I have finally gotten around to publishing the birth story of my
3 month old 6 month old, 8 month old baby boy. Oh, new motherhood — so much to do, so little time.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when giving birth to Wynter. For majority of my pregnancy, I’d read tons of pregnancy blogs. I’d visited #preggo, #newmommy, #boymom and several other motherhood related social media hashtags in an effort to gain more knowledge on becoming a mom, and generally — what to expect. From beginning to end, I immersed myself in the pages of the popular read, What To Expect When Expecting. Because if you don’t own THAT book during your first pregnancy, are you really expecting? I created accounts on the many mobile apps including The Bump + Ovia. I had even exhausted my time watching and re-watching all sorts of birthing experiences via YouTube. All of that to somehow prepare for February 6, 2018 — the due date that was given to us by my team of female obstetricians at Women’s Healthcare of Kendall. As a first time mom, I wanted to be 1000% prepared for baby Wynter’s arrival to earth side. But what I didn’t expect would ever happen to us during post labor + delivery, happened — happened.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I had a very healthy adventure. No morning sickness. Ate all the good stuff that have been tested + proven to aide in the health of baby’s brain, bone, eye, and overall growth development. I’m talking grade-A protein, Omega 3’s, greek yogurts, organic fruits + veggies and nearly drank a gallon of water a day; but if I’m going to be transparent with you, I did add a touch of junk on the grocery lists because I “really needed” to try my “very best” to stay sane in a minimal effort to fight cravings. I’m talking dill pickle potato chips, skittles, sour patch kids, slim jims and the ingredients to make dirty-south style rotel dip. I was rockin’ and rollin’ through pregnancy like a boss and no one could tell me otherwise. At each prenatal visit, my team of female OB’s confirmed that our baby was growing right on track and reaching monthly milestones as expected, and all signs pointed to a healthy delivery.
We were good.
At my 34 week prenatal appointment, we learned that baby boy had turned + dropped simultaneously. And I knew it had to be something because my frikkin’ bladder and lower back were experiencing true-life physical trauma, along with a side of Braxton Hicks. Whew-chile, the torture. Another exciting milestone reached, but also the moment we mentally decided our baby would be arriving sooner rather than later. That February 6, 2018 due date was no more in our minds and instead began expecting baby would arrive in January 2018. It was time to officially start nesting + really getting into the parenting thing. Between weeks 34 and 38, we installed baby’s car seat (harder than it sounds), somehow made building stuff fun while learning to use screws + screwdrivers the correct way (I had absolutely no clue how to do the building part, but Wynter’s dad knew a “couple” of things), attached wheels on strollers (also harder than it sounds), timed what ended up being a 7-minute drive to Baptist Hospital of Miami and registered, washed baby’s clothes and folded them, got organized, sanitized baby’s bottles, played around with my Spectra S2 Plus breast pump, etc. Yo, you couldn’t tell us that we weren’t ready for baby boy.
Week 38 comes and goes and no baby. Which was fine because we weren’t quite full term just yet. We learned that nothing had changed as far as my cervix softening and/or opening. My OB then gave us some tips on getting baby to arrive by 40 weeks and also played around with whatever the internet suggested. Hmph. We tried almost everything. SPICY FOODS. I was ordering double dipped buffalo wings, with jalapeños as garnish at restaurants. They were LIT (pun intended) — but nothing new from baby boy. I drank through about 2 boxes of that Organic RASPBERRY LEAF TEA that many mothers swear by — nothing. Bounced on a BIRTHING BALL (had been bouncing since about week 32 anyway) — nothing. EVENING PRIMROSE OIL tablets both ways, twice a day — nothing. Ate chunks of fresh PINEAPPLE — nothing. WALKING everywhere throughout the day with Wynter’s dad; and didn’t even take maternity leave pre-birth because, walking + movement was good for labor — nothing. Week 39 comes and although non of the above natural remedies worked to induce labor and kick-start uterine contractions, my doctor hAd oNe MoRe SuGgEsTiOn tO gEt My CeRviX oPeNiNg.
