**It’s been ONE WHOLE YEAR since Rebecca brought Alex into this world! I can’t believe it! What better way to celebrate than to remember Alex’s very (real) first birthday. Congrats Rebecca, Nick, and Alex! We love you guys!**
The following is a guest post from a Mama named, Rebecca. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful birth story with us!
My story isn’t what I thought it would be. First of all, I was hoping to see my September 1st due date, and maybe even add a few days, because I liked the idea of a September baby. Don’t ask me why, I just thought September was a better month than August. And this was my first baby, and first babies are always late, right? Ha. I imagined starting my labor at home, spending time in the shower and maybe the bath, because I am defiantly a water person. Water has always soothed me, and I was sure it was meant to be a part of my journey. I saw myself laboring in the relaxing water; no fuss, no drama, just grace during this life altering transition. Again, Ha.
During my pregnancy, I had a very hard time ‘taking it easy.’ It’s just not my style. I am horrible at asking people to do things for me, or worse, noticing something needs done and not doing it before others can get there to help me. So you might say that up until my 7th month I was still moving around cases of water at work. Or possibly when I was SO OVER those ugly rose bushes in front of our new house, my husband came home to find that I had, in fact, filled our trash can with debris from the planter, and dug up one of the plants to give to my mother. This was late July. It was 90 degrees outside. Hmmm…. But I did go for a cool and refreshing swim almost every day, which was my sanity saver. I don’t think it should be even legal for a pregnant woman not to have access to a pool. Ahh, the weightlessness! The circulation! You almost feel human again.
Starting in June I was having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions at night. I would feel a little crampy, then use the restroom and go back to bed. No big deal. This continued each night. I paid them no mind, since all my check-ups were great.
Fast forward to August. I was 38 weeks along, and we had an un-sanded, unfinished wood cradle (that the baby was supposed to sleep in) in our garage that no one else had time to work on. I kept trying to communicate that I was stressed that we had things that were unfinished, and everyone kept telling me we had tons of time. This was unacceptable to me. So I took myself to Home Depot to buy a sander. (Do you know how to get amazingly fast help, ushered to the front of the line, and helped out to the car in record time? Go to a home improvement store at 38 weeks. I think it scares them.) So I sanded and sanded, then went to the pool. Then Tuesday I finally got the second coat of stain on it. Progress! I tried to tell myself to relax.
Thursday morning was my doctors appointment, and the first time for an internal check. Let me just say, you never want to have a doctor checking out things you can’t see and exclaim, “Oh wow!” But she did, and then told me, “Well, you are 4 cm and I can feel the top of his head.” Excuse me, what? She tells me that she will be surprised if I make it to my September 1st due date in 9 days.
I would like to say at this point I was rational and thought that I should do things like, you know, pack a hospital bag, or take a nap. Nope. My mind immediately thought, “I have to get another coat of stain on the cradle today!” I text my husband what the doctor had said. He calls me immediately, “What?!? How did this happen?” Hee hee. Poor guy. I told him it was fine, but did say that maybe this was why I felt so antsy to have things finished, and could he help me get things done tonight. That day I actually made my post partum pads (a lifesaver!!), packed our bags, did laundry, read a book, and took a nap. My husband in his infinite wisdom, suggested that I not do anything else to the cradle at that time. When he got home we had a really lovely evening with a pasta dinner, a glass of wine, and watched TV together snuggling on the couch. I went to bed feeling no traces of the crampiness, and figured that the baby wasn’t coming tonight. Oh yeah, we also scoured the internet for middle name ideas, as we still hadn’t completely settled on the baby’s name. We figured we had lots of time, right?
I woke up at 2 am with my usual bathroom need and the same crampiness I had experienced for months. No big deal. I went back to bed. I then woke up at 3 am with more cramps. Hmmm… this was unusual. I laid still to see if it would go away. It did. Then it came back. Then it went away. Uh Oh. I wake up Nick and say that I feel kind of uncomfortable. Once he woke up enough to understand what I was saying, he used his trusty iphone app to time the contractions. 1 minute long, 3 minutes apart. No way. I told him he must have done it wrong and to try again.
So now we decide that maybe we should call Jennifer, our doula, and Nick gets dressed. We go downstairs. Now I’m realizing that this is it, because this is far too regular to just be cramps, and I try to tell myself to relax. I try to use our yoga ball in the living room, which helps a little. I find myself making humming noises that ebb and flow with the contractions. We time a little more. Its only been about 40 minutes since I woke Nick up. Now I get cold sweats and a wave of nausea. A little voice in my head jumps up and down saying “hey, this is transition! You need to go!” We were planning to birth in the hospital, which was about a 10 to 15 minute drive, and my biggest fear my entire pregnancy was getting stuck in the car. I suddenly had this overwhelming urge that we needed to leave our house. I tell Nick to get the car. He says that Jennifer, our doula is almost here, we should wait.
