I don’t really know how to intro this. This is my birth story – my first and only child. It’s emotional for me, just like every woman probably gets emotional about their birth stories. I know woman who have had “easy” labors and really shitty and difficult ones. I know women who miscarried early in their pregnancy and late in their pregnancy. I know women who have lost children months after they’re born and other who were told their children might not make it and then they persevered and did. Labor is…so laborious! Why are the synonyms for labor work and effort?
I’ve read that giving birth is like running a marathon but not training for it. I believe it. I’d be willing to bet that even the most prepared women in the world get a surprise or two during labor, whether they’re minor or major. And then there are the birth injuries that no one talks about. And the fact that a tiny human was pulled from your body and now you’re supposed to naturally know how to feed it and soothe it and diaper it. I experienced the baby blues, and have seen other women experience post-partum depression.
I’m writing this partly as a cathartic experience for myself. But also because I like to share it. And I like to hear other people’s stories! Tell me your story – I truly like to hear them. We women shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about issues with getting pregnant, or miscarrying, or giving birth, or post-partum. It’s life, literally!
Here’s my story …
If you remember, I checked in on a Monday evening to get Cervidil. The nurse with the big hands.
Around 5am my nurse popped in and told me this would be my last chance to shower for a while. I wasn’t expecting that opportunity, so all I had was dry shampoo, face wash and these weird body wipe things I found at Target. I got up anyway and cleaned myself the best I could, and then we got ready for the Pitocin. I saw “we” a lot – but in reality, I got ready. I had the baby. My body went through all this. But hubs was right there with me through all of it, so I will give him a break. During this time, his business was scary slow and we were tight on money. He was worried about paying his employees and his business bills and our personal bills, but he stayed strong through all of this for me so I didn’t have to worry.
An hour after my wake up call, they hooked me up to the Pitocin. It started working swift and painfully. I don’t know how people have a baby without drugs. By 8am, I was ready for whatever they were willing to give me. The pain was so bad, I thought I was ready to push. Negative – I was barely 1cm dilated. MAJOR wakeup call! I took morphine first, because I thought I’d be able to handle the pain better. After 30 min, I was asking for the epidural. Labor pains are NO FREAKING JOKE. My boss’s wife works in anesthesiology, so I felt like I had an insider helping me. She stopped by to check on me, introducing me to her co-workers, who would later save my day.
After the epidural, everything’s a blur. Literally. I slept a lot, I hardly felt any pain. My hubs and mom sat and watched me sleep and watched the contraction machine (there’s probably a more scientific name for that!). The nurse came in a few times to put me in different positions so things would get moving quicker. Around 12:30pm, still only 3cm dilated, Ainsley’s heart rate started to drop every time I contracted. The nurse tried me in more positions and hooked me up to oxygen – which seemed to help. No one seemed panicked, nothing was urgent. But even in my drugged up state, I knew I wanted my baby in my arms ASAP!
My doctor came in and told us that she was doing great with the oxygen but I was only a few centimeters dilated and my contractions were still a few min apart – meaning, this could take a while! Did I really want to be on oxygen that entire time, and potentially have an emergency on our hands? Needless to say, the answer was NO. He told us they’d prep the Operating Room, and we’d head that way.
(What we learned after Ainsley was delivered was her cord was wrapped around her leg five times. It’s probably why she stopped growing toward the end and definitely why her oxygen started to drop during labor. No tests prior to delivery day showed us this – even the ultrasound looked fine. C-sections are controversial, but I’m so thankful our doctor said “let’s do this” when he did, because otherwise I would have been mid-birth and rushed to an emergency C-section. My little chick was so active in my body, always kicking and dancing, perhaps that’s how the cord got wrapped. She’s still like this, even in the car seat or highchair, her legs are always swinging!)
My mom got our stuff packed up and took it to the Mom & Baby wing where we’d recover. They wheeled me into the Operating Room and the doors closed behind me, with hubs following with our camera.
It was cold in there, so very cold. I kept asking for blankets, and then panicked about all the blankets on my neck. I don’t think I can adequately describe the weight of the blankets, other than having a car on my chest, or that’s what it felt like. My chest was collapsing, which is apparently very normal with C-sections because all of your organs are being shifted up into your ribs. Gross. I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like I was dying and I was going to miss Ainsley being born. I looked at Adam, looked at the nurse next to me. I didn’t know where to focus, I was cold and felt like my breath was leaving my body. Adam was trying to help me but also watch the doctor. The anesthesiologist was great, talking me through the surgery, assuring me I was not dying. He kept me focused, and showed me my heartbeat on the monitor.
After what felt like four hours, but was truly 29 minutes, my doctor said, “get ready Dad, get the camera out!” and Ainsley made her debut, screaming. All five pounds, 10 ounces of her. I smiled, I cried, I had an alphabet of emotions running through me. Adam snapped a few pictures and then the nurse took the camera and they handed her to him. THEY HANDED HER TO HIM. Of course, I was happy he got to hold her, but I wanted to hold her and I could barely keep my eyes open. She fit right into the crook of his arm, and he leaned her down to meet me. She had his eyes – his big blue eyes. She was perfect! And then off they went. Adam and my baby – gone. That is one lonely place to be.
I could hardly keep my eyes open with all the pain meds running through my body. My body only had one heartbeat, the other got taken out and was getting cleaned up somewhere. I didn’t know where she was, where Adam was, where my mom was.
Within a few minutes, I was stitched up and they lifted me onto a different bed. I insisted they sit me up, I still felt like that car was on my chest. I needed to breath and needed to check out my surroundings.
Finally in a recovering room with other strangers, I saw my mom. Adam was with Ainsley, she assured me. She would stay with me. I cried, I wanted to be with Ainsley so bad. I cried about failing to give birth. About not being able to breastfeed the second she came out. About not even holding my baby yet.
I’ll save my breastfeeding triumphs and bombs for later, but failure should not be one of the emotions after having a baby. I’ve talked to other moms who had C-sections and I don’t think I’m alone in this. With over a year’s worth of hindsight, I know I didn’t fail. I grew a healthy baby for months in my body. But in the moment, after being cut open and not feeling like I actually “gave birth,” no pushing or tearing or pooping on the table, I felt like I failed. My mom watched me cry and it being contagious – her telling me through tears that I hadn’t failed.
After almost an hour in recovery and tears from both my mom and I, I finally got to hold Ainsley. All five pounds, 10 ounces. Those big eyes like her dad. A full head of dark hair. She was MINE! Adam brought her to me in recovery, and after meeting her face to face, he got to carry her to our room as the staff wheeled me behind them. Our family of three was approaching its first night together! Which included more tears, diapers and bodily fluids that I had ever experienced.