The Day The Test Turned Positive

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October 21st, two years ago. It was a Sunday. I got home, looked around for my roommate, deduced she was at the gym, and walked into the bathroom.

It said to wait three minutes before reading the result.

One minute. It was positive .

The first thing I did was curse. Something probably starting with an S or an F. I cursed First Response, for being so accurate and actually telling me 6 days before my missed period. And I cursed my mother for being right. (The women in my family can sense it—it’s our super power—we know when someone is pregnant. My sense didn’t kick in until this year. My mom’s sense for pregnancy, very strong after having two of her own, knew I was pregnant before the test would have even registered it.)

Rewind to the previous week: I had been quite sick. October 15th. It started on Monday, with a migraine. Sometimes migraines make me nauseous. So when I woke up and threw up the next morning, I didn’t think anything of it. I had this fullness, this tight discomfort in my gut, and I was certain it was the stomach flu. Nothing sounded good to eat, and I couldn’t handle the smell of food at all.

October 19th. By Friday, I was feeling a bit better. My mom and I were shopping with my sister, and in Forever 21 my sister pulled me aside and quietly asked if there was any possibility I could be pregnant but was not telling mom. I vehemently said no, and even if there was, a test wouldn’t even give a result yet, I still had 8 days before I was even supposed to start my period.

October 20th. On Saturday, I went to my boyfriend’s place. I was still sick; I don’t remember if we had plans, I just remember all I wanted to do was take a hot bath, something I like to do when I’m sick. We discussed the next weekend, we were going to see our favorite band on Friday.

“Are you excited to see Timeflies?”

“Yeah… but that’s the day I’m supposed to start. So I’ll probably take a test that day.”

“You’re not pregnant.”

“What if I am?”

“You’re not.”

“I know. But I’ll take a test every other day until then, and I’ll know on Friday if I don’t start.”

October 21st. Sunday. The morning after that conversation. I should’ve just taken the test at his place, but I didn’t. I wasn’t exactly a stranger to a pregnancy test, so I knew to take it in the morning—first morning urine would have the highest concentration of the pregnancy hormone. I knew that if you are pregnant, the hormone level doubles every 48 hours, which is why I had planned to take a test every other day. Sunday, 6 days before my missed period. Tuesday, Thursday, and then if I didn’t start on Friday, the test on Saturday would definitely pick up the hormone… if I was indeed pregnant.

Turns out I didn’t need my arsenal of tests. Even though I wasn’t ready to know, I knew. Two pink lines. I had been so unprepared for the result. I was alone, in my apartment, looking at the test and the two lines and the timer hadn’t even gone off yet.

I don't have the positive pregnancy test anymore, but I do still have the box it came in.

I don’t have the positive pregnancy test anymore, but I do still have the box it came in.

Immediately, I wanted to call First Response and complain. I didn’t want to know yet! Then I thought to call my mom and tell her she was right. My brain was racing, my heart too. I got a couple paces away, almost to the bathroom door, turned around and went back to the test on the bathroom counter and checked and that the two lines were still there. They were. In fact, they were getting clearer. I had a brief moment of wanting to just go out and sit on the couch and watch TV and eat breakfast like nothing was different at all. All these thoughts happened in the short span of a few seconds, and I realized quickly that what I really needed was for someone else to see it. To verify it for me. Yes, it’s two lines. Yes, judging by the key next to the result window, two lines indicates pregnancy. I hadn’t even let myself think it yet. It wasn’t real yet.

The only person who was nearby was my roommate. I shoved the test up my sleeve, and marched to the apartment gym to find her. I knocked on the door, and she timidly came over and opened it. (Apparently, I looked like I was upset… and since we only had one key to the gym, and she had it, she had to let me in, and I guess the look on my face was enough to make her question whether she should open the door or not.) Standing in the gym doorway, I took the test out of  my sleeve and showed it to her.

“What does this mean?” she asked me.

“It means I’m pregnant.”

For a couple minutes she went back to the elliptical, and I sat on one of the exercise bikes because I didn’t want to go back to the apartment and be alone again. She tried, but there was no way to get back into her work out after my interruption. We walked back to the apartment. I called my boyfriend. Asked if he would come over, please.

