So, I follow this amazing *amazing* amazing blog called Birth Without Fear (Seriously, google it. It will change your life.) I found it totally by accident when I was pregnant with Noah in hopes that I would find things to help me with my fear of pain, but more in my fear of needles and well…I’m not great at google and ended up literally typing “Birth Without Fear” and…ta-da! Found it.
This amazing blog shares women’s stories of labor, childbirth, breastfeeding etc. etc. etc. BUT! It is NOT all natural. Many of these woman are unable to have natural births, but choose a family centered cesarean. This blog (and subsequently its support group). Taught me SO much about pregnancy and continue to teach me so much about motherhood. The cool thing about it though is that while I was pregnant I read all of these amazing women’s birth stories. It gave me so much information…but in a story. I wasn’t reading articles and statistics that would freak me out…I was reading stories. Real. Life. Stories.
After finding Birth Without Fear I decided that once I had “Sugar” (as Noah was affectionately called, since we waited to find out if he was a boy or a girl until he was born), I would happily type up my 3-4 page birth story and send it to them and get back all of the love and support that I had given to other Mamas who shared their stories with me….
But…I forgot to think about the fact that after I had “Sugar”, I’d have a baby. A beautiful, snuggly, time-consuming, sleep-depriving…baby. So…since he will be 6 months old on the Fourth of July and is now having a delightful nap…I figure I better write this down, before I forget.
One more thing before I get started though: I worried when I was pregnant, that if I had a boy, I would be less “nostalgic”. I figured that if I had a boy that he wouldn’t care if I saved his toys for his kids one day, or if I wrote out what I felt like when I was pregnant, or his birth story. I realize now that’s biased and incredibly incorrect. After having my son, my Mother in Law gave me the outfit my husband was baptized in. She gave me a blanket that not only was his, but was hers. (Okay, that one stays at Grandmas, but..one day he’ll get to have it.) She gave me this adorable yellow sunshine care bear that was my husbands. It made me realize that while my son may not care about how I felt the first time I felt him kick, one day his spouse might. One day his children might. So, I’m writing this down, before I forget.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Wait. No. That’s a different story.
Okay, so I must begin Noah’s story by first saying that not only is this my first child and first pregnancy, but by also saying that I, Noah’s Mother, am a klutz.
I also must state that I am the oldest of five children whose parents were told after me that they would never have another child. I remember watching my Mother crying for another child and struggling with infertility. I watched family members struggle with infertility. I also had a *very* early miscarriage (I didn’t know I was pregnant until I woke up covered in blood) 4 years ago that has terrified me that I would suffer the same fate of fertility problems. That being said, every odd pain, bump, scratch or kick would send me calling my mother (Sorry Mom!). If she couldn’t help, or didn’t know the answer, I called my doctor-and if he was the least bit concerned…I went in. I ended up in the emergency room 5 times through the course of my pregnancy…the last time because of pre-term labor. That’s really where the story begins…
I was out and about one day running errands and my husband was working late at the Sonic he helps manage. I noticed while doing light things around the house that I had back pain that wouldn’t go away. It was a Friday night. The Friday before Thanksgiving. I called my Mom.
“Mom, the Doctor said to phone in if I had any pain that lasted longer than an hour…this has been going on for 40 minutes…what should I do??”
“Call the doctor? I would wait, and if it still hasn’t gone away in 20 minutes, call the doctor.”
I immediately called my husband and told him what was going on. Luckily, his boss is very family oriented and rushed up to the store so that he could come home to take me to the ER. After spending some time there, the Doctors at L&D let me know that the pain in my back was actual contractions. I was only 29 weeks along. I was placed on bed rest and given medicine to take every 6 hours for the next 11 weeks.
I stopped working, and was religious about taking this medicine so that I didn’t go into labor. I had timers on my phone to take the medicine at 6 a.m, 12 p.m, 6 p.m, and 12 a.m. every day. Fast forward about 6 weeks. I was finally almost in the safe zone. On January 2nd, 2013, I went in to the doctor for my 36 week check up.
Doctor: Everything looks great, I’d keep taking the medicine through Sunday, and then you’re clear. You’re starting to thin a little, but not even enough to give you a measurement of that. So you should be fine!
Me: Okay, well, my baby shower is on Sunday. As long as I make it to my baby shower…we can have it any day after that.
Doctor: Oh, you should definitely make it to your baby shower.
So, I was good…right? I only had 3 days until I was 37 weeks and 4 days until my baby shower. I was so excited. Cue the morning of January 4th.
I woke up around 8:15 in the morning with really awful back cramps (I had no idea at the time that they were contractions.) Rather than worry, I decided to start my morning with a warm bath to relax. I had taken my medicine, as directed, at 6 a.m. so I was fine, right? I made some coffee, and slowly started about my morning. I started running the water, lit the candles, turned off the light and ahhhh so nice. Then, about 15 minutes after getting in (around 9:30 a.m.) I heard a *pop*.
