With Wallaby turning one year old today! I thought I’d share his birth story.
I woke up at 11:46 pm on Thursday, November 15, 2012, thinking—that might have been a contraction. I had only experienced a few pain-free Braxton Hicks and this was nothing like those. Of all things, I was not expecting contractions to make me feel nauseated and just plain gross. Well, if one had come more were sure to follow, so I casually glanced at the clock on the nightstand and tried to fall back asleep. Boy was I surprised when a mere 3 minutes later there came another contraction—I was supposed to have more time than that! Most women’s contractions start out irregular and far apart, but nope. At this point I nudged The Grizzly Kid and said oh so smartly, “I think I am having contractions”.
Since our bags and carseat had been put in the car a week prior—we had really thought he’d come early—we only had to get dressed and head out. The roads were foggy and empty, which made the drive to the hospital fast. I shivered through my every 3 minutes contractions until the car warmed. Our check-in time at the hospital was 12:15 am and they quickly had me in a room, changed, and hooked to the baby and contraction monitor. The first thing I asked my nurse was where I could throw-up and she directed The Grizzly Kid to a drawer filled with little blue barf bags. I spent the first 20 minutes in the hospital having The Grizzly Kid hand me blue bags between my contractions, and was duly thankful when my stomach was empty. When the nurse checked I was dilated to 5cm the same as my last doctor’s appointment 4 days earlier.
It was middle of the night, most of the lights were out and I spent the first couple of hours of labor dozing between contractions, and told a hovering Grizzly Kid to do the same, we were going to be here a while so we might as well save up our energy. I wasn’t progressing very quickly so I asked the nurse to hook my iv to a pole and forced myself out of bed to take a walk. The Grizzly Kid helped me along the halls as I stopped every couple minutes to cling to the wooden railings lining the halls—an awesome design I never noticed before—and I only lasted about 10 minutes before I was dying to get back in bed. But when the nurse came to check me I had progressed to 9 cm! Walking was a miracle worker.
The doctor on call that night came in again and said he’d like to break my water at this point, you know—speed things up, check for meconium in the amniotic fluids, lady in the next room over going into labor, can’t be two places at once, etc. And I asked, well doesn’t that make the labor harder, and he said not necessarily, and if left to break on its own the force of the water can possibly push the umbilical cord up over the baby’s head which is dangerous. So, even though he reasons seemed inadequate I figured I was 9 cm and so close to being able to push that what was the harm.
The second he broke my water the doctor then let me know that the contractions will be stronger because breaking the water releases a hormone that makes them so and I felt like I had been conned. Too late to go back, I focused on breathing through the worsening contractions and thank goodness 7 am rolled around and the doctors’ shifts switched and my new doctor was a saint, not to mention my new nurses who I could not have done it without.
It took me much longer to progress to a 10 after my water had been broken and I was already having the urge to push, but couldn’t because part of the cervix was still in place and we didn’t want a horrible tear, so I had to breath through the urge to push which was far and away the hardest part of labor. I had never imagined that my body could so naturally have such a strong need to act and repressing that need was not only physically painful, but mentally exhausting. The nurses helped me move from side to side to labor in different positions and finally I could push!
I should mention in here that The Grizzly Kid, was ever encouraging, stroking my hair, and saying what I am sure were wonderful things, but I had mostly withdrawn into myself and it is hard to hear anything in the throes of labor.
The baby’s head was starting to show and the nurses said they could see him rotating his head while in the birth canal, which I guess doesn’t usually happen, funny little guy. It took 30 minutes of hard pushing, bearing down, and intense pressure of his head sitting there between pushes before he really started to arrive. One final push and the doctor and nurse said, “Look up, MOM” and there he was, my little Wallaby, covered in a bit of blood and kind of purple and wrinkled—the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
At 8:46 am, exactly 9 hours of labor later, the doctor cut the umbilical cord—which he said was one of the largest he had ever seen and they placed my baby on my chest while they started to clean him off. He was perfect and born with a scowl, just like his dad’s. The nurses took Wallaby away to clean him some more and weigh him and The Grizzly Kid was over there snapping pictures and fawning over him. Not long before they brought my 8 lbs 15 oz and 20 inch long baby back to me and he was already looking so pink with chubby cheeks with a fair covering of black hair over his perfectly round and huge head—literally. When his head was measured later it was at the top of the size charts. Wallaby was wide awake, turning his head and trying to look at everything despite the fact that he eyes couldn’t focus yet. He immediately started rooting, so we started nursing, meanwhile the nurses said I had been more calm during labor than most women on epidurals and the doctor joked that delivering a 9 lb baby naturally would have been a good chance to let some curse words fly. I just knew I had been watched over so closely and that all the prayers and blessings had been my strength throughout.
Being a parent is one amazing giant guessing game. You are entrusted with this precious and helpless baby and you are continually guessing at how best to calm them, feed them, and care for them. Thankfully they are tough and you can make it a whole year where you all survive. —To many more years of growing together.