Its the dawn of 2016 and I am just now sitting to reflect In the memory of my delivery with Elliott. I was just confessing to Shane, that I am so disappointed in myself for not taking little bits of time in the first postpartum weeks to jot it all down. There is not a memory quite as intense as a mothers birth story, it does fade over time, the details become unfocused, but a mother will always remember exactly how it all went down.
The birth of your child isn’t just an earthly experience, if I could describe it in any way (and this goes for both of my experiences) I would say it forces you into a zen-like state. I know I was there, and I know exactly what I experienced, I mean, I was drug-free, so the intense physical pain kept me grounded, but somehow your emotional state takes over and you escape to the outside looking in.
For us the story begins on June 10th, 2013 (well it actually begins sometime in September 2012 but I will spare you those uncomfortable details) I was 8 days overdue and visited my midwife for a check-up, I remember all to clearly that she had to bring up the topic of induction, and I sat silently and listened, while my heart broke on the inside. I wasn’t 100% committed to my birth plan, because I know anything can happen, but I was seventy-five pounds heavier then normal, and had truly convinced myself I was going to have a May baby. Of all the things I was certain I was prepared for, being overdue and talking about induction were not any of them.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I wasn’t exactly certain about having a drug free home birth anyway, but I knew I was absolutely terrified of two things
- An Epidural
I had it all decided that these were my worst case scenarios, and although, I was prepared to travel off course with my birth plan, I wasn’t ready to dive into the shark tank either.
Any how, I went home from that appointment terrified and upset, and loaded with a verbena oil cocktail (a hard to find essential oil to help kick start labor) with strict instructions not to take until morning. That night, Shane and I discussed our options; on one hand I could give birth in my preferred hospital but would need to be induced in one day, Or, I could go to the hospital I was avoiding and have a few more days to spontaneously go into labor. It was tough! I cried, because that’s what 200+lb- 41.5wk pregnant women do – often! I spent the majority of the night awake, and restless, and “damn my back is killing me!”. 5:30am rolls around and Shane rolls out of bed, we didn’t even have to exchange words because we could feel it in the air, we both knew another night had slipped by, and although he was hoping to get out of work that day, he was going to have to go anyway.
I whipped up my cocktail, and swallowed while simultaneously gagging, “what is that shit anyway? and hiding it in almond butter, and mango juice doesn’t help!”. Four hours later… nothing, “While except for this damn backache”. I take another dose of this concoction at 10:30 and boom by 12 I call Shane;
Me- “Its Me.. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet to go over…” – Ok seriously! Don’t even pretend that isn’t what you were thinking here.
For Realsies, though… I called him, he rushed home (in moderate traffic, a one hour commute). I sit in the bath, I’m chilling, probably naively underplaying what I am about to go through. And having an inner panic attack as I run through the scenario where Shane isn’t here by the time I give birth. Shane does make it home, before I am even out of the tub, and immediately starts inflating the birthing pool. I lay on the bed, and call the midwife. I felt rather silly at this point because she wanted to hear me breathing over the phone and I was all like “This isn’t a 1-900 sex line”- except I didn’t actually say that out loud, because, while that would just be extra weird.
Lauren, my midwife, makes every thing comfortable, she is relaxed and easy going, and professional. She decides I am in active labor at this time. I am less then 4 min. apart lasting about a minute per contraction, but, and I am totally going to brag here, I wasn’t really responding to much pain. I remember this part. It was a treat! So we call our families, because that was our plan. To me a home birth meant -and this was the deciding factor for me- that I could call all of my family ( mom, dad, three sisters, two fiancées, two nephews and a niece, and my Mil and Fil) and sit around and do this together. I could underplay it for you, because I know that it is totally weird to the rest of the world, but the truth is, we bought and prepared snack foods like we were hosting a party, brewed coffee, boiled the kettle, and all the women in my family sat around my room while I labored (intensely) in my little inflatable pool. It was pure magic, or straight out of an 1800s history book, either way you look at it, I was happy with my decision. The men, who stayed downstairs, probably didn’t care to be there so much, but it has always been what my family does for these kinds of things, except it has always been in a hospital, and the family gets tucked in a waiting room far-far-away and misses everything.
So as it goes, my carefully selected birth playlist hummed in the background as my mother, mother-in-law, and sisters chatted away about all sorts of regular girl talk. I had an iv antibiotic every 4 hours as is protocol for GBS+ women, and it got knocked out when Shane was helping to reposition me and help me stay comfortable.
I can’t remember the whole play-by-play at this point, but I do know the midwife had to break my water, and I had a difficult time getting comfortable. I was encouraged to pace and stretch, but I honestly couldn’t even stand and straighten my back. I felt most comfortable laying on my left-side with a body pillow between my legs, but as each contraction came, I remember willing the bed to swallow me whole and take me away. I hardly had time to catch my breath before the next one would come.
Finally, my midwife assessed me for the last time at home. She recommended we head to the hospital because it had been several hours since I had dilated. Clearly my labor was intensifying, but my body just wasn’t responding the way we would like. It was non-emergent, so I very carefully climbed into the passengers seat of my car, infant seat secured in the back, and my emergency bag packed in the trunk as Shane drove me to the hospital. It was about a twenty minute drive to the hospital, and my rear end didn’t touch the seat once. Shane and I held hands, and I propped myself up like a stiff board with my feet on the floor and my shoulders against the back of the seat, I crossed my legs and clamped them shut so I wouldn’t inadvertently give birth in the car. With every passing contraction I squeezed my Kegels like I was pulling the baby up to my rib cage. We lucked out and hit nearly every green light. Shane and I were both silently praying in desperation that this baby not be born in the car, honestly and truly, neither of us would have known what to do.
At the hospital I wanted to be that girl that walked through the hospital and gave birth, but I couldn’t, like white coat syndrome, the moment I walked into the hospital I was READY!. I was scooped into the wheelchair, and I am not sure if we ran to labor and delivery, but when we got to the room suddenly a contraction crept up on me and I was grunting, and heaving, and not really sure how to fight it. After I was quickly assessed we discovered I was ten centimeters and ready to push. At the moment, Shane was off at the desk sorting out the insurance information, and I refused to do this without him.
When he made it back to the room, I pushed on my next contraction, at the instruction of my midwife, but I honestly had nothing left in me. I was exhausted, and the pain was more then I could bear. I could push for a second or two, but I had no idea I had to hold my position for what felt like five minutes each time I pushed. It was hard on my lungs and as his head reached my pelvic Bone, it was like someone lit it on fire.
I pushed for an hour. And in my spirit I gave up, I remember that clearly. The pain got to me, and the exhaustion got to me and I didn’t want to do it anymore. I even remember, just for a moment, that I didn’t even care if I had a baby, that’s what the pain does to you. Then the Doppler started beating and his little heartbeat was slowing. Just like that, I was reminded how precious this life is, and I pushed. Somewhere in that fear of losing him, I found the strength to get through it. I grabbed the mattress and lifted it halfway off the bed as I pushed with everything I had. Shane stood closely by with his jaw tucked gently under the bed. I remember vividly, the colors and expressions he face saw that day. Elliott entered the world alive and well at 3:33am. Proud daddy held him first and cut the cord (with a bit of struggle). They laid him on my chest. We knew instantly he was Elliott, and he was ours forever all 8lbs 4oz. of him.
We were discharged the next morning, as we opted to stay to have my hemoglobin monitored after a suspected hemorrhage.
I have no idea what the rest of the world was up to that day, but our family expanded by one, and I was instantly transformed into a mother. The single most greatest accomplishment I’ve ever done, and I didn’t even have to pinterest it! 😉