Sawyer's Birth Story
I love birth stories, but they can tend to be lengthy, so I'll get right to it.
Sawyer's due date was moved around on us, between 4/9-4/12, but I knew the date of conception and since March 21 was full term at 37 weeks, I was shooting for that. It was a nice fun countdown number, plus it would be the 13th anniversary of NSYNC's release of No Strings Attached which still holds the record for most sales in an album's first week of release, so naturally, it was meant to be.
This was, of course, just one of dozens of pregnancy and birth wish list items that would come to laugh at me for even requesting it.
Anyone who's given birth will most likely advise you to hold on to your birth plan loosely. It doesn't mean you shouldn't create one, just plan on some or all of the items going to Helena Handbasket. Here's a copy of my birth plan as I envisioned it
As you can, see, my perfect birth was basically laboring at home and getting to the hospital just in time to get an epidural for the pushing part and not administering anything to baby girl but my breast milk. I stressed the epidural request to my doula. I must have reminded her 14 times before and after labor, or about twice every time I saw her, that we needed to give me time to get the epidural. If I missed my chance to get the epidural, I would not be happy with her.
My doula. If you don't know what a doula is, you are missing out. A doula is a labor and delivery helpmate. I wanted a doula for several reasons but these were my top:
- A doula has attended hundreds of births and can generally tell whats going on with your body and baby at different stages of labor
- A doula will advocate for you, your baby and your preferences. She will interpret medical jargon and help with any alternatives, if possible, if you are uncomfortable with the hospital's "demands." Luckily we delivered at a midwife-friendly hospital where we never once had any push back about the birth plan or baby care
- Marriage Peace
- If I was going to be pissed off at someone for my pain or not doing something right, I wanted it to be the person I hired and not my husband
Back to the birth story. As you probably guessed, baby girl was not born on 3/21 but it didn't stop me from turning on the light at every bathroom break in the middle of the night looking for my mucus plug or adding NSYNC jams to her birth playlist.
Labor finally began on April 18th around 6pm. All the "am I in labor" sites tell you "real labor" is a radiating pain that starts in the back and moves around to the belly. It's all a crock. Labor pains start out like period cramps and turn into the world's worst period cramps with what feels like, well, a huge baby pushing against every fragile and delicate part of your insides.
I had a shooting pain going down my leg from my lower back that did not let up between contractions. My doula was with me, I remember candles and massages but around 11pm, I told her I needed to go to the hospital. What I thought she understood was that I expected to be immediately wheeled to the lovely anesthesiologist for my epidural.
We woke up my husband, who promptly started to scramble eggs. I stood at the door with my bags "dude, what are you doing, are you even hungry?!" He figured this was his last chance for food for a while.
I asked him to bring the car up a few flights so I didn't have to take the stairs. Hilarious. My doula made my walk 3 flights of stairs 4 times. I was already hating her.
It was 2am on April 19th when we got to the hospital. I did not get an epidural.
My doula continued to earn my hatred as she made me walk the halls because the baby had not dropped and I wasn't even dilated. I was in so much pain. The shooting pain down my back and leg made it impossible to recover between contractions. My doula suggested I labor in the tub. The very idea of tub labor made me nauseous so I said no and ignored her when she suggested it again. I wanted my epidural.
I was more concerned with the fact that I was the only pregnant woman walking the damn halls. No one was screaming, no one was in pain but me? Everyone else was apparently resting in bed with their epidural.
I was in such pain but I have a missing chunk of time from my memory. I don't know if I actually got some sleep, but I remember seeing my doula and husband sleeping and I had a minor lull in my pain, perhaps my labor stilled and I got a couple hours of sleep, but I honestly don't remember.
One of my midwives arrived at 8:30am and found that I still wasn't dilated. She surveyed the situation and told me that I may need to mentally prepare myself for a possible c-section. The way she said it struck my mama chord. Something was not right. This was my first pregnancy and I knew it was going to be a painful experience, but I knew something was wrong.
My midwife said we could push pitocin and walk some more just to see if it progressed the labor. Since baby girl was safe, it had been 14 hours and I wanted to give her the chance at a vaginal birth, I kept trying. Note: I still didn't have an epidural!
I walked for a while and when we passed the tub, my doula suggested laboring in it again. Nope.
My husband had a conversation with her, unbeknownst to me, instructing her to stand up to me. He said, if you don't, she'll run right over you. She walked me down to the tub area and told me to get in. I told her no. "Get in the tub!" she said it so sternly and it startled me. In I went. "How long do I have to stay in here?" I asked, expecting to hear about 15 minutes or so. She said at least an hour. AN HOUR? Oh no, no, no....
My husband stepped in, "just through the next contraction..." my doulas neck snapped up and she shot him look. It was spectacular. "After the next contraction! Yes!" I agreed. Once it was that time, I started to get up and my doula said try for one more. NOPE. I used her as leverage to get out. I hated that friggan tub. Everything felt worse in there. Everything.
I headed back to the room, stopping off at the toilet. And there it was, in all its glory. The massive mucus plug. You don't need a light to find those things, you can't miss them. They are monstrosities.
I guess that tub did a little bit of good because apparently my water broke while I was in there, I lost my plug as soon as I left and I was dilated to 4 whopping cm. My pain was getting worse and because I wasn't getting relief between contractions, I literally hated everyone.
My mom and mother in law arrived around 11am followed by my favorite person on earth. And he brought drugs. I told him he was literally the only person in the room I loved and I promised to bring him donuts. That epidural was the best thing ever. I finally got to rest and I dilated to 7cm!
At 2pm, my midwife arrived to find I was closing. I was back to 4 cm and I was feeling baby girl physically move backwards up in to my ribs. When my midwife said we were going to have to schedule the c-section, I had already come to terms with it. My husband's expression on the other hand showed he was not expecting that. We scheduled the c-section for 9pm and got some rest.
When it was time for surgery, I was saddened to learn our photographer wouldn't be allowed in surgery. They strapped me to the surgical table, I made sure I could at least keep my birth playlist going. My midwife joined in on the surgery and they poked me until I was sure I couldn't feel their pricks...and even then, I made them poke me more and asked my husband to see if they were really poking.
Baby girl was born at 9:09pm about 27 hours after labor began. She cried, I sighed, Charlie took pictures, then didn't show them to me. I realized our daughter was born to Mumford and Sons "Awake My Soul" which I thought was a fitting entrance to the world. Finally, I was shown a picture of my daughter as they put her in the warmer. She was a blue mini sumo wrestler and I was sure it was another baby they had somehow mixed my daughter up with.
When I finally saw her in person, she was wonderful. They took almost an hour to sew me up and I was dying to see baby girl.
When I finally got to hold her, we presented the powerful boob and she literally grabbed that thing between two fists and nursed for 45 full minutes. It was such a blessed moment and one I do not ever want to forget. Many of you know, I lost my breast milk soon after this and later found out she had less than 50% chance of survival which I wrote about here, including how baby girl became Sawyer.
My midwife came and explained that Sawyer was posterior and stuck at a weird angle, ON a nerve! She said my labor was unnaturally painful. I had to have her repeat this for my husband. My doula apologized for making me walk so much. Ha! Well, l tried, she was here and healthy!