Later, when I asked him what he thought was going to happen when I called him over, he said he thought I needed him to move something heavy, or get something down from a high shelf.

The telling was unceremonious. We sat on the couch. I showed him the positive test. Cue his turn to curse.


Two years later. I see commercials where the wife cutely tells the husband, or I find out about a friend’s pregnancy, and I see their excitement about the test being positive. How thrilled they are. I didn’t have that. I don’t know what that would be like. Everything surrounding my entire pregnancy was tinged with this sense of ‘this isn’t supposed to be happening’. There was never excitement. Even after I decided (7 months later), to keep the baby, there wasn’t an excitement. I didn’t feel like I was allowed to be excited. Because he wasn’t planned. We weren’t married. By the second trimester, we weren’t even together anymore. We were still in school. We weren’t ready. We were too young. We wouldn’t know what we were doing.

There was so much negative. The only positive thing was the test.


I write this blog for two reasons:

1. catharsis

2. to help other women

Many pregnancies—even those occurring within marriages—are unplanned. It can be scary; it can be downright terrifying. Mix that with the sudden overwhelming responsibility, add feeling sick every day, and you have yourself a woman who needs a friend. I want to be that friend. I want to tell you what it’s really like. I want to tell you my story and listen while you tell me yours. I want you to know, it’s okay to feel all these things. I didn’t have anyone close to me who was going through what I was. All the pregnant women I saw were happy the test turned positive. They had been trying. Their husbands were elated to be dads.

This is the Steph You Should Know: it’s okay not to be excited. A pregnancy is a really big deal. October 21st, 2012, is the day the entire trajectory of my life changed forever. I was taking 20 credits, preparing to apply to medical school by the next year, I didn’t want to get married for several years, and I didn’t want to have kids until I was well out of medical school and had established myself as a doctor.

And then, where there should have been just one line, there were two. In another life, on another path, I am currently applying to medical school. I am planning to move to whatever school I get in to. I have the time to work, and I can work the job of my choosing, not the job that works around my baby sitter’s schedule. In another life, I don’t have a “baby daddy”.

But in that other life, on that other path, I don’t have a son, either.

And from the October 21st two years ago, to the one today, I can tell you one thing very, very confidently: I would not change one thing.

When I told Baby Daddy I was writing about the day the test turned positive he said, “best worst day of my life”.

Thanks Baby Daddy, that sums it up perfectly.

Other Moms Will Lie to You

There is this club that I belong to. It’s an all women’s club. Don’t even get me started about all the fees and hidden costs. To become a member is relatively easy, all you have to do make an entire new human and grow them in your own body.

No big, right?

If you are pregnant, welcome to the Mom Club. It’s a wonderful place full of confessions, advice, information, and other people who know what you are going through.

There is a drawback to the Mom Club though…. comparisons, unwarranted advice, and boldface lying.

We all share information with each other. (Ahem, this blog.) Sometimes it is to a complete stranger in the aisle at the store, other times it’s your own mother or sister. One thing all moms in the club like to discuss is labor and delivery. But they don’t tell the truth! Especially if the mom they are talking to is pregnant. I’m going to make up a percentage here, but let’s say about 75% of mom’s lie about their childbirth experience.

It can be as simple as exactly how long their labor was, or whether she cussed as the top of her lungs. Or as complex as how she actually felt to hold her baby for the first time. Whether it is a small lie or a big lie, it still isn’t the real story. So I’m here to tell you the truth—everything I remember—no sugar coating.

IF YOU ARE EASILY MADE QUEASY…. STOP READING.

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THE FACTS:

Labor at Home. I did not go into labor on my own, mine was induced, so I can’t give any truths about laboring at home or elsewhere. Also, my water did not break on it’s own.

I Have What Up There!? I did lose my mucous plug… I hoped it meant something was going to start happening. It didn’t. I walked around at 1 centimeter dilated for a month. It was gross when it fell out, but I knew what it was so it didn’t freak me out.