Hmmm, that’s weird…maybe my water just broke…..
OH MY GOSH I THINK MY WATER JUST BROKE.
Oh well, at least I’m in the water…so no clean up…*sigh* wait. They said when I called the doctor they’d want to know how much water and what color and…I should get out.
It was a Friday morning, and my OB’s office wasn’t open on Fridays, so I called his answering service. I told them I thought my water had broken and could Dr. Weise call me back. (I know, but that’s his real name….crazy right?)
15 minutes later the answering service called me back. “Has Dr. Weise called you?” “Not yet…which is odd. He usually calls right back…” “Alright, I’ll page him again.”
About 5 minutes and one soaked towel later my phone rang.
“Hi, this is Doctor Frat Boy, what’s up?” (Not his real name)
“Ummm, my name is June Cleaver, and I’m a patient of Dr. Weise, and I think my water just broke.”
“Then you need to go to the hospital immediately. Where are you delivering?”
“The Presbyterian Hospital?”
“I’ll tell them you’re coming.”
Cue ridiculous crying. See, I had read all of these wonderful birth stories, and I have a HUGE fear of hospitals and needles and…well, you get the idea. I had decided after all of my reading that I would labor as long as I could at home before going to the hospital so that I had a lower risk of interventions. So…I called my Mom.
“Mama, I-think-my-water-just-broke-and-I-called-Dr. Weise-and-some-stupid-Frat-Boy-doctor-called-back-with-this-attitude-and-told-me-to-go-to-the-hospital-IMMEDIATELY and…that’s not what I wanted….that’s not *sob* the PLAN.”
“Honey, your *plan* went out the window when your water broke in the bathtub.”
Sigh. Okay, now to wake up the husband in a way that will not induce chicken without a head panic….
“Honey? *shake shake* Honey? Ummm….I’m leaking fluids.” (No kidding, those are the words I used because I was convinced that actually saying “My water broke” would freak him out more…
“Okay, *yawn* what do we do now?”
And so it went. My husband called in to work to tell them we were having a baby and I slowly packed up the toiletries (the rest of my bag was already packed…I like to be prepared). I informed my husband that I was taking my sweet time because I didn’t want to go to the hospital panicked. I knew that if I could walk in calm and knowing that I still was in control, that I was more likely to have a birth experience that I wanted.
We finally got loaded up in the car and I turned to my husband.
“I’m hungry. We should eat before we go. I have no idea how long this is going to take, and they probably won’t let me eat while I’m there. Let’s go to Chick Fil A.”
And so we did. Don’t worry, this doesn’t end with me having the baby in the car. The hospital is exactly 8 minutes from our apartment. We got to the hospital and ate in the car so they wouldn’t take the food away from us, and then we headed upstairs.
I went straight up to Labor & Delivery and headed right to the nurses station with my rolling suitcase.
“Hi, what can we help you with?”
“Oh, I’m June Cleaver, my Doctor called for me? I believe my water broke.” <Cue June Cleaver grin. I’m not making this up.
“Ummm, *Glances back at other nurses* Okay, we’ll need you to sign this….
“Oh, I pre-registered online…last week I think? Just in case.”
“Oh…you did. Okay, then follow me.”
We got into the room and Nurse Laura told me that they have a test (which, I kid you not looks like a really long piece of litmus paper from high school science class) that they use to check if my water has indeed broken. She said they would do the test, and if my water had indeed broken, they’d get me set up. If it hadn’t, they would monitor me for 20 minutes and send me on my way. After leaving to get the test I turned to my husband,
“She doesn’t believe me.”
“That’s because you don’t look like *anyone* I’ve ever seen or heard about in labor. You look like you’re about to enter a pageant the way you’re smiling.”
She came back with the paper in hand that is supposed to be inserted to check to see if my water had broken. Ha. She barely grazed my inner thigh and it changed colors instantly.
“OKAY! We’re going to get you all set up. Looks like your water *did* break….I’ll be right back.”
She came back and checked me and I was 2 cm dilated. It was about 11 a.m. She told me that since I wanted to labor naturally, that she was going to give me 2 hours to progress on my own, but that if I hadn’t shown much progress that Dr. Frat Boy (who was on call) would want to start interventions. I said okay and grabbed my phone. I had already notified my Birth Without Fear ladies that I was in labor and updated them to let them know that if I didn’t progress in 2 hours that I would get some form of intervention. I also sent a text message to my childhood best friend, who, 8 months before, had labored 50 hours before receiving a cesarean asking for her prayers. She knew the journey I was hoping for. I got plenty of affirmations and positive vibes and I swear I could feel the prayers. I just leaned into it. My Mom and Dad got there and I was just humming through my contractions. I was starting to realize when they were coming and my beyond amazing husband just kind of knew what to do.
