So the latest trend for young moms these days is to have a “birth story.” They hire a photographer who captures “every perfect moment” and write all about the beautiful experience that having their baby was, then post it for the world to ooo and aahhh about about the beautiful experience. “I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen!” “I never felt more incredible.” “Once I saw his face, I knew I would do it a million times over again, just for him!” All of which might be completely true, but it does not come as easy and wonderfully as it looks!
However, I admit, I am completely guilty of loving these birth stories. When I was pregnant and looking forward to the birth of my own baby, I pretty much stalked every person I knew (and many that I didn’t) and read their stories, saw the beautiful mommy/baby pictures and thought, “I want to do that!” Well. Let’s just start with this. MY birth story was nothing like how those other ladies seemed, but I am getting a sneaking suspicion that they prettied it up and made it sound perfect to the world, keeping the rough edges out. So for the moms out there feeling confused because theirs did not seem picture perfect, or for you mom-to-be’s out there looking for an honest rendition of the “birth story,” I am going to share mine. It might be TMI in some places (
sorry, not sorry) and it is unconventional because I am not going to flower up the day or what my feelings were like…I’m just going to share what happened, even the embarrassing/yucky stuff, I did not have a professional photographer, and of course my baby is already 21 months old, but I have had many people ask me about my birth story and I think it is worth sharing (even if it IS 21 months late!)
I found out I was pregnant in March 2012 and could not have been more surprised, but I was excited. Fast forward to eight and a half months later- the week of Thanksgiving. I went in for a doctor appointment, swollen, gigantic, ugly, miserable, in constant tears and still ridden with morning sickness and finally my doctor gave me the OK to be induced the following Tuesday (November 27th). I showed up at the hospital bright and early, a nervous wreck, still sick with morning sickness, and tired. (Maybe the rest of you are fine, but knowing I was going in to have a baby the next day rendered me completely SLEEPLESS the ENTIRE night before.)
By 7:30 am I was being poked with needles, thank you to the incompetent nurse who can’t find my veins (really? I am pasty white, they are NOT hard to miss…unless you are that nurse, and miss them again and again when trying to put in my IV) and the doctors started up the pitocin.
When I went in to the hospital to begin with, I had already been dilated to a 3. They came back to check every so often to see how things were going, and to say they were moving SLOW is a complete understatement. By noon, I the baby had not moved at all, I had not softened any more than I was when I came in, and my nurse said I was STILL at a 3. I was SO disappointed- although mainly because I had been having these “horrible” contractions and thought I was doing so well, only to find out they were still the “early labor” contractions- meaning they were going to get a LOT worse. (yes, I am a complete wuss and so NOT pain tolerant.)
After that disappointing bit of news they decided to break my water. At this point Tony had decided to go to the store and wasn’t back yet, so I was on my own as the doctor stood there with his massive torture devices saying to close my eyes and I would feel a little pinch. And at that point I am pretty sure there were little bombs going off and shooting out knives in the general area of my cervix, because it was WAY more than a “little pinch” and it WASN’T stopping! He kept moving that horrible thing around saying things like “it won’t catch” and “maybe if I try this way” Uh- SERIOUSLY?? PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING ON THE PLANET STOP!! I swear it was worse than the actual pushing…but then again I did end up getting an epidural… you ladies who go all naural- you are my heroes.
Finally after an hour of torture (maybe it was only thirty seconds, but in MY time it had been a full hour of pain) he decides he needs a different hook and says he will come back. After all that, and they still didn’t break my water? You mean I am still not progressing in labor? Is this baby ever going to come out?? Yes, I seriously thought I wasn’t going to get that baby out of there. Like…what if I was just pregnant forever? Yes, I am being serious. I recognize the fear wasn’t rational or feasible, but when I was there in that position, I believe I was being completely rational. Completely. Definitely rational. 😉
I don’t care if those fears are ungrounded, I was seriously concerned. And I started crying, and since I still had morning sickness I got all stressed and started throwing up. Ugh. Not a pretty sight.
