“And the night wind whispered ‘life will never be the same’ because there had never been anyone like you, ever in the world…” -On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
I love looking back at Baby Babe’s birthday and laughing about how everything turned out. Things did not turn out the way that I expected. I had a pretty tough labor and delivery. When I got home from the hospital I just felt like I needed to cry about it and talk about it. It kind of felt like when you ride a crazy roller coaster and you get off and relive the surprising turns and frightening flips. I never felt the baby blues, but talking about my labor and delivery was very therapeutic and it still is. The moment I became a mom my heart grew so much bigger, not just for my daughter and my family but for all of the moms I know. I hope I never forget the details and I hope my story can help other moms prepare and process what they have experienced.
bows and bling and sparkly things, it’s a girl!
As a first time mom I was most concerned about going overdue and being induced. I had read lots of books and attended childbirth classes and statistics (and my team of midwives) had told me that most FTMs go over due. I had heard horror stories about pitocin and I wanted to avoid it if at all possible. About a week before my due date I went to acupuncture and had a relaxing session with lots of baby movement. They told me to come back in a few days for a labor induction session. Two days before my due date I returned for the session and it was intense! The night before I had been experiencing some mild contractions but I tried not to get too excited. During the acupuncture the contractions came on so strong I had to practice my breathing techniques. When the session was over I felt like I might be going into labor and the acupuncturist kind of laughed it off and scheduled my next appointment.
After my acupuncture session I went to my mom’s to bake Christmas cookies. We baked and decorated and I just felt kind of tired, then a little crampy like period cramps. I remember sighing and saying, “I think my contractions are coming back.” and I felt like I needed to lay down. As soon as I laid down on the couch I felt a *POP* and I knew my water broke! Minutes later I was on the phone with my midwife, making plans for what time we should meet at the hospital. My body was shivering even though I wasn’t cold and I was so thrilled that I would be meeting my baby soon! My water broke at 3:00 and we decided to meet at the hospital at 10:00 unless labor progressed more quickly.
We decided to go home and chill until it was time to go to the hospital. I sat on my exercise ball and watched a movie, trying not to get too worked up. Just for fun I timed my contractions and made note of the baby’s activity. At one point I freaked out thinking something was wrong with her but she was probably just taking a nap. I called the hospital and talked with a nurse but as soon as I described what was going on Baby Babe woke up. Before I knew it my contractions were in a stable pattern. My husband and my mom said it was time to go and I was in total denial. I wanted to eat a banana and take a shower. I feared being sent home if I went to the hospital too early. I really expected to be a wild woman, yelling, sweating and pulling my hair in agony. I couldn’t believe that it was going so well so far. It was a bitter cold snowy night and my family convinced me that we should go ahead and make our way to the hospital instead of risking having a baby on the side of the road.
When we arrived the nurses were so reassuring and welcoming. I didn’t feel as silly as I imagined I would because the nurses were so warm and understanding. I made myself comfortable and they did some tests to confirm that my water had in fact broke. They said they didn’t think I was in active labor because of my demeanor but they did a quick monitor of my contractions and were surprised to find that I was in active labor. They checked me in and we were all filled with joy that our baby would be here soon!
7:30 PM was our check in time. By 10:00 I started feeling pretty out of it. I was strolling the halls, squatting with each contraction and carrying a puke bag that I had to change out frequently. I could no longer smile at the nurses or chit chat with my husband. I decided to get in the warm tub which I had always planned on. During my pregnancy, my baths were my solace. Instead of coming home and pouring a beer at the end of a long day, I got in the tub and soaked. I also really enjoyed swimming and aquarobics so I thought for sure the water would be a great option during my labor. NOPE. As soon as I slipped into the tub I felt annoyingly hot like I was sweating in the water and my contractions actually slowed down! Nooooo! I ditched the tub ASAP.
Around 3:30 am I started totally spacing out. I was tipping over as I sat up and dosing off while my midwife was talking to me. Contractions were so strong that I couldn’t hear anything or speak and I was out of energy from all of the vomiting. I decided to get the epidural and anti- nausea medicine and rest so that I would have the strength to push. I don’t regret getting the epidural but I hope to push through this phase next time! By this time my midwife let me know that Baby Babe was OP- Occupant Posterior or “sunny side up”. She said OP can also stand for “oh, poop!” because it’s more favorable for the baby to be face down. I have since learned that about 10% of babies are OP at birth and many end up with a c-section because it is very difficult to push the baby out in this position. Their hard skull is passing over the mom’s tailbone where usually the baby’s soft squishy face is able to more easily pass over. The epidural was pretty scary. It felt like a coffee straw was being wiggled down my spine but after it was in I felt more relaxed. I was able to rest for an hour and then the nurses had me flip from side to side with a “peanut” exercise ball in-between my legs in hopes of turning the baby and dilating more. I just wanted to have my baby already!
Finally at 7:30 am it was time to start pushing. I was so happy and overwhelmed with joy! I was ready to do get it all over with and hold my baby in my arms. I was ready to give it my all and use all of my strength. The epidural was wearing off and I was able to move a lot. First I tried pushing while laying on my back but Baby Babe’s heart rate was dropping. It was really scary because I didn’t know if she was OK. The midwife and nurse were really quiet and seemed concerned. I had to breathe oxygen and lay on my ride side. I was also able to get on all fours to push. They told me not to push for every-other contraction which was hard. Everyone kept telling me to push as hard as I could and I couldn’t respond but I WAS! Why wouldn’t I push as hard as possible?! Pushing a baby out is just like I had heard, it’s like taking the biggest #2 of your life! For 3 hours people kept telling me, “We can see her hair!”, “She’s only an inch away!” “She’s almost here!” I got so sick of hearing that for 3 hours, I was so tired and I felt like I my body was turning inside out. At the very last moment my eyeballs felt like they were going to pop out of my head and plop on to the floor. “Breathe! Take a break and breathe,” they were saying. I couldn’t! I could not wait anymore! I knew that they were whispering about time and a possible c-section and I would not give up. I didn’t breathe but I held that last push as long and strong as I possibly could. Baby Babe’s head had molded into a cone shape and the midwife was able to grab her cone head and help pull her out!
10:45 am was her official time of birth. My little “unicorn princess” was here! I always imagined crying with joy and smiling and hugging my family, but I was so exhausted I couldn’t even physically react. My heart and my mind were full of happiness, relief, excitement and pride but I couldn’t communicate. I just tried to pull her up to my face so I could look at her and make sure she was OK. When I looked at her she was so calm and quiet making her little grunt noises. She looked into my eyes like it was no big deal that she had just been through that incredible, long journey. She looked at me with her bright steely blue eyes as she knew exactly who I was. We had already known each other for a lifetime. I loved her more than ever and I felt like the world stopped spinning when I held her in my arms. I remember when I pulled her up she was sticking out her tongue and smacking her lips. Little stinker!
The birth went way off course from my birth plan. I didn’t want an epidural. I did not want a fetal monitor. I didn’t want an episiotomy. I had always planned to go with the flow and be willing to change my plan. I think that attitude helped me feel OK with the changes instead of feeling disappointed with myself. I have taken on that plan in so many other parenting decisions. I make a plan, but I am willing to change it. From my birth plan, to using a pacifier, co-sleeping to crying it out, starting solids to weaning… I am constantly allowing myself some wiggle room and space for change. I guess that’s one of the biggest lessons I have learned during my first year of motherhood. I can’t be too hard on myself and I can’t expect myself to be perfect! Now, Baby Babe… of course SHE is perfect! Happy Birthday, Baby Babe!