This is long. Very long. I know. #sorrynotsorry
I loved reading birth stories, the more detail the better, when I was pregnant, and I’ve finally written mine. Hope it’s a reminder that every birth is unique and special. Don’t worry too much about the finite details. Be strong. You’ve got this. And when it’s all over, you have a baby and you’re a mom.
I had just finished working the last of three twelve hour shifts, yay #nurselife. I was so ready for the weekend, to finally have a few days off to prep for baby's arrival. I was feeling awesome. Like, I’d actually been able to eat without vomiting the last few days, I hardly needed to eat any Tums, just five or so a day instead of my normal twenty, I’d done all of my exercises (I’m talking about #kegels ladies, you better be doing them), I found my waddle to be cute at this point, and I hadn’t accidentally peed my pants once the entire week! Like I said, feeling awesome!
I was day six of week thirty eight. So I of course I was under the impression that I still had plenty of time. My mom had gone almost a month past her due date with both my brother and I, and labored for 40 plus hours, so there was something super exciting to look forward to.
I wrote a long to-do list. An even longer honey-do list. And went to bed.
At around four in the morning, I woke up feeling warmth between my legs. This was not pee, and wasn’t due to my husband, get your minds out of the gutter people. He was snoring on the other side of the bed, four or so pillows between us thanks to how awesome it is to sleep while there is a little being the size of a bowling ball growing in your stomach. But I digress…
The fluid. It was strange. Warm fluid, slowly leaking. I quickly got up, in my hazy awake-ish-sleepiness I’d assumed I was peeing, but as I got up the small dribble immediately stopped. I went to sit on the toilet, I tried to pee, nothing. Went back to bed. As soon as I laid down, the fluid dribbled out again, maybe a tablespoon. Clenching, and I’d been doing kegels about seven times a day, ten at a time, plus squats so you better believe my clench was tight.
Fuck, I thought. Now I’m that person that needs to sleep with a towel under me.
So again, I got up, leak stopped, ran to the toilet. Nothing. Annoyed, I returned to bed. And again this happened. The third time I returned to bed I slowly slid into bed in an awkward sideways rigid movement, so as to not allow my belly to push on my bladder, just imagine a beached whale on the sand trying to get back to the ocean. That was me. I giggled at myself. Immediately stopped laughing as I again felt the trickle of warm fluid.
Damn it I thought. Peed my pants again. WTF.
Halfway to the bathroom I stopped mid track. Oh shit, you silly woman, its amniotic fluid. There must be a tear somewhere, I’m leaking! I overdid it the last few days I’m sure, and now the baby is now at risk for infection, how long has this been going on, was this what I felt last week too, how did I not think of this first? My mind was spiraling and I was freaking out. Do I call my doctor, do I just stand here in the dark by myself. Which is what I did for about ten minutes, all the fear rushing in. In that moment my entire semester of Labor and Delivery from nursing school came flooding in at once, I had a really rough clinical rotation in, I’d basically only seen complicated births. It was rough. So at this point I was pacing and hyperventilating.
Get it together, Jamaica.
Stop. Breath. Calm yourself.
I woke up my husband.
“Uh, babe…” paused for a second “Babe!”
From under the covers I heard a muffled “yeah”
“Uh, I think my water broke… just a little”
We called my doctor, she would meet us at the hospital in thirty minutes. Remembering as soon as I hung up the phone was the first thing on my to-do list for the morning was pack a hospital bag. Oops. So I went on Pinterest, as all procrastinators do. Searching for ‘Hospital Delivery Bag” and the first one I found with the prettiest layout I printed. We packed.
We were in the car 15 minutes later. By this time I started to feel what felt like one hundred butterflies in my stomach, fluttering, about every four minutes. I told David. “Do you think these are contractions?” They felt different, but were not painful. It’s so strange to expect something, learn all about it, feel like you know it, then to actually experience it. It was so different than what I'd heard from friends or seen in the birthing videos.
Ugh, I thought to myself, I’ve literally forgot everything.
We arrived at the hospital at 6:15am.
Sitting in the waiting room we pulled out the list of names, “we should probably pick a name now” my husband told me. He’d really loved the name Hayden, and I loved the name Kaiden. “What about Aiden?” I asked, “I like it” he said.
Done. Now let's go have this baby!
We were called back into one of the triage rooms.
By then my contractions were getting more uncomfortable, they were about three minutes apart, I could still talk and move though. The doctor on-call did a quick exam, told me I’d probably be sent home since I wasn’t dilated at all and everything appeared to be intact, I was one and negative one at this point, basically nothing happening. Great I thought. I’m that person, coming in too early. The resident told us she would wait for the Chief resident to come in, just to run in by her, before I’d get to go home. When the next doctor came in she said she wanted to do one last test, just to confirm I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid, which was exactly what I’d told them was happening, but again, I digress...
