I was asked to write a birth story to coincide with Discovery Health’s Baby Week. I agreed because it was the perfect motivation to finally write Her Story. (And no, I was not paid to write this.)
It was August 2nd, two days before my due date. I had been down this road twice before. I knew what the beginning of labor felt like. I knew that the time had finally arrived. I was only 4 days late, but it felt like 4 months. This pregnancy was not planned. This pregnancy had come at a difficult time in our lives. But we had 9 months to get over the shock, 9 months to fall in love with The Baby We Never Thought We’d Have.
I wanted some time alone with my boys before I had the baby. I wanted one last chance to have just the two of them, only 11 and 7 years old, before their baby sister arrived.
“Mommy is going to have her baby soon.” I told them. “Would you like to lay on the couch with me until it’s time for Dad to take me to the hospital?”
In one of the sweetest, most touching moments of my life as a mother, my two beautiful sons lay on the sofa, one on each side of me, their heads on my lap. I ran my fingers through there hair as I told him how much I loved them. How lucky I was to be their Mama. Tears began running down my cheeks as I tried to imagine how our lives together would change with a new baby in the house.
“Why are you crying, Mommy? Does it hurt?” My youngest asked, while looking up at me. He always worries about his Mama, that one.
“Just a little bit.” I answered. “But don’t worry. I was fine when I had you and your brother. I’m going to be fine.”
They took turns asking questions. “What will it feel like?” “How long will it take?” “How bad will it hurt?” I would answer each question as honestly and delicately as I could, pausing only to breathe in between contractions. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more loved by my boys as I did on that night. Nor do I think I’ve ever felt such guilt– how could I put them through this? How could I make them worry about me? How could I bring another child into our perfect little family? Did they think they weren’t enough? Because oh my God, they were more than enough.
They eventually feel asleep, but I stayed awake, just staring at their precious faces. “If anything happens to me, I hope they know how very much I love them.” I thought to myself, as they lay there next to me.
The contractions began to get stronger and closer together and although I was determined to stay at home to labor on my own for as long as possible, I truly felt like “it was time.” I left the boys on the couch, made sure everything was packed and told my husband that it was time to go. We packed up the van, took the boys to Grandma’s house and left for the hospital.
Kissing them good bye that early morning wasn’t easy. I knew they were experiencing a plethora of emotions– fear, excitement, nervousness– and I couldn’t be there to help them through it.
I hated that.
The entire way to the hospital, I worried about my boys.
“Do you think they’re okay?” I’d ask, in between contractions.
“They’re fine.” My husband would respond.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Your Mom will take good care of them and they’ll come to see you in the morning. They’re fine!”
We arrived at the hospital at 6am. I was SURE they’d tell me I was already dilated to 10 and ready to push! SURE OF IT! But after checking me, the news was pretty much the exact opposite of “you’re ready to push!”
“You’re only dilated to 1 and a half. I know the contractions are close together, but you still have a while to go. We’re going to send you home. You’re scheduled for induction on the 4th– we’ll probably see you back then!”
It was the 2nd.
And I was 4 days late.
I looked at my husband and said “I want to kick her in the teeth! There is no possible way I can stand 2 more days of this! (I was in labor! Labor makes you say crazy things!)
They sent me home and I wasn’t happy about it. And I made sure that everyone in the elevator on the way down to the lobby knew it. I cursed and cried and cursed some more. If this wasn’t The Real Thing, how would I know when it was? How would I know when to come back? I was scared. And in pain. SO MUCH PAIN.
We arrived back home after what felt like an 8 hour drive. Time goes slow when you’re contracting and breathing and still cursing the nurse for sending you home. I was an emotional and physical wreck. My husband walked to the bedroom, where I stripped out of my clothes to TRY to find even a shred of comfort in my bed. Just as I laid down, there was a knock on our front door. “Who could that be?” I asked in horror. This was the absolute worst possible time for a visitor.
Turns out, it was my Mother in law and her cleaning crew. I forgot that she had offered to come over and clean my house before I had the baby. (Which I recognized later was such a kind, thoughtful thing to do. it’s just kind of hard to sees things that way when you’re laying naked on your bed, four days past your due date, having contractions and stuff.)
“I don’t want her here!” I cried. “I’m in labor! I don’t want to deal with anyone right now.”
“You won’t have to deal with her, Babe.” My husband said, trying to reason with a woman in labor.
“But what if she comes in here and WANTS TO TALK TO ME? I DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO HER RIGHT NOW.” I snapped back. “Ohh, FINE. Let her in, just make sure you tell her not to come in my room. I DON’T WANT ANYONE IN HERE, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
It was almost impossible to relax while I heard the scrubbing of tubs and the vacuuming of carpets. I kept reminding myself that she was doing something nice! (Which, she was.) But the noise, it was too much for me to deal with. I left the house and went for a walk up and down my street. That was a lovely sight for my neighbors, I’m sure! Here I was, in full blown labor, taking a few steps, stopping, breathing and then crying because “It huuuurts!”
I had been having contractions for over 14 hours, I was in pain, I was tired, but mostly, I was scared and confused. Was it too early to go back to the hospital? Or what if I had waited too long? I told my husband I wanted to go back.
When we arrived at the hospital, they hooked me up to the monitor. Contractions were strong. They checked my cervix again. It was only dilated to 2-3. I couldn’t believe it. “Can you break my water?” I asked, in a very desperate tone. “Won’t that help speed things along?”
“Unfortunately, we can’t. The baby’s head is still too high and the cervix is still too hard. We’re going to keep you here now, though, because the baby’s heart beat is dropping a little with the contractions.” I immediately panicked on the inside, but kept it together on the outside. She then said things like “monitor closely” and “possible emergency c-section.”
