Ok, ok, this post may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. Will not be offended if you click back over to the cocktails – they are delicious and a hell of a lot more fun. No hard feelings. But giving birth is one of those transformative experiences and I want to capture mine. So, if you’re still with me – here is Claire’s birth story. (Best enjoyed with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc because every good story needs a good drink, cheers!).
WEEKS TO GO AND LIVING AT HOME
When Kyle and I found out that we were expecting, we were living in the city in an absolutely beautiful townhouse in one of those ‘trendy’ or ‘hipster’ neighborhoods (two words that most definitely did not describe us). I really pictured myself being one of those city moms, pushing my stroller the blocks to the pediatrician and picking up dinner at the Italian Market on my way home. Enter hormones.
I felt like we needed to move yesterday. Suddenly our open staircase from third to basement level was no longer a selling point but a baby hazard. The recent home break-ins were no longer a casualty of city life, but horribly frightening. So what does any sane professional couple do? Put our house on the market with nowhere to go.
Lucky for us, my parents are the coolest. When our city house sold within a week, they welcomed us (and all of our crap) with open arms. We moved in with them August of 2016, a short stint until we found our perfect suburb house. It took us until October, but we had finally found our PERFECT house. We pushed for an earlier close date so that we could move in well before my due date, and sat back to relax. We’d done it! We’d have our house, get settled and then bring baby girl home to her perfectly decorated nursery and organized home.
BABIES LAUGH AT YOUR PLANS, JUST FYI
On November 5th, we took my parents out for the ‘Last Roommate Supper’ as we would be moving out that week. Bittersweet for sure. On November 6th, Kyle and I woke up nice and late thanks to daylight savings.
Alright folks, if you’re still with me, this is where things get REAL. If you are worried about continuing to make eye contact with me after reading this, click here to enjoy a delicious cocktail instead. Enjoy<
When I got out of bed I noticed that there was a wet spot on the bed. My first thought? Well peeing the bed would be a fun new pregnancy symptom. I mentioned it to Kyle, but in more of a ‘isn’t that weird’ type of way. Walking to the bathroom I continued to leak. I felt perfectly fine, and it seemed like kind of an anomaly. Even so, we thought it would likely be a good idea to call the obstetrician. Just to check. We were told to head on in and they would take a look. Thinking we were meeting at their office, they corrected me and told me to head into labor and delivery. That was my first indication that this may actually be it. I thought ‘water breaking’ would be more dramatic, like the movies, but this was anything but. Didn’t seem real.
But this couldn’t be it! We were living in my childhood bedroom, set to close on our house in 4 days. We weren’t ready! She wasn’t due for another three weeks! Our bags weren’t packed, I was still working. It just wasn’t the time. This was my first lesson in Claire calling the shots.
BUT FIRST, SHOPPING!
So we were on our way to labor and delivery. I was still thinking that it would be a long wait at the hospital only to be sent home hours later. Figured we may as well not rush, besides, we had some errands to run. We found this hilarious and documented the whole thing.
First, we stopped at Starbucks, because some folks would need caffeine if this WAS it.
Then we stopped at Target, because there were still some key pieces of the nursery missing. We found pillows, a table, and some clothes. Very necessary.
Finally, if this was it, we wanted some food. Rumor has it they don’t let you eat once you’re admitted and I do not do well without food. We stopped at McDonald’s for some fries (don’t tell Larisa).
It was waiting in the drive through that it finally hit me. I could be meeting my daughter today. This could be it. That ended our errand run pretty quickly.
SLEEP, SCREAM, SLEEP
At the hospital, we were admitted and set up in a pre-labor room. It was there that my water broke in that movie type of way and we knew we weren’t leaving the hospital without our daughter. Such an unreal feeling.
Water had broken was all set up in the hospital, but nothing was happening. It was like my body didn’t know I was in labor. I wasn’t dilated at all and zero contractions. Once your water breaks, you’ve got twenty-four hours until the baby has to be out. A risk of infection I believe. The doctors determined that I needed to be induced. I have to admit, I didn’t really understand what that entailed. I thought I had read about and prepared for every scenario, but once I was in the moment it all fell away.