Bye Bye Personal Bubble. Once you reach the last month of pregnancy—and during your delivery—so many different people will put their hands up your vagina. Doctors, nurses, a midwife or two. You end up not really caring. It also can be very painful when they do cervix checks…. they measure dilation by how many fingers width it is. So… ow. Even worse when it happens during labor. Even weirder when they  say “and I can feel the head”.

The Naked Factor. Triple the number of people—most that you met about one minute before—who have shoved their hands in a very private place, and that is roughly how many will see you naked. And not just naked, but spread open wide. And very, very vulnerable (and undignified). There is a difference between just standing being naked and being naked while delivering a baby. It doesn’t get much more exposed than that.

Getting the Drugs. I have no issue with needles. I got the epidural earlier than I wanted to but the anesthesiologist was about to be in surgery for 2 hours so I jumped on the opportunity. Didn’t hurt at all. The only crappy part was then being stuck to the bed. You have to stay in a reclined position once you get one. Even if I had wanted to move around I couldn’t because my legs were numb…. mostly. I could feel when people touched my legs. If I was laying on my side, then the lower leg would get more numb and the upper leg would be more sensitive. I had to shift every so often to even it out.

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Pleasantly epiduraled and watching Harry Potter. I think we got through 4 of the 8 movies that first day.

The Wait.  I can’t speak for other moms. Maybe 20 hours of trying to birth a baby really did fly by for them. But I was in the hospital for 20 hours until my baby was born, in induced labor for 16, and feeling every single contraction and pain for the last 2 hours. It was a long day for me, especially since it started at 6 am and I never got to eat. By the time they were saying “okay looks like you’re going to have the baby” I was just like…. “now? but I’m so tired.” Which is the story I hear a lot: the mom was in labor for so long, their body working so hard (whether they could feel it working or not), and they were exhausted by the time the baby was actually ready to come out. It’s a long day. Or two. 

I also felt like the hospital stay after baby was born was too long. I actually begged them let me go home a day early. I just wanted to get home where we could be more comfortable and get settled.

The Pain. This, I remember. I distinctly remember feeling the contractions… first just little twinges… and then my entire body was clenched  tight with pain. I had had Braxton-Hicks contractions for a lot of my third trimester; they are nothing compared to the real ones. The uterus is just one huge, massive muscle, and it only gets one show. Or two. Or however many kids you decide to have. The point is, unlike a bicep which flexes for you all the time, the uterus just gets the one shot to show off. And it does.

My uterus took up much of my torso. My internal organs had rearranged and moved aside. That meant my entire midsection was one giant, muscle. Imagine holding your muscles in a flexed state until the point where they shake and then ultimately release. That’s what contractions are, and they only get more intense. The uterus just keeps on keeping on—especially if it’s high on pitocin.

The labor induction drug caused my contractions to come hard, and fast, and without much break. I had 1-minute-long contractions every 45 seconds. I also felt a very different kind of pain, one that the epidural, even after they gave it a boost, could not cover. The pain of bones being pushed to the point of breaking.

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That is what happens when soft baby head meets hard mommy pelvis. Oof. This picture of his cone head makes me cringe, and I’m his mother.

I didn’t cuss, but when I asked them later, they said I wasn’t silently bearing the pain either. I didn’t scream until we reached the operating room, and that was mainly because they had to remove the epidural to give me the spinal block, and you have to sit up hunched over for them to do that…. so I had to hunch over the muscle that was clenching and unclenching and trying it’s damnedest to get a human out of within another human. Sorry to the nurse who was holding me up whom I dug my nails into.

Regarding the c-section, I felt no pain at all.

The next day, I was still having contractions. It’s normal. They aren’t as intense as the labor ones, but they are not comfy either. It’s the uterus clearing out and shrinking back down. I still get phantom contractions. Since I had back labor, I feel my whole lower back cinch up tight and it radiates up and into my belly. Still. It’s been over a year. That might not be very common, so don’t expect it to happen.

Bodily Functions.  I never got to the pushing part, so don’t ask me about pooping during labor. (Or tearing, for that matter.) Any birthing class will tell you that it happens a lot, and they nurses take care of it before anyone ever knows. And with tearing, I know they prefer the mama to tear naturally, because it heals better than being surgically cut.  Not my personal experience. And maybe not yours either, 1 in 3 of you pregnant readers will have a c-section.