By the time Tony gets back the doctor arrives with the new torture contraption and proceeds to try again. Still no success. Apparently this time it is my fault because I am moving too much? I am pretty sure I just lay there with my eyes shut but whatever they say- so they decide the epidural is going to be the only way they have to break this invincible bag of water…..and out pops this GIGANTIC needle. I mean huge. I am shocked it didn’t go right through me and poke out the front!
The actual shot wasn’t terrible, really I was concerned more about the bolt of lightning that shot down my left side as they put it in, but they assured me that feeling like you were electrocuted was normal. (I don’t think it should ever be a feeling considered ‘normal’) Within minutes I had a marvelous device called a pain pump in my hand, and I think I could have been sleeping on clouds it was so heavenly. Really, they should offer spas or something where you just go and get an epidural and drift off to heaven because the pain difference with or without an epidural is way more than just night and day, it is like the contrast between the lightest part of heaven and the deepest pits of hell. For everyone who is considering an epidural- i cannot speak highly enough of them, despite what people say.
Another few tries to break my water and eventually they got that stubborn Berlin wall to fall! I kept my eyes closed this time, but discovered when I opened them that Tony had gone running from the room, blood drained from his face and his lunch all over his shirt as he spewed at the sight of “his love getting harpooned by a massive crochet hook,” as he puts it.
For those of you wanting to go completely natural, I salute you. There are many wonderful things about doing it that way and you are incredible women. For me, and for those thinking about getting an epidural, I just have to say that it was the best decision I could have made FOR ME because I actually got to ENJOY the birth process of my baby, rather than screaming with pain.
Once I had the pain pump in hand I was floating through the rest of the day, and eventually we rounded up about 8 pm. (At this point, I had been in the hospital for 14 hours!) And discovered I was only dilated to a 5. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Oh I was so mad at that baby for just sitting there, and even more mad at my body for not making way for this kid to come out. I wanted my beautiful mama/baby experience already, dang it!
So I tried a mantra. It sounds crazy. It is crazy. I am a little crazy. But it really worked. Every time I would feel a contraction I would just imagine the baby moving down and out, I did this for two hours and the next time the nurse came in I was FULLY DILATED!! WooHoo! By some miracle of the universe, my mantra had worked!
Now this is where I really started getting embarrassed. They let me sit there for another hour before starting to push to let my body push the baby down a little further on its own when I started to have a horrible fear…don’t laugh guys, but every other mama out there who has delivered vaginally can empathize, but I seriously felt like I just needed to break wind in the worst way, which is surprising because I was so numb I couldn’t even move my legs by themselves- so to have to pass gas that bad that I could STILL feel it through the epidural? I was freaking out. Yes, I was having a baby, that should have been the least of my worries right? It wasn’t. It was all I could think about. Of course I didn’t actually need to far, that was the baby’s head just pushing down, but I didn’t realize that and I was too embarrassed to say anything, and no way was I going to let it happen, so when they came back in to set me up to push, I told the nurse I needed to go to the bathroom first. Of course she said no, I had an epidural, I couldn’t walk, or even move my legs, and besides it was just the baby’s head pushing that area which was causing the need. Of course with my emotional state that basically that just sent me to tears because I knew I was actually going to fart in front of all these people during what was supposed to be the most “beautiful” experience of my life. (Yes, my emotions MIGHT have been a little high that day) They told me to pull my legs back and all I could do was pray and beg my body to let anything escape. Pinch the penny, pinch the penny! (for you girls who understand pageant walking…)
Well, turns out the nurse was right, because no break of air came flying out nor did anything threaten to send the nurses into fits of giggles. I don’t think I have ever thanked God more. And then it was time to push. Lucky for me, that lasted all of about twenty minutes. (Of course this twenty minutes was plagued with horrible questions like, “do you want to touch her head?” “Can I get you a mirror?” “Do you want to hold the bag of water she was in?” No, No, and No. NO.)
On the final push, the doctor discovered her shoulder was stuck, and after determining that I had already had the epidural, pulled out the scissors, made a little incision, then dove in with gloved hand and pulled her the rest of the way out! 12:07 am on November 28th! My beautiful baby was alive!
