A Birth Story

I can’t believe my sweet baby girl is already 1!!! In honor of her birth, I present her Birth Story:

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Truly, I am surprised that I have not written this sooner. As we are approaching Sugar Plum’s first birthday, it has been on my mind a lot, so I thought I would write it all down, while it’s still somewhat fresh in my memory.

Let’s flashback to May 2014. I was enormous. My sinuses were perpetually clogged up [who knew that was a side effect?], I couldn’t sleep, I was having Braxton -Hicks [fake] contractions, acid reflux, and I was terrified of giving birth for the first time. It’s interesting to hold 2 completely opposite, yet equally strong feelings at the same time. On the one hand, I desperately did not want to be pregnant for a second longer. On the other hand, I was so terrified of giving birth, I preferred the suffering of being pregnant to the thought of the pain labor would cause me. My due date was May 19th, so I just kept telling myself, Just make it to May 20th… After May 20th, none of this will matter, there will be no more pregnancy, there will be no more fear of labor. It will all be done. In addition to my fear of labor, I was afraid that my family would not make it in time to be with me at the hospital. They all were making a trip out from California: My mom would come the week before my due date, then my dad and one of my brothers would come the week after my due date and the three of them would stay through that week.

Well, Mother arrived and that eased my mind, because I was confident I was going to go into labor ‘any day’ and so was every one else who was witness to my enormity [If I had to listen to one more person ask if I was carrying twins….]  But then the first week with my mom went by, and I was still pregnant. Still miserable, and still pregnant. Then a new fear crept into my mind…. What if my mom leaves and I go into labor after her and the rest of my family go back home?! Nowadays, Doctors don’t really let you go 2 weeks past you due date, which is why at my 40 week appointment, they were pushing for induction. Of course, I wanted the baby out of me, and of course I wanted my family to be there with me to experience it, but this did not trump all the horror stories I had heard about inducing labor. See, Hubs and I want an unlimited amount of children. Seriously, there is not cap on how many we are going to have. So if I ended up needing a c-section all because I selfishly induced labor before my time? That could potentially limit how many children I’d be able to bear in the future [for all of you who have had c-sections, v-backs, and 5+ children… Yeah, I know, my fears don’t sound legitimate, but try to put yourself in a first-time-mom’s shoes, who has had a lot of time on her hands to search the internet and scare herself]

The doctors wanted to induce me the day after my due date, but I some how convinced them to come into work, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and induce me then. This allowed for my little Sugar Plum to have a little more time in making her debut, while still allowing for conditions that my OB’s felt comfortable in. I thought Oh yeah, sure , I’ll schedule this induction and Sophie will come the day before…. Nope. She was a stubborn little thing. On Saturday, my in-laws, my husband, my mother and I all sat around our house just waiting for some thing to happen. We ate subway, watched a movie to try and distract ourselves from the imminent induction happening later that afternoon. The induction was scheduled for 5 pm, and most Catholic churches have a 4pm vigil mass [this mean you are not obligated to go the next morning.] So we all went to church, before heading to the hospital. My spiritual director stopped me after the mass and said “Still no baby? Wait– When are you due?” and I replied “Well, I was due 5 days ago, but we’re actually going to the hospital right now so I can be induced” His eyes became wide and he asked, “You’re going to go give birth to this baby at 5 but you wanted to come to mass first? Wow, ok… how about I give you a blessing… a sort of, belly blessing?” Since the anxiety was welling up within me, I was going to take all the blessings I could get.

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Once we arrived at the hospital there was a huge sense of relief. I wasn’t going to have an embarrassing water-breaking situation, I wasn’t going to give birth to my baby in the car on the way to the hospital. No, I was there, I had met all the friendly nurses who would deliver my baby within the next 24 hours. First things first, they jammed that IV into the top of my hand. DEAR GOD how will I survive labor if I can’t even handle how much this IV is hurting me right now?! It was torture. Did I mention I am afraid of needles? Next up, they gave me a cervix softener because I was not dilated AT ALL. I mean honestly, my baby probably had plans to stay inside of me for another 10 days. My body showed no signs of giving birth whatsoever. So, they put in a cervix softener which would allow the nurses to induce with drugs me the next day. When they were explaining how the cervix softeners work, I think they saw the hope in my eyes and promptly said, “Don’t get your hopes up, cervix softeners themselves don’t induce labor, all they do is soften the cervix, just like their called. They rarely EVER start actual labor” Ok whatever, just order me some chicken nuggets I thought. And that’s how the night ended. I ate chicken nuggets with my husband while watching Wolverine, my mom went to the airport to pick up my dad and my brother, and the in-laws went home.

