The day our son was born was somewhat fateful in that my husband decided to play hooky from work that morning. I woke up around 530am after a night of fitful sleep and crampy feelings in my back. When I stood up to get out of bed, there was a noticeable trickle. Wide-eyed, cautious, and in a state of disbelief, I went into the bathroom to assess the situation.
Okay, wait. Do I really need to give the TMI warning here? Because if you know anything about me by now, I love telling a gross story.
So I went into the bathroom to check things out. And I figured I had just had an accident - as very pregnant ladies are prone to doing. Okay, okay, as I was prone to doing.
Several times a day.
Anyway, I had lost my mucus plug about two weeks prior. (Go ahead and google that. I DARE YOU.) It was disgusting.
And then it grew back.
I know it grew back because it fell out AGAIN two weeks later. And it was just as disgusting as the first time. But still, no baby. So jump forward to the morning of April 25th, I’m in the bathroom, check out the situation below, and not only is there clear fluid but a little blood. I was convinced that my water had broken and frantically ran around the house packing up the hospital bag that I was supposed to have packed the first time I lost my mucus plug.
And even though I was convinced that my water had broken and it was just a slow leak, I was not convinced that I was in labor. Or about to have a baby. Ever.
So I went to work.
Now calm yourself. I wasn’t having any contractions, my cramping from overnight had subsided, and I wasn’t leaking from my lady parts like a broken dam. I knew I’d be okay until 830, when it just so happened I had a pre-scheduled check-up.
When I got there I let my doctor know that I thought my water broke. She didn’t believe me. I could tell. And in my head I was all ‘Look I like you but I’m pretty sure I’m having a baby today. So you are stupid.’
Of course I didn’t say that. I was too busy writhing in pain while she jammed her arm up to her elbow into my vagina and cervix and tickled the bottom of my lungs. We discovered that the amniotic sac was intact and fluid tests confirmed this fact. Turns out I just had a very ‘ripe’ (ew) and goopy (ugh) cervix.
She assured me that I was not having a baby today. Despite being 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant, she seemed convinced that we’d end up with an induction at 41 weeks. I was only three centimeters dilated and 70% effaced. After she removed her hand from the deepest depths of my torso, she sent me on my way with instructions to call if anything changed. She also told me to go home and have lots of sex with my husband.
That did not happen. Thirty nine weeks and six days, people. The only romance I was interested in was one with the ice cream in my freezer.
So I went back to work and for about two hours things were fine. I had decided the doctor was right, nothing was going to happen and I started planning my weekend. Then I had to poop.
Well...I thought I had to poop.
Okay, here’s the thing - I was a little backed up. Between the naturally occurring constipation that happens in the end stages of pregnancy (thanks a lot progesterone), coupled with the fact that I was convinced I would poop too hard and end up birthing on the toilet where I work. I had not pooped in days. You see, one of my coworkers is a very enthusiastic Boy Scout troop leader and I was more than a little fearful that he’d be delivering my baby and using his teeth or some other McGuyver bullshit move with paperclips to cut and tie off the umbilical cord.
So you can understand my apprehension about pooping at work. I was feeling kinda….crappy...so when the feeling happened upon me again, work bathroom or not, I knew I had to try. Otherwise I might shit all over everyone in the delivery room.
I sat there forever, in pain, feeling like I really had to go and nothing was happening. I went back to my desk and the feeling went away.
And then it came back.
Try to poop. Nada.
Now I know you are yelling at your screen right now about what an idiot I am. You are right. Because I went through this exact cycle for about couple of hours. Then I started consulting with friends, hoping they would tell me that I just needed to eat more fiber. Deny, deny, deny!
Here’s another thing you have to remember: I don’t know what a natural labor feels like. I also forgot what a lot of the pains felt like because it had been so long between babies. I was induced with Izzy and everything happened all at once. There was no easing into it, there was no guessing. It was straight up baby is coming out now! As a result, I doubted my ability to asses my pain level and whether or not I was having real contractions.
Around 1150am I told my friend Steph that I thought I might be having contractions.
I am a delicate flower.
Of course I started googling because I needed to know if I really just needed to poop or if I was going to have a baby. Up to this point I had largely avoided reading anything about labor. I couldn’t do it. I have a pretty good idea of how that whole system works down there. I didn’t want to muddy things up and create more anxiety by reading about horror stories or fourth degree tears.
As I had anticipated, googling did nothing to calm my nerves.
How have I not been invited to have an audience with the Queen of England yet?
Friends encouraged me to download an app and start timing the pains. At this point the contractions were about 14 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. I was starting to get really scared. Mostly that I would deliver my baby at work. This was the most convincing argument that I needed to leave:
“Hey kelly, how are you coming along? you feel okay?”
“oh yeah, i’m fine now. I dropped the kids off at the pool. so yeah...i’m cool now.”
I spent the next couple of hours timing contractions (that I still did not believe were contractions) and hiding behind my computer screen hoping that my coworker did not notice the look of sheer panic on my face.
The clock finally hit 3pm and for being 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and in active labor, I moved surprisingly quickly to the parking lot and into my car. Not at all to my surprise, as soon as I got in the car to head home, everything stopped happening. I was pretty happy about this because I didn’t want to have a contraction and drive off the road, or birth my baby in the back of my car. Because if I’m being honest, my car is pretty filthy. I was also happy (read: delusional) that I was going to get to carry on with my weekend plans. I had planned to attend the annual that is hosted by the awesome Whitney and Colleen . I love this event because it’s such a great opportunity to get together with local bloggers. But it was not meant to be.
Twenty minutes later when I walked in the door to my house, I made a beeline for the bathroom. Because, you know, poop. And I totally pooped. I POOPED! and it was glorious. Then it was followed up by a mind-bending contraction. Hunched over, I waddled to my bedroom, hoping to take a nap before things really started happening. That was not meant to be either.
