I’m starting part 2 of this birth story with the promise that it will include swearing, dry heaving, The Office, and Captain Morgan. Let’s dive in. As stated in Part 1 ( go back and read this) I was one week overdue, I was uncomfortable as all get out, my husband was off making a living in some other country, and C had just started Kindergarten. Earlier that week I had them check me to see if I was dilated. I was something discouraging like 2 cm. My midwife told me to either take a Tylenol PM or drink a glass of wine and get some sleep. In general I see this as good advice for most of life’s problems. I was scheduled to go in the next day for my 41 week ultrasound to make sure all was well. I was starting to feel like something was wrong with my body and M was never.coming.out. That Sunday I went to church with my dad and C and ended up leaving C there with my dad because there was no way in h-e-double hockeysticks I was sitting through an hour long church service. My family members had been taking turns spending the night at my house in case I went into labor. My mom was staying at my house that Monday to make sure we got C to his first day of school. I dropped him off with names and numbers of people would would pick him up if I went into labor. I sent my mom home that day despite her insisting that we get out and do something. I laid in bed all day feeling sorry for myself. Or maybe I knew I would need the rest- let’s go with that one.
Then that night things changed. C was snug as a bug all tucked in bed- a fresh baked kindergartner. I was having the irregular contractions that had been normal for me the past couple of weeks. But M felt lower than usual. I went to the bathroom and got a nice little surprise. It’s called a mucus plug and if you don’t know what that is please don’t google it. Just trust me when I say for second time moms its a harbinger of labor. I called my mom and sister to come over and spend the night- just in case. I called my doula to let her know but reassured her- don’t worry I’m never having this baby. By the time my mom and sister got to the house I knew I was in labor but I’m pretty sure I down played it. When they got to my house I told them I thought I was in labor but it was really early and I just wanted to be alone. That was something that surprised me- the desire to be alone in early labor. I think for me it was because my husband wasn’t there. And there was no substitute for him in this situation. My husband is a master of distraction and keeping things light. He would not be one to stare at me in concern and ask how I was feeling every 20 seconds. He would try to make me laugh between contractions while secretly timing them. He would be my rock. It was so hard not having him there in person.
But God bless technology because I had him on Skype. I spent my early labor alone in my room switching between watching episodes of The Office and talking to the husband on Skype. We would talk for awhile, I would stop to breathe through contractions, repeat. I honestly don’t know how long I did this for. But there came a point where I was struggling to focus on Michael Scott. I signed off Skype and went to hang out with my mom and sister. I called my doula and told her how far apart the contractions were ( I dont remember these details..I know, I’m the worst) and all I remember her saying was ” I’m putting on pants.” and that she would meet us there. I was on all fours in the nursery with my mom and sister telling me it was probably time to go but still I kept saying, ” no lets just wait a little longer, I’m fine!” My sister took control and called the birth center. The exhausted midwife who had already had 2 babies delivered that night seemed unconvinced of my labor status. She told us we could come in if I was uncomfortable but I could be turned away if not in active labor. At that point my sister wouldn’t take no for an answer and we packed up. We left the house around 3 am. This is when things got real. And they got real fast.
Let’s talk about contractions. People always have such a difficult time explaining how they feel. And now I get that. For me they were really manageable until about 6 cm. I was talking through them and had nice breaks in between to recover. It wasn’t until 6 cm that my brain started to turn off. They started off more like period cramps for me and then started wrapping around my sides and back. The only way I can describe them after 6 cm was as a full body experience. When I had one I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t think. I had to focus solely on making it through the contraction. But other than that I couldn’t tell you what they felt like. They hurt. I know a lot of people claim that contractions are more of a strong sensation than pain. I would change one word in that sentence and say they were a strong sensation OF pain.
The car ride was one of the longest drives of my life despite it only being 20 minutes. I remember passing the exit for the hospital we were originally going to deliver at and thinking- I’ve made a terrible mistake. My sister kept telling me how much longer the ride would be. 10 minutes….5 minutes….almost there. Although I’m now thinking that was more for her benefit than for mine. After talking to my mom I learned they were both terrified I was going to deliver in the car. Every contraction I had I would launch into guttural animal noises I had no clue I could make. It seemed to be the only way I could deal with them. When we got to the birth center around 3:20am I launched my body out of the car and started dry heaving into the front lawn of Baby and Co. My doula was already there for the massive contraction I had basically in the parking lot of the birth center then encouraged me to go through the doors being held open by the midwife.
The odd (read: wonderful) thing about a birth center is it’s quiet at night. There was one other mom there that had already delivered. I had my midwife and/or nurse’s full attention. They had to unlock the doors for me. Compare this to a busy, brightly lit hospital and it was a bit more manageable for my already frayed nerves. My midwife did an exam and I was at 6 centimeters. This was the one and only time during my labor I had to lay on my back. I had several contractions while being checked and each time I had to sit up to manage them. I genuinely do not know how women deliver without medication laying on their backs. It made the pain significantly worse. At this point my brain was so fuzzy my memory of everything is choppy. I remember telling the midwife that I felt drunk. Then she made me focus on her and said, you are at 6 centimeters, you are a second time mom, this could move quickly. The nurse and midwife started filling the tub in one of the labor rooms while my doula and sister helped me get off the table. I told them I wanted to go to the bathroom before I got to my room because I had to, um, poop. Two ginormous contractions and no poop later ( alone in the bathroom, not great) I gave up and let them drag me to the labor suite.
