Today Wesley turns one. Wow.
I wrote a rough version of his birth story almost immediately after he was born. I kept waiting to clean it or shorten it or something before publishing it. But it’s been a year. So I’m going to share it, long, unpolished and kind of graphic though it is. This is the day I became a mother. This is the day my son was born. It was an amazing day.
Saturday, March 30th, started with me just as frustrated with being pregnant as ever. Still no sign of labor in sight and I was uncomfortable, impatient and generally pissed off. The weather had improved finally so we decided to take a walk around Brookfield Zoo. The nice weather improved my mood immensely. About halfway through the hour and a half or so we were there I went to the restroom and noticed some light pink spotting. I’ve never been so happy to see blood on toilet paper in my life! I tried not to get my hopes up though because there had been other labor “signs” so many times and they never amounted to anything. Plus, I hadn’t felt one contraction all day.
We ended our little date day with dinner at a local Mexican place. It was tasty and there I felt my first “different” contraction. It kind of actually hurt a little and it was much lower. I still blew it off since I was really convinced this kid was never ever going to come out.
We went home, watched some Netflix and around 9pm the contractions started coming every 10-20 minutes. They were definitely uncomfortable. Instead of tightening around the top of my belly like all my other contractions had been before that day I felt it directly in my cervix. It kind of felt like each contraction was prying it open (which I guess it was). At this point I got a little excited but still felt pretty certain I would go to bed and wake up pregnant.
We tried to go to sleep at this point to see if they would stop but they just kept getting more regular and more painful. Lying down during a contraction was torture so I ended up jumping out of bed and pacing through each one. I did not get any sleep but I think Joel dozed between a few of them. At this point I was totally in don’t touch me mode. Joel’s job was timing them but I wouldn’t let him rub my back or anything else.
At this point they were about 5-7 minutes apart and about a minute long. I had started to think this was really it so we took a shower to be sure. Warm water always stopped my contractions before but this time they kept going right through the shower.
It was about 1am and had finally been an hour of Joel’s app was telling us they were averaging 5 1/2 minutes apart. Since my mom and sisters live two hours away we texted them to let them know.
My sisters and mom got to the house around 3am. My contractions were about 4-5 mins apart and I was shaking even though I wasn’t actually cold. Looking back I’m fairly sure it was just nerves and excitement. I could still kind of talk through the contractions but I was way more comfortable closing my eyes and just breathing through them. We called the midwife and let her know what was going on. She thought it was a good idea for us to go into the hospital.
I wanted one last belly picture so I put a tiny bit of make up on so we could take one and then hit publish on the “going to the hospital” blog posts that had been sitting in our drafts folders for forever. I had a couple contractions during this time and by the time I was ready to take the picture Joel was kind of stressing out. He just wanted to go. Everyone else just kind of chuckled at me about it. I did have the thought that my Bradley instructor would probably say I wasn’t ready to go to the hospital since I was putting on make up and smiling for a picture. All I could think about was the jacuzzi tub that was waiting for me at the hospital though. Plus my mom was worried the shaking might mean I was going into transition already. (Spoiler alert, I wasn’t. Not even close.)
We got to the hospital at around 4am. The car ride was very unpleasant but my mom rode in the back and petted my head during them so I managed okay.
The nurse checked me and I was nearly 4cm so they admitted me. Of course I had been 3cm since they checked me a week and a half ago so I wasn’t very encouraged by that. I had to lie in the bed for about 30 minutes so they could get a baseline on my contractions and his heart rate. Awful. Worst pain ever. And then my blood pressure was high so I had to lie down for even longer until they could get it down somehow. I’m sure the extra pain from lying down in bed did not help my contractions any. My sister gave me her sleep mask and I tried to just zone through the contractions. This became a theme throughout my whole labor, I just wanted my eyes closed the whole time. Partially so I could focus and partially because I was so. freaking. tired.
