Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Birth Story

It started on the Wednesday I found out I wouldn't be having a c-section. That morning, I had woken up resigned to the fact that I would, most likely, be going in to the hospital Friday morning to have my son. He was breech (nowadays, it is very rare to find anyone who will deliver a breech baby vaginally) and I had been told over and over again that the odds of him flipping were slim to none.

They were wrong: flip he did.

Elation does not even begin to describe how I felt walking out of my OB's office that day. I had spent the majority of my pregnancy mentally preparing myself for a natural birth (sans drugs) and to have been dealt the hand of having a baby on the completely opposite end of the medical spectrum was a bit hard to swallow. I want to say it sent me into a mild depression for a while, actually.

I tried to stay positive. August 10th had been the date on the calendar for the c-section, and in the days leading up, when people would call to tell me how he would almost be here (!), I would tell them he could still flip. There was still a chance he wouldn't be born that day. And some people thought I was crazy, but I ended up being right. I am a firm believer in positive thinking.

I feel I should also mention that when my doctor determined with an ultrasound that Baby Boy had flipped, he finally checked me for the first time. They hadn't been doing that at prior visits due to the fact that they all assumed he would stay breech and that there wasn't any point. My doctor told me that I probably wouldn't be giving birth for at least a week; there was no sign of progress downstairs, as it were.

Fast forward to Wednesday evening. I was still on Cloud 9 about getting the birth I wanted and chatting with my friend Matt on the phone when I started getting cramps in my lower abdomen. They went away, but about 10 minutes later, returned. This pattern continued up until dinner when I finally decided to tell Kyle about them. He told me he thought my happiness over not having the c-section had tricked my brain into thinking I was going into labor. I told him he was probably right, but nonetheless, I was just keeping him informed.

They continued for hours; we watched an episode of Game of Thrones on the computer and were timing them, but they weren't bad at all and I finally told Kyle we should go to bed. He slept well that night, and though I was up a few times, going to sleep was one of the best decisions we made. If we had tried pushing it through the night, we would have been exhausted for Thursday's events.

Thursday morning rolled around and I told Kyle to go to work. The contractions were still super manageable and about 6 minutes apart, and at this point I figured there was even a chance the whole process would continue to Friday. I spent the early hours of August 9th walking Moe, watching "The Walking Dead," and drinking/eating as much as I could. I knew that if I wanted to have a natural birth, I was going to need to be well hydrated and nourished when I got to the hospital so that I could avoid interventions (and standard procedures, like an IV).

Kyle came home at lunch because he couldn't stand being at work knowing what was happening at home: he had finally accepted that I was actually in labor. I find this to be an endearing fact!

My contractions continued to be manageable for a few hours, and I spent the majority of this time on an exercise ball. The crazy thing about them is that there really is a start, a peak and an end, which helped me mentally in getting through the intensity of them because I knew they wouldn't last forever. Another thing I wasn't expecting is that they're somewhat like waves... They get stronger and stronger and stronger and then begin to fade. I can't describe them any other way, really.

I'm guessing around 4 or 5 in the afternoon is when things started to pick up. I had no concept of time, making this an absolute guess. Kyle had to start helping me through the contractions and I was in and out of the shower because the heat of the water seemed to help marginally. Up until this point, I had been able to breathe through them, completely pausing and relaxing through each one. However, as they got more intense and I started feeling them in my back, I was having trouble focusing and dealing with them. Kyle suggested I try audibly moaning as they picked up and it helped.

I'm pretty certain the entire street could hear me. And I'm almost positive they thought a cow was being butchered in our bedroom.

Kyle had been keeping track of them with this app he had downloaded on the Internet. A wise word to any husband with an expectant wife: don't ask her to keep telling you when a contraction is starting. Just pay attention. It will make her less likely to murder you. As the hours progressed, Kyle kept telling me they were only 4-5 minutes apart, which I took to be fact, even though they felt incredibly close and definitely harder to manage. Again, I had no concept of time.

The sun had gone down when I started to feel pain. In my ass. As in, I felt like I was going to shit out a baby. I mentioned this to Kyle, but he told me (based on the app), that he didn't think we were anywhere near close. It was after catching me sitting on the toilet, gripping the sink that we decided to go to the hospital to be checked.

If you're sitting at home, wondering why we waited so long, here's the deal: for couples who want a natural birth experience in a hospital, most doctors and nurses tell you to wait at home as long as possible. Once you get to the hospital, the odds of you needing medications like Pitocin, epidurals, etc. increase. Not only that, it felt more comfortable to us to labor at home.

Once we got in the car, things progressed like a movie. I stupidly sat in the front seat, and through every contraction, had to use the "Oh Shit" bar and center console to lift my body off the seat. I couldn't handle it otherwise. Kyle turned to me and said, "Babe, if you're only 4 or 5 centimeters, we're gonna go back home, right?" I should have known I was in a phase most call "transition" (the point where you are almost fully dilated) because even though I answered, "Sure," I was thinking in my head, "There is no fucking way I am going back home."

We pull up to the hospital, and to my dismay, I watch Kyle bypass the front of the hospital and hightail it to the parking garage. At this point, the barrage of curse words that flew out of my mouth were impressive, even for me. In addition, he chose to park on the second level of the structure, meaning I had to book it down two flights of stairs to get to the entrance of the hospital. In the aftermath, he explained that he was afraid to leave me alone while he parked the car- afraid for me and afraid for the helpless security guard that would have to deal with my crazy animalistic sounds.

