So it has been 4 months since my last blog, and no, I am not 13 months preggo. I had that baby and boy is that distracting!!! I am back though, and feel like I have to start from where I left off in order to get to where I am.
One thing that I know for sure, is that I was wrong in my last blog. Labor is called labor because that shit is hard!!! My birthing moment was by far the most humbling experience of my life. When it was over the first thing I thought was “note to self… be nicer to my mother.” So everyone loves a good birth story right? Well here is mine… all 19 hours of it.
cast of characters….
Me: mother of bebe
Wes: father of bebe
3:30am-10:30am Around 3:30 in the morning I started to feel cramps. Sort of like period cramps, but considering I hadn’t gotten my period in a hot minute, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Not to mention, when you wake up in the middle of the night, you are confused. Since I had never gone into labor, I wasn’t sure if these were contractions, or if I just seriously had to poo. After about an hour, I decided that yes, these were contractions, as there was no need for the afore mentioned evacuation.
Okay kewl. I am officially having my birthing moment. I went down stairs and started timing them. They were 6 minutes apart and I was told to go to the hospital when they are 5 minutes apart for 1 hour. Okay, word. I figured I had time to be in my birthing moment and listen to my Ipod. My dog cuddled up next to me, seemingly fully aware of what was going on, and eventually Wes made me an egg sandwich. So far so good.
10:30am-11am The contractions had maintained at 6 minutes apart for 7 hours, so Wes called the hospital and they told me to come in. We drove there with the sunroof open and music blasting. The warmth of the morning star shining on my face, and I am thinking… “this isn’t so bad…this is a beautiful birthing moment.”
11am-12pm We arrive at the hospital, and meet up with the Doula, Sage. I am still feeling pretty chipper between contractions and we head in. Now this is a small country hospital, so before giving me a room, they wanted to make sure that I was really going to have a baby. I was pretty sure I wasn’t faking it, but okay, sure, test away. The first thing they did was attach the “fetal monitor” to measure contractions. Basically they strap you down to the bed, put some wires and nodes all over your belly, and tell you to relax. Riiiiight. I will give that whole relaxing thing a try when you take this shit off of me and I don’t feel like Frankenstein with wires hanging off my belly.
The nurse asks me to rate my pain from 1-10, and I give it a 5. “I am pretty good at dealing with pain though.” She gave me a sideways glance when I said that, basically letting me know “You don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.” I resented her for this. I was going to be special. I was going to have a painless birth, totally convincing myself this whole labor thing wasn’t that big of a deal. I mean, the contractions didn’t feel like eating M&M’s and ice cream, but they were manageable.
Then the nurse had the amazing idea to check the dilation of my cervix. For those of you who have never experienced this awesome activity, let me walk you through it. First, the nurse snapped on her gloves, and applied a half tube of lube to her hand. Not her finger mind you, her hand. Considering my stone cold sobriety, I found that to be a bit intimidating. Then, she basically fist fucked me until her entire forearm disappeared up to her elbow. God only knows what she was searching for as she measured the openness of my cervix. Let me tell you… this was not as fun as it sounds.
The nurse told me that I was 3 centimeters dilated, and I could go home. “What? You have got to be kidding me? I am not going home right now. I am having this baby today.” Of course I didn’t say any of that, got my things, and went to the car. Now what?
Wes suggested that we go to a park near the hospital and hang out there. That sounded like a plan to me, because I felt like it would really screw with me psychologically to go back home. I was ready to have a baby. I knew the baby was coming, and I didn’t care what that nurse thought. Besides, after a moment like that she could have at least taken my out to dinner and a movie.
12pm-3:30 So there we are at the park, and I sat in a meditative pose having contractions. Day hikers passing by would be like “Uhhhhhh are you in Labor?” I would just smile and tell them yes, feeling like the earth mother I saw myself as. It was the middle of a heat wave, and hard to totally avoid the sun, so I was getting a pretty sweet tan.
Since the contractions were still coming every 6 minutes, there were 5 minutes where I felt totally normal. I almost felt bad for Sage and Wes, like they were bored or something. “Ummmm… sorry guys…. I don’t mean for this to be taking so long.” A contraction would come, and they would remind me to bring my energy down, and just support me through the minute that it lasted. So far, so good. I am in the woods, having my birthing moment. Rad.
3:30-4:00 I start to lose it. The contractions were not cute anymore, and I could feel my body fighting them. My legs would tense up as I curled them into my chest. My jaw was clenched, and my inner voice made the profound statement of “holy shit, I cannot do this. I am going to fucking die.”