I did vomit, though, which is normal. That is why they won’t let you eat until the baby is born. I puked all over myself. Worse than after my 21st birthday and a bit more embarrassing. Also, I was catheterized so I peed into a bag for a day. That part was great, I didn’t have to think about getting up to go pee, finally.

Recovery. The only pain I was completely unprepared for was my empty belly the days following delivery. It just feels… weird. Very tender to the touch and to a lot of movement. Probably because of the uterus, and because my abs were all stretched in funny places and labor is a hard work out. My belly felt like a waterbed to others. Kind of bouncy and lumpy. I wish I could explain how it felt on the inside… maybe it was my organs shifting back into place? I don’t know. It was just… uncomfortable.

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Weird shaped belly a week after birth. Empty and tender.

 


To summarize, labor hurts. It’s painful in ways I hadn’t thought of or even had the capability to comprehend. It’s icky, it’s exhausting, it’s hard. It’s trying, it’s draining….

It’s the birth of my child.

And I think that’s maybe why some of the moms lie, because after everything you go through, you don’t care. You have your baby, finally. It is true that the moment the baby is out all of the pain goes away instantaneously. It’s an incredible phenomena. For some, maybe at that point the memories of the pain really do wash away  and become some distant idea. Not for me.

I remember the pain, and I don’t care. I’d still do it again exactly the same way. I have nothing to compare it to. It’s not like I had ever been in labor before that, so to me, it wasn’t that bad. If it means I get Eli, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I’d like to think that other moms aren’t lying… they just don’t care that it hurt, or that it took for-freaking-ever, or that they were too tired to hold the baby after it was born. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter. Your child is born. How they got here stops being important. You meet them face to face for the first time and know that you would go through it all again if you had to.

It sucks, and it hurts, and it’s not exactly pretty…. but labor and delivery is the most amazing thing humans are capable of. It’s incredible. And after? You’ll feel lucky to have gone through it.

Welcome to the Mom Club.

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Due Dates

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Today. The 4th. Yay America!

But to me now, the 4th will always be the day my son was going to be born.

I loved telling people my due date was the fourth of July when they asked. I got a lot of interesting responses.. “that’s one patriotic baby”, “that baby will come into this world with a boom”, or “every year his birthday will be a celebration!” For me though, I hoped for the 4th because everyone in my family is born on a holiday. I was born on mother’s day, my mom was born on April fool’s, my dad was born on labor day. We have an aunt born on Halloween, my grandpa was born on Valentine’s day. Even one of the family pets had holiday birthday.

Plus, if he was born on the 4th of July we could totally lie to him for a few years and say the fireworks and celebration was for him.

And then he was born on the 11th. A full week late.

I had mentally prepared to for the 4th. That was the day. I tried so hard to go into labor that day. I did all the tricks (they don’t work). Just read the comment that I posted in June:

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It’s like I knew. (And he did sleep through the night sooner!)

And then the status I posted in July:

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The next comment on there is from my sister saying that hashtag is how this whole thing started… Funny, sister.

My son was a week late, and I’m so happy he was. That was the right time for him and the right time for me. Now, if he had been early he probably wouldn’t have almost broken my pelvis and required an emergency c-setion, but I am so glad for exactly how and when Eli entered the world.

Even if you end up going to 42 weeks, I promise you, in the end looking back, you won’t mind a bit =)

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What you should know about due dates:

5%….. thats right, 5 not 15, not 25, 5 percent of women deliver on their due dates. 1 in 20.

It should really be more of a due month, not date. You are considered “on time” if you pop within two weeks  in either direction of your due date. Anytime between 38 weeks to 42 weeks pregnant. Which let me tell you, is so misleading. Because every woman is disappointed when her due date comes and goes, and she’s still pregnant. My advice? Have your mental expectation set at 42 weeks, then anything sooner than that will feel “early”.  If you are pregnant, you are told pregnancy is supposed to be 40 weeks. It’s not. 

