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Birth Story

June 27, 2014

I had a long early labor with jarring starts and stops. The contractions- though I wasn’t sure that’s what they were at the time- started Wednesday night. By Friday I was dilated 2cm. They hooked me up to a monitor at the doctor’s office for 20 minutes to confirm that the tightenings I felt were indeed contractions, but of course I didn’t have a single one. The doctor sent us on a walk, suggesting we eat breakfast and come back to see if I would progress at all. I didn’t, though I did have a contraction as we were walking out the door.

Despite my lack of regular contractions or progression, Dr. C predicted we’d have a baby by the end of the weekend. Even so, I was disappointed to leave his office and head home.

I tried not to think about it. I tried not to time every contraction- ha. I listened when my doula, Shelly told me to just go about my life and ignore them until I couldn’t anymore. Again- ha.

That night for dinner we walked down the street to a little pop up- Gypsy Eats. I had the veggie plate, which was dahl, vegan korma, and a salad, with homemade strawberry soda on the side. Absolutely heavenly and just what I needed. We spoke briefly to the owner who told me how she’d loved giving birth. I’m sure my eyes were wide as I said, “Even the actual birthing part?!” It hit me how scared I was. She smiled and said yes.

My contractions picked up again that night but every time I was about to wake Cyrus they slowed down. By mid-afternoon on saturday nothing had changed. Dr. C even told me that if they didn’t either become more regular or stop he would prescribe a glass or two of wine to help cool them off.

Something finally changed around 5pm. I stopped being able to move through the contractions. I actually had one in the middle of the yard and had to yell for Cyrus to come help as I tried to focus on my breathing while leaning over the green bin. We were still thinking it wasn’t real yet, ridiculous in hind sight. Everyone else seemed to know more than we did. Shelly kept offering to come over and at one point, when I wasn’t answering phone, my mom went straight to the hospital convinced that’s where we were. Cyrus clued in before I did- maybe I was in denial?- and convinced me that it would be a good idea for Shelly to come over.

We chatted for a while, with occasional breaks to count through contractions. The original plan had been to go to Dr. C’s office where he would check me and give me the first course of antibiotics. (I’d tested positive for Strep B.) Then we would check into a hotel near the hospital and labor there. The idea was the less time in the hospital the better.

Then I started throwing up.

And up.

And up.

There was no more talking, no more joking around, just the sound of Shelly’s beautiful voice counting me through the contractions. All of a sudden I didn’t care a lick about being in the hospital too long. I didn’t have any interest in the plan. I just wanted to get in one place and stay there. Dr. C gave us specific instructions to skip triage, go right to labor and delivery, and not to let anybody check me until he got there.

This is where it gets cloudy for me. I kept my eyes closed in the car and stayed focused on Shelly’s voice in my head. Getting into the hospital was rough. I would shuffle a few steps, then have a contraction and have to stop. We waited at L&D long enough that I started throwing up again. They gave me clear plastic bags. How’s that for a picture?

We made it into the room to the rhythm of, shuffle shuffle contract barf. Dr. C came in just as we were getting settled. He checked me- 6cm! If I hadn’t been having near constant contractions I’d have been thrilled. Then he told me that the room he’d wanted for me had a bigger bathtub and that we should move. I was so not into moving.

“One more contraction, then let’s go.”

He wasn’t kidding so Cyrus packed up our stuff.

That one more contractions turned out to be two in a row. Like an extremely painful roller coaster, right when you think you’re at the bottom and done with the drops, you start going up again. After that passed we shuffle-shuffle-contract-barfed our way down the hall to the other room where I was able to get into the tub.

Another note: When planning this whole birth thing I couldn’t imagine that I would get naked, but as soon as they offered the warm water I ripped off my dress in front of everyone, nat geo boobs, 70’s bush and all.