Sage suggested we go back to the hospital so I could get in the birthing bath. I told myself that was the best idea I had ever heard. “Yeah, the birthing bath. That would make everything better! The water would take the pain away!! Yes yes yes!!! Lets get in that goddamn birthing bath!”
So I got in the car, had a contraction, drove the three minutes to the hospital, and had another. Worst car ride of my life. I was so grateful I hadn’t gone home and had a half hour in the car to deal with.
4:00-4:10 Now that I was back in the hospital, they again wanted to check my cervix to make sure the baby was actually coming before giving me a room. Awsome!! I had been dying for that to happen again, so obviously this made me very peppy. As the nurse was searching around up there, I heard her say “Hmmmm the head is really low, so I cannot tell what is going on… maybe if I just go a little to the left…”
“Get out. Get out of my vagina right now.” She retracted her hand, mid contraction, and I said as kindly as I could “No more of that.”
“Okay, well we will just strap the fetal monitor on you then.”
“Nope. Not going to do that either.” This time I may not have been so kind in my tone.
“Well lets get you a room then, it sounds like you are gonna have that baby!”
Sage, who luckily wasn’t in labor, kindly asked if I could get in the birthing bath.
“Ohhhh… Gosh. No. Someone just checked in right before you got here, and they already claimed it and we only have one.”
“But I was here first… you sent me away!!” I couldn’t help how whiney I sounded, but I just really wanted to get in that bath. For me, the bath meant relief from the everlasting abyss of pain I was in.
“She was here this morning too Honey. We sent her away as well. She just got back first. I am sorry.”
I wanted to cry. Not because I didn’t understand, but because now what was going to do to take this pain away??!! The nurse could see my disappointment and took pity on me.
“Look, I can clean up the bath tub we have here. It is just a tub like you have at home, and we haven’t used it in years… you can’t give birth in it, but you can labor in there if you like?”
“Yes yes yes! Thank you.”
4:10-4:30 When I imagined my birthing moment, I assumed I was going to maintain my usual modest demeanor. Not that I am a prude or anything, but I have this thing about strangers seeing my tits, or vagina. So when the nurse asked if I would like to stay in my dress to get in the bath, I surprised my self that I had already taken it off by the time she finished her sentence.
So there I was, naked, on all fours, in the bath, and realizing “You know what? Even though I am in water, which is supposed to sooth my pain and relax me, I still feel like I am going to fucking die.” I knew I couldn’t say any of this out loud, because then I would totally psych myself out. But in my head, I was quite convinced I was about to spit in two.
“Can you make the bath hotter?” Yeah. That will do it. If I boil myself, I will no longer feel these contractions from the depths of hell. The nurse, in her efforts to help me out, somehow cut her finger on the metal of the old bath while turning the knob. I saw this happen out of the corner of me eye, and watched as her blood fell in the water that my naked body was submersed in.
“Ummmm… your bleeding.”
“Oh. So I am.” A moment went by, the nurse left the room momentarily, only to return to tell me…
“So…. yeah… you are going to have to get out of the bath.”
“Isn’t the damage already done?” Get out of the bath!! Are you out of your mind? How am I going to become a human lobster if I get out of the bath? Sure your blood is being soaked up by my open birthing vagina, but what can I do about that now??
After further prompting, I did get out, leaving myself naked, freezing (the hospital was heavily air conditioned), and having a contraction. Hooray!
“Quick, get in the shower, you can warm up in there.” So the nurse shuttled me over to the shower, stuffed me in because it was so small, and gave Wes the showerhead to hose me down like an elephant.
“It’s too cold! Make it hotter!!” A contraction was coming, and the cold was making me tense up more than usual. Wes tried to turn up the heat, not paying attention to how he was holding the showerhead, and spraying me right in the face.
“Bloaah. Ahhhhahaaa. Get me out of here!” If I was going to drown, I would have rather submerged my whole head in the bath when I had the chance. Wes and the nurse extracted me from shower, and as I stood their dripping all I could think was “Now what? What the hell is going to make me feel better? I cannot keep doing this!”
While I had been having my blood transfusion from the nurse’s cut finger in the bath, Wes had handed out our “birth plan.” It basically said I wanted to have a “natural birth,” not to offer me any drugs, keep the lights low, no excess talking, and no one should be in the room that didn’t need to be. Despite my commitment to having a natural birth, I totally understood how people would want the epidural. At times I would have double contractions, meaning that instead of just lasting for one minute, they would last for 2 or 21/2. These weren’t just like period cramps any more, but more like full body torture.
I had totally lost my focus, and was completely absorbed by the pain. I kept asking Sage and the nurse
“Why won’t you just take the baby out? Why is this happening to me? Why aren’t you answering me?”
