When you have a baby everyone wants to know how the birth went. I was a little surprised when I encountered this with Everly’s birth; I was ready for it with this one. And people love the gory details, it’s like the scene of an accident… all the drivers slow to a snail’s pace to get a good view of the wreckage…
Tuesday July 12th I went to bed around 11:00. I was not feeling well and having a hard time getting to sleep. I woke up twice with a serious case of the trots. The third time I also felt nauseated. I went back to bed and noticed that my tummy was feeling crampy, I wasn’t especially alerted as cramps usually accompany raging diarrhoea anyway. But then I realized this was exactly how I felt before labour started with Everly. I got a rush of anxiety. Suddenly I was wide awake. I rolled over on to my side and felt a giant POP inside my tummy and then a slight trickle… Shit. Shit, shit, shit. That would be my waters. I nudged B and said, my water just broke. That sentence is actually pretty fun to say, I am glad I got to say it twice. He woke and shot straight up in bed, seriously he said. Yup, seriously I replied. And I hopped out of bed towards the bathroom. He asked who we needed to call, what we needed to do. I said call your mom, get her here to watch Evie and I said I would call the midwife and our doula.
In the bathroom I noticed the fluid was clear (yay) and mixed with blood (gross), labour was definitely starting (shit). I walked out of the bathroom and made a slight whimper. B looked into my face and was uncharacteristically sympathetic; he asked what was wrong, if everything was okay. I said I really don’t want to do this again. He looked at me and looked down at the ground. The expression on his face read something like… how do I tell her “too bad you have to” without sounding mean. I don’t remember if he actually did end up saying anything. But I felt a surge of screw you labour fill my body. I realized in that moment that I would be damned if this labour would get the best of me. I was going to make this labour and delivery my bitch. I got dressed. I made my phone calls. I gathered our bags and put them in the trunk. Regular contractions hadn’t started at this point. We said good bye to B’s mom and off we went towards the hospital.
B tried to avoid bumps and drove quickly. I think our last drive to the hospital with a hysterical wife yelling at him was still a bit fresh, lol. We talked on the way there, just regular old small talk to fill the space of what was really happening. We went up to labour and delivery and got settled in a room. Contractions started coming every 3 minutes and were lasting about 40 seconds. It was around 6:00am at this point. The nurse was asking me all of the usual admitting information. One of the questions of course was how far along I was in my pregnancy. I replied that I was 36 weeks and 3 days. She looked at me like I was on the glue. She asked if we knew the approximate size of our baby, she asked if baby was measuring on target. I said actually he is measuring 39-40 weeks. I explained that I was measuring 2 weeks ahead and had an ultrasound to confirm that baby was okay. She didn’t look sold, she told me that she needed to measure my fundal height (bottom to top of the uterus) because I didn’t look that far along. Seriously? I was like bring it, I knew what she would find and I could not wait to lay back smugly. So she measures and sure enough I measure at 38cms (38 weeks) despite being 36. So there. She said wow, you really don’t look that far along. What do you say to that? What does it really matter? I am here to have a baby, who the frig cares whether you think I look as pregnant as I am or not. I calm myself with embracing the knowledge that this is the last time this will ever happen to me in my life. The last time!
Our doula arrived and then our midwife arrived. Contractions were definitely very regular at this point and getting a little more intense, but totally 100% manageable. My Strep B test results had come in from the lab and we discovered that I was in fact Strep B positive. I wasn’t thrilled to hear this as it meant IV meds for me during delivery. I was hoping that I would have a long enough labour to get the required doses in, otherwise baby would have to stay for 48 hours to receive antibiotics. An extended stay at the hospital was not in my birth plan! So the IV process begins. It takes 4 attempts at finding a vein before the vein specialist is called in, it takes her two tries. So now I officially look like an IV drug user in labour. I was told I have valvey veins. Apparently it is very common to body builders or people who do a lot of hardcore exercise. The vein specialist looked expectantly at me when she said this, like I was supposed to confirm that this was me. HAH! We got a good laugh out of that one.
So with the IV started and contractions getting stronger my midwife decides that this would be a good time to “get checked.” Oh I remembered this part. It’s always pleasant to have someone reaching into your vagina when you are already super uncomfortable. So she checks and shockingly it wasn’t as bad as I remember. She declares that I am 5 centimetres dilated and fully effaced. Woo-hoo, this is good news. It was around 8:00am at this point. My midwife and doula both looked surprised at this news. I said this is good right? And they said yes, you are half way there. They both admitted that they didn’t think I would be this far along. Apparently from the way I was labouring they thought I would be around 3cms. No one thought I was actually in “active” labour. Really? Hah. Showed you. Being an overachiever this news pleased me immensely. I took a few minutes to absorb it and went on to continue about 4 simultaneous text message conversations. Yes, I was text messaging during labour. God bless the iphone. My doula later joked that the only way she knew I had reached the transition phase of labour was because I put the cell phone down.
