So my birthday was last week. And I must say, having given birth puts a new twist on your own celebration. And since J’s birthday is around the corner (1 week!), I thought this downtime before her festivities would be a fun time to share. I, personally, love reading birth stories. D on the other hand, may be mortified that I’m sharing this. Only time will tell. But a warning, it’s long…but it was a long day.
In the days leading up to June’s birth, I was on and off the phone with my doctor who was trying to convince us to induce, and emails were flying back and forth with the doula service we were using. My doctor was wanting to induce the second I hit 40 weeks and the doulas were like, “NO! Don’t do it!” So I listened to the doulas and my doctor finally gave up.
After trying multiple tricks to go into labor on my own, I finally decided to try acupuncture. I had read good things and found a place nearby. I went on Tuesday and Wednesday for treatments. After Wednesday’s treatment, I felt pretty off. I went home to lie down and veg for a bit.
Thursday morning my water broke…but I wasn’t totally sure. I went about the rest of my morning routine and come back into the bedroom to tell D, “um…I think, *maybe* my water broke. I’m 80% sure. Maybe.”. How’s that for the ‘IT’S GO TIME!’ announcement? We decide to get everything into the car, just in case…and I fully acknowledged that I would be totally ridiculous if it turned out to be nothing. We drove separately so that in the event that this was a false alarm he could continue on to work. Genius.
En route to the Dr. office, at about the half way mark, every time I hit the brake or gas…things would happen. More and more fluid every time. I called the office to say that my water had broke and asked if I should go ahead and come in, or just go to the hospital. They said since I had an appointment, to come on in to get my stats there, then head (across the street) to the hospital. Can I just stop and say something? Never, ever drive yourself to the hospital if your water broke. Or if you think you’re in labor. It’s gross. That is all. I waddled up to the 3rd floor and check in…they instruct me to have a seat, at which point I politely remind them “I’M THE WOMAN THAT JUST CALLED SAYING HER WATER BROKE! Can I pretty please just go to the room?” They were more than accommodating. Dr. M pops his head in the room, looks at D and with much enthusiasm says IT’S BABY DAY! So he checks me out and I really have no recollection of what he says except for he sang, “We have amniotic fluuuuuid!”. I’m 110% sure that the people in the waiting room heard him. He tells me things like, “get checked in, but walk around the maternity ward a bit to speed up the process.” And “Sure, you can wear whatever you want for birth, it doesn’t have to be the hospital gown.” …These sentences are to serve as foreshadowing, if you didn’t catch on to that.
They wheel me across the street to the hospital. Once I get somewhat settled, a nurse comes in and pulls out a hospital gown and instructs me to put it on. I explain that I brought comfy clothes to wear for labor and birth but my husband went out to the car to get them. And she just stares at me. Like, I was from another planet. 15 minutes go by, D is still gone (moving the car and getting the stuff…and I think calling people), and I’m still sitting on the bed refusing to wear the gown. Then comes my first run in with Nurse Mary… she comes in, basically claiming that we don’t have time for this and I have to get hooked up to the heart rate and contraction monitor and I MUST be in the gown (Note, I was feeling zero contractions at this point). What…like you’re going to refuse to deliver my baby if I’m in a Target skirt?? I am getting a little worn out and finally give in. I change and D comes back with a confused look. I explain they refused to let me put my own clothes on (Which is still so stupid to me!) and he is dumbfounded. As am I, good sir.
After they had a reading on ‘baby girl’s’ heartbeat, I asked if I could walk around, since my doctor had instructed me to. Apparently, that was out of the question. Nurse Mary *claims* that she called Dr. M and he had no recollection of that. Really? I’ve known Dr. M for over a year at this point, and I’ve know her for a hot minute. I was getting really frustrated with my nurse and I wasn’t even feeling contractions yet. Oh joy.
Nurse Mary proved to be just as rude as I was worried she would be. She was rude to our doula once she arrived, and she was so condescending to me saying things like, “I know you planed for a natural birth, but we’ll see *eye wink*”… But I don’t want this whole post to be about Nurse Mary. Because I totally rocked the birth, if I do say so myself. And this is my blog…so I’m going with it.
June was actually delivered by my OB’s wife, which I think is fun. She came in to introduce herself. She said that since my water broke and I wasn’t progressing at all, then she would really like to start me on pitocin. I explained my issues with the drug and she very respectfully said that was fine, she let us have another hour or 2 to see if my body kicked into gear and if not, then we’d start on a half dose and spread the administration out a bit. Long story short, I got the first dose around noon.
Our doula, Jenni-the-great (I added the ‘the-great’ part…that’s not really her name) arrived soon after I got the dose, but I still wasn’t feeling anything. They were looking at the contraction monitor and the strength of the contractions was off the chart. Like, literally. But I wasn’t feeling a thing. They kept looking at me confused, because according to this machine that I had to be hooked up to, I should be screaming.
