She was due on 1/21/2008, but she was comfortable and stubborn even then. On 1/27, around 3:00 p.m., my water broke. It did so at a pretty convenient time too. I remember I had been on maternity leave for a couple days and I had a lot of energy that day. I had a great night sleep the night before and got up and decided to run some errands. I went and got gas, stopped by the bank, and then had a craving for Taco Bell. I got my nachos and headed home.
I went up three flights of stairs to my apartment and set down all my things. I was so hungry! I set my nachos on my coffee table and crouched to have a seat to begin feasting and that’s when it happened. Its crazy how you know something is going to happen but then when it is happening it is always different. I remembered I called my mom and told her that my water broke and she came right over. Well, I think it took her about 30 minutes or so since she had to leave work. I stuffed a hand towel down my maternity pants and sat and ate my nachos.
I didn’t feel any different. No pain. I think I remember feeling a sense of urgency though, but that was probably my anxiety and being alone when something so monumental was occurring. At least, knowing my mom was on her way, that kept me calm.
When my mom got there we took her car to the birthing center to get checked in and assess that progress, if any. There actually wasn’t any progress. If I remember right I hadn’t dilated at all, no contractions, no pain, nothing. They said the fluid was clear and Abigail and I both looked healthy. They suggested to go home or somewhere close, wait for the contractions to start and when they get longer, stronger, and closer together, head on over for the fun stuff.
Our plan was to go to my sister’s house since she was about 20 minutes, I think, from the birthing center. We went over there to stay the night. I believe she made me something super yummy for dinner which I can’t remember right now but it was one of my favorites. It may have been a burrito or poached eggs with hats on top. It was the last thing I ate until over 24 hours later. I remember it was around 9:00 p.m. when I started to feel the first little tinges of pain.
Everyone got ready for bed, but that just made my anxiety worse. It is always worse at night, ever since I was little. Knowing you cannot take anything when you are pregnant and knowing you cannot stop what is happening makes it so much worse too!
I was in their spare bedroom with a single bed, a little TV and some DVD’s to choose from. My mom was supposed to stay with me, but something came up and she had to go home. She told me to call her when she needed to come back, I think. My memory isn’t that good all the time so some bits I don’t remember. I do remember I watched a couple funny, comfort movies to help get my mind off the contractions. I watched Wedding Singer and something else.
Then, I remember calling my mom and she came back over right away. It seemed like forever though sitting in that little room making frequent trips to the bathroom because my body felt like it was trickling fluids constantly, especially during contractions. I was trying to be quiet to not wake up my sister and her husband and their 7 year old daughter.
When my mom showed up I remember we started to watch The 40 Year Old Virgin together and she put my hair into two french braids. These were my lucky braids. When I was little I had very long hair and I played softball and my mom would put my hair into two french braids before our games and tell me they were my lucky braids. It always feels nice when your mom brushes and braids your hair. We kept watching the movie and breathing through the contractions until I wasn’t able to concentrate on the movie any more.
We quietly gathered our things around 5:00 a.m. and were going to leave my sister’s quietly to head over to the birthing center. My sister came rushing out of her room in underwear and a tank top, half asleep and a little annoyed that we were trying to sneak out with out her. I don’t remember if she came with us, followed us there or came later, but what I do remember is how long that drive seemed compared to yesterday when we left the birthing center. I could feel every little bump and movement and my body was pretty tense and very tired since I did not sleep at all the entire night. By now, I had been up almost 24 hours.
We checked in and I think I was 4 cm dilated. It wasn’t anything big, I remember being disappointed. I felt like I had already worked so hard and I was expecting to be further along. I am sure every first time mother feels that way at some point in their labor. I remember we got a room and they gave us the essentials we needed and now…we wait.
The next thing I remember was being very modest and not wanting my family to see me naked. In the room, throughout this birth story was my mom, my sister and my sister-in-law, who just had a newborn less than one month ago. I remember the pain intensified and the midwife showed me the shower. I believe I saw on an exercise ball with a wonderful shower head that was spraying warm water. It felt so good and relaxing and the feeling really helped me to focus on something other than the pain every few minutes. The midwife would alternate from my baby bump to my lower back and it was amazing. Then, after what felt like minutes but I think were actually hours, she had to go. She had to tend to another expecting mother who was probably in much more need than me. She asked if I would like my mom to come in and help with the shower head. No. Thank. You. I don’t want people seeing me naked.
I mean, it is different when the baby is crowning, no one is really paying attention to anything except the baby coming out. So I balanced on that ball, placed the shower head on my tummy and slowly rocked the contractions away. I don’t know how long I was doing that for until it just was too much for me to do myself.
There she was again, right when I needed her. There I was, naked and huge, balancing on a ball trying to get this baby to get out of my body. I think hours passed. My moms back was aching and I am sure she was tired and needed to eat. The shower really helped to get into active labor. I think, but I could be totally wrong, I was at 7 cm by then…but I really don’t remember since I was very much out of it.
I remember the pain increased and I did ask for something to “take the edge off.” Luckily, being at a birthing center my midwives reminded me of what I wanted for my birth plan: no medication, all natural birth. I think this was when we decided to try the tub.
I wanted a water birth to begin with and was so excited to try. They filled the tub with nice warm, clean water for me. By now, I was in pain and had no shame. I was walking around the room, slowly, with fluids dripping out of me. Like something you would see in a zombie film, I’m sure. I remember hearing my mom say at one point how cute I looked with my baby belly. The tub was ready and I was super ready to get into it! I got in slowly and the water instantly made my body feel weightless and warm. It really helped take the pain I was feeling down a few notches.
