It has been two months since the birth of our child, Evergreen Marie. Almost down to the minute as I am writing this, I sit in the same spot on my couch where I breathed through early morning contractions watching Game of Thrones. Hours later, Chris would be getting our hospital bag packed in the car and I would sob in my office chair (the only space I could feel comfortable) due to the pain and the immense emotions that was that moment in time when my child was letting us know she was almost ready.
Feels right to share today, here and now.
I went into early labor around midnight on the morning of April 26. I had decided that yester-afternoon, three days past my due date, to have my membranes swept. Seemed it was working, I was having contractions far apart but enough to keep Chris and I awake through the night. I had not had any types of Braxton Hicks, so Chris and I were hesitant to declare this to be the real thing.
Chris went to work that morning and I start the contraction clock timer and birth breathing I had read all about, the waves were seemingly routine at about 7 - 10 minutes apart all morning. I give a ring to my best friend, Alex to come over and help me go for a walk. I was in great fear my water would break should I make any type of movements, so I awaited her arrival.
She shows up just as Chris walks in the backdoor. As I have told you many blogs before, Chris is an intuitive man. He knew it was go time and took the rest of the day off work to come home to be with me.
Around noon, the contractions were pretty steady at 5 minutes apart and well, walking was out of the question for me with little desire to move from the swivel chair I was stationed at in my office. So I sat with Alex for a bit. I cried. And breathed. And got scared. And watched Chris hustle to prep the house, pups and baggage.
Alex left to leave Chris and I for alone time during this special time. We both cried and readied ourselves as much as you can ready yourself in these situations you have never ever been in before. We called the doulas to let them know today was the day and told them we were going to try to labor a bit longer at home before heading in.
Probably seven minutes later we called our docs to see if we should head in and they said we could come on over. And we were out the door.
My sweet husband, so excited behind the wheel of our Jeep Cherokee and speeding through our alley over all its cracks, crevices and bumps. I immediately rage at him that the bumping around isn't really working for me and to slow the f*ck down. He apologizes profusely and tells me he had gotten excited. Looking back, I find it endearing. In the moment, I cried and almost punched his arm (and face).
We arrive at the hospital just as my doula, Skylar walks up. I immediately have a contraction in the parking lot and start crying while she catches me in her arms and we breathe through it. Doulas, they are amazing. Highly recommended.
At the front desk they put me in a wheelchair and get me to my room. My evening hospital residence was at the end of the hall in a humongous room, like corner office style. I imagine they heard I wanted to go all natural and put this baby in a corner as to not scare everyone else.
A smart move.
I get all hooked up to a fetal monitor and they get me an IV (hospital policy, just in case...). I am at 2 and 1/2 cm dilated and they say they will check me in an hour to see if I should stay or go back home to labor longer and get further along. I had been going since midnight with all these contractions, I had only progressed a 1/2 cm since my last doc appointment yesterday. To say my confidence was a bit shot is an understatement.
I take to the bathtub.
And when I say I take to the tub, I am talking my labor playlist is on from my JAMBOX, the doTerra diffuser I was gifted as a baby gift is blasting the lavender and eucalyptus, and my husband and doula are reminding me to breathe while wiping my face and neck with washcloths.
Best advice from my doula in this moment: Talk to your daughter, include her in the process and tell her what you are both doing and meant to be doing. Teamwork, make it happen.
After an hour in the tub, mentally and softly convincing (cough...begging) my child to get moving, I get back to bed to get checked. I am at 3cm (almost).
We have the option to go home but they say since we are here let's stay and we will check again in an hour. I remember all the books and videos saying that the longer you are in the hospital, the more apt you are to lean into any type of drugs. YET, the idea of packing up and getting back in that Jeep on those bumpy roads with the hospital bag barely opened sounded basically like hell on this Earth.
So we stay.
Now, let's get real. These contractions were coming fast and they were painful. Mid-contraction, I start to let Chris know that I don't think this au naturel thing is going to happen. I tell him it might be time to consider a conversation about the epidural (just as all the books and videos said!). My doula says we can talk it out once this contraction is over. A good call on her part.
It finally subsides and Chris reminds me of our birth intentions (language is powerful, we never had a birth plan, only intentions). We have short conversations about what drugs entail. And then another contractions surges.
I remember starting the begging. I remember the crying and the pleading. All the self doubt and the mental drama I created.
My amazing husband, he asks our doula to leave the room so we can have a minute alone. I don't remember everything he said but it was some good shit. I should make a note here that Chris was an amazing coach. Literally by my side, holding my hand, basically cheek to cheek and telling me I am an incredible human. He was a rock, my favorite rock of all time.
