Baby Pregnancy

The 4th Trimester

April 2, 2020

I didn’t know the 4th trimester was a thing until after my daughter was born but having just exited this phase of life, I wanted to recap everything that happened because, woah, that was a lot. 

First, let’s talk about the physical changes your body goes through. I gained a total of 25 lbs during my pregnancy and lost 23 lbs by the time she turned 2 weeks old. Can we just process that for a minute…I lost 23 lbs in 2 weeks so yes you could say there were a lot of dramatic changes taking place.

One thing I was not anticipating was how swollen I would be AFTER she was born. My body retains fluids very easily and after I had all the IVs, blood transfusions, etc. after my c-section, I felt like a giant water balloon. My entire legs from the waste down were unrecognizable (I’m talking couldn’t even fit into leggings). My face, hands and EVERYTHING were so so so swollen. I couldn’t even put on real shoes to walk outside until a week after she was born.

After the first week, I started losing weight rapidly. I was having night sweats and peeing constantly. Breastfeeding burns so many calories (on average up to 500 calories a day) and I’m not sure if this had anything to do with it, but I was an “overproducer” when it came to milk. After my daughter was born, I was (still am lol) STARVING all the time. I eat more than I ever have by far but especially in those first few weeks.

By the time she was 3 weeks old I had lost all my pregnancy weight, and then some. My mom told me the same thing happened to her so I feel like some of that may be genetics. I also feel like due to how sick I was while pregnant, I didn’t gain as much weight as I probably would have, had I not been throwing up every single day for 8 months straight. A lot of women have told me how “lucky” I am in that regard, but I would take a healthy pregnancy and normal weight gain over what I went through any day so just remember, it’s all about perspective.

My weight has stayed consistent since then but honestly I don’t pay attention to the scale. For me, it’s all about how I feel. Even though I don’t look that much different than before I had a baby, trust me when I say, I feel it. I’ve said goodbye to my abs and hello to stretchier skin where my 4 pack once was. Whenever I catch myself being critical of those things, I try and tell myself, “DUDE, YOU JUST GREW A HUMAN!” I mean we should be so proud of our bodies for being able to provide a safe home for our babies for 9 months so I actively try to shut down any negative thoughts about my postpartum body whenever I catch myself going there.

I’m allllll for the movement of women feeling empowered to talk about the things that are a little TMI because it’s not embarrassing, it’s not weird, and EVERYONE who has a baby goes through the exact same things. So on that note, let’s talk bleeding after birth. I thought you only bleed (down there) if you have a vaginal birth, but I learned it also happens for a c-section too (I had a cesarean delivery). Bleeding is something you can’t avoid, sorry ladies! I wore diapers (legit adult diapers, and I have an amazing rec for super cute and comfy ones if anyone needs it lollll) for a week after she was born because the bleeding was that heavy. They say by 6 weeks the bleeding should stop and you can resume all activities such as working out, etc. (you know the others I’m alluding to…) but for me it was more like 8-10 weeks before I felt completely healed. I had to really listen to my body even though I felt pressure to rush back into things because I was nottttt ready for the “activities” that come with being cleared at your 6 week postpartum visit.

Don’t forget about the boobs! I’m going to do a whole separate post on my breastfeeding journey but that was one physical change that took (still is) time to get used to. My boobs were rock hard, HUGE and so uncomfortable. Did I mention HUGE!? While my milk supply was regulating (first 3 months) I would leak through everything, not to mention looking like I had an awful boob job. The breast pads did not work for me so I would sleep with a towel in my bra because it was that intense. It’s not cute, sexy or fun but the good thing is it doesn’t last forever. Luckily I never got mastitis or severe breast pain, but sore nipples everyday, all day. Once my daughter turned 4 months, things did start regulating and going back to normal a little bit more but those first few weeks while my milk was coming in, were extremely overwhelming.

Lastly for the physical changes was something that’s really hard to prepare for. And that was my c-section scar. It really bothered me at first. It was super hard and swollen and I felt like when I stood in front of the mirror that’s all that I could see. But one day I stumbled upon a post where a woman said that her scar was her favorite part of her body as it reminded her of the sweetest season of life, barring her children. It reminded her of her selfless love and strength and she saw it as a badge of honor, a trophy, a beautiful memory. Since then, I have tried to see mine in the same way but I think it’s also OK to acknowledge it’s a foreign mark on your body that will take time to adjust to loving. I felt a little self conscious and embarrassed by it even though I had no reason to.

When it comes to the emotional roller coaster of the 4th trimester, I want to recognize that postpartum anxiety and depression are very real and common things to go through. It’s also a very individualized experience and just as I am super appreciative and grateful that so many women are being transparent about their struggle, I also think it’s important to point out that it doesn’t happen to everyone and you aren’t automatically going to experience it just because you gave birth. For me, I felt happier, less stressed, and an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility after my daughter was born. BUT I will say, I think because of how rough my pregnancy was, I felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders emotionally, after I delivered my baby.

