As our family approaches Shep's second birthday, it seems appropriate to reflect on his birth. It marked a period in my life - before and after motherhood. Yesterday an old friend said, "Motherhood looks good on you." and it felt so true. I credit much of that joy of mothering to the support I received from my doctor, doula, family, and husband.
I worked from home the last few weeks of my pregnancy and finally called my manager on a Monday night. "I can't do this any more. I'm out, starting leave. I'll let you know when I have this baby!" It was 4 pm.
By 6 pm, I noticed that I wasn't feeling super great and I was having some cramps. I still wasn't convinced I was actually in labor, so I sat down with some delicious food and watched Jim Gaffigan standup with my husband. I was having contractions every 20 minutes or so, and then every 15. Feeling the contractions get closer together, I realized these were signs I was actually in labor. The more organized my contractions got (every 6 minutes for hours and hours), the less I could rest.
Stephen filled our deep tub with water, and I floated through hours of contractions overnight. They started to get longer and close together - 90 seconds and every 5 minutes - and the sun was beginning to rise. We loaded the car with hospital bags and I got in and gripped the handle during contractions on the way to the hospital.
I'm going to pause here to add a note that I think is key to my experience. So, I don't do well with discomfort. If a room is too chilly I'll complain to my husband. The worst is when I can't find a comfortable way to sit in a car. But pain? Pain I can endure. Pain with a purpose? That's my forte. Seeing as how labor is an intense experience that has a super cool purpose - meet the tiny human inside - I felt strong as I approached birth. I felt like I could handle it. I wanted to try birth without an epidural. SIDENOTE: Birth in any way it happens is basically the most B.A. thing that has ever happened. It's giving life, whether it's scheduled cesarean or blissfully numbed labor. The only wrong way to birth is uninformed, period.
After a few hours in the hospital, my doula, Angel, joined us. (She's the best, by the way, and inspired me to pursue my dreams of becoming a doula!) I ran water in the shower for hours and swayed under the heat. I threw up - she told me that was a good sign. My water broke, it felt like a rubber band snapping inside my body. I wanted to push - so I did. For two hours. Pushing felt good - it somehow hurt less than just being seized with a contraction. I'd been in labor for 18 hours, and without sleep for 30. That wasn't a good combination. I hadn't eaten since I'd been admitted to the hospital.
I felt weak. My contractions started to slow and get weaker. My OB suggested I try some pain relief and pitocin - to strengthen my contractions and to give me a rest. I agreed to it, and slept for an hour. Then I pushed for 45 minutes and Shep was born.
When the doctor handed him to me, he looked massive. He looked like he was a 6 month old! I was terrified to find out how much he weighed. But he was so very warm on my skin and the nurse went to work drying him off. The doctor asked if we had a name picked out and my husband said, "It's a boy." We looked at each other and together said, "Shepard."
I remember feeling relief - that the baby was born, that they were healthy and average in every way. Shep was only 8 lbs and 6 oz, by the way. Not the 20 I had imagined him to be! Shep was incredibly alert and very calm. He cried a few times, and then settled onto my chest and nuzzled in. We nursed- it was a sweet and happy room filled with people I love. We sent my OB home for the night with a bottle of whiskey as a thanks. Dr. Jelcz is the best doctor I've ever met and we love him dearly.
How would you describe your birth experience? When did you go into labor? Were you scared? I was. Girl, you know I was. Join me in my anxieties on Twitter: @pi3sugarpi3
Cover photo by Danielle Heinson Photography.