Best advice from my husband in this moment: He said, "here is the deal, why don't we take it one contraction at a time. Just one by one, breath by breath, you and me".
I said okay.
And my doula came back and we were back in the game. Breathing. Crying. Some times yelling. I remember them asking about taking a walk or getting on the exercise ball and everything in my being said no way, no no no. I labored mostly on my left side and barely moved.
Nurse arrives an hour later to check in (literally in).
My team said her eyeballs nearly pop out of her head as I am at about 7 cm dilated. Sweet progress! I think to myself, this is it and there was never a question of drugs again because giddy up, she is on her way (so I thought).
Cue 30 minutes later, more crying, yelling, even somehow sleeping between contractions (like three times maybe, Chris said I even snored, I have no recollection of that), and I am 10cm dilated and fully effaced.
In my mind, I think she will be here in minutes.
I tell my husband/doula/nurse/doc team that I feel like it is time to start pushing. I am feeling the urge to push and meet our baby girl.
They say do it, start the pushing. So I do.
And I am giving it all I got, folks. I am turning red and really pushing. Over and over again. I am really going for it. And I feel like my sweet doc can tell because she looks at me and says, "You're doing a great job. And I want you to know that pushing can take sometimes up to two hours...".
I don't remember reading that?
I tell myself and I tell my unborn child that we will not be taking that full two hours and with all the Mother voice I can muster, I make that real clear with her. (NOTE: this whole conversation is taking place in my own head).
I go on all fours to push. I go straight on my back. I got on my side holding one leg up. And we are making progress but it doesn't feel like much. Until....
Now, up until this point you should know that my water has not broken. I didn't have that movie scene at all. And I had seen photos where people deliver babies still in their amniotic sac. So I am thinking we might just do that.
We didn't. I started pushing one time and like a freaking water balloon, my water breaks like one of those waterfalls that comes up from the ground. All over Chris and the nurse. Funny, my doctor had started to stand back a bit, she totally knew. Sneaky.
A bit of sweet release and I am like this has to be it now. And the pushing continues.
Finally, my sweet doula mentions a bar. They literally bust out this gymnastic looking bar and tie a scarf to the middle. I place both feet on the sides of this bar and I pull up on that scarf thing and I start pushing and we kick it into high gear. So we stick to the bar.
Everyone is talking about how close I am and that I am doing a great job yet no one seems to be in the ready position to catch a baby. My delivery doc keeps roaming in and out checking on me, which makes me so sure this is not happening any time soon.
And they promise I am doing great and I so do not believe them.
My doula and our nurse says that they can see the head but I am thinking they are just saying that.
And then they ask if I want to see. Should we get the mirror?
All along I was like, no way. I am not going to want the mirror. Yet in that moment I was like, GET THE f*cking MIRROR OUT HERE.
I was so ready to call them on all their lies.
So we unleash the mirror and I see nothing. Oh man, no time to complain because I have to push again, the urges are real. And I pull up on that scarf and steady my feet on the bar and I give a push and I can see the very top of her head, and all that hair she has on it. So close yet so, so, so far away.
You should know we are rounding like 90 minutes here. There was a huge clock on the opposing wall and I was totally tracking. I remember reading somewhere on some pregnant blog that you should probably cover the clocks in the room. Well, I didn't.
So the most pain I felt was when I would push and I could see her head start to move a tiny bit down the birth canal and then after four pushes, all my tired body could handle in that moment, she would actually somehow suction back up. Like all the progress, GONE. And holy shit, that was painful. I would yell, like literally scream. Hello corner office delivery suite for the crazy lady going natural style.
Finally, at around you know, 4 minutes before 2 hours, the doc says it is about time. They remove the bar and start to do some type of prep. I am beyond ready. And in my head for the last few pushes I tell myself that this has to be it, I have got to give more. Dig deeper, I say to myself.
And I do.
I give so much more that I catch my doc off guard, as she tells me to wait wait wait so that she can finish putting on her gloves as the crowning is full on. Chris is in position, as we had made the request that he catch our sweet babe right out of the womb.
I pause as much as I can hold off and then I push again twice and our baby girl enters the World beautifully, wonderfully, radically right into her Daddy's arms.
Chris places her on my chest and all I can say on repeat is "I love her, I love her so much, oh my God I love her". Over and over again I repeat these words.
And I look at her.
I look at Chris.
And I look back at her and breathe her into my being. And truly, the World, my heart, my body and my soul have not been the same since that moment.