(Quick rant: I had a baby bump app on my phone, and it didn’t have anything for weeks 41 and 42. Which I took personally. How dare they stop coming up with facts and info and advice for me just because I should’ve popped last week. It contributed to the feeling like I was not ever going to pop, because I had missed my due date and that must mean I’m unpoppable. Not cool, baby bump app.)

Due dates are not always accurate. It’s getting better, as technology improves. Still, some due dates are not entirely correct. It depends on a few factors, too. Your health, your baby’s health. Family history can play a roll. Mostly though, not every woman knows when the first day of her last menstrual period was, and that’s technically when pregnancy begins. (Not when the egg is fertilized. Sorry to get graphic.)

Those are the facts….

…..And here are some pictures. This is last year on the 4th of July. This is what 40 weeks pregnant looks like.

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The picture on my due date that I like to show people. (Thank you creative shadowing.)

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The picture that actually shows how huge I was on my due date.

 

Baby Kicks

Watch the left of my belly for movement and kicks.

Pregnancy is not always peachy. It is not always this special, wow-you-are-just-glowing! kind of an experience. (In the month of August I will be doing a 4 week series on pregnancy and what it’s really like. One week for each trimester and then postpartum). For now, I want to talk about one element of it. The part that really is so special: Feeling the baby kick.

First, some info:

  1. The baby starts moving around once they have the ability too, which is pretty early. 7 to 8 weeks. Long before mom feels it.
  2. Mom will feel baby kick for the first time around 16 to 22 weeks. Some first kicks are softer, like butterflies almost, others can feel like a jab.
  3. Other people can feel the baby kick through mom’s belly anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months after mom feels it the first time, it depends on mom and the baby. (And how she feels about hands on her belly.)
  4. By a certain point mom will notice baby’s patterns, as baby’s wake and sleep cycles become more evident. Certain things will set baby off on crazy kicks. Mom will be asked to do kick counts, to monitor baby.
  5. Near the end of pregnancy, when baby is running out of room, the kicks can be less intense but will still be regularly occurring.
  6. Pay attention to moves that baby does often, because when baby comes out of mom, you’ll notice them do the same thing.
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Eli’s go to move in the womb. His left foot is the one I thought would break my ribs.

Baby kicks are really not what you read on the internet, or even how other moms sometimes explain it. In case you don’t know what the common comparison is, it’s that feeling a baby kick is similar to feeling gas bubbles move through your gut. Um. No, it’s not. I mean, yes that is the closest comparison. But no, that is not really what it feels like.

When people asked me what it felt like—and I was cranky and pregnant—I would respond, “it feels like another person, with a mind of their own, is moving around as they please inside of my body.” Yes, that is literally what is happening. My tone would very much imply how I felt about them asking me. Take a moment, close your eyes. Really think about it. It’s an entire person, who wiggles and moves whenever they want, for whatever reason they want, with no physical restriction. Babies bones are flexible, so they are super bendy, and they’re floating suspended in their own personal ocean. So they can pretty much move however they want to. They love to explore and test out what they can do as their bodies grow and their muscles develop.

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Eli at 12 weeks. Glad I couldn’t feel those kicks yet; he is standing on my uterus. (Yes, this is also when we found out I was having a boy.)

But of course, never having lived on the outside of the womb, babies don’t quite understand that they are within limited space. I often imagined Eli thinking, “Oh, that’s your rib cage up their? That’s in my way a little. Let me just kick it, and kick it, and kick it, and see if it’ll move. I’d like more room, if you wouldn’t mind.” He had no idea I was sharing space with him. He heard my heartbeat, my voice, and felt my breathing, but he did’t get that it’s because he lived within another person. He had no concept of other people, just this super cozy little world of his.

Do you see his hands? Let's just push on this and see if it moves at all.

Do you see his hands? Let’s just push on this and see if it moves at all.

If you’ve been keeping up with us, you know that Eli is a large baby. He was so strong that his kicks were painful. I was almost certain he would break my ribs. Sometimes it felt like he was bruising my internal organs…. well, let’s be honest, he probably was. There was this move he would do that would push on the nerves that run down to my legs, and my legs would give out on me.