Step 1 was to give me Cervidil to help dilate my cervix. The first dose was inserted at about 8 pm. I was feeling incredibly uncomfortable around 10 pm. The plan was to induce me early the next morning, so the doctors wanted me to get a good nights sleep. They gave me a sedative so that I could sleep and then be prepared for labor the next day. That didn’t go as planned.
Turns out my labor went from 0-60 really fast – while I was sedated. I was having very powerful contractions but was also on a powerful sedative. Wondering what that looks like? I would be fast asleep and then wake up screaming, only to fall back into a deep sleep. Every two minutes. It was horrendous, especially for Kyle who had NO clue what to do. Poor guy.
I THINK THE BABY IS COMING…
About midnight, I was in a tremendous amount of pain and the last time I had been checked I was only 3 centimeters dilated. I wasn’t set to be checked again for a few hours. All of a sudden I had this intense feeling that I need to push. The nurses kept telling me not to, but I knew what I was feeling. The doctor came in to check and I was 9 centimeters. It was go time.
Keep in mind – I was still heavily sedated. I was still waking for contractions and then falling back into a deep sleep. Super bizarre. Luckily, by the time we had been wheeled into the delivery room, it was starting to wear off a bit and I was more with it.
THE LONGEST 15 MINUTES
Now I didn’t know what medication I wanted for delivery. I was willing to experience it to make a determination at the time. Power to you medication free moms, but I needed ALL OF THE DRUGS. Sign me up for that epidural.
We were put in the queue and the anesthesiologist was on his way. At this point, my pain had reached a level that I could no longer talk during contractions, and I was ready for some relief. For anyone who may not have had an epidural, you need to sit on the edge of a hospital bed leaning forward while they sterilize your lower back for the injection. They get me all set and all of a sudden the anesthesiologist is called into an emergency c-section. I couldn’t believe it. There I was unable to move, having contractions less than 2 minutes apart and now my relief was being pulled away. Kyle and the nurse both said after the fact that they were worried I was going to kill him.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
15 minutes of being unable to move. At least 8 contractions. Kyle not being able to come near me because it was a sterile environment. The longest 15 minutes of my life.
FINALLY, he returns, I get my epidural and we are ready to push.
HER HEART RATE IS DROPPING
Pushing seems to be going well. At one point the doctor says to me, “You’re doing great Alison, but you don’t need to push with your face.” Thank you, dear husband, for not photographing this part.
Wierd anecdote: All shame goes out the window during labor and delivery. At one point I was on the table in our giant delivery room in stirrups and I came to and realized there were about 10 people in the room at the business end. What the what? Who are you people and why are you down there?! I digress…
It seemed that everything was going well. All of a sudden the doctor tells me that her heart rate is dropping and that we need to get her out quickly. They were going to help me out by using a vacuum. Yet another way I wasn’t prepared! What the heck was that? The truth is, when you hear that your baby’s heart rate is dropping and you need to get her out – you just agree. Maybe that’s just me. I was scared and I wanted to see her out and healthy.
A few more pushes with the vacuum assistance and out she came! Claire Catherine, 6 lbs 2 ozs and as perfect as could be.
NICU was on hand due to her heart rate, but she was just fine. Ready to scream and make herself known. Once they were certain she was ok, they handed her to me for skin to skin where she remained for the next few hours.
I can’t accurately describe the moment of meeting Claire without sounding incredibly trite. It was perfect and a relief and scary and wonderful. This little baby I’d felt hiccup, kick and squirm in my belly was here with us in the room. It’s surreal.
One of the best things about Claire entering the world was watching Kyle become a dad. He had been a wonderful husband to me throughout my pregnancy for sure, making sure I was well. But I really don’t think it was ‘real’ for him until he met her. I got to watch his world change and I will forever be grateful we had the moment together as a family of three.
Part of writing this for me is to remember. I want to remember – each and every pain, laugh and tear (as in the crying type, don’t make it weird) – because they are her story – our story. The other part is therapeutic – childbirth is hard folks. But so worth it. I’m so incredibly lucky to have her.
Thanks for reading.