At around 12:45, Nurse Laura came in. I was super scared that I wouldn’t have progressed enough. I leaned back and she checked me.
“Oh! Dr. Frat Boy is going to be happy. You’re at 5 cm. Good job, Mama. Keep it up.”
5 cm! I had only been awake for 4 hours and I was halfway there!
Contractions started picking up and people started arriving. See, I have a huge family, and this is the first grandkid on both sides…so…it was interesting. Here’s the funny thing though. I only remember seeing my Mom & Dad and my Mema (Dad’s Mom) and my Aunt Cathy. If anyone else came I was in a trance. Sorry! Here’s what’s even funnier. Nobody tells you that labor makes you do crazy things. Okay, so maybe they do, but I didn’t pay attention. One minute I wanted to be sitting up leaning in the bed, the VERY NEXT I wanted to be standing leaning over the counter and 10 minutes later was happy bouncing on my birth ball. (Don’t laugh. That thing is heaven sent.) The best part? My contraction sound.
You know that sound you make when you put your lips together and blow air out of them? Yea, the one where your lips vibrate, and you sound like a lawn mower and your nose tickles if you do it too long? THAT was my contraction sound. It was ridiculous. And even as I was making it I thought “This is the sound helping me through labor??” Yep. It sure was.
At around 3, nurse Laura came back to check me and I was ‘a little past a 7.’ What?! I was so terrified that like my dear friend, I’d be in labor for 2 days…but I was already at a 7! I smiled at my husband. This was happening! We’re having a baby today!!
A little while later, Nurse Laura came in and asked me how I was doing while she was monitoring Sugar’s heartbeat. Not realizing I was going through transition, I told her I needed a little something. That I had decided that if I needed something I could try the analgesic in my IV just to take the edge off. She said she had one that she referred to as “Labor Advil” that it would help, but I would still feel everything. She brought it back quickly and I made it through transition much easier.
My sounds were getting louder and longer now, and according to Mr. Cleaver, my lips were so raw and chapped from all the air…but he just smiled at me and told me I was doing great. (While secretly wishing he could slather me with chapstick. Not kidding. He told me afterwards.)
At 6:20, Nurse Laura came to check me. I was feeling great. She told me that she thought I’d be ready to push by 7 p.m. That was all I needed to hear. Every awful contraction after that, I’d stare at the clock and tell myself I was almost there. That at 7, I could push.
At 6:45 though, my amazing nurse came in to tell me that they were switching shifts and introduced me to my new nurse…Nurse Pat. I was so sad. Nurse Laura had been my cheerleader that whole time…so proud of me for being natural. Then I looked up. Nurse Pat was the nurse that took care of me when I went into premature labor. I knew I was in good hands. She asked if I needed anything. I took another shot in my IV of “Labor Advil” and within minutes told her I wanted to push. She told me I could ‘practice pushing” but not to practice too well, because the Dr. wasn’t there. I told her I just wanted to try.
Little did I know that my husband said at this point he could tell I was crowning. Sugar was going in & out and slowly, more and more nurses came into my room. They were setting the room up and buzzing around getting things ready….but I was ready. Finally, a nurse to Dr. Frat Boy told me to “not push” I looked up. I had heard of reasons for not pushing; prolapsed cord, arm or leg presentation etc. The nurse said “The Doctor isn’t ready yet.”
I made eye contact with nurse Pat and she knew I meant “I hope you’re ready to catch this baby.” I saw the doctor, sloooooowwwwwllllyyyy put his gloves on and get ready to catch. I felt like I kept pushing forever. I don’t remember anyone counting, or telling me to push, or to breathe. It might have happened, I just remember listening to my body and pushing when it felt like I should. The nurses kept saying “You’re almost there, the baby is almost there” “You’re almost done.” I wanted to scream “Then why isn’t the baby in my arms already?” At one point, Doctor Frat Boy said “Give me one good push.” And I did…and I felt like my body had been sliced from my lady bits to the back of my neck. I looked down and saw his shiny golden (no kidding) scissors. I shot daggers with my eyes. I NEVER wanted an episiotomy. I had in my birth plan that I wanted to tear if I had to…and I was livid. Nurse Pat saw the look in my eye and leaned into my ear. “Just two more pushes and that baby will be on your chest.” And she was right. At 7:17 p.m. I pushed out a beautiful baby.
“It’s a boy.” my husband softly whispered in my ear. “Honey…it’s a boy.”
He still had blood stuck to the hair on his head when they put him on my chest. I thought it was red hair. He was perfect. 6 lbs. 4.2 oz and 18 1/2 inches.
I must add here that the night that Noah was born, my husband wasn’t feeling well, and had to go to the Emergency Room. He ended up with the flu and couldn’t hold Noah until he was 3 days old. It was so hard having him across the room that first night, and then having to send him home the next day while we were still in the hospital. But watching him hold his baby for the first time was a million times more special because of that.