I was eager to get things moving so we went for a walk. Baby had still not dropped into the birth canal. He was at -2. I’m not sure how long we walked for, but it definitely kicked things into high gear. I was feeling a lot of pain radiating in my upper thighs and lower back. Yay for back labour! When we got back to the room I sat on the body ball and leaned on the edge of the bed. Contractions were getting pretty intense. I didn’t last long like that before I asked for another position that would relieve the pressure on my legs and low back. I ended up on the bed on a modified hands and knees with my upper body leaning on the body ball. This worked. It worked even better when a hot compress was applied with lots of pressure during a contraction.
With the pain getting more intense, I found that I was feeling an increase in anxiety with what was still yet to come. I started to wonder if I could handle it, would I be able to take much more? Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap… aggggghhh. I was feeling really tired, having not slept well the night before and getting such an early start to the day. I told my doula that I was feeling very anxious. She offered something called Rescue Remedy, I took it. And I think it helped. I remember saying to myself that I could do this, I had done it before and I could do it again. It was really important for me to stay on top of this labour and delivery after the “hysteria” of Everly’s birth. I wanted this experience to be different. I stayed focused.
I felt that need to poop feeling. I told my midwife. She said she was pretty sure I wasn’t far enough along yet to push but that she would check me if I wanted. I would never have thought that I would have eagerly asked to be checked, but oh I did. And so she did and sure enough, I was 10 centimetres; time to wrap up this labour thank you very much. Again they were wearing shocked expressions. My doula said Jessica I thought you would be an 8 max, she said you are not acting like a woman who is in the final stage of transition. Yes, I will admit that I was pleased as punch to hear this. You hear that labour, I am kicking your ass.
So it’s time to push. The paediatrician is called into the room right away. Because baby is 36 weeks, he is technically premature and there needs to be a paediatrician present at birth for assessment. The rush for the paediatrician is due to my history of pushing ‘em out quick. My midwife and doula both said, this is the end, you are almost there. The told me that with 18 minutes of pushing with my first, I would have this baby out in probably the next 3 contractions if I pushed hard. The told me 20 minutes and my baby would probably be here. Probably is the word that I should have focused on; instead I focused on the 20 minutes. I looked at the clock; 10:30am it read. I psyched myself up; it’s 20 minutes, suck it up, you can do it, 20 minutes.
So 20 minutes came and went. Turns out he was presenting asynclitic; his head was tilted and next to his shoulder. So when I was trying to push him into the birth canal, I was trying to push half his head and half his shoulder, yeah, not going to work. After 30 minutes of pushing I lost it. I felt like a caged wild animal and likely looked like one too. This feeling that I needed to get out of that bed and out of that room came over me. I put my hands down behind me on the bed and lowered my heals so that I could scootch my body up, my intention was to get off the bed and leave. I declared to everyone that I was done. I said I hate this, it sucks I am done, I don’t want to do this anymore. I said you guys told me it would be quick. Assholes. Liars. And then the nurse said, honey, use that anger that you are feeling right now, use it when you push. I lowered my butt back down on the bed and tilted my pelvis and then I felt it, he dropped and his head was down there. I could feel his little body twist and click, it was the weirdest thing.
A big contraction came and I pushed so hard I thought my head was going to pop off. I was pissed at the world at this point and channelling that anger really did work! He was coming out. Finally! I was filled with pressure and burning and radiating pain as he was closer and closer to officially being born. The midwife told me to stop pushing so she could check the cord around his neck and you know what the little worm did, he turned his head around from side to side. Now all of you ladies that have experienced the wonder that is crowning during natural childbirth know how painful it is. I am here to tell you that having the baby wiggle and turn his head to look at your doula, yes he actually opened his eyes and looked at her, takes it up to a whole new level. They all marvelled at his moving, look at that they said, he is wiggling! It’s funny how everyone else at a birth thinks everything is so exciting and magical. There is nothing like feeling the worst pain of your life and looking up and seeing people smile. And not just little smiles, but full on glee filled, full of wonderment at how perfect the world is smiles. Assholes. Thank God it was one more push and he was out. I was ready to pinch him for that, until I saw him. Then I fell apart.