Do I need to tell you how scared I was? Because I was scared.
I thought this birth would be so easy! I mean, I had done it twice before! I thought by the time you got to the third one, they practically just FELL OUT.” Apparently, I was wrong about that.
The nurse asked me several times if I wanted an epidural. The answer was, no, I didn’t want an epidural. “But, the pain.” She said, as if I had NO clue that it would be painful. As if I needed a reminder. “I am terrified of needles.” I explained. “And the thought of a needle IN MY SPINE is worse than the pain as far as I’m concerned. Also? The idea of not being able to fell my legs freaks me out!”
Next, it was the doctors turn to ask me if I wanted an epidural.
The answer was the same as the one I had given the nurse. “No.”
“But, the pain.” He said. (Again,with The Pain reasoning.)
“I know about the pain.” I snapped back. “But I’m scared of needles in my back!”
And then, he said something that made me want to kick him in the place it would hurt him the most.
“Well, if I were you, I’d be more scared of The Pain than of a needle.”
Way to be supportive of my choices, Doctor!
Labor went on for what seemed like forever with very little results. They finally decided it was safe to break my water, but only after I begged them over and over again. After the water was broke, things finally began to progress. Contractions became more regular and more intense. I started to dilate. And then? I started to SCREAM FOR DRUGS!
The nurse gladly gave me a shot of I don’t remember what. But I do remember that it made me pass out. And of course that was the exact moment that my boys came in to visit me. I remember they came in and stood next to me. I remember they asked me if I was okay. I remember hearing their voices, but not seeing their faces as I had a hard time opening my eyes. They love to imitate me during that visit. They thought it was HILARIOUS that I was unable to say words properly and that I was quite possible drooling. They kissed me good bye and went back to the waiting room with the family. Shortly after they left, my Dad came in to visit and to pray for me. (My Dad is a pastor.) He went to lay his hands on me. “Don’t touch me.” I slurred at him, in my drugged out state of mine. He ignored me and placed his hand on my forehead. “DON’T TOUCH ME!” I said, possibly while slapping his hand away from me. I was in so much pain, so miserable, the last thing I wanted was to be touched. (I blame the drugs!)
The medication began to wear off and oh, how it hurt. It felt like one continuous contraction that WOULD.NOT.END. I called my husband over.
“Baby.” I cried. “It hurts so bad! I need more drugs.”
“Oh, honey.” He said, all lovingly. “Your breath is HORRID. You need a breath mint.
NOT “Okay, I’ll get the nurse and get you some more drugs!” NOT “Can I get you some ice chips?” NOT any of those things that a husband most definitely should say to his wife who is in labor. Nope. His answer was “You need a breath mint.”
I literally could not believe he said that. COULD.NOT.BELIEVE.IT.
“I don’t give a @#%@ if my@@%&#!! breath stinks! I’m TRYING TO HAVE A BABY HERE! I’M IN PAIN!”
Apparently, my breath was so bad, he was willing to risk his life to continue to convince me that I should pop a breath mint in my mouth.
“But honey. Think of the doctor. It’s really bad. I’ll be right back.” And he left the room. He returned within a few minutes, with smile on his face and package of breath mints in his hand. He then proceeded to open it and lovingly put one in my mouth.
And then I punched him in the neck.
KIDDING! But I really, really wanted to.
Twenty two-ish hours had passed since I first began labor. There are no words to describe how tired I was or how much pain I was in.
“I WANT AN EPIDURAL!” I shouted, surprising everyone, including myself. But I simply couldn’t take the pain for a minute longer. I thought I would die.
A few minutes later, I was sitting up, bent over, trying not to pass out as a woman inserted the needle into my lower back. I was surprised at how easy the whole thing was and wanted to kick myself for not having done it sooner, or with my previous two births. I waited for it to numb things up, but I still felt pain. “Should it still be hurting?” I asked the nurse. “Why is it still hurting?”
The anesthesiologist came back right away to adjust things, but the pain was still there. It was at that point the nurse decided it was time to “check down there” again.
“Oh my goodness” she said “you’re dilated to 10! It’s time to start pushing!”
I suddenly didn’t care that I still had pain because, I could push! My baby was almost here! Pain? What pain?
I was wheeled into the delivery room, followed by my husband and my sister who would be recording the birth. I couldn’t believe that the moment had finally arrived. Suddenly, I felt energized, excited to finally meet my daughter.
“P-U-S-H!” The nurse shouted. “Come on, you’re doing so good! Keep going! Harder! Harder!”
“Oh, baby.” My husband said. “I can see her hair. She has so much hair!”
I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. “What color is it?” I asked
“It’s black. Jet black. And it’s so thick!”
“Oh, I can’t wait to see her. I can’t wait to meet my daughter.”
I pushed for almost an hour.
“The head is out.” The doctor said. “Give me one more push and you’ll get to meet your daughter.”
My daughter. The daughter I never thought I’d have. Just one more push til I’d get to see her beautiful face.
I pushed with everything that I had left in me.
It was 12:18 am, my daughter took her very first breath. “It’s a girl!” the doctor said while holding her up for me to see.
There she was. My daughter. She was more beautiful than I had imagined she would be.
My husband wept as he started at the little girl he had always dreamed of having.
They placed her in my arms. I placed my nose against her warm, damp cheeks and inhaled. “I love you. I love you I love you I love you.” I whispered. My husband leaned in and kissed me. Then he kissed his daughter. All of the fears I had about bringing a new baby into our family vanished in that moment. She belonged with us. I couldn’t wait for her brothers to see her, to hold her. They’d love her, I just knew it. And oh, how she would love them.
In that moment, I knew that life was as she should be.