I’ve never shared this is such a public setting before, in fact I’ve been absolutely avoiding doing so. I’ve been embarrassed or unsure of the responses. But this past weekend I attended House of Helm and Emma Ginder’s Birth Scars group. It focuses on moms that had unplanned c-sections (which I did not, I totally crashed the group to check it out, but stay with me) and in talking with them I recognized that we can often define ourselves by our birth stories.
We have an expectation, a plan, a vision of what pregnancy and then birth will be like and it often carries into the type of mother that we want to be. So when our plans don’t go quite how we envision, that too can carry on with us. We have an imprint from the experience that may have a deep hurt to it, and the stress and intensity of the first weeks with a newborn can blur that hurt. So maybe we don’t deal with it – maybe we’re embarrassed about it – maybe we don’t think that anyone else would understand or that it is silly because in the end there was a baby born.
But our stories are powerful and sharing them can heal our own scars but also can help someone else. Because natural, with medication, surgical, at home, at a hospital or a birthing center – we are all together in this journey of motherhood.
My Crazy Birth Story
Like video better, here it is, otherwise read on!
When I first was faced with the question of “what is your birth plan” I felt panicked, actually I had an anxiety about it that was unusual for me. I’m at my core a planner, it seems like having a birth plan would be exactly what I’d want to feel more comfortable. I had no idea what labor would be like and whether or not I could handle the pain. I didn’t have a conviction about going natural but I felt like I was giving up on my body by planning to have intervention. This was the first decision I’d really make as a mother and I wanted to get it right.
I finally decided that I’d give myself permission to get an epidural if I needed it and to not put pressure on myself to do birth a certain way. With that in mind, what actually happens is comical because I didn’t decide anything, the baby was keeping the master plan.
So two days away from being 36 weeks pregnant, I met my husband out for a fun night with friends. I remember telling someone that I felt ready, we had the nursery together, the car seat on standby and the hospital bag packed. Well the baby must have heard me because at 1:30am I woke up and thought I was going to be sick. I was having intense cramps, was a sweaty mess and my body was…eh…getting rid of everything in my system. (Is that too much? It’s a birth story, so I guess get over it!)
The cramps were coming in waves but they were just in my lower abdomen so I didn’t think that could be a contraction…plus it’s 4 weeks early. I called the nurse line at my OB though just in case. It’s now almost 2am so I left a message and woke up my husband telling him that something was definitely wrong. May I remind you that we were out with friends that night, so he may have enjoyed a beverage or two and was a little dazed so early in the morning. He later told me that his first thought upon seeing me after he woke up was “dang it, I liked that shirt and she’s got it all sweaty and stretched out now” (it was his shirt of course, that was the only thing that fit me!).
By about 2:15 the nurse called back and listened to my concerns, I hadn’t been tracking time between the “cramps” because it wasn’t even on my radar that this could be labor. Since we were weeks early still, she suggested to try and relax in bed or in a bath and if they hadn’t subsided in an hour then head to the hospital. My husband coaxed me back to bed and immediately upon laying down, my water broke.
Well here we go, I guess this is the real deal!
This sent my sleepy hubby into ‘go mode’ and he got changed and started getting the bags into the car and everything ready to go. Since my water had broken, I spent the next 10 minutes waddling back and forth from the bathroom to bedroom, changing pants a couple times as the water just keeps coming! I had to stop a couple times within the 15 feet to the bathroom as the contractions came harder and with increasing pressure. I had some choice words for the pain and I remember distinctly wanting drugs as soon as we got to the hospital! Just before 3 he said he was ready to go and I made one last stop in the bathroom before getting in his prized truck.
The contraction as I sat myself down was harder than the rest, it felt different. I reached down and yelled “Oh My GOSH (it was probably something harsher than that, but I’ll keep it PG)” because I most certainly felt that something was sticking out! I had another blinding contraction, I remember that there was so much pressure forcing downward, I wasn’t consciously pushing, my body was doing all the work without consulting me one bit.
And as my husband hustled around the corner, that baby slid out and all I could do was reach down and grab him.
WE JUST STARED AT EACH OTHER
Deer in headlights.
“What do we do?” -hubby
“Call Someone!” -me
“Call who?” -hubby
I covered us in a towel to keep warm and knew he’s supposed to latch, right? I clearly had no idea how to do that and just smooshed us together hoping it might work. Yea, it didn’t. The next 5 minutes until the amazing paramedics arrived are a complete blur. I have no idea if the baby cried or if I cried or if we both just sat there, wondering how in the world this just happened. He didn’t even have a name yet.
The paramedics came and cut the cord, delivered the placenta and put me on the stretcher. My first ambulance ride.
My hubby later told me that he fumbled with his phone, in such disarray that he couldn’t remember his passcode to make a phone call. They asked if he’d cut the cord yet and his first thought was how he could sterilize scissors. Luckily he never had to cut anything!! A police car showed up first and he ran outside (3am, had a few drinks the night before) hollering that I’m inside – the police officer startled and put his hand to his holster before understanding what was going on…he deferred to the ambulance AND firetruck making their way down our little tiny cul-de-sac street. The neighbors must’ve been freaking out, no one ever asked though.
We got up to a room at the hospital and they did all the measurements. I remember that he was across the room and I didn’t get to see him again for some time. They went about checking if I needed stiches and the WORST part, I thought, of it all is the nurses pushing on the uterus and making sure everything is cleared out. I so quickly forgot the pain of the contractions after the baby was out but this part had no reward at the end.
We had told our family that we’d text them when we were heading to the hospital, they are all over 2 hours away and would want to know early. My husband texted them all that the “baby is here, heading to the hospital” – we got a lot of concerned replies that it should be the other way around! There may have been some tears as I finally got to talk to my mom, no one understands like your mom.
I retold the story to the stunned nurses a few times and had to answer questions about whether he actually fell into the toilet or whether he hit his head on anything, if the placenta was all there. I was uncertain on all of these and was totally embarrassed to tell everywhere where I was when he came. It felt like I was on a reality show, no normal person has a baby like this. I should’ve known what to do sooner. I should’ve been timing the contractions, or in the tub, or anywhere else. I should’ve studied up on latching and…I had just delivered my own baby for goodness sake and I was still second guessing myself.
The hours and days after were filled with mesh underwear and ice packs, nipple shields and uncertainty around breastfeeding, skin to skin protocol and exhaustion.
I’ve replayed the 90 minutes between waking up and Cole making his way into the world and what happened was actually the best possible scenario. We would’ve had a baby in the car if we had left any time after my husband woke up. I would’ve never lived that down. I learned what I’m capable of doing and that we could handle just about any situation together. I’m not embarrassed about it anymore, it is absolutely the coolest thing that I’ve done.
The truth is, birth plans are not ours, they belong to the babies about to enter the world. And we can plan and do what we think will be best – but they’ll come on their own terms. And just like the rest of motherhood, it is our job to prepare them but then it is up to them to do the rest.
I’d love to hear your story, comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are in the St.Louis area and want to attend a great mom group, Birth Circle and Birth Scars are both highly recommended. See their times HERE.