Another thing that I think plays a big role in your mental state after having a baby, is REST. For me (and I’m sure most people) if I don’t get enough rest, I can’t function. We were super lucky to be blessed with a great sleeper since day 1 (knock on wood it stays that way) so I was able to fully heal and relax after she was born. Because trust me, there’s a whole new level of exhaustion that you feel having a newborn. I gave myself a lot of grace in those first few months and I think that was the best thing I could of done for my mental wellbeing.

I stayed in pajamas until noon (sometimes even later), and I would lay on the couch for hours just holding my baby and letting her sleep on me. I wanted to soak in that newborn bliss as long as I could, because man, it’s true what they say about time going by way too fast. I can honestly say, those were the best days of my life.

My best takeaways for this exciting but exhausting time are:

Try and be fully present each day. Babies don’t keep, just blink and before you know it they are 6 months old (ugh!) so as tiring as the newborn days are, soak in all the snuggles and just love on your baby. Don’t worry if you forget to brush your teeth, or get dressed for the day. You’ll enjoy it 10x more if you don’t put pressure on yourself to have it together 24/7.

Be patient with your body.

Take lots of pictures. Even if you don’t feel cute, you’ll appreciate them later. I wish I had more pregnancy and post pregnancy pics to look back on.

Ask for help. Whether it’s hiring a night nurse, having your friends or family come over so you can take a nap, or getting a babysitter to have some alone time. You do you! I had a lactation consultant come over twice after she was born.

Don’t feel shame in talking about your struggle and challenges. It’s therapeutic and reassuring to hear that EVERY woman is going through the exact same thing. Find mom friends, vent to your husband, join mommy & me, whatever you need, find an outlet who can relate or support you in whatever you need.

SELF CARE. Whatever that looks like for you. For me, it’s getting ready. Curling my hair, putting on a little makeup and a cute outfit. Just feeling like myself again. Do something for YOU *not to impress other people. Get a massage, mani/pedi, take a bubble bath, run some errands SOLO, read a book, whatever makes you feel calm and centered.

Baby Pregnancy

Scarlett’s Birth Story

January 1, 2020

12/13/19, the day that changed everything.

First off, I was considered “high risk” during my pregnancy due to 1. being a Type 1 Diabetic and 2. having Hyperemesis Graviderium (Also referred to as HG-which is classified as having SEVERE nausea, resulting in weight loss, dehydration, malnutrition, and many other health complications). Because of that, I was going to the hospital 3 times a week to monitor my blood pressure and check on the baby starting at 35 weeks. 

My official due date was January 1st, 2020 but I was planning on getting induced on December 23rd (most doctors will induce Diabetics at around 39 weeks as babies are already considered “term”). By the time December rolled around, I literally could not believe that I had made it. There were times I thought I would never see the day and to hit that 9 month mark, knowing that if my baby was born at any moment she would likely be totally fine, was the biggest sigh of relief I have ever felt.

December 11th, 2019. I went to the hospital for my tri-weekly checkup. I had just got back from being in Palm Springs all week, and then 2 holiday parties that weekend. I was experiencing a lot of rib pain and swelling which I wasn’t sure if it was because of those acitives, or something more serious. One of the biggest complications in Diabetic pregnancies is Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure (hence why I was being monitored so frequently) and signs of damage to other organs such as the kidneys (excessive swelling can be an indicator). 

They took my blood pressure and it was high. The first time it had ever been high my entire pregnancy. Soon after, another doctor came in the room and said, “Because you are 37 weeks today (considered “term”, early term, but still term) we feel the safest thing is to induce you earlier than planned. Preeclampsia can develop suddenly and result in serious fatal complications”. I felt time stop for a split second in that moment. “It’s ultimately your decision but our recommendation is to induce you today”. TODAY!? I can’t even begin to tell you the shock of someone saying, “are you ready to meet your baby today”? When you have been waiting 9 months and totally caught off guard. I called my husband immediately and told him to meet me at home, pack our bags and let’s do this thing!

We showed back up to the hospital at 8:00pm. I was immediately hooked up to monitors, IVs, and whatever else they do while you are in labor. They started by giving me some sort of medication to soften my cervix. Because my due date was 3 weeks away, I was showing no signs of early labor. Then after that they did 2 things (honestly can’t remember which one came first). One was inserting a Foley Bulb. It’s basically like a little balloon they put in your cervix and slowly tug at it every couple hours to try and manually dilate you. For those of you wondering, no it doesn’t hurt it’s just very awkward and uncomfortable feeling. 