Any pregnant woman [especially in the 3rd trimester] knows that you pretty much have to pee every 30 minutes. Except once you’re in the hospital, you’re hooked up to all kinds of equipment and actually have to have nurses get you out of the bed. I played this potty game with the nurses for awhile [let’s just say, maybe chicken nuggets aren’t the dinner of champions.] At 3 am I got up again to go to the bathroom. As I was washing my hands, I felt liquid running down my leg. Ok I thought I’m not peeing, because I just went pee, but I wasn’t even close to being in labor so I don’t think my water broke… but what else would this be? I called the nurse and told her I thought my water broke “Whaaaat? No, “she said, shaking her head doubtfully, “Maybe you just didn’t wipe well, or maybe you weren’t done peeing.” I’m pregnant, I don’t have dementia I thought, but insisted that my water broke “Try wiping again,” the nurse said, so I did and walked back to the bed, but there was water still streaming behind me “You have to check me, I’m telling you, I think my water broke!” Reluctantly, the nurse checked me [which I can tell you, was not plesant because my cervix hadn’t quite “softened” yet, so it was quite a reach for this nurse to check me…] I winced and could feel a sharp pain then the nurse gasped “WHOA! Your water DID break and now I’m  seeing bloody show! Seriously, cervix softeners never start labor! I just was not expecting that at all!” I was relieved and also terrified. I wasn’t expecting to really do any work until the next morning when they would put me on pitocin. I asked them if I could labor naturally until my scheduled epidural, at 11 am the next morning. Even though my water had broke, I was still a tight 1 cm dilated.  They agreed, but an hour later I was in so much pain I was sobbing. They said they could give me a little pain reliever to help me sleep, so into the IV drip it went. I felt so nauseous the moment I felt the drugs enter my body. I closed my eyes and tried to take deep breaths but the room still felt like it was spinning. Hubs was laying next to me and just held my hand, rubbed my head and affirmed me until I fell asleep. I woke up every 40 minutes or so, but the contractions were no longer a crippling pain, but more like menstrual cramps. Really bad menstrual cramps, but still, nothing compared to the intensity of what I had felt hours ago. We called our parents around 9 am, and they came and brought breakfast for my husband. I told everyone to leave and eat their breakfast in the waiting room, since I was to be starved until this baby came.

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from 10 am until 12:30 I was alone. Not completely alone, there were nurses, and of course the anesthesiologist came and gave me my epidural, but without my husband there I was scared. Justin was not allowed, by hospital policy, to be present during the epidural. It’s classified as a surgery, and everyone in the room must be in scrubs and wearing other approved, surgical garb. Like I said, I’m terrified of needles, so I was shaking with fear. Did I mention you’re supposed to be completely still when they insert that tube into your spine? I really had not wanted my epidural until I was 4 cm dilated [research said you were 50% less likely to need a c-section if you waited] but the anesthesiologist was there and I was only 3 cm. I didn’t want to risk not having an epidural at all, so I let them begin the procedure.  I had no idea how that was going to feel! What if I secretly have some reflex that causes me to convulse the second they put that needle in my spine, causing me to then be paralyzed? Yes, I am quite the epitome of positivity… Everything was fine. A little pinch, then they secured the tube into my back with [what felt like] a whole roll of tape. But wait– I can feel one leg and not the other. “Hmm…” said the anesthesiologist, “…can’t adjust it now *mumbling* Nurse, roll her onto her side, I think the medicine will drip down your spine toward that other half of your body and then you should be fine” Umm SHOULD be fine? Does this man not understand I am going to be pushing out a baby from my private area?! The first thing I told my mom and Justin when they reentered the room was that I could feel everything on my right side. I started to panic. Slowly, I began to feel sensation leaving the right side of my body and my legs began tingling.

The next thing I heard was Hubs ask me “Are you cold?” I was shivering. “Some times epidurals cause people to shiver, but her temperature is actually a little warm,” said the nurse as she put these awesome massage shoes on my feet, “These are to keep circulation going in your feet since you can’t feel them now” My whole body felt heavy, and not just because I was enormously 6 days past my due date, but because I was dead-weight after the epidural could kick in. Hours passed, and I could still feel a slight tingle in my right leg, “You’ll be ok” my husband assured me. My room was a revolving door of my in-laws, my parents, cousins, and aunts. Finally, one of those people happened to be my OB “Just a couple more hours here, and then I think we’ll be able to push! You’re 8 cm!” I was DELIGHTED. No one had told me for hours how I was progressing. My family let Justin and I have time alone to rest up before the pushing. I looked at the clock, it was almost 3 pm. Lord, Please allow my the grace of delivering this baby in the 3 pm hour, the hour of your Passion. 3 pm is known to Catholics as the hour of mercy, it was the hour we chose to get married in 2 years previously, and I had gone into labor at 3 am, 12 hours before. The nurse and OB came into the room and had me, ahem, “assume the position” and at 3 o’clock, I started pushing.

Because my epidural had not completely numbed me, I could feel my child moving out and into this world with every push. I wasn’t in pain, all I could feel was the pressure she was putting on my body. “I’m going to have to give you and episiotomy!” My OB said. Better than a tear, I thought to myself. At 3:15 Sophie Bella was born. I heard her first cry and got to hold her skin to skin. The moment she lie on my chest she stopped crying, blinked a few times and lifted her head up to see me “Look at her lift up her head! The nurse shouted to the doctor “Have you every seen a newborn baby, seconds out of the womb lift up its head?!” Every one was laughing and smiling. Justin could not stop smiling. Then they took our little baby to weigh her and clean her up. Justin and I kissed and he told me about the strong amazonian queen I was. It was wonderful, but I will say this, it’s a strange feeling to be so lovingly connected to your newborn child and husband while a doctor sews up your lady parts. But that is the existing paradox of childbirth ladies! Its gross, its embarrassing, it forces you to surrender all privacy and yet, it’s the most awesome thing you’ve ever done and you’ve never felt more accomplished or in love in your entire life.

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