(His very first photo, two hours old)
I did not love pregnancy (I wrote about it for Disney's parenting website Babble here). This was a hard realization for me because I really expected to enjoy that time.
I do, however, love having a baby. I love everything about it; how tiny they are, that newborn scent, the itty bitty clothes, the coos, that first smile, the giggles, just all of it. I love new baby life to the same extent that I didn't love pregnancy which feels redeeming in a really sweet way.
When I was pregnant, I worried about the birth. I think I hoped for the best but expected the worst. I had friends with scary birth experiences, and heard so many horror stories that I became so nervous for myself and for this baby, for the millions of ways that birth could go wrong. I think those thoughts are all valid, maybe even for each pregnancy but even more so with your first because you just have no idea what to expect. I'm so happy to say that none of my fears were true. I got my dream birth, better than I could have hoped for, and since the outcome of all of pregnancy and birth is so out of your control it just feels like this really good gift.
I love hearing other people's pregnancy and birth stories, and I love that no two are exactly alike. I wanted to hear more good birth stories when I was pregnant, so I'm sharing my experience with Trey today.
I had been in prodromal labor for ten days prior to the birth, which meant I was having contractions that would start each day in the early afternoon, and progress and progress, sometimes even coming a minute apart. These would last until I fell asleep, then I'd wake up and the whole process would resume again the next day. It was exhausting, I was in constant mild pain, and it really took a toll on me emotionally and physically, as each day felt like "this could be it!" but was a total fake out.
I had enough. I scheduled an induction date at the hospital, set for one week after my due date and I also scheduled an acupuncture appointment for natural induction at the recommendation of a few friends, because two out of three of them went into labor immediately following their appointments. I never had acupuncture before but those odds were enough for me. I felt hopeful but mostly just so desperate.
Friday June 3rd: My due date came and went, and the next day (the 3rd) I had contractions in the morning, which was something new, they usually didn't start until the afternoon, so I took it as a good sign. I headed to my acupuncture appointment, came home, got my nails done, and tried to make the day fly by. Daniel got home from work and we walked the lake like we'd been doing. We cancelled evenings plans with friends because the nights were becoming the hardest in terms of pain. I cleaned the entire house for the thousandth time, which is funny that everyone says you'll be cleaning when you go into labor, but that nesting instinct really is so real.
I was so determined that I wasn't going into labor anytime soon that I said to Daniel, "We have to assume that this baby isn't coming until our induction date next week, so we don't keep getting our hopes up." He agreed and we made plans to go to brunch the next day as a treat.
11:00pm. I'm starving. Head to the kitchen and eat leftover tacos.
11:54pm. I'm shopping for baby clothes online while laying in bed and I said to Daniel "This baby is kicking me SO hard." Then immediately I hear two pops, put it all together, and say, "Oh my gosh! I think my water just broke!" And sure enough I stood up and water GUSHED out of me like someone turned a water bottle upside down. I ran to the shower and stood there while it went everywhere, and saw meconium. This startled me as I knew it could be a sign of fetal distress. At the same time, the next contraction hit and it was like NOTHING when my water was in tact. We immediately called the hospital and explained that I was in labor. They said they'd page the on call midwife and that she'd call back within twenty minutes. The contractions were so immediately intense that I knew we had to get out of the house, and fast. Luckily I didn't wait for the call back, because I never got one! That was funny to me later on. I raced around throwing last minute things into bags that were already mostly packed. I remember at one point thinking, "Should I wash and blow dry my hair?" and then realizing, "I'm in serious active labor right now and have no time for that" and I'm so glad I didn't. We got out of the house as fast as we could.
12:25am: We speed to the hospital. It was just like the movies: I was begging Daniel to drive faster, I couldn't have the seat belt on because I was in so much pain, and I was starting to cry. I remember Daniel asking me if we should be timing the contractions and me thinking, "Are you joking? If this isn't active labor then I don't know what is."
12:45am: Daniel parks illegally right in front of the hospital so he can get me checked in the fastest. (Luckily by the time he's able to move his car a few hours later there's no ticket.) I remember walking into the hospital, doubled over and in tears and Daniel shouting, "She's in labor!" And they immediately call for a wheelchair and I think I sign something. They wheel me to labor and delivery as I silently cry through contractions.
12:50am: Brenda, the most perfect nurse of all time, welcomes me into the room and checks me. I remember thinking, "If I'm still at a 1 and 0% like I have been for the past few weeks, then this is all a joke." Thankfully, I'm at a 4 and 80% effaced, all within 50 minutes. She says, "Congratulations, you're having a baby." I immediately request an epidural and they get the process started.
1:10am: I am not coping. Each contraction gets worse and worse, I am crying and on the verge of hyperventilating. Bless this hospital, they had the most perfect crushable ice chips, and I would chew those during each contraction while squeezing Daniel and Brenda's hands for dear life. Brenda could tell I needed something more before the epidural would arrive, so she starts an IV of fentanyl. I thought, "Oh perfect. Here I am for the last 9 months avoiding sliced turkey and limiting my caffeine intake, and now I'm being administered narcotic drugs." I needed it though, it took the edge off but I still felt like I was in 10/10 pain.
