Here’s the first installment (there’s simply so much, I can’t put it all in one post!) of my ‘A Tale of Two Newborns’ story. See the backstory here. Also, I want to kindly remind that these posts come with a *trigger warning.*
My birth and postpartum journey is more common than you may think. I want to share the lows, and ultimately, the glorious highs with you. If you are suffering with postpartum depression and/or anxiety, know you are not alone and you are worth getting the help you deserve. It will get better.
1 a.m. — March, 25 2014 — Only five hours in to my 30th year when I woke up from a pop and a feeling like I had just peed my pants a little. My water had broke four days early.
I waddled to the bathroom, strapped on a pad, and nudged my hubby awake. This was it. I was in labor.
Having your water break unexpectedly (it only happens about 10% of the time), is like sitting on a ticking time bomb. You’re in a constant state of “OK…when? What’s next? Did I just feel a contraction?” It’s a uncomfortable combination of excitement and fear, but that pretty much goes without saying, I’m sure.
I got back into bed and laid awake next to my dozing husband, trying to feel for any contractions, movement, or something (anything!) that convinced me that my little one would be making an Earth-side debut in the near future. But…nada. Even so, I couldn’t sleep. I was too consumed with being able to meet my forever friend so soon.
We got out of bed (in full disclosure, I rolled and subsequently waddled out) around 6:30 that morning, and my husband and I were both filled with what felt like EDM music pulsating through our veins. I couldn’t wait to get on the phone and call our families and let them know the news. So we did…and everyone ramped up our excitement. I was so happy to feel their confidence and enthusiasm for me and our budding family.
Right after we talked to our families, I called our midwife. She rattled off the standard questions: “What time did your water break?” “Are you having contractions?” “Are any other bodily fluids present?” You know…the usual…and thankfully I had already had our 40 week appointment scheduled for that morning. Perfect timing for a labor check-up, right? Well…yes and no.
About an hour before our appointment at my familiar and friendly office that my midwifes practiced out of, they redirected me to the hospital, The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis.
This was the first stop sign that popped up in my tracks.
UGH. I did not want to go to the hospital yet if I didn’t have to, because ultimately, I knew if I went there, there may be a pretty decent chance I would be induced and wouldn’t be coming home.
Side note: I never took any pre-birth classes (except for a few YouTube videos…worth it) with the exception of a rather informative (and fear inducing) hospital tour. I never realized how much I *despise* hospitals until I toured The Mother Baby Center, even though I know it’s SO much more inviting than a “regular” hospital. I immediately fell into victim mode…”Why do I have to be hospitalized?” “Ohmygod, why didn’t I choose to give birth at a birthing center?” “Do I have to stay here for TWO days?” “I will NOT eat any hospital food…it’s glorified crap and filled with GMOs.” I was so freaked out of my mind about giving birth in a hospital even though I trusted and loved my midwives at North Metro Midwives. I felt powerless and I did not want to bring my child into the world through an institution that I did not wholeheartedly believe or trust in. I am a holistic and natural girl all the way. This flew in the face of everything I believed in. How could I contradict my true values and feelings about the healthcare industry? But I went along with it anyway…OK…back to the story…
What I did learn through a few YouTube vids and reminders from my midwives was that if my water broke, I would “have 24 hours to safely and healthfully deliver.” Now, keep in mind that this is what traditional medicine says, many don’t see this as a big deal because the baby will come when it comes. For me, no big deal quite yet…it had only been a handful of hours since it broke. I’m good…I won’t be “required” to be induced when I get to my appointment.
11 a.m. — March 25, 2014 — We arrived at the hospital and checked in. My nervousness was palpable, but I was trying to stay as centered as possible. We were taken back to triage, where I would meet Kristin, one of our three midwives. At first, a nurse came in and started the whole rigamarole that you get when you’re in labor. I immediately went into “Oh hell no” mode and demanded where my midwife was. Of course, I didn’t know that she was just doing her job and taking notes for my beloved midwife. Whoops. I was already pretty edgy.
Finally, Kristin entered the room and calmed me down. She was with me through my miscarriage experience and I had grown to not only trust her, but really enjoy spending time with her too!
She checked my progress and came to the disappointing conclusion that I was only 1.5 centimeters dilated, but about 75% effaced (fancy terms for a soft cervix). This was not great news for me. I knew what was coming next…
“Well, you have two options: to go home and try and to stimulate labor, or we can get you admitted and hooked up on Pitocin to be induced.”
I chose the former. I was under no circumstance going to be induced with drugs. Not what I had planned.
Bryan and I headed home with a prescription to walk, do squats, try nipple stimulation (I found out I am not good at this…hah), and simply relax. Relax? Hahahaha, really?
We ordered a giant veggie pizza, popped in some “30 Rock” DVDs, and hunkered down…waiting. Contractions would come, and contractions would go. Nothing much happening even with walking, squats, and yes, nipple stimulation. I was uncomfortable and growing ever nervous about nothing picking up in speed.
So we went to bed (well, we were in bed…but no one was sleeping, except baby maybe) and I blew past the 24 hour water breaking mark and the little voice inside my head was making me nervous (due to the cultural considerations that say infection can set in after that time) but I knew in my heart all was well.
What we had decided is that if nothing was going on come the morning of the 26th, I would be admitted to the hospital.
6 a.m. — March 26th, 2014 — back to the hospital we go. I was finding a bit more of excitement since I knew this would “be it.” As we checked in, I was escorted down the long hallway to the very last room in the labor and delivery unit with a giant birthing tub which I would obviously be using.
The nurse was nice, albeit not overly warm and asked me many questions I found very annoying at the time, especially in between what I thought were painful contractions. “What supplements are you taking?” “Has anyone in your family experienced cancer?” “What is your birthing plan?” …the whole nine yards I felt I’ve already gone through a hundred times during my pregnancy. My blood pressure was certainly rising because I was so against western medicine practices, as I feel they don’t treat the whole person, just the ailment. I was so done and I just wanted to have my baby and get out of here.
Then I met with Katherine, one of my other lovely midwives. I was immediately put at more ease. Although, there was a little twinge of annoyance because of her nonchalantness of the situation…joking with the nurses, getting paperwork in order, etc. “Didn’t she know I was having a baby!?” I had no real idea what to expect to be honest. And looking back, this is her job…she does this every day…I should have taken a cue from her confidence.
Then it came time to check my cervix. During a contraction. Ugh. Ouchy.
After she was done…she said the words I did not want to hear…”So, do you want to know how far along you are?”
OH NO. WHY!? I’M NOT THAT FAR ALONG!? SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. IT HAS BEEN WAY OVER 24 HOURS AFTER MY WATER BROKE. FFLJFOUELGKHTOURNGKHRURYGHGHGHGHG. AHHHH!
I sheepishly said…”I guess not,” and promptly started crying. I knew then none of this was going to go the way I wanted it to. I had lost control of the wheel and I was crashing.
Thankfully, I was given a choice as what to do as we moved forward. Like I thought, the option for Pitocin was one and so was waiting it out…more. After about a half hour of deliberating and freaking out, I chose to be hooked up to Pitocin. I felt like a complete failure and I was sure to let everyone around me know too. What had I done? My precious, perfect baby was going to be ruined from all this medicine.
That’s when I heard it and I’ll never forget it…Katherine said, “You’ve made the decision now. Don’t let your emotions of ‘what if’ spiral out of control. I’ve seen women ruin the first few weeks of their children’s lives because they can’t let go of their ‘plans.'”
Those words sunk their teeth into my already too ripe emotions. That was it.
I didn’t know how to let go…