Stripping of the membranes is a very uncomfortable 2 minute procedure, but at that point in my pregnancy I was #overit and desperate to get baby boy moving down into the birth canal. By now, any woman in my position would be so sick of being pregnant and so ready to meet baby that it can really take a toll on your emotions and it did for me. So she stripped my membranes and left me feeling extremely confident that contractions would begin within 48 hours. We were so sure that we’d have a Superbowl 52 baby because the Minnesota Vikings (Wyner’s dad’s team) were in the playoffs at the very end, but after they lost to the Philly Eagles, we pretty much canceled that. As a result of the procedure, I did lose my m-plug, but by week 40, still no sign that baby was coming. They scheduled my induction for February 12 at 9pm, so that baby would be here by week 41 at the latest. Meaning that I would be given that dreadful Pitocin. I went home that day feeling overwhelmingly defeated. I never expected that I would have to undergo drugs to get our baby in my arms. That was probably the one thing that I was seriously trying to avoid. However, I accepted it; and to help with the peace that I was seeking, logged out of my social media accounts and focused on having a healthy birth + baby while trusting God’s timing.
February 12, 2018 arrives. Everyone is excited. My parents and my sister are on different flights headed to Miami. Wynter’s dad and I make plans to meet my sister for a late lunch/early dinner because I was told that I wouldn’t be able to eat nor drink anything once the induction starts. Again, no signs that our child wanted to make his entrance known. Confirmed — he will most definitely be stubborn like his mama. At this point, I’ve accepted that I would have to get the frikkin’ Pitocin. Around 6pm we are headed back to the house to get everything together for departure to hospital. The last thing on my to-do list is to shower and I kid you not, I use the bathroom and there, staring back at me is the bloody show (TMI). An exciting adrenaline, elevator like rush shot through my body — because my OB told me that if I lost that, then contractions would naturally start within 30 minutes. And boom. Contractions started strong; at 8 minutes apart, lasting between 1-2 minutes and to the point where I had to bend over, bracing myself while breathing through each one. We threw everything in the car and headed straight for the hospital ready to have a baby. And listen, things are getting off to a kick-ass start because I didn’t even have to go through that long, drawn out intake at triage. Boo-yah.
Got settled into my birthing room and my team of female nurses took my vitals, checked on baby’s vitals, monitored my contractions & oxygen levels and checked my cervix. I was dilated 6cm and baby was stable. By now, my contractions started to come much stronger and with little to no break in between. They immediately asked if I wanted an epidural in which I replied kindly and with no hesitation, “yes”. My contractions were STRONG. So strong that I had dilated from 6cm to 9cm within 5 minutes. We’re just gonna assume that baby boy was communicating like, “Momma, you want me to come, or nah?” My female OB assigned to deliver my baby had not yet arrived and because of that, they had to give me something to “slow down” my contractions. I said that correctly, slow down. At this point, I’m expecting whatever life is throwing at me. With the help of Wynter’s dad consoling and holding me, I got the epidural that I also didn’t want and had specifically outlined in my expected birth plan, but because the procedure was so smooth + painlessly administered by an award-winning anesthesiologist, labor transitioned into a more calming, therapeutic experience.
I’m good. We’re good.
My parents had arrived and once the contractions slowed down, I was allowed to get some shut-eye. My OB came in and checked my cervix and decided it would be a few more hours before I was ready to “push”. I inhaled, exhaled, enjoyed the last of my baby’s karate chops to my organs, crunched on ice chips and dozed off and on until about 7am, February 13, 2018.
New shift change of nurses, so the therapeutic experience I had a few hours prior was no more. But I had my OB that I wanted and I had my family. Here. We. Go. My contractions were 2 minutes apart and I was given the “okay” to start pushing. What you would expect to be possibly the most natural, kick-ass duty to master, did not start at all as expected. I’m pushing at every contraction – which by the way, my epidural had completely worn off by now, so I’m feeling EVERYTHING. Come on, natural birth. After a few pushes and nothing happening, we re-grouped and my team reminded me that pushing can be a little confusing (eh). With my sister on one side and Wynter’s dad on the other with constant (annoying) encouragement, I’ve now got the pushing thing down and my team can finally see baby boy’s head. First thing said, “Oh wow he’s got a lot of hair!” And in that moment, I knew I could accomplish what God had created me to do. A woman giving birth at every contraction that’s 2 minutes apart, for 10 seconds at time, for 1.5 hours is totally kick-ass.
