4.9 *birth story

One week ago I gave birth to our son and became a mother.

A mother. I am a mother now and I cannot tell you how absolute complete I feel. Like I have finally made it to where I always knew would be my highest, happiest state. I looked in the mirror today holding Everett and absolutely melted with pride. I have changed so much in these past seven days, it’s hard to remember who we were before this little boy came to the earth.

Last Thursday, Chris stayed home from work. We went to the Midwife Center because the night before I thought some of my water leaked. They of course wanted to check, but it turns out, I just trickled pee. Chris and I were in bed and we hit our heads; I let out a huge laugh and pop went the bladder control. I mean, I have to laugh at the story because if not, it’s just too embarrassing.

Since I was already at the center, the midwife Kara offered to sweep my membranes in an attempt to get labor started. I was one week and a day over my due date, their “most pregnant” mom there, and at that point, they really like to try methods such as the sweep to get things started.

We got home and I made a lasagna while Chris worked from home on the kitchen table. I was excited all day for our dinner, but when it was time to eat, noodles and sauce and meat and cheese could not have been less appetizing. I had a few corn chips and salsa and was done with food–which was surprisingly weird.

I had felt period like cramps all day but at that point, feeling those was a common occurrence. I didn’t want to get excited but couldn’t help feeling encouraged the more they kept up. Around ten o’clock I took a Benadryl in an attempt to have a really good sleep (which was actually recommended by one of the midwives). An hour later I woke up and laid still, trying to figure out if the rhythms in my belly were indeed contractions. When they kept coming in patterns, I knew something was happening in there and woke Chris. I took a bath and just laid in the water, looking at my belly and feeling so close to meeting my baby.

Around one o’clock, Chris put on his clothes and went downstairs to watch tv on the couch. He was anxious. When my contractions were three minutes apart, we called the midwife on call, Kara, and told here we were coming in.

It was probably 4ish in the morning, raining and gray outside on our drive in.   The light drizzles and comforting color of the sky make me feel calm and protected. And when you’re nine months pregnant going into labor for the first time, it’s nice to have the rain on your side.

I could tell when I walked in that the midwife wasn’t concerned about my labor. She said we were pretty early because I was still able to talk through my contractions. We could of course stay, or go home for awhile. I wanted to go back home, so we did.

We were back at the house for about three hours and Chris quite literally came close to a comatose from panicking every time he heard me make a sound. So back to the center we went. The two of us took a nap in the bed together and I remember during each contraction, I’d picture you blowing what looked like glitter, from the palm of your hand to me. And I would take a big breath in, inhaling the gold speckles and when I exhaled, green ivy-like leaves brushed down the sides of my stomach and took the pain away. So so weird, but I visualized it for about a hour.

I decided that I would listen to everyone and take that damn walk. After all, I’d been in labor already for about 12 hours and was only under 4cm.

The midwife center is in the middle of a busy place with streets, sidewalks, alleys and cars. I would lean up against a building and breathe, swaying my hips and trying my hardest to relax. We walked past an ice cream place and I wanted some–eating had been SO hard all day. I hadn’t had an appetite and needed some sugar in me. I figured ice cream could definitely do but even that was a little hard to stomach.

Thinking back on having to walk outside, in the city and attempt to breathe during a contraction amidst the hot sun, seems nothing short of a nightmare.

I got into the big jacuzzi tub when I returned from what felt like my own personal versiom of the trail of tears. Here my contractions really started to picked up and intensify. The hot water felt incredible. I would get really sweaty though after a contraction, so Chris would pour cooler water over my shoulders and chest after each one. My doula told me she really thought I was close to eight or so centimeters and I remember thinking, “I can totally do this.” I asked for something to drink and they came back with a Whole Foods brand ginger ale and I got so excited. It’s my absolute favorite treat, specifically that brand. The nurses and midwife laughed at my enthusiasm and it was dare-I-say a fun moment. After this is when shit got real real.

I got out of the water and was only 6 cm. For about an hour I’d say, I walked around that room cursing and being in complete denial that that was my progress after the walk and tub. I said I was done, that this was so stupid and I could not make it to the end. If drugs were available, this is the point where I would have glady taken them.

My body felt like jello, and I knew the hardest part was yet to come. Active labor had really started. At one point the most comfortable position for me was sitting on the toilet backwards. Whatever worked, I didn’t care.

A few hours passed and I asked for my water to be broke after given some options that may or may not speed up my labor. This of course, makes the contractions stronger. But I was desperate then and wanted it all over. I didn’t think those pains could get any worse. I was wrong.

The midwife gave a poke and out poured water like someone was holding a hose alongside my legs. Such a weird sensation, I’ll never forget it. You sure know you’re not peeing yourself.

I go into the tub–this second round in there was much more intense than the last. I made even more noise. Noise seemed to be the only thing that gave any relief during a cramp. At one point I remember crying. Chris was sitting on the side of the tub and I told him, “If I could survive losing my mom, I can do this.” I was staring straight ahead at the shower wall tile, tears sitting in my eyes.

After some amount of time (mind you, I’ve been in labor for 24 hours now) I stood up out of the water and let out a HUGE scream. I could hear the rush of the nurses and midwife coming down the little hall. At this point I was feeling so much pressure, like a watermelon wanted through my body. And it doesn’t just feel like a wide watermelon, but a VERY heavy one. They wanted me on the bed and I fought them, but eventually listened. I started to want to push within seconds.