Around 3:30 or so is when the first contraction hit…well, that I felt anyway. And it wasn’t any worse than a abdominal cramp. I was able to talk through them. And we were talking about how unbelievable it was that I couldn’t wear my comfy cotton clothes…or walk around…which I was (and apparently still am) worked up over. I’ll let it go when June is 18.
Gradually the contractions were increasing in intensity. I had checks by Dr. G periodically to see if I was making progress. I was admitted at 1 cm and 25% effaced. Around 4:30, I was at a whopping 2 cm and 50%. I was a bit disappointed, but Dr. G and Jenni were encouraging, saying the effacement is the toughest part and a jump from 25 to 50 is pretty good. By 7:30 the contractions were hitting harder and much more painful. Dr. G checked and I was 85% effaced but still only 4 cm.
We adjusted the bed to a sitting position and Jenni showed D how to rub my feet and she helped me with my tribal grunting. Nurse Bethany tried to take my temperature and I fell asleep in the 30 second space between contractions…while sitting. I had heard that some women do this, and I never pictured myself as “a sleeper”. But then again, I can sleep anywhere so why should labor be any different? I have no idea how many times I did this, so I’m guessing a few.
Around 10, Dr. G came back to do another check. Angels sang as she announced I was at 100% and 7 cm. For the next hour or so, I alternated lying on my sides. Apparently this speeds things up. And apparently, this is the most painful thing. Ever. Just as I was getting comfortable on one side, Jenni and Nurse Bethany would gang up on me and help me flip. And then the worst contraction to date would happen. Every time. It was in these moments when I was getting close to being able to push, I thought “You idiot. Why in the world would you not take the epidural?” But I’m pretty happy with myself that these thoughts didn’t even hit me until 1 hour from the end. Dr. G also told us that they had been backing off on the pitocin for a few hours and by this 10:00 check, it was all me. I so love that she did that.
D was rubbing my feet, Jenni was putting pressure on my hips, and Nurse Bethany was using acupressure on my wrists. You’d think I was in a day spa…except for the tribal grunting. Oh, and the pain. And the embarrassing fact (sure, I’ll share it) that I think I screamed at some point that I felt like I needed to poop. Stay classy, man. But in our birthing class, the nurse said, you know when you’re getting close when you feel like you need to have a bowel movement. So I guess in my head, the Nurses would need to know this vital piece of information.
Jenni mentions that they are getting ready to have me push. I look up and see no less that 1 million people in my tiny little room. I still don’t know how they all fit in there. Before I know it, they were telling me to push. The second I had the ok, I pushed like there was no tomorrow. And I think that worked against me because I got worn out really fast. Although, it could also be because the health care system is so messed up and doesn’t let mom’s who are in labor eat while they are at the hospital (I ate whatever I could find before we left the house, by the way – it just didn’t last 18 hours…). Anyway, I became so light headed that they gave me an oxygen mask to help me stay with it.
But I will say in my experience, pushing was far less painful than the contractions. I don’t know if it was just because I could finally do something about the pain…or if the pain was so great that my body shut off…whatever it was, pushing was a huge relief.
About 30 minutes in, Dr. G announces that I need an episiotomy. She does some topical numbing meds and I don’t feel a thing. But once I start pushing again, I realize that I am just so totally wiped out. Dr. G says that if I really can’t push any more, it’s a c-section (oy! The whole reason I didn’t want pitocin!) or the help from the vacuum. I opt for the vacuum…ONLY because June’s vitals had been perfect the whole time…because they were annoyingly prompt about fixing the monitor if it got off. I could really tell a difference when I pushed with the vacuum’s help. But it took 3 attempts. June, we soon found out, had a lot of hair and the vacuum had a hard time staying put. I remember looking at Dr. G on the 3rd attempt and thinking how sweaty she looked…turns out that after 3 vacuum attempts if the baby is still not out, it’s an automatic c-section. But we finally got our acts together and there she was. The pain was over and it was amazing.
I remember feeling surprisingly numb for not having an epidural. It could be that they put that tiny little human on me and nothing else in the world matters. They laid her on me and I told her “Hi, Baby girl.” I don’t actually remember her crying, although she must have. While she was with me, she just looked at me. Taking it all in. And it’s so funny because that is totally her even now. They cleaned her up and D went to check her out while I was stitched up. Once we were all clean, we spent the next few hours having some skin to skin time and bonding and fawning and in total disbelief. We had delayed her first bath so we could get as much skin to skin time as possible.
Later that day, we decided her name would be June Harper. Our other option was Ruby Jane…which I just loved and was really hoping for. But we agreed, she just looked like a June. And a year later, she still looks like a June, so I guess it was a good call.
Motherhood has been a crazy and fun ride and I have the most perfect little girl. She was worth every pregnant and exhausted afternoon, every stretch mark and every single contraction. And, ok…every pound of baby weight. My cup runneth over with all the blessings that God has given us. We certainly don’t deserve any of it, but I am forever grateful.