My birth story starts out like anyone else’s birth story – my husband keeled over dry heaving while water dripped down my legs.
We had been just sitting on the couch seconds ago – me annoyed and openly cranky about still being pregnant. I had just gotten off the phone with Dad, telling him not to book my parent’s flights out to California yet because there was no sign of baby. I had spent the morning getting needles jabbed into me (prenatal acupuncture if that wasn’t clear), and the afternoon sweating during a long waddle around the neighborhood. I was ready for this baby and ready to not be so huge and uncomfortable anymore. I was past my due date by the smallest smidge, but overdue enough.
Just then I felt this tiny, faint, almost impossible to notice “pop” and stood up quickly from the couch. On a bachelorette trip just weeks ago, another mom had told me she had “felt her water break with a small pop” – describing it just like this. Like this! Up! Quick! I stood just in time to avoid ruining our living room couch.
When talking to all the experienced mothers before this point, every single one of them said something like “it is nothing like the movies, a lot of the time your water doesn’t even break before you go into labor. Sometimes it is just a small trickle, you might even think you accidentally peed.” Well, ladies, sometimes it is just like the movies. Thankfully I was at home in the comfort of my own floors when liquid began pouring out of me.
I quickly went and stood in the bathroom, pretty unsure what I was suppose to do here. “Honey,” I said to my husband who was panicked in the living room, staring at me from 10 feet away, “what are we supposed to do now?”
He looked at me with fear in his eyes and started dry heaving. Yes, dry heave!
“I don’t know!” he muttered, holding his hand over his mouth. At this point in time, I am fully dressed, with soaking wet gym pants and clear liquid pooling around my feet on tiled flooring – not that gross overall.
“Why are you sick?!” I snapped at him, “this is about to get a lot worse!”
“We are suppose to go to the hospital now, right?” I asked him.
“I don’t know!”
“This part was yours!” I yelled at him.
“What?” he shook his head, “I read about counting your contradictions! Are you having any contractions? I download an app for this!”
I got a towel and decided to sit in the passenger seat of our car. My husband ran around the house like he was on fire, throwing thing into bags and packing up the trunk. By the time we left, we had half our bedroom in the back and he was sweating profusely.
At the hospital we were slowly and calmly checked in – me still wearing a towel around my waist while a man approximately 100-years-old pushed me around in a wheelchair. This part was not like the movies – there was no rush, no excitement. Just a lady in a bath towel sitting in a wheelchair filling out paperwork.
The first nurse was convinced I had just peed myself. “No contradiction?” she asked, looking at me skeptically. “Well, we will see then.”
Once they confirmed my water had indeed broke, I was allowed into a pristine room all of my own. My husband unpacked and settled us in, we joked and hung-out as if nothing was really happening. It really wasn’t, after all. It was like we had just checked into a hotel on some weird vacation. But that didn’t last long, within hours the contradictions kicked up a notch. I had been having them all along, per the monitors, but the intensity picked up a few hours after the flood gate incident.
Yes! We were on our way!
And then, not so much.
My contractions were irregular and I was barely dilated. I was in pain but not progressing – a hopelessly uncomfortable and inspiring status. 24 hours, 24 hours. That is what everyone kept saying. Once your water breaks, you’ll only have 24 hours to deliver the baby due to the high risk of infection. What a scary time clock!
We want to induce you.
We need to give you Pitocin.
My chart read ‘difficult patient.’ I was refusing Pitocin and other forms of induction. This wasn’t the plan! Can we stick to the plan? The answer was no.
Within the roughly 48 hours of labor I had been induced, been monitored for infection, argued with doctors and nurses, been crippled with pain, progressed and then stagnated, progressed and then stagnated, cried, been shot with morphine, cried, and finally – gave in. It had been two days. Way past the cut off point. My doctor sat on the edge of my bed as I wept, this hasn’t been the plan. This hadn’t been what I imagined. I wanted to birth my baby. I wanted to do whatever everyone else was doing, I wanted to experience that magic. This wasn’t in our birth blueprints.