He was lying at the end of the bed completely still. His eyes were closed and his chest was not moving, he was starting to turn an unnatural shade of purple. I said he’s not breathing, is he okay? I was panicking. Our midwife said he was fine and still connected to the cord and not to worry, she showed me the pulsing cord, it was straight out of a science fiction movie, it was gross. The paediatrician rushed over and grabbed him and started massaging him. B went to go to him and they said to wait a minute. Not a good sign. But then, to our immense relief we heard squawking; little quacks and grunts. I felt myself breathe again. He was okay. B went over to the table and started to take pictures of him. He said he was fine. I sunk into the bed and closed my eyes which were rimmed with tears. That was such a heavy feeling of relief. I was exhausted.
My midwife said that I could hold him before I got stitched up and I took her up on that offer! They passed him to me and he was perfect. I was immediately hit on the head with the cute baby club. I saw nothing else and felt nothing else other than this perfect little baby in my arms. A perfect squishy little face that I had helped to create and had grown. A miracle.
B was standing beside the bed, looking down on his new son. I was suddenly aware of his presence and I noticed his face, one of his nostrils was packed with gauze; WTF? What happened to him, did he get into a fight, how did this happen. I started to laugh a little bit and said what happened to you, he said I am a nerd, I got a nosebleed. Ah husband, how I love you nerdiness and all, I needed that giggle. We looked down at our baby and smiled. The baby was making a weird grunting noise. I asked the paediatrician what it was, she calmly replied that it was because he was struggling to breathe on his own, oh is that all. WHAT? I put him out in my arms and I said, take him, fix this. Why hand him to me if he can’t breathe? Aggghh? So off he went to the Special Care Nursery with B, leaving me to worry despite being reassured that he would be fine and that this was a normal part of prematurity.
And then it was my turn. The midwife informed me that it was time to check for areas that needed stitching up, yesssss, my favourite part. When she declared that my perineum was in tact I would have leapt with relief if I wasn’t spread eagled on a bed. I had escaped scot free, no stitches for me thanks, I will be going now… woo-hoo! And then she said, but there is a cosmetic repair needed. Say what? Apparently one of my labia had nearly completely ripped off. How the hell does that happen? Well I know how it happens technically, but honestly it wasn’t somewhere that I was even concerned with tearing. I said oh just leave it. She said what? I said just leave it flapping in the wind if it’s just cosmetic. I said I don’t care. It’s only B who would ever see it and it was his kid that did it so it’s kind of his fault so he can deal with it. I think she thought I was serious. I partly was. She said, nope, sorry, infection risk and ethical necessity, she couldn’t leave me with a busted lip flapping in the wind. Well bring on the stitches then.
She sprayed some numbing stuff so that I didn’t even feel the freezing needles go in. And I was handed the gas to breathe to boot! How about that. I took the gas willingly. I knew that I could have 20 minutes out of my tree with baby in the Special Care Nursery with B. Why not? Ahhh the gas. I don’t remember it being so fun with my last birth. Maybe because I was a freaking out wreck! I sucked that gas back until I couldn’t see straight. I threw the mask off my face and let me head flop back on the bed behind me. I was sooo relaxed, I felt like goo. My doula started talking to me, she sounded very far away. She told me that I was tough and that she was proud of me. She said I rocked this birth and should be super proud of myself. She said women were always impressing her with their toughness. I opened my mouth to speak. I didn’t recall my mouth feeling so elastic before, it was rubbery. I said, yes we are. And yet when someone is a wimp we call them a pussy! What the fuck is that about (direct quote). My voice sounded like Buffalo Bill’s in Silence of the Lambs. I almost didn’t continue to speak when I first heard it. I thought wow, does my voice sound like this to everyone. I realized no, it didn’t, the gas was messing with my head. I went on my tirade. I declared that if anything people should be referred to as “balls” when they are wimpy; balls are weak, vaginas are tough. I then went on to talk about other nonsense things and eventually had the gas taken away. The words, “I think you’ve had enough of that” were actually spoken. I was cut off. Darn, that was the most fun I have had in a while, lol.
I got the okay to hop in the shower, ahhhh, there is nothing like a hot shower after you have given birth is there! Except for the fact that it was difficult to walk because I felt like I had a giant pole shoved up my ass. Damn rhoids. I asked for any and all medication that would deal with the massacre of my butt. Good news is that I was given tons and they worked like a hot damn. Thank freaking God. I walked out of the shower and my doula said, wow Jessica, you don’t look like you just had a baby, how do you feel about that. How did I feel about that? Ummmmm, fan-fucking-tastic! I know that I really had just had a baby and that it would be okay to look like I just had a baby, but really, who wants to? Not me. And I just want to add here how normally I would be embarrassed to be naked in front of someone who only kind of knows me, but I didn’t care. I guess the fact that they have just seen you squeeze a baby out of your va-jay-jay lowers your inhibition. It’s not going to get much more up close and personal than that is it.
