My Story: Gretchen Gesell


My Story: My sweet little Arthur was born at 7:54am on Tuesday May 12th on my bathroom floor. 

It had been an extremely difficult delivery. I broke my tailbone pushing his head out and experienced two second degree tears which required hospital transport.

I was able to spend a couple of minutes holding him while waiting for the ambulance to arrive to my home, but I was in so much pain that focusing on his beautiful face was challenging.
It wasn’t until I was in the hospital room after getting stitched up that my son and I were reunited. It felt like it had been an eternity since I had seen him.

He almost seemed like someone else’s baby. 

He was adorable and wearing too big monster pajamas. I immediately wanted to try to breastfeed him, but he had no interest in nursing. I clumsily tried to give him my breast. Instead my son cuddled right up on my chest and fell asleep.

He knew his mama.

The doctor released me from the hospital around noon. I was helped into a wheelchair and my mother tried to hand me my newborn. Apparently it is hospital policy for the mother to hold her baby while heading to the car. My tailbone pain was excruciating, but I wanted so badly to hold my baby. After a couple attempts to get comfortable in the wheelchair, I knew I couldn’t safely hold him so the nurses made an exception and my mother held him.

I didn’t feel like a very good mother. I couldn’t even hold my own baby.

As we walked outside I spotted my husband waiting with the car. After buckling Arthur in, he gently helped me into the backseat. We had to stack 3 pillows under my bottom to avoid direct pressure to my tailbone. My husband drove carefully and slowly.

On the ride back home I let the tears flow. I could not believe that I had just given birth! I had dreamed of a peaceful, serene, and lovely home birth. Instead his birth was intense, tiring, challenging, amazing, painful, and overwhelming. 

I felt that because I didn’t have the birth I had planned for, that it wasn’t a good birth. 

And as crazy as it sounds now, I felt disappointed in myself because I had to work so hard. 
That first night was hard. I completely relied on my amazing husband for help with nearly everything. My injury required me to stay in bed horizontal. Getting out of bed was immensely painful. Every time I couldn’t get up to change his diaper or grab something I felt guilty and sad. 

In all of this postpartum chaos, I never felt a lack of support.
My Story: Gretchen Gesell | Postpartum Confession

I had my husband, family, friends constantly doing what was needed without me asking. My midwives came over more than once and spoke with me about hormones and emotions. They watched him breastfeed and told me they were proud of me. My mother stopped by every single day to clean, organize, and help with anything I needed. Friends came over to offer congratulations, hold my baby, and listen to my story. My son and I were never alone. I felt so loved!

The next few weeks were frustrating as I was coping with the fact that I wasn’t feeling better physically. While my stitches felt much better after the second week, my tailbone injury was still pretty debilitating. I longed to go out to a restaurant or coffee shop, but I literally couldn’t sit in a chair. I couldn’t sit in the car for more than five minutes at a time. 

We ventured to my in-law’s house one night about three weeks postpartum for a party, and I laid on the sofa with Arthur. At one point everyone got up and went outside to hang out on the patio. I broke down crying. I was left alone feeling tired, achy and I just wanted to feel normal again. I couldn’t go sit on any of the patio chairs and standing for more than ten minutes left me exhausted. All of a sudden I just felt sad. Really sad. This was not how I pictured my first few weeks of being a mother.

I wanted to be super mom, but I could barely move.

As my injury healed and I started to feel better physically, I slowly felt better mentally too. I felt extremely grateful for my family and friends who really never stopped showing up. I always had someone to talk and vent to. My husband continuously asked how I was feeling and if I needed anything at all.

Now here I am 16 weeks postpartum. I have thought about Arthur’s birth every single day. It took awhile but I am finally feeling proud of myself. Just because it wasn’t the peaceful home birth that I had been planning on doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good birth.
I know that I had the perfect birth for him and I love his story.

Gretchen Gesell | Phoenix | Mama to Arthur, 4 month

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