I was going to write this last Thursday, but one of the things about having a baby is that making plans doesn’t necessarily mean that you will fulfill them. (And, in fact, I’m not posting this until weeks later. Elliot is actually almost FIVE WEEKS old now. Wow.) So anyway, I’m planning on trying to dictate this now. This is the story of how I gave birth to my son, Elliot Sebastian Lennox. In the mommy blog world, they would call this a birth story.
I’m composing in the way that I hope to be able to begin writing in the future. I’m speaking into a microphone and dictating into Dragon Naturally Speaking. Elliot is lying in my lap on a boppy pillow nursing. Thus far, it seems to be working okay. I’ve only been interrupted three times. 😉
So, tomorrow Elliot will be three weeks old. As of right now, he is twenty days old. I can hardly believe that he’s been around for twenty whole days. It certainly doesn’t seem that long. I definitely don’t feel as if I’m anywhere close to being used to this idea of being a mother.
But anyway, I’m having trouble getting this started. My birth story. On Sunday, November 30th, I went to the grocery store and did my best to do the last things that I needed to get done before the baby came. I was due on December 9th, so I thought that I still had some time, especially because first-time mothers are supposed to deliver late. Anyway, I was working on chopping up vegetables and putting them in the freezer or so that I would have easy-to-make meals for postpartum. After I was finished, I remember thinking that I needed to remember that I was too pregnant to do this much. I felt very tired and I had some pain, which was pretty typical around that period of time. My body was huge and unwieldy, and walking around would often give me these pelvic cramps. But the pain didn’t seem anything abnormal.
Around four in the afternoon, I was lying down watching television, and I began to realize that the pain that I was having wasn’t the typical steady pain that I remembered having. Instead it was kind of coming in waves. Like… contractions. But the thing was, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I knew that first-time mothers were notorious for thinking that they were in labor when they actually weren’t. And I didn’t want to be one of those silly first-time mothers. So I deliberately downplayed these contractions that I was feeling both to myself and to Aaron.
Time passed. The contractions kept happening. They weren’t really bad at that point. But probably around 11 o’clock or midnight, Aaron convinced me that I needed to face the facts that I was having contractions, and I was probably in early labor. He even timed them and they were coming about every five minutes and lasting about forty-five seconds.
I still didn’t want to get my hopes up. I wanted to remain cool as a cucumber and do everything exactly right. Doing everything exactly right did not involve getting all excited and thinking that being in labor meant the baby was coming anytime soon. I desperately wanted to believe that. But it became more and more difficult to think that as the contractions began to pick up speed. Aaron went to sleep but I couldn’t. I lay in bed, feeling the contractions, and watching the clock. Finally, around 2:30, I got up and started timing the contractions while bouncing on an exercise ball.
By my count, the contractions were coming every three minutes and lasting for a minute. Everything that I was reading online was saying that that was active labor. I couldn’t help it. I started to get excited. I started to think that I was going to be one of those women who had the really quick labors. I thought that I was going to have the baby very soon. I was also quite pleased because the pain was completely manageable.
After calling the midwife on call and being advised to do so, we went in to labor and delivery. There they monitored me and checked my cervix. Much to my dismay, I was only 2 cm dilated. Here I was, the first time mother clichÃ©. I had wanted to keep my cool, but I had jumped the gun.
They kept me there for a few hours and told me to walk. I also got to use the Jacuzzi bath. But I had only dilated another half centimeter when they checked me again. They said, since I was progressing, that I could stay at the hospital. And I said that I would prefer to go home if it was going to take a very long time. And they said that it probably would be another twelve hours. So, we went home.
Once at home, I put on the movie ET. I wanted Elliot to hear it, because his name is in the movie. Aaron took a nap. It became increasingly impossible to lie down or stay still. The only way that the contractions felt manageable to me was to walk through them. This caused me a great deal of frustration, because I was convinced that my contractions weren’t that bad because I could walk. I thought that very bad contractions would make it impossible for me to move. As it turned out, even when my contractions were unbearable, I always wanted to move during them. So, whatever.
Anyway, I spent the day walking around my house. It was too cold to walk outside, so I walked from the kitchen through the living room and into the music room and back. Over and over and over again. I did try to sleep at one point, but it didn’t really work. Anyway, having gone to the hospital once already, I wasn’t about to go back unless things were pretty bad.
But my contractions never did get so bad, like I said, that I couldn’t move. So finally, around 9:30 that night, we went back to the hospital. When they checked me, I was seven or eight cm dilated, so they admitted me.
The good thing about being at the hospital was that there was unlimited hot water. At our house, the hot water heater was in need of repair and there wasn’t that much hot water. At the hospital, however, I could take as many showers as I wanted. And so I did. Take showers.
