[NOTE: I omitted a lot of the squeamish parts of labor and delivery but if you have any particular questions, I am so okay with answering them in the comments. Like, did I really encapsulate my placenta? Sure did!]
I feared a lot throughout my pregnancy. It was ridiculous, really. I am naturally a very anxious person and pregnancy only heightened that for me. My decision to go with a midwife instead of an OB/GYN didn’t help the situation either. The midwifery philosophy means trusting the woman’s body to do what it needs to do to nurture baby in-utero without much intervention. While some women may get ultrasounds at every prenatal appointment, I had one at 20 weeks. I was in the dark throughout most of my pregnancy. Instead of trusting my body, I questioned if everything was okay. If she didn’t move, I’d freak out. If she moved too much, I’d freak out. I was in panic mode 24/7. The crazy thing is, the only time I really trusted my body was when I was going through labor.
My water broke when I was polishing my nails. But of course, right? I flew out of the beauty room to Esposo. My pants were to my ankles and I was running back and forth like some maniac. We decided to call the midwife and they recommended that I come in ASAP so they could test me to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid. I just knew I was wasting my time. Because obviouslyyyyy, my water didn’t break. I just peed on myself. That’s it.
But we hopped in the car and drove the midwife and within 20 minutes I had my legs spread all open for the world to see.
“You’re having a baby today.” said the midwife.
I tossed myself in Denial River again.
“Wait, wha?…no. No. Like..not today. How do you know? Is this real life?”
We were told to go back home so that I could labor there and to come back in 4 hours. I tested positive for Group B Strep and had to have an antibiotic. Which also ruled me out of that glorified water birth that I wanted. Womp. We got home and I threw myself in the nook of the sofa and then labored on my labor ball. Esposo kept glancing at me and was steadily asking me if I needed anything. He was so calm. So so calm. I was fine. I couldn’t understand why people said labor was sooo hard. If these were contractions (mind you, that hadn’t started yet), I was doing amaziiiing.
10 minutes later I was on the floor on all fours moaning and groaning. I’d go from the floor to rolling on my yoga ball. The contractions were in, ladies and gentlemen. And those mofos hurt. The only respite I got was the few minutes between contractions. Those minutes were glorious. I timed my contractions. 3-4 minutes apart. I got so uncomfortable that I crawled up to the bed. The contractions got worse. And worse. And worse. I hummed throughout them. I focused on my breathing. I got that from reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. That book spoke to my hippie soul. It is chock full of birth stories where the women were having babies in cabins and in the woods and all of that craziness. That’s so me. I’d have a baby in a cabin. Yep.
Esposo began packing up the car. He told me I should try to eat something before we left. Good idea. Each step I took killed me. I winced in pain. I continued to hum. Being upright was the worst. I somehow made it to the car and we took the 15 minute trek to the birthing center. Each bump made me want to hurl. I kept timing my contractions. 2 minutes apart and there weren’t many breaks in between.
We made it to the birthing center and they got us settled in the room. The midwife checked me and I was already 5 centimeters dilated. This baby was coming. And I was dying. My Mom was nowhere to be found because earlier that day she told me that she had gotten dreadfully ill and that I simply couldn’t have the baby today. How could my Mom not be there through this? My doula was on her way but I just knew she wouldn’t make it either.
In my head I was cursing up a storm. Out of my mouth, all I could do was hum and say, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouuuuuuch.” Over and over again. The sweet nurse brought me ice cold water.
“I’m going to throw up.” I told her.
She brought me a pan and I threw up. I knew I was probably going through transition and that shortly after barfing, the pain would only intensify. I tried to stay calm. I asked Esposo to rub my back.
“Get off of me.” I tell him seconds later.
I was loosing it. The pain was out of control. Now that I look back at it, the contractions were painful but manageable. I suffered from painful menstrual cramps my entire life and so my pain tolerance is pretty up there. The real pain came from the perineal massage that my midwife gave me during those contractions. I wanted to kick her in her chin each time she told me to relax as she tried to massage the nether regions. I knew that she was only doing this to help prevent me from tearing but I was an animal at that point. I just wanted that baby out and I didn’t want anyone touching me.
If you’re not familiar with childbirth, when a baby is ready to come out, you push as if you have to take a poop. It’s the weirdest feeling because not only are you dealing with the pressure from baby bearing down, but you’ve also got those contractions kicking. It’s hard to focus and stay calm but I pushed and pushed and pushed and Baby Elle was born into the world at 5: 27pm. I was in active labor for 5 hours and I pushed for 17 minutes. My labor went so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to rip my shirt and bra off.
My labor and delivery is considered speedy for a first time mom and quite frankly, after everything was said and done, I felt like I deserved an effing award. Soooo many people told me I was crazy for having a baby in a birthing center without the option of an epidural and pain meds. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have changed anything. Because Elle was considered small at 5 lbs, the birthing center recommended that we go to the hospital (uggghhhh) to have her fully examined. We were hesitant to do this because her Apgar scores were already high at a 9 and 10 and we just knew the hospital would give us a bunch of run around. And we were right. We spent hoursssss at the hospital. Just for them to tell us what we already knew. Our baby was healthy. Just small with a touch of jaundice. This detour to the hospital prevented Elle and I from really practicing her latch when it came to breastfeeding. It also resulted in two overwhelmed and fatigued first time parents who wanted nothing more than to just take their baby home.
So yes, while my labor and delivery was “perfect”, the events that followed were not. But it doesn’t matter. Baby Elle is here and she’s happy and healthy.
I always considered myself to be a strong woman, both physically and mentally. Giving birth to my daughter gave me a new badge of honor. I left that birthing center so so soooo proud of myself. Yes, I was terrified that my baby decided to come 3 weeks early and I was soooo sad that family members and friends couldn’t make it but the pride I had in myself trumped the sadness and fear that enveloped me during labor.
And not to sound like some superwoman, but pregnancy, labor and delivery are all easy compared to the struggle that came with breastfeeding and dealing with those postpartum hormones. THAT’S the part that people don’t tell you about. Stay tuned for more posts on life with baby. I know Clumps is a beauty blog but I think it’s important to normalize conversations like breastfeeding and the not so bubbly parts about being a first time mom. And if you could care less about that kind of stuff and would rather read about cosmetics, then hey, it’s all good too. I promise not to overload the blog with baby stuff. Maybe once a week or so.