They just kept telling me I was doing a good job, and with every contraction Sage and Wes had to remind me to relax my jaw, relax my hands, and bring the energy down. Considering I was having contractions every five minutes, that is a lot of repetition for them. They both get gold stars for being so patient, which was amazing energy to be around, because I was totally losing it. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t be calm and open my root chakra. I felt like my pelvis was going to rip apart and the last thing I wanted was to release into that.
It didn’t matter what position I was in. Whether on the birthing stool with Wes rubbing by back, or squatting, or on the birthing ball, I was miserable. After debating demanding that Wes go the streets and score some heroine, I got on the bed, crawled into a fetal position and surrendered. I had definitely hit a wall, and was almost at the point of giving up. All I wanted was a break. A fifteen-minute coffee break.
7:00-9:30 Just when I got to that point of total desperation, I started to calm down. The energy inside me had shifted, and I noticed the nurse who had cut her finger, had her hands on my lower back. I could feel myself starting to release.
“I hope you don’t mind, I am just doing Reiki on you.” At that moment, something clicked. I had done a Reiki retreat just 6 months prior, and had been practicing Reiki almost every day since. I could not believe I had completely forgotten about this powerful tool of healing! After about 20 minutes the nurse told me her shift was over, and she was going to have to leave. I was really sad to see her go, but was so grateful for her Reiki and reminding me of what I could do for myself.
Suddenly there was something proactive I could do to deal with the pain. I got into the position I had labored in earlier at the park, with my feet together, and my knees falling apart and to the sides. I put my hands on my belly, and started to do Reiki on myself and the baby. In between contractions I would put my head back and fall asleep, then I would raise my head, have a contraction, and then flop my head back and rest again. Through this cycle I was able to regain my focus. The energy in the room became as serene the sunset happening outside the hospital window.
The doctor came in and saw me ass naked, hands on belly, quite as a monk, and wondered it I was going to have the baby that night after all. The contractions had slowed, and I seemed almost peaceful. Lucky for me, both Sage and the nurse knew that my labor wasn’t slowing down, but I was actually getting ready for the next stage.
“You better wash your hands Doc, because she is having this baby soon.”
9:30-11 So there I was, vag exposed to the world, Wes sleeping on the couch, and Sage having dinner stroking my arm between bites.
“Ummmm there is something coming out of me?” I have to say, the feeling of something coming out of you, that is not your mouth or asshole, is very foreign. I had no idea what was going on, because it wasn’t exactly painful, but it was something with mass and girth. I didn’t think it was the baby, but I had no idea what else was hiding up in there.
The new nurse grabbed a flashlight (as my birth plan had specified no lights) and took a look.
“Ohhhhhhh yes. That is your amniotic sac.” Okay, so the baby lives in this sac up in your uterus with all the baby juices that I don’t really know much about. So the classic term of “your water breaking” is when that sac tears, and the baby starts making its way down. So rather than my sac tearing, my baby thought it would be a pretty sweet idea, to bring its home along for the ride.
So as this sac starting to make its way out, it got progressively more painful. Think about it, this thing was not so small, considering it had been housing the baby for the past 9 months. Wes said it looked like a condom coming out. Ironic.
Now, I know this is hard to picture, or imagine, but in order for the baby to come out, I had to get the sac out first. I didn’t really know this at the time, or understand what was going on. Retrospectively, I am super glad I wasn’t in the birthing bath, because then I would have really been confused. At least this way, the nurse knew what was happening.
“What’s happening?? What is going on? When is this going to be over?” No one really answered my whines until the Doctor came in and made the brilliant comment of…
“Wow, you’ve got really strong membranes!” Uhhh thanks for noticing.
“I don’t wanna have strong membranes!!!”
In my birth plan, it said that I wanted to “breathe my baby into existence” rather than pushing. Yeah, that seemed like a nice idea on paper, but when something is coming out of your vag, you kinda want to speed the process along rather than slowly relaxing into your breath. I also thought I was going to be very subdued and quite. The epitome of grace. Think again Toni. Think again.
So now I am basically positioned in a supported squat, with my hands on the back of my knees, pushing away, and screaming like Genghis Kang on the front lines of battle. Finally, my extra strength mega sac from another dimension broke.
“Okay Toni, you’re doing great. Now it’s time to birth that baby!”
“What!!!! I can’t give birth to a baby! I just gave birth to sac!”
I felt like I had hit another wall. That feeling of “Oh my God, I cannot do this, I am seriously going to fucking die” crept back into my head. I suddenly had to puke. Which I did, mid contraction, with Wes catching my vomit in a jar they mysteriously had ready for such a ripe occasion. For the first time in 20 years, my eyes started to cry because of pain.
