Let me start off by saying that real true, graphic, detailed birth stories give me the willies. Sorry if that's your thing, but it's just TMI, dude! While expecting my first baby I would make myself read birth stories and books on birthing and things of that sort. I would freak out! The free birth class at the hospital was extremely difficult for me, as was the workbook on preparation and stages of labor that someone loaned me. Even when expecting our second baby, I closed my eyes during the actual birth part of the birthing-class video. Not fun.
SO this is not one of those stories!
But I do want to share, if only as a way of explaining some of the choices we have made since then.
Alrighty, here goes!
We had only been married about 6 weeks when we learned we had a baby on the way. We don't like to say he was an accident, cuz we knew we wanted to have babies; he was certainly a surprise though! Remember that just a couple months before getting pregnant, I was a single, home-owning, world-traveling teacher with a Master's Degree, living in Las Vegas. I suddenly found myself married (to the man of my dreams, thank you, I'm not complaining!), living in Iowa and teaching half-time at a preschool. A pregnant newlywed. Not exactly what I had imagined!
The first couple of months were exciting and intimidating. I felt fine in the mornings and could teach just fine, but by the time I got home after lunch, I just wanted to sleep! Some days, that's all I did. I had strange food-aversions and fights with bouts of nausea and would often skip supper. Thankfully, that all just disappeared one day at 12 weeks and I had an amazing experience for the rest of my pregnancy.
We chose to go the standard route with an OBGYN. My husband came to the first appointment and the two other times we had ultrasounds. We really liked the doctor because he seemed genuinely interested. For instance, if I had a question or concern, he would put down his notepad or whatever he was working on and look at me while I spoke. I found that very reassuring.
I chose to keep working until the Friday before my due date-- April 30. My replacement (now one of my best friends!) was already on-staff by then, so no one was too worried about what would happen to my class should I go into labor early.
I needn't have worried.
The doc said at my 36-week appointment that the baby was full-term now and IT could happen at any time.
Tick tock tick tock....
Absolutely nothing happened! I went in for my 40-week appointment on Monday with no signs of impending labor. Even after my exam (yes, THAT exam) which showed no dilation and little effacing, the doctor looked at me and said, "How would you like to have a baby on Thursday?"
I begged him to give me until the following Monday, 41 weeks, before trying the induction. He reluctantly agreed.
I went home terrified and my husband and I spent the next week praying and crying (ok, that was just me) and trying every trick in the book to go into spontaneous labor.
I remembered calling my family the night before and telling them what was happening (as in, NOTHING, as far as my body was concerned, but we were evicting the baby the next day) and just sobbing! I completely felt that it was not the right choice for us. I'm, well, rather granola, as the term goes. I like to do things naturally. We eat simple, natural things, we don't have a complicated life-style, we're health-conscious, organic-supporting, NATURAL kind of people. The only meds I took were for headaches, and I didn't even like taking those. I was terrified of hospitals, hated 'helpful' medical personnel (sorry, not trying to offend, just sayin') and about passed out the time on the hospital tour when they showed us the surgery room where C-sections were done. It was one of my life goals to NEVER have surgery. Seriously.
I know what you're thinking: Get over it! Just go have your baby and get on with life! Right?
Well, we did. Sort of. We bravely checked-in that evening and promptly things got worse. I had to have an IV, my husband had to sleep on a cot, I felt terrible and didn't sleep well and the little technique they, ahem, administer the night before they start the pitocin-drip was completely useless. So I started the false, medicine-induced labor already feeling like my birth plan had been sacrificed. We walked the halls, we chatted, we breathed, my husband was amazing.
And nothing happened.
Seriously. Nothing. Absolutely ZERO results after 12 hours of false labor and false hopes.
That baby was NOT coming out that day or night!
As to the rest of our experience that day, some nurses were more helpful than others, my doctor popped in a couple times and seemed annoyed that nothing was happening, and I had my unmentionables checked about 1000 times too many!!! About every 2-3 hours, someone had to check if I was dilating. Not only was it uncomfortable and invasive, every time the answer was NO.
They stopped the drip that night so I could sleep. HA! Right. See, the doctor said he wasn't on duty the next day and we had a choice to make. We could either continue with the meds that weren't working, go home still pregnant, or have a c-section in the morning with another doctor from the same clinic.
It was a long night. We fully expected to be cuddling our baby by then, but instead the day had been a failure, we were emotionally and physically exhausted and had a no-win decision to make.
We chose the c-section. I was so disappointed in myself, in my body, in the doctors and nurses, cuz somehow in my brain it was their fault... My almost-worst nightmare was happening. (The worst involved a less-than-healthy baby, and so far all signs said that he was golden.) Being wheeled to the OR was the scariest thing I have ever done. My husband was getting dressed in his scrubs and wasn't with me when they gave me the epidural and I remember someone saying oh-so helpfully, "Someone needs to get this girl to calm down!" Thanks! I'm trying! But see, YOU are my worst fear right now!
I've never felt so vulnerable as when my body went numb from the chest down. I'll never forget the sensation of the cutting and tugging. So weird.
And then there was a baby's cry! My baby! They briefly showed him to me, then whisked him away to clean, weigh, measure, poke and prod. But he was so perfect and so beautiful!
None of the rest of the stuff that happened to me was fun. Not the stitching-up, not the being by myself in the OR cuz G went with the baby. Not the catheter and certainly not the leg-massaging or incision check-ups. I tried to walk that night and promptly lost my lunch. I was still tied up to machines with needles in my arm, but at least that night I HAD MY BABY!
It was an amazing love-at-first sight experience. I was not expecting it, nor the mother-bear attitude that overwhelmed me immediately. I'd been intimidated by breast-feeding, and though it was tricky and hurt at first--especially trying to hold the baby with a sore tummy in the way--it came quite naturally. From the moment I saw J for the first time, it was no longer about me.
There's more, of course. So many stories to tell of my first-born! But those are for another time. It was a traumatic experience and the exact opposite of what we wanted it to be, but in the end we had our perfect little bundle of joy and we were ok with that!