Now in my plans, I knew I would never be one of those women that gets irrationally angry with her husband. We just are not like that. I’m not like that. Well, I guess that’s another thing that didn’t go as planned. I insisted we get in the car. Jennifer could just catch up with us at the hospital. I sat in the car as I watched him slowly fiddle with the front door lock, and carry his ceramic cup of coffee with him to the car (one of my pet peeves, no travel cup). I wanted to physically grab his face and shake him. We had to go! Why didn’t he understand this?!? When he started to try to balance the coffee cup on the console of the truck I said “Are you kidding me? Just go!” So much for my grace and poise. Then I threw up in a plastic bowl.
To his credit, we got to the hospital in record time. I don’t even really remember the ride, but I doubt it took 5 minutes. We parked in front and started walking in. I told him I needed his help and we could get the bags later (Mistake. Bring bags with you, especially if your Birth Plan is in there). Jennifer is now with us, and we make our way to L&D check in. I am determined to walk on my own because walking is good for you. Nurses gave us funny looks, and kept offering help, and we refused. We finally made it to the Check-in desk. The nurse asks, “How far along are you? (38 weeks 6 days) and Is this your first baby? (yes).” My answers to these questions actually made her sit back and sigh. She spoke slowly and as if eternally tired of women like me. “Ok, read this, sign this, go pee in this…” I could have slapped her. I thought about it. I was leaning on my husband, panting and moaning, and she wanted me to pee in a cup?!? Are you nuts? But I wanted to be a team player. I was already planning an unconventional birth (no interference whatsoever), and I knew that I needed the nurses to like me to play nice. So I tried to play nice. I tried to pee in that cup. When I get back out, she points down a hall and tells me to go down there to answer more triage questions.
This is where things get interesting. I swear to you, I was not intending to cause a scene. But at that moment, I was simply done. I said, “ok, hold on a second,” and my legs gave out, and I knelt down on the floor to rest. Once there, the floor felt nice and cold, and I wasn’t sure I was going to get up. I remember hearing Nick say, “Honey get off the floor,” and then the next thing I know, I see two sets of scrub covered legs come near and say, “What is going on?” I was then helped up to triage where they tried to put me in a gown (didn’t work very well), and a well meaning nurse asked to check my progress. When we were finally able to accomplish this, she discovered I was already at 8 cm. They were shocked. By now my humming noises had turned into louder vocalizations that I’m not sure I can describe, but as that nurse was asking me more questions, I gave in to the overwhelming feeling that I had to make a guttural grunting noise that came from the back of my throat. My body felt like it was rolling through waves of muscles testing their limits. I was simply along for the ride.
The nurses finally gave up any further triage or questioning, and wheeled me to a delivery room (about time). Once there I crawled to the different bed, laid on my side, and closed my eyes and continued riding the waves. I remember occasionally asking for water, which came from a straw and a cup and was gloriously cold. I remember holding Nicks hand, but I didn’t look at anyone. After one wave I remember finishing my guttural noises with a slight whimper, and was embarrassed. But I was getting a bit tired. Why did I think I could do this? This was hard. The midwife and my doula kept providing comforting words, and helped me adjust positions a bit. She advised me to tuck my chin to my chest to aid pushing. All of the sudden things started stinging. Pain was sharper. I finally voiced “I can’t.” I was horrified with myself. But I was met with a chorus of voices saying “No! Just one more, that’s his head!” My baby boy was here, and I didn’t really know it. One more push and they guided my hands down so I could pull him up myself. He was beautiful. I lay him on my belly because the umbilical cord was short, and said “Hi baby.”
Alexander Jameson Walke was born at 6:07 am on August 24th, at 6 lbs 10 oz, 19 ½ inches long. He was a week and a day before the 40 week due date. From the time I woke Nick up to the time he arrived was 3 hours. This baby was ready whether I was or not. It’s a good thing my body knew what to do, because I feel all I mostly did was react. It has taken me longer to type this story than it took to really do it.
The only thing I can compare that moment to is maybe climbing a mountain and reaching the summit. Although I don’t climb, so I’m not really sure. It was the greatest feeling of elation ever. I can’t imagine denying any woman the chance to feel this good for herself. I got up to walk to the bathroom within 20 minutes. I felt like a rock star. And apparently I was, because all day, nurses came in to see us, as we were the talk of the nurses station. I was the girl who had her first baby in an hour at the hospital with no intervention whatsoever, and who had sat down on the floor in the hall because no one was taking her seriously. We did stay overnight, which I am glad we did for the extra hands and sleep. The next day I felt muscle soreness in my core as if I had over done it at the gym. I also had a scratchy, horse throat. It took me a bit to realize that it was from all of the grunting noises I had been making. Again, I was a little embarrassed. So much for my plans of grace and poise.
They say that your second baby comes faster than the first. I must say that makes me nervous, and I am pretty sure we will be planning a home birth, really because we may not have a choice. I am so thankful to the women who helped me in my journey; who first planted the idea that it could be this way, and then to the ones who helped me realize that I was capable of this at all. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It may have not been my plan, but it was the way it was supposed to be.