16 Jul
Our Birth Story

I wrote the following entry within a week of giving birth. I never wanted to forget these details. Even now, less than a year later there are things I had forgotten, only to remember as I was re-reading this. I knew that every year, on his birthday, I wanted to sit down with Alex after we had put little dude to bed and reflect on the prior year, writing him letters. This was the first letter I ever wrote to him. 

Thursday, September 1st-Friday, September 2nd  2022

It all started around 5:15 , 5:08 AM to be exact. It had been 3 days since we were “supposed” to meet you, and every morning was starting off with a phone call to or from the hospital with news of another woman coming in to have her baby. The hospital on Martha's Vineyard had 3 labor and delivery beds, with 1 nurse on call. I cried with every phone call because I was so ready for you to be in this world. Looking back, I cherished those last weeks and days where it was just you and I. It was hard learning to share you…more on that later. With my Thursday morning phone call came more anticipation though, you were telling my body something with each odd contraction. These weren't just Braxton Hicks. So many women talk about not knowing if they were in labor, or wondering if their contractions were the real thing, but with that first contraction in the 5 o’clock hour I knew something was different. I called the hospital, they told me someone was coming in to have their baby, and you, dad and I would just have to wait until the next day to be induced; but you were tired of waiting.
Dad woke up very sassy, annoyed with the air conditioning unit attached to the window in the bedroom blowing on him too hard and me hogging the blankets.. or something of that nature. He went to the bathroom and came back and apologized, while I laid there feeling more contractions. I waited to say something to anyone because I was worried they would stop and I wouldn’t be in labor. We stayed in bed for a few more minutes before reaching out to grandma and grandpa (mom’s side) deciding to go to a little cafe that we love so much – Katama Kitchen. I called the hospital and when they told me of the delay, I told them I was having contractions 15-20 minutes apart. The midwife said no problem and they would see me that night if you did decide to come. I remember getting in dad’s truck and telling him “I think today is the day we become parents”. It felt surreal. At brekky, I had french toast, still feeling you wiggle between bites, and my belly tightening every 15 minutes. My walk was very slow, and dad stuck by my side the whole time, helping me into the truck each time.
Honestly the next few hours were a blur. At some point we dropped grandma and grandpa back off at their hotel, and dad and I headed home.  Dad decided to call his friend and I was going to roll around on my ball, do lunges, and try anything else to help you out; after all, you were already working so hard in there. 

At this point, there was no doubt it was true labor, but I was still so scared it would stop. I went into the bedroom to try and take a nap and think I got three 10 minute rounds of sleep between contractions. Alex recommended seeing what my parents were doing, but they had just gotten back to their hotel, grandpa was going to do some work, and grandma said she was going to lay down. Dad played a couple games of Madden, which relaxed me, while I stretched and tried to get you into a better position. By this point, it was probably close to 3:30 pm and your uncle Chris had made his way up after getting off of work at Nancy’s. He was hanging out and talking with dad, and I had to let him know to just ignore me because by now, contractions were 7 or 8 minutes apart, and they were getting painful. I called grandma and grandpa and recommended they make their way over soon. 

They came over with the intention of having a relaxing dinner, knowing dad and I were going to head to the hospital within a couple hours. When they arrived we were talking about what to eat, something we did a lot of both prior to and in the days after you were born. I really felt like mushroom and sausage pizza, and, of course, dad wanted double pepperoni. By now I was starting to question how long I was going to make it before going to the hospital. I called the midwife and let her know my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and about a 6 on the intensity scale. She told me to go ahead and head to the hospital…but the pizza hadn’t been picked up yet. 

I was quietly excusing myself during contractions and hadn’t mentioned the midwife wanted us to head that way. Uncle Chris left to get the pizza and arrived back within about 10 minutes. By this point, I was not even a little hungry, but your dad was ravenous. I finally told them that the midwife said we should head in. Dad was in the kitchen whipping up blue cheese Hell’s Kitchen style, because who eats pizza with out it? Behind the pain of my contractions I was cracking up, because this was so typical of your dad. They all sat around comfortably eating their -za, and I was in the bedroom every 4 minutes leaning over the bed trying not to cry. I calmly went into the living room and said it was time to go…like now. Your dad was two pieces of pizza down and was still not satiated, he went into the kitchen and started shoving pizza into his pockets, no paper towels, no baggies, just pizza in the pockets. I remember walking over to the kitchen and raising my voice “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WE HAVE TO GO RIGHT NOW”. I had started to cry at this point and would have bet that given 1 more minute you would make your entrance right then and there.
The car ride to the hospital was short, made only longer by tourists taking their sweet time crossing their cross walks, and drivers moseying about as people do when there is not a human actively exiting their womb. We arrived to the hospital and dad decided to park in the, I shit you not, farthest parking spot from the door. It was 5:36 pm when we arrived and the main entrance was closed so we went in through the ER entrance. Someone was checking in in front of us and I stepped forward and told them I was in active labor and they waved us up stairs… fun fact, the ER HATES dealing with pregnant people, and it terrifies them. All summer I had been set on walking up the marble staircase to Maternity instead of taking the elevator. Your dad insisted we take the elevator, but I refused. We get to the unit, they buzz us in to the triage room and they hooked me up to the monitor to check how you were doing. 

