Gabriel’s birth story starts on September 18, 2009 when I randomly decided to take a pregnancy test before a night of birthday drinking with my friends, and it came back positive. I had always known that I was going to be a mom, but all throughout my life I never really thought about pregnancy or childbirth, so when that fateful moment came, I was honestly scared out of my mind. So, I did what any young first-time pregnant girl does, I got it confirmed and then called my mom. She helped me calm down and got me on track with what needed to be done. I asked around among my female friends for recommendations on local doctors and settled on an OB/GYN. He was great, he really was, for all of my appointments-even though he insisted on doing an internal exam at every single visit, and countless blood draws, not to mention drinking that horrible drink for the gestational diabetes test-but he missed the birth of my son because he was born on his day off.
I went into labor on Wednesday, May twentieth, at one-thirty in the afternoon. Or at least that’s when I noticed the contractions becoming stronger and more consistent. My husband was timing them and we called my parents to come over when things progressed a bit more because they were the ones driving us to the hospital. I labored at home for a few hours, walking, leaning over the counter swaying my hips while my husband rubbed my back, then walking some more, then around five pm I decided I was ready to go to the hospital. We loaded up in the car with a towel under me because my water had not broken yet, and I had probably four or five contractions on the way…those sucked. Once at the hospital, they checked me in and measured my cervical dilation, which was about five centimeters. They hooked up the routine IV, just in case, and I continued to labor while they monitored me intermittently until nine or nine-thirty pm when I remembered a friend mentioning their water birth to me and how wonderful the warm water felt, so I got in the tub after a round of monitoring, and labored in there with my mom sitting on the toilet, while my husband and father watched “Kingdom of Heaven” in the labor room. My friend was right! That water felt SO good! I never wanted to leave that tub. But, the nurses needed to do another round of monitoring and also another cervical check, so I got out around eleven, and my water broke as I was climbing into the bed. (notice I use the word “around” a lot…I don’t remember exact times, this is all a rough guess as far as time line goes…I was quite distracted haha)
Once my water broke, those contractions grew so much more intense, and the nurse saw me struggling. She came up and asked me if I wanted the epidural, and then said it was my last chance to get it because the anesthesiologist was going home. In a moment of weakness, I caved. I strayed from my dream of a natural birth, because I felt pressured during one of my most vulnerable moments ever. I felt weak. The anesthesiologist came in around midnight and explained the epidural, had me sign for it, and then prepped my back. Then when a contraction began, he told me to sit still while he inserted the needle. Once I got the epidural I was able to relax enough to doze in between a few contractions. It’s all fuzzy for me from this point until the doctor came in and started yelling at me to push. My dad remembers her walking in and saying “Let’s have this baby!” and I just remember thinking that I wasn’t ready. I pushed for a good long while with no progress, so the doctor let me take a few minutes to rest before trying again…we did this for 2 hours before my beautiful baby was born. Two hours of pushing with little to no progress, then baby starting crowning and my husband says that our son was born literally seconds after. Like an explosion. No baby, BABY! Now, “normally” when a baby is born, the crowning process is accompanied by a lovely sensation known as “the ring of fire”…the name is perfectly fitting, and that sensation is a GOOD thing. It is stretching the tissue to make room for baby…you WANT this time. Because my baby was born so fast, I didn’t get that chance to stretch, which resulted in a fourth degree tear, and forty-four stitches, including some internal.
My son was born a perfectly healthy, eight pound-nine ounce bundle of pure squishy goodness. Now, as far as I remember, I got to hold him for a short while before they took him to bathe him, weigh him, etc, and to stitch me up, but my mom recalls things differently, and since I was under the effects of the epidural, I trust her memory over my own. My mom told me that I held my son for quite a while, and my husband and I even got some alone time to bond with him before they came back to finish everything up. I wish I remembered this precious time.
Once we were both cleaned up we were moved to the recovery room where we were able to relax a bit more. My husband fell asleep for several hours and I remember being so mad at him for sleeping, but looking back, he was such a trooper and he waited until we were in recovery and I was too busy falling in love with our son to even notice he was sleeping until he started snoring J My parents stayed with us until I was released on Saturday. I had to stay for three days because of my extensive tearing. The doctors wanted to keep a close eye out for infection. During this time, because of my tearing, the nurses were keeping me dosed on Tylenol with Codeine, and milk of magnesia. Now, being a first time mom, with pretty regular bowels, I had never had to take milk of magnesia before, and the nurses failed to inform me about what was coming next. I felt the need to go to the bathroom so I sat up in bed, preparing myself for the torturous trek to the bathroom in the corner of my room, when all of a sudden, without any warning, I crapped myself, and my bed, with my husband standing right next to me. I had lost all control of my bowels. So, I immediately yelled at my husband to go get the nurses, and they all came running back into my room looking for the baby, so I told my husband to leave to room and told the nurses what happened. They laughed and said “Oh this happens all the time, we thought there was something wrong with the baby!” So, humiliated to my core, the nurses helped me to the shower, stripped off my gown and let me take the most glorious shower of my life.
On day two of our stay, the hospital provided my husband and I with a very nice meal as a “welcome to parent-hood” type of thing, and that was really quite wonderful. We got to enjoy our first meal as a family-just the three of us, with no interruptions. It was perfect.
Breastfeeding was another one of my big goals as a first time mom, I knew it was best and I intended on making sure my baby got the best. However, I was uneducated, nervous, shy, embarrassed, and made to feel like I was starving my son by not giving him formula in a bottle at the hospital when my milk had not come in on day two. I finally agreed to try a SNS (supplemental nursing system). I would prepare a bottle and clip it to my bra or tank-top strap at my shoulder, letting it hang upside down with a small rubber tube taped to my breast and feeding my son while he nursed. This was supposed to encourage nursing to get the milk to come in and then once nursing is established, you “simply” remove the SNS from your routine. Now, anyone that has fed a baby knows that they can get a little impatient waiting for their food, right? The formula would flow so easy without my son having to work for it, whereas with breastfeeding he would have to nurse for two to three minutes before my milk would let down, and during this time he would be screaming, breaking latch, and flailing in my arms. So after four weeks of this, my husband and I finally decided it was best for all of us to just switch to formula full time. My son was happier and he was sleeping more which meant we were sleeping more.
Once home from the hospital, my husband basically carried me upstairs and I did not get out of bed except to use the bathroom and the occasional shower, for two months. I was so sore and bled for so long, but I had my baby and we were home. Recovery was such a long process, not only did the physical healing take months, but psychologically I really took a beating. I blamed myself for tearing because I failed a natural birth and got the epidural which caused loss of sensations, which caused me to push when I wasn’t ready, resulting in no stretch time, which finally resulted in a fourth degree tear…This went on for months. Torturing myself for things out of my control, things I couldn’t change, and things that, in the long run, shouldn’t affect me like they did. It wasn’t until I met some wonderful moms that had all been through very different yet similar, traumatic experiences that I was able to let go of that anger and hurt and see my son’s birth for what it really was…my son’s birth! I gave birth to him and we were both alive to love each other forever, what more do I need?