It was a dark and stormy night…
It was a dark and stormy night…
begins the first line of Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle In Time,” and begins the final chapters of the pregnancy of Baby Martian. As we sat in the delivery room, listening to thunder roll and in a darkened room because the power went out in the hospital, I made sure every. single. person. who walked into the room knew about that first line of the most popular book by my favorite author.
These are the final two days of the pregnancy of Baby M.
We had an induction scheduled for Friday, September 27th. I woke up and for the first day in our whole pregnancy, my wedding rings didn’t fit. I put them on and noticed immediately that my finger began turning dark red. At the beginning of the summer, we bought an $8 ring at Walmart for whenever my fingers were too swollen for my real rings. The funniest part? I got SO MANY COMPLIMENTS on my $8 Walmart Ring.
It felt surreal to walk around knowing that later in the evening, I’d go to the hospital to have our baby. When people said “have a great evening,” I wanted to tell them my most prized secret – that I was ending one chapter and about to begin another.
After work, Justen picked me up and we headed to Thatcher’s. I’m weirdly sentimental about things, and it was important we stopped by for a cup of something warm before our lives changed forever. In January of 2016, this guy I’d just met on Twitter told me he was working from Thatcher’s that day and even though we had a time to get coffee scheduled for later in the week, I should stop by. I remember sitting at the bar, talking to him about any and all things. He bought my mocha because he’d forgotten about getting coffee together the week prior.
We walked out and he said he’d still like to get coffee a few days later if I was interested. A year and a half later, I woke up, put on a nice dress and went to see him at Thatcher’s.
All that to say, it just seemed fitting to go to Thatcher’s. We sat at the bar and drank our warm beverages at the place of our first coffee date on our last coffee date as a family of two.
Then we went to Red Robin, because I’d been told to have a big dinner before we came in. and why would I bother with doing dishes on the day in which we would get induced?
From there, we went to the hospital. With only my wallet in hand, we said “we are here to get induced.” I assumed it would be a long, boring, slow evening. Our arrival time was 6:45, and I assumed we’d just sign some papers or something and get the show on the road.
We walked into the very room we toured during the hospital tour last month and I awkwardly stood in the corner as the nurse gave me a hospital gown and invited me to sit on the bed.
The bed where I would GIVE BIRTH. But it still hadn’t fully hit me. She began asking me what felt like 18,000 questions while strapping me up to monitors. We’ve seen those monitors every week of September – one for the baby’s heart rate and one for measuring contractions.
My uterus was going crazy (as was the rest of me), so instead of oral pills to start labor, our midwife and the doctor on call agreed that cervical balloons would be the best way to get my cervix ripened for labor. It took three attempts, but we finally got the balloons in and inflated (its was not fun) and at 9:45 I was left to try and sleep until the next morning when they’d get taken out.
Sleep was hard, because homegirl had a lot of amniotic fluid to squirm around in and if I moved in the slightest, she would go off the monitor. Which meant all night the nurses came in to wake me up and readjust the monitor. It made an already anxious night go by even slower. Justen said the next morning that he eventually started tuning out the nurses. What a nice luxury, I responded.
When the balloons were removed, I’d gone from being dilated at a 1.5 and 70% effacement to 5 cm and 80%. At 11 am, pitocin started. At 1 pm, I had started feeling crampy and decided we should watch a movie while I spent hours feeling crampy. We chose to finally watch A Wrinkle in Time – which seemed so very fitting. Less than halfway into the movie, the cramps had gone from annoying cramps to painful contractions.
By 3 pm, our midwife came in to talk about breaking my water. I cried and asked her if she thought I was a wimp for wanting an epidural. Over and over I tried to explain that I had gone in wanting to see what my body could do, and I didn’t know if I was merely on step 2 of 15 or if I was on step 8 of 10. If that makes sense. I just didn’t know if I was tapping out way earlier than I’d planned.