With every push, Sage had to remind me to make my voice low because guttural noises were necessary to connect to the primal place I had to be in. If my noises were pitched too high, I wasn’t pushing into the depths of my body like I had to in order to connect with the baby inside of me. The really awesome thing about pushing a baby out of your vagina is that the head starts to come out, and then gets sucked back in, then comes out a little more, then sucked back in. It keeps doing that until you “crown, or get the largest part of the head out, and it can no longer retreat back into the only home you never want to redecorate. Once the largest part of the head is out, you have a sensation coined the “ring of fire.” You wanna know why it’s called the ring of fire?? Because it feels like your vagina is on fire that’s why!
“I can’t do this. I can’t do this any more.”
“Hey Wes, you wanna come see the hair?” Isn’t it wonderful how everyone not giving birth can do fun things like that?
“You can see the hair! You can see the hair! You can do this Toni! Get this fucking baby out!” My thoughts exactly.
Now, remember how I told you that my birth plan said I wanted to breath the baby into existence? Well, who ever thought my Doctor actually read my wishes, but he did.
“Now stop pushing Toni, and breathe low shallow breaths.” I don’t know how I listened to him, but I did. I stopped pushing and breathed low breaths until the head came out.
“Now I am just going to suction the baby’s mouth.” The calm sound of his voice and the thought of him slowly taking his time to suction birth cheese out of my baby’s mouth really inspired me to just finish the job.
“Get this baby out of me!!!” I grabbed the back of my knees, made the lowest most primal sound I could muster, and out came the shoulders.
“Reach down and grab your baby.”
“I can’t. I can’t.” I was shaking my head back and forth, hardly able to process what the doctor was saying to me.
“Reach down and grab your baby.” And I did. I reached down, and pulled my baby out of my vagina!!
At that moment, everyone rushed in towards me.
“Back off!” I wasn’t trying to be a dick, but I just wanted a moment. I was the first person to touch this baby, and there the baby was. On my stomach, with its back to me.
“Pat the baby’s back to help it breathe.” I did, and then we all heard the baby’s voice. It wasn’t crying like you hear in the movies, but roaring like a miniature dinosaur. I couldn’t believe it. After getting the shoulders out, the rest of the body had just slipped out like a fish, and then, all the pain, was over. There I was, with a baby on my stomach rather than inside it, and the chaos of birth behind me.
“Pull the baby up to your face.” I was a little tentative to move the baby, because I didn’t know exactly how long that cord was attaching it to my insides, but I pulled the baby up to my face and there were these two eyes just staring at me. Now, I had never gotten an ultra sound, so had no idea what sex the baby was, or whether all the fingers toes and limbs were there, so I was just so happy that every thing seemed healthy and normal. And there was the baby. A genderless being.
In my birthplan, I had indicated that I didn’t want to cut the umbilical cord until it had stopped pulsing. I had heard that a good percentage of blood and yummyness was still being infused to the baby right after birth. So Wes and I just sat there, looking at the baby, not knowing or caring what it was, and just so tripped out on the whole experience.
I know a lot of women describe this immediate love they feel for their child, but I was just more spazzed out to actually process and digest any true emotion. I just couldn’t believe it was really happening. When I found out I was pregnant, I kind of just felt I was going to be pregnant for the rest of my life. I couldn’t comprehend that the pregnancy was only temporary, and I was actually going to be a mom for the rest of my life.
A benefit of not having taking any drugs to help with the pain was that the baby was really awake and alert. It was just looking at me with these huge eyes that seemed oddly familiar. Although you can never imagine what your baby is going to look like, when you see them, it is like you already know them.
Then I heard the Doctor say something about my placenta as he was looking at my vagina. I had recently heard a horror story from my cousin, who could not get her placenta out, and the Doctor had to reach in and literally grab it from inside her.
“Ummm. Do you think you could just give that whole area a break for a bit Doc?”
“But the placenta is right there… maybe if I just give it a little tug…” And with that, he pulled on the umbilical cord, and the placenta just gushed right out like a Starburst commercial. My feet were suddenly covered in birth goo. He then showed us the placenta, and how is worked, and that was a fun time!
The Doctor then told us the cord had stopped pulsing, and asked Wes if he wanted to cut the cord. When you think about this, it is a crazy moment in life. For 9 months, you and the baby are one person. Well, I guess more accurately, the baby is like a parasite, but essentially, you are one. And then, with the snip of some surgical scissors, you are an individual again, and the baby becomes its own person. It was at that moment, when Wes cut the cord, that we saw the baby was a girl.
I was beyond happy. I wanted a girl more than anything in the world.