Coco Mama » Creative Adventures in Preggo-hood

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If you live in Montreal like I do, and you’re leaking sweat on this 31 degree day as I am, then you will find this photo mockingly inappropriate (mockingly is a word right?). But I love the image, so here it is.
Oh and check out the links too :)

Husky in the Arctic

  1. Last days of the Arctic. Amazing photography.
  2. 9 overrated tourist destinations. Las Vegas sure, but Egypt? Interesting.
  3. I want to make these statement button rings.
  4. The day I threw away 100 things. Fantastic idea.
  5. Cityscapes on cardboard. I’m blown away by this kind of art.
  6. The Listserve. If you had one chance to say something to a million people, what would you say?
  7. The best things in life are free (a happy list).
  8. 101 books to read this summer instead of ’50 Shades of Grey’.
  9. Farmer or pet owner? Saving Thumbelina.
  10. Online Etch a Sketch.
  • Sasha - I signed up for listserve! Interested to see what people will say!ReplyCancel

I’m SO happy to return to blogging after a 2 month postpartum hiatus.
I missed you bloggy blog!
To mark my return into the blogosphere, I thought I would share my birth story (as it is the reason for my absence).

Disclaimer: From what I hear, most first time labors are God-awful, and though mine was no picnic, this story is by no means intended to horrify anyone. However, this isn’t the glossy magazine version either, so cover your eyes if need be.
Ok here we go…

12:30 am – 6 days before my due date, a good hard contraction woke me up. It was nice and painful so I thought “hmm, I should pay attention”. Almost immediately the contractions were 10 minutes apart. I sat in bed timing them with my iPhone and within an hour they were coming in at 5 minute intervals.
I decided it was time to wake up the husband.
My thinking: “This pain is intense but if this is the worst it gets, it’s totally manageable”.

3:30 am – We started packing for the hospital and the contractions were suddenly 2 minutes apart.
My thinking: “Already 2 minutes apart? This is going to be an awesomely short labor!”

4:00 am – We arrived at the hospital. Time for an internal exam.
WARNING: nobody ever mentions how painful this is. I don’t really know what the hell they do down there, but I was jumping out of my skin.
The nurse said “Well your contractions are sure close together but you’re only dilated 3 cm. Prepare for a long labor”.

4:30 am – I sat on a birthing ball while Gino held my hand. I did my yoga breathing through my contractions and watched the monitor as they peaked every 2 minutes. Ever had food poisoning? That’s exactly what my contractions felt like but intensified by about 170 million.
I could hear my birthing workshop instructor’s voice in my head telling me to stay present.
I say to hell with staying present. Distraction is what saved me and made the pain somewhat tolerable.
Through each contraction I tried to focus on anything – a poster on the wall, I counted dots on the floor – whatever.
And for the record, I believe that yoga breathing is really a placebo. It offers nothing but something to DO.

10:30 am – After 10 hours of steady, intense contractions, my body tells me it’s done.
I was ready to curl up on the floor and weep uncontrollably (though I refrained from doing so).
I felt like it wasn’t the intensity of the pain I couldn’t handle, but the duration. I was absolutely exhausted (and the strict “ice chips only” diet didn’t exactly provide a much needed energy boost).

The nurse told me I’d only dilated to 4 cm and that I wasn’t “going to have this baby anytime soon”.
She said if I wanted the epidural, it was now or never.
After a lot of wavering and a long discussion with my husband, I decided to take it.
It was such a difficult decision for me. There’s this stigma that paints you as “less strong” if you take the epidural. I was muttering about how guilty I felt about not having a natural birth as the anesthesiologist put the IV in my spine. He overheard and said “That’s nonsense. Would you get a root canal and not take the freezing?”
Good point Mr. Anesthesiologist!

10:45 am – EPIDURAL BLISS.
Though I wasn’t permitted to walk around, I still felt like I had full control of my body (legs included), but I couldn’t feel a twinge of pain. It was glorious.
So photo time! I think I even texted a bunch of people.

Ice chips and a hospital band

12:45 pm
– The glory was short lived – I started to feel my contractions again.
They upped my epidural dosage. Twice.
Didn’t do a thing.
The nurse put something else in my IV drip. It made my legs absolutely dead, which was weird but hilarious to watch when they would fall out of the stirrups.

1:15 pm  – I was finally 10 cm dilated – yey!!! Time to start pushing.
It took Gino and 2 nurses just to hold my dead legs up.
Even though my legs were completely numb, I still had a good deal of contraction pain.
But pushing through the pain actually offered some relief, and more importantly, reassurance that the end was near.

