Mason’s birth wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
When I started having contractions at 1:45 in the morning on his due date, I couldn’t believe my luck! What a thoughtful baby! How could he be so polite and start his labor on time?
As it turned out, while he is a very special baby, he’s not a labor genius. He had no idea that it was his due date and he had no intentions of being rushed out of his cozy womb. I don’t begrudge him for my long labor – he’s just a baby after all. But it has taken some time for me to reflect on his labor and delivery to be able to talk about it here on the blog.
For weeks, I couldn’t even think about it. It didn’t happen the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t surrounded by those I love the most. There was no music. No laughing. No sunshine. There was no recording of the play by play. I didn’t get to make notes of my emotions as we anticipated his arrival.
Instead I found myself in a state of internal delirium for nearly 51 hours, clutching on to Parrish as a touchstone, and questioning my ability to deliver my son.
I spent most of the day on Thursday, his due date, at home. The contractions were loose and irregular. Parrish and I were bursting with excitement, but by the afternoon things became more serious. My contractions gained strength, and by 5pm I found myself in the bathtub talking to my mid-wife. My contractions were coming every 3 1/2 minutes and were lasting for an average of 75 seconds. The warm water did nothing to slow them down, so Parrish and I packed our hospital bag and headed to the hospital.
My final bump shot before we left for the hospital. 40 weeks exactly.
Once we were admitted in to the hospital (not a short process) the contractions had slowed down but I was exhausted. We slept for a few hours and checked back in with our doctor the next morning. (*Note: The group of mid-wives at our practice also works with doctors. When we checked in at the hospital, the mid-wife on call was not someone I liked. I had had a terrible experience with her and did not want to be seen by her. Luckily I was able to switch over to the doctor on call)
The contractions were still slow, but during the check we discovered that Mason was super low. I mean, his little sweet noggin was right there. So we decided to walk the halls in hopes of speeding up contractions and helping him along.
By 11am on Friday, now 32 hours from the beginning, the contractions had gained some strength but still weren’t close enough together. The mid-wife on call was still the one from the night before and I didn’t want to work with her. So I continued on course with the doctor, and she suggested trying pitocin to increase the contractions. I agreed to try pitocin, and 30 minutes later the Pitocin Contractions began. (*Note: This is where I regret not having a mid-wife! There are a few other natural methods we could have tried first to try and speed contractions, but in the moment I didn’t even think about it)
30 minutes in to Pitocin Contractions I was begging for an epidural. I hadn’t planned on doing a natural birth. I had researched every method of childbirth and had decided to see what happened in the moment. I knew that every baby is different and that every birth is different, so I wanted Mason to come in to the world the way he wanted.
However, Pitocin Contractions are TERRIBLE. Honestly, unless you’ve experienced them, you just can’t understand. So take my word for it, they’re awful and relentless. So – back to the epidural.
The nurse drew my blood and 30 minutes later – now an hour in to Pitocin Contractions – my doctor came in with some bad news.
I could not have an epidural.
I was shocked. What the heck?! What do you mean I can’t have an epidural?
As it turned out, the platelets in my blood were too low, and the anesthesiologist would not give me an epidural due to my high risk of bleeding out. Your platelets need to be at 100 or more, and mine were….93. 93!
So there I was. Right in the middle of terrible contractions that I couldn’t endure, and facing the realization that my entire birth was going to be natural. In the moment it wasn’t what I wanted, and there was nothing I could do to change it.
I didn’t cry. I wanted to. Believe me – I wanted to. But I couldn’t. I knew that if I let myself cry then I wouldn’t stop. I would sob and exhaust myself….and possibly have a full-on melt down, so I sucked it up.
Well…..I thought about packing my bag and walking out of the hospital first – birth off, it’s not happening, sorry baby Mason you’re just going to stay in there – and then I sucked it up.
I prayed. I prayed hard. God granted me strength and hope through my husband. And then a miracle: my absolute FAVORITE mid-wife came on duty. I switched off of my doctor and on to the mid-wife at 3pm on Friday, and I am SO SO SO thankful for that change.
I don’t really want to go in to the play by play from there on. It was long. It was hard. In fact, it is the hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life.
I was all over the place: the tub, the wall, the bed, the side of the bed, the floor. The contractions were terrible but my mid-wife was great at keeping me moving and trying tons of different positions to help. I learned that the positions don’t actually lessen the pain, but they do keep your mind busy and help you focus on it less.
And this is where Pure Barre, Bootcamp, and my strength training really helped me.
For most of the day and night Friday, I kept my eyes closed, my breath clean, and my mind focused.
In Pure Barre, you hold yourself in different positions and breathe through the pain. Your instructor helps you through the pain, and even if your muscle cramps, you hold it. There is something in Pure Barre called “The Final 10”, meaning that towards the end of the exercise, the last 10 seconds, you’re going to want to quit. But instead of quitting, you push yourself OVER THE EDGE. You strive for your best form no matter the pain, and you discover that you have a new breaking point that’s further than you originally thought.
I had gained so much mental grit through my months at Pure Barre. In addition to gaining muscle strength in Bootcamp, I had also gained mental strength. I was strong.
Stronger than I even thought. Honestly, I think I even surprised Parrish by how strong I was.
My mid-wife reflected after Mason’s birth that I was the most serene laborer. She couldn’t believe how I could just close my eyes and breathe calmly through the pain. I had to laugh because while I may have seemed calm on the outside, I was DYING on the inside. I was ripping apart; I was tearing to pieces. I was questioning and yelling and cursing. I was literally ALL THE EMOTIONS.
But when each contraction ended, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that with every contraction I was one step closer to Mason…and to never contracting again! (Much like my thought process when I’m facing 100 Burpees!) Just keep going so that you can finish.
So after 48 hours of contractions and 3 hours of pushing, it was over.
Or I guess I should say, it began.
He was here.
This tiny little person that set my heart on fire and made every single choice I had ever made make sense. Everything in my life had been working towards that moment, had been working towards him.
The fog of labor and delivery lifted. I opened my eyes for the first time in hours, and looked at my son curled up on my chest. I looked at Parrish and laughed – I couldn’t believe he was finally here!
So no, it didn’t happen the way I planned. It wasn’t what I thought I wanted. But now, two months later, I know the truth.
It doesn’t matter. The labor and delivery don’t matter. Epidural or no epidural, it doesn’t matter. Your perceived wants don’t matter.
Because what you actually want is your baby.
And your baby will come. It could take a few hours or a few days. You could push for 10 minutes or 3 hours. You could have a vaginal birth or a C-section. Heck, you could even adopt or use a surrogate. It doesn’t matter.
Because that baby is all that really matters. He is all that really matters.
And no matter what it took to get him, he is here.