I wrote Keshi’s birth story a while back and never got around to Sachin’s, because Sachin’s was a teeny, tiny bit traumatic. Five years later, I’m almost over it. Not quite.
For whatever reason, I swallowed the myth that if first pregnancies and first babies were difficult, then you were somehow due by the Universe a better time. Other myths I believed: you will give birth earlier with a second (or subsequent) kid, your labor will be easier, people will be nicer to you because you are pregnant AND have another kid with you at most times in public. Ha. Haaa.
I gave birth to my first son when I was 6 days away from my due date, so I convinced myself that was going to happen with this baby. It HAD to happen, because his due date happened to be my birthday. And you know what I didn’t want? I didn’t want to share my fucking birthday. I’d never have another birthday AGAIN. Gah. So I was SURE this kid was going to be born any day but that day.
When I passed the 39 week mark and I still hadn’t had so much as a peep from the baby, I started to panic. I don’t know why I panicked, except that maybe I was really, really sick of being pregnant and I was also a little bit dumb to believe that I HAD to have this kid sooner rather than later. Oh, and he was also measuring extra super duper huge, and I’d been told by my (former) OB that I couldn’t birth a big baby. (That OB got fired. By me, I mean.) So I was a little bit panicky that I was gestating some kind of Godzilla that never wanted to leave the comforts of my womb, and that is how I will explain one of the stupidest things I have ever done in my entire life, which my husband ardently tried to talk me out of, and failed.
I took castor oil. I was 5 days away from my due date, so there was still plenty of time! Plenty! But I was having a few contractions and, as I said above, I was a little bit dumb. I took a dose of castor oil and the worst thing happened.
It worked. But not enough.
I started to have regular contractions that day, four minutes apart, about 30 seconds long. We called my sister-in-law and her husband to spend the night with Keshi while I moaned and labored in the bathtub, trying to get as much laboring in at home as possible. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, around 10pm, Gregg took me to the university hospital to have this baby.
Hooray! I was having a baby! I went through L&D, checked in, got a room and…my labor stopped. It totally and completely stalled out. I waited around for two hours and only had a few sporadic contractions. I talked with my midwife and she said I could stay, but I’d had a traumatic experience with Pitocin and a C-section and was convinced they weren’t going to do that to me again. So I went home. I was in labor and I went home.
And then the worst thing after the worst thing happened. My contractions started up, strong and painful, but at weird, irregular intervals. In the middle of the night. In the grocery store. While going on walks. I thought for sure they would get more regular, and so I breathed through them and told myself that soon, soon I’d be able to go back and have this baby! I was sure of it! Painful, awful contractions were SURE to make this delivery easy!
This is where, if I were in a movie, the music in a minor key would start playing in the background. Because I went through two more sleepless days and night like this. TWO. DAYS. OF. CONTRACTIONS.
When Monday morning rolled around, I tried to tell Gregg to go to work and I’d be fine. He, wisely, stayed home. By four PM, my midwife from Saturday night called me. “Did you have the baby at home?”
“Uh, no, I’m still in labor.”
She told me to get my butt back in to the hospital, and so I did. We got to L&D and explained the situation, and every other woman in the entire Seattle area was giving birth on that ward. Even women who weren’t pregnant. Even some men. EVERYONE WAS GIVING BIRTH. They had no room at the inn for me and my not-direly-in-labor ass.
So they…checked me into the maternity ward. With the new mothers. My midwife put me on a morphine drip to try and help me sleep, since I was so exhausted. Gregg went out and got me a gyro and French fries, which I would see again, very, very soon.
And then I tried to sleep. Gregg did sleep on the little roll-out couch. I mostly contracted and waited and closed my eyes and opened my eyes, until about 12:30AM I got up to pee and when I stood up from the toilet, I looked down and saw blood. A whole lot of blood.
I pressed the nurse button manically and called to Gregg. “I’m bleeding oh my god I’m bleeding how can I be bleeding I don’t even feel anything!” The nurse rushed in and saw me and her face paled. And then she looked me over again. “Your IV ripped out. It’s blood from your arm.”
Oh. Goody. As she approached me, a little trickle went down my leg and I said, “Um, and my water just broke. The tiniest bit.”
I was put in a wheelchair and we made our way back up to L&D, but not before the horizon started dipping and I vomited all over everything. In a wheelchair. While waiting for an elevator. With a ripped out IV. After being in labor for almost three days.
ARE YOU SICK OF THIS YET? I sure was.
My midwife looked me over and told me that I was only four centimeters dilated, and we should wait until morning to start some pitocin, but it was surely what I needed, since my contractions were still strong but irregular. So we waited.
Around 9am, after a visit from an anesthesiologist I’m pretty sure was in elementary school who I gave a warning to like, “You do not come near me with drugs or needles without first getting permission from your mommy to be at the hospital,” an L&D nurse came in with Pitocin. By 9;30, I was in active labor, and vomiting a whole, whole lot. I vomited up the gyro. I vomited up the fries. I vomited up the smoothie from two days before. I vomited up my birthday cake I had when I was 10. Everything. I vomited everything, nonstop, so much that the nurse came over to me and injected me with as much anti-nausea medication as I could take. “But I’m going drug free! Because I’m a hippie!” I said over the toilet bowl. She said, ‘This isn’t drugs. This is NECESSARY.” It helped. A little.
But oh, I was also in a whole lot of pain. But I was going to do this PAIN FREE! BECAUSE I WAS DUMB!
By 12:00, I was checked and was…AT A FOUR. Oh my God are you kidding? STILL at a four? The nurse checked with the midwife, and increased my Pitocin drip. And at 12:10, I said, “GAAAAAH I’M DYING.” The L&D nurse had been with me all morning, and looked to Gregg and asked if he could coach me for a few minutes while she grabbed lunch. He nodded unsurely and she left. But I was whimpering so much and complaining that I needed to push. I NEEDED TO PUSH THIS BABY OUT AND I WANTED THE DRUGS RIGHT THIS SECOND.
So the anesthesiologist was called, and I was checked again. This was around 12:20. And you know what? I WAS AT A FRAKKING 10. I was ready to have a baby. I went from a 4 to a 10 in twenty (or fewer) minutes. So. Yeah. I didn’t get any drugs.
And then I pushed, and while it was horrific and hard, it wasn’t nearly as hard as the vomiting and the contractions and the days and days of waiting.
And then this thing came out of me, because human bodies are weird and disgusting and magical, but mostly weird and disgusting.
But it turned out pretty okay.
Want to share with me your birth story? I love those almost as much as How We Met stories.
(And, an aside, here’s a thank you.)