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Monday, May 2, 2016

adeline's birth story.



There’s a sense in which I don’t really want to share this story. Adeline is likely my last baby. Her birth was swift and probably my favorite experience out of all three births, if I had to pick a favorite, and there is a part of me that wants to hold this last birth in my heart, out of the way of eyes I will never to look into. At the same time, there is a sense in which I must share, because sharing with all of you means sharing with my future self, the self that re-reads Elliott & Penelope’s birth stories with a certain tenderness and tear-filled recollection. Adeline may be my last baby, but her birth is every bit worthy of rereading and remembering.

The final days of this pregnancy were hard. I mentioned it before, but my mood had shifted to a dark place in the last trimester. I was questioning myself far too much, feeling unworthy of motherhood, telling myself I couldn’t handle three kids, feeling guilt and shame every time I raised my voice in exhaustion at my two & three year old. In my mind, I was unfit. I was a bad mother. I wasn’t up for the task and all three of my kids would suffer for it. There’s nothing that can really prepare you for the birth of a child and this time, instead of looking forward to Adeline’s birth, I was dreading it. And I hated myself for it.

My husband also needed to go on an important work trip during the last week of my pregnancy, the last Wednesday-to-Sunday sequence in January, his schedule overlapping with my Friday due date. While he was only an hour’s drive away and was ready to receive an emergency call from me at any time, I was pretty mad at the entire universe about it. I told my doctor at my last two appointments I didn’t want to be checked. I didn’t want to know if I was dilated, because I wanted to live through my last days of pregnancy naively, hoping Adeline would wait until her father was home from his trip. Never mind that I had been contracting for weeks off and on prior, I was convinced we would get through the week. Determined! 

Thankfully, even though I was a mean, yelling, and exhausted mama at the end of my resources for a week, we made it through the week alive and past my due date. My husband made it through every important meeting without a call, and came home to two kids and a still-pregnant wife on Sunday evening. I was feeling slightly peeved at him for being gone, even though he couldn’t help matters. The next morning I dropped of the kids at preschool while my husband slept in. I was truly at the end of my rope by then. My kids had chosen the previous week while my husband was away to be particularly difficult. Lots of fighting, screaming, tantrums, hitting, defiance. I think this is where my feeling of being an unfit mother came to a head, and on the way to preschool, there was more screaming and tantrums in the back seat. I didn’t say a word to my kids’ teachers as I dragged them into the building crying, because I honestly couldn’t muster one pleasant thing to say. I just wanted these kids out of my face. When I returned home I crawled into bed and cried for over an hour.
My husband and I had a nice lunch later that day, and the rest of the day I did nothing, except feeling the rise and fall of Braxton Hicks contractions increase in irregular patterns. It was coming. When my kids returned home I gave them huge hugs and cried into their necks, apologizing for all the yelling over the last few days. They pretty much giggled and brushed me off as if they hadn’t noticed. Shoot, they probably didn’t. They were just two & three, they were used to being told “no.”

The next morning, I woke around 7 to some light cramping. Regular waves that weren’t all that painful yet, but a sensation I recalled from three years ago. It was starting. I felt lighter. My mood had lifted. I helped my husband get the kids dressed and announced, with a smile on my face, that that day, Tuesday January 26, was the day. My husband replied with a certain amount of fear and knowing in his voice, but I assured him he could take the kids to preschool as long as he returned home after. While he was gone, I called my mother, and sing-songingly asked her if she would pick the kids up from preschool later. I counted & tracked contractions, but by then they weren’t too bad, and I thought I had a full day to go. My husband returned home at 8 and worked on some emails, waiting for me to say it was time.

By 10 am, contractions were speeding up and becoming more intense. At 11, I showered. In the shower, they suddenly felt so much worse. Sharp, all consuming. I started to groan through them. My husband took notice. I called the hospital and before I knew it I was writhing in pain in the front seat of the car, sucking on a wet washcloth. We arrived at the hospital at 12:30.