Now let me tell you about these labor suites. A giant bed, fluffy towels and robes, birth balls, dimming lights, your own thermostat, aromatherapy, a walk in shower, an epic birth tub, and the fanciest toilet you have ever seen.
I got to use none of it. Wait I take that back, the toilet and I were good friends. I stripped off all of my clothes except my tank top told them I wanted to try and poop again because I really didn’t want to poop in the birth tub. I had been told they had a little net to catch poop in the birth tub but holy bananas I didn’t want my baby’s first bath to involve a pooper scooper.
I would sit on the toilet, then crouch on the ground leaning against the sink pedestal. The insane low moaning sound I used to get through every contraction kept getting higher in pitch as I started panicking and my doula had to bring me back down lower. Which weirdly helped. She applied so much counter pressure to my low back. She coached me through every contraction. She was worth every penny I paid her. My sister in the mean time was standing in the corner deciding a life without kids was the way to go. The midwife and nurse had stepped out for a moment while I was, ahem, STILL ON THE TOILET. “I’m almost done guys, I just have to poop before I get in that tub.” That’s when I started to get an inkling that what I was feeling was either the largest poop in the history of poop or maybe I was having a baby. According to my doula I started grunting, said- something is different- and she told my sister to run and get the midwife. The midwife came running in, checked me while STILL ON THE TOILET, and said- you are about to have a baby. She asked me if I wanted to get in the tub or on the bed to deliver the baby. I kept repeating “I don’t care I don’t care.” and honestly if they had wanted me off that toilet they would have had to pick my giant self up off the toilet themselves. She told me that she could not deliver the baby while I was STILL SITTING ON THE TOILET but if I put one foot up on the toilet and stood beside it that was fine. Somehow I managed this. As the husband would later tell people I “Captain Morganed the baby out.” My midwife yelled for someone to “get the husband on the phone.” They all knew he was overseas and that he would be skyped in for the delivery. From what I hear, he was skyped in right about when I started screaming at the top of my lungs- both gibberish and obscenities combined. I don’t remember much about this part except thinking-its time to push, this could be over soon. I pushed with literally every thing I had. I had one foot on the toilet, one on the floor and my doula supporting me from behind. My sister was holding the phone so the husband could witness this miracle of his wife screaming over a toilet. (I am so glad I neglected to hire a birth photographer) I was guided through when to push hard and to hold back. She then told me to reach down and touch my baby’s head! I remember screaming, Nooooooooo. Then she told my sister to bring the phone closer to the location of this atrocity so the husband could see his baby being born. In the clearest memory I have of the birth I raised my hand up to my sister and full on exorcist screamed at her to back the f off. Absolutely no one but paid medical staff was getting a front row seat to this bathroom catastrophe. He had already seen enough.
|someone later showed me her weight spelled “BOSS”
I remember the husband crying on Skype, I remember the relief of her being out. I remember everyone exclaiming about her beautiful red hair. And I remember thinking Dear God I have delivered my daughter into a toilet. But, midwife be praised, she caught her before she fell in the toilet. She was born at 3:48 am; 20 minutes after arriving at the birth center. 4 hours of labor.
So what do you do after you deliver standing up? You hold onto that slippery little baby for dear life and let 3 or 4 people help you walk to the bed. That’s right, baby still attached to me via her cord I shuffled over to the bed. I held her little blue body and watched her pink up as her cord stopped pulsing. Only then did they cut it. Scratch that- I cut it. I was bound and determined that if the husband couldn’t cut the cord only I would.
I delivered the placenta. I had a not so enjoyable experience with a blood clot at the mouth of my uterus that did not want to move. It had to be manually extracted. I lost enough blood that they almost admitted me to the hospital. But after the dust settled I had this peaceful room with a giant bed to relax in with my newborn and her auntie. I called the husband and told him about his new baby. We all cried, especially baby M.
Eight hours later I was home with my baby girl, her brand new big brother and my family. I slept that night in my bed without the endless monitoring required during a hospital stay.
A couple days later a nurse from Baby and Co came to the house and did baby M’s check up. She weighed her and did all the necessary testing that would be done in the hospital-except it was done in her own nursery. And maybe more importantly- momma didn’t have to put on real pants.
Delivering baby M was such an out of body, out of this world experience from start to finish. As I get to know her spunky, take no prisoners attitude though- it makes sense. She came into this world on her own schedule; ignoring due dates set by others. Then when she was ready nothing could stop her. I’ve got a wild thing on my hands and all I can do is hold on tight.