She said something like, “I know dear. Sometimes we have to go off the plan and do what is best and safest for you and the baby. This isn’t what you imagined but it cannot be your choice any longer, it is no longer safe. What is most important is that we bring your baby into this world healthy and safely, and keep you well in the process.”
Getting an epidural in that later half of the first 42-hours was a piece of cake, I barely felt the ‘bee stings’ of numbness before the actual epidural was inserted into my back. I was in so much pain from contractions, so worn down mentally and physically, so tired, so sad, that this was the least of all evils. I didn’t know what to expect, however, so as I sat on the edge of the bed with the anesthesiologist standing behind me in preparation, I looked at my husband and said “tell me a story! Tell me something funny or happy. Please distract me.”
Have you ever seen the movie The Little Mermaid? Do you remember the moment that Ursula takes Ariel’s voice and the mermaid is left there silent, holding her throat in fear and shock? That was my husband. He couldn’t think of words. No sounds. No funny stories, no memories. No jokes. Nothing! His eyes darted back and forth from my face to the needles going into my back. “Uhmm…. Oh my god… ummm… well.” He.was.useless. This is something we laugh about now, but in the moment, I was so frustrated at him for being so helpless. Pro tip: have your partner prepare for this moment ahead of time!
By the time the c-section rolled around, the epidural had worn off and I had to be given more. For those who do not know this – an epidural can make you feel incredibly sick and also, convulse, most specifically when give in the amount of a c-section. I say this now because I wish someone would have told me beforehand that I might start throwing up onto my own face and also violently thrash about while being tied down to a table in an operating room. Ah, just how I imagined it all…
I am positive the anesthesiologist must have told me this before – but I was definitely not in ‘receiving mode’ while I had been watching Ursula steal my husband’s voice.
The anesthesiologist did save me from horrific bouts of nausea and helped me keep my body calmer within moment but it was a rough start. Two OBs calmly delivered my son from behind a blue curtain as I lay on a table, my husband at my head. This all seemed to happen in a blink. It spun around me like a blurry tornado – voices, sounds, feeling, tears, coldness, calmness, happiness. When he came out of my body, I felt a weight lifted from my lungs, pressure inside disappear – he was here! I heard him! I “felt” him!
I began weeping so hard I couldn’t see anything, they brought him over to me so we could touch, so we could meet. “Hi little guy,” I said. “I’m your mama.” He was cute, perfect, amazing.
He was also smart. Wes had not descend for good reason and a c-section was the only way he was going to come out. I had known he had been an active baby, he kept me up at night flipping around inside me. Once at a meeting at work someone looked over at me and said “whoa, your baby is wild!” as my stomach had been moving side to side and protruding quite visibly with kicks and punches from within for over ten minutes. Wes had been able to wrap the umbilical cord tightly around his neck five times and had decided to go nowhere when my water had broke.
It is only of recent that I came to know of this bizarre theory that children who are born via cesarean birth are “never actually born.” It was only after birth that I understood the judgement that came from others around cesarean births in the first place. I just am thankful to live in a world in which I had safe and immediate access to esteemed medical professionals, sterile and required equipment and an amazing medical facility to bring my child into this world safe and sound (and for keeping me both alive and well in the process!). I tell you this, my child was born and I birthed him in my own way. I am no less a mother, he no less a beautiful soul.
My birth story is much like everyone else’s – some beautiful, painful, amazing, scary, stressful, tender, exhilarating and precious moments bringing life into this world on our own journey.
Important Side Note: Even though my husband did a terrible job in the moment coming up with a funny story under extreme pressure and a solid audience of doctors, nurses and a tense wife – he is/was an amazing, wonderful, support, knowledgable, kind, loving, advocating birth partner and I am grateful for him everyday.