“On the day you were born the angels clapped their hands and the moon danced with the stars.”
Let me preface this post by saying that I will certainly be touching on my pregnancy in upcoming posts, but I figured I’d cut to the chase and get to the best part: the birth of our miracle. Essentially, this will be the last in the series of posts that share our personal journey. While future posts will always incorporate and be based upon our experiences, they’ll consist more of topics, tips and suggestions related to infertility.
I have really enjoyed opening up and sharing our story. It was difficult at times to relive those memories, but it was also very cathartic for me. Between the texts, messages, and thoughtful words I’ve been given, I feel so blessed to have so much support around me in this venture.
The best part, though, I have to say has been the opportunity to share and learn about so many other women’s journeys to motherhood, however they got there (naturally, IUI, IVF, surrogacy, adoption). It’s like there’s some unspoken bond once you’ve reciprocally revealed your story to another woman and each is so beautiful in its own unique way.
The same seems to go for birth stories. Before I gave birth, I sort of understood, but didn’t completely get the way in which women would gush when speaking about the birth of their babies. It was like some cult where no matter how long ago or where it happened, everyone who’d done it could relate. After experiencing it myself, I see how sharing such an intimate moment forms such comradery amongst moms…and I secretly can’t wait to interject to give my tell-all whenever the opportunity presents itself! And so…(drumroll please)!
Not only have I become that mom that gushes over the birth of her child, but I was also that girl who loved being pregnant. Maybe it’s because I was just so grateful to actually have the amazing experience of growing another human inside of me or maybe it’s because I really didn’t experience any symptoms of pregnancy other than the growing bump. So annoying, I know, but I figured such an easy pregnancy was God’s way of giving me a break for all that I’d gone through to get there. I also thought that this meant my labor and delivery was probably doomed.
It was a late Wednesday night and I was wearing an old pair of my husband’s boxers because let’s be honest, by this point, what else really fit?! It was my eighty millionth trip to the bathroom that night, but I noticed it looked wet in the boxers, kind of like I had peed myself. I had become accustomed to checking my undergarments after I lost my mucous plug at 35 and a half weeks ?! Now about a week and a half later, I figured I’d chalk it up to the fact that I was already 2.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced and the baby was probably pushing my bladder to the point I couldn’t control it.
The next morning, I woke up late not really paying attention to much as I scurried off to work. I decided I’d cut back on my water intake to see if that made a difference. Well come twelve or so, I noticed a very small puddle on my seat when my co-worker who also happens to be one of my besties (and a saint for helping me through my worst days) came to discuss the most important topic of our workday: where to get lunch. She threw out a few ideas and offered to drive, and as per usual wanted to know what the contingency plan was if I should go into labor “under her watch”! I dismissed the notion that I was even close to labor and apologized in advance for any leakage in her car. I figured I’d give the doctor a call, after lunch of course.
Once we got back from devouring our lunches, I called my OB/GYN and they said I should come to get checked just in case. I nearly gave my husband a heart attack when I called and told him to meet me at the doctor’s. He’s a Nervous Nelly especially when it came to my pregnancy (and now the baby) so it took some convincing that I was okay to drive myself to there. When we got there, almost immediately they confirmed that it was, in fact, amniotic fluid and therefore I’d have to give birth somewhere within the next 24 hours. Whoa-not what I was expecting. I was happy to have made it to the full 37 weeks but had a few more things on my to-do list. Ya know-get mums so the stoop looked good in coming home pics and stock up on wine for the influx of guests. Isn’t that what everyone thinks of upon giving birth?!
Anyways I was at about 3 cm dilated, so the midwife suggested doing a membrane sweep to get things going since I wasn’t having regular contractions yet. Holy hell, but it brought me to a 4! She said we should go home and get our things together and call her around 8, unless contractions started to become more regular. Regardless, we would be admitted at some point that night. So came my next question, “And who is on tonight?”
I must explain that I go to a small group in New Haven, CT, Women’s Health Associates (hope you don’t care about the shoutout ?) comprised of four fabulous midwives. My husband was originally skeptical in case of emergency, not knowing the doctor who would intervene. However, he came to LOVE them. In fact, he gives out their name and number more than his own! And I really appreciated their flexible outlook on delivery. Of course natural birth was the goal, but they were open to other options, which was exactly my mindset. We really can’t recommend them enough; one of the midwives had even delivered me! Yet, when this particular midwife, Laura, said that it was her on call that night I let out a huge sigh of relief, like everything was going to be fine, and I felt inclined to tell her why. While each of the midwives and all of the doctors and the urologist that we worked with were knowledgeable, personable, and welcoming, Laura was the only professional during all this whom actually said to me, “And how are you doing with all of this?” She actually said it to me at our first encounter, long before we were in the depths of infertility and it resonated with me. It was like a validation that it was okay to be in emotional turmoil over all of this. I felt as though the stars had aligned knowing she’d be the one helping us bring our baby into the world.
It only got better when I was home getting things together and got a call from another one of my best friends. This particular friend was the first one I confided in when we received our diagnosis. She always knew exactly what to say and exactly when to say nothing at all. I’m forever indebted to her for all of the support she gave me and all of the ways in which she kept me going. So it was no surprise that at the point of labor she was still trying to make my life easier and, boy, did she ever. She had phoned a high school friend, Nicole (Sorry Nic, I need to sing your praises all over the Internet) who was a labor and delivery nurse to see if she was on. Nicole came to the hospital specifically to be our nurse, which really made me believe that all was right in the universe for an uncomplicated birth. Literally, she’s like a birthing superhero.
