Jordan’s Birth Story
I’ve written before about my breastfeeding journey, but I wanted to put pen to paper and take down all of those blissful (and crazy) birthing memories from my two kids before I truly couldn’t remember them anymore.
Time and memories get hazy with kids, from the hormones and the sleep deprivation. Stuff is no longer linear; it either goes very quickly or very slowly, with nothing left in between.
Jordan was born in Minnesota on a gorgeous April day. He was 6 days early, but we were never quite sure about the due date and whether it was a week off, so he may actually have been right on time.
My contractions began slowly and steadily the evening before. I was able to go lie down and sleep for a couple of hours, but by 2 or 3AM, I knew this little one was going to be making an appearance. I called the nurse line, and told her all of the timing (they have you count duration, both of the contractions and the time between them, to gauge readiness for birth.) After I was done reporting what I was feeling, I will never forget what she said. “Well,” I could hear her smile through the phone, “it sounds like today is your baby’s birthday!”
We headed to the hospital once I felt unable to stand very well during contractions. They were still 3-4 minutes apart. I remember feeling quite frightened, but more excited than I have ever been in my entire life. He was HERE. He was coming. I wanted to see that dark hair and those tiny dark eyes. I wanted to smell him.
The triage nurse at the Minneapolis hospital was kind and gentle, but it felt like an entire year passed while she prepped and examined me. I couldn’t believe it when she said that I was only 3 centimeters dilated! It was going to get WORSE?! Oh, man… I had no idea.
My original birthing plan was a water birth. I had it typed up and everything. The hospital had recently been renovated, and they had gorgeous birthing rooms with in-room tubs overlooking a creek with the occasional kayaker passing by. It was blissful and serene. There were hookups for music and a small kitchen nearby with plenty of popsicles and jello.
My husband put on the Twins baseball game, because for the life of me, I couldn’t think of something I wanted to watch. Baseball was fine. I mostly ignored it. I happily climbed into the tub and contracted for a bit in the warm water. Then, they told me I had to get out.
That’s right – in order to have a water birth, the mother has to climb out and get back in every 45 minutes or so. They explained why to me, but ohhhh goodness I was not happy. I had expected some nice floating and pushing a little and popping out a sweet babe in the end. *sigh* this was not to be my experience.
I got to about 7 centimeters, and upon climbing out of the tub for the second time, was in too much pain to climb back in. I decided an epidural was the correct course of action. The anesthesiologist came and placed it and honestly, I could have married that man then and there. It was sweet bliss.
A couple of hours passed, however, and I was not dilating further. The epidural had slowed things down, as they sometimes do. By now, I hadn’t eaten a meal since the night before, and I was exhausted. Although I didn’t have a lot of pain, I started to get the shakes. Soon my entire body was shaking uncontrollably, and this went on for a while. I remember how badly my teeth were chattering.
My mother arrived! She had flown from California that morning when I told her I was in labor. The doctor said I would need to start pushing soon. Things were suddenly getting real, and then, the epidural stopped working.
It didn’t happen suddenly. I felt some pain in one hip and then the other, one thigh and then the other, and for a while, pain radiated from the left side and not my right, which was a really weird feeling. By the time they were telling me to push, I felt EVERYTHING. I allowed them to put a mirror in front of me, and we were off to the races.
I pushed for two full hours. Toward the end, I was screaming. In part out of the pain, in part because it helped with the pain. I remember knowing (for a FACT) that if I could have stopped everything and given up, I would have. I was in a bad place and I needed this to be over.
Then, quickly, I could see his head. He was here. Two massive pushes, and he was on my chest. I was sobbing frantically. But thank g-d, he was a revelation. A perfect little boy in every way. He’s been that way ever since.
There are other memories I savor sometimes. How my husband’s face lit up when he looked at him. How my mother told every nurse and every visitor that the baby had the most perfect testicles she’d ever seen. (No, really! She was truly proud.) How when they took my little man to measure and weigh him, he flipped over vigorously and stuck his butt in the air, and all I wanted to do was scoop him up and run somewhere to keep him safe. Those first moments of deep, eternal attachment.
I remember how well he nursed, and how badly we slept in that hospital room, and how little it mattered. 24 hours of real labor, 2 hours of pushing, 8 pounds, 21 inches. He was home, and healthy, and safe. We were complete.
Liat’s Birth Story
I was pregnant with my daughter two years after having my son. The pregnancies were textbook identical. The only differences were my weight (I gained much less the second time around,) and my hair (grew and thickened with my son, fell out with my daughter.)
I was pregnant with Liat in San Diego, and as we approached November, we got heat wave after heat wave. I was a miserable whale. I couldn’t get up easily toward the end, and I sure as heck didn’t want to be outside. While my son slept well, I dealt with bouts of insomnia and a lot of muscle pain every night. I was ready to have a baby, but L didn’t make herself know until I was 40 weeks + 4 days.
The contractions started in the morning this time, and because I had been through the process before, I could ascertain better that we were still only at the beginning. We took Jordan over to my mother’s house, and we spent several emotional hours hanging out with the almost-big-brother. I was beside myself, overwhelmed by feelings.
In the afternoon, when I had been in real pain for an hour or two and the contractions were revving up significantly, we kissed my boy goodbye and headed to the hospital. We checked in, and once again (could NOT believe it,) I was only 3-4 centimeters dilated!
Things were progressing quickly, though. By the time I got my epidural I was at 6 centimeters, and that was less than an hour later. Yes, I went for an epidural again. I wanted to know what it was like to actually have one!
The epidural kicked in, and I was in heaven. My nurse made me comfortable and said she’d send for the doctor, because I was fully dilated and effaced. Holy heck! It all happened so quickly, how was this even possible?
I began feeling the urge to push. The nurse told me to wait, and ran and got the doctor. She strolled in, gave me a big grin, and told me it was her birthday and that she was happy my girl would share the date. I laughed out loud with joy. Let’s go, doc!
With my husband and sister by my side, I pushed exactly two times. She was there. I felt virtually nothing, just the warmth and the pressure and then her, on my chest, crying together with me.
What I Learned
I learned that a birth plan is not a fortune teller. It is only a marking of the path your journey might take. Birth and babies rarely go according to plan. They like to make their entrance in unique, hilarious, and painful ways.
I was lucky enough to have two good and overall positive experiences. While the first round came with a number of surprises–in particular, that darned epidural–I truly had it easy overall. I thank God every day that we made it out unscathed, ready to tackle life as a family of 4.
Now it’s your turn! I love a good birth story. Lay it on me, Mama! If you write a post about your birth story in your own blog, tag me so I can read it!
Click here if you’d like to read my top ten tips and products for bringing baby home.