The Great Battle of Labor

Almost 40 hours and one intense, joyous moment later and I had a little baby laying skin to skin on my chest. Let me preface by saying that this was the most incredible experience of my life and thinking back to it makes me tear up with joy.

I woke up very suddenly in the morning after only 3 or 4 hours of sleep (partially due to playing some World of Warcraft through the late hours). I had already started maternity leave, so I could have easily slept in, but my guilt got the better of me and I decided to stay awake to get my checklist of to do’s crossed off. I kissed Hubby goodbye at 6am, took my pre-natal vitamins and started reading my RSS feeds while drinking my tea. Then it hit me–why was I up? I hadn’t gotten sleep all weekend and the entire summer had been extremely busy, so I could easily go to bed and allow myself some time to sleep in.

I left my half cup of tea, clicked the button on the speakers to shut them back off and went back to the bedroom. I looked forward to getting under my comforter in my cool room and was already looking forward to the following weekend, where Hubby and I could catch up on sleep and finally read all those parenting books.

I literally rolled my huge belly into bed, pulled a pillow between my legs and suddenly knew something was imminent, but in that moment, I wasn’t completely clear what it was. Almost immediately after laying down, I had a feeling like I needed to hold in whatever was going to happen and get to the bathroom immediately.

Frantically, I jumped and ran to the bathroom and water poured out of me. And, it kept going. In the movies, the water breaks and everyone gets excited the baby is coming and that’s it. That’s not how it is in real life. The water keeps coming and it did, almost all day. Also, in real life, most women get contractions before the water breaks and they’re in the hospital when the water breaks. I was in that group of the small percentage of women where your water breaks and later, you get contractions.

I called Hubby who was able to get out of work by lunch time. I called my parents and my mom was able to get on a flight that day. I started finishing my to do list because these were the last moments to get some stuff done before great changes were to come. I started replying to emails I had meant to reply to, I started cleaning, filing away papers, looking through the parenting books. When I think back to this, I wonder if other people go through the same thing?

In the midst of this, I felt cramping; however, I’ve always had super painful cramps, so I wasn’t sure if the pains I was feeling were contractions or not. When the afternoon hit and I wasn’t crying out in pain, I decided it was time to start the things that stimulate contractions. Hubby took a walk with me, we did crouching, bought castor oil, did an enema and I started feeling more violent cramping.

At one point, I realized that I hadn’t had a chance to go to confession and I really wanted my son to be born with my heart being completely pure, so I walked over to The Church of the Epiphany and asked Fr. Andre for a confession. He had already heard that I was in labor, so he asked if it was a false alarm and I told him, “Nope! I’m in labor right now!”

You might be wondering, why I wasn’t in the hospital–my water broke. Well, I was told to not come to the hospital unless my contractions were three minutes apart, lasted one minute, and were like that for one hour straight. I didn’t want to go any earlier, since it isn’t as comfortable or clean as my home and I had read all this stuff about why it’s better to wait to go to the hospital. At home, I could sit on the ground, drink all the water I wanted, walk barefoot, and play some Franciscan Friars or Andrew Bird loudly.

When my mom finally got to New York from Chicago, she couldn’t stand me being in pain and kept begging me to go to the hospital. I kept trying to explain, whenever I could speak normally that these days you don’t go to the hospital unless you are 5-1-1 or 3-1-1 (timing of contractions). When my mom was in labor years ago, it was very different-she went to the hospital right away and her husband wasn’t allowed to be there with her. Different times.

The worst part of it all was the lower back pain. It was excruciating. I was really lucky to have a goid delivery partner, which helped immensely; however, no matter how much Hubby rubbed my back and pressed massage tools into it, I didn’t feel the relief I thought I would. At around midnight, when I had one of those contractions that made me keel over and I moved around the room, trying to hug everything to make it go away, I decided it was time to listen to my mom’s pleadings with me.

The cab ride was hard to take-I thought I would never get to the hospital. Then, I waited at St. Luke’s Roosevelt in the waiting room for an hour before I was taken in. A Jewish woman who was having her eighth child let me go before her because she had so many children that she didn’t have to do intake, she immediately was put in a room and a doctor was called. I’d like to know that secret, but I assume after 8 kids, you know all the secrets.

The hospital was not fun. Almost immediately after I had gotten there, I wished I had held out longer. I was more nervous about the needles than I was about my contractions, so I was very upset in the hospital. I threw up when an IV was put into my arm for the second time. Luckily, Hubby grabbed a bucket quickly, so it was fairly contained. I was so unhappy that I was only allowed to chew on ice when I was dying of thirst and I knew my doctor was the type that allowed food and water. Nurses, doctors and midwives poked and prodded inside of me and I was exhausted and excited to see my little boy.

It’s there that a wonderful midwife named Danielle, showed me nipple stimulation, which put me in a conundrum. I knew I needed to contract to get the baby out and that the longer I took, the closer it got to the possibility of an infection and cesarean section, since my water had broken around 24 hours ago. When I would stimulate the nipples, the contractions were vicious, so I didn’t want to continue stimulating, but I also wanted a safe delivery. It was very bizarre to be in a position where I had to inflict pain onto myself.

Once 30 hours of labor had passed, I was so exhausted, I just kept praying and praying that he would come out as quickly as possible. At around 36 hours, I knew it was time because I felt this very strong pressure.

At one point during my 35 minutes of pushing, the midwife told me to reach down and feel my son’s head. I was so surprised to feel a full head of hair. I looked at the emotions on my mom and husband’s face. I would close my eyes and push, push, push and then breathe. Then, repeat as soon as the two midwives, Sandy and Danielle, would tell me to go again.

Then I heard my mom gasp , my husband take a deep breath and Danielle say, “Open your eyes!” I had pushed so hard that I had my eyes tightly shut. As I write this, tears are running down my cheeks just thinking about his birth. It was simply the most intense experience of my life.

As soon as he came out and they put him on my bare chest, so I could feel him and he could feel my heart. What the two midwives and nurses did was a blur after that. I remember some sort of shifting, wiping him down, testing him, talk of the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck, but all I can remember is holding him, crying, shouting, “I love you, I love you so much!” I remember the midwife asking me what his name was and me saying, “Sebastian,” and being told I did a good job pushing. I remember looking up at my husband, seeing his genuine happiness seeing tears in his eyes and I remember him saying, “He’s beautiful.”

My First Photo with Sebastian

Why is it that moments like that go away so quickly? After that, I kept staring at him as he was weighed in the room and I started getting stitched up. I am not keen on needles and I had to turn away from the hook needle that was being placed in me. I just kept staring at him.

I was in this unbelievable euphoric state. I had heard people go through that when they give birth, but I didn’t realize how incredible it would feel!

I couldn’t believe what had happened and that God had given me this beautiful child. My own child.