On November 7th, 2016, I went for an ultrasound to check on my baby. I’d been having issues with my placenta and they were monitoring it to make sure the baby was still getting everything he needed. After the ultrasound, I spoke with the radiologist to discuss the latest results.
“Your placenta is now at Grade 3,” she said. And then she went on to tell me something about overcompensating and getting blood to the brain, but mostly what I remember is her saying:
“It would be my recommendation that you deliver your baby now.”
My heart started to race and my body tensed. What was this crazy lady talking about? My due date wasn’t for a couple more weeks, and everyone had been yammering my ear off about how everyone delivers late with their first babies. I hadn’t yet finished purging crap from my kitchen as the last part of my “throw-everything-out-before-baby-comes” operation. I hadn’t added enough new releases to my Netflix list. I was not ready.
I called my husband and was frantic on the phone. “Some woman I don’t know just told me I should have the baby now, you should probably come meet me in case that happens.” I was mostly half-joking because it seemed so ridiculous, but he came to meet me nonetheless as good husbands do when you tell them you might be close to birthing their child.
I went across the street to discuss the results with my family doctor, who made me feel at ease and said we shouldn’t jump to conclusions yet. My husband arrived and she told us to go across the street (there’s lots of street crossing in this story, clearly) to get a non-stress test (what a funny name for a test you have to get when you’re typically very stressed) and then she’d come by and we’d discuss options with the OB who was on call that day.
I had the test and some time passed, and then my family doc (who delivers babies and was set to deliver mine) and an OB appeared.
“We’ve looked closely at the scans and feel it would be best to get Baby out now.”
They explained to me that the baby could be at risk if we didn’t act sooner than later and then went on to talk about some options for inducing labour and what did I think and what was our decision and…
“Sorry,” I interrupted, “you mean I have to do this TODAY? Or can we at least wait a few days?”
I was told that to prevent any serious complications with Baby, we should act pretty quickly. Unfortunately this meant that my beloved doctor who had been with me through cancer and through everything, would not be able to deliver my baby since she had to leave for a conference the next morning. I was devastated, but I did not appear to have any choice in the matter. We chatted some more and I negotiated and was granted allowance to go home, gather my things, and eat dinner before checking myself into the hospital. So I went home and frantically grabbed things and cried and panicked and ate a big bowl of pasta.
Around 10:00 PM, we got back in the car, picked up my sister, and drove back to the hospital where I checked myself in.
“Hi, I’m being induced for labour and need to be admitted because I’M HAVING A BABY!”
I expected some excitement from the woman at the registration desk, since that’s what happens in the movies and stuff, but she simply made me wait a bit, fill out some forms, and sent me on my merry way.
We made our way up to the labour and delivery floor and were brought to one of the delivery rooms to settle in. I met the resident on-call and OB and was given medication in a not-very-comfortable fashion and had some VERY uncomfortable internal exams that made me scream so loud you probably heard me from wherever you were at the time.
My sister went home to sleep and my husband pulled up the recliner next to my bed so we could get some rest. Unfortunately, it is very hard to rest when your wife is screaming bloody murder the entire night, which is essentially what happened.
The contractions came on very quickly and were only a few minutes apart. The pain was horrendous, but I was unable to get an epidural since my water hadn’t broken, and things needed to progress to a certain stage before an epidural would be on the table. So instead, I just attempted to take deep breaths, and every 3-5 minutes would wail uncontrollably, then try to sleep for about 1-2 minutes, then repeat. At some point I was given morphine, which didn’t really do much except make me feel nauseous.
I stared at the clock and watched the minutes pass, shocked that somehow the entire night had come and gone while I lay there moaning, half-conscious. Suddenly the sun was rising, and new doctors and nurses arrived for the next shift, eager to examine me and make me scream that much louder.