4:15 pm – After 3 hours of pushing, I just about had a melt down.
I was done. The tears were welling up and I couldn’t imagine pushing anymore. Apparently 3 hours is the marathon of pushing (i had no idea).
The nurses and midwife started to speak to each other through their teeth without much lip movement.
Something was wrong and they were discreetly discussing it.
Oh God.
The midwife went for the on-call doctor.
The doctor informed us that the baby was stuck in the birth canal so we had 2 options:
- Vacuum delivery
- C-section
The C-section posed a great deal of risk to the baby because they would have to push the baby back in. This made it an easy choice to go with the vacuum option. The doctor explained that they would only attempt a vacuum birth 3 times and if all 3 attempts failed they would preform an emergency C-section. I was too exhausted to fully grasp the possible seriousness of this situation, but Gino told me later that he was petrified.
The second we made our decision the medical team started to set-up for the vacuum delivery.
And man, were they quick. By my next contraction, they had given me a local anesthetic (biggest needle I’ve seen in my life), cut me (episiotomy – don’t remember that, but Gino said it sounded awful), and placed this plastic-bowl-looking suction cup on the baby’s head.
Then I pushed with all of my might.

I saw the large suction-cup slowly come into my view and then the baby’s head.
I swear the head just kept going and going.
My thinking: “How the hell is something so large coming out of my body!?!!”
Then there was a flash of movement as the midwife rapidly removed the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck (it was wrapped around twice!).
Then I heard the much anticipated cry.

May 9th, 2012, 4:47 pm – Caio Erasmo Cocomello was born!
8lbs on the nose and 21 inches long.
Gino got to announce the sex (it was a surprise).
They placed Caio immediately on my chest, all gooey and wet.
Within moments he stopped crying, looked up at me and settled in for a cuddle.
I let out a small gasp of happiness.
Gino cut the cord.
I looked up at him and his face was red with tears tumbling down his face.
There is nothing like this moment.

Brand new baby Caio

Rochelle and Caio

Cutting the cord and my birthing team

  • Jasalyn Thorne - Oh Rochelle, I’m crying just reading your story!! What a trooper you are to have endured all of that. I’m so sorry you had to experience that pain, I don’t wish it on anyone. THANK GOD your little man was ok. I started crying with relief when I read that the cord was wrapped around twice! Well done my dear friend. The memory of the pain does fade. Get ready for some AWESOME times ahead ;) I tear up every time our little Abbey looks into my eyes and all the horror fades away.
    Mucho love to you 3 xoxoxReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Thank you Jasalyn! I am SO thankful everything worked out in the end. I think the memory of the pain has almost already faded – In the delivery room I looked at Gino and said “I will never do this again” and boy did I mean it. But already I’m thinking “yeah I could do that again”. And I’m only at month 2! Haha!ReplyCancel

  • bethany schiedel - oh man i’m crying too!! loved reading your perspective and i can literally feel the pain again as you are writing about it… ugh. also loved that you took pics and texted, heehee! well done momma!ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Thank Bethany! Yes photos were in order :) And I proud of the ones my husband took – he even correctly exposed them :)ReplyCancel

  • Grandpa Garrison - Brought tears to my ears my daughter. I was praying hard for you as time went on. I knew, because of the length of time, it was likely being a difficulty delivery.
    Love you Love Gino and Love my very first Grandchild Caio.

    Dad & GrandpaReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Thanks Pa! We love you too. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Siobhan - Thanks for sharing your story Rochelle, sounds like we had very similar birth issues, it was a wild ride. Not something I would like to endure again. I just remember after 19 hours and 1 hour of pushing turning to my sister and saying I can’t do it I need drugs! Both her and the nurse looked at me and said you’ve come this far you can do it. Great mantra but 4 hours and an epistiotomy and vacuum later I think hmmm should I have had an epidural? Probably, It’s rough oh god it’s rough but nothing like it in the world when your baby is out and safe in your arms. He’s definitely a gorgeous boy you have! Great Job momma getting him here!ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Siobhan no epidural!??? You’re amazing!!ReplyCancel

  • ana {bluebirdkisses} - congratulations mama. Your story sounds so much like mine…except for the chord wrap part, and the actual delivery since I ended up with a c-section after all.

    i felt the same as you…there is this stigma against women who chose an epidural, or who end up having a csection rather than a “natural” birth. I felt so guilty about it all until I read “Bringing up Bebe” Have you read it? if not, you should. I think you’ll love it.ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Ana I JUST read “Bringing up Bebe”! and you’re right, I did love it :)
      Isn’t it awful how much guilt is put on us moms? As if we aren’t hard enough on ourselves? I loved the attitude in the book that motherhood doesn’t have to equal destroying yourself.ReplyCancel

  • julie (xfallenmoon) - wow. what a moving birth story!! you are one strong woman! thank you for sharing it, i was wondering how your delivery went. i’m glad to hear your little bundle of joy arrived strong and healthy. :)ReplyCancel

  • Tanya - Oh you made me so teary Rochelle! You wrote about it all so well and it made me of course think of my own birthing experience just a few months before. Someday you and I will sit down and compare notes of our birthing experiences because we had some similarities (Leo’s heart rate kept dropping and we had to do an emergency forceps delivery with the OR prepped just in case a c section was necessary). I hope I can make you feel better by telling you my labour was 34 hours…I have never been so exhausted in my life! Do not ever feel bad about getting an epidural…I sure wish I had gotten one. If I ever do it again, I will be going epidural all the way! Hope you are a happy momma. Thinking of you and your new baby boy!ReplyCancel

Fred Herzog was one of the first photographers to document Vancouver on colour slides in the 50s and 60s.
He’s a street photographer at his core and doesn’t believe that content can be manufactured. He focuses on the ordinary, the working class in their everyday moments and because of this I find his images to be refreshingly raw and authentic.
I so love his style.