I’m not really painting a pleasant picture here, am I?

Don’t worry, we’re just getting to the good part.

(Where I push, he pushes back. You can see him really throw his weight into it.)

Towards the end of my time sharing my body with my giant, crazy baby, when I was so done, something really, really amazing happened. Something that I think might be a little uncommon: I felt Eli wiggle his toes. It was so much more special than just a kick. I’d felt (and seen) feet, and elbows, and knees, and little fists, but this was so… delicate. How many times on earth do we get to experience something so tender, so innocent, as the first time a baby wiggles their toes? It gave me such a sense of who he was; he must be a content, happy baby if he is spending his time in there practicing wiggling his toes.

This happened when I was past due, and so while it would have been nice to go into labor sooner, it made every discomfort worth it. It took 40 weeks of pregnancy to get to that, 25 weeks of feeling him kick, and lots of moments where he would move and I would grimace in pain, and I would do every single day over again if I knew I would feel that at the end. To feel my baby wiggle his toes from the inside of my womb. Just thinking of it makes me feel so connected to him, so lucky to have experienced him in that way, before he even knew who I was.

The first ultrasound, at 9 weeks, when I first saw him, I remember being so surprised to see him moving. Because I barely even had a bump, and he was smaller than a plum, how could I not feel it? How was this little tiny thing moving around in my own body and I wasn’t aware of it? Then I was lucky, I felt him kick pretty early. Around 14 or 15 weeks. It’s hard to be sure that’s what it is until it happens several times, and I actually felt him roll more than I felt individual kicks, at least as first.

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Every woman and every baby and every pregnancy is really different. So please don’t use my experiences to dictate your own expectations if you are pregnant for the first time and reading this.

But wow, if I could just get back to that moment, where Eli was a part of me and my heart beat for his—if we could relive that moment where he discovered the simple pleasure of wiggling his toes—I could live forever in bliss.

Bonus video! Hiccups!

 

An Unabridged Version of Labor

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Our first day together.

I still have the voicemail my doctor left on my phone at 5:52 am on July 10th, 2013.

She told me to come in as soon as I could, she wanted to see me before 7:00 am if possible. I actually remember it not being very clear to me whether I was just going in for a check-up or if I was going to be induced. I knew my doctor was about to leave on vacation, so maybe she just wanted to see me again before she left and set me up with one of her colleagues. I took my packed hospital bag with me anyways, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be admitted or not.

I was six days past my due date—they’ll let you get to two weeks— and at that point I was resigned to the whole labor process. I felt certain I would never go into labor on my own, my baby was huge (although measuring right on track, which is why they didn’t pop me sooner), and I just didn’t care anymore how he came out. They say that is when you know you’re ready, when you stopping caring and worrying, and instead of saying “I just want to have my baby” you are saying “I just don’t want to be pregnant anymore”. I’d had my hospital bag packed and the car seat installed since 35 weeks pregnant, and now I was almost at 41 weeks. I was so beyond “ready”.

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I sent this to my baby daddy the day after my due date with the caption: still pregnant.

There wasn’t a fear, or a nervousness, or even a butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling. All I felt was an overwhelming sense of “Let’s do this.”

My induction had been scheduled for the night before, but they had to cancel it because the hospital was too full. I blame it on those 50 Shades of Grey books, they created a mini baby-boom. Anyways, a room must’ve opened up because there I was, waddling into the elevator and up to the maternity ward.

I didn’t know when I entered those doors that I wouldn’t be walking through them again for 3 days.

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It happened quickly and slowly at the same time. They got me in a gown, my doctor came in a checked me, gave the go ahead to start pitocin and gave me a rough timeline for the day. I would probably have my baby by the evening if things went smoothly.

I have nothing against women who want to have their babies naturally. You are woman, hear you roar. We are amazing creatures capable of enduring so much. But what you are about to read is why I believe you should at least give birth in a hospital. Drugs or no drugs, at least be inside the hospital.

