My husband has been encouraging me for weeks now to start writing about her birth and early weeks as everything is already blurring together. The first (almost 16 weeks) of her life have been one wonderful haze of brain fog. So here we go.
Adaline was due on April 12th. She arrived screaming into the world at 10:57pm on April 15th, yup, tax day. She weighed 8 pounds, 5 oz and measured 21 inches long. For the record, her mother is a shrimp at 61 inches (5’1″) tall. She was a third of my height at birth. She’s still rocking the 95 percentile for height, so I expect her to be taller than me by the age of 8 or so.
As a Type A, control freak, of course I had a birth plan. But God is funny about how he teaches us lessons and babies don’t really care what you want. They’re kinda rude that way.
So let’s talk about the art of surrendering and throwing that birth plan out the window! Because, the best thing you can do in childbirth, is just roll with it.
The first kink in my birth plan. Group B Strep. During your third trimester, women are tested for Group B Strep. This is a common bacteria found in intestines and is harmless to adults but may be dangerous to babies. I bring this up, because I tested positive. Oh joy. This is what I get for not reordering and taking my pre and probiotics the week before I had this test done. This meant once my water broke, I was on a time clock. I had to go to the hospital as soon as possible so I could get at least two rounds of IV penicillin before baby was born. So with that in mind, I crossed my fingers and hoped I would be one of those women who was in labor a while before their water broke, I could still stick to my plan! I am in control! Oh silly me.
During the morning of the 15th, around 3am, I rolled my enormous belly off the couch, yup I had to sleep on the couch for comfort at this point, to use the restroom for the millionth time that night. As I went to sit down I felt a small gush. Being half asleep, my thought process went something like, “Did I just pee myself or did my water break?” I’m happy to say I went my entire pregnancy without peeing myself – you have to find the little victories in life sometimes – but I was still in denial that I may actually be in labor. At this point I felt no contractions, so I knew I wasn’t far along . Strike one against my birth plan of waiting as long as possible to go to the hospital.
But, just in case I had peed myself, I mean I didn’t exactly keep up with the kegels, so it was very possible, I laid down a half hour before sitting up again to see if another gush occurred. Thirty minutes later, another gush. Go time. I woke up Josh, we quickly took the dogs out and got on our way to the hospital. I called my parents before we left so they could make the drive down. We are so lucky they were able to come and care for our furbabies! My hormones wouldn’t let me board them, even though they’ve done it plenty of times. They had to be at home where I knew they were being loved on.
Once we got to the hospital, we got checked in and my vitals were taken. I was pretty irritated they took my weight while I still had my clothes and shoes on. I mean that adds at least two pounds! Anyway, my water had definitely broke. I was dilated a whole 1.5 centimeters, which I had been for over a week now. Ugh!!!
Remember that time clock? Once your water breaks you need to get the baby out preferably with 18 hours to reduce risk of exposing them to bacteria. We were already two hours in at this point. Little girl didn’t care at all about my plan. She was doing things her own way and on her own time.
My midwife agreed to let me labor a few hours on my own before using Pitocin to speed things up. At this point I still felt fine. I was having contractions about every 5 minutes, but they were so mild I didn’t feel anything. You would think this is a good thing, but it also meant they weren’t productive. When I was checked again a few hours later, I was only at a 2. Huge bummer! I’m the kind of person that if I’m not 5-10 minutes early to something, it means I’m late. Clearly Adaline takes after her Dad, because she was in no rush to get here on time. To get things moving in came Pitocin. Strike two against my birth plan.
Once the Pitocin kicked in and they continued upping it, things got intense, fast. I made it to about 5 centimeters in a few hours before I requested an epidural. I was in too much pain to rest and I wanted to save my strength for pushing. Strike three against my birth plan. I’m happy to say the epidural worked great (and I have no lingering side effects from it). By around 6 pm I was at 10 centimeters. Pretty quick for a first time Mom!
I was so excited my body was finally working with me! My midwife let me rest for a while longer, maybe an hour or two, I don’t remember this part too well, I had been awake so long at this point and wasn’t able to nap. My mom came into the room to help distract me and pass the time. We spent time talking about food with my midwife and doula. Which is ironic, because I wasn’t able to eat any until after the baby was born. I was certainly drooling over the thought of a fatty biscuit though!
