Warning. This post is FILLED with curse words and graphic detail of my birth. If you want to remember me as a sweet girl with pig tails (Daddy), I suggest you don't read this. It's raw, it's brutal, it's honest. It's me.
Baby A, Baby Mullet, or Adele was blessed on this Earth on November 1, 2011. She was born at 11.50 a.m. It was a Tuesday. I had a fresh pedicure. I was totally unprepared.
Wait, let me go back a couple of days to Saturday (which was Aunt Eve's birthday—whom she is named after) where I felt a little trickle … a strange trickle. But it surely wasn't THE trickle. It was short (kinda like peeing my pants with a sneeze … which, as any honest woman knows, happens). I sat up in bed that night and thought, “Should I call Dr. Tate? Nahhhhhh…” and I let it pass. All Sunday, more trickles … but not enough to be concerned. Like a “good” patient, I decided that I would wait it out to call until normal business hours. (Well, not until that pedicure happened anyway.) So, as I pull in to the salon with my friend Lauren, I called the doc and told him what was happening. I was told if I didn't come in today, I needed to go to the hospital to check it out. I thought WHY on EARTH are they soooo concerned? It's just a trickle, PEOPLE! Well, I'll GO to that doc appointment … but not till I get my pedicure done! During the pedicure, Lauren and I laughed saying “Wouldn't it be hysterical if I were actually in labor? Hahahahahaha!”. Well, that was at 36 weeks and 5 days. Apparently, my water had broken on Saturday (36 weeks, 3 days). And being over 24 hours with broken waters meant FAST admit to the hospital.
Dr. Tate: Should I slap you now or later? (yeah, he's curt like that)
A: Wha? you mean I'm in labor? Like NOW?
T: Yes, you need to go directly to the hospital.
A: Uh, okay, can I go get my stuff at the house.
T: Uh, NO. You are being direct admitted. GO TO THE HOSPITAL YOU ARE HAVING THIS BABY TODAY.
A: Uh, [redacted].
As I drove to the hospital, calling my husband Jeff (um get the stuff in that bag and get your ass to the hospital, we are having a baby phone call), family, and my clients that I was supposed to be seeing that afternoon, I started to get a little, tiny, (OK, HUGE) bit scared. I was SO.NOT.READY to have this baby. I yelled and screamed daily that I wanted it early, but when this ball dropped (or should I say trickled), I was a little hesitant and nervous! I arrived at the hospital (with awesome looking toes. I might add) and I still hadn't felt a single strange thing. What the hell is a contraction anyway? I got admitted and I was sure to post my LAMINATED birth plan strategically around the room. My birth plan said this: 1. NO MEDICATION WHATSOEVER. DO NOT ASK ME, I WILL TELL YOU IF I WANT PAIN MEDS OF ANY SORT. 2. NO INDUCTION, NO HEP LOCK, NO CONSTANT FETAL MONITORING, etc. There were others, but those are the main two you should know about for the purposes of this story anyway.
First thing: They talked me in to the hep lock. (Just in case, you know? I was so nervous and UNPREPARED.) I agreed, figuring it can't hurt, right? Second thing: They started the cytotec. I was at risk for infection and labor needed to progress. (Infection, baby at risk, risky labor—all words that scared us so we agreed.) Third thing: I had my first contraction. Now you should know that I have trained for a marathon, I have wrestled livestock. I grew up with a VERY testosterone loaded family of men … basically, I'm a tough bitch. THIS.WAS.CAKE. I got this. Fourth thing: CONTRACTIONS ARE NO EFFING JOKE. Now, I'm not going to spend all my time writing about what a contraction is like, what it feels like, defining the pain you incur … because countless women already have and hundreds tried to tell me about their own experience during my pregnancy.
Just like your life, a contraction is your own experience. UNLIKE life, contractions are evil mother effers and consume you from head to toe with the strength of a tidal wave. That's all I have to say about that. In this experience of one of the most UNzen moments and UNfocused moments, baby Adele was not progressing and she needed to be. The pain was so intense and it was very hard for Jeff to watch me in pain and know what to do to help me.
[Funny side story though. During our child birth classes, Jeff and I decided that he would be the role of the doula. When the middle of the night came around (not on the pitocin yet) and I looked over at him sleeping (SLEEEEPING!?!), while I had contractions ALONE ... and I decided I would mention to him a little talk we had earlier. Igave him a *tap tap tap* on the shoulder. "Hey...remember 'we don't need a doula, I'll be the doula?' Well I need you right now!" Jeff popped up and said, "What can I do baby? What do you need?" I replied, "NOTHING, YOU JUST SIT WITH ME. It's NO fun to have contractions alone in the middle of the night." And he did just that. We walked the halls until we couldn't walk anymore. It was Halloween and although they said no food, I snuck a snickers here or there.]
Back to the contractions and the (lack of) progression. During the three different nurse shift changes, I had three types of nurses:
1. Don't try to be a hero.
2. You like to be in control of things, huh?
3. Focus on that picture.
I wish I could remember #3's name … she had also had an unmedicated birth and she was amazing. Although I could NOT find the focus on the picture, she was kind to me and compassionate … and most of all, supportive of my decision to survive this without medication. Time kept on ticking and this baby was not moving anywhere and my progression was VERY slow. Dr. Tate (who, mind you, was also delivering 5 other babies that night) remained quiet, but they kept pushing that pitocin … which kept me in bed … in pure agony.
