After the jump is MAC's birth story, for your reading pleasure! If you think it might be TMI, you know what to do.
|Mhmm. That would be me, taking a selfie on the birthing ball.|
I woke up on April 3rd, 2013, (37 weeks, 3 days) feeling crappier than usual. Something seemed "off" down there, but I wasn't sure if my water had broken or not. I regularly tell people that I wasn't a "gusher," like what you'd expect when your water breaks. I got ready for work like usual, but I was moving slow all morning. I kept telling my co-workers that I had a feeling that I was "going to go sooner rather than later." I had been keeping Haywee, my work BFF, abreast of the situation. She tends to be higher strung than I, so she had been telling other co-workers to keep an eye on me. Again, I kept checking myself, trying to determine if I was leaking amniotic fluid or if it was just the doctor's appointment the day prior that had thrown everything off. I was dilated 2 cm and 75% effaced the day prior, but I understood that some people could be dilated for weeks/months before they actually gave birth. I didn't want to be one of those people who goes to the hospital multiple times for false alarms. Plus, my hospital told us that we'd have to preregister over again if I went to the hospital and it wasn't the real deal. I did what anyone would do these days, and Googled up a storm, trying to figure out what I was dealing with. The results seemed mixed, so I just continued on about my day.
Come third period, I'm sitting at the front of the room on my stool, discussing the bellwork and explaining to the students what they were going to do for the period. As I was sitting there, I could feel myself leaking more and more. Fortunately, my long-term substitute had been there shadowing me to learn how I operate. After yet another trip to the bathroom, it was clearly time to go to the hospital. I called down to our secretary and let her know that I needed to leave. They found coverage for Haywee, who drove me in my car back to the house to grab our bags, then straight to the hospital. I didn't want to text or FB anything at this point, because I wanted to make sure that this was indeed happening. I shot DH a message (he was out of town, over an hour away) and let him know what was going on, and fortunately he was able to leave relatively quickly and drive back to meet us at the hospital.
|Haywee and I, sending photos to co-workers! Labor is GO!|
I got checked into triage and sure enough, we had amniotic fluid! I was to be moved into a birthing room where we'd get this show on the road! I managed to talk my way into a room with a whirlpool tub, although that later turned out to be a bust. Once in the room, I had my birthing ball, my DH, and my two BFFs there. My doctor popped in to see how everything was going, and while my water had broken, the fact that I wasn't in active labor made me susceptible to infections/bacteria. The normal course of action would be pitocin to get things moving along. I wasn't prepared for this news, as I'd set out to have a natural birth with minimal interventions. I struggled with the decision to go for the pitocin or not, knowing that it typically leads to an epidural, which I really wanted to avoid. I kept looking around the room for input, but eventually opted to go for the pitocin (at 1 PM) for the safety of my baby. At that point, getting into the tub wouldn't be an option, as I'd be tethered to the IV drip. I was still able to bounce on my birthing ball though, and that combined with rhythmic breathing were my main strategies for pain management.
The setting was very peaceful. We had a bright, sunny room with lots of natural light flooding through the windows. My nurse was calm, collected, and had a wealth of experience that clearly shown through her mannerisms. She had a student nurse with her at any given time, including one on her first day - lucky her! My doctor would pop in to check on me, but most of the time it was just my support team and I, watching "Let's Make a Deal" while I breathed through my contractions.
|Still smiling through the pain!|
Finally, at about 5 to 6 cm, I was prompted again regarding the epidural. The medical team was ready to support me either way, and I appreciated the no-pressure approach. At that point, I looked to DH again for reassurance. I wanted to be strong and birth naturally, but the pain was getting to the point where I was ready to throw in the towel. They gave me some temporary relief while I waited thirty minutes or so for the anesthesiologist. I opted for the spinal epidural, which was said to work the fastest. At this point, no more birthing ball - I'd have to remain in bed. My doctor predicted we'd have a baby within an hour after the epidural. The epidural really worked wonders. I could feel pressure, but no pain. Couldn't even feel the catheter. Meanwhile, DH and the BFFs were watching my contractions on the screen and remarking at how huge they were. I was blissfully unaware. :)
The doctor and the nurse returned and let me know it was time to push. Again, the attitude in the room was very calm and straightforward. The doctor instructed me how to push, which was an interesting sensation since I couldn't feel anything. After the first round of four pushes, I asked if I was doing it right. Seriously, you can't feel yourself pushing. I just felt like I was making "the pushing sound" and not really doing anything, but apparently I was right on the money. DH was at my side, watching my progress, the girls were by my head, offering encouraging words. The doctor would watch the screen, wait for a contraction, and then tell me to push. I knew I was close when the girls started holding their breath and mumbling more.
|My darling little girl!|
Less than an hour later, after maybe 30 to 45 minutes of pushing, MAC was born at 6:44 PM. It was surreal, finally birthing this baby I'd been carrying for so long. I probably asked something like, "What is it?!" A girl, just as her daddy always suspected. Just as we'd come to refer to our unborn child for many weeks. She measured 7 lbs, 2.2 oz, and was 19.75" long.
We remained in the birthing room for an hour or so, doing initial skin-to-skin bonding time, as well as breastfeeding. "Surreal" is the best way to describe how I felt in that moment. I didn't know what to expect, and I'd always read other stories about the rush of emotions. I just kept thinking how crazy it was that we had a baby. That I had just given birth to a baby. We all knew it was going to happen, and that day was finally here. The rush of emotions would come later for me - pregnancy hormones were nothing in comparison to the waterworks I'd experience postpartum!
Now, I sit with a three week old baby, sleeping on my chest in her carrier. The learning curve of being a parent has been humbling and challenging, but the reward couldn't be greater. The photo roll on my iPhone has quadrupled since she came around, as we've captured every new expression, every cute cloth diaper, and every impromptu family photo that we can. My days are an endless cycle of feeding and changing, with stretches of sleep in two and three hour increments. As each day passes it all becomes a lot more "do-able," juggling personal time, household management, chores, and caring for my precious little one. We have a long way to go, but we're on the road to get there and loving every minute of it.
I leave you with this - nothing is more powerful than that moment in which you understand the unconditional love of a parent, and know that you, too, were loved with that same sort of passion.
Thank you all for your well wishes and congratulations on the birth of my dear, sweet daughter! If you enjoy these sorts of photos, follow me on Instagram, where MAC makes a regular appearance!