After plenty of confusion and debate between some of the staff, I was finally offered an epidural, to which I replied, YES PLEASE SHOVE THAT NEEDLE IN MY SPINE BEFORE I KILL ALL OF YOU. An angel soon appeared with a very large needle and shot me full of some magical potion that began to numb my lower half. However, the right side of my body decided to be stubborn and continued to allow me to feel the contractions. So I was offered something else that I now can’t remember, to which I’m sure I definitely replied, YES PLEASE. Eventually I couldn’t feel my legs, but still had one spot where I could feel the contractions, and would continue to do so until the very end.
More time passed and the pain continued, but I was so exhausted that all I could think about was sleeping. This proved difficult when the nausea suddenly got the better of me and I began to dry heave, several times. At this point, my mom had arrived, which was very lucky since she’s the person I most enjoy having take care of me while barfing into a bedpan.
More hands being shoved in uncomfortable places, more tears, and very little dilation. So far I was not such a fan of the whole labour thing.
I had been closely listening to the monitor playing the sweet sound of my baby’s heartbeat and noticed it slow down significantly. I started to panic and my sister rang for the nurse who paged the doctor. I was told the baby was still okay and they’d continue to monitor.
Some more time passed and almost no progress had been made. The baby’s heart rate continued to fluctuate. The doctor was starting to get concerned and wanted to give me a different medication that would speed things up i.e. cause even more ungodly pain. Even though I could barely process what was happening, something about this didn’t feel right to me and I asked if we could just wait a bit longer and give nature one last chance to do its thing. The doctor agreed and said she’d return shortly and we could talk about my options at that point. It was now past noon on November the 8th, about 13 hours since the contractions had begun.
Soon after, the doctor returned and poked around some more.
“Stephanie, it looks like you’re fully dilated, so I think it’s time to start pushing and get Baby out.”
We were all stunned, after having been told just an hour earlier that I was still far from the pushing stage. The reality of what was about to happen hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to push a HUMAN out from inside my body. NO THANK YOU.
A bunch of medical staff gathered around me and started preparing their stations. I started to cry.
“I don’t want to do this! Can I just go home? Having babies is stupid, why would anyone ever do this, waaaaaahhhh blerrghhhhh!!!!”
“Ok Stephanie, when you feel your next contraction come, I want you to push.”
“I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PUSH, HOW DO YOU HAVE A BABY, HOW DOES THIS WORK, GET ME OUT OF HERE PLEEEEEEASE GAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”
My husband sat in a chair next to my head, so as not to faint, and my sister stood next to me, cheering me on. And then, I pushed.
“I don’t think it’s working, I don’t know what I’m doing!”
“Good job! He’s coming! We see a full head of hair, wow! Do you want to feel with your hand?”
“NO I DON’T WANT TO FEEL WITH MY HAND, AHHH OWWWWW AHHHHHHHHH BLEERRGHHHH!!!”
“Keep pushing, you can do this, rah-rah, sis-boom-bah!”
“AHHH THIS IS SO CRAZY, WHAT IS HAPPENING, WHAAAAAAAA!!!!”
“Almost there, just one more big push!”
One more big push. And suddenly I noticed the cries I heard were no longer my own, but those of a precious little boy who had just been thrust into the world.
My baby boy.
He was placed on top of my chest, against my skin, against my scars, against my heart. I held him close and I cried. Everything, good and bad, all of it, had led me to this moment.
I looked at my husband and sister, who were overcome with emotion as well, all of us frozen in a sort of shocked state at what had just transpired and at this tiny guy that was now in our lives.
My sister cut the cord, and he was weighed and measured and given back to us to hold and cuddle. We marvelled at his full head of dark hair. My family arrived and everyone took turns holding Baby E and swooning over him, our perfect little miracle.
I have never felt anything like that feeling of holding my baby in my arms for the first time. I could feel the change inside of me almost instantly, my heart feeling as though it may explode into a million pieces. I didn’t yet know what lay ahead of me. All I knew was this tiny, sweet babe had shifted my identity, my very core, from the moment he took his first breath.
At long last, I was a mother.