There we had it our team: myself, my husband, Laura, Nicole, and our moms (Not to mention the team in the waiting room~you’re all the best ?). We skipped triage and were admitted immediately. Laura didn’t want to keep checking dilation because of the increased risk for infection and the plan was made. Start the pitocin around 12 am and see what happened with the contractions, estimating checking at 3 or 4 am depending on how it was going. Mikie and I walked the halls, playing a game to see who could guess the right amount of contractions each way. They were the bearable, hold on to the railing and sway kind. I did a couple stints in the rocking chair, mostly rolled on the birthing ball, and even had some Italian ice. At one point my husband looked at me and said, “Don’t get cocky, this isn’t it.” He had really paid attention in our childbirth class so he knew the signs to look for! The contractions were coming closer together but still not that regular and intense. So we waited until around 5 am to check and I had only gone from 4 to 5 cm in all that time, with the pitocin being upped pretty frequently. At that point, it looked as though a knitting hook was swept under my gown and “Ahhhhhhh”. It felt as though I was submerged in a hot tub, as they broke my water. It had been a very slow leak clearly, but once that happened it was on.
Basically the pitocin was so high and I was going into active labor on my own. The contractions were so close together because of the combination of the two. I had my focal point and really made sure, in the kindest of ways, to keep everyone out of it. I laid mostly on my side and breathed into the pain like I had been taught at prenatal yoga. At that point my hands started to go numb a little and Nicole reassured me that it was okay. Between their encouraging words and gentle touches, Laura and Nicole made this process as smooth as it could possibly be. In my head, though, all I wanted to know was how long this stage would be until transition phase, but I knew that predicting was the only thing they couldn’t do for me. I felt like if I had a time in mind, I could endure it longer.
I then asked about changing positions to the shower. I felt the need to make a pit stop at the toilet, which I remembered was a good indicator that pushing was around the corner. That’s when I looked at Nicole and said, “Nic, should we talk meds?” And she calmly replied, “I don’t think you need them.” I trusted her judgement completely even though we had only really met just hours before and onward we went…sans meds.
Meanwhile, at my “pit stop” Laura checked me and within an hour I had dialated from 5 to 9 centimeters. To the shower I went then. There I stood in the buff squatting while holding onto the shower bar for dear life, my husband spraying my back with the hot water. Laura and Nicole were stabilizing me to not slip, while everyone coached me. What an image-I know, but I can still envision it clear as day. I kept slipping though so we had to change it up.
It was about 6:30 at this point. I kept pushing, they had to cut me and I felt everything. With each push it felt a little closer and then a little farther from the finish line. For me, I’d have to describe it as an out-of-body experience. It was as if I felt the excruciating pain and burning, but could remove myself to appreciate the awe of it. All-in-all the process, even during pushing, was fairly peaceful and serene. There were very few f-bombs, with the exception of, “You people and the effing water,” because every time I needed a sip between contractions it was empty. Oh, and the time I was pushing and my mom picked up the phone for my brother who was in the waiting room (Sorry mom~you know you deserve it for that one!) I changed from all fours to my back and within a half hour, at 7:04 am, there our sweet miracle came, weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 20.5 inches long of pure perfection.
At first he was face down, so it took 30 seconds or so for my husband to explode, “It’s a boy”! And then I got to hold our whole world in my hands (while simultaneously delivering the placenta and then getting stitched #realtalk). Within a half hour or so, he rooted towards my breast and I nursed for the first time. Be forewarned, I had taken a breastfeeding class and read a couple of books, but at that moment, everything I had learned escaped me. Rather than releasing his latch with my finger, I ripped him off. I unfortunately ended up paying for the mistake with weeks of sore, cracked, bleeding nipples. So heed my advice, and save yourself the pain. Release the latch if you remember nothing else!
One of the best moments in my husband’s life was being able to go into the waiting room to announce that it was a boy, the only one who could carry on the family name. When I was eventually wheeled out, baby wrapped in my arms, I felt the same ecstasy. Hugs, tears, laughter, and coos ensued. Nicole was still by my side to escort us to the maternity floor. Thankfully so, because I felt extremely dizzy as we turned the corner to the elevator. At first, when asked if I wanted someone to take the baby from me I said no, but then passed him off as the dizziness worsened. Guess that’s when my motherly instincts kicked in because I had a vasovagal, fainting caused by a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure. Luckily I quickly came to it and everything was fine.
The next couple of days were basically a mini-vaca on Cloud Nine. All of the staff and nurses on the maternity floor were remarkable. You always only hear the horror stories, but we left Yale New Haven Hospital with a whole new respect for individuals in this field. We will always cherish our experience there and the people we met who guided us those first few days.
All that said, from the very first moment I held our son, I was just so proud to be his momma. Even now, on a daily basis, I feel that same sense of pride that he is ours. It’s the same sensation of pride I felt when I went to my first check-up at my OB/GYN; everyone in the office was buzzing about what a beautiful birth it had been. It was the type of beauty that only miracles are made of for sure.