and thanks to our minimalist packing we weren’t charged any extra fees. (The car seat and the crib were included on our standard base fare tickets.) We only bought the stroller upon our return to Canada. In Europe we just travelled around with her in the baby carrier, which she loved. She slept a lot of the time that we walked around – thanks in large part to her age. The ergo (we got the Omni 360 mesh) has a little sunshade which is great because it made it nice and dark for her naps. Very handy. Oh and we had a portable diaper change mat. Camilia for teething. And Knix breast pads. All must haves. Happy travels!

  31. Ok.. what year was baby born?

    Clearly your blog posts were planned and in the hopper to be released, while dealing with pregnancy and parenthood at beginning.

    And congratulations. May the parenting journey be a good, learning journey ….for life.

    1. Ha ha. I literally wrote this post with one hand while holding my sleeping baby with the other. Had to get it down while the experience was fresh. Apparently according to other parents you forget how bad it is as time goes on.

  32. The fact that so many women still have such horrible experiences giving birth, even with our modern medical system, is astonishing, isn’t it? I won’t go into the details of mine except to say my water broke on Friday the 13th and my son was born on the 17th… by emergency C-section (turns out he was trying to exit sideways). Fortunately, breastfeeding was a joy for me, once I got over the blood loss and trauma of the birth. My son is a wonderful young man now, but still has a tendency to approach things in an unusual direction! You have so much growing, learning and loving to look forward to. I’ve enjoyed your writing very much and hope to keep reading your posts about both the financial and non-financial aspects of the unconventional life you have chosen. Congratulations!

    1. “Fortunately, breastfeeding was a joy for me”

      Oh wow, that is fortunate! It was a nightmare for me (will write a future post about it).

      Thank you and thanks for sharing your experience!

  33. This was a great, real life birth story! I remember them asking me if I wanted to do skin to skin and breastfeed while I was shaking uncontrollably strapped down in a T on the surgery bed. No ma’am I do not. Good news is, although at 2 months postpartum I could never think of going through that again, I got pregnant with my second when my first just turned a year old and the second c section was scheduled and recovery was so much easier. First labor and c section were kind of traumatic but second they sent me home within 24 hours and I was walking and relatively fine within hours after being on the table. Congrats on your baby! You’re a warrior!

    1. Oh wow! glad the scheduled C section for your second kid was easier! if I had known what would’ve happened & scheduled mine, it would’ve been way better I think.

      And thanks for the kind words!

  34. Congrats on your new little one, Firecracker! I’m so saddened to hear about the trauma you (and so many others in the comments) went through during labor. Hearing stories like these sent me into a research frenzy when I was pregnant. I had to return to work very quickly after birth (solo business owner and main source of family income). As you may know, the USA has no paid maternity leave. Having to recover from a c-section would be financially, as well as physically, devastating. My research led me to frightening statistics regarding the maternal care system in the USA, including mortality rates more than double that of many other developed countries. The same statistics showed correlations between better stats and the integration of midwives and doulas into the maternal care system. SO I got myself a doula. Doulas are basically a labor coach and advocate for the mother. Someone to help you through the uncharted territory of giving birth for the first time, by providing support both before and during labor. (Note – different from a midwife, which is a health professional that actually delivers babies. I did not opt for a midwife, I had a hospital birth by an OBGYN with an epidural. So I guess I went hybrid style.) I’m so very glad I had a doula, 10/10 recommend. Having the extra support relieved so much anxiety and in the end I had a relatively straight forward birth. I labored at home for 8 hours, arrived to the hospital 7 cm dilated and promptly asked for my epidural, and my son arrived 6 hours later after an hour of pushing. I felt 85% recovered after two weeks. Maybe it was just luck. But with all the difficult birth stories out there, I like people to know there are some less scary stories too.

    And YES, a thousand times, yes. Breastfeeding is the INSANE journey that NO ONE talks about.

    1. “I had to return to work very quickly after birth (solo business owner and main source of family income).”

      You are so badass! Yeah I don’t know how American mothers do it. Not having mat leave is so tough. I have so much respect for you!

  35. Thank you for sharing this wild and intense experience! I’m really happy for you and the family, and can’t imagine the rollercoaster of emotions as you also cope with losing your father in law. Sending you all a lot of love and strength!

    I read your book (and then promptly lent it to about a dozen friends) and I remember you talking about choosing to be child free. I would love to hear how you came to change your mind and what factors were the biggest for you. I’ve flip-flopped on becoming a mother more times than I can count and am always really curious about how other women decided one way or another! If you’ve already written a post about it – apologies that I missed it – please share!

    Also that kid is going to have a kickass life – is it weird that I’m jealous of him?

    1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing my book, Meg! I haven’t written about my decision on motherhood but will likely in a future post. I was on the fence for the longest time (almost a decade!) but finally decided to after healing from some generational trauma. I realized I was mostly making the decision not to have kids out of fear. Took a lot of introspection ( and going to Amsterdam, teehee) to figure it out. It’s not an easy decision and whatever you decide, it’ll be the right one for you. Don’t ever let anyone else sway you in either direction.

      “Also that kid is going to have a kickass life – is it weird that I’m jealous of him?”

      LOL. So far, all he has to do is eat, crap, and sleep all day and is loved unconditionally so, to be honest, I’m jealous of him too. 😉

  36. Congratulations! Oh Mem-ories 🎶. This made me chuckle and wince. Same experience – beat ya’ at 10lb 2oz & 8.5lb. They’re now lovely 22 & 20 yo’s. X

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