In my pregnancy, I said I wanted to just calmly “breath my baby down”–yea freakin’ right. I became an angry lioness, roaring her way through each pain.

During the entire labor, at certain minute intervals, a nurse or midwife would put a doppler on my belly to make sure the baby was doing okay. When I started to push, the nurse listened and I could hear it beating really slow and knew that was not right. That’s when I heard them tell me to slow my breath and “Okay, Hayley. We need to get this baby out.” From there I had minutes to get him out. They told me to switch from on my back, to my side, to all fours with pillows for support. I felt like I was flipping around like a pancake. At one point they told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head. I did, and it felt like a soft, crinkled walnut.

Once his head was out, they saw the cord was wrapped around his neck twice. I ended up on my back and the midwife told me to push towards the ceiling which helped immensely. She also was holding a twisted sheet and I pulled on it like I was climbing a ladder as she tugged back.

His shoulder was stuck because he had his hand and arm positioned up by the head. My doula did a swipe maneuver with her finger that got his shoulder out, causing him a small hairline fracture. Apparently their bodies are made to do that if needed, and this was one of those cases.

Chris was standing behind me, leaning over the bed (I was horizontal to the queen sized headboard) and saying “Come on Pum, push…push! The head is out!” And he was squeezing my arms and shoulders. Hearing him encourage me with strength and excitement gave me the final push. Literally.

I don’t remember feeling him slide out like I imagined I would’ve. The poor baby’s cord ripped in half and he lost all of his meconium from the stress of delivery. So many things happened that were not in his favor.

I laid there on my back, bleeding and deflated. They had him on the bed with oxygen up to his face. There were two nurses, my doula and midwife around him so I couldn’t see much. Chris was telling me, “It’s a boy, it’s a boy” and I just cried, “my baby, my baby” repeatedly. It was incredibly traumatic.

My legs were shaking from the rush of hormones in my body and my hands were too because I was so scared. I have never felt trembling fear like that, besides when I found out you had cancer.

They took him to a table and were rubbing him. His color was very pale, but he was breathing. I could see his eyes wide open and I just kept staring at them from across the room. I said “His name is Everett,” loud so everyone heard.

It was the scariest moment of my life, but somewhere in me I was positive and assured he would be okay. Maybe that was you, Mom, helping us out. Some kind of power was present.

They were talking with each other about transferring him to the hospital, telling this person to call here and that person to call there. There was panic in that little room but the women stayed collected. The nurse Cheryl stuck him on my chest, a moment I will remember always. I couldn’t really see his face but held his little bum and caught glimpses of his eyes– Chris was leaning right over us and we were crying with joy and relief and some magic wonder emotion that I have no word or name for.

Two ambulance men came in and took Everett. Chris was going with them to the hospital but when I saw the medic hold my baby I wanted to scream. It was the first “mama bear” protection urge I felt and it completely took over me. To me, my condition wasn’t even a thought. Every ounce of energy I had left was focused on that baby. And I quite literally had none left. I was exhausted, in every form of the word, I remember thinking I could die. That is not an exaggeration.

Once Chris and the baby left, the room was calmer and everyone knew Everett would be fine. He was just taken there to be SURE. The midwife and nurses talked about what happened, for I had absolutely no idea. I got a few stitches and this is probably about the time when the placenta was delivered.

I called Allison and she drove to the center to be with me. After two hours or so, Chris came back, after keeping me posted at the hospital with calls, texts and pictures. We slept for an hour and a half and once I was there for four hours, I was able to leave, so we did. In the meantime Cheryl made me an english muffin with egg and cheese and coffee and it felt like a victory meal. I’ll never forget putting salt and pepper on it from the little mini shakers.

We were discharged and drove to the hospital. Every time I stood up–oh my god. But again, it didn’t matter. My head was consumed with the need for my baby. We went in and I cried when I saw him hooked up to things. I held his little hand and everything I had just been through disappeared. Luckily I got to nurse him right away with no qualms.

Chris and I stayed all day. Dad and Terri and the kids came. So did Nana and Allison. I kept nursing him every few hours and his nurse Kathy (who we absolutely loved) had good news each time she talked with us. Every test they did on him, he passed with flying colors, so we knew early on that indeed our baby was fine. His start into the world was just really really scary.

In between a feeding, Chris drove us home so we could shower. Oh god was that a good decision. By seven o’clock that night, we were back, fresh and finally clean. We stayed in the hospital’s top floor, where we had a bedroom with two twin beds and a bathroom. I would wake up and start crying, wanting my baby and thinking about the birth. Chris would then wheel me from the ninth floor (where we were), down the elevator to the fifth floor where Everett was, every two hours to feed.

He was discharged the next morning, Chris’ birthday. We were so thankful.

When we got home and introduced Clifford, that dog immediately took a nanny-like demeanor. He has been nothing but protective and sweet toward the baby. It’s actually really quite amazing.

I went upstairs, got undressed, and snuggled in bed with my boy. That’s all I wanted to do for so long. It felt so good to have him home.

I cannot believe we have a baby. And I cannot believe I am a mom. I feel like I can do absolutely anything after bringing Everett into this world, and that kind of confidence gives me a wonderful boosting start into motherhood.

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