I had a wonderfully textbook pregnancy. Everything happened exactly as it should. Except one big detail: I didn’t go into labor when I should have. My baby was healthy, I was healthy, but apparently I made too nice of a home in there for him, because he stayed too long. He grew larger than what would be physically possible for me to fit through my body, but we didn’t know that yet.

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So the pitocin (labor inducing drug) dripped into my veins, my water was broken for me, and when I started feeling the contractions at like a 4 on scale of 1 to 10, I got an epidural. (I was iffy on an epidural, I wanted to go as long as I could without one, but once you get to a certain point it is really hard to sit still long enough for them to place it, and it makes things more difficult for you, your baby, and the anesthesiologist. Also, my anesthesiologist was about to be tied up in surgery for two hours). By 1:00 pm, I was numb from the waist down, contracting regularly, and waiting for things to speed up. I watched Harry Potter, I played cards, I got caught up on my favorite TV show. Friends came in and out, family too. It was very relaxed. I had no indication of what was coming,

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Notice their jackets and sweatshirts? I had the AC up on high. Apparently it’s normal for mamas to be super hot during labor and the days following.

Around 4 pm, when no one was in the room with me except my baby daddy, I puked. All over. My gown, the bed, the blankets. He called the nurse and helped me get cleaned up. I was hungry (I didn’t eat breakfast in the rush of getting to hospital that morning), but they won’t let you eat anything solid because so many women throw up during labor. I had tried jello, popsicles, sprite, broth. Didn’t matter. It was all back up now.

My doctor’s shift ended; I met my new doctor. They checked me again, and I was still at 4-5 centimeters. I had been walking around at 1 centimeter for a month, then when I got the pitocin I went quickly to 4-5 centimeters. Then I stayed there. All day.

I was still contracting right along, they got me set up for the evening, and instead of having my baby on the 10th of July, they told me, because of my slow progress, to sleep now and hope for the morning.

Around 11 pm is where I stop remembering most of the details. I have flashes of moments. Seeing the emoticon pain scale on the wall and realizing I’m a 10 I’m a 10 I’m a 10. The anesthesiologist was being paged back in. People were coming in and out of the room and talking over me. My best friend/birthing coach rolled tennis balls on my lower back to help ease the pain. My mom held my hand and I squeezed hers back. The doctor or the nurse or my subconscious told me to focus on a spot on the wall until the contraction had passed. Someone tried to put Justin Timberlake in the cd player because I wanted to give birth to Pusher Love Girl* but I said no, don’t.

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The tennis balls were great for counter pressure and they are supposed to save the masseur’s hands from getting too tired. They didn’t at the level of pressure I was asking for, so baby daddy and best friend switched off. That’s my mom’s hand I’m squeezing, look at how white her fingers are…. sorry mama.

I had gone from feeling the tiniest of twinges when I had contractions to feeling EVERYTHING. They tried to up the epidural—I felt really bad for the anesthesiologist, it was his last day before retirement and it wasn’t his fault I could feel everything. They checked me again, and I was at 6 centimeters but my cervix was starting to swell. The boost in the epidural wasn’t helping. As each contraction grew stronger I knew that my pelvis was going to break.

I’m pretty sure I said it out loud, but in my head I know I was begging for a c-seciton and a spinal. I knew a spinal block would work and stop the pain. And a c-section would get the baby out and that would definitely stop the pain. I was so nauseated at this point I couldn’t open my eyes. When I did I became so dizzy I felt immediately like throwing up. My contractions were 45 seconds apart, and I had no breaks, and my labor was growing more and more intense, but my baby wasn’t getting closer to coming out.

I remember even less. It was maybe 1 am. I was being wheeled to surgery, my baby daddy was somewhere gowning up. Then I was getting a spinal block and digging my nails into the nurse holding me up on the table. Then throwing up again, all over, and someone made a joke about how many gowns I was allowed to go through.**

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Baby daddy took a selfie while he was waiting for the surgery to start…. #abouttobeadaddy

Someone, probably the doctor, asked “can you feel this” as a scalpel was pressed to my skin, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t. But I could’t really move my face to talk to tell him that. My lips were heavy and dry and I wanted water but they definitely won’t give any water to the girl currently in surgery and whose been throwing up all over. My eyes were still shut so I wouldn’t puke again. Someone said that I was going to feel a lot of pressure and pulling and tugging. I think I asked my baby daddy to take pictures of the c-section—I really wanted to see it—but I couldn’t open my eyes and he was not so into the blood and guts stuff.

