Mother’s Day 2017 has arrived. Pictured is my first mothers day in 2012. I figured what better time than now to write about the birth that made me a Momma. Obviously, this is long overdue, especially given my love and chosen career path for all things birth. No excuses here, I guess I have just been neck deep in being a momma. Go figure. I loved the birth of my first born and even though I was somewhat naïve in the world of birth, I appreciate the innocence I had in a world I have since learned to be unforgivingly complex. My experience has helped me in my profession as a doula to relate to other first time moms and know what information could make a difference to a mom who doesn’t know what to take in and what to let slide. Here is my story. From real start to finish. It doesn’t fit the get married, have kids, get pregnant path, but I love it for it’s truth. Keeping it real.
My little bug was not planned but he wasn’t a huge surprise either. My now husband and I had been together on and off for about a year and had already discussed our desire to have kids. I guess you could say we were both feeling like, “hey, if it happens, it’s meant to be.” I remember sitting in my tiny red bathroom peeing on a stick while my now husband was talking to me in the other room. It’s funny to think neither of us actually thought I was pregnant after months of unprotected sex, but some vomiting that morning made us feel like we should probably check it out. He was still talking when I saw the results on the stick. I half smiled and walked over slowly. He was surprisingly unsuspecting. He knew what I was doing, but I guess you could say he was jaded in many ways. The next hour or two were filled with happiness, fear, tears, and shock. An amazing and scary feeling where we were both looking for security in the other’s eyes, yet couldn’t escape the feeling of, now what?? The same day we found out we went on a little day trip, so as you can see below, we were pretty happy.
We were both, importantly, madly in love with each other. Though we were each going through our own transitions in life, the fear of having a baby together quickly subsided. Somehow, we both just knew it would be ok. While pregnant I worked full time at Boston University, commuting at least two hours each way in traffic to where I lived. My pregnancy was easy. I felt good other than some back pain, probably due to the long commute and office job. I felt I had a good diet, though I had to go in for the glucose test three times. We kept up with baby progress through pregnancy apps and I remember my now husband being obsessed with me drinking fruit smoothies to curb the fact I was not fond of fruit. Crazy I know. To the dismay of both our families, we both decided to have the sex of the baby remain a surprise.
The milestones that come to the forefront, however, unfortunately and realistically, were far from me focusing on my pregnancy. At five months pregnant my beloved cat was hit by a car and at eight months pregnant I moved out of my first home and into a two-bedroom apartment owned by my now husband’s family member. In a story all it’s own, I had sold my first home through a short sale program I had applied and qualified for during the financial crisis and was right in the middle of trying to sell my home. I should say however, despite these potentially negative set backs, I was extremely happy, and more happy and excited for the future than anything else. I will also never forget the baby shower my family put on for me. It was not the first time I met my husband’s very large family, but it might have been the second. It should have been exciting and wonderful, yet I mostly remember being somewhat terrified. That said, I like to look back at this time as the beginning of a lifetime. His family has grown to mean everything to me, to a point where my life and my children’s lives are now unimaginable without them.
In terms of being prepared for birth, I didn’t know enough to know if I was or not. Could I have been more prepared? Absolutely, but there is only so much you can do with the time you are given. I will always be grateful to a good friend of mine and neighbor at the time for helping me to be as educated as I was. Childbirth education is wonderful, but the village aspect of my education was more beneficial in the end, only because of the not so thorough childbirth education course. My friend pointed me in the right direction for books on birth and breastfeeding, and was unwavering on her support towards my desire to have an un-medicated birth. Her and my now husband were so matter of fact about it. If you want to do it, you will do it. I told myself, I wanted to do it, period. I figured if it’s a natural process than I want to do it naturally. I never even gave much thought to an epidural. I had asked one of my midwives about a doula and they sadly told me they were not necessary and cost $3,000. I trusted her response and never thought about it again. For the record, this midwife was not my most trusted midwife who eventually attended my birth and who now refers clients who want doulas to me on a regular basis.
Labor began after one of the midwives I saw swept my membranes and told me I was 3 cm, 80 percent effaced (which I had been for a month). The midwife, and I honestly don’t remember which one, had recommended I go to the pharmacy and purchase some evening primrose oil to insert vaginally to help with effacement. I remember my birth waves beginning while I was walking to the pharmacy from my car at around 5pm. I ignored them mostly and waited to see if they grew in consistency, which they did. I remember calling the hospital at 2am and was told to stay home and maybe call back later. This was where my naivety played a big role. I was confused, and really wasn’t sure what to do. I thought they would tell me, but they just said to stay home longer. I was anxious, but forced myself to fall asleep. Sleep and morning came. A sign of which I now know would be prodromal labor. However, birth waves did persist as soon as I woke up.
By fault of not writing this story earlier neither of us remember anything of the next day except that we watched the series Spartacus (a very relaxing and oxytocin building choice). By 4:30pm contractions were manageable but closer together by five minutes, so we headed to the hospital. We both thought, it must be time now! I remember the car ride being intense but when I arrived at the hospital I was disappointed to find myself at 3-4 cm. I still had a long way to go. Luckily my favorite midwife was on-call, though it was another, newer midwife, who she placed me with, telling her, “I was a textbook birth, in shape and low risk so would be a great woman to work with.” The newer midwife told me about that later with a smile. The midwives did encourage us to go home, but I, like so many moms, couldn’t imagine going home only to come back again. It was unclear to me what staying at the hospital actually meant and how much longer I had to go.
Unfortunately for me and my newer midwife, I was not exactly textbook, though things did go ok considering. I was having severe back pain, couldn’t walk around easily and my husband was giving me constant back pressure while I sat on the ball. I was unendingly grateful for his strength. It was around 10pm when I was checked and had dilated to 6cm. The midwife mentioned breaking my waters might help to get things moving. Without knowing any better or the risks associated with that, especially in relation to my back labor, I accepted. Things moved very quickly and became much more intense after she broke my membranes. My back labor, unfortunately, only increased in severity. My go to position remained being on the ball as anything else would make me panic because of my back. At 1am I was mostly fully dilated and ready to push, though the urge to push was not something I remembered feeling. It was my midwife and nurse who noticed my sounds changing and asked if they could check me. Pushing was something I’ll never forget and I’m surprised and grateful for my success, especially after my experience of watching others. Usually after three hours at least talk of cesarean is inevitable.
After two and a half hours of pushing my newer midwife called in the midwife I knew and loved to help as no progress was being made and baby was sunny side up. She helped by applying warm compresses, and using mineral oil to stretch my perineum to help it along. I was mainly on my back and was encouraged multiple times to get up and try different positions. Unfortunately whenever I tried to move I would again panic as my back felt as if it would break in two. In-between pushes I remember hallucinating, and being unaware of much except for some random conversations. My husband was right there supporting me along with the nurse. The nurse and midwife were exceptional at not letting on how much time had passed. Instead, they just assured me I could do it. How it should be. There was talk towards the end of vacuum or forceps assisted birth if I was unable to move him in a few more pushes, but I did. After a strenuous four hours of pushing and some reassuring and supportive nurse, midwives and husband, my little love was born at 5:15am with a bruised cone head. I will absolutely never forget his eyes. They were wide open and looked straight at me as he was placed onto my chest. I was so in awe of him that I never wondered if he was a boy or a girl until the midwife asked my husband to check. Somehow, I remember not being surprised it was a boy, as if I knew all along. Wow, did the love of motherhood pour into me at that moment. I was full of pride of him and myself and was finally a mother. The full transition into motherhood had come and my world would never be the same.
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