38 weeks: Feeling so fat, exhausted, weak, and very pregnant, ready to get going with my new life with baby. I am 2-3 cm dilated for about 3 weeks. My sister Laura finds an old friend from Boulder who is willing to assist in being my doula for labor and the birthing process. Praise the Lord! Baby has dropped into my pelvis.
39 weeks: Baby has dropped even more into my pelvis. At Wednesday's doctor visit, I am told I am 4 cm dilated and small bloody show (she agitates my cervix). Since the 4th of July, I'm having friends and family "walk" me every day. Thanks to Rachael and Rachel for getting me out of the house and moving, outside of my daila yoga practices. Laura suggests to take Evening Primrose and mom pumps me everyday full of pregnancy and red raspberry leaf tea, also provided by Laura. I don't know what I would've done without the tips and encouragement from her, seeing as she is the only one I know that is familiar with birthing babies as of recent (she had her 2nd baby boy Dillon in February via home birth).
Friday, July 8: Al and mom decide to take me out for PIE. Rachael joins us as well at Marie Callendars. Chicken Pot Pie and community shared banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie, and chocolate satin pie...yummm. Al's bet on the birth day is July 9th and his story is that his 2 kids (now all grown up) came when pie was ingested the day/night prior... So we go back home and watch Due Date, which seemed very fitting for what would go on for the rest of the night. We finish up the movie around 8, at which time I'm starting to feel contractions and they are inTENSE now! I head upstairs to see if it's really the real deal. More bloody show. Mom is upstairs brushing her teeth and I have changed moods from happy and excited to "this sucks" and "I think this is it" mood.
The texts between Rachel and I...
R 8:15 "Double rainbow at my house!!"
M 8:27 "Contractions r more intense now. Hard to time. Last one was 5 minutes from start to next start. In my back and causing pain in my stomach."
R 8:32 "Oh buddy. Double rainbow called it..."
M 8:32 "Come over??"
R 8:33 "On my way darling."
Rachel finds me in my room laying on the floor on my hands and knees, remembering any moves to alleviate the pain. Cat/cow, pelvic tilts and rolls, tailor sitting, childs pose...Wayne calls and gives some sound advice "I'm so proud of you. You can do this!" Rachel times the next contraction and it's closer than we thought: 3-3.5 minutes apart! Rachel says "It's time to go to the hospital." As everyone is getting things together, I'm thinking "Ok this is it. MAN that hurts!!! whewwwwwwoohhhhowwwweeeeee!! This better not take too long..."
From this moment on, everything is a big blur of events but eventful nonetheless. I crawl into the back of mom's car and the seat is laid down so I can move any way need be as Rachel lays there with me, rubbing my back and calling the need to know people, Jessica my doula, my doctor, etc. Mom is letting Laura and Lee know what's happening and I get to listen to Laura's voice on the way over. "You are meant to do this. Just breathe. Just focus and breathe." She can hear me breathing deeply and experiencing increasingly intense contractions. After what felt like forever, we finally get to Parker Adventist Hospital. I distinctly remember my mom being somewhat frantic. "Are they going to let us have a wheelchair?" I look at Rachel and we're thinking the same thing...that's my mom for you and I love her for it. They wheel me in and I try to ignore the glaring faces of other patients from the Emergency entrance area. I guess it's not every day you see a woman in REAL labor, except on TV, so I wonder if it's what they really thought it would look like. It must be like seeing a car accident in person when all you've seen is what you see on the news, you know? But movies and TV are sooo diluted in how labor and delivery truly is experienced. It's nothing like you see in the movies. ANYWAY, we get up to the birth center and I'm wheeled into a regular room and apparently I'm not registered...I'm thinking to ask about the "natural birthing room" but cannot muster up a concrete sentence that doesn't involve heavy breathing, a curse word, and "I don't want to do this anymore." So I just go with it and focus on my breathing. One of the nurses asks me to undress into their stylish robes and to give a urine sample if possible. EASIER SAID THAN DONE LADY! I'm not sure why I tried to give them a sample TWICE before giving up since the attempt at squatting was beyond excruciating and in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "I thought this position was supposed to give me relief."
From this moment on, it seemed as thought the nurses were against me. Jessica is not there yet so I work on leaning over the bed to stretch out my back. The moment I find some glimpse of relief from a contration, a nurse tells me I have to get in the bed. "Are you kidding me right now? I want to birth a baby and whatever position that will help, I'm going to do." I comply because I don't know what's going on. IV, fetal monitor, and who knows what else is established on my body and I'm examined at 8cm. What??? Then I remember Jessica finally arriving. She became my focal point from then on, which helped immensely. Even through hospital bed bars, she was able to intercede for me and be my advocate for any unnecessary intervention by the hospital.
Since I was not pre-registered, during contractions, they continuously explained paperwork and had me sign stuff when one would be over. You could've had me sign my life away, I was so focused on each and every contraction. As they became more and more intense, being reminded of low moans kept me at bay. All my inhibitions flew out the door as people kept prodding at me for information.
The ongoing frustration I had was as I found a comfortable position to alleviate any pain, specifically back pain, the nurses would come back in, saying the fetal monitor cannot read the baby's stats. The birthing ball, the birthing bar, squatting, hands and knees, they all helped until nurses forced me to lie back on my back, the worst position that increased the contractions. On TOP of this, the OB/GYN that tended me throughout my pregnancy was not on call and the least desirable doctor from the practice was on call. Yet another let down, but I didn't care. I was going to get this baby out naturally! 9cm....and I'm on an oxygen tank.