After being reassured that I wasn’t a wimp, I was the proud recipient of an epidural – after a failed first attempt. A few minutes after receiving my epidural, I exclaimed that I was really cold and needed a blanket. As I laid shivering under four heated blankets, the nurse told me that shaking was perfectly normal during labor and wasn’t related to being cold. What do I know.
At 4:30 they went to break my water and I was at 7 cm and 100%. She merely poked the amniotic sac and it all came gushing out.
Y’all, I kid you not. There was thunder. and there was lightning. and then the power went out at the hospital. It was, as Madeleine L’Engle wrote, a dark and stormy night. I made sure to tell everyone that walked into the room.
The power eventually came back on, but man I got a kick out of it until then. At around 7 pm, our midwife came in and checked me. All systems were a go – 10 and 100%, just waiting for me to feel the urge to push. Our friend Tomera showed up around 7:15 to take delivery photos. We talked for awhile and I started feeling really uncomfortable. It was a lot of pressure in my pelvis and it felt weird, but I had no “urge” to do anything.
It kept getting worse and both Tomera and Justen told me to call the nurse if it was getting unbearable. The nurse walked in, and instead of telling her about what I was feeling, I just said “I’m going to throw up.” She handed me a barf bag, and sure enough I threw up a few times. That’s when it felt real to me, because I NEVER THROW UP. Everything after that was honestly a huge blur. In the blink of an eye I was legs in the air ready to push out a human being FROM MY BODY.
There was a moment when I told Kate, our midwife, that I had changed my mind. Didn’t want to do it, could I please just go home. She didn’t let me. Guess I was a little too far into the whole thing to just turn around and go home, haha.
I pushed for 20 minutes, and I will never ever forget feeling the body of our baby come out of me. Kate held her up and I immediately began sobbing. When we were walking into the hospital, I told Justen that I’ve been keeping a wall up to protect myself – just because we made it all the way to the hospital for an induction didn’t mean we’d be leaving with a baby. In that moment, I looked down and saw the little life I’ve been feeling grow and move inside of me this whole year and I realized.. we had a breathing baby.
Before I knew it, our baby girl was tucked into my hospital gown so we could lay there, skin to skin, in amazement of each other.
I wanted to stare at her forever – this little human being, not as terrifying as I thought she would be. Squishy little cheeks, tiny little fingers, a head full of hair. A little baby martian from a water world, thrust into a world with air, wind, bright sunshine, very loud and startling noises, room to stretch your limbs out in all direction.
For months I’ve been asking Justen if he thinks he’ll cut the umbilical cord when the time comes. He wasn’t sure, but when it came down to it, he freed our little human from the remainder of her womb life. We’re the new placenta.
They weighed and measured her – 7 lb 4 oz, 20.5″ of perfect little human.
The hospital plays a chime noise every time a baby is born, and I thought it was kinda cheesy until I was sitting there holding the baby I’d just delivered, and I heard chimes. Through tears I asked if those were OUR chimes, and was so excited to find out that they in fact were our chimes.
After our family came in to meet her, it was time for me to get up and get cleaned. I stood up and a few seconds later, the room started spinning and I thought I was dying. I looked down and saw a bunch of blood running down my legs. After commenting on both of these things, I woke up laying in bed. I’d passed out because homegirl did some damage to the birth canal when she came out, resulting in hemorrhaging.
I attempted to go to the bathroom when I came to again, and almost passed out again while on the toilet. I said I just wanted to go to sleep, which they let me do.
That made the whole first evening of her life go by really quick.
I never understood why people would get excited to hear other people’s birth stories, but now I get it. It’s been over a week and I still think about my experience with labor multiple times a day. I can’t believe I did it. For months I’ve been so scared of delivery, and I. FREAKING. DID. IT.
It was a relatively short process, but I endured 3 Cook Catheters, 2 separate IV sites, 2 epidurals and contractions that went from 0-60 in 2 hours.
My body, which I’ve had issues with for my whole life, successfully grew a spike in hormones into a human being and then magically adapted to get her into the world. I’ve never been more proud of myself. I often find myself staring at her and thinking, “I made that. I got that out of my body through a small opening.”