“They performed something called a Kristeller’s maneuver, where a nurse had to stand over me on the bed and press as hard as she could on my belly with her arm and elbow, basically like squeezing out a tub of toothpaste.” Loraine de Sanctis, on the trauma of her daughter’s birth…
Loraine de Sanctis, 30, lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband and their 14-month-old daughter Eliana. Prior to this, they were living in New York for four years. Loraine works in PR.
“I always knew I wanted children, I just didn’t know when it would happen. My mother had always repeatedly told me to enjoy my marriage for a few years without children first as obviously everything changes after that, mostly for the better. However, keeping a marriage healthy isn’t always easy when you are caught up in changing diapers, making bottles etc.
We weren’t really TRYING trying, but we also were not NOT trying. I had suffered a miscarriage on my birthday – of all days – on October 28th 2014, and that pregnancy came about while I was using an IUD. After that miscarriage, I never resumed taking any birth control and well, a few months in, I was pregnant.
Honestly, I have no real fond memories of the whole birth experience. It went nothing like I had imagined it or wanted it to be, both for my sake and the baby’s. I was really adamant about trying an all natural childbirth, but eight hours into labor I was so exhausted by the contractions and still only 2cm dilated, so I ended taking the blessed epidural. However, the baby’s heart rate started to drop very fast 12 hours into labor so they ended up having to break my waters and dilate me.
Motherhood in one sentence? Learning to live with much higher stakes, to face the reality that nothing is certain and learning to love the frightening enormity of this new love.
They let me push maybe four or five times before they performed something called a Kristeller’s maneuver, where a nurse had to stand over me on the bed and press as hard as she could on my belly with her arm and elbow, basically like squeezing out a tub of toothpaste. I felt like I almost blacked out at that point. They had to vacuum extract the baby as well. Everything was just a bit of a painful blur and it really hindered me from being able to bond with the baby in the first moments.
I had read three books, all geared towards natural childbirth and I had done so much research on the internet, I knew exactly how I wanted things to go. Ironically, none of it went how I wanted it to. Safe to say, it really taught me to be more forgiving of my myself and that some things are really out of my control .
The early days were a bit difficult, as they are for any new parent. I never knew getting the hang of breastfeeding was so hard. Was she feeding enough? Was she feeding too much? Feed on demand or feed on a schedule? Do I pump after every feeding? Do I weigh her before each feeding and after? The amount of differing opinions I was given was overwhelming and stressful. She was not putting on any weight at all and she ended up being rushed into the hospital for an emergency brain surgery three weeks after birth.
We spent the subsequent month in the paediatric neurosurgery ward with her. Another two brain surgeries followed after that. My milk dried up quick because of all the stress, so I had to start her on formula. Even that taught me once again to be more forgiving on myself. I had been so convinced I would breastfeed her at least until she was a year old and then well, life happened. I am so happy for all the mothers that can breastfeed their babies for as long as they can/want but I really did realise that at the end of the day, fed is best.
Once she was stable and we were finally discharged from the hospital, things started getting easier. We were finally able to experience a bit of a normal routine, and I was finally really able to bond with her, even without being able to breastfeed. It finally felt like we were getting time to ‘get to know each other’
The greatest challenge I face, as a mother, is learning how to balance the part of me that is a mother and the person I was before I became a mother
Before having a baby, I was doing PR in NYC. I quit my job when I was in my last trimester as no maternity leave was offered and we were considering moving to Europe. I work from home for now as a freelancer doing PR for different companies and projects. I appreciate the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere and being able to be with my daughter most of the time but I do look forward to sending her to daycare for a few hours a day in a few months so I can regain some sense of myself again.
I think becoming parents strenghthened our relationship. Obviously, there is a lack of one on one time and sometimes we have to really put an effort into reminding ourselves to go for a bite out of to eat on our own or even a walk, but overall I feel like we are more connected than we ever were.
I wish I’d been told, before embarking on parenthood, that it’s ok if things do not go as you planned them in your head or how your mother or other countless people told you they need to go. That it’s ok if you need to give formula, or co-sleeping is easier. To just be more forgiving and lenient with yourself and you will be a flawed mother, and that is totally ok.
I also wish I’d have spoken up more about things I was scared or not comfortable with during the birthing process. I completely surrendered myself to the doctors and nurses without having any control over anything.
It is clichéd but seeing my daughter smile and laugh every day really puts things into perspective. At the end of the day she is the most rewarding thing in my life.”