I kept hearing that people were amazed that I wanted a natural birth, that I was doing incredible, and later I come to find out that the reason why I was having so much back labor was because little Jackson was faced posterior, spine to spine. Anytime it was too intense, "back baCK BACK!!" was what I said. I recall that I kept looking at the clock on the other side of the room, hoping that time would fly faster and that I would see my baby soon. My mom read me some Bible verses and I overheard some calming music and hypnobirthing tracks that distracted my mind from the ever increasing contractions.
As the contractions became even more than I had ever imagined, my voice would want to go higher, saying "I can't do this. I don't wanna do this anymore" to Jessica. "Lower your voice, oooooooooo. Jackson is coming so soon. You're there. You're almost there." Almost 10cm.....
Around 11:30pm, there was continued failure in getting a continuous reading on the fetal monitor around my swollen belly. All of a sudden, I see 3 times as many people in my room, along with an unknown male doctor talking to my doctor. "She wants to birth this baby naturally." "Well my room is prepped when you're ready. She's not going to make it." This gave me more motivation to take this experience to completion...the arrogance of this doctor was just too much. I'm ready to push. It's go time!
I was surprised that at this point, the pain wasn't as intense as during transition (8-10cm). It felt like I was a ticking time bomb so whatever I wanted to do naturally, I had to do it fast before the nurses would make me sit back on my back so everyone helped me try to push on my hands and knees...it wasn't enough. Squatting...still not enough. My doctor said "we still can't get a good reading so we'll have to get a node on his head to get a good reading of his heart rate." "Oooookkkkaaayyyy..." Returning to my back once again, I feel like I'm pushing a camel out of the eye of a needle. It feels like progression but it wasn't enough for the doctors. "We're going to try to use a vacuum. I know you want to do this naturally, but your baby is in distress. Can we try with a vacuum?" *Nodding and crying at the same time* "This is not what I wanted...this wasn't in my birth plan!!!" my mind racing with thoughts and fears: "It'll be okay...he'll be okay. This is for the best." I get a nerve block to get the vacuum in and set on the top of Jackson's head. I can imagine what he was thinking: "wtf? Keep me in here! It's warm and cozy..." I push even harder but am having a hard time feeling contractions anymore, which was frustrating. Everything was happening so fast and I was losing so much focus with all the people in there. What is the need for all of these frickin people??? Didn't I ask in my birth plan for this not to happen? Of course my modesty is out the window but still, sphincter law is in full effect: Who in their right mind can seriously go #1 or #2 in front of THAT many people? At that point, I knew this wasn't going to happen if things didn't change. Nonetheless, I keep pushing whenever possible, even at the sight of my doctor talking to the male doctor, which angered me that if I were to push him out at that point, she would've been distracted and my baby would fall on the floor. They gave me one last push, "for good measure" is what I'm thinking the rude doctor is saying. "Nope, let's get you going." I immediately burst into tears, looking at Rachel with the largest fear in my eyes. "What's going to happen? I'm scared!!!" She looks back at my with her hands on her face, mirroring my thoughts and emotions. Everything will be okay. I hear a distant quiet voice in the back of my head. For I know the plans I have for you.
They wheel me into the OR, without Jessica, my mom, or Rachel, and I begin to panic. "Just put me out of my misery. Just put me out. I'm pissed at you guys." A nurse says "We need to move you to this table beside you. Now it's a narrow table so don't move too much." *Are you serious??* Ohhh, this is my worst nightmare...Oh God Oh God, what did I deserve to have this much go wrong?? They're forcing my legs straight and my arms to the side, crucifixion style...Just relax. "You're going to be ok, sweetie" says a male voice giving me gas. As I'm laying there, mourning my birth plan, I'm praying to God for deliverance from this pain and fear. Finally I fall asleep.....
When I woke up, my brain was foggy, uncertain as to what just happened. They finally bring in little Jackson, happily alert and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. As I attempt to nurse him for the first time, all I can think about is how empowering this birthing experience was despite my birth plan flying away from my control. Lesson learned: God is in control. Jackson and I laying skin to skin, I felt an immense love for this new little being so much so that I could have laid there forever, staring at his tiny naked body, so peaceful, such a gift. My mom and Rachel come in to greet me and are so proud of me for laboring naturally all the way up to the end. A nurse comes in to take Jackson for his bath and they bring me back into my room to rest. Wayne and Rachel are there to stay the night with Jackson and I. I am so exhausted but feel an energy within me that anticipates my first night with Jackson. A few hours later, they bring him in, swaddled and sleeping peacefully. When all becomes silent, I start to nurse baby Jackson and hold him close, adoring each and every part of his body. 10 fingers 10 toes, lean long legs, and the softest skin, fresh from the womb. Throughout the night, he had his moments of little cries, melting my vulnerable heart as he opens his eyes for the first time. The brightest blue eyes that could pierce the coldest soul. We spent the next 6 hours of the night into the morning telling each other our stories: his journey from my body to my arms and my walk with enduring pain and immeasruable emotional intensity that is my rite of passage to motherhood.