Finally they brought in the wheelchair and I was on my way to see my baby. I was nervous and excited. I didn’t know what I would find. B had come into the room when I was getting dressed and told me that Matty was doing well… oh yeah, we named him Matthew! But he said that he was connected to some machines and was being monitored. Nothing can prepare you for seeing your baby hooked up to IV lines and wires. I started to cry when I saw him, the nurses told me he was doing amazingly well for the short amount of time that he had been in there. They told me he was tough and smart. What mother doesn’t want to hear that about her child, lol! I asked to hold him and they got him out of his little incubator and passed him to me. He was pink and breathing soundly. I squished him to my body and like the Grinch, my heart grew 3 sizes (add this to the 3 sizes it went up when Evie was born and you are looking at a pretty fat and full heart!). I nursed him for the first time. He latched right away and impressed the nurses again. That’s right. Who’s kid is an overachiever? Mine! Ha ha ha.
He had to stay in the nursery for 48 hours to receive antibiotics until his test results for Step B came back. He also had to be monitored for his blood sugar level as it was 1.6 right after delivery. His breathing was 100% fine though. I was told that once he passed 3 glucose challenges I could have him in my room with me. Yay! My first night in the hospital was lonely. The nurses came and got me when he wanted to nurse, which was every 2 hours. I would walk from my room to the nursery, feed him and then try to go back to sleep. It was hard to sleep with him away from me. I wasn’t worried about him, I knew he was safer where he was than if he were with me, but the point was that he wasn’t with me. We had been together for 36 weeks and 3 days.
And how about those post-partum, uterine shrinking cramps? Fun times hey. I thought I was in labour again! At one point my niece asked if I needed to sneeze because I was trying to breathe though them, lol! Yes, this is the same niece that was responsible for Matty’s conception, how serendipitous is that? Pretty cool if you ask me. Oh those cramps. And when he latched on to eat, my GOD, they were even worse. I found out quickly that heat helped and from that point on made sure that I had a heating pad on for nursing. I was told that the cramps are worse for second and subsequent babies. I can’t imagine the post-partum cramps that Michelle Duggar must get! Yikes!
Oh and here’s a tip… if you get haemorrhoids, don’t tell anyone but your midwife! Once the nurses see it on your chart they want to look at them. Sick, sick women these nurses, wanting to check out your bits all the time. I told my nurse she didn’t want to see them, I told her it was better for her if she didn’t as it would be incredibly traumatic. And you know what she did, she laughed at me. She laughed at me until she saw them… and then she said “oooooohhh GIRL, you are swollen something terrible!” Yeah, told you it would be ugly, I warned you, but you had to go looking didn’t you. I had looked so I knew what she was seeing. When I looked it kind of reminded me of Preditor’s face. She gave me some tips and since she used to work the GI floor she had some great info. She also shared that if they didn’t shrink they would have to be banded. Back the truck up, what? I pretended like I knew what that was just to get her face out of my butt. I later Googled it and almost vomited (don’t Google it)… again, thank you Google images for posting a tiny preview of pictures with every regular NON IMAGE search! Almost needless to say I have been applying the medication like a fiend to avoid this procedure. I feel like that area has suffered enough trauma, can’t we leave it alone?
That night I was on Facebook on my phone, what else are you meant to do in a hospital room by yourself? I noticed B’s status update, “My wife is a champion” it said… and cue the waterworks. My husband had announced his “proudness” of me on Facebook, he must have really been impressed, lol. This prompted me to think about the labour and delivery. I was feeling pretty proud of myself too, well except for the part where I tried to leave. I texted B and told him how touching his status update was. He told me he meant it and that he was super proud of me. I texted back that I was proud too, but that I was also embarrassed about loosing my composure at the end. He texted back, are you kidding me? He wrote… if you had seen what I had seen, that tiny hole getting stretched like that, I would have been crying way before you ever wanted to quit. He wrote that I was exhausted and that was fair and that I shouldn’t be anything other than proud of how well I had done. I puffed out my chest a little bit; overachievers always like to hear that they have done well. I decided to allow myself to bask in this glow of achievement without guilt or downplaying it. I don’t think we women let ourselves do that enough.
Baby Matty came into my room the next night, he passed his 3 challenges like a champ! And then his cultures came back negative and we got to go home that Friday night! And so began our life as a family of four.
Here he is brand new:
And at our first photo shoot… 5 days old: