I debated for a while before sitting down to write this. Before I got pregnant, I wasn't too keen on reading birth stories. It seemed weird that people would pour out such an intimate moment on the interwebs. But as my due date came closer, I could not get enough. It demystified the great unknowns about labor. I've read everything from un-medicated home births (hi Kayla!) to hospitalized c-sections. And everything in between. I am most grateful for having read these posts because I realized that I had options. I was bringing Margaret into this world. I could make some choices.
So this is my story.
It began in November of 2012...
Just kidding. I won't do that to y'all. This thing is already going to be the length of that book you should have read for English class in high school and you didn't. Whatever that book was.
But it did begin a bit before August 20, about a week before. I had false labor. I had gone in to see my midwife and after weeks of her telling me this babe was going to be early, my due date was right around the corner- that Sunday, August 18. So she opted to strip my membranes (separating the amniotic sac from the cervix), in hopes that it would jump start some contractions. Well, contract I did- so regularly that Thomas and I opted to go to my parent's house (actually across the street from the hospital) to wait things out. But after we got there, they slowed down. So we went to the midwife's office to get checked out first thing in the morning. After a non-stress test, they had all but stopped, so we got some breakfast and drove home. Majorly disappointing.
Me *thinking* I was getting ready to have a baby.
My due date came and went. I should mention that my sister (August 18th birthday) and my dad (August 19th birthday) were hounding me as to when she was going to arrive!
On August 19th, I started having major contractions. Nothing can prepare you for that moment. Because some women will say it's not painful at all, other say it's like a tightening, and I will say that I thought that my cervix was going to rip in two. Grain of salt or two.
My contractions were increasing in frequency and they were definitely worse as the night went on. At this point, Thomas was on swings (3 pm to 12:30 am) and I had already had to call the submarine once when I thought I was going into labor. So, typical me, when I actually did go into labor, I didn't call. They started up with enough frequency for me to start counting about 7 or 8 pm (I still have that piece of paper somewhere). So I'm home alone with the dogs, trying to eat some food, watch tv between contractions (and keep my mind off the next one), and calling my mom a lot. Around 11, I was quite sure that this was not at all like the false labor I had previously experienced.
But I still had an hour and a half to wait before Thomas got home. I was delivering at a hospital 30 minutes from my house, but I knew she wasn't ready right then, so I opted to wait. I took a shower, laid on the bed, tried to eat and hydrate. I was comfortable in my choice of hospital (and my choice to give birth at one), but I knew laboring at home would be way more comfortable. I gathered the few things we hadn't packed yet (camera, pillows, blankets), and called Thomas' phone to leave a message (no phones allowed at work) that he better hurry home once he got off.
He walked in the door with the strangest grin mixed with a look of concern - a look only a to-be dad can have. He was ready to pack me up and ship me off to the hospital, but I knew there was nothing they could do for me there (yet) that I wasn't already doing here, so he helped me count contractions. This proved to be an issue. I firmly knew what I wanted: to stay home until those 5-7 minute apart contractions were regular. Except they never were regular. They'd come anywhere from 4-10 minutes apart. But by 2 am, I was holding onto the side of my bed and Margaret's assembled pack n play, growling and moaning and perhaps screamyelling ateenytinylittlestbit through contractions. The contractions weren't regular, but I knew one thing:
This baby girl wanted out.
Said pack n play that I growled with.
Trying to break up all of the words with a picture.
So we took the dogs out, loaded up our stuff, and got in the Outback. I gripped the dash and the door handle for dear life, trying not to get to fussy about Thomas taking turns too fast or hitting bumps in the road during a contraction. Thomas got very fussy at stop lights that were set to a switch-only-every-other-hour mode. We made it to the hospital and I (stubborn, stubborn woman that I am) demanded that he go ahead and park and I would walk to the emergency entrance. Stubborn, stubborn woman. Don't worry, I accepted that wheelchair real quick once I got my stubborn pregnant butt in the door.
The kindly labor n delivery nurse who wheeled me up was saying how she had mentioned to the other nurses that it looked like it was going to be a quiet night... and then admitting rang up and proved her quite wrong. She asked me if I had a birth plan...
Ahh the birth plan. Or lack thereof. More power to you, if you have one. But I just had one thing on my teeny check list: let's see how it goes. So I announced that the only plan for the day was to have my baby girl safely in my arms when all was said and done. The nurse praised my birth plan and asked one other tiny question.
Do you want an epidural?
Me: (something along the lines of) Hell yes.
An epidural wasn't exactly what I had pictured. My mom gave birth to 3 big babies the un-medicated way. And though she always said that she respected every woman's right to choose, I had sort of pictured myself doing the same thing. But then there were the contractions that seemed to last forever and scrambled my brain into fuzzy oblivion, where my only thought was "I. Am. In. Pain."
As I got settled, surrounded with pillows and blankets and sanitary sheet things that can be easily changed out (keeping it real), my labor and delivery nurse came to check me out. And whatdoyaknow? I had made it to 6.5 centimeters all by myself. I was like "Hokay, excellent, go me, now please don't make me feel anymore because I can't even remember my middle name." There was so much stuff they wanted to go over- did I smoke, drink, did Thomas abuse me, where did I live? My brain was shot. The very nice anesthesiologist came up (I know every woman who gets an epidural says that, but seriously, he was so kind- even when I couldn't remember my left from my right) and took care of that- it was pretty painless. I just never look at needles that are about to go in me. Within 30 minutes, things were dulled and I had my brain back.
