Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Atlas Holden

Atlas Holden Mazzola was born ten days early, at 11:49pm on August 18th, 2016. 7 lbs. 1 oz., 19.5 in. long, light brown hair, chubby cheeks, dagger fingernails, and squinty blue eyes that I am still betting will change to green eventually. :)

WARNING: Birth Story ahead. If you're not into this kind of thing, definitely skip this blog post.

Last week leading up to my mom's arrival on the 18th, I had talked to both her and Kristin about my plan for picking her up from the airport. She was scared that my water would break at the airport, but I figured I was close enough to the hospital to pick her up, even if that were to happen. Kristin was on standby just incase, and we joked about how my asshole rebel baby would probably come at the most inconvenient time possible. If he didn't come on the 18th, then he would definitely be late. I told Eric I didn't think I would go into labor that week, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it happened.

Well, the morning of the 18th, I was up until 2:30am, and then woke up a little before 7am with what felt like period cramps and a very upset stomach. I woke Eric up and told him I thought this was it, so I was going to curl my hair. He thought I was craycray and went back to sleep. But the cramps and upset stomach continued, and would sometimes feel worse than others, so I texted my doula, Jeni, to get her opinion, and told Kristin she should probably be prepared to pick my mom up, no joke.

Jeni called me back, and after hearing my end of the phone call, Eric finally got out of bed. When I hung up, he just looked at me, and I told him Jeni thought I would have the baby before the day was over. Eric decided to work from home (good call), and I got as much last-minute stuff done as possible. I thought I had some time left before I went into labor, so I felt like everything was a mess, and I wasn't completely prepared with food and supplies for my mom, or myself for that matter. I ate some light meals to fuel up for labor and used a bunch of labor-inducing tricks... and then I started feeling that "these are definitely contractions now" feeling when I was halfway around the block on a walk.

After timing them for awhile and feeling them get more painful, I just tried to stick it out until my mom got here. Kristin dropped her off, we took some last photos with my belly, and then Eric and I headed to the doctor for a labor check. Dr. Kaufman is the man, and I like the fact that he's pretty conservative with his diagnoses. He won't say you're dilated to 2 if you're only JUST ABOUT 2. He'll give you a 1. When he checked me, he said I was already 5cm dilated and 100% effaced, so I should probably head to the hospital. I could NOT believe I was already that far along without really being in any notable pain.

We met Jeni at the hospital, where I got to go right into a good room and had the best nurses (the perks of having a doula who knows everyone ;) ). They monitored me every hour for 20 minutes, but the other 40 minutes I could do whatever I wanted, which was awesome. I walked the halls, used a birth ball and peanut ball, and even used some of my prenatal dance class moves because my instructor was also my nurse! So fun. It honestly really helped with the pain of the contractions. They felt so much worse when I was just sitting in bed, but it was REALLY cool being able to see my contractions on the monitor matching up with my baby's movements and heart rate. It helped me visualize that the pain was actually DOING something, and he was trying to move down with every contraction.

Fast-forward a couple hours: I'm still only 5cm dilated, but the contractions got so much worse. I had the shakes, which almost sent me over the edge, since that is a trigger for panic attacks for me. Eventually I made it to 6cm, where I proceeded to shut myself in the bathroom and sat on the toilet in the dark. It makes sense if you think about it. When animals are in pain, including when they give birth, they tend to go off on their own. That's what I did, and it worked.

So, eventually, I'm moaning in a ton of pain, but still keeping it fairly together. When I started feeling the urge to push, Dr. Kaufman was called in. He said I was 10cm, so I tried pushing on my back, my side, using the squat bar on the bed, on my hands and knees... it just wasn't going well. They checked me again in the middle of a push, and sure enough, I was NOT at 10... I was at like 9.99999.

So then, I had to HOLD IN the urge to push and let the contractions hopefully dilate me that extra tiny bit. And held it in I did, for TWO FUCKING HOURS. TWO HOURS. If anyone has been through childbirth and felt this feeling, you know what I'm talking about. It sucked. I asked if I could have an epidural, and they said no, by the time I got prepped and had one, I would have already pushed this baby out. I said I wanted it anyway. I said I wouldn't be upset if I got a c-section at this point. I said I COULD NOT DO IT ANYMORE. But everyone just kept telling me that I was already doing it, and coached me through each contraction while I had Eric's hand in a death grip.