I talk. I talk a lot. I talk fast and a lot and I have a bad habit of interrupting people and talking over people. That day, I was not me. I was in such deep relaxation and focusing on one moment at a time and breathing through it that I needed complete concentration to maintain that focus and calmness. Anytime someone spoke I would grimace and she “Shhh.” If I needed a sip of water my mom, sister or sister-in-law would be right there giving me some water. My mom even put chapstick on my lips and nosespray up my nose when the midwives weren’t looking. She made sure to keep me as calm as possible.
I had music playing in the room like Carrie Underwood, Mercy Me and Beethoven. I was enjoying sitting in my little warm tub of…stuff. I will spare you the details. Then, the midwives told me that my body and mind had been too relaxed by the tub and I need to get out. My contractions have pretty much gone away. Here I thought I was doing good, but it was just that they had stopped. Ugh. So frustrating. I just want this baby out already.
I had no clue what time it was, what day it was, who was in the room, what town am I in again? What is the weather like? Why am I not hungry? How can I get this baby out?!
I don’t remember how much time passed, but it was a lot of waiting and waiting and then the contractions started up again. At some point I was in enough pain that I didn’t want music on. I wanted it quiet. I gave my full concentration to everything my body was feeling and doing. I prayed between contractions for God to give me the strength to get through the next wave. I knew I couldn’t do this alone.
Finally, it was time to push. I pushed…and pushed…and pushed. I tried different positions. I tried lying on my side, on my back, I got on all fours. Then, I just went back to the good ole fashioned back position. I remember feeling stinging and poking like a needle in various areas. My stomach was hard as a rock and working to get the baby out. I focused on my breathing and pushed more. The doctor said “Want to feel her head?” I reached down and felt Abigail’s head.
It felt disgusting.
I am sorry, but that was just gross and it made it too real. That made me want to get her out even faster. It didn’t feel like a head. It felt squishy and soft. Back to pushing…and pushing…and pushing.
“Want to feel her head again?”
I start feeling a lot of poking around there with fingers. They are trying to get her out without injuring me too much, but it is taking too long. They tell me that if we don’t get her out in the next couple of pushes we will need to do a c-section. They gave me a little bit of pitocin to help the contractions become a bit stronger. I am not sure what happened next, but Abigail’s arm was stuck next to her head and she wasn’t able to get out. A midwife stuck her fingers inside to pull Abigail’s arm out and then I pushed and we this is what we call “The Ring of Fire.”
This was the most pain ever at one point. It felt like I was being torn in half. This was when I remember thinking for a second “There is no way I will ever do this again.” I just wanted it to be over with. Her head must’ve come out because it doesn’t hurt as bad now and my sister is saying how beautiful she is and she is about to start crying. Then, they tell me one more push. I have heard that about thirty times today…so I don’t believe any of these people. I push, and a huge relief and burning is what I felt. I knew the worst part was over now.
They placed Abigail on my chest and everyone started to cry. Abigail cried, I think. I don’t know. I just remember I checked to make sure she was a girl and that she had all her fingers and toes. I told her “You are the Golden Child. Mommy is never going to do that again.” Abigail was a natural at nursing, she got right on the nipple and started suckling away. I was actually amazed at her suction and strength for being only a few minutes old. Once the umbilical cord was done pulsating, her father cut the cord.
I was so enthralled with her presence on me that I didn’t realize I still needed to deal with the afterbirth. That was simple though. I noticed the doctor was down there for a while between my legs. I would find out later that I had a third degree laceration caused when they had to get her arm out of the way.
I would also find out the next day that I had subcutaneous emphysema or crepitus. I asked the nurse why my skin felt “crunchy” around my neck, collarbone, face, scalp, etc. She had no clue so they brought me in for x-rays and found I had crepitus. This is when air is trapped under your skin. Basically, when I got on all fours to push, I didn’t do a good job and blew a hole in my lung which leaked air into my skin. It stayed like this for a few weeks until it eventually evaporated. It did ruin my after birth photos making me look puffy and like the dad from Family Guy.
So back to the room. Abigail was born at 7:57 p.m. on 1/29/2008. She weighed 8 lbs, 9 oz and was 21 inches long. She was perfect. I still didn’t feel like a mother though. I didn’t feel bonded to her. I just felt like “I have a child and need to take care of her.” It took a couple months of taking care of her and then seeing her smile was when I fell in love with her. Our bond grows stronger each day.
I remember the first thing I ate was orange Jell-O my mom fed to me while I was getting sewn up. It tasted so good. I didn’t realize I was hungry. It was as if my body went into survival mode and I didn’t have to pee, poo, eat or sleep for 36 hours. The body is amazing, isn’t it?!
I remember when Abigail and I got our room together and I was starting to feel normal again. Well, as normal as you can after giving birth. I had the biggest appetite come over me and something that resembled normalcy. I used to watch the late show with Craig Ferguson back then and by the time I got in my room it was midnight and it was just me and Abigail. I remember I ordered a ton of food from the kitchen and watched Craig Ferguson. I felt like I would never sleep again. I was wide awake now. I ate soup, sandwich, salad, drank a ton of juice and water and then finally sleep came.
Only for a bit though. Between the nurses checking me and Abigail’s vitals and Abigail crying and dirty diapers, I barely slept. Welcome to Parenthood.
Abigail will officially be 9 years old in about a half an hour. She is lying next to me on the couch right now, asleep, under a blanket. When I am done with this little story, I will pick her up and carry her to bed. Kiss her on the forehead.
I love her more than any words I can think of.