Today is my sweet baby girl’s first birthday. I was desperately ready for her to vacate my uterus when I was pregnant, but I’m so not ready for today. I wish she could stay little forever, but kids don’t seem to do that do they? It’s been a crazy year with lots of not sleeping involved, but also with plenty of laughs and love and heart exploding moments of joy and gratitude so today in honor of my babies first year of life, I’ve decided to write out her birth story. If you read my blog on the regular then you probably already know this, but I cuss. A lot. Especially when pain or emotion is involved and this story is chock full of both of those things. So there ya go. You’ve been warned, but giving birth is pretty badass so despite any vulgarities it should be an interesting read. Enjoy!
Girlfriend liked to keep us on our toes during the entire pregnancy. For starters she decided to make us think we had lost her more than once. About 5 weeks into my pregnancy I started having some spotting so the doc had me come in to get things checked out. She tried a transvaginal ultrasound, but couldn’t see anything. They did some blood work and I was forced to wait a day to hear the results. I’m not a doc plus this was a million years ago so I can’t remember the specifics in medical terms, but basically whatever the blood work was supposed to say, it was lower than normal which concerned my doc. This meant she wanted to do another round of blood work to see if the numbers would increase as they should. So two more days of waiting and I’m back sitting on some crunchy white paper waiting for my doc to give me the scoop. Bad news again. My levels didn’t increase. I sat there holding back tears as this woman told me this probably meant I would miscarry, but there was no way for us to really know for sure and we’d have to wait a week or two before she could try an ultrasound again to see if there was a heartbeat. She kept talking about signs of miscarriage and when I should call, but her voice just faded away as I got lost in my head. Fast forward a week and a half later and the second ultrasound found a heartbeat. Thank you Jesus! Another round of blood work also showed that my levels were finally where they needed to be.
If that wasn’t fun enough, at my 20 week ultrasound more drama unfolded. Of course Ben couldn’t make it to this appointment so here I was with my 1-year-old in tow. The only way I knew to distract him enough so I could lay on the table was to feed him goldfish while he layed next to me. The tech was taking forever to show me anything on the screen. She just kept pushing and rolling around on my belly with a very constipated concentration look on her face. She literally did this for like 5 minutes. 5 whole minutes of watching a blank screen and constipation face from your ultrasound tech feels more like 5 hours, especially when you have a toddler trying to shove goldfish up your nose. She finally excused herself and said she’d be right back. The midwife came in a few seconds later and didn’t even say anything she just started rolling the thing around my belly again. She finally paused and explained they couldn’t find anything. She decided to switch to transvaginal and low and behold there was that little turd of a hiding baby. She was alive and looked the way she should and had a normal heartbeat. Thank you Jesus again! Add in 3 separate hospital visits (one for a UTI that made my bladder spasm aka I couldn’t fucking pee AND two more for fucking legit we think you are in labor contractions) and you can see why I say this pregnancy kept us on our toes. Two false alarms and then girlfriend decides to wait 6 extra days to be born. What. A. Stink.
That brings us to her actual birth story. Sister was due on July 8th so after attempting every single induction trick alive (spicy food, pineapple, evening primrose, chiropractor, acupuncture, sex, you name it) we decided it was time to stop trying to force a baby to be born and go see a movie (thanks grandma). It was Saturday, July 12th and the movie was Planet of the Apes. The first 30 minutes were blissful and involved lots of popcorn in my mouth, but just as the movie started to get good some contractions started. I tried to ignore them and keep watching, but I just couldn’t do it. They were starting to get uncomfortable and I needed to move around. When we got home (around 8pm), I was laboring in our bedroom while we watched True Detective. My contractions were still pretty far apart, maybe every 10-15 minutes so we’d watch a little, pause, contraction, watch some more. At one point I was laboring on my side in the bed. I felt something happening down there and decided to get up to see if I’d peed my pants. As soon as I stood up and walked two steps into the bathroom, liquid came gushing out of me. Definitely not pee and more like my water had broken. It was the way it happens in the movies with a puddle of water at my feet. Gaaarossss!
After that my contractions started to pick up in frequency and intensity and once they reached every 4-5 minutes apart lasting a minute or longer we decided to call the birthing center. They told us to go ahead and come in. I don’t remember the exact time, I just know it was late, maybe 11 pm. The drive to the birthing center was excruciating. It felt like my contractions were picking up even more and since I couldn’t move I just moaned like a cow trying to will the pain away. When we arrived my contractions had started to slow down. They checked my cervix and I was a big fat nothing. That’s right zero. Did you read my son’s birth story? Yea same shit happened with him. Whatever the case, the midwife told us that since my water had broken, we needed to see some significant progress in the next 24 hours or we’d have to transfer to the hospital because of the risk of infection. We were probably at the birthing center about an hour and in that time my contractions completely stopped. I was tired and feeling weary, especially with my birthing history. I just didn’t want a repeat of my son’s birth. Everyone kept telling me each birth is unique and things would go faster and more smoothly, but all I wanted to do in that moment was scream at everyone and tell them they were fucking liars. Not only was my cervix refusing to open again, but now I had a damn time limit on the whole business.
We got home sometime after midnight and I took a Tylenol pm in hopes that it would help me get some sleep. It worked and I’m so grateful we were able to get a little rest before the long haul we were about to experience. I woke up around 6am with more contractions. They were slow and easy. Maybe lasting 30 seconds or so every 10-15 minutes. We did the same thing as the night before and kept watching True Detective during my breaks. By 10am things had picked up drastically and I was back in a steady active labor with contractions lasting a minute or longer every 4-5 minutes. We decided to head back to the birthing center. We arrived around noon and a cervical check showed I was 1.5 centimeters and 70% effaced. This was certainly progress from my last check, but I was still feeling like my cervix was going to screw me over again. My contractions continued in a similar pattern, about 4-5 mins apart and felt super intense and strong. I remember I preferred laboring in a standing position while I leaned on Ben. My support team started to arrive around 1pm. This included our doula Elizabeth, my bestie Alicia, and our badass birth photographer Sandy. I had some back labor like I did with Rory so I remember everyone taking turns applying counter pressure.
