Honestly, it was the longest summer…
I remember enjoying pregnancy.
I felt beautiful.
I loved feeling those little feet kicking me in the ribs.
The sonograms, prenatal visits, people rubbing my belly, maternity jeans, baby showers… I honestly loved all of it. I slept like a rock, and even the prenatal vitamins weren’t all that bad.
But then July came. As a cleaning lady, I took an early maternity leave. I just couldn’t handle the labor anymore. And the doctor had told me that my son was measuring above average, so naturally I just assumed I would go early.
Then I waited.
We were having a home birth. I’d even felt like God truly arranged it. Out of the blue, I found a perfect midwife. Even though she didn’t usually take folks from so far out of her area, she was low on clients for August and decided she could handle taking us.
My husband thought it sounded wonderful, my mom was excited, and the nurse at the hospital said she wouldn’t discourage us because I was healthy and the baby was healthy – what did we have to lose?
July came and went.
Okay, so I wasn’t going early. But maybe on time? I kept reassuring myself. August 14th. August 14th. August 14th.
August came and went.
All my fellow pregnant ladies had their babies, either early or on time. One girl, who was due the week after me, did go a week overdue… but here I was: still pregnant.
Those were the hardest two weeks of my life so far. I doubted my body. I began to feel like this baby was never going to come out. I had one outfit that fit me. ONE. I mean, at least it was cute…
I tried everything under the sun to get him out. Every old wives tale, every new one. I put myself in all sorts of unpleasant positions, ate some strange things, and even drank a few glasses of wine in desperation.
The midwife assured me that every baby has to come out and she had never seen one go to 43 weeks. Ever. 42 weeks and 6 days, yes! But never 43 weeks.
So, I trusted her. After a few hours of hysterical crying, I pulled myself together, took a deep breath, and tried to enjoy myself.
When I was 41 weeks, on the 21st of August (which happened to be the day of the Solar Eclipse), a friend of mine tagged me in a “free doula” giveaway. The doula announced that she would attend your birth for free if you went into labor on that day! I messaged her and told her I would be interested, and I honestly expected to have my baby that day.
Of course, I didn’t. But I told her I was having a homebirth and she expressed interest in coming anyways. Feeling like God was really blessing me with this woman, I agreed.
Towards the end of my 41st week, the midwife sent me to the hospital for a non-stress test. Everything looked great, which was very encouraging. However, the midwife decided to check my cervix for the first time in my pregnancy: I wasn’t dilated. Nada. Zilch.
Holding back the urge to burst into tears, I told the midwife I would not get induced. I trusted my body to do its job, although I believed that less and less with each passing day.
Finally, on Saturday August 26th at 41 weeks and 6 days, I lost my mucus plug. I think I had gotten to the point of actually thinking this wasn’t going to happen, along with literally every human being on the planet, who were all asking why I was still pregnant.
I felt like less of a woman, like my body couldn’t do it’s job quite right. But when that gigantic blob of snot plopped into the toilet…. hope rushed into my body.
I continued to lose my plug throughout the day. We went to my parents house for dinner that night, trying to pass the time. My little sister took me on yet another four-wheeler ride to try to bounce that baby out. We joked that she should become a professional labor inducer!
At about 8:00 that night, I was standing in the kitchen talking to my mom when I felt the strangest cramping sensation. My mama must have known the face, because she asked if it was a contraction. I nodded, stating that I felt funny and should go home.
They kept coming pretty consistently and were fairly bearable. We tried to watch some tv and go to sleep, but I couldn’t focus. By midnight, they were so bad I didn’t even know what to do with myself. Although I tried not to wake up my husband, I ended up on the floor rolling around and yelping… so he called the midwife.
My mom came around 2:00, the doula at 3:00 and the midwife at 4:00. I found one spot that I really liked on my birthing ball, and that was where I spent a solid 6-8 hours. “This isn’t so bad”, I thought to myself. I breathed, I stayed relaxed, and rolled those hips.
Around noon on Sunday, things began to get a bit more intense. My husband and I were taking a nap and I had the most awful pain I had ever experienced. The midwife suggested I move, but I screamed getting out of bed.
Lying down hurt. Being on my hands and knees hurt. Sitting on any hard surface hurt. I found that leaning forward while standing was the only way I could handle them.
10 hours came and went. I had no energy left. The midwife said we needed to check my cervix. I was fully dilated, but no urge to push.
So we forced it. For four hours I pretended I needed to push. I huffed and I puffed and I tried to squeeze that baby out. Standing was how I felt the least amount of pain, but unfortunately I had to squat to push while standing. I got the point where I had absolutely nothing left inside of me.
The doula tried to put an ice pack on my back. I yelled at her for putting a heating pad on.
The midwife suggested getting on my hands and knees. I told her I wasn’t going to do that. I can’t remember if I swore or not, but believe me – I wanted to. Truth be told, I wanted to punch everyone in that room.
The midwife encouraged me that my baby was coming soon, and to get excited because I would meet my son soon!
All I could think was that I didn’t want to meet him. I truly didn’t care. But that didn’t matter, because he wasn’t coming out anyways. I knew long before any of them did. He wasn’t coming out.
We tried everything. For hours and hours. Nothing was happening, and my whole body was in a weary daze. I hadn’t eaten or slept for over 36 hours, and my voice was hoarse from screaming.