I looked forward to the relief I expected to get from the water, but it never came. The contractions only got worse. At one point I thought, “Maybe if I start pushing things will speed up”, so with the next contraction I did exactly that and it worked. When I asked if there was any way I could hurt myself doing that the answer was yes, if you push and your body isn’t ready, you could.

Shelly asked the nurse if she could grab the doctor to check me again. He wasn’t planning on coming back for a few hours. She hesitated but Shelly and Cyrus were insistent so she did. He came in doubtful, then he checked me and there was Eli. Zero station, 10cm dialated. (Those two contractions I had back to back earlier? Yep, transition.) Cedar’s doesn’t allow births in the bathtub so he gave me 2 more contractions before getting out. My water broke during the first one. The contractions were coming so fast and hard that as soon as I stepped on the floor I dropped into a squat and pushed. I was surprised because it was all quite cerebral. I was aware and actively involved in everything. I had expected just the opposite. I thought my body would take over instead of having to be told by my conscious brain what to do.

They got me to the bed. I was lying on my back. My doctor had no shoes on. A nurse had my right leg. I told her to stop touching me. I wanted to turn onto my side. They told me there wasn’t time. This baby was coming. Pushing was harder than I expected, again, not so instinctual. Bless my friends who told me that the pushing should be like trying to poop. I got that part right at least, so my pushes were effective. I told them to cut him out. I told them to push him back in. They told me no. They asked if I wanted to touch his head. I didn’t. Then they told me to pull him out. I did.

I pulled him out and right up to my chest. He was quiet, but alert.

“Hi dude. I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.” Yep. Those were the first words I said to my child.

He didn’t have the cone head I’d expected- he wasn’t in the birth canal long enough. Another side effect of that was that he hadn’t had all the fluid squeezed out of him, so they took him over to the warmer to suck it out. Cyrus went with him while Shelly stayed with me and gave me the play by play. (If there’s one reason to have a doula, this could be it!) They brought him back, still quiet, but less water logged. He wasn’t interested in nursing. That came later.

I had one small tear that didn’t require stitches, but got three for good measure. They started the pitocin that Cedars requires after the birth. Dr. C disagrees with this policy, but couldn’t do anything about it. That’s when things got complicated, but that’s a whole other post.

Start to finish my labor was three slow days and three quick hours. From 6cm to a baby in my arms was actually less than three hours. It was hard and at times horrible (believe it or not, I was surprised by how much it hurt!), but I know how lucky I was that it happened so fast and that I have a healthy, perfect little boy.

It was all quite matter of fact that night, I wasn’t surprised by a rush of love i’d never expected. I had indeed been wanted him and this my whole life, I was ready for that unimaginable love. What surprised me instead has been a steadily growing and building, overpowering love that gets bigger everyday. Who knew?

Here are some pictures, most have been posted already, but it’s what I’ve got:

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Maria permalink
    June 27, 2014 1:44 pm

    Sounds like you did an awesome job. Even with all the unexpected little glitches & more pain than anyone can ever describe, I think every birth story is beautiful. Rarely, if ever, does it go like imagined. Still, look at the prize. A living, breathing miracle. He’s precious. Cherish him.

    • Clementine permalink*
      July 1, 2014 9:06 pm

      Thank you. The birth process is so incredible. Even before I was pregnant or even thinking about being pregnant I loved reading birth stories so I couldn’t wait to share mine!

  2. July 10, 2014 10:33 pm

    Another note: When planning this whole birth thing I couldn’t imagine that I would get naked, but as soon as they offered the warm water I ripped off my dress in front of everyone, nat geo boobs, 70′s bush and all.

    Hilarious and oh so true. Beautiful birth story. Belated congratulations to you!

  3. July 10, 2014 10:35 pm

    Another note: When planning this whole birth thing I couldn’t imagine that I would get naked, but as soon as they offered the warm water I ripped off my dress in front of everyone, nat geo boobs, 70′s bush and all.

    Hilarious and oh so true! Beautiful birth story. Belated congratulations to you!

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