December 12th, 2019. After the Foley Bulb came out and I was hooked up to Pitocin (drug used to speed up labor) I finally hit 5cm dilated (you need to be at 10cm to push). How was it 24 hours later and I had only dilated to a 5!? I was a little discouraged and starting to feel pain during the contractions. Not intense pain, just like really bad cramping. The doctors asked if I wanted an epidural. I easily could have gone longer without it but honestly, what’s the point?! I mean god bless those who make it all the way without one but I wanted to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Getting the epidural was more painful than the contractions but it was over before I knew it. I had heard so many horror stories about the epidural I had totally psyched myself out for nothing! From that point on, I was pain free the entire time I labored.

December 13th, 2019. 30 hours later and still at a 5…My OB arrived at the hospital (that’s when things finally started feeling real) and she had told me that it didn’t look promising to have a vaginal birth as my body was just not dilating to where it needed to be in order to push a baby out. I was DETERMINED to keep going. I mean I didn’t just labor for 30 hours (even though it wasn’t that bad) only to have a c-section. But that’s the thing with birth plans, you might as well just throw that thing out the window because at the end of the day, you have NO CONTROL. Birth plans just create unnecessary anxiety and expectations and at the end of the day, the baby is coming out no matter what, but how is something we can’t always predict. 

I remained extremely calm throughout the entire labor process, looking back I don’t think it had registered just yet that I was finally hours away from holding my sweet baby for the first time. I was casually chatting away with my mom, husband, and in-laws when all of a sudden 8 (I kid you not) doctors and nurses came running in. “Flip her over!” “Deep Breaths!” “Everyone back up!” They put an oxygen mask on my face, propped me up on all fours, and then manually grabbed my stomach and started trying to turn my baby in my belly. Before I could even ask what was happening they started yelling “PREP THE OR IMMEDIATELY, BABY’S HEART RATE DROPPED”. I started bursting out in tears, “what is happening!?”. This was the first time I had felt sheer panic take over my body like that. 

They started rolling my bed back to the Operating Room and I could hear them calling for help over the speakers. Tears streamed down my face and I can mentally recall this moment more clear than any other memory. There was so much chaos when I got back to the OR. They started pushing on my body asking if I could feel any pain. I couldn’t, thank god because there was no time to give me anymore pain meds.I told them “Please wait for my husband!!!!!” My doctor told me, “There is no time. We have to get your baby out NOW.” The tears started flooding down again as I was completely alone laying on a table in an operating room, praying my baby would be OK. 

I started throwing up. I don’t know if it was out of fear or anxiety but some angel of a nurse came up by face and held my hand while they began to cut me open. It was such a weird feeling. I could feel them moving my organs around and the most intense pressure you could imagine (but no pain). There was a lot of silence. It felt like 30 minutes but I’m sure it was only a couple. “Call it, 11:36 AM”. I ripped my oxygen mask off my face immediately. “Call what!?” Silence. “ IS MY BABY OK!?!” I was waiting to hear a cry but there was nothing. “Please put your mask back on, we are working on the baby”. I feel horrible saying this out loud, but in that moment I couldn’t help but think she hadn’t made it. I had seen and watched births and knew the baby was supposed to cry. They were so supposed to hold up the baby over the curtain and show her to me. My husband was supposed to be in the room telling me everything was OK…there was none of that. 

At some point after she was born they had brought my husband in. I can’t even imagine what he was feeling seeing his wife get abruptly wheeled away and then having nurses tell him there wasn’t time for him to scrub in to watch his daughter being born. After that he walked over to me with MY BABY GIRL! He held her up to my face so I could see her and told me she was absolutely perfect. Apparently her heart rate had dropped so low in those few minutes before they got her out, that it took her a little while to adjust. Our doctor ended up telling us she didn’t know until a couple minutes after she was out, if she was OK or not. 

After I was all stitched up (cringing thinking about that) they let me hold my baby for the first time. I cannot even begin to explain this feeling to you. This has to be the most incredible moment a woman will ever feel in her entire life. I heard people talk about it before but it’s one of those things that you have to experience first hand to be able to relate. The past becomes a distant memory in an instant and everything you’ve gone through beforehand simply doesn’t matter anymore. 

I wish I could bottle up that feeling and take it with me forever. I would go through the hell I endured for 9 months for the rest of my life in order to have my baby girl here in the world safe and sound. Scarlett Jamison Stomel. 6lbs, 7oz and THE. BEST. THING. THAT’S. EVER. HAPPENED. TO. ME. 

Love, Bree.

I found this hat/swaddle from a little boutique in Carmel when I was 6 months pregnant. It was one of the first things I got for her 🙂
Took us 20 minutes to get her in the car because we couldn’t figure out the carseat #firstkidprobs
The moment he told our parents mama & baby were healthy…ugh I could cry!