Wynter Christian Wallace was born on February 13, 2018 at 9:15am — 7lbs/9oz, 21.5 inches long in the South Florida peninsula of Miami at Baptist Hospital. He arrived earth side kicking and crying and it was the most empowering experience any woman can ever have. It was like a scene out of a movie as they laid him on my chest. I cried + kissed all over his gunky body before my team had to check his vitals and his dad scissor his umbilical cord twice — from me and from Wynter. He got a kick-ass Apgar score of 9 and while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up, everyone in my room praised at how beautiful he was. Shortly after, a different team of nurses came in to perform additional tests on Wynter. I didn’t pay much attention as I was in so much pain due to my uterus still contracting. They took him away which in my mind, understood he was being taken to the nursery for a short time before returning to us. Wynter’s dad went along. My team began to unhook machines from me and I was allowed to use the restroom on my own. You’re safe – I won’t go there.
While I waited, the nurses suggested my family and I go ahead and transition into my new room that I would remain in during my stay. Wynter’s dad returned a short time after and spoke with my parents. At the time, I’m still discombobulated and had accepted that our baby was fine and doing well, as expected. I’m busy getting myself together to hold my baby for the second time and begin my anticipated breastfeeding journey. But I waited, and nothing happened. Our baby never returned. Wynter’s dad finally told me that our baby had been taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). My heart dropped and likely skipped a beat (there’s no way to be sure). The ultimate unexpected event happened and my father immediately began praying over us.
I was not good.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
NICU AS NEW PARENTS
My healthy, overdo, first born who I had the most rewarding pregnancy experience with, was sent to an entire different section of the hospital — apart from the maternity ward. My mind was all over the place and my nerves created a shaking affect all over my body. All I wanted to know was what could have happened? Turns out Wynter had a temporary condition called Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn (TTN). If you notice here at this point in the story, I haven’t mentioned anything about my water breaking during labor. That is because my water was never broken. As a result of rapid dilating (remember the start of my contractions at 8 minutes apart, 6cm to 9cm in 5 minutes), and that last push that timed Wynter’s birth at 9:15am, was also the birth of my amniotic fluid. In short, he literally swam out like being caught in a wave causing some of the amniotic fluid to remain in his lungs. Go frikkin’ figure.
After gathering myself, I made the ride, wheelchair bound to the NICU. Upon entering, the first consistent feature noticed was that most babies situated in the unit were tiny, tiny premature babies. The sweet beloveds that we normally associate NICU with. I walked through the unit, holding my chest until I reached my baby’s room. I was not at all prepared for what I was about to see. There lay my precious newborn inside an incubator tied up to machines along with an oxygen mask. I immediately began to cry the ugliest cry — ever. All I could do was stare and wish to hold him. What broke my heart the most was that my baby had an IV coming out of his tiny fragile hand. The same IV that I had to get upon intake. The same IV that caused me pain + discomfort. There was no way that was my healthy baby with an Apgar score of 9. The nurse assigned to Wynter gave us a rundown on his condition and explained that TTN is expected to clear up within 48 hours and that the doctor would be in later that evening for her rounds. Another female doctor, hells yes. Fortunately, I was able to begin breastfeeding once his breathing slowed down, which turned out to be a couple of hours later. I accepted that my baby was a NICU baby, allowed the team to treat him and that breastfeeding, love + affection would be the primary goal on our end as a new mom + dad.
Initially, my breastfeeding experience was so amazing and all I ever wanted out of it. He latched on the first try and immediately began gulping. I was sure that I was doing everything right — especially when the lactation nurse confirmed it. They placed my baby back into his warm incubator and I was instructed to return to NICU every 2-3 hours to nurse. Headed back to our room, new dad and I were constantly encouraging each other, and by encouraging, I totally mean him mostly encouraging me. I was out of it, mentally, physically and emotionally. All I wanted was my baby, sleeping in our room with us + breastfeeding on demand like we had been anticipating for months. I did not get that experience.