I don’t remember much, but let me tell you, I could feel it. I could feel what was happening. I didn’t feel any pain, but I felt all the motions. And then I felt the doctor pull my baby out of me, and I said out loud, “Oh, that feels so much better”. I am pretty sure the whole operating room laughed at me. It did feel so much better. Immediately, all the discomfort I was feeling was gone, and the nausea was gone, and a huge weight was lifted. Literally.

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Now that’s a fresh baby. Maybe 2 minutes old here.

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And that, dear readers, is why my baby got stuck and I had to have a c-section. I often get the jaw-drop reaction when I tell people how big he was, and then they look me up and down, and their jaws drop further. “That baby came out of you?!”

The doctor joked that he “made a 5 pound incision for a 9 pound baby”, and the anesthesiologist said “that baby’s as big as she is!”, and my baby daddy was saying “he’s so beautiful he’s so beautiful”, and I was just so glad not to be pregnant anymore. I wanted see my baby but I still was not opening my eyes much because now the exhaustion caught up to me and my eyelids were so heavy.  I asked what color hair he had because that would help determine what we would name him. His hair was dark because it was wet, but some how this connection was not made, and so I said “maybe Luke”.

The first person Eli made eye contact with. His 23 year old mirror, his daddy.

The first person Eli made eye contact with. His 23 year old mirror, his daddy.

My baby daddy held his baby, our baby, our maybe Luke baby. I turned my head trying to see, but I was still numb and stuck on the table while they stitched me up.  At some point I know I asked to see my placenta. It was so cool, but the poor thing was tired and used up. One week overdue and a 9 lb 2 oz baby really beats up a placenta.

My arms were heavy and still too numb hold my baby boy. We wheeled into recovery, it was going to be my chance to hold him finally, well kind of, they put him on my chest and I’m pretty sure I put my arms around him but kept my eyes closed and asked begged for ice chips. We did skin-to-skin for an hour and then baby daddy got to do skin-to-skin for an hour. Nurses monitored our vitals, measured Eli’s head and length.

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In recovery. If this is the first time I held Eli, I don’t remember it.

Then it was 4 am and it was over. We were wheeling back to my room, the room I had just been playing cards in earlier. The nurse was going to give Eli his first bath and baby daddy was going to watch and I kept saying how I wanted to watch but I couldn’t because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was so tired and my eyes were so heavy.

After the bath, we told the nurse to take him. We were so exhausted, and we just needed to sleep. It was just baby daddy and me now. And our baby. Our new fresh, perfect baby. Did you know they still say “ten fingers, ten toes” in the delivery room? Even though we’d already seen all of them on an ultrasound. Anyways, the nurse took my little baby boy out to the nursery. (They don’t usually do that anymore, it’s been found it’s best for the baby to stay in the room with mama and dada). We slept. A few hours went by and I woke up, it was morning. I wanted to see my baby—now that I could actually open my eyes and see— and I paged the nurse to bring him in.

It was the morning of July 11th, a new day, a wonderful new day. At 1:54 am my son had entered the world. After some much needed rest, I was ready to meet him. To stare at him. To ogle him. To fall in love with his face and his soft soft skin and his tiny toes and his strong fingers and his bright, alert eyes. I wasn’t sure how, but in those moments with him, everything was right in the world. That day, and every day since, the world has been a much better place.

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* because the name of the song says pusher, a baby born to JT will be born with a swag rating of 100, and because its a good upbeat song to workout to, and I equated labor with a going for hard run.

**I was very glad for the joking atmosphere in the O.R. If I had gotten to choose to have a c-section and been more coherent for it, I would have been right there with them joking and light hearted. I actually asked at one point while pregnant if I could watch my own c-section, they told me no because you go into shock or something…whatever. How many other times can you talk to the surgeon as they operate on you?! How epically cool.

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