Hours went by. At first it seemed as if things were going well. I was checked again, and I was nine cm dilated. Only one centimeter left to go. But then things stalled out, and I was stuck at nine centimeters for hours on end.
It was three in the morning by this point, almost 24 hours since I’d come to the hospital the first time. I was soo tired. I kept pacing back and forth in the hospital room, because that was the only way I could handle the contractions was to walk through them, and I really wanted to lie down and rest, but the contractions were too painful. I just wanted it all over with, and nothing was progressing.
They asked me if I wanted them to break my water, which would speed things up but would also make everything more painful. I didn’t know if I could handle more pain. I was so tired, and I could hardly think clearly. I remember taking another shower and psyching myself up, telling myself that I was just going to have to deal with it, if I didn’t want this labor to take forever.
So I told them to go ahead and break my water. And the midwife did that. And then, they were right, things did get much, much more painful. At this point, it’s hard for me to remember things precisely. I know that I was very, very tired. Also, that everything hurt. And I just wanted it all over. But I was so tired and I was sort of falling asleep on my feet. I remember being in the shower with hot water on my back and telling myself that I would just stay in the shower until it was time to push.
I don’t know when this happened, but at some point they came in to monitor me and to check my progress again. I had not progressed at all. And while I was lying there with the monitor on, I had to just get through the contractions without moving. Which was really really hard. I wanted to walk around.
Anyway, it was just all too much. I was falling asleep in between contractions and having these intensely detailed dreams which were only lasting for about three or four minutes. But when I would wake up, I would be in pain, and I would be confused, because I couldn’t tell these dreams from reality. It was almost like I was hallucinating. I didn’t know what was going on.
So, at around this point, I began to think seriously that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to get some pain medication. I thought to myself that maybe I could get something else besides an epidural, so that I wouldn’t have to be lying down. But I also knew that I had adamantly told everyone that I wanted to do this naturally. So if I wanted them to take me seriously, I was going to have to show them that I needed the pain medication. At least this was what my sleep-addled mind told me.
So I just really gave into the pain at that point and stopped doing anything keep myself in control. And it was bad. So I screamed and rolled around on the floor and yelled and said I had to have something or I was going to die. But as it turned out, it was too late for me to have any kind of narcotic. But they said that I could have an epidural. At that point, it sounded like a really good option. Because I was so tired. It hurt, but it was the sheer exhaustion that was worse. At that point, I had been awake for two nights in a row. So I was just wrecked.
Waiting for the epidural was probably the worst kind of torture. Because I was strapped down in a given me an IV to have more fluid because I needed to have fluid for some reason. And I was having the contractions, and I couldn’t move. And that was awful. But then the anesthesiologist came in, and I got the epidural, and it was heaven.
No, seriously. It was one of the best moments of my life. When the pain faded away, I’ve never felt better.
I know people go on and on about how great it is to have a natural childbirth. And they say that getting through that pain makes them feel like Amazon women. But I’m the kind of person who believes that I can do anything. And generally speaking, I do it on my own. So the lesson that I learned from childbirth was not that I was an Amazon women or that I was super capable or that I could do anything. It was actually the complete opposite. It was that I needed help.
I haven’t spoken a lot about what Aaron was doing during this time. But he was my rock. He was with me through everything. Supported all of my decisions. He was wonderful. And I couldn’t have done it without him. Likewise it was amazing to have the backing of science to get this epidural and to not be in pain anymore. It takes a village to raise a child. Or did my case, it takes a village to give birth.
Anyway, after I got the epidural, I promptly went to sleep.I didn’t sleep for very long. Probably about an hour and half. But the sleep but I did get was the best sleep of my entire existence. I felt wonderful when I woke up. Instead of being exhausted and crazy and half hallucinating, I felt very zen. The whole lower half of my body was numb, so I couldn’t feel any more pain. I felt very relaxed and rested and ready.
The midwife had tried to convince me before I went to sleep to get some Pitocin, which she said would help me dilate. And, she said with an epidural, that I wouldn’t feel it. I didn’t want any more interventions then I needed. I had already caved and gotten the epidural. I didn’t want that to start an avalanche.
But luckily, when the midwife checked me again, I was completely dilated and it was time to push. That was at about 6:30 the morning. It probably took them about 10 or 15 minutes to get me ready. And Elliot was born at 7:48. So I pushed for about an hour. I remember being so grateful to have the epidural so that I didn’t have to feel it. I exerted on lots of energy pushing him out, but there was no pain. And, to me, that just felt like an enormous gift.
Anyway, that’s basically what happened. I could go on and on, but this birth story has already taken a very long time. So I guess I’ll just stop there.