The triage nurse checked me in, telling me I was dilated at 5 cm. She attached the contractions & fetal heart monitor to me, but after being there a bit and adjusting the monitors on my belly several times, she mentioned I truly needed to stay still for 20 minutes to track the progress before she could fully admit me. We discussed pain management options and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do yet; the anesthesiologist was in a C-section anyway so I had some time to figure it out. I laid on my side to wait out the twenty minutes of monitoring, and my husband played videos of the kids on his phone for me to watch. Sometime during course of the twenty minutes I decided an epidural was necessary. Why was I putting myself through pain, when it could be easily remedied? The contractions were sucking the life out of me, they hurt, and I just wanted some reprieve. 

After the twenty minutes were over she unhooked the monitors and took me to my room. I walked there, groaning, screaming, hoping I wasn’t disturbing any other deliveries on the floor. My husband went to get a few things from the car and I paced my room for several minutes, gripping the side of the bed every time a contraction hit. My husband came back what felt like hours later, but it was only about 1:45, a little over an hour after we had arrived. A few nurses popped in to take my blood. They assured me the anesthesiologist would give me an epidural as soon as he was out of the C-section he was in, but it was going longer than expected. 

As each contraction hit, stronger, longer than the last, the breaks between them getting shorter & shorter, I gripped my bed with the wet washcloth from home dangling from my mouth. One after another, after another. I felt like an animal. I felt hysterical. I screamed, “I think I have to puuuush.” The nurse gave me a strange look and said, “I should probably check you again” seeming surprised I was already feeling ready. And there I was, dilated to 9. A few moments later, a nurse practitioner came in. A registered midwife, she explained my doctor was in the C-section that the anesthesiologist was also in, and that she would be assisting in the delivery. It was time and I needed to get on the bed. I think that’s when I started sobbing, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this…” over and over. 

The nurses and my husband helped me up on the bed. The midwife asked me if she could break my water, explaining it would progress me even further, and that I could push after that. I hesitantly agreed, feeling unready to be giving birth right that moment. Labor had gone much faster than expected and I wanted to wait it out longer. Before I knew it my water was broken, and I became pushing on my knees as I squeezed the life out of a pillow. Pain that was unwavering, and I couldn’t see the finish line. After being told a few times that it may be easier on my back, I rolled over, pulled my knees to my chin, and pushed. Puuuuuuuush. It doesn’t matter how many times you give birth, pushing never gets easier. Something in me snapped, I wanted a way out. Now. I began pushing even when they were telling me to take breaks, breathe, because I was ready to reach the finish line. I didn’t care if I tore. I didn’t care if I passed out. I wanted to get that baby out! A few pushes later, and the midwife asked me if I wanted to feel her head as I was crowning. I felt a mound of mush between my legs that in no way resembled what I thought a crowning baby’s head would feel like, but the nurse said again, ‘That’s her head. Another push and she’ll be out.” First her head, a few more pushes, her little body. At just like that, at 2:34, little Adeline Love was born.

Adeline was placed on my chest and immediately pooped. She quietly sobbed a bit but overall, she seemed to feel at home in my arms. They weighed her, cleaned her up, and put her back on my chest under a blanket for skin to skin, instead of swaddling her. She immediately started to nurse. I delivered the placenta and they stitched me up at some point as well during this time, but all I noticed was her baby soft skin and my violent shivering from the adrenaline. The attending nurse handed me a menu and gave me a phone number to call: it was time to eat.

My parents picked up my kids from school that afternoon and eventually my husband headed home for the night so they could sleep in their own beds. It was just Adeline & me. For the first time, I ignored the hospital's rule of  "keeping baby in her crib while you sleep," and hunkered down for the night with her in my arms. My night shift nurse maybe checked on me twice, and it is impossible to sleep in a hospital anyway, so Adeline's first night in the world was spent beside me. Babies can't possibly find those clear plastic cribs comfortable, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My last little baby. For a moment I started to feel sad that she was no longer nestled inside me, guilty I didn't enjoy pregnancy more. But there she was. That sweet baby smell, the little gulps and squeaks, the stretching. She was everything I hoped for. The weight of motherhood suddenly felt lighter on my shoulders. A warm embrace. Our family was complete.

See Elliott's birth story HERE and Penelope's birth story HERE.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you decided to write Adeline's birth story down... she is such a sweetie. I have had two babies and it never gets easier... With my oldest I foolishly had a natural birth and swore I wouldn't have another... my second I had the epidural and life was so much better... it was still painful but more endurable... I think we all feel like we are not adequate, we just do the best we can xox

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