So holy eff. It’s been a minute. But mostly a really great minute. After over three weeks, I’m starting to feel semi human again. We will see if that goes straight to hell when Adam goes back to work. I know I’m extremely lucky that he’s able to take time like this to be home taking care of our entire family, but shit. Not ready for him to go back. At least he’s easing in a just doing a couple days here and there. And at least there is beer. There is beer again, guys!!!
So, birth. The last you heard from me, pregnant, I was in a crap place. I was able to push for even more time with my midwives and OB, and scheduled a c-section for 42 weeks and 1 day. That really felt right, in my guts. That amount of time felt like long enough to wait and see what my body would do. Yes, some women go into labor even later than that, but I honestly didn’t feel like being one of them.
I was really at the end of my hope rope, though. Every little twinge or pain, I would get a quick burst of happiness because maybe something was happening! But by 40 weeks, I had done that to myself enough to be so completely spent. Emotionally, I was tapped out. I didn’t think I was ever going to go into labor on my own. We were still going on long walks, and I was seeing a chiropractor and trying to get baby to do something, but she wasn’t dropping and I was just done. The real last bit of hope was crushed when I saw my midwife at 41 weeks and found out absolutely nothing was happening. Not dilated. Not effaced. Nothing. At 41 fucking weeks.
Then, Adam got up early when I was 41 weeks and 3 days, and it woke me up. And then I yelled “Honey, I think my water broke or I peed the bed.”
My bed was the one place I was hoping my water wouldn’t break. Or my car. I guess I was just hoping it would break somewhere that I wouldn’t have to clean it up. I had been crossing my fingers for a grocery store water break, just for a quick Cleanup in Aisle 12 moment. But who cares? My water broke!
My plan for this VBAC was to labor at home as long as possible. I let my doula know what happened, and I got ready to take a shower. Then I realized I hadn’t felt the baby kick that morning. I did some poking and wiggling, and nothing. I let my doula know, and she told me to call my midwife and head to the hospital. Adam called his parents to come get August. And I sat in our bathroom for the most terrifying 45 minutes and did everything I could to feel a kick. Then, right before we walked out the door, BUMP. I have never felt so relieved and overjoyed.
So my plan to labor at home was out the window. Even though I felt kicks, we headed to the hospital to be safe. I went to triage to get admitted, and all was fine until the nurse went to put in the line for my IV, in case I needed one. The first thing to go wrong in my first birth was my pitocin IV coming out of my vein, pooling in my arm and effectively stopping my labor. When the nurse tried to put my IV in this time, I had a small panic attack. I was not expecting the IV to be a trigger, but surprise, surprise!
Eventually, my nurse got my IV line in, and then we waited. One very nice change from my first birth was being able to get up to use the bathroom and clean myself up, instead of being stuck in bed and sitting in my amniotic fluid. That bit of humanity was greatly appreciated.
I was having contractions, but they were small and not close. I sat on the birthing ball and bounced on that thing like it was my job, but my progress was pretty much non existent. Pitocin was brought up a few times to try to get things going, but I didn’t want it if I wasn’t favorable for a successful induction. A gentle cesarean was still an option, and while a cesarean was what I wanted for my last option, I absolutely didn’t want to end up with an emergency one or going through a difficult and unsuccessful labor only to be wheeled back to the OR, exhausted and defeated.
After a lot of time and weighing my options with Adam and my doula, MaryBeth, I made the decision to have another c-section. I was terrified, but MaryBeth had laid a lot of ground work before I even went into labor to make this a better experience. She even was able to be with me during my spinal in the OR. While not painful and definitely less stressful than getting an epidural, I was still so scared and it was incredibly helpful to have someone with me.
They brought Adam back, and started the surgery. He and MaryBeth did their best to calm and distract me, but again, I was terrified. And I was disappointed and sad, and trying to process that this was happening again. And throughout all of this, I was also desperate to stay present because my biggest fear was not remembering my baby’s first moments again and not bonding. And then something else unexpected happened. Laying on the OR table, I got angry.
Looking back, it was probably a defense mechanism, because the fear I felt was so strong and I needed a break to feel something else. But in the moment, I felt intensely angry that this was my hand, and that I was laying on this metal table again while someone else brought my baby into the world behind a sheet. And I was angry at myself that the simple fact of my baby being born wasn’t enough to get me to chill the hell out.
Then I heard her cry, and Adam looked around the curtain and told me we had a girl. And then they held her over the curtain so I could see my baby girl, covered in goo and kind of gross and so gorgeous. And then I had this my baby moment. And then she dripped some goo and it almost fell right on my face and I yelled EW and I will never forget that moment. I went from being angry and scared a moment before to laughing and tossing my head back and forth to shield it from uterus stuff.
The nurses wiped her down and weighed and measured her and then brought her around the curtain and laid her on my chest while I was being stitched up. This was the point in my first birth when I was put under because the fear completely took over. But this time… This time I was holding my new baby and she was screaming in my ear and I felt incredible. I could see and touch her feet and hands and head and I could smell her. I don’t remember being stitched up. I just remember the hugest level of calm happiness while trying to learn my baby. She even started breastfeeding right there in the OR. It wasn’t the vaginal birth I wanted so badly; it was this.
In recovery, I asked what was in my IV, because I felt wonderfully drunk. My nurse told me i was feeling the happy birth hormones. They had been completely missing with my first birth. If I could, I would bottle that shit and abuse the hell out of it. I felt indestructible.
I don’t remember the next hours in much detail, aside from being in our room and breastfeeding and recovering and feeling like solid gold. Adam and I confirmed that she felt like a Halligan, a name I had picked out a while ago and worn Adam down on. We gave her the middle name Rose for my great-grandmother, a feisty Italian matriarch on my dad’s side. And then my mom and sister’s brought us Chipotle and Wawa because the kitchen was closed and I wanted a damn hoagie.
I ate my hoagie and snuggled my baby and peed in a bag and exclaimed to my husband about 80 times Remember when she almost gooed my face! And it was one of the best nights of my life.
*all photos courtesy of MaryBeth Nance