You were perfect, obviously.

The midwife checked, I was 4.5-5 cm dilated and contracting every 3-4 minutes. We did our Covid tests, both of us were negative which meant no masks in the delivery room. Yay! Your dad had kicked into advocate mode and was assuring that everything I wanted/planned was vocalized and understood. He told them I had brought colostrum, that I wanted to avoid pain medication as long as I could, and that I wanted to try a lot of different positions to labor in, he was amazing. He was holding my hands and letting me squeeze as hard as I could, he was verbalizing how well you and I were both doing and made sure I still felt loved, supported, and beautiful. We walked back to the room where you would be born and I started the long process of working through contractions.
I was staying mobile, walking around, leaning over the bed, squatting, etc. Dad had run out to the car to get our bags and his pocket pizza, and when he got back I got in the warm shower, he held my hand and rubbed my back, dried me off once I was done. From here, the nurse rolled out a giant bathtub into the room and started to fill it up. It had been about 2-2.5 hours of laboring at this point and the pain was getting harder and harder to breathe through. As I was in the tub I asked the nurse about pain management, we decided the midwife would check me and see how far along I was and then probably opt for an epidural. Getting out of the tub was painful, but dad helped and we made it over to the bed. I just remember so much pressure and it being so hard to breathe through contractions. Dad kept me so centered and breathed with me, reminding me to take intentional breaths and picture you getting lower and lower. By this point, I had vomited twice from the pain and felt myself fading with contractions. our position, despite every effort I had made in the weeks prior, was occiput posterior, AKA sunny side up, AKA back labor is a bitch. When the midwife checked me, I was 8.5 cm dilated and 100% effaced, but you were still high in my pelvis, she said if we were going to do an epidural, now was the time… I did not argue.
The nurse anesthetist was paged and he got there in about 10 minutes, he explained the risks (dad didn’t like hearing about this at all) and the procedure itself. Nate was his name, and he said he would be working between contractions to ensure I was able to be still. This was made harder because contractions were about 90 seconds apart lasting about a minute each, leaving less than 30 seconds to work with in between. Dad stood in front of me as I gripped his arms and leaned into him, again he kept me so centered with his words and breath. The lidocaine offering local anesthetic for the epidural needle initially did not work and when Nate put the epidural catheter in I felt every bit. He removed it, administered more local anesthetic, and tried again. Again, I felt every bit of the needle going into my spinal cavity, but knew that the benefits outweighed the current pain… Dad on the other hand wasn’t so sure. As he was breathing with me and encouraging me through this, he made the fatal mistake of watching Nate work his magic. I felt his arms get a bit heavier and he leaned his head on mine. I immediately asked if he was going to pass out, to which he looked up and was as white as the paper bags we get our cheeseburgers in from John’s Fish Market. The nurse got him a chair and he was able to center himself and catch his breath.
Over the next thirty minutes relief came quickly, heavier on my right side, but a relief for sure. At this point I could still feel my legs and move them, but my belly was able to contract virtually painlessly. It was enough to help me sleep for about an hour while my body worked hard in silence. When I woke up, the nurse had come back in with the midwife and she decided to break my water. This happened very quickly with a warm gush, and the sweet relief I had felt for the previous hour vanished quickly. Nate came back in and increased the epidural by just 0.5mg/hr, which was enough to completely incapacitate my lower body. I couldn’t feel anything and that terrified me. I thought to myself, "holy shit if theres a fire I'm helpless". Dramatic because who would leave a laboring mom in a burning hospital? Nate returned, turning it down by 2mg/hr. At some point between my rolls from front to back to front, trying to position your stubborn self well, one of the junctions in the external catheter came loose and that magical juice intended for my spine was working its magic elsewhere (the sheets of the bed). At this point, I was 10 cm and ready to push, it was too late for a fix now. Full feeling had returned to my legs and everywhere else, and looking back I wouldn’t have changed this (I wouldn’t have agreed at that moment though..).
Pushing was hard, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I was so exhausted, it was 3:00 AM when I started to push. I remember pulling my legs back and thinking just how heavy they felt, dad and the nurse helping out. I didn’t feel like I was making any progress at all. I turned over onto my hands and knees and tried this way for about ten minutes, and then turned to a seated position with a squat bar to help. Of all of the positions, this one felt the most effective. But you were so stubborn. Everyone kept telling me how close you were, how we were almost done, but it felt like they had been saying that for hours. I layed back down and pushed several times. 

But then I reached down and felt your head for the very first time, it was a game changing moment (currently crying writing this because I never want to forget that feeling of touching you for the first time). 

Something in my mind clicked, I pictured your tiny body and head in the birth canal, I imagined how scary this all must be for you, and I knew I needed to get you out, into my arms. I pushed two more times and there you were. The midwife had told me to wait a minute, but there was no chance. You were coming whether she was ready or not… because you were ready and that’s all that mattered. You came out fast and with great force. I swear you were crying as soon as oxygen hit your face and dad made sure that you went straight on to my chest, before wiping you off, suctioning your nose and mouth, anything. 

And there you were. Absolute perfection screaming in my face; the best moment of my whole life.

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