I’m in love with birth stories. To be fair I only discovered blog birth stories after my own little one’s birth. I think there’s something spiritual during a birth that unites all mommies together. So, if you’re a lover of birth stories like I am…enjoy. If not, you’ve been warned.
At 39 weeks, I was des-pe-rate to not be pregnant anymore. Despite an awful first/second trimester (yay puke....), my last trimester had actually been great (my DI team had even won 5th place at the regional tournament!). Still…unless you’ve experienced the need to pee every. two. minutes, you don’t understand how BADLY I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore.
So of course we walked, ate spicy foods, bounced on the birthing ball …and I couldn’t sneeze without thinking it was time.
Literally the longest week of my life.
After a day of fasting for Good Friday (thank you husband for doing the actual fasting!), my husband and I finally admitted to ourselves that baby must not be ready. So after a week of painful Braxton Hicks, we decided to let go and let God.
Saturday, Holy Saturday, 6am, I woke up to baby knocking on my cervix.
I’d read that if you really want a natural birth at a hospital, you should take your time getting there. So against the wishes of a concerned husband and mom (who consequently was flying from NY to TX at the time), I took my sweet time. I showered , did my hair, packed last minute things…and leaned over the sink/bed/husband because I was contracting every three minutes. But I knew I wasn’t working yet, so no worries.
When my husband FINALLY got me out the door… I was working. Smiles were gone. Deep, slow breaths and silence was how we drove the whole 30 minutes to the hospital. It was perfect. It was part of our plan.
The moment they checked me, I was 3 measly cm. I started panicking; how on EARTH was I gonna make it without pain meds if I was just 3cm? After an hour and a half of walking the hospital, I jumped from 3cm to 7cm. Just hearing 7cm gave me the courage to push through.
We labored for what felt like both minutes and days at the same time (in reality, from 6am to pushing, it was more like 7hrs). Mark totally earned his stripes as a Birthing Coach. After fasting the day before, and heading straight to the hospital that morning, he had zero food…but was calm, comforting, and spoke confidence into me through every. awful. contraction. What a man. Obviously I never acknowledged it at the time…but I couldn’t have made it without him.
The entire labor was a blur of pain and breathing. But I felt in control. We had a system to working through the contractions, our nurses were amazing and never got in the way, and we were mostly pain med free (I was taking an occasional sniff of the laughing gas, but it made me nauseous…soooo no). I was working with the contractions just like we’d planned.
I felt that primitive urge to push it OUT, and about half an hour later, everyone started shouting “Look at all that hair!”
But then her head came out and the delivery room changed instantly. The cord was around her neck and constricting the farther she came. God bless my awesome doctor…she was clamped, cut, and I was pushing out her shoulders in seconds. But it was silent.
They put her on my chest, but only long enough for me to see a blue, silent, not-breathing baby. I started asking no one in particular what was wrong, was she ok, why couldn’t I hear her. A billion doctors came into my little room, and I prayed. I begged her to cry.
Then a tiny meow came from across the room. With lots of effort, she was giving me her darnedest. People were telling me about fluid in the lungs and precautionary x-rays. I just wanted her safe and with me. But I accepted just safe, so long as Daddy was with her. They let me give her a quick kiss and my husband followed a team of doctors out of the room.
I waited. Alone. Aside from the doctor who was stitching me up. None of this was part of the birth plan. We were going to do delayed cord clamping. I was supposed to hold her to my chest before they could even clean her. They were going to leave her on me during my entire hour-long recovery, then wheel us together to our own private room.
Instead I was clinging to my phone while the doctor quietly went about his work. Knowing Daddy was watching her was comforting…but I was supposed to be her first cuddle. She should have been in my arms, smelling my smell. I spent the next hour alone and waiting. While my precious little one, who I’d held in my belly for 9 Months but saw for a half second, went through needles and scans without Momma’s comfort.
The worst hour of my life.
I was finally wheeled up to the NICU to see her, and…sweet babe that she is…she wailed me in. She has SOME pipes. But she was beautiful and healthy and LOUD! Ever since she’s been making up for not crying right out of the gate.
Looking around that NICU, with my chunky, observant, boisterous baby, Mark and I were almost embarrassed by how lucky we were. All around us were babies smaller than a hand. Parents were anxious. Exhausted. Scared. I had one hour of panic. They’d had days, weeks, months…and they weren’t getting their roly baby in just a few hours.
After four more hours, we got Maria back for good (you couldn’t pry her away from me with a crowbar…just ask my mother!…sorry mom…). I cuddled, squeezed, kissed (experienced the horrors of first-time nursing! But that’s another story…), and I felt so incredibly grateful that she was alive and HEALTHY. Those first moments of our new family all alone in the hospital room, Mark and I kept thinking about the babies still in there. About the mommies and daddies not able to cuddle their babes. We almost felt guilty. But she was with us. And we were all together. And I prayed for all those mommas still waiting.
And then Mark ate for the first time in 24 hours.