But one of the real reasons I love Fred is because he’s just plain awesome.
He was one of our regular clients at the professional photography lab I used to work at in Vancouver.
He would come in on a dreary day and in his thick German accent, he’d ask you how you were doing.
And he’d really want to hear the answer.

Fred Herzog photos
Main Barber, 1968 - Equinox Gallery
Curtains, 1967 - Equinox Gallery

Fred Herzog photos - walking

Mom’s Shoes, 1969 - Equinox Gallery
Crossing Powell, 1984 - Equinox Gallery

Fred Herzog photos
Victoria, 1967 - Equinox Gallery
Two Boys, 1960 - Equinox Gallery


“Are you having triplets?”  – a random man in Chapters about my father’s age trying to be funny.
So you’re saying I’m enormous?

“If you feel wetness down there, that’s your water breaking.” – the same random man in Chapters. 
Um, thanks tips. And why are you even thinking about my “down there” old man? That’s just gross.

“They say that if you’re pregnant with a girl, she steals your beauty…I think you’re having a girl.” – my friend’s sister moments after he introduced me to her. 
Wow. Thank you. You must be blessed with many daughters.

“You’re having a girl because your face filled out like a balloon.” – our neighbor.
And you must be socially ostracized because your common sense filter is missing.

“Wide load coming through.” – a professional 40′s-ish women in the elevator attempting a joke as I walked in.
Are you expecting me to smile after a comment like that? (I gave her nothing but an uncomfortably long, blank stare).

“I never want to get pregnant. I don’t want to get fat.” – a female relative.
Are you calling me fat? Well clearly you’re new to the birds and the bees theory – this belly isn’t from a lack of exercise or poor nutrition, it’s a… (wait for it)…BABY!

“You’re not going to have that baby here are you?” – a real estate agent during a property viewing.
Well seeing is how I can control the miracle of birth, you better believe my delivery location of choice is at a property that I don’t own in front of strangers.

Seriously, how can people be this dumb?
I wish I had actually responded to these comments with a clever retort, but each time I was so shocked by the audacity of people’s words, that all I could muster was a mute, deer-in-headlights expression.
What is it about pregnancy that makes people think I’m immune to hurtful/stupid/inappropriate comments?
I truly do not understand this.
Any insight?

  • Sarah Rooftops - Wow. I thought I was tactless, but this is a whole new level. Why do these people not have normal brain-to-mouth filters?!ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - I ask myself the same question Sarah. I just don’t get it.ReplyCancel

  • Sasha - I think the best come back to most of those is “What do you mean? I’m not pregnant.” With a super serious face.ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - Sasha I’m going to try that! At very least I’d make myself laugh which is a nice alternative to being rage-filled (haha).ReplyCancel

  • Jenell - Weird! After looking at your last maternity pictures I thought to myself, “Damn, that’s a good looking, teeny-tiny belly (and Momma to be)! Clearly, she is having a boy!” lol. Specifically, I thought boy because I have also heard about baby girls ‘stealing’ their moms beauty. Chin up! You’re gorgeous, and look amazing. That said, I like Sasha’s idea:)… What baby?! Haha!!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie - I’m sorry Rochelle I laughed at these. Not because they are funny, but because I can not believe people would actually sat things like this! Some people have lost their ‘common sense’ if they ever had it at all. When you are pregnant, especially when you are near the end, you already feel self conscious about how you look & your belly feels enormous, you don’t need ‘negative’ comments.

    I hope you have been able to shrug off their negativity because you look amazing! And I’m not just saying that because you are my friend. :) Wish I could be there when you try Sasha’s idea, I would love to see the reaction! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Tricia - Do you have many random people coming up and touching your belly without asking? Apparently that happens a lot… sounds awful. With regards to the comments, I guess people assume that it’s one time in your life you won’t be “sensitive” about size because you know it’s happening… but it’s pretty tactless nonetheless!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - For the record I think you are having a girl and you look freakin fabulous for being so close to D-Day!! Honestly, such a teeny tiny beautiful woman, with a beautiful pregnant glow :) I say next time someone makes a rude comment suddenly act like you’re having contractions and ask them if they are certified in first aid because all the women in your family birth fast :). That should shut them up.ReplyCancel

  • cocomama - Thank you all so much for the kind words, insight and support (and hilarious response suggestions I might add). I can laugh at it all now, it just still stuns me me in the moment. Oh well, soon this baby should be in my arms instead of my belly :)ReplyCancel

  • nova - People are such idiots! This is not really the same but yesterday a lady told me that girls with forearm tattoos look like sluts…to me. A girl with forearm tattoos. Inside a tattoo shop! WHAT? hahaha I don’t know. Why can’t people think for a second before speaking.ReplyCancel

    • cocomama - WTF? What’s the matter with people? I just don’t get it.ReplyCancel