Adventures in Boobieland: Our Birth Story

Today my little girl turns one, but it feels like only yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the first time. As I went through the motions of my daily life, all I could think about was what I was doing at this time one year ago. I thought I would share our birth story, while my memory of the day is still so fresh in my mind.

April 30th, 2012

I woke up on Monday morning feeling uncomfortable and frustrated. I had called off work every day since Thursday, thinking the baby would arrive at any minute. Thursday I had a regular checkin with the OB doctor, who reported I was six centimeters dialated and eighty percent effaced. She expected to see me at the hospital in a few hours. Four days had gone by without the slightest hint of labor pains and I was getting tired of waiting around for the big event. I called my employer to say I hadn't had the baby yet and was going to take the hour long train into work. I hopped in the shower and quickly got ready, but before I left the house, I discovered I was spotting. Not enough to be cause for concern, but enough that I rethought my decision to go into work.

The rest of the day was uneventful and I started to regret my decision to use yet another vacation day. I read, walked the dog, took a bath, tidied my bedroom, and did other leisurely tasks as the hours slowly ticked by. Eventually I settled on rewatching the last season of TrueBlood to help the time pass. I was apparently enjoying the TrueBlood marathon a little too much. During an especially scandalous scene where Anna Pacquin's character is being kissed by two men, I heard a pop down below. My partner was in the basement and I quickly texted him to get his help moving to the bathroom. I made it just in time, because as soon as I say down, my water broke (yucky mess averted!).

There was no mistaking the feeling that came next. Contractions came hard and fast and were coming less than two minutes apart from the very beginning. It was 5:55 and my mom came walking through the door from her work day, only to be turned around to shuttle us to the hospital. The hospital I chose to deliver at was equidistant to the city, where I worked, and my parents house in the suburbs, where I was living at the time. My partner gave me headphones blasting Yo-Yo Ma to help distract me, but I was ready to push and was struggling to not deliver the baby right there in the car cruising down Route 202.

Once we pulled up to the entrance of the hospital, I waddled as fast as I could to the maternity ward like I practiced only a couple of months earlier in birthing class. The nurses in the maternity ward were ready for me and quickly went through the intake process as I was prepped in bed for the main event. Fortunately I made the decision very early on in my pregnancy to not use an epidural or any other pain medication during labor, because there likely wouldn't have been time for it. The doctor came in, wheeled over the mirror (I wanted to watch), and we got to work.

The next hour or so was a blur and I only remember brief snippets of time. Everyone in the room telling me to keep going; the baby's dark tuft of hair beginning to peak up; the insane pressure down below. I pushed for over an hour, but each time I took a breath, the baby would slide back inside, losing any progress I made. The arduous labor was taking its toll on her too and the stress was negatively impacting her vitals. I needed to push her out immediately or my plan for a natural birth would be out the window. Somehow through the haze of exhaustion I mustered up enough strength to give one last five second push, along with a fierce battle cry and Merle was out!

To be honest, I don't remember what happened next. It was all such a blur from seeing Merle for the first time to pushing out the placenta. All I could focus on was that my baby was finally here and she was alive and healthy and I couldn't wait to spend the rest of my life cherishing her. I was confined to the bed as the doctor stitched me up (I tore pretty badly during labor) while my partner stayed beside our little girl the entire time she was examined. In the tangle of hands and machines, I struggled to see her face, but listening to her cries made me weep.

Before Merle was taken from the delivery room, I was able to hold her once more and nurse her for the very first time. I had no idea what I was doing, but this little life was clinging to my breast, completely dependent on me. I knew at that moment I could never get enough time with her. I feel completely and utterly in love with my daughter, the greatest blessing I have ever received.

The coming days and weeks brought many challenges. From health problems with her and with me to the rocky relationship and uneasy family formed between her fathers side and mine, the experiences we went through after her birth were less than ideal. No amount of obstacles could take away the miracle of her birth and how very happy we were to meet our little girl for the very first time. Happy birthday my sweet girl. May we always remember the majesty and wonder of our first meeting outside the womb. I love you now and always.

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