Last pregnancy picture!
My midwife had come to check on me before her shift ended at 7 am, and she talked me through what was going to happen. I knew there was a possibility that she wouldn't be on call the day I gave birth, and that I would have an OB instead. Dr. Osborne ended up being my doctor that day. I was really nervous about having someone I had never met deliver my child. But while "cuddly" wouldn't be the word I'd use to describe him, he was kind, straightforward, and had been delivering babies for over 30 years. And my midwife trusted him- and I trusted her. He ended up being a great fit.
After the first hour of checking and an epidural and fluids, etc, it was pretty relaxed. I was hooked up to monitors, laying in bed, not really feeling much. So Thomas grabbed some shuteye while I watched the sunrise from my window, prayed a lot about what was happening and what was to come. I closed my eyes some, trying to rest, but there was no way I was sleeping! At some point that I can't remember we got some rough news- the contractions were causing Margaret some stress. Based on how she was responding to them, the cord was wrapped around her neck! Way to freak me out. But they were confident that she was doing well and that we could proceed with a vaginal delivery. The word C-section was never even mentioned. I progressed very quickly, but around 9 cm, I started stalling a bit. They put me on the lowest possible dose of pitocin to keep my contractions steady and soon I was ready to push.
It's not like the movies. Most of the time it was just me, Thomas, and my labor and delivery nurse: exactly how I wanted it. My nurse coached me through each push and my epidural was done so well that I knew each contraction was coming, and with my brilliantly clear head, I pushed for over two hours (mostly alternating sides) and countless "she'll be here soon"s before we finally figured out what the problem was. My little ray of sunshine was coming face up, with her head tilted to the side.
Thank God I had that epidural.
They figured that out when I heard "Oh, she's not going to have much hair!" 15 minutes later, there came a "Just kidding!"
It was rough. It was exhausting- and I wish in this moment that I had never used that word because pushing a human out is freaking hard work and I don't think I've ever worked so hard. I was covered in sweat and I threw up at least 5 times. My poor downtown/downstairs/lady parts just couldn't take it any more- I had level 4 tearing. I had to have an episiotomy if she was going to be coming out any time soon. And at that point, I was like- yes please, let's get her out into this world! Shortly after that, I heard a "Stop pushing!" and I stopped mid-contraction, and Dr. Osborne unwrapped the cord from Margaret's neck, and then, after almost three and a half hours of pushing, she came into the world.
She was quiet. The room was quiet. And those huge gray eyes were just soaking up all of the sights of this big, giant world she had come into. Finally there was a tiny wail- the most lovely sound. My hospital (which I cannot say enough good things about) was very pro-breastfeeding and encouraging of skin to skin which is this:
40 weeks, 2 days, 16 hours of labor, 3+ hours of pushing = you better believe it was worth it
No cutting of the umbilical cord, nothing more than a quick wipe, a wristband, and a hat, before landing that tiny, perfect girl on my chest. And I burst into legitimate tears of joy. And I didn't stop crying for at least an hour. This gross, messy, bloody, sweaty mess that left me tore up from the floor up and pretty much naked in a room full of strangers (I promise you don't end up caring) was the best thing ever. My little heart was just exploding with joy and love and every good thing.
After snuggling that tiny, perfect creature and nursing her, they whisked her off to be properly cleaned and warmed. Which she did not like at all. And then comes Thomas' favorite part.
All through pregnancy, he talked and read to the Jellybean (at my insistence). As she started to wail when being cleaned up by the nurse, he went over and said "What's wrong, Jellybean?" And she stopped and stared straight at him. She's been a Daddy's girl since an hour after she was born.
He totally cried.
The nurse asked me to guess Margaret's weight before they put her on the scale and I refused (I hate guessing things). Next thing I hear is, "You did not look big enough to be carrying an eight pound baby!" I just laughed, because as a 9 pound, 13 ounce baby (and the smallest of my sisters), eight pounds is piddly. :)
8 pounds, 20 1/3 inches long
August 20, 12:28 pm
And the most "liked" picture on Facebook:
I don't think I would change a thing. Delivery was extremely rough on my body. I am still bleeding (fyi- that's not normal, so don't be afraid, you probably won't). I still have horrible tailbone pain. I had the most extreme amount of tearing you can have. When we were taken to our room for the next few days, nurses kept saying as the checked on my stitches, "well, it's not the worst I've seen." Oh gee, thanks. What confidence you have inspired within me. [sarcasm]. I have a host of other issues that I will not discuss with you despite my disclaimer. Did you know that you can get physical therapy for your pelvic floor? I didn't. But I'm in it now! And if I had to do it all over again... you bet your bottom dollar I would do it in a heartbeat. Not an ounce of regret or resentment. I am lucky, blessed beyond measure to have this healthy, gorgeous child of mine.
While the good doctor was repairing the damage Margaret did to me (and it was extensive), I looked at Thomas and said, "I want more."
I think we'll wait a few years though.