Best Supporting Actor Award goes to…

Mr. Wench. Though it should be “Best Supporting Person Award”, since he isn’t acting (to my knowledge). This pregnancy, Mr. Wench has done a complete 180 as far as how he was with our second daughter’s birth. He was the one who brought up not circumcising, and fully supports my decision to nurse. He also brought up his concerns about my experience with the epidural last time, and stated that, should I decide to go natural, would fully support me in that attempt.

My epidural experience with our second child was wonderful during the birth experience. It was after birth that the real drama (or trauma, more accurately) began. I was a frazzled second-time mom, trying to juggle a newborn who I was told I had to nurse “every hour on the hour” to establish my milk supply, and a nearly three-year-old toddler who just didn’t understand the concept of “Mommy needs you to wait a minute, I kind of have a baby attached to my boob”.

I was doing okay for the first week. Then the back pain set in. Agonizing pain that shot up and down my spine…I would sob tearfully that my back “felt like it was breaking itself in half”. Any movement made it hurt worse. Nursing sent shocks of more intense pain through me. I tried to tough it out. I was sure I’d pulled something during labor. A labor that I didn’t even feel at the time, but was more than feeling now. I began to dread nursing. I began to dread anything that involved any movement. I’d get the baby to latch on, and I would be shaking in fearful anticipation of the pain I knew was coming. I thought maybe I was nursing wrong. It shouldn’t hurt, I thought. The lactation consultant I called told me I must have been doing it wrong. If she said I was doing it wrong, she was right…right? What did I know? I was just a stupid second-time mom…right?

No. I wasn’t. After weeks of pain, the stress-related drying of my milk, I finally got sent for an MRI. Nothing turned up on the MRI…except that my spinal column showed signs of irritation and inflammation. Something happened when I got my epidural, maybe I twitched and the needle hit my nerve column in my spine, maybe the anesthesiologist did something wrong, the exact cause couldn’t be pinpointed, but after a regimen of pain-killers, muscle relaxers, and massive amounts of anti-inflammatory medication, my back finally started to feel better.

But the damage was done, and the memory of the utter pain I was in, and the struggle I went through in dealing with it, while it was dulled in my memory, was firmly imprinted in Mr. Wench’s mind. He remembers all the tears and frustration. I was supposed to be the supermom, second time mom being a champ at nursing and being all radiant and whatever it was he thought new moms were supposed to be like. And instead, he got 10 weeks of a weeping partner trying in vain to forge through the pain and nurse our baby and successfully juggle our oldest daughter at the same time. That is something forever seared in his memory. And he couldn’t do anything to help me. He couldn’t feed our baby, I had to, to try to save my dying milk supply. He helped out with what he could, but it was a losing battle. I will never know what it felt like to him to witness that.

But it must have been horrible enough that he switched his stance from “Oh, you’re fucking nuts” (when I tentatively mentioned giving birth without meds) to “I keep worrying about the epidural…what if you get a repeat of last time?” He has been my rock in bouncing different ideas off him. He knows that the only one allowed to hold the baby before me will be him, and he agrees with it. He’s supporting my choice to try for a natural birth, and has assured me he will not think less of me if I get an epidural.

And for that, he’s definitely deserving of a Best Supporting Person award.


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