They set her on me for a nanosecond where her limp, slimy body got me all bloody before they ripped her away and started suctioning. Now I have no idea when I noticed, but at some point I realized that there was one major, key thing missing from this scene. The noise. Where were her screams? Why wasn’t my baby crying? Immediately panic set in and then I heard it, a garbled, low little bellow. Then another one. What in the heck? Was that my baby’s cry? That ugly, grumbling noise? She really sounds like that? Now for a better question….what is wrong with me that the first thing I think of when hearing my baby crying is that it doesn’t sound how I imagined, especially when I was just worrying that she wasn’t crying at all? Was every mom like this or am I just a bad mom? She continued making the little noises and the doctors took her away, concerned that she was grunting rather than crying.
Of course at this point I am completely alone (Tony was with the baby) as I sat there with a bucket underneath me catching all the mess and getting stitched after the destruction that birthing a baby caused. I didn’t even know what she looked like, they took her too fast, let alone what she weighed or if she had hair. The nurses kept going on and on about how big the baby was and how I did such a great job for my first time (I didn’t feel like it), especially with such a massive baby! Um. Did I give birth to the Jolly Green Giant? How big was this little monster? I seriously was freakin’ out that I had birthed this 12 pound baby (not that the weight matters, really I am just self conscious and I didn’t want to be a chubby girl with a chubby baby, because being chubby was my worry instead of giving birth hahahaha. What is wrong with me?)
I texted my parents that I had just had the baby but had no idea what was going on or how much she weighed, and was SHOCKED to get a text back with a picture of my screaming baby with the message “8lbs. 2oz.” Huh, looks like Tony had been updating everyone but the mama, but you know, that is cool…at least I know how much my baby weighs now, right? And not as much of a giant monster as I thought! Big, but not GIGANTIC. Sheesh, dumb nurses had me worried over nothing.
I looked a little closer at the picture and my first thought was……is that what my baby really looks like? Oh no! I am one of those parents with a weird looking baby, I thought for sure she would be so cute! I was so embarrassed because I felt DISAPPOINTED Every other mother I knew thought their baby was so perfect, and here I was thinking my child was ugly. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? I am already a terrible mom, and I haven’t even had her for an hour yet.
At that point emotion overtook me. Despair, anxiety, self loathing, and disappointment. How could I have already screwed up parenting? I just started crying. The sweet midwife kept patting me on the shoulder as I sat there, legs wide open, spotlight right on me so the doctor could stitch me up, and I was sobbing. In everyone else’s birth stories they all seemed so happy, everything was perfect, their babies were beautiful. Not me. I felt lower and more confused than I had ever felt in my life.
Eventually, after much coaxing and some food, I was able to be calm enough to see my baby again. This time I got to get a good look at her. She was bruised, swollen, shiny, covered in flecks of stuff, and had goop all over her eyes and smeared down her face. And I just held her. Honestly the main feeling I had was that I just wanted to put her back inside me where I knew I could take care of her, with the mystery of who she was still lingering. Out here, in my arms, I had NO idea what to do.
As we moved through the next few hours, trying to breastfeed, watching Tony hold her for the first time, making skin to skin contact, I began to feel a warm sense of protection and overbearing affection for this little thing. I couldn’t describe it then, but I suddenly understood how all those moms had been able to create these beautiful birth stories, because they had based it on that feeling that I had right then.
We had several names that we liked, but eventually landed on Sydney Nicole. Deep down, I think she was always going to be a Sydney (topic for another post at another time), but it still took us two days to officially decide that1 Although it may have had something to do with all the guests we had! Overall, even though the actual labor was smooth sailing, I felt that my unconventional style of a birth story was important to share because it is the way that I first became a mother, and that part of me is largely what inspires who I am now! After 21 months, those memories still feel as fresh as if they were yesterday, even though my little stink has grown so much! I miss the baby days, but it is really amazing to watch her grow. I mean, how could you not love that face?!
Update: If you want to read Emilia’s birth story or watch her birth video, you can find that post here!