Honestly, I kind of blacked out during our journey from the parking garage to the third level of the hospital (triage). I barely remember anything, except for a poor unsuspecting bystander who got stuck in the elevator with us. Sir, I apologize to you now for the 15 seconds you had to endure me.

We roll up to triage and even though I filled out all the "pre-admission forms" to expedite checking into the hospital, the nurses started hitting me with questions I wasn't prepared to answer. Mainly those like, "What is your name?", "What is your date of birth?" and my all time favorite, "What is your social security number?" Now friends, I know my social security number. I've known it since elementary school. However, when they shot that question at me, all I could muster was, "I can't answer that question right now!"

The nurses, luckily, didn't push it and let us into triage to be checked to see how dilated I was. I was almost at 10 and the nurse later admitted she could feel my son's head when she checked. Bad ass, Elizabeth, bad ass!

They rolled me into a labor and delivery room and tried putting the fetal heart rate belt on to get an accurate read of his vitals. Unfortunately, he was already so low in my pelvis, it was difficult to get the number. It also didn't help that I couldn't stand still long enough for them to get it (moving from side to side while leaning over the bed was the only thing that felt decent, and by decent, I mean not like death in my ass). After a few attempts, the nurses brought in the big guns, a woman we shall refer to as Nurse Ratchett, who told me if I didn't stand still long enough to get his heart rate, they would either drill an electrode into his head or wheel me in to have a c-section. Looking back, there's no way they could have drilled an electrode into his head in the amount of time before he made his debut, but I was not a rational woman at this point.

Finally, they said his vitals looked great and told me I could get on the hospital bed. They had me strip to put on a hospital gown, which I promptly ripped off. I had no shame being buck naked in a room full of 10 strangers, and I also felt no embarrassment when I got on all fours on the bed. The nurses were telling me I couldn't push until the doctor arrived, which I completely ignored. The second I started to bear down, my water broke.

It was not a trickle. It was not a pour. Friends, my water shot three feet behind me and two nurses had to duck out of it's gnarly path. Kyle likened it to a Super Soaker.

At this point, my band of nurses told me I was now able to start pushing and that if I had the baby before the doctor arrived, it was ok.

Truly, I wish I had been able to push Jack out before the on-call doctor arrived. Why, you ask? Because the doctor that delivered my baby looked like this:

Yep. She looked like Tangina from Poltergeist. She may or may not have been wearing an ensemble similar to this, too.

Not only was her appearance frightening as hell, she had the personality of a cardboard box. If she had had a sparkling demeanor or a southern accent like Tangina, I may have been able to overlook her deep set eyes and deathly white pallor, but alas, no such luck.

While I was pregnant, I wondered what position I would end up feeling comfortable in to push my baby out. I was surprised to find it was most comfortable to lay on my side, with one leg in the air (how very stripper of me!). Due to the fact that nurses starting having back issues because of holding up patients legs while pushing, they're no longer allowed to. Thus, Kyle helped me with my bottom leg, and I held on to the top. Again, how very stripper of me!

What can I say about pushing? It's very much like shitting out a toy fire engine. You wait for a contraction to begin, then you push steadily without letting it fade. It's like taking the largest crap of your life. The strange thing is, for a while, you feel it in your bum, but then, when the baby starts to crown, the pain has migrated to your hoo-ha.

Again, I had no concept of time when I was pushing, but Kyle said it was about 30-45 minutes. I couldn't look in that direction either, because every time I did, I'd see this staring back at me:

When I hit "the ring of fire" I actually got excited, because even though it burned like the dickens, I knew we were moments away from meeting our son.

Then his head was out. And a push or two later, the rest of him.

Now, due to my immense amount of amniotic fluid, Jack took a couple gulps on his way out, so they actually had to pump his stomach almost immediately after they put him on my chest. Poor Kyle had to maneuver back and forth between me and the baby, and finally, they gave him back to me.

Perfect does not even begin to describe.

And then we were three. It was a surreal and exciting and scary feeling. Once it sunk in though, it felt like it had always been that way.

Our little family.

{Photos courtesy of Shooting the Dream Photography}


  1. Congratulations Elizabeth! Baby Jack is adorable. I loved the story. I read it while my ten week old son, Joshua, was sleeping on my lap. I almost woke him up several times because of all the laughing I did. Thanks for sharing!!


    1. Thanks Paige! The positive responses from everyone has been great. I still can't believe he's finally here. And congratulations on your little boy... I'm sure he's beautiful!

  2. Your story is AMAZING and extremely entertaining. My husband and I took our first birth class today so this was a great review for us of everything we learned. I hope to have a natural birth as well and everyone I've talked to so far has been very discouraging. Reading your blog made me hopeful that I may be able to do it. Congratulations to you and Kyle on a wonderful successful birth! You are an inspiration to a lot of people.

    1. You can totally do it Irina, but you have to fully commit mentally and do a ton of research. I'm gonna be doing another post on it soon! Either way, however it goes down, you have your precious baby at the end of it and that's all that matters, truly!

  3. You are courageous, inspiring, and totally hilarious. And I loved reading your story!! Thanks for paving the path for me - I have a little bit more hope because of your story. Can't believe it's already been a month! xoxo

  4. Congratulations!!! This was hilarious! I loved the super soaker moment. haha.

  5. Congratulations, Elizabeth (and Kyle)! I loved your story--so real, so funny, and damn, you are a badass woman! Look at you arriving at the hospital at 10 cm. Well done! Jack is absolutely beautiful.


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