Finally, I told them I REALLY could not hold it in anymore, so they ran to get Kaufman, and I just started pushing. I still wasn't dilated all the way, but at that point, I gave zero shits, and it worked. The pain of pushing was bad, but it was such a relief after all the other pain that it didn't even matter.

After 45 minutes of pushing, my little Atlas Holden was born. I knew it was definitely his name as soon as I held him. We obviously had talked about this name (no one is going to just pull Atlas out of thin air), but we really were not completely committed to it until that moment. It has a lot of significance to us, but it is kind of unusual, so we wanted to be positive about it. We tried it as a middle name, but couldn't agree on a first name to go with it, so when July rolled around, we figured we should just use it as his first name and figure out a middle name that he can use if he finds Atlas to be too unusual at some point in his life (although I know kids named Breezy and Flossy at this point, so...).

So, Atlas Holden it was. Atlas, after the Coheed song that we both love, which was written by Claudio about his own son. Go look at the lyrics. It will make you feel all the feels. And also, after Atlas the Titan, who was condemned by Zeus to hold up the heavens for eternity. This sounds like something negative to resign your child to, but I see it as giving him the power to handle anything that life throws his way. And ALSO, after an actual atlas. Eric and I have been on quite the journey together, and Atlas is the next part of our journey. This name is perfect for him. Holden is named after Holden Caulfield, the main character in The Catcher in the Rye, which had a life-changing impact on me as a teenager.

Our other options included Indigo, but this child has not exactly been calm or easy since his conception... and Ash, which, no, because Pokemon Go just came out and all anyone would think is that we named our kid after Pikachu's best friend or whatever. So DEFINITELY NOT.

Anyway, Atlas was placed right up on my chest, and he nursed almost immediately, because he takes after his mom and wants to eat ALL THE TIME. :) Eric cut the cord, which he wasn't sure he wanted to do, so that was neat. My placenta was a lot bigger than I expected it to look, like a deflated basketball. How did all this fit inside my belly for 9 months?! I had my placenta encapsulated, which you might think is gross, but I am going to try everything I can to try to help myself in this postpartum period. At the worst, it does nothing. At best, it will help regulate my hormones, control postpartum depression, speed the healing process, help with milk supply, and so much more.

Also, my wonderful doula captured the entire birth on camera for us, since Eric was a little busy in the moment! We wouldn't have been able to get through everything without her helping Eric and I. I highly, highly recommend you get a doula if you are interested in a natural childbirth. BUT, if you don't have one, I still think it is completely doable. Besides my cervix being a jerk, the rest of the labor was honestly not as bad as I thought it would be. I know plenty of people have things go wrong, and emergencies occur, and that sucks. Sometimes, medical intervention really is extremely necessary. But, say it's not in your case. If you get yourself to a good mental place and go into it being excited to meet your baby instead of terrified of the pain, you can do it! It's not about getting a trophy or putting yourself through pain for no reason. It's just a personal decision, and for me and my sanity, I am really happy I was able to do it this way.

So how has Atlas been doing this first week? Very well! I've had a bit of a rough time, because I needed some stitches, but we are all very happy here. We have been feeling the love pour in from all over the country, so thank you for all the well-wishes! My mom, Kristin, and Eric have been the biggest help. In fact, Eric is now a diaper-changing champion. Breastfeeding has been a bit of a mental struggle and source of anxiety for me, but Atlas surpassed his birth weight at only five days old, which is great! He's the cutest little chunk I ever saw. And he is very strong, kind of like Atlas the Titan, I guess. :) He sleeps a lot, and nights wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for my own anxiety. I keep waking up to look at him and make sure he is okay.

I can't believe a week has already flown by. I've had a decent rest from blogging and most social media, but I'm looking forward to documenting our lives weekly again. I want to remember every single detail.

Getting monitored for the first time at the hospital
Eric learning to change diapers!
A latte from Kristin
The first diaper Eric changed on his own, which was a HUGE poop, AND Atlas peed everywhere during the change. Hah! Eric handled it like a champ.
The Florida sun rising over my boys <3 
Baby burrito!
Going home outfit, complete with Converse Chuck Taylor socks, of course!
My little family heading home. I wish they didn't have to wheel me out though.
Skin to skin cuddles
Beautiful flowers from Aunt Linny
Milk drunk
Cupcakes from Sarah. They had edible glitter on them!
My smiley chunk. I love him so much I could cry. <3

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