I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time, 13 months to be exact! Here it is now: My daughter’s birth story…or as much as I remember!
The day before my daughter was born I binge watched The Good Wife on Netflix.
All. Day. Long.
Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I felt my first contraction. Of course, I had no idea it was actually a contraction. Just cramps. No big deal, right? It was a good 20 minutes before it happened again. Then again after another 15 minutes. That’s when I thought, “Hey! Maybe that was a contraction?” I got out my phone with my newly downloaded contraction timing app and started timing each and every one. They were getting closer together but still only 8-10 minutes apart by the time I was ready for bed. I remember going to sleep around 9 that night, really hoping I would make it through the night and get some much needed rest.
I slept until about midnight. At that point the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. They were getting more intense and I just couldn’t get comfortable to fall back to sleep. My husband, on the other hand, was sleeping soundly next to me.
It was finally around 4am that I woke up my husband. The contractions were 4 minutes apart and I was in pain. I was ready to go to the hospital. After a few bites of toast, I barely had an appetite, we grabbed our hospital bags and headed out. It’s a 45 minute drive to the hospital, and one of my biggest fears was that we wouldn’t make it in time! Looking back, I could have probably waited a few more hours, but in the moment I was terrified of having a baby in a car! So we were on our way.
We arrived at the hospital around 5 that morning. I was barely dilated, just 1 tiny little centimeter, and my contractions were still 4 minutes apart. I was not happy when the nurses said I needed to walk until I was at least 4 cm dilated in order to be officially checked in. I was slightly dehydrated so they gave me water and set me loose, to walk the halls of the maternity ward. The nurse told me to come back by 8am and they would check my progression.
We walked the halls, listening to women in labor and hearing the sweet shrills of newborn babies, knowing that our daughter would be born that day. We were both jittery with nerves and excitement and anticipation. I was walking through contractions, stopping each time and bracing myself in the arms of my husband. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t yet 8 am but I told my husband I was done walking. It was time to go back.
The walking had worked. I was 4cm dilated and my contractions were closer together. It was time to get checked in. We were brought to a labor and delivery room. I wanted the drugs! It wasn’t long before I was given an epidural and started to feel some much needed relief. Once we were settled, we decided to call our parents. Since our family is all out of state, we knew we wouldn’t have any hospital visitors. We only told our immediate family, parents and siblings, that baby A was on her way.
And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
It seemed like an eternity. Seriously! I was tired but couldn’t nap. I was hungry but couldn’t eat. I was on an emotional roller coaster. One minute so incredibly happy. The next I was doubting if I could really do this parenting thing. Eventually, the doctor broke my water. Then everything started speeding along. I remember the moment the doctor told me it was time to push. I said, “Really?” I was thinking, “I’m really not ready.” And “I really don’t want to do this!” I was scared. More scared than I had ever been in my life. But it didn’t matter. Baby A was ready and so I had to make myself ready. Lesson #1 of parenthood.
I pushed forever. Forever. My epidural was lowered, so I would be able to feel the contractions myself and know when to push next. No one told me about that part of labor. I thought, “If I get an epidural, I won’t feel a thing and it will be great!” Nope. They wanted me to feel and be in tune with my body. I understand why but I certainly wasn’t happy about it then.
Childbirth is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. I don’t think I was a very good pusher. No one said that to me, but, I’m pretty sure it’s true. There came a point, after an hour of active labor, that the doctor said, “If she’s not further along after this push, we are going to have to talk about forceps.” FORCEPS! That wasn’t happening. We did not have to talk about forceps.
The whole time, my eyes were closed tight. My husband was by my side, holding one of my legs, giving me ice chips and cold cloths for my head, desperately trying to comfort me. I knew he was upset at my discomfort. I honestly couldn’t even focus on him. I ignored the doctor and nurse talking about baseball in between contractions, passing the time. Seriously, baseball?? I was very much focused on myself, inside myself, trying not to think about anyone or anything except breathing and pushing. The nurse told me my baby’s head was born, “Open your eyes, honey, look at your baby” she said. I remember thinking that I didn’t even want to open my eyes to see my daughter. And then, in an instant, I felt terrible for that thought and reluctantly opened my eyes. I’m glad I did. I will never forget that first glance at A’s squishy, red, perfect baby face. She wasn’t even born yet, but there she was, my daughter.
Only one or two more pushes after that, and there was a crying baby on my chest. I forgot my pain. I forgot my exhaustion. I forgot my hunger. My needs didn’t matter. I was a mother. I was no longer cooped up inside myself, I was present. My husband cut our daughter’s cord, even though he had been determined that he wouldn’t want to, he did. I didn’t realize that I had torn, until the doctor asked for a suture kit. He sewed me up while I was nursing A, skin to skin.
I was amazed at my body’s strength. And I was amazed at our new baby girl. She was ours and we were hers. We truly became a family that day.
My journey into motherhood was just beginning…