We continued to labor at the birthing center for the next few hours. Eventually my contractions started to move on top of each other and around 5pm the midwife wanted to check my cervix again. ZERO CHANGE! I completely lost it. I was crying the ugliest of ugly cries. Before all this happened, I was feeling like I was doing a pretty bad ass job at breathing and moving through the contractions. I remember telling myself “You got this shit. Your cervix will open”. But now I was sobbing uncontrollably and my contractions moved from manageable to a complete and utter disaster. I couldn’t get back in a groove. I’m pretty sure I was just waddling about like a crazy woman maybe screaming, definitely crying, and possibly waving my hands in the air calling for the cervix opening fairy to come rescue me STAT. At some point someone directed me to the shower (probably in hopes that it would help me contain my shit), but it didn’t help. I just kept sobbing and screaming in pain with each contraction. I remember Ben holding me tight and sobbing with me in the shower. He just held me and cried with me and kept telling me it was ok. That man. He’s amazing. I’m tearing up just writing this. I think everyone could see and hear that I was completely and utterly failing at managing my contractions so eventually I was moved from the shower to the bed where we tried nitrous oxide. This didn’t make the pain go away, but I think it allowed me to relax enough to actually get through a contraction without screaming in pain. It also allowed me to have a coherent conversation with everyone where it was decided that we needed to transfer to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital around 5:30pm. I remember the nurses wanted to wheel me in a wheelchair, but I told them to fuck off and slowly waddled my way down the hallway until I reached the room. Of all my birthing experiences thus far, I will say these next couple hours were the worst ever. I stubbed my toe earlier this month and my big toe nail ripped completely off. I joked that the pain was worse than pushing a human out my jay, but these hours right here in girlfriend’s birth story, these were the worst pain of my life thus far. Each contraction felt like my toenail ripping off. I probably looked and sounded like someone out of a movie. I was screaming with each contraction and begging everyone to get me the fucking epidural ASAP. To top things off 3 nurses kept digging holes in my arm trying to place my IV. It literally took like 30 minutes to get the fucking IV in. The anesthesiologist didn’t show up until 7pm and I couldn’t have been more relieved to see anyone in my life ever. The epidural was placed and they started me on Pitocin. The whole time I was waiting for the epidural, they hadn’t checked my cervix (probably because they knew I would ninja chop their faces off if they even tried) so at 8pm a check revealed I was 3 centimeters dilated. Just to give some perspective, this means an entire 24 hours from my first contractions in the movie theater, I was still only 3 fucking centimeters dilated. Sure, progress, but in my defeated, exhausted mama brain, that meant my cervix was definitely broken and no matter how long or hard I labored, it just wouldn’t open the fuck up. At least not as fast as it “should”.
Whatever the case, everyone decided to rest while we waited for the Pitocin to hopefully help my cervix along. I remember Ben snoring on the couch next to me and everyone else retreating to the lobby for a siesta. I tried to sleep too, but was too anxious. I kept thinking about what would happen next. Would this baby ever be born? Would I have to have a c-section? Wait! I’m in a fucking hospital that I know nothing about. These people don’t know my birth plan! Who the hell is the doctor delivering my kid? Will she delay the cord clamping? (The answer is no, but that’s a whole nother blog in itself) Will she let Ben announce the sex? Would she be a SHE? (I don’t know about you, but the only dude allowed anywhere near my jay is the hubs) My brain just couldn’t shut off as I agonized over all the unknowns and kicked myself for not having a better back up plan. Then before I knew it some crazy amounts of pressure started happening down below. It was around 10pm. I paged the nurse and told her she needed to take a look see. You wanna know what she said? “Oh it’s probably just the catheter you are feeling”. No bitch! Something is happening down there and I’m 99% sure it’s a human trying to be born. Do your job idiot! After arguing with her crazy ass for a few minutes she finally (reluctantly) took a gander at my nethers. I will remember her face forever. She looked up at me in complete shock and yelled, “the head is right there! You are fully dilated!” Yea asshole, I told you so.
The whole team assembled and I started pushing around 11pm. This pushing experience was different from Rory’s. This time I felt everything and didn’t really need any coaching as I pushed. It literally felt like I had zero control and my body was just doing what it needed to do to let sister be born. I mean, I was still grunting and pushing along with it, but I just mean it was like my body was telling me when to do it. With Rory, the epidural was still going strong and I couldn’t even feel my legs let alone the contraction telling me to push. On July 14, 2014 at 12:04am girlfriend FINALLY made her entrance into this world and I was so overcome with joy (and relief)! Ben did get to announce the sex again this time and poor dude was confused by the umbilical cord. Nope, not another boy. She was definitely a she and I think we were both so surprised!
So there you have it. Girlfriends journey into this world. It wasn’t perfect and it certainly wasn’t what I had “planned”, but she made it here all in one piece and ultimately that’s all that matters. That doesn’t take away the emotions or my doubts or fears about my body or my ability to give birth without intervention. I still don’t feel at peace with all that and I’m not sure I ever will, but that’s the beauty of birth and giving life. It’s all unknown. And I just need to keep reminding myself to surrender my fears and trust in the process. All will happen as it should.
“Our bodies are not broken. With patience, love, and the right environment, we can be witness to them working in their own time to bring forth our babies.”