It finally came time to push. Yes, let’s get this baby here! I had spent the last part of my pregnancy focusing on my breathing since my physical yoga practice was basically nonexistent at that point. I was prepared for this! Well, two and a half hours and six pushing positions later, baby was good and stuck. She hadn’t budged in that time. I was told I did a great job pushing and breathing (maybe they just wanted me to feel better about it?), but Adaline was not coming out on her own.
Another doctor came in to check me and make the call “c-section.” The one thing I really wanted to avoid. Not because I think it makes you less of a woman (As some people on social media will say. Seriously what happened to women supporting women?), but because the thought of someone slicing me open to pull a baby out was terrifying!
When the doctor said a c-section was necessary, I knew in my heart he was right. I had the most amazing midwife and she did everything within her power to help get Adaline to turn and come down. She was belly side up and not in a good birthing position, but even she had been, it may not have helped. My pelvic opening is just too small and this was not a small baby. After she was born you could see a mark on her forehead where her sweet little head was stuck.
Things moved fast once the decision for a c-section was made. At this point I was so exhausted from being awake so long and from labor and pushing I was in and out of wakefulness. The only thing I really remember about surgery is that my entire body was numb including my face. I had to work hard to remain calm when I realized I couldn’t swallow because my throat was numb. I remember telling myself over and over in my head, “don’t panic, just breathe through your nose.” I had saliva sitting in my throat and I was scared I would choke on it. Probably not logical, but I was not in a coherent state of mind at this point.
My biggest sorrow, is feeling like I missed Adaline’s birth and I’ve had to do a lot to surrender this moment up and accept that it happened how it happened. I am blessed to have a healthy little girl. I remember hearing her scream immediately after they pulled her out, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open or myself alert as much as I tried. I couldn’t hold her at that point either. My body was one big numb, blob. I’m so grateful that Josh was there and able to have those first crucial bonding moments with her. I recall him showing her to me and thinking, “she’s so beautiful. “
Then came another nerve wracking moment. While the doctors were working to close me up, my doctor came up to me to ask if I had a history of blood issues in family. He obviously didn’t use the word “issues”, but I can’t remember what he specifically asked me. Apparently I was losing too much blood. I vaguely remember saying not that I know of before drifting back to sleep. Thankfully my hemoglobins and iron level were much higher than most pregnant women’s, which meant I was able to avoid a transfusion. Woohoo for having a yummy steak the night before I went into labor! I did have to take iron supplements three times a day for my first six weeks postpartum, but no big deal!
Once they were done working on me I was taken to the recover room where I finally got to hold my baby!! I was still very groggy at this point, but the nurse was wonderful with helping her to latch so I could feed her before they took her away again to run tests. This was another moment I’ve had to surrender to. I remember holding her, but I was so disoriented and I hate that I wasn’t mentally present to really relish in the first moment I got to hold my daughter.
Finally. Finally the whole process was over and we were able to go back to the room where we would spend the next couple days before going home. I must say, I’ve heard so many horror stories from Mom’s about their doctors and nurses. I had the complete opposite experience. My birth plan went nothing like I wanted, but I had amazing support from all the staff where I gave birth. I will be forever grateful for the care they gave to Adaline and me.
I told myself that I would not be one of those women that attempt to scare or intimidate expecting mother’s with their birth story. I hope I haven’t done this with sharing mine. My intention is to show that nothing went the way I wanted, and I DESPISE when things are out of my control. Guess what? The world did not end. I know, crazy how it kept turning even though my birth plan went to hell. I had to surrender and let go of my need to be in control. I have had to and will have to continue doing this the rest of my life as a parent. It does not matter. It just doesn’t. When you look at your son or daughter. It will not matter. They will be the most spectacular thing you have ever laid eyes on. I’m still in disbelief everyday that I get to be so blessed to have this amazing little human in my life. So make your plan, but be sure that you are willing to surrender to whatever happens.