Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Birth Story (i.e. Think REAL Hard Before You Read This Because It Gets REALLY REAL, Folks)

Starting in mid April, my students started asking me almost daily, "When are you going on maternity leave?" I knew they asked because 1. they were honestly curious and 2. they wanted to know when they'd finally get to have a sub. As my April 20th due date grew closer, their questions became more frequent. My answer remained the same: "I'll leave when he comes out." The reason for this particular reply was two-fold: 1. it was the honest truth and 2. they needed to know that I wasn't leaving early (i.e., they weren't getting a sub early!)

They got their wish on Monday, April 18th. *Here's how it all went down. * Not for the sqeamish!

Labor started on the night of Sunday, the 17th. I'd done my normal Sunday stuff (grading, lesson planning, etc.) and we'd eaten dinner and settled in to watch Family Guy. I went to the bathroom and noticed maybe a teaspoon of blood in the toilet. Hm. Bloody show? Isn't this supposed to be mucousy? Better call Heather. Heather was our doula. The word "doula" is Greek for "amazingly indispensable, worth every penny, every pregnant woman should hire one." I was initially reticent about getting a doula because a. I shave my legs and b. I don't have a hemp-based wardrobe. But oh-mah-gawd, am I glad I got over myself. Ok, back to the story. For the life of me, I don't remember if she confirmed it was bloody show or not, but I do recall her advice to "go to bed."

Indispensable Heather.
 So I did. That was at about 9:30pm.

Around midnight, I woke up feeling crampy. Knowing that the hospital would keep me for 4 hours regardless, David and I were both pretty dedicated to staying at home as long as possible. So, I didn't make a big deal out of it - after all, maybe it was false labor? I padded out into the living room and pretended to watch tv with my husband. Stronger contractions began soon after, and my Lamaze training kicked in. (Again, really glad we prepared.) I asked David to begin timing them. At that point they were about 4 minutes apart, 1 minute in length. I could still talk through them, and they were pretty managable. Around 1am's when things started getting hazy for me. We both stayed in the living room, trying to distract/alleviate the pain. I tried the birthing ball (not super helpful for me, but I think it's because I didn't stay on it long enough) and other various positions that we'd learned in class. Leaning on the couch helped the pain some. Speaking of pain, it really wasn't too terrible at this point, but I didn't fully anticipate where it would hurt. I had tremendous back labor because of how the baby was situated. Sometime between 1 and 2 am I emailed my boss between contractions to let her know I would certainly not be coming in anytime soon.

I'd been feeling a tad nauseous off and on. A few hours into labor I told David, "I'm gonna puke - get something now!" He quickly got a trash can and held it in front of my face for me as I lay on the couch getting rid of my dinner, and as I heaved, I farted - several times. So, there I am, a laboring woman laying helplessly on her living room couch, puking and farting her brains out, and there's her husband sitting right in front of her holding a trash can (bless him, really, for doing that) laughing mercilessly in her face at each heave/toot. We both had a good laugh over that later.

More walking around, different positions, Lamaze breathing, etc. for the next couple of hours. The tv might have been on but I didn't notice. (Hell, Hitler might have been resurrected in my backyard and I wouldn't have noticed at this point.) At around 4:30-5am I told David that I thought we'd better go to the hospital. The contractions weren't necessarily closer, but they were becoming harder to deal with. I told him where everything was (my hospital bag, etc.) and he began to load up the car. That's the only time I recall him acting at all frantic, and then it was really only a touch. When he'd loaded the car, I stood up and whoosh! there goes my water! Oooh! I recall groaning. From there on out, each contraction pushed more and more water out. I then told David to cover my (car) seat with a garbage bag so that I didn't soak it. (I'd read that on the internet somewhere. Thank God I remembered.) The evening air was chilly - that's the last time I remember the weather being coolish, and I again sent David inside to get my robe as I hunkered down for yet another contraction in the car. I was pretty afraid of having contractions in the car because I couldn't move around. But somehow I managed. I remember some of the drive: stopping at the light that takes you from our neighborhood to the main thoroughfare, each bump or swerve during a contraction was... interesting. I remember David asking, "Do I need to exit here?" and me thinking, "No, and we've already had this conversation! Plus, you've been there 18,000 times!" But I know he was under stress, so some amnesia's to be expected.

David dropped me off (we'd already pre-registered) and went to park the car. As I sat in the wheelchair waiting for his return, I contracted again and there went my water, again. Thank goodness it's 5 in the morning and nobody's here, I thought. That's when another couple showed up. Lovely. At this point's when inhibitions began to disappear, though, and I stopped caring who saw what.