As I lay in bed, in as close to the fetal position I could get, Christian and Izzy came in to take turns rubbing my back and trying to comfort me. Around 4pm I told Christian that he needed to call my parents to come get Izzy and the dog.
There was no denying any of this anymore; I was having a baby today. Poor Izzy, she must have been so scared. She is such a sweetheart and kept hugging me and reassuring me that I was going to be okay.
Thankfully my father was nearby and arrived a little after 4pm to retrieve Izzy and Tuna and lock up the house. At this point my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. I may have waited just a tad too long to make the call. The hospital is fifteen minutes from my house. However, despite my protesting and chiding, my husband’s panicked driving made it more like a 5 minute trip...even if in ‘contraction time’ it felt like an hour.
We spent roughly three hours in triage between intake procedures and waiting for room in labor and delivery. It was the longest three hours of my life. The contractions were steadily getting closer together and infinitely more painful. We also discovered that the baby had not dropped (just like Izzy) which compounded my pain. I was more than ready to get my epidural but couldn’t have it until I was in a room. The worst part of the intake is when they separated me from Christian and wheeled me into a private office. I had no clue what was happening and was about 30 seconds from losing my shit. The intake admin started asking me where I live. Is it a house, apartment, trailer, fox den in a field? (Seriously the questions about my dwelling went on forever.) Does the baby have a place to sleep? The first of many reminders that co-sleeping is supposedly only for people that want their babies to die. Are we married? How often do we argue? Did I feel safe?
HOLY SHIT. Look, I get it. They separate you so that you will give honest answers in case you are being abused. But when I am having to breathe and answer these questions through contractions, I began to worry for the admin’s safety. If a person is in active labor, could we perhaps do this after the tiny human is removed from the body?
The rest of the evening is kind of blurry. I remember that my L&D nurse, Ruth, was an incredibly sweet and patient woman. Especially since I was asking about the epi every few minutes since we met. I remember finally getting an epi from a not-that-friendly anesthesiologist. It didn’t help that I had a contraction as he was putting the needle in my back. I did my best not to squirm but I am sure that I did. At some point my water bag was manually broken and we were told that there was quite a bit of meconium in the fluids. This is always cause for concern but I wasn’t terribly worried because the same thing happened to Izzy. I foolishly thought we’d have a repeat of the good fortune that it would be no big deal. Unfortunately we were later told it was quite a large amount and I would not get to hold him right away.
Around 830 I was feeling the epi I had been checked by the doctor just a few minutes earlier and she said she expected a baby before 10pm. So I texted my friends Stephanie, Melinda, and Robin to let them know the baby would be here soon and they were welcome to visit. Melinda had previously asked if she could be present for the birth. She had always wanted to see a birth but always missed her opportunities. I texted her saying I knew it was late and I understood if she didn’t want to come out to the hospital. The next text I received from her said ‘I’m in the car.’
And she showed up in these:
I love my friends. The epi was working but I was still feeling the pressure from the baby moving down. I was in so much pain and she had me laughing so much. Robin couldn’t make it because I didn’t alert anyone that I was in labor earlier and she started her Friday early and got into the Blue Moon. I was jealous. My bestie Steph was on her way - unfortunately she wouldn’t make it in time.
Our son was born at 947pm after only 7 minutes of pushing…and a few F bombs. I'm not even ashamed. That shit hurt. Freaking big-headed baby.
I distinctly remember yelling ‘I can’t! He’s fucking tearing me in half!’ and Melinda yelling at me that I didn’t have a choice, I had to keep pushing. Then everyone took her cue and started yelling at me.
I am also pretty sure I pooped while pushing. Even though no one will tell me the truth.
They whisked him away to the warmer to clean him up and check all of his vitals. Then the nurse laid him on my chest so that Christian could cut the remainder of the cord. It was just then that Steph came in the room and demanded to know why I couldn’t have just held him in a little longer.
I tried, Steph. I tried.
Finally after all the chaos died down, I was able to snuggle with the baby I’d waited for so long. The one we weren’t sure we’d have.
It was one of the most precious moments of my life.
This birth was so different than Izzy’s. With her, I was terrified. I was a new mom, with all of the new mom fears. I was so disconnected from the whole process that she and I did not bond right away. With our daughter, the atmosphere was stressed and heavy with fear. As a result, that deep, awe-inspiring love you have for a new baby grew over the weeks that followed. I always felt a little guilty about that.
This time, being surrounded by some of my closest friends, laughing and reminiscing as we waited, hearing their voices push me through the pain, and then watching my husband weep with pride and relief, the peace it brought me allowed me to connect with my son right away.
We are complete.
But it would not last.
Initially we thought we had an especially vocal baby. He cooed a lot and made this cute grunting noises, especially when nursing. As the night wore on, the grunting became so excessive that I became concerned. This little bugger would stop grunting every time a nurse or doctor came into the room, so I had to catch it on video. The on-call pediatrician immediately started transfer to the NICU. I tried to stay cool but inside I was quietly freaking out. The pediatrician believed he may have gotten meconium in his lungs.
As much as I tried to stay strong, the leaving was so hard. I gave birth on Friday and was discharged on Sunday morning. Our son would spend four full days in the NICU before coming home late Tuesday. A knick on the surface of lifetime we would have with him but difficult all the same.
The days would drag as I mentally willed the clock and doctors to move faster, give us some news. The time was a true test of our patience because all we could do was let everyone do their jobs. This was beyond our control. I don’t know how other parents do it.
Finally, on April 29th, we got the news that seemed to take ages to receive. We were able to bring our baby home.