She performed a swab and checked for ferning under the microscope. Which she found. It was just after 7am and I was told I was being admitted for observation. By 8:30am shit got real, like all of a sudden I was hit by the contraction train. We had just got to our room. I was full body contracting now, vomiting intermittently, setting off more contractions. Cyclical and miserable. I remember there being barely a full minute between the contractions.
One of my most vivid memory during this whole thing, before my son was born of course, was thinking “that bitch” as I looked at the minute hand on the clock. Staring at it with my arms on my bed, leaning over contracting again and again, thinking of my birthing instructor. Liar. She’d told us "you’ll be able to count ten minutes in the beginning, calm yourself, mentally prepare, walk around your home, breath, maybe even take a bath, eat flavored ice cubes, relax as the process started, enjoy prelabor, you’re about to meet your baby."
That wasn't my story. We didn't learn about the women with no prelabor.
Going into my birth. I was pretty set on having a natural birth. I am a strong woman. I can handle anything. I was wrong. It felt like my body was attacking me. I could barely breath between vomiting and contracting. I had eaten quinoa the night before. Don’t do that. I repeat ladies, do not eat quinoa within, what, a week? More. It hurts like fire when you throw it up, It also gets stuck in your nose. Awful. I was so scared. Feeling so completely out of control. The power of each contraction was more than intense. I still tear up thinking about it, it was almost too much. I literally don’t have words for it. My husband asked me if I wanted to talk with the anesthesiologist. It’s just an option, my nurse told me, no pressure. No one will think less of you. I wanted to cry, feeling like a failure if I say yes, but also feeling like I was about to pass out from the pain and exhaustion.
It was close to 10am now, maybe 9:30a. The anesthesiologist discussed with me that we’d only be using lidocaine, or something similar, no opioids, it wouldn’t affect the baby, or me afterwards. Just enough to help numb the lower half of my body. This was all discussed thru contractions, with tears in my eyes. More episodes of dry heaving.
I had to sit upright on the edge of the bed. Awful. The nurse held me from the front. The contractions were too much. Worse though was the anticipation. When each one would start I would feel this fire and tightening throughout my lower abdomen, then radiate to my back, my side abs, my uterus. Letting me know, here I come again, my body letting me know. How was my body this strong?
I remember the two anesthesiologists and my husband behind me. Letting me know that it was almost done. So close now. Another contraction. Nooooo, I thought quietly. More tears. I agreed to the epidural, now why isn’t it helping?
I’m the worst patient. Nurses, we really are, the very worst. #sorry
Finally they told me, it was in. Another contraction. “Nooo” I cried. They were still hooking up the pump. No medicine administered yet. My body is killing me, I thought. Please. Finally “Okay, the medicine is in...” again I felt the fire building. But this time it was manageable, I breathed through it. I felt present and in control. The fear started to subside.
I was assisted into bed. Bundled up, David laying next to me. We put on iZombie. duh. I passed out immediately. For about forty five minutes. It was bliss. The break my body needed. At 11a the nurse came in and woke me up. Uncovered me and quickly put the covers back over me. The entire bed was wet and bloody. She asked me when the last time someone assessed me, “maybe seven?” I told her. She got my doctor, a second year resident, she performed a digital exam. She looked at the nurse. “Could you check?” she asked the nurse. The nurse checked “Oh, that’s the baby’s head. He’s here…” and rushed out of the room.
My doctor explained that my Attending wasn’t going to be here for another thirty minutes, but the on-call OB attending was just outside. I requested a mirror. Apparently this isn’t common? I am so glad that I did. I could start to feel the contractions begin to pick up even through the epidural. My attending rushed in, perfect timing.
I was told to push.
His head crowned, stayed there.
I could see a lot of haste in everyone's movement. I’ve been around the hospital enough to know when things are happening faster than everyone wants.
My doctors gloves weren’t on fully. She said “hold on, I need to put my other glove on” Another contraction was coming. Really? I laughed. And with the force from my laugh Aiden popped right out, one full swoosh. Didn’t stop at his neck. Just slid right out.
He was the most perfect slimy little purple baby. Straight up to my chest he went. I vaguely remember them talking through the repairs. There were a lot of internal rips. And the placental wasn’t coming out. At minute twenty nine it slid out, thankfully. One more minute and we’d gone to the OR. Very thankful. Aiden was so warm and squishy. I cried, he cried.
It was the most perfect moment. The climax after the worst storm ever. I’ve never felt so much emotion. He was pure perfection. His little hands. His cheeks. My heart was whole. The moment was perfect. Worth it.
It was a freaking whirlwind. What came next was even more so. Birth and newborns are the most untalked about, hardest thing you will ever do in your life. At least for me it was.
That's my story. I hope it gives yet another perspective. Because, if I have learned anything from my experiences. It’s that no one's birth story is the same. They are all beautifully unique. It’s an excellent reminder for everything in life. Don’t compare. Live your own life, in your own moment. Be okay with things not going according to your plan. Be okay with yourself for the things you thought you’d never do. Because you’re strong, and you just grew a freaking baby within your own body. You can literally do anything.
In the end, I had a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
And that was the perfect ending to my story.