They got me up to labor and delivery. (Later, I found out that it was a full moon, there were an inordinate amount of births that night, and I got the last room. Score!) David briefly told the nurses that we were planning a natural birth (which I was sort of wavering on at this point, to be perfectly honest) and they started stripping me down and hooking me up. Normally I'd be all shy about that kind of thing, but remember, inhibitions flew out the window a long time ago. A nurse checked me and I was 2 centimeters dilated. Are you kidding? That can't be right. Heather arrived soon after, and that's when it all becomes just a swirling mass of jumbled events, and several people coaching me on: Let's lean over here for a while, don't breathe too hard or you'll hyperventilate, look at me, focus, start breathing at the beginning of the contraction instead of the peak... And me: Am I doing ok? My back hurts! Uuuggghhhh!

Time went on forever, and in the blink of an eye all at once. A few hours later, they checked my cervix and it was ready. I think I already knew that, though, because with later contractions I wanted to push. So I did. And dear God, the noises that came out of me, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I'd sound like that. They were like animal sounds, and they just came, like my normal higher order brain switched off and a much older, instinctual brain came alive. My whole body, really, became taken over by some ancient knowledge that I wasn't aware of. Pushing came naturally, (and it really is like taking a huge dookie) and I only recall pushing a handful of times. Heather was there and explaining things every step of the way. David looked me in the eye very close and held my hand. I remember thinking about my grandmother, and how she said labor "really wasn't that bad, and why did those women in the hospital scream so much?" Lies! I thought! But truly, at this stage the pain wasn't in the forefront - getting the baby out was the priority. I remember the last push, and the sensation of his whole body coming out of mine. After getting the head out, the body was no big deal at all, and it felt exactly like you'd think it would.

Heather said something like, "Here's your son!" and held him to my chest. I sobbed. Mightily. I've waited so long for you! Do you know how much I love you? David! Can you believe we did this? I can't believe I just did this! While I had my Lifetime tv moment, I delivered the placenta, and the doctor began stitching me up. This is when I found out I had two tears. Though this was one of my biggest fears about labor, frankly, I don't know why I was so freaked out about it. During labor, I had no idea anything was tearing. The stitching back together paled in comparison to labor and delivery, so fuhgeduhbouditt.

Our Owen Michael was born at 7lbs., 2 oz., 21 inches long at 7:51am. Heather then spoon-fed me the most delicious yogurt I'd ever tasted while David visited our son underneath the french fry warmer. I remember being very concerned with the time, partly because my view of the clock was obstructed by the french fry warmer.

When I told people I wanted a natural delivery, they usually either seemed fearful for me, or thought I was naive. I've got to say, though, that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Sure it hurts a lot; it's called labor, duh. But with enough preparation and a willing mind, it's really not that bad at all. Of course, it helps tremendously to have a supportive team. I'm pretty sure I would've fallen to pieces without David and Heather.

Our son.
Owen and his father.


  1. I just want to thank you for sharing your story! I have been obsessing about birth stories recently, and just love hearing how different everyone's experience is (no, I am not pregnant, nor trying to get pregnant). I applaud you for sticking with it and going the natural birth route! I love you, Kim, and hope I get to meet Owen sometime soon.

  2. I echo my previous sentiments: You are a vagina champion!

  3. Oh, Kim!!! How happy I am for you and your husband!! I'm also glad to see that your sense of humor is still intact and not momentarily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of breastfeeding.

    I applaud you for going the natural route. I wimped out after a few hours. Can't wait to see more stories and pictures.

    btw- kids are already asking when you're coming back.

  4. As if I didn't already think you were spectacular.

  5. Kate Hinklin-LauderdaleMay 10, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Hooray! I was beginning to think that I was the only woman of my acquaintance who was going to do the unmedicated birth thing.

    When I told people that I was using a midwife, they would look at me like intended to birth in a hole in my yard and lay my infant to sleep in nest of twigs and leaves. Really, though.

  6. Wow. I didn't have a choice in the matter, but if I'd been able to go vaginally, I would probably have been begging for an epidural. You are amazing! And your little man is beautiful! Isn't it amazing how everything else blurs when you finally get to meet the baby (or babies) you've been carrying and dreaming about? Congratulations again, we can't wait to meet him!

  7. This all sounds very familiar, especially the "Hitler might have been resurrected in my backyard and I wouldn't have noticed" part. Any extraneous conversation I overheard by the nursing staff just made me think "Who cares?!?? I'm having a baby in here!!!"

  8. *Smiles to all* A few specific thoughts: @Kate - HA!!! Obviously, I completely understand. My favorite were the male naysayers. @Heather - I believe it was "vagina warrior." And I think you may have the market cornered there. @Ren - Feel free to tell the kids I won't be teaching again this year, but I will be back for post-planning.

    Love to all! Pics and other embellishments to come. I just had to get this written down before I forgot all the little details.

  9. So glad you wrote this! I've been waiting anxiously, actually. :)

  10. You forgot to mention how your puke-farts went on and on forever. Imagine 20 seconds of uninterrupted simultaneous puking and farting.

    There's no way not to laugh.

  11. Mr. TBAIC! Glad to see you here. :)


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