Many women would think of the day they gave birth as the day they became a mom. But, if you’ve read my blog “I Thought My Husband Was the Pullout King, Turns Out I Have Infertility Issues”, you know what I went through to have our first born, AJ. They told me the pregnancy wasn’t viable, would never make it, no how, no way. So when I went into that fertility center to have a DNC and hear my son’s heartbeat when no one thought we would, THAT is the day I became a mom!
From that moment on, I lived for someone else. Every decision I made was with him in mind. Naturally, after being told he wouldn’t survive I was fearful my miracle would be taken from me at any moment. I lived in fear for much of my pregnancy. At every single prenatal checkup I held my breath, praying the sound I’d heard on that fateful day would still be there.
From the first day I heard my son’s heartbeat I no longer ate with little or no thought as to what I was putting in my body. Now I needed to know it was safe for a pregnant woman to digest, handled properly, cooked to the right internal temperature, free of unnecessary chemicals, food coloring or other harmful ingredients and would provide my baby with the nourishment he needed to thrive in the womb.
From the first day I heard my son’s heartbeat I wasn’t going to willingly do anything to put him in harm’s way. So with my body being his vessel to life, that meant I wasn’t lifting heavy items, bending too low, reaching too high or exerting myself in any manner that might jeopardize his comfort or well-being.
From the first day I heard my son’s heartbeat I put him first without a second thought about who it offended or inconvenienced. God chose me to bring this life into this world, and I took the job seriously. I was and still am a mama bear in every sense of the word. I had scares during my pregnancy with AJ, they usually turned out to be nothing, but I took the same advice I give any and every pregnant woman who calls me when worried. When in doubt, check it out.
Once AJ got big enough for me to feel him kick, if too many hours went by without me feeling him move I began to panic. To myself at first but the longer he felt out of reach the louder the voice in my head would become. I remember getting so worked up once I sobbed with fear. Although there was a voice in my head telling me that it was probably nothing, the voice reminding me how far we’d come and what God had chosen me for was louder. So, off to the hospital we went. Why sit home and wonder when professionals and their machines could tell me everything was fine? What is something WAS wrong? I wasn’t going to let anything happen to my baby because I didn’t want to inconvenience someone.
AJ’s due date was August 7th, 2013. As that date drew closer it became more and more clear with each checkup that he was comfortable where he was and had no plans to greet us with his presence any time soon. I sat on a yoga ball, I took walks, nothing, he stayed put.
At my last checkup, something was awry. I have really good and really consistent blood pressure, usually around 110-120 over 70-80. At my last appointment, I didn’t see my midwife, but another in the practice due to a scheduling conflict. This time my blood pressure read around 140 over 90. Still ok, but high for me. But I brushed it off, I mean I was 100 months pregnant by this time, that’s stressful. It gave me pause, but because it was about me, I didn’t speak up.
My midwife, the wonderful woman that she is, took the time to read my file later that day, even though she wasn’t able to see me herself. Around 9pm she called me to say that although my blood pressure was in the “normal” range for most, it was high for me. As she inquired about my health that week, I found myself answering yes to questions like “have you been lightheaded?” “have you been seeing spots?”. Dammit, yes I was, now that you mention it, Margaret!
Turns out I had become preeclamptic. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition , marked by high blood pressure, that can develop during pregnancy. If left untreated, can result in the death of the fetus and/or mother.
Since it was only one day before AJ’s due date and the best way to combat preeclampsia is to give birth, Margaret told me to come in and have this baby. Oh shit, it’s time. The whole time I was pregnant I fought off thoughts about how horrible childbirth would be. How in the world was I going to get an entire person out of me?
I’m a flexible person when it comes to life. So when we discussed my birth plan my hope and intention was always to delivery vaginally and without an epidural. But, as I would advise any woman to be, I was open to an epidural if needed and a C-section if my or my baby’s life depended on it. The goal was the successful birth of a healthy baby, not some fantasy, storybook childbirth story – eyes on the prize people.
By the time I sauntered down to the hospital which was almost an hour from home, I was induced via Pitocin around 12am on August 8th, 2013. Within an hour the contractions began. They were INTENSE. I was writhing in pain, every minute felt like an hour. The contractions were relentless, coming almost on top of each other every 45 seconds. I demanded my dilation be checked. I was at 2 centimeters and needed to get to 10.
I went from having no intention of getting an epidural to begging for it. See? Be flexible.
By the time the epidural I hadn’t planned to have was prepared and administered I had been having contractions for what felt like days. I’m screaming, I’m squirming, I’m being told to stay still or risk being paralyzed as the doctor sticks a needle into my spine. When she said that I straightened the hell up!
Just as she was administering the epidural, AJ kicked his water open. It was like an explosion in my stomach at the worst time possible. I don’t know what went wrong back there, or if I’m one of the 1% of people epidurals don’t work on, but I got no relief.
I was in labor so long, my mother left, went to a concert and came back. All along, my contractions continued to come every. 45. Seconds. Nurses watched the monitor and said things like “wow, that was a big one!” “Oh, this one is too” Bitch I know, I can feel it.
My body was pushed to the brink of my sanity. I vomited while contracting and became so dehydrated the roof of my mouth bled. My husband coached me like one his football players, my cousin told me that if I hadn’t had the epidural the baby would have come a long time ago and my mom was too nervous to be anything but a presence in the room. I wanted to kick everyone out but my midwife and God.
It was finally time to push. After 36 hours I wanted this to be over. I promise you I asked God to spare the baby and take me many times during the torture. If you’ve ever given birth, especially without an epidural, you know the urge to push is overwhelming. If you haven’t given birth it’s like trying to hold a sneeze in multiplied by 1 million.
The problem is, after a couple pushes, AJ was in distress. After mustering the last few ounces of energy I had left to deliver my baby, I had to stop. After all this time, just when I think we’re almost there, they tell me AJ’s heart rate is slowing and we need to take a break. So it’s back to contractions and fighting the overwhelming to desire to push with all my might.
Once enough time passes and AJ’s heartbeat returns to a reasonable rate, it only took a few pushes before I heard those four little words “the head it out”. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then we realize the real reason AJ’s heart rate dropped, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. To this day I thank God he survived that complication while we were completely unaware.
After they unwrap the cord from his neck, my midwife tells me to listen carefully to the sound of her voice. “During this next push, when I say stop, I need you to stop”. Me: “Ok.” She wants to guide the baby’s shoulders out with minimal tearing.
Let me remind you, it’s been 36 hours. Thirty six. I’m barely conscious. The next contraction builds and I’m so desperate to stop the pain I push with all my might, no time to hear anything she has to say. Baby is out! And I can’t sit like a normal person for 3 three weeks. :-/
After what feels like an eternity, I hear my baby’s cry and they place him on my chest. Everything is made new. No one else is in the room but him and I. I don’t even remember delivering the placenta or getting 22 stitches. What wouldn’t you endure for your kids?!?
All of it, the ectopic pregnancy and emergency surgery, the years of trying, the strain on our marriage, the emotional roller coaster of being told the pregnancy wasn’t viable and what felt like the world’s longest labor all fade away. As tears stream down my face, I can’t take my eyes of this miracle God has blessed me with. My heart now resides outside of my body.
Whenever it is that you consider the day you became a mother to be, the most important part is that once you are, you are forever. And there’s nothing in this world I’d rather be.
Happy Mother’s Day!
P.S. If you don’t have kids yet and the story of AJ’s birth is making you rethink it altogether, Asia was born in 1 hour after my water broke, with only 2 pushes. Every labor and delivery is different, keep your chin up momma 😉