Hard to believe it, but David and I became parents four days ago! How did that happen? It’s the strangest feeling. For 40 weeks and 2 days we thought about it, prepared as best we could and waited for B-Day! On Tuesday morning I went to my scheduled maternity appointment. I had been feeling awful the entire week before, particularly on Monday when the sciatica pain was pretty harsh and I wasn’t sure if my water had broken. Some people get a gush, others a trickle. In all honestly, I just didn’t know if I’d peed myself.
Note: You’re the one that clicked on “birth story”. That comes with details, including pee!
Given that we weren’t 100% sure whether the water had broken and tests were inconclusive, my doctor sent me to the hospital to get induced. “You mean we’re having our baby today?” I asked. “Or tomorrow morning,” the doctor smiled. And I proceeded to cry… in fear. I suddenly realized, more than ever before, that we’d made this completely irreversible decision. I wasn’t necessarily regretting it, but I was scared shitless.
It was really happening! David, Mum and I rushed home to eat a quick lunch (my last meal for 16 hours), put the final things in our bags, then head to the hospital.
I was in triage for maybe an hour, then we were able to get our own labour and delivery room quite quickly. I got dressed into my Gownie, a pink polka dot hospital gown I’d ordered online, and settled in. Some people might have called it a frivolous $20 purchase, but I have to admit it made me feel good. Considering I could only control ONE thing about the experience, I’m glad I did, and I got lots of compliments from the nurses.
I was given a drip of Oxytocin to induce the contractions. Apparently, because it’s drug-induced, you get the contractions faster and harder than usual. I lasted two hours with just the Entynox (gas and air), then I gave in and was ALL about the epidural. It’s pretty hard to sit extremely still while they’re shoving a long needle in your back, but with the alternative being a spinal headache, I tried to be zen.
Epidurals… rock. Oh man, I was finally able to relax, lean back, let it pass.
At one point, while David was off getting food, the nurse asked me to roll to my left side. Then back to my right. Then could I get on all fours. It happened in slow motion. People kept filling the room. The doctor was paged, they put an oxygen mask on me and I just remember looking at my Mom in fear. David suddenly appeared back (my Mom magically texted him amidst all the drama), and things began to calm in the room. The baby’s heart rate had dropped, likely related to the Oxytocin levels and perhaps a complication with the umbilical cord.
It continued to happen. I’m guessing maybe about 8 times throughout labour. Though we mostly controlled it through my position, the doctor had to drop the Oxytocin levels to almost nothing as the baby wasn’t coping with it. Everyone kept encouraging me to sleep while I could, but the idea of waking up to another one of the heart drops was not something I could bear. Nobody wants to wake to beeping alarms and six people surrounding you. Not even a sleep deprived woman in labour.
As things progressed, the epidural had done a great job of relieving the pain, but not the pressure. Every contraction started to make me feel like I was going to pee myself. Every. Single. One. Who would ever have thought that for me contractions would feel like I’d been on a 10-hour bus ride with a broken toilet. Urgh.
Finally, when the pressure became too much and I was fully dilated, it was time to push. This was around midnight, or thereafter, so whatever we were having, our baby would officially be a Capricorn.
Pushing… SO. NOT. FUN. Some women have to be told when to push as their epidural has completely numbed them. This was definitely not the case with me. I felt it all. Everything. After the first three contractions, I was definitely in tears, fearing how long this was going to last. At one point I cried out, feeling that my stomach was going to rip in two. And that happened on a BREAK between contractions, so rest was not happening.
Sorry David, but I have to out you here, he did get queasy at one point. I don’t blame him. The room was hot, I’m sure there were odd smells and it can’t be fun seeing your partner in such pain. It was short-lived, however, as he regained composure and was like my coach in the corner of the ring, laying cool, wet cloths on my forehead during the breaks. For those of you ladies who might end up feeling your contractions, wet cloths work wonders at focusing you, even for a second, on something else.
I could tell when things were finally kicking into high gear as there were more nurses in the room, the doctor stayed put and they’d put on the light for the baby warmer. Oh… and the fact that I was in full blown terrifying pain. That too.
Panic set in. I’m pretty sure I cried out at one point that I just couldn’t do it anymore. Little late at this point, I know, but I was genuinely feeling like I couldn’t take it any more. I don’t remember this part, so I’m going off of David’s memory, but at one point he says everyone was cheering me on saying, “You’re doing great!” My snarky response? “You all say that, but I don’t believe a single one of you.”
I’m a pessimist.
I can’t recall the final pushes beyond the unimaginable pain. Feeling like I was going to rip in two, I finally felt the baby’s shoulders come out and the rest just followed. David was given the job of announcing, “It’s a boy!” and I was just in shock. Shaking. Crying. Stunned.
Our baby had essentially pooped in the womb, which while it sounds funny, can be pretty serious. We’d hoped to have David cut the cord and let it pulse for a while (to get more iron into the baby’s system), but they needed to get him cleaned up quick, particularly to make sure there was no meconium in his lungs.
“Why isn’t he crying?” I said at some point, still in shock, still shaking, still in denial about what had just happened to my body.
And then he cried. Wailed. It’s gotta be hard to come into the world. David cried. My Mum cried. I just stared.
David went to watch all the work being done on our baby while my Mum stayed with me. “I can’t believe you did this twice,” I’m pretty sure I said to her, though I can’t recall exactly. I thanked her for being with me throughout, but she brushed it off as though it had been nothing. Honestly, without David and Mum there, I don’t know what the experience would have been like. You need support people.
We knew the name of our baby in advance, for either gender.For the purpose of this blog, we will call him J. Baby J. They laid his sticky, wet body on my chest and we were skin to skin for about half an hour. Weird being stitched up throughout that process (painful!), and because I couldn’t move much, I couldn’t really see his face. Everyone said he was gorgeous, but I could only see his slimy butt. It was a cute butt, at least.
I can’t recall exactly what happened next. Stitches. The first trip to the bathroom. Attempting to walk. And in what seemed like no time at all, after some tea and toast, J and I were wheeled down the hall to the post-partum ward. David and Mum had to say goodbye and I was left in a room with J.
I have no shame in saying that I looked at the nurse and cried. What now? I was supposed to be responsible for this little kid, the whole night? No. I couldn’t. I panicked again. I hadn’t slept in about 36 hours. They offered to take him to the nursery for me, and I accepted. My first guilt trip as a mother kicked in. I felt I’d abandoned my kid already, but I was sobbing and shaking from the shock of what had just happened.
Seeing as this was at 5:30, by 7:00 he was back. I still hadn’t slept, but my body had lain still and I was processing.
Our first 24 hours together was busy. Tests. Breastfeeding class. Feedings. More tests. IV. Shower. Visitors.
Come midnight, having still not slept (we were running at about 48 hours), I had to ask the nurse to take him back to the nursery overnight. Again, guilt, but I hadn’t slept and was just sobbing my heart out. I felt guilty for not being able to take care of my child.
And then I slept. For seven hours. When I woke up, there was no feeling like it. I was so excited at the thought of the nurses brining my boy back to me. I rushed to get ready, dressed, teeth brushed and waited for my kid. We had a great cuddle, then I noticed the sound of jingling. Santa had arrived. It was, after all, Christmas Eve. I had gotten the best present of all.
By the afternoon we were heading home. Longest car journey of my life, but we made it home in one piece. Now we just need to settle into our life as a family of three and see what happens. I have a feeling that guilt is going to be a regular thing from now on, sleep will be key to feeling like I can cope, and this kid is always going to teach me something new.
Welcome to the world, J. We love you already more than words can say.