Standard birth story disclaimer-lots of pictures, and probably lots of words, too.
August’s due date was August 7th, but I had a feeling he would come early. As we neared that date I began to fear that, like most first babies, he would come “late”. He arrived Monday, August 10th-exactly when he was ready. That last week was agony-only because I was so bored and just ready to get the whole birth thing over with and meet my baby.
That Monday, around 11:00 am or so, I began feeling contractions. They were not painful, it just felt like my belly tightening. It seemed like they were coming pretty frequently so I started timing them. They were lasting about a minute and were about 6-8 minutes apart. I thought those numbers might mean something, so I called the hospital for advice. They said not to worry until they became intense enough that it “took all my concentration to get through”. So I hung out at home with Joe [who was working at home] and my sister, Bethany and had lunch.
Around 1:30 they had intensified enough that I had to breathe through them.
They really weren’t too bad, though. I took a bath at some point and also used hot wash cloths with lavender oil to spread over my belly during contractions. Probably the worst thing was that I threw up at one point between contractions. I checked in with Joe and told him that we should plan on heading to the hospital as soon as he was done with work at 6:00. I continued to labor at home while watching tv and requesting fresh wash cloths with each wave.
We left our house around 6:20 and got to the hospital close to 7:00. They ushered us into the triage room and began taking all the important vitals. We also got there right at a shift change so we were waiting to find out who our nurse would be. The woman who worked with us was named Tammy, which is my mom’s name, so that was a fun and reassuring coincidence. I remember her checking my cervix, telling me I was dilated to a 4 and 100% effaced “We’re having a baby tonight”, she informed me [as if I didn’t know].
It was around 8:00 that we walked across the hall to our delivery room. Because I’d thrown up, they prepared me for an IV to get some fluids in me. Over the next hour I continued to labor while they did all the information-giving stuff. By about 9:00 they’d placed the IV and were reviewing information about epidurals. The contractions were getting pretty intense and I wanted to check out those tubs-my midwife thought I should wait until further into labor since I was “doing so well” at the moment.
Now, I had planned on doing a natural, non-medicated birth, but ultimately, whatever got my baby here safely was fine with me. A little after 9:00 I informed my nurse that I wanted to talk to my midwife about an epidural. My midwife came to talk to me and offered to check my cervix again, just to see while I got a dose of fentanyl [to take the edge off and prep me for an epidural if that’s what we ended up doing]. I had dilated to an 8 and my water still hadn’t released. My midwife offered to release my water for me and see where we got after that. She informed me that things would definitely intensify, but I figured it might get things moving a bit faster. Umm, I was right. She released my water at 9:45 and almost immediately I felt the urge to push. She told me to wait, and I did with difficulty, until she could check me again. I’d gone to a 9 and then a 10 while she was checking. “Oh, ok, you’re good, you can push”
As a quick side-note, probably the scariest thing about the whole experience was the sense that my team wasn’t quite ready for me. We were expecting a big baby and they were worried about his shoulders, so they wanted a doctor present, just in case. While I tried to focus on my body, I heard the sound of people scrambling and making quick calls to get someone in the room ASAP. When I’d imagined giving birth, being up on my knees always seemed like the best option, but I was too exhausted and the waves were coming so close together that I never made it there. They coached me to curl up and push [exactly what our hypnobirth instructor warned us of, but oh well]. I had no idea how draining it would be. [My best friend had told me that she had wanted an epidural, but when the time came, she was too exhausted to get in the right position at the side of the bed so she went without.] I just remember the pressure of his head and everything in me needing to push him out, but I just felt completely spent. I looked at my husband and cried “I can’t do it, I have nothing left.” “You are doing it,” he reassured me, “he’s so close!” After about 30 minutes of pushing and a small episiotomy [that elicited the loudest scream of the night], August Boyd burst into the world like a lion at 10:15 PM.
The hospital where we delivered is baby-friendly, so August was put straight on my chest and stayed there over the next couple hours while I delivered the placenta, did all the initial post-partum stuff and listened to my nurse tell me how exceptional this birth was. Also, we had to call our family and let everyone know! It’s funny because it wasn’t until about 8:30 or 9:00 that Joe actually let his parents know we were at the hospital-we were expecting to be there for several hours before August arrived-so they were pretty surprised when we called to let them know that he was here.
Our stay at the hospital was pretty normal I’d say. I got into the shower as soon as we were settled in our room and then settled in. Our days were filled with Mrs. Doubtfire, Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies with chocolate milk, and, of course, snuggling our little bug. We went home Wednesday around 11:00-we were definitely itching to get out of the hospital!
Becoming a mom is one of the most incredible, life-changing mundane things I’ve experienced. It seems so strange that there was a time before. It’s like he’s always been here. And yet, those first weeks are hard. My recovery was pretty quick and I didn’t have too hard a time with the baby blues, but the big love that I feel for him now, definitely developed over time. It wasn’t an immediate burst that arrived at the same time he did. It’s been more of an awakening; a slow bloom of immense love that somehow feels perfectly normal and contained. Reflecting on the experience, I’m reminded of how intense and exhausting it was, but seeing his tiny, perfectly round face in these pictures definitely has me planning for a second and third.