A Q&A with Julisa

Julisa is from Kinsale, Virginia and is a mother of 2. Her daughter is 4 years old and her son is 2 years old.

Favorite activity to do with kids: Go to Chuck-E-Cheese. Favorite activity to do without kids: SLEEP & spend time with her husband.

Elan: Briefly share your delivery story to the extent that you are comfortable. Was there anything that you wish you knew about labor and delivery?

Julisa: I had two very different birthing experiences with each child. With my oldest, I had no idea what to expect when it came to delivering a baby, medication to ease the pain, or how to feed/care for a baby once they’re born.

My first pregnancy, I felt that I might’ve been in labor when it was “about that time,” but I wasn’t sure – when we arrived at the hospital, they immediately checked us in. I went 4 hours with no medication, but then I could no longer hold out. When I requested an epidural, the anesthesiologist brought in a super huge needle, and I immediately began to regret my decision – LOL! (If you’ve never gone through this before, they stick the needle in the middle of your back; I really don’t remember if I felt it or not – compared to the contractions though, the feeling will fade if there is any pain lol – I also still have backaches to this day, but I am unsure as to whether or not it’s due to the epidural; many women say that they still have back pain associated with it though. This isn’t to scare you, but you should be informed).

Once that epidural kicked in though, I wanted to slap myself for enduring all of that pain! That thing had me out like a baby for about 5 hours, right up until it was time to push baby girl out. I didn’t have a traumatic experience at all – they said “PUSH,” and while I had no real concept of what that meant, I pushed with all that I had in me (I attribute this success to the epidural as well, because I didn’t feel pain, just pressure) – after 3 pushes, I heard her cry and I was relieved!

At this time, I may have already known, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the reality that you may possibly poop on the delivery table (LOL! TMI? I doubt it, lol). Also, the tearing that one may experience – I ended up needing stitches for a third-degree laceration; can you say OUCH! I think that was a bit of a downside with the epidural – I pushed so forcefully because I couldn’t feel the pain; but none of that matters when you just want to ensure that baby gets here, by any means necessary. I also wish I had known about that after-delivery care; using the restroom was pure evil at times, medication was definitely my friend. The nurses were absolute angels though! Lastly, I wish I had known more about breastfeeding during my first pregnancy – the hospital that my daughter was delivered at wasn’t breastfeeding-friendly, so we didn’t receive the level of support that I needed as a first-time mother; they literally made me feel like if I didn’t give her formula, that she was going to be in imminent danger.

With my son, things were slightly different. I had been introduced to a book called “Supernatural Childbirth” by Jackie Mize. In essence, the book tells you that you don’t have to experience all of the pain, and often “negative” side effects, that you hear people talk about when they discuss childbirth. I wasn’t too sure if it would work, lol, but I read it a couple of times over and really did my best to keep my mind in the right place with this second birthing experience. When I started going into labor, I was at my parents’ house. I can recall sitting at the kitchen table; I told my mom and husband that I thought I was in labor, but I wasn’t sure, because the pain wasn’t “too bad.” The issue with this though, was that the hospital where I was set to deliver at was about an hour away, so I didn’t really have time to be uncertain. After much convincing, we grabbed our things and headed towards the hospital. About 20 minutes into our route, I realized, “Oh! I am in labor!” It was different this time around though, the contractions were a million times more bearable. I learned from the book that I could “control my pain.” So whereas in my first pregnancy a 1 minute contraction caused me much pain and I would clench up the entire time, during my second pregnancy, I was able to gain control over my pain after 10 seconds of focused attention and breathing. I know, it sounds crazy, but what the book taught me actually worked!

