While not planned (apparently, I don’t believe in planning my children!), C was anticipated and very much wanted. I had wanted to have more kids off and on for 7 years. Also of note, this is the birth story plus the next couple of days, which were somewhat strenuous. I skipped a couple of lines in between if you just want to read the birth part. Enjoy!
We had a fairly accurate EDD, January 3, since we had a conception date narrowed to two or three days. Even so, I insisted upon being fairly blase about it and usually said sometime in late December or early January (I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to educate about the inaccuracy of a specific due “day”, especially when conception date is unknown). As we got close to Christmas, we kept thinking baby would show up sooner rather than later. I was having daily contractions, sometimes lasting for several hours, which was different from my other pregnancies. More than once, I felt like it could be any time and subsequently felt silly when M came home from work to no baby. Surely, I should be able to tell! (I should have known then that this kid was going to be a hand full)
My last day of work was Christmas Eve, so by January 1 I had all the baby stuff cleaned, folded, arranged. I thought M was going to go crazy waiting. He called to check on me constantly, which was both nice and irritating.
On January 5, around 10pm, I was lying on the couch when I suddenly felt like I peed my pants. Not having had this sensation before, I had to double-check before admitting to myself my water had broken.
“Honey,” I said to M through the bathroom door, “I think you better call work and tell them you won’t be in tomorrow.”
“My water just broke.”
“Yeah, I think so,” as another small gush of fluid comes out, “Ew.”
“It feels like I’m peeing myself!”
I went upstairs to change my pants while M started making phone calls. After he called his parents and work, we called the Midwife to let her know. She was at her workplace and we wanted her to have enough notice although we weren’t ready for her to come yet.
We stayed up for another hour or so, but contractions were sparse and light, so we went to bed. M fell asleep a lot easier than I thought he would. I slept off and on for awhile but sometime around 2 or 3 I got up. I wasn’t really in pain, but I couldn’t sleep and thought I would just labor quietly by myself for a few hours.
At some point I decided a shower sounded good. The hot water felt delightful on my belly, and then on my lower back. While in there, I had a few contractions that made my knees buckle. Time to call the Midwife and ask her to come. Time to get the pool set up. Time to realize there’s no turning back now.
Time became a blur in the ocean of contraction waves. I remember the Midwife being on the couch and us talking about family (she was my mom’s Midwife), feelings, all sorts of subjects that I don’t even really remember, while M dutifully filled the pool. I do remember being on the ball, rocking in the rocker, walking up & down the hallway, and getting into the pool.
This labor seemed intense. I couldn’t get comfortable anymore. I just rode with my body the best I could but more than once I started to lose control. The love I saw on M’s face, the pain for my pain, brought me back.
One item that I kept focusing on was a sale scholastic was having. I wanted to make sure we got the items ordered before they sold out (math workbooks only 99cents!), so I kept asking M to make sure they were ordered. And then, something like this:
“Come back over here, I need you.”
“Okay, I’m coming.”
“Done. Go make sure you got all the saved ones.”
“I am! You keep having me come back over there. I can’t do it all…”
“Another one’s coming. Hurry!”
Poor M, I really kept him hopping. At one point he asked me if I wanted him to get in the water with me. I did, very much, but up until this point he had made it very clear there was NO WAY he was getting into the water that might have any amount of blood, poop, and whatever other perceived nastiness he could think of. So, he got in and I leaned into him. This was a good feeling for me, as physical touch is my main “love language”.
I was pushing now but baby seemed a bit reluctant to come out just yet. The heart tones had some small decelerations and eventually we got out of the water for me to assume head down, butt up. I was far too gone in laborland to totally understand what was going on or what I was trying to do, other than have a baby!
The pain and the urge to push were exquisitely intertwined with the relief that comes from letting the body do the work. I yelled, A LOT, and quite loudly, finally settling on F*** as the most appropriate description for the feeling of being ripped apart.
I barely heard M saying he could see the head through my lion-like roaring and pushing. Burning, incredible burning (almost done!) and then, “Whoa! Slippery!”.
Baby was out, in Daddy’s hands. We had a son. A black haired, chubby son.
I moved around and got on the couch to see my baby. What struck me to the core was seeing the look on M’s face as he held his baby. What a joy to birth a baby and watch a father born all on the same day.
The blur continues after those first few moments. I remember holding my sweet baby, getting back into the warm water to birth the placenta, and my aunt & cousin being there. I also remember at some point discussing the knot in the cord, but can’t seem to place it on the timeline.
I felt kind of funny but wasn’t sure how to explain it. I think that’s what I said. I got up, with help, to go to the bathroom. On the toilet, I felt even stranger. I thought I might faint. (Where’s the baby?) He’s fine. (I can’t do this, I want baby). A few minutes and some mashing produced big bloops in the toilet. Time to stand up, I want my baby. T stood up, people faded and I don’t know what happened. I was on the floor. People were scared. I was scared. (Where’s my baby?! Is he okay? I need my baby!)
We spent some time on the floor, piling cheese and chocolate into my face while icing down my swollen cervix and ensuring all was well. It was very foreign to split my focus between my baby and myself. I longed for him but wanted to make sure I was all right. This wasn’t how I had planned things at all! After such a beautiful, powerful birth I was both disappointed in the drama and grateful for the skill of my Midwife.
My aunt noticed that one of the clots (bloops in the toilet from earlier) looked very similar to a placenta, so she fished it out for later inspection along with the actual placenta.
Once I moved off the floor, baby and I were quickly nestled onto the couch. I think the whole spell lasted about an hour, but it felt like an eternity. We settled into new baby joy and resting. A day or two later I went upstairs for the first time to take a shower and got out with a case of the chills that hadn’t subsided several hours later. When the fever came on, we made a call to the Midwife. The decision was made to go to the hospital. Before we left the house, I broke down and cried. Being in a hospital around childbirth, for me, has been a horrifying nightmare since my daughter was born.
“I’m so scared. This is not what I wanted. What if they try to do something to him?” I cried in to M’s chest.
“Nobody’s going to touch him. I won’t let them. It will be okay.”
I was so grateful to him for being rock-like on the outside even though I knew he was as terrified as I was. We opted to drive half an hour instead of going to the local hospital. I am happy and confident about that decision. The hospital staff was polite and completely left baby alone as we requested. I was admitted that night and spent two nights in the hospital. My baby never left my side.
It was a difficult couple of days. The doctor wanted to put me on very strong antibiotics. I asked about being safe for the baby and was told no breastfeeding. No alternative antibiotics either. I was devastated at the idea of not breastfeeding my baby. I’ve breastfed all my babies and I didn’t want him to miss out on all that goodness. I was consumed by my fear and grief. I asked for a pump, and the nurse who brought it to me tried to quell my tears by reminding me that I could nurse again after the drugs were out of my system, but I was too distraught to hear. I waited to start them until he had his belly full, crying the whole nursing session.
A few hours later, I remembered my friend and LLL leader having an in-depth book about breastfeeding and medications. I already knew the hospital’s source was pretty basic. I called M and asked him to call her, explain the situation, and have her call me. She did so promptly (and very compassionately, especially at 6am), and together we waded through the risks of each of the three antibiotics prescribed. I have never been so happy to hear her voice or so grateful for her incredible wealth of knowledge.
While I am pleased with my labor/birth and pleased with the treatment of the hospital staff, it was a tumultuous beginning that shook my foundation. I am grateful that my Midwife was there every step of the way to listen, counsel, and commiserate. This was most definitely a tremendous learning experience for me.