I have known this beautiful mama since I was in the sixth grade. She is my oldest friend. The telling of her story is funny, messy and beautiful. I’ve heard elements of it before but I loved reading the entire story, I hope you will too.
It was Monday, August 31st and I was three days past my due date. I’d been married for 10 months, pregnant for 9 of them, and I was over it. Not knowing what to expect but still pretty sure I knew it all, I’d been to the hospital, not once, not twice, but three times, positive I was in labor. I was wrong. Mild contractions; not dilated enough. Go on home. I didn’t want to be at home anymore. All I did was sweat and eat frozen yogurt. I was a 200 pound mass of anxiety, sweat, exhaustion, and annoyance and I was tired of waiting.
The day before, I begged my husband to get me out of the house. We went, against his better judgement, on a day trip to Camden, SC. We toured old homes, meandered down a mostly closed Main Street, had a mediocre lunch where I barely fit into the booth, and tramped across Revolutionary War battle sites. I would walk this baby out if I had to. We made it home that evening without incident. No baby. No contractions. No sleep.
Our last day before baby in Camden. Pretty much sums up how I felt.
I don’t remember exactly when the pains started, it was sometime that Monday. They built and built, as contractions do, throughout the day. My mom stopped by after work and I was already breathing heavily and in pain. The pain wasn’t what I was expecting. I envisioned holding my tummy, doing some breathing techniques, grimacing a bunch, and saying things like, “oh no, it’s eased a bit.” Instead I got vicious, angry cramping and squeezing across and down my back. It was fierce and ferocious and like nothing I’d ever felt. I honestly did not think I was in labor. This must be the build-up to the actual labor pains, I kept thinking to myself. My husband wanted to go to the hospital but I kept putting him off. All I could think was that they would send me home again and I couldn’t bear it a fourth time.
At 2:00am, my husband called the doctor. The doctor said it sounded like back labor (totally did not know back labor was a thing) and that I should rock back and forth on all fours (WTF?!) to alleviate some of the pain. So there I was, at 2:00am Tuesday morning, rocking back and forth on our sofa while my husband napped beside me. I was dying for sleep and watching him close his eyes made me weep.
At 3:00am, he walked me to the car and drove me to the hospital. I was admitted and examined and clocked in at 4 centimeters. Hallej-freakin-ulah! They were not going to send me home. I was going to have a baby. They were going to get me some drugs.
They rolled me from triage to a birthing room and administered the epidural around 4:00 or 5:00am. It all started to blur together after that giant shot but I do remember the epidural as the GREATEST THING EVER! After that injection, I closed my eyes and rested. It was heaven.
I dozed off and on that morning until around 6:00 when I was checked. “Things are looking good,” they said. “I bet we have a baby around 9:00am.”
At 9:00, they gave me some Pitocin to “move things along.” Alrighty, that’ll pick up. I bet we have a baby around noon.
At noon, they had to break my water. Meconium was present in the water which meant no skin-to-skin post-delivery. The baby would have to be taken and checked. Okay, fine, I thought, just get the baby out!
I was rotated from side to side. At one point, a giant rubber peanut was placed between my knees, you know, to open things up. I was ajar at best.
4:00pm. Mom’s ready. You can start pushing now. We’ll have a baby in no time. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed. No baby. The head just wouldn’t scoot out from behind my pelvis. Keep pushing.
Everyone was helpful and supportive and cheering me on. One of the nurses tied the sheet into a rope with a big knot I could brace myself against while pushing. Two nurses braced and pushed against my legs for leverage. My husband held my hand and kept me (mostly) sane. Breathe, you’re doing great!
At one point I spiked a fever.
Someone told me the baby had blonde hair. It does? It’s blonde? I asked. Yes, would you like us to hold up a mirror so you can see? I absolutely did not want that. It sounded very gross down there.
The clock in the delivery room was rapidly approaching 6:00pm. I had been pushing for about 2 hours and the baby was still in the birth canal. I was tired, shaking, and either on the verge of tears or outright sobbing, I have no idea.
The next part happened so quickly I don’t even think I knew they were doing it but the doctor had to suction the baby out. I don’t know how but in my mind, a toilet plunger type apparatus was attached to the head and the baby yanked. Whatever it was, it worked and at 6:00 Tuesday evening, my husband looked at the baby (who came out sunnyside up) and then looked down at me and announced, “It’s a boy!” My most vivid memory of that moment is of watching his cheeks puff out on the “b” of boy. The word looked strange coming out of his mouth and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the information. I was positive the baby was a girl. The idea that I now had a son sounded as foreign to me as the word “boy” did coming from my husband’s lips. I struggled to process the unexpected.
He was taken away almost immediately. The meconium had to be cleaned and his cephalohematoma on his head, from the suction, had to be checked.
My parents were in the waiting room. Since we opted not to find out the gender, it was my husband’s dream to burst into a waiting room and announce what we had and that everyone was doing fine (I am positive this daydream of his takes place in black and white and everyone is wearing suits and hats and smoking). I told him to go tell my parents they had a new grandson.
Now I have to share the best part (besides the baby) of this whole story. If you get grossed out, stop here. During the chaos of labor and delivery, I learned, or realized, that there’s really no room for embarrassment. Everyone is everywhere and all up in your business but it doesn’t matter. The goal, for all parties involved, is to safely get the baby out. When my cervix was getting checked, I was a little uncomfortable but whatever. When the hospital gowns that don’t close get tossed and turned during labor, eh, whatever. When I looked down at one point and saw the doctor holding a small silver bowl, I asked her what it was for and she told me I was pooping. I was a little grossed out but too tired to care. None of that phased me. Now, however, the doctor had to stitch me up which she was doing, quickly and efficiently. However, I was tired, I was drugged, and my lower body had been pretty traumatized by the miracle of childbirth. My body delivered this beautiful little boy. My body also wouldn’t stop farting. I was mortified. There I was, lying on the delivery bed, still completely numb below the waist with no muscle control and the doctor sitting between my legs, and I just kept farting right in her face. I couldn’t stop it, I couldn’t even feel it, but I could hear them coming, one after another, after another. Those post-natal farts still echo in my memory.
My baby, John, was a precious gift for his dad and I. Now, he’s a funny, impish, almost 2 year old with a big personality and a 6 month old brother…which is a very different story.
The purpose of the Birth Story series is to help all mama’s see the magic and the miracle of their story, no matter what their story is. I’d love to share yours! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To read other birth stories visit the Features page here.