When we got to the hospital, I was asked several times if I wanted to have a C-section, almost to the point of being pressured to do so (by the doctor – she was an on-call doctor, not “my” doctor). I explained to the nurse that having a C-section was not my heart’s desire, and she did her best to ensure that my wishes were respected. I later came to learn that this specific doctor always tries to push C-sections on women, I’m not sure why, but I’m glad I stuck to what I wanted! I was doing well for hours at this point, but then I couldn’t take it anymore! I was like look, I need that epidural! LOL … at this point, however, we were too far into the game for me to get one and it was time to deliver! I was like okay, I’m a pro, I’ve done this before – let’s do this! The difference this time around though, was that I didn’t have that epidural to give me the superwoman strength to push! It was like I didn’t know what push meant or something when the time came. I can recall the doctor, the nurses, and my husband all yelling “PUSH, JULISA – PUSH!!!” To be honest, they were all totally freaking me out, lol. I can recall one of my sweet, angelic nurses yelling for me to do what I needed to do to get that baby out. While harsh, once she said it, something clicked and I pushed with all that was in me – I could hear nurses exclaiming, “do we need to call NICU?!” I was freaking out, what’s wrong with my baby?!? I kept calm though, and later discovered that all was well – thank God!

The second pregnancy for me was much better, subsequent to giving birth. Due to the fact that I didn’t have an epidural/medication, I was up and moving around as if I didn’t just have a baby – it was amazing lol I felt a million times better than I did with my first pregnancy. When you get an epidural, it numbs your lower extremities, so you can’t get up and move around right after you give birth because you have no feeling in your legs. I still had to receive stitches with our baby boy (I guess my kids have big heads, lol), but since I had already experienced it, it wasn’t too bad (oh, and they numb you, I remember that now)!

Elan: Briefly share your postpartum recovery to the extent that you are comfortable. Did anything surprise you? Was there anything that you wish you knew about postpartum recovery? Were there any items that were “lifesavers” during your postpartum recovery?

Julisa: I wish I had known the pain that one experiences for the days following giving birth. It was a challenge to use the restroom (especially with the stitches), and let’s not even talk about pooping – those stool softeners are lifesavers. The mesh hospital underwear were absolutely amazing, I always stocked up on those and the water bottle thingy – it’s messy business down there for about a week or so, but it’s amazing how the body heals itself!

Elan: Briefly share any obstacles that you had to overcome during your child’s first year to present and how you overcame it or are overcoming it?

Julisa: Since our son was born 2nd, I will share an obstacle that we had to overcome during his first year. There is a strain put on your marriage when you bring another life into the picture, but nothing could have prepared us for adding yet another life to the mix. For the first few months, all of the attention was on the new baby; I kind of felt like I was neglecting my oldest and my husband in the process of getting to know the new little one. Also, I wasn’t able to breastfeed our oldest as we desired, so breastfeeding our youngest was a new experience for me that I never knew the weight of. Women often describe breastfeeding as an amazing experience, and it is, but after a while, I honestly just wanted my body back! It’s still tough sometimes with having two toddlers, but His grace is sufficient!

Elan: Share any advice that you have for other Mamas regarding Labor & Delivery, Postpartum Recovery, and/or Motherhood.

Julisa: If I could share any advice, it would be: RELAX. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, there’s almost like this panic mode that you go into, wanting to make sure that everything is perfect and that you don’t mess up. God blessed moms with this innate ability to know what’s best and when. So trust your instincts, trust that you know what’s best for your baby, and be true to you.

Additionally, we live in the age of social media. With that being said, people are known for putting their best foot forward online, when it all actuality, their reality could be much different. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your reality with someone else’s perceived reality. I’m saying that to say, don’t get caught up in what you see mother’s post on social media about how advanced their children are, how perfect their parenting skills are, etc. Whether your baby walks at 8 months, or 13 months, be grateful that they are able to walk. Whether your baby talks in full sentences at 2, or only knows a few words, be grateful that your baby can talk. In other words, let your baby be!! LOL, it’s almost like this generation wants to pressure their kids to live up to a standard that they will naturally grow into without the additional assistance.

We didn’t force our children to be potty-trained, to walk, or to talk – and guess what, they are happy babies who came into their own and they’re doing alllllll of the things that I learned to take a back seat on as far as trying to force it out of them. So mama, take the pressure off of yourself – your baby is smart, let him/her grow into their own.