Moving forward to the next day (and remember, this is all still a blur to me), the contractions were finally getting even more violent and closer together. I felt like I was drowning at sea, because as soon as one ended, the next one would start. As soon as one contraction ended, I could feel that distant echo of the next one coming, moving in closer and closer, and BAM! There it was. Nothing but mind altering pain. Adele was still pretty high up. It all just gets even more hard to retell now because it was a bright, fiery, blazing, ball of pain. Over and over. I couldn't breathe, much less relax or stay calm to try to focus. That picture on the wall could have been the Moon Lady herself and I wouldn't have paid it any attention. My brain was rewired and doing its own thing. I wish I could share more of the details, but, sadly, I can't. So, to avoid a jumbled, jargon(y), account of the rest of the birth, I can move straight to the part that I like to call the medieval forceps part.
Yes, that's where I gave up. I lost. I couldn't do another second more (begging for the forceps, to me anyway, meant no more pushing … since I was (putting this mildly) tapped, the eff out. As Dr. Tate would turn his back between contractions, sip his coffee, and watch whatever baloney was on the tv, I would lie there crying, squeezing, tense, and exhausted … like more than running a marathon exhausted (although I never actually ran that marathon, that's another story). Everyone was screaming for me to “push, push, PUSH!” And when I say “everyone,” I mean the resident (the one who was kindly wiping the crap out of the way since that appears to be the only thing I know how to push out…just sayin'), a student (some flipping 25 year old, who was clearly frightened of me), Dr. Tate (sweet little man whose business is about getting babies out of vaginas), the nurse (the one I liked … but telling me to focus on that flower was a friggin joke), and Jeff (bless his little, scared, kind heart … my love of my life. We still, to this day, haven't discussed the crazy, apocalypse, nutso, freakish, tsunami that he witnessed 'down there' that day). I proclaimed in full tears and wasted breath, “I can't, Dr. Tate, I can't.” His response was, “Don't say you can'tj. Say I can.” I decided that I had enough energy. Just enough to sit up and (almost shout), “Dr. Tate, you don't know me well enough to know that I'm a fighter, I am NOT a quitter. But I have searched through the depths of my soul and I cannot do this. I cannot. I need HELP! I don't care what you do. Get the forceps, I don't care about the shape of her head, and get her out of my body.” I fell back down to the bed, sobbing, and felt defeated, scared and empty. I really felt like I couldn't do it. The forcep “setup” began. When I tell you these things are medieval shovels, they are medieval shovels. There was no turning back now. I got a local. I cried … it was getting close. Those jerks told me to PUUUUUSH again! WHAT?! I thought I was finished with the pushing. Apparently, you aren't finished pushing until the baby comes out?! So, I pushed … or I tried to push. I don't know. I had given in. I was defeated. There had to be a way they could do the rest of this for me.
Then, just as I felt like it was the last minute I could stand it any longer, she appeared. Curled up in the fetus position on the sheet. I glanced down, threw my head back and proceeded to tell Jeff to take his shirt off to do skin to skin contact. I held her for a second, but I didn't experience joy or bliss or astonishment or anything. Honestly. I felt empty, deflated, sad in a way. It didn't take long for an adrenalin rush to return though (maybe two minutes?), and I make me demand (haha) that baby in my arms. Jeff was so elated and he had worked hard to get her here too. I mean, eight months of putting up with my hormonal, hot, tired, pregnant ass and then 24+ hours of labor with a wicked-mouthed wife … yeah, he needed some gratification. He got it. The pics are amazing of how happy he looked. Adele rightly plopped down on my chest and found the left boob and then the right. It was amazing to see a wiggly, ALIVE, human being sitting on my chest, rooting, connecting, bonding to me. Me. This is it, I thought. Here I go. My journey is just beginning.
You know what is amazing? That as I finished the last lines of my birth story (finally, I'm a blogger!), I had tears of sheer joy of the wildly intense experience that giving birth to a child can bring. I love that little twerp and all that she brought with her wild ass to this earth. She's mine. All mine. I made a human! Incredible.
When people told me about your heart “bursting” with love and “It's an experience that you will never get until you get,” I was kinda over it. I mean, I got it people. I'm going to love her like no other love. Okay. But to go through gut twisting, depths of hell wrenching and writhing pain inside of your body (pain that you know is about to happen so you get anxiety and fear about it too), and then see something that truly has been a part of you on a cellular level your entire life? It's organic at its finest. It's you. It's your partner. It's life. It's Adele. And “our” story can now begin.
I'm just editing this on November 16, 2012. Adele is one, and she is walking, she is talking, and she is amazing us every day with her journey. We are (surprisingly) pregnant again and I cannot describe how reading this birth story makes me realize how empowered I am. I'm so equipped with so much strength from the last year and a half with carrying a child, birthing a child, and raising a child. I am ELATED with the process of life. I am eternally grateful for the equipment, mental health, physical abilities, and genuine intuition to do this again. I get to grow another human inside of me and share the world with it. I'm so fortunate. I wouldn't know these things without the above story. I want to close by sharing an excerpt from my letter to Adele on her first birthday:
I'm grateful for the opportunity you have given me to be a mother, a parent, a model, and a guide. I have no regrets for the challenges and intense moments that have only illuminated my path and made me stronger in my journey. You are my balance. You light up my being. You are genuine love.
And..the journey begins….again.