The nurse could tell how miserable being in bed made me so she had me lie on my side to see if that would get my blood pressure down to an acceptable level. I also got up to use the restroom because dealing with a contraction while fighting the urge to pee is not even a little fun. They had someone come in and draw blood to check for preeclampsia (those labs came back fine). Thankfully the side lying “cheat” plus emptying my bladder worked and I got a couple decent readings on my blood pressure. The nurse made sure to let me know it was kind of a cheat doing it that way but she was really trying to get me out of the bed and in the tub so I could be more comfortable. Bless that woman.
The minute she told me I could get up I shot out of that devil bed. They filled the tub while I paced around the room and changed into the bikini top I bought specifically for the birth. Yes, I bought just a bikini top for the occasion. Doesn’t everybody do that? I got into that giant jacuzzi tub and was in heaven. It felt so freaking good. I was a little worried that it was too early to get in the tub since I was only 4cm and that my contractions would space out but they actually got closer together when I was in there. When a contraction would hit I would sway my hips in the water and it really helped me manage things.
Joel tried to put some music on at this point but the jets were so loud that it really just sounded like noise and it started to bug me. I had him turn it off “for now” but we never ended up turning it back on again. I guess I’m just not a music person when I’m in pain.
After awhile in the tub I was really getting tired. I’m not sure how long I was in the tub but I know the sun rose and then some while my contractions got harder and closer together in there. I was just a little too short for the tub. I had to really hold myself up by pointing my toes against the far end of the tub and I could never fully relax between contractions. Eventually my legs started cramping up so I decided to get out of the tub.
I paced around for awhile and did the labor dance with Joel for contractions. By this point I was so sleepy I was having a hard time. I just wanted to lie down and sleep but I couldn’t handle the pain of the contractions lying down. I ended up sitting on the exercise ball next to the bed with pillows propped up underneath my head so I could doze between contractions. I still had to stand up for each contraction but it wasn’t too bad to just stand up from the ball and lean over the bed for each one.
In this time I really slept between contractions. I know at one point they were getting so intense I had a hard time distinguishing reality from the semi dream state I went into between contractions. For a little while I was so tired and in pain I almost felt like I was drugged or was hallucinating. I asked Joel if I said anything strange and he couldn’t remember specifically but he said I did say a few things that made everyone kind of look at each other and say huh? According to him it was nothing embarrassing though. So win?
One of the weirdest things about me in labor was that I was so freaking polite. I apologized for bleeding on things, said please and thank you for water sips all the time. I’d finish a contraction and ask other people if they were okay. I did not expect that about myself. Extreme pain and exhaustion makes me nice. Who’d a thought?
Things on the ball got really intense. I wanted to get back in the tub but I couldn’t stand the thought of lying down so I opted to try being in the shower for awhile. Joel held the shower head on my lower back and that felt so good. I did look down and notice he was still wearing his street shoes. In the shower. I came out of a contraction, realized he was fully clothed in the shower, kicked him out and let my mom take over since she was barefoot.
After awhile I was too tired to stand in the shower between contractions anymore so I went back to the ball. The contractions started coming almost every minute and a half to two minutes. A couple times while I was on the ball my midwife came in and asked if I wanted to be checked but I turned her down. I wasn’t feeling any urge to push so I knew I wasn’t at 10 and if she told me I hadn’t progressed much I would lose it. She was so amazing and was fine with it. She made sure to tell me there was no rush and I was doing a great job.
My midwife wasn’t there the entire time but she did come in and out of the room a lot and stayed to talk me through contractions for long stretches of time. We got a really great routine going with my mom, Joel and my midwife. Joel would time the contractions which is something we learned in Bradley. Since my contractions were consistently about a minute long he would tell me when I was halfway done and then when there was only 10 seconds or so left. I honestly think that helped me mentally get through the contractions more than anything else. I just kept repeating to myself that I could do anything for one minute.