After the 3rd trip to the NICU to visit + breastfeed our baby which was the next morning, the doctor had given us an update on Wynter’s condition. He had jaundice. They explained that it was likely due to not getting the initial required nutrients from my milk post-birth and that in order for him to get discharged within 48 hours was to feed him Enfamil newborn formula so that it could clear up. I really struggled with this and even struggle with it today, 8 months later. I took that as my body not producing enough for him. Nothing was going as expected after birthing my sweet baby boy. While I’m struggling, they reassured me that he was a professional at breastfeeding and that I could jump back into it after the recommended formula feeds. I had no choice but to accept another setback if we wanted our baby cleared from TTN, jaundice and home within the next couple of days. So that’s what happened. I allowed the staff to give him formula and our baby’s jaundice had cleared up within 24 hours.
BREASTFEEDING TRIAL + ERROR
We were now in the next 24 hours in NICU and that morning during the doctor’s rounds, they let us know that they would be moving Wynter into another “less involved” NICU for babies that are improving. Still in NICU, but making strides towards discharge. So HECK YEAH that day started off as a major event for us. They gave us a breakdown of what was to be expected during his time in new NICU. Tests were going to be taken to monitor his TTN which in short was to make sure his breathing was stable + lungs normal; and I would focus on breastfeeding again.
So that’s what happened. We tried the latching again like before, but Wynter wasn’t going for it. We tried several times and Wynter was not having it. Within those few hours of him being formula fed, our baby had gotten nipple confused. What another frikkin’ setback. I was all over the place mentally. Yes, I wanted our child to get better and get discharged from NICU, but I also had this dream of breastfeeding. I wanted that more for my baby than anything at the time. More struggling + frustration, but had truly grasped the meaning that fed is best. I remained strong and proud of my baby and just wanted him 100% healthy and ready to rock + roll to the house.
He was doing so good and improving by the hour. The last of his tests were scheduled and everything had cleared up enough for his discharge. It’s now around 9pm and Baptist of Miami will discharge your baby at any hour of the day. We were ready though. My parents were by our side and Wynter’s other half of grandparents were en route. I figured we’d just work on the breast feeding thing once we got home and settled. The doctor came for her last round with Wynter and praised his improvement and verbally cleared him for discharge although additional tests were scheduled prior to release. Despite the setbacks, I was happy. We were happy. And proud of our kick-ass son.
We were good.
Wynter was discharged from NICU and into our arms officially around 11pm on February 16, 2018. Between Feb. 12 and Feb. 16, I had gotten only a few off and on hours of sleep. New dad claimed he was ready, but after all of the NICU experiences we bossed, we were extremely exhausted by the time we made it home. But hey, that was expected, regardless. The first 24 hours at home were challenging because we felt like our baby didn’t know us as a result of the NICU experience, but soon after, everything started to become natural with the parenting thing. We were thankful to have our parents there and Wynter’s Godparents to assist and jump in where needed.
At 8 months, our beautiful, happy baby is continuing to reach his monthly milestones and has been the greatest blessing in our lives. He’s silly with lots + lots of personality and loves the camera — and food. If you follow either me and/or his dad on social media, then you know, ha.
This story was to tell how Wynter arrived into this world and to tell my truth on what to really expect when expecting. The best advice that I can give to couples who are expecting is that there is no way to successfully plan your baby’s birth or predict what will happen. It’s a good thought to have an idea of how you would like your birthing experience to unravel, but you can never be sure. The unexpected is likely to happen one way, or another — big, or small. I would also add that “natural remedies” may or may not work. You can try a couple and if nothing helps, then don’t exhaust yourself about it. Your baby will come when he/she is ready. And please, make sure your water is broken before the “push”.
I will save my breastfeeding experience + postpartum journey(s) for later posts. Lots of frikkin’ stories to tell there.
For someone who is extremely private, I’ve had fun sharing my pregnancy experience with you all since September of last year. This motherhood odyssey has been extremely amazing, even while trying to balance it all: my career, blog + art. If you’ve made it this far in the story, then salute! Much continued thanks for rooting on my little family.