Another cervical check. My water was still intact. The baby was not descended. I got in the back of my father’s pickup and we rushed to the hospital.
While everything in me fought the, now horrendous, urge to push, my thoughts spun in circles. “My body really couldn’t do this. What a failure of a woman I am. I can’t believe that this isn’t working. Why does this hurt so bad? I can’t do this anymore.”
I wanted so badly to curl up in my husband’s arms and just cry. Everything I had hoped for had failed. I wanted to do this naturally. I wanted to push out my baby and hear his cry…for him to nuzzle up on my chest while I snuggled with my new family in my own bed.
But that wasn’t how things were happening.
Here I was in the back of a truck, my nightgown covered in sweat and tears and my hair matted into nests. Part of me was angry and sad, feeling like I had lost something I had worked so hard for. The other part of me had no emotions… only a desperate need to get this thing OUT!
When we arrived at the hospital, my dad got me in a wheelchair and they rushed me to the maternity ward.
Seconds after they laid me in the bed, one nurse was putting a gown on me. The other nurse was putting in an IV. One was waiting for a contraction to go away so she could shove a catheter in, and the surgeon did a cervical check.
My head was swarming with thoughts, but also felt cloudy and numb. I could barely lift my head up.
The surgeon pulled his hand out and said “This baby isn’t coming out. We’re going to need to do a c-section.”
I looked at my mama and I knew she was thinking the same thing I was. I’ve always wanted so many kids…how was this going to affect those dreams?
My husband walked in the room in his scrubs, and momentarily I was distracted by his sexy-ness. Then another contraction.
I sunk back on the bed, exhausted and overwhelmed. As I closed my eyes, I felt warm lips against my neck and my husband whispering “You’re beautiful.”
For a split second my world stopped and I forgot what was happening to me.
Then another contraction.
Before I realized what was happening, my bed was being wheeled through the halls and into surgery.
So many sensations. Again. My brain just tuned them out.
One nurse put in an IV while the other fixed one that had begun to fall out. A contraction began building in intensity just as an another nurse prepared the spinal tap.
“This is going to take away ALL the pain…right?!” I asked desperately, screaming through my very last contraction.
The needle sunk into my spine and everything stopped.
They laid me down on the table and hung a blue sheet over my chest. I felt my eyes roll to the back of my head. Everyone kept asking how I was doing.
“Amazing.” I kept saying.
My breaths were deep and slow. My eyes couldn’t stay open. My head felt heavy. I smiled again.
I felt someone near me and opened my eyes a sliver. My husband. I smiled again.
I heard a splash – I supposed my water must have finally broken – and a little cry.
Relief washed over me.
I heard my husband talking to the doctor about his giant hands and feet.
“Does he have a name?” The doctor inquired.
“Samuel.” My husband said. I could hear the awe in his voice.
Then I saw him – my little blob wrapped in white.
“He’s actually cute!” I said, as I smiled at my little boy. What a thing to say about your brand new baby. Who knows… I was delirious.
They wheeled me off to recovery. The nurse kept bothering me with questions and I barely had the strength to open my eyes, let alone speak.
“Are you okay?” She asked, her voice clouded with concern.
“Great.” I pushed so hard to get it out (pun not intended). “40 hour labor.”
Stuck in a lull between trying to fight sleep, yet desiring to succumb to that sweet state of escape, I felt my bed move.
I was wheeled to my recovery room. The nurse pointed into the nursery and there was my husband, still in his scrubs, rocking my son.
They put my baby on my chest and he latched right away. I got some lunch, but threw it up mere minutes later. Within an hour, I completely passed out and didn’t return for a good portion of the day.
Recovery was slow, but all the nurses were impressed by my mobility and energy. Being in the hospital was not what I wanted or expected, but it was nice to be doted on while getting used to our baby.
My labor experience was not what I wanted at all. Acording to my expectations, everything went horribly wrong. I spent a lot of time grieving over what happened. At first, I was numb. Then I was angry, then heartbroken. I’ve finally come to a place of acceptance… a place where I can write down the events and shed a few tears without falling into a place of anger again.
Looking back on it four months later, it seems distant. As I am writing this, my sweet four-month old baby is giggling at me from his swing and giving me the cutest little lovey eyes. I have never felt so much love for a tiny, sweaty, smelly ball of chub.
Through all of the pain, stress and exhaustion, the moment I will never forget is not the moment my baby came out. At that moment, I couldn’t have been more disconnected. I was angry, exhausted and relieved for it all to be over.
I did not want my baby.
Now, the fact that I missed that beautiful moment kills me. Reliving it for the first time as I wrote this brought me to an ugly cry for a few minutes.
I didn’t get that moment. I needed time to recuperate, sleep and process what had just happened to me. But I will never forget our first night together.
After our family left, my husband and I got showers, and we settled down. My husband got ready to get in his bed. I grabbed his shirt and pulled him into bed with me. He snuggled in behind me while I fed our baby.
All I wanted was a quick snuggle before we all got into our separate beds…. but four hours later a nurse woke us up. After I got my meds, we stayed there together all night.
That sweet memory will stay with me forever… for the first time I closed my eyes and felt the warmth of their bodies near me, and everything was okay because I had my FAMILY.