My mom would run her fingers on my hips and stomach. She tried rubbing my back a few times but that never felt good. The lights running of her fingers on me though helped me to focus my energy on exactly where I needed to relax. Then my midwife would talk me through the relaxation out loud. She is super sweet and soft spoken which turned out to be exactly what I needed at the time. Between the three of them I was able to really allow myself to give into the contractions and relax the baby down.
I finally allowed the midwife to check me. I thought sitting on the bed would be torture but it was surprisingly less intense. This may be because I was actually standing up from the ball as a contraction would hit and that hurt. Plus, I was doing a semi squat position next to the bed and I think that really was moving him down. I about cried from happiness when she told me I was at 7-8cm, fully effaced and baby was at -2. Up to that point my water had sprung a leak but hadn’t fully broken so she broke my water bag all the way and saw there was slight meconium.
Mentally I was in a pretty bad place at this point. I could only focus on how ridiculously tired I was. I just wanted to take a nap. Plus I was suddenly terrified of actually pushing. As well as I was dealing with the contractions, the unknown of the pain of pushing was suddenly overwhelming to me. I told my mom how scared I was. I didn’t want to push. This baby had taken so long to get here. Between my loss a year earlier and him being overdue he just didn’t feel real to me. She encouraged me but I know I was still holding back the process mentally. Somehow my body knew I wasn’t in a good place mentally to start pushing and my contractions actually spaced out quite a bit. Apparently augmenting my labor was mentioned at this point because I had “stalled.” My support team was great though and I never heard a word of that until months later. I was able to sleep for the 15-20 minutes between several contractions. I’m amazed that my body seemed to know exactly what I needed. I was in a much better mental place after a got a few of those naps and my labor picked right back up on its own.
They eventually talked me into getting up on my hands and knees on the bed and the contractions picked back up frequency and intensity. I started feeling kind of pushy and would sometimes grunt/involuntarily push about halfway through a contraction. The nurse checked me but said I still had a cervical lip so I couldn’t push. It was really hard to relax through the contractions but also fight the urge to push. Often as not I would end up pushing a bit towards the end no matter how hard I tried to fight it.
At this point I was like oh my god what have I done? Why am I not numb from my eyeballs down? I asked if it was too late for an epidural knowing full well it was. At least I waited until it was too late to get it before I mentioned it, right?
My midwife came in and had me push a little to see if I could get him over the cervical lip. After a couple pushes she checked me again and the lip was still there so she had me change to sitting up with my knees up to see if the lip was positional.
It was positional and after not too long I got his head over the lip and started the pushing phase for real. I was still really nervous to push but my body started taking over at the end of each push and I was getting some effective movement. I asked if I’d have to be pushing for long and they kind of chuckled. Someone said if they could know things like that they could win the lottery.
I pushed for what felt like forever. In reality the whole phase was only about 40 minutes. Still, time kind of disappears in those moments. Between pushes I could actually feel his head moving around in the birth canal. Weirdest feeling ever. Finally they told me they could see his head. They told me I could touch it and at first I didn’t want to. Don’t ask me why I didn’t want to, I wasn’t exactly rational in the moment. They did convince me to though and I’m really glad, I think I would have been bummed if I hadn’t touched it. It felt like jello, it was so weird. Joel impressed me and kept watching things happen instead of staying up by my head like he thought he would want. He even touched the head. I guess the Bradley Method classes plus all those YouTube videos I forced him to watch paid off.
I was fighting the pushing a little because of the burn. It kind of felt like my girly bits were going to rip in half. Good times. Luckily my body is smarter than my brain and kept taking over at the end and I couldn’t help but push effectively.
His head was partially out for several pushes. My midwife actually had to have me reposition my legs because he kept crowning when I pushed and then going back in. I reached down for a second time to feel his head sitting partially out and it was really encouraging.