1:20am: The epidural guy Paul comes in to get the party started. He has a thick German accent and comments on how great our last name is, "Seidel" which we pronounce as "sigh-DELL" but he says really should be pronounced "sigh-dull" if we were authentically German.
1:45am: The epidural is in place and we're rolling. It takes to both sides, which I am so grateful for since that wasn't the case for some of my friends. My feet start to go numb first. The rest of my legs follow. Sweet, sweet relief ensues and I start to relax a little.
2:00am: Brenda comes in to turn me every 30 minutes to make sure it evenly distributes, and gives me the peanut ball (also a recommendation of a friend's) to help get Trey in place, since he was in a posterior/face up position (which could be a reason for all the prodromal labor). Brenda says, "It looks like you could be having this baby before my shift is up at 7am!" I think, "Yeah right. My friends all labor for 24+ hrs, this could be a while."
2:30am: Daniel goes to sleep. I'm too excited. I lay there, listening to the beeping of the monitors, with no feeling in my legs but contractions progressing right along, and just trying to wrap my head around the fact that I'm in labor and we're finally having this baby. It was such a surreal moment. Daniel had texted a group of family and friends to update them when we left for the hospital, but I sat there, epidural in and all, and emailed a few more family and friends who weren't on that list. Around 3:30am I fall asleep for a bit.
5:30am: I awoke to feeling the urge to push twice. I page Brenda, who checks me and she says, "Yep, you're at a 10!" I couldn't believe it. Daniel wakes up and starts making himself a PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH which makes me want to hurl. I got so nauseous and was expecting to throw up but never did, which is a small miracle considering how much I threw up my first trimester of pregnancy. Brenda raises the head of my bed up to vertical and says that we need to let the baby come down a bit first.
6:30am: Brenda comes in and says, let's try some practice pushes. I push three times and Daniel sees the head crown. She says "Okay! You're having a baby!" And goes to get the rest of the team. We needed NICU and Respiratory because of the meconium in the amniotic fluid. A handful of people walk in the room, I close my eyes and try not to make eye contact with anyone, I didn't want to see all these strangers walk in while I was giving birth.
6:35am: I start pushing. I was surprised that even with having an epidural, I could feel the baby moving down and I knew where to push. I was glad for that. Everyone who's in a birthing room must be so trained, because after each push they would all cheer like you had just won an Olympic gold medal. "Good, good! You're doing great! Awesome! Way to go! Perfect!"
I felt like I was kind of pushing, but not giving it 100% because I didn't want to tear. Then at one point Brenda said to me, "Okay, you're doing great, but I want you to know that the heart rate is starting to drop. I don't want to worry you but I want you to be aware." And that was all I needed. I pushed that baby out so hard and so fast.
6:54am: I push, I hear a pop sound and water gushing, and Daniel jumps back a little and says "Whoa!" and Trey was out, our perfect baby boy. A few nurses check in with Daniel to see if HE is okay or if he needs a towel (which we find hilarious and a nod to Daniel's dad, who was trying to help Daniel's mom with her breathing during labor and ends up hyperventilating, fainting, and the nurses all tending to him while my MIL is in active labor like, "Can I get a little help here?")
They hold up Trey and I can see him in the early morning light, and he's perfect. He's already crying which I knew was a good sign, even though NICU and Respiratory needed to check him out to make sure he didn't swallow meconium and that his airways were okay, which Brenda mentioned to me before so I would be prepared, but I still I remember being nervous, and asking "Is he ok?! What are they doing?" And no one answering me, which maybe is protocol but was alarming in the moment. Daniel stayed near me that whole time instead of looking at the baby which I appreciated.
They placed Trey on my chest and I remember that very moment, his head bobbing around and his dark eyes looking up at mine, how his head already seemed so strong but he also seemed so fragile, seeming both so big and so small at the same time. I remember thinking he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and I just held his tiny body and sobbed. Relief for him, relief for me, that the pregnancy was over, that we had this amazing birth, that he was perfect and whole and here.
I could not believe everything went so well, so fast, so seamlessly. I just sobbed and sobbed, beyond happy and beyond thankful. I held that tiny little baby and cried tears over him, and Daniel kissed the top of my head. It was heavenly; unlike any other moment in my life. My entire world stopped. We had our baby. I was a mom. Daniel was a dad. We were parents. Our little family changed for the best in that one instant. This tiny little person, who I had worked so hard for 9 months for, was finally here. I was overwhelmed in the best possible way.
Post-birth went amazing as well, I delivered the placenta no problem without even realizing it (which I was nervous about since I knew of Christy Turlington's complication and her non-profit Every Mother Counts). I had minor tearing which was painless (thank you, Epidural) and a bruised tailbone, but both seemed so manageable to me compared to what I was expecting.
After he was born, the midwife mentioned she had never seen a cord wrapped so crazily in that way, in a twisted formation all around his body and twice around his neck. She mentioned that it was amazing that he came out breathing and perfectly pink, not blue from lack of oxygen. A miracle indeed.
I got the birth of my dreams. I love sharing this story because I think there needs to be more good birth stories out there. So many things can go awry during birth. But it also can go so well. It truly is an indescribable, otherworldly event that I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience. Whether you deliver with an O.B. or a midwife, have an epidural or all natural, c-section or water birth, all of birth is miraculous. I am so in awe of the process and what my body is capable of. Truly, a miracle.