Finally the birth story! It has been almost exactly two months since she was born, and I’ve had lots of time to think about it. I didn’t really want to write about it at first because I was kind of traumatized, if I’m perfectly honest with myself, and I didn’t really know what else to say about it except how incredibly hard it was. All of that is still true but I have a little bit more perspective now.
My labor actually started on her due date, so I was all excited and expected her to come soon. My experience of seeing babies being born was from watching my sister in labor and all of her children came out in less than a day, so I expected the same. Boy oh boy, I was in for a surprise.
Thirty-six hours, people. THIRTY. SIX. HOURS.
Yeah, it sucked. When I started having painful contractions at my hotel, I stopped eating solid food because, you know, you’re supposed to try and not have lots of potential substances in your bowels. Well, that was a mistake because I didn’t end up eating anything for the next thirty or so hours.
I went to the hospital, didn’t progress at all, and they sent me back to the hotel, with a sleeping pill and told me to get some rest. I was tired, so I tried laying down, but kept having horrible contractions. It felt like someone was squeezing me and stabbing me from the inside, all up and down my abdomen. Not pleasant. So I took a hot bath and dozed in the tub for a couple of hours. I then went back to the hospital because my contractions were still horrible.
From then on it was basically just twenty four hours of consistent pain every few minutes, but nothing moving forward. Just lots of pain.
Now, I am a very stubborn person. I could have probably opted for an epidural sooner, but I was stubborn so I didn’t want to. I thought that the pain had to be doing something so I just sucked it up. I was very stupid in my foggy labor induced pain.
Now to the positives of this. When I got to the hospital the second time, there was a nurse named Maria working. She was AMAZING. She helped me move around, and tried basically everything she could think of to get the baby moving along. She even had essential oils to help me calm down and relax during my contractions. She was firm and explained how to best relax during the pain, and she was kind and straightforward. Plus, she spoke Spanish and was just generally wonderful, someone I would probably want to be friends with. I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am for that woman, who I had never met before.
Another amazing woman that I am so glad was there was my mom. When I first got pregnant I was so scared I would have to go through labor without my mom. I’m glad to say that didn’t happen. She was there beside me the whole time, helping me out and calming me down. It would have been about ten times more traumatizing without her.
After about twenty four hours of this craziness, Maria came into the room and helped me stand up to go to the bathroom. (Peeing while in labor is so difficult and unpleasant, let me tell you). I was sitting on the toilet, in horrible pain, and my muscles wouldn’t even relax enough to let me pee. It was so horrible and I just wanted to cry. Maria sat down in front of me, as I was exhausted on the toilet, in my hospital gown, all sweaty and smelly with my hair matted in its braid. She looked me in the eye and said, listen honey, are you SURE you don’t want to just get an epidural? We have to move things along for the baby and I think it will help you so much. You are not weak for getting one.
I looked at her and said I think I might. I did, for some reason, have this thought in my head that doing it without pain meds was Steiger and better. That is so wrong. After that I apparently asked my mom if I should get one, but I literally have no memory of that. I got ready, and Maria held me still while the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural. Let me tell you, it is really hard to hold perfectly still for a person to put a giant needle in your back while you are having a contraction, but somehow I did it.
Okay, maybe not instant but it definitely was pretty fast. I finally was able to sleep and relax, and long story short, baby was there!!!
Haha just kidding it was still another ten or so hours. Like I said I slept for some of that, but when I started getting harder contractions it was the strangest sensation. With an epidural you can still move your legs, but they are numb, like when you go to the dentist and they numb you and you lips can move but you can’t feel them. But for me, for some reason the medicine wore off on one side of my body. It was really weird.
The pushing process is honestly the most physically exhausting thing I have ever done in my entire life. Part of that is because of how long I was in labor, but still, it was so much work. It didn’t really hurt, because of the meds, but there was so much pressure and movement and frustration. I could feel things happening but I just wanted it to be done.
Another thankful moment: my mom again and my sister in law. My husband’s sister Jean wanted to be in the delivery room, and I didn’t care who was there, so I said yes. She was with me at most of my ultrasounds and I got to really know her because I had to go to Sitka all the time for my appointments. Well, I am so incredibly glad she was there because she and my mom stood on either side of me, and they let me mutilate their arms while I was pushing. I held on to them so tight, that the next day she came to visit and said her arm was sore!!! She is awesome and I love that she was there. I’m also grateful that her daughter Donna was there to see it all. She wanted to stay in the room and I remember her standing there watching while I pushed. For some reason she was a calming presence.
Back to the story, the baby finally came!!!!
It was messy and I tore in three places, probably because the last push I just wanted it to be over. The doctor had told me two more pushes, so I really took that to heart and made it happen! 😉 but because of that, I bled. A lot. Apparently the doctor was a bit nervous, but I was so relieved to be done and see my girl that I didn’t care. I even asked her about the stitching up process while she was doing it! I’m a weirdo. But looking back, I am so thankful I live with modern technology. If not, I probably would have been in labor for WAY longer. And honestly, without the medical knowledge that exists today, I could have died. Something as simple as stitching up a little torn blood vessel is so vital in that moment, and you really don’t realize the magnitude or seriousness of having a baby until you are there and you experience it.
Now for the reflection.
Like I said in my first baby post, it is hard. Super hard. Like, I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to do it again hard. Labor is traumatizing, and I had a relatively good one because of all the love and support I was given. I can’t even imagine doing it by myself.
But without all of it, Helen wouldn’t be here. Honestly, it took me awhile to feel that gush of love and affection people say you have. Of course I loved her right away, but I was so tired that I wasn’t really overwhelmed by it, more just relieved. And as a tiny newborn, it was still hard because she was so fragile and needy, and it was scary and exhausting to take care of her. But little by little every day, her personality comes out more, and she gets stronger and more beautiful, and I can’t even imagine my life without her. She was always meant to be here.