At the very end it burned so badly and I could actually feel myself tearing as he was coming out. Part of me wanted to hold back still but then, in the last three pushes that got his head out, I wanted him out more than I cared how much it burned. I just wanted to be done.
His head came out and she told me not to push and she suctioned him. That was rough because I just wanted it done. Plus my body really wanted to keep pushing. My mom talked me through it though. Finally the next contraction came and I pushed him out. I vividly remember my midwife saying, “One shoulder, the other shoulder” and then sweet relief because he was out.
She immediately put him on my stomach and I stared at his beautiful face. The adrenaline rush was unbelievable. He was kind of purple and it felt like ages for him to finally cry. In reality it was only a few seconds but the minute he let out his first yell I realized I’d been holding my breath waiting for him to take his first one. I didn’t cry right then, I was too overwhelmed with happiness. I said, “Hi baby” a million times and then “I did it! I love you so much.” As soon as he was on my stomach I felt no pain. It was the most amazing thing in the world to see his face and know he came from me.
I looked over at Joel and he was crying. I could see a tear running down his nose. I looked at him and said something about how we did it and we have a son. It was so magical. I’ve never been so happy in my life. That moment is forever etched into my mind. The exhaustion and the pain were instantly gone. All I felt was overwhelming love and a sense of accomplishment.
His cord was kind of short so the midwife had to keep telling me not to tug on it. I’m sure it’s my fault that my baby has an outie belly button. I just wanted to kiss him a million times and soak in his smell.
Once it stopped pulsing Joel cut the cord and I got to hold him for awhile longer. Wesley kept coughing and sputtering though so they took him away to suction him out in case he inhaled meconium. They did weight and footprints and all that at that point too.
Joel followed him over there while I got stitched up. I had a second degree tear that needed a few stitches. I also delivered the placenta. The midwife asked if I was saving it and I said no but I did want to see it. I’m a weirdo but I wanted to see the thing that made me miserable for 9 months. She was very cool about it and showed it to me and explained what I was looking at.
I finally got Wesley back and he nursed for 20 minutes on one side and 30 on the other. It was another magical moment. He was a complete natural. The moment he latched on was when I finally teared up.
It was like a dream how wonderful that first breastfeeding experience was. I expected it to be painful but it wasn’t at all, it was practically pleasurable.
The hospital stay was marvelous. All the nurses were so kind and supportive. Someone came in and gave me a post-natal massage. A photographer came in and took gorgeous pictures of Wesley when he was less than 24 hours old. The food wasn’t even too bad. They made a fantastic apple pie which I may or may not have ordered with every lunch and dinner meal. Ahem. They took Wesley to the nursery a few times and Joel went with him every time. It honestly felt more like a stay at the spa than a hospital. It was the perfect wrap up to a wonderful birth.
I’m so pleased with every aspect of my birth. I had the perfect support team. Even my midwife mentioned how it was so beautiful to see my support team made up of the women in my life who had given birth before me leading me into motherhood. It was so special that my mom and two of my sisters could be there. They were great support and they took the most amazing pictures and video. Of the four care providers in the practice the midwife who attended my birth was the one we saw the least during the pregnancy. She ended being exactly what I needed though.
And then of course there was Joel. His support was absolutely essential. I never let him leave my side. Poor guy only got to pee once and didn’t get to eat anything the whole time because every time he tried to sneak away to take care of himself I called him back. I needed him and he was amazing. He never breathed a word of complaint. In fact, I didn’t even realize he didn’t get to eat or sit down or anything. He was nothing but positive, supportive and encouraging.
It was the birth of my dreams. Everything just went so well. Even better though was I got this wonderful tiny person out of it. He is better than I ever dreamed.
And now it’s a year later. Motherhood has been everything and nothing that I expected. I wouldn’t trade this kid for anything in the whole world… most days. I know it’s cliche but I really can’t believe how fast it went. I’m so glad I get to be home and watch this little human grow up. He is the best. As long as he is in my future things look very bright indeed.