I've got child birth on my mind a lot these days. My expanding belly, waddle walk and back, which cracks a little bit as I perform my waddle walk, are trusty reminders that I will be having to do this again in about a month.
Also, I feel a lot like Po from Kung Fu Panda. Every time I hug my husband, I want to say "Ska-doosh!!" and bump him with my belly.
Anyway, I've been thinking back to how it went last time and realized I never wrote a post about all that. So here it is, in all its glorious and gory (Well, I'll spare most of those...) details.
The story of how my little Evangeline came into the world:
On July 14th, 2014 I was 39 weeks pregnant and feeling like that had been quite long enough. The Florida summer sun is sweltering, and we were living in a tiny apartment with no central air conditioning. In those days, you could find me, on more than one occasion, standing with my bare belly right up against the fan of our wall units trying to cool off.
On July 14th, we went swimming at a local pool with some friends, and I remember telling them how ready I was to have this baby already. I swam around purposefully, doing my full-term pregnant lady version of laps in slow, frog-like motions across the shortest ends of the pool. I was hoping maybe to coax this baby along in her journey to the outside world.
That night Mike worked his 7pm-7am shift. I was feeling this desperation to escape from my own body. I was tired of straining with every motion and tired of that burning/itchy feeling you get from stretch marks and tired of not having full use of my lungs. I welcomed labored with open arms. And with such motivation, I was inspired to do some exercising. I walked with determination around the nearby park. I came back and did a series of squats. I did some crunches. I think I might have even done a plank. Then I got tired and probably had some ice cream and watched some Netflix and called it a night. I remember having some of those Braxton Hicks contractions, but I had been having those pretty regularly, so I wasn't too concerned.
I woke up around 4:30am the next morning, July 15th, with a slightly different feeling contraction. It wasn't painful, but it felt like something down there had popped or released or snapped, and I thought my water had broken because I felt some moisture, too. As it turns out, I think it was the mucus plug coming out of my cervix. This is kind of gross to explain in more detail, so if you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it until you absolutely have to. It's just one of those lovely childbirth details no one tells you about until you're actually pregnant.
I called my midwife because I just wasn't sure what to make of my current situation because 1) it seemed to me that my water may have broken yet 2) my contractions weren't really that intense, however 3) they were coming every two to three minutes and lasting about 45 seconds, which is pretty frequent.
This isn't exactly how they tell you things will progress in all those birth classes you have to take. Usually contractions don't happen that close together until you're much further along in laboring.
My midwife wasn't entirely sure how to assess me either but figured I was probably in beginning labor, so she told me to keep monitoring but try to get some rest and come into the birth center later in the morning when it opened around 9am.
Somewhere along the lines, I decided to tell Mike to come home. He got home around 5:30am, and by that time my contractions had really started to pick up in intensity. They were painful and I couldn't talk or stand upright through them. So we called the midwife back and all decided to start heading to the birth center to get there by 7am.
As we pulled up to the birth center, I was in the middle of a contraction and had to sit in the car and do my deep breathing for bit until it passed. My midwife then helped me to a room and checked to see how far along I was. I remember thinking, Watch me be only three centimeters. How are you really supposed to know when you've never felt any of this before?
So she checked me. Now, your cervix is fully dilated and your body technically ready to start pushing your baby out when you are ten centimeters dilated. When I got to the birth center, I was eight to nine centimeters.
Well, alrighty then, I thought to myself. I totally have got this under control. It was also a big relief to know I wasn't just a big wuss and that those contractions I was feeling were legit.
Evie's heart rate was lower than it should have been for a while, so I had to stay mainly on the bed while I kept laboring so they could keep an eye on that. This was kind of sad because I was able to get a tiny taste of what being in the tub felt like, and it was so, so nice. Maybe this next time, I'll get to stay in there.
Anyway, I labored for a while longer with intense contractions and felt like my body wanted to start pushing, so I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. And pushed some more. Mike held one leg and my mom held the other. I squeezed their hands and made sounds I don't think I've ever made before. That feeling of control was completely gone. My midwife kept gently reminding me to do my slow breathing. I pushed for two hours, and though my midwife has told me this isn't a terribly long time for a first time mom to push, it felt like a ridiculously long time. It felt like the longest two hours of my life. And it hurt. A Lot. Maybe I had been a little too hasty in wanting this baby out. I pushed with every ounce of energy I had every time, and after doing that for a while, you start to wonder how much longer you can go. I didn't want to be that annoying person that kept asking how much longer, but I finally couldn't help myself and just asked. I'm glad I did because hearing that I didn't have much longer at all was so encouraging and gave me a little more resolve than I had before.
Finally. Finally at around 10:10am on July 15th little Evangeline was born. I have to be honest, in that moment when she finally came out, all I felt was immense relief that the pain and pushing were over. I think, for a minute, I forgot that I actually now had a little human being to meet. I just laid there, so thankful that it was over. I also remember distinctly thinking that I will never do this again. Never ever again, I tell you. I didn't cry tears of joy at meeting my first child. I didn't all of a sudden feel like a mom. I just felt relief. And that's ok.
After those few moments of just reveling in being done with child birth, my midwife placed a crying, purple little Evie in my arms, and it was as if I caught up to the present. It was so surreal holding my baby in my arms. This little baby I had felt kick me for months and who I had wondered so much about. I remember wondering what she would look like, and now I knew. She was beautiful...though slightly sticky...and I was in awed disbelief that I was finally holding her.
And so that is Evie's birth story. And yes, I apparently will be experiencing child birth again. Somehow, after a while, you kind of forget enough of the trauma so that having another baby is possible. By most standards, I was blessed with a relatively quick, simple labor. Though I have to say, I don't think any labor feels quick and simple. The real trial for me started later that day when Evie refused to breastfeed and continued for the next two months of her life. You can read that story here, if you'd like. Breastfeeding is still something I'm extremely anxious about, and maybe I'll write another post about that for another time.
I've decided to go the natural route again this time and have our second baby at the birth center as well. I really loved the care I received there. Though now, being on the other side and knowing what it's like to give birth, I'm of the mindset that any way you decide to have your baby- at the hospital, at home, at a birth center, with meds, without meds, scheduled c-section- is a-ok. It's not a joke, and I fully understand not wanting to experience the fullest level of intensity child birth has to offer. No judgements here.
I'm praying the delivery of our second baby goes as well as the first. I'm also hoping I won't have to push as long. Really not looking forward to that part. My friend was joking with me that I should get to the birth center quick this time or I might be one of those ladies pushing her baby out on the street curb.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that!