The Perfect Birth Story, Child 1 Part 1.
I knew. I took a test but I already knew the answer. I was pregnant. I could tell my body felt different, my like-clockwork cycle was off, and I knew. It felt like magic growing inside of me and although nobody else in the whole world could tell, I knew. This was the first secret I shared with my child, just the two of us, and I felt so happy. I love surprises and this was the best kind.
More surreal than real, I wondered how I could feel such bright excitement and love for a small clump of cells.
Concurrently, I felt the accompanying shadow of fear. I remember my mom miscarrying when I was younger and as a nurse I had no ignorant bliss about how common miscarriage occurs, about 25% of all pregnancies (most before 12 weeks). Although I tried to not obsess, every single time I peed I would check for blood. Even after 12 weeks when it is much less likely to miscarry, I would let my breath out after checking, relieved. I knew I couldn’t really prevent a miscarriage from happening, but to say I felt motivated to try vastly dims the urgency I felt to protect my little clump of cells as much as I could. I must do my best, I must do this as perfectly as I can. It’s not just my life on the line anymore.
So I did everything I could to keep myself and the baby healthy. I read books with chapters arranged by the 40-ish weeks of pregnancy and signed up for emails that compare fetal growth with fresh produce. I signed myself and Joseph up for natural birthing classes where we practiced labor support techniques, such as “this is how you breathe to manage pain,” “this is how you can bounce on a birthing ball,” and “this is how to prep your bloated body for labor, etc..” We were instructed on the dangers of epidurals and how c-sections are grossly over-used in the United States, and given tools to avoid needing either. The mantra went like this: “Natural labor is best! Only allow medical intervention when absolutely necessary (and it shouldn’t be necessary with all this education and prep).”
The pregnancy went well, I was one of the annoying ones who felt beautiful and glowed. My eyes sparkled with the miraculous secret I carried inside of me and I felt amazing (If I could guarantee every pregnancy would be like this then my children would outnumber the Duggars). I loved having this secret that I kept as much secret as possible, even the gender. It was like getting a present from a friend who always gives the best gifts, I knew I would love it so I didn’t feel the need to guess what it was before it was time to open it. This just added to the thrill.
The evening I went into labor I could hardly sleep I was so excited. I felt the tightening of my belly squeezes go from random to rhythmic. There was discomfort but no actual pain. Contractions are measured from the start of one to the start of the next, and mine started to come every 10 minutes on the regular. When I was getting ready for bed they increased to every 8 minutes. I thought “Tonight I will hold my baby.” That was Friday evening and I was able to get about 5 hours of sleep that night as the contractions slowed with my slumber.
I woke up refreshed on Saturday, ready for a full day of slow waves of contractions, never getting past the 8 minute mark, yet still thinking “by tonight I will hold my baby.” Saturday came and went with little changed except for the strength of the contractions. They still came every 8-10 minutes and the only sleep I snatched was between contractions that night.
Sunday morning as I felt the sunlight brighten the bedroom I thought “Today! Today is the day I will hold my baby.” I remembered that taking a walk is supposed to help increase labor and so Joseph and I walked a few houses down each way, and it helped. The discomfort was beginning to transition to pain. Still, I was able to close off to most of my surroundings and breathe through the moment till I reached the moments of rest. By late afternoon the contractions were less than 5 minutes apart and seemed to be getting faster quickly so we drove to the hospital. I thought “Yes, tonight I will hold my baby.”
When we arrived I literally posted my birth plan on the door to my room and every single nurse and doctor who cared for me were supportive and even excited about my plan. It was so encouraging, and I thought it was going to be perfect.
Here is the list of things I tried after being admitted to the hospital in my attempts to have a natural labor:
1- No IV so I wouldn’t be stuck in bed and so I would be free to move around.
2- Walking the halls.
3- Using a birthing ball to sit on (supposed to use gravity and flexibility to help move things along). My water broke while I was on the ball. We don’t have it anymore.
4- Only intermittent monitoring so I could move around freely.
5- Minimal “checks.” If you don’t know what that means don’t worry about it.
6- Warm shower while on birthing ball (did this after my water broke).
7- Lots of calm and inspirational spiritual music the entire time.
8- Essential oils to energize and relax.
9- My sweet mom, my faithful dulla, my husband, and my pregnant sister were all there to literally wait on me hand and foot, feeding me ice chips, squeezing my hips to relieve pain during contractions, etc.
10- I am sure there were a bajillion other things that I did that I can’t remember right now.
Midnight came and went, I still wasn’t holding my baby. I thought “For sure, in a couple more hours I will have this baby!” I felt strong, stronger and more determined than I had ever felt in my life. It had to be so close.
But it wasn’t.
How’s that for a cliffhanger?
Till next time…