Okay, so this is how little Caleb came into the world. Actually, we call him The Mighty Caleb, because he was a big baby! In fact, he was so big that the nurses kept telling my husband that I was “lucky” to have had a C-section.
Like most new mums, I was fashionably late. At 38 weeks his head was down, but I had no real contractions. I guess he was just hanging out, enjoying the snug life inside of me. I kept watching Montreal’s nightly snow storms, wondering what would happen if the road to the hospital was blocked off on the crucial day.
Finally after my last ultrasound, my doctor, in his sultry Spanish accent, told me that I was to show up at the hospital at 8 p.m. on Monday, February 7, 2011 to be induced. He told me not to worry, as I’d have my little baby by morning and it wouldn’t take more than eight hours for sure. I have since gone from calling him my “sultry doctor” to my “son of a beep lying doctor.”
At 8 p.m. I showed up. There was a snow storm, of course, which only got worse as the night went on. And my husband did indeed run into a road block on his way to meet me, but thankfully when he told the officers his wife was having a baby, they let him through. Even better was that he came with the sandwiches I was so desperately craving and some other things to make me feel at home, or as at home as one can feel in a hospital.
The induction was a little painful at first, but I knew what to expect thanks to the stories of many supportive friends who were already experienced mothers. But what I did not know was that while the contraction would hurt badly, when it went away I’d still be in minor pain. I also did not know that contractions could be two minutes apart for eight hours, with almost no dilation whatsoever. Furthermore, I did not know that I’d be poked, prodded and have blood tests taken all the time (and I have fear of needles) … all with very little regard to my dignity or nudity. I went in a prude and came out a near nudist!
My husband walked the halls with me, forgoing a cigarette break for almost 6 hours at a time. Eventually it was getting to be too much, and I kept wondering when the “pushing feeling” would kick in. Thankfully, I was at a wonderful hospital that had baths in soothing, beautifully decorated bathrooms with dim lighting, Tuscan murals and soft music. The bath helped take the edge off for a few hours, but even eventually the warm water was not helping as much.
Come 6 a.m., I thought I was dying. I’m the first to admit that I do not do well with pain (I panic even when I get a toothache), so I was not dealing with this very well. Every time the nurse would come to check on me (for some reason they all had very beautiful, long, manicured nails … seems kind of twisted, don’t you think?), I had to lie on my back. This made the pain worse, but being a good girl who was taught not to complain to strangers, I would hold back the tears until the doctor or nurse left and then cling to my husband for dear life, crying out “It really does hurt, I’m not lying!” For the life of him he could not understand why I kept saying this to him, since he knew I was in pain. He was more thankful that I did not do the cliche break-his-hand routine. No, I tried to bite him. Biting helps!
At about 7 a.m. they broke my water, which brought the contractions even closer together than I thought possible. I nearly tried to fend off my doctor while he did it. I had refused pain medication all along, thinking it would hurt my little boy, but finally a kind nurse helped me come to the realisation that I needed to rest if I was to push him out. I tearfully accepted the epidural. All of a sudden life was wonderful. I fell in love with the anesthesiologist, whom we dubbed “Dr. Feelgood.” (For the record, getting an epidural does not actually hurt that much. Those two little pin pricks bring on total, blissful, heavenly numbness.)
At 8 a.m. on the 8th of February I was reassured that my little one would be in my arms before lunch—or early afternoon at the latest. My husband and I were able to get some much-needed shut eye, though I was awoken every 30 minutes for them to check the monitors, etc. At 6:30 p.m. my doctor said that he would give it another four hours, but then we might have to consider a C-section.
Soon after, my little boy’s heartbeat suddenly began taking a turn for the worse. With no dilation progress in sight, an emergency C-section was organised in less than 20 minutes. Naturally this happened just after I told my husband it was okay to go get himself some food and take a cigarette break! Terrified, I kept up a stiff upper lip and pleaded with Dr. Feelgood to numb me up well … and he did!
At 7:21 p.m. I heard my son’s hearty cry, looked into my husband’s eyes and said, “We have a son, we have son!” Out from behind the curtain came the nurses with my little boy. Due to the heavy anesthetic, I don’t remember much about that first night. The next day I held Caleb in my arms, told him I’d do my best as his mum, and that no matter what, I’d love him to bits. I’ve kept that promise every day since.
It took five days before they’d let me go. I was getting out of bed and moving around regardless of the surgery. Breastfeeding was a cinch. (What’s the big deal? Insert boob in baby’s mouth, repeat if necessary—crying usually good indication!) I, who was previously terrified of motherhood, could already change Caleb’s diaper in under three minutes.
The storm had raged outside throughout my recovery, but by the time we left the weather had calmed down. My sister surprised me by flying in from the other side of the country to help me out for two weeks—she owns and runs a daycare, so kids and babies are her business. All I could think was, “There is a God.”
I won’t lie; I’ve not forgotten the pain. I think back and it scares me. However, it might be cliche, but it’s so true: When my little boy looks at me and smiles, it makes everything totally worth it. Though chances are, his chicken mother might make him an only child! Now, if he’d only sleep through the night…
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!