one week (and a birth story)

>> 7.08.2011

(This was supposed to be published yesterday, but I got sidetracked, so it's going up a day late. Oh well.)
My baby is one week old today.
I cannot believe it.
I've already got "bittersweet momma" moments going on as I realize that he looks different than he did a week ago--his cheeks are filling out, and he actually put weight on after being born instead of losing it, like most babies.

Words cannot describe all of my feelings about being a momma.
There are so many emotions wrapped up in this small, 7lb, 14 oz baby boy that I'm not sure I could even begin to dissect them if I wanted too.

Suffice it to say that I did not know it was possible to love another person so completely, simply because they exist. Not only that, but all of those fears I had about meeting my son and wondering who he was going to be have faded into the background as I look at him and realize, "I know you." There are moments when I feel like my heart is going to explode because I am so overwhelmed by him and everything he means. He is the most tangible answer to prayer I have ever gotten, and I feel so blessed and so unworthy all at once.

*Disclaimer: birth story to follow. If you don't want the details, it's probably a good idea to stop reading. I won't be offended, I promise. :)

On June 28th, when I was six days overdue, my midwife came over to do another check and see if I had made any progress. I had been examined four days earlier and was pretty much closed tight, with the outcome looking kind of grim. She let me know that an induction would be scheduled, but only until I was fourteen days overdue (unless there was a medical reason that we needed to get that baby out).

So, when she came on that Tuesday, I was preparing myself for more bad news, and had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it was looking like I had an induction (and two extra weeks of pregnancy) ahead of me. However, when she performed the check, she found that I was 2cm dilated, 50% effaced, and Jameson had moved his head all the way down (even though he was still back-to-back). She performed a membrane sweep, and said that she would hold off on scheduling the induction because she felt like, "This ought to get things going."

A few hours after she left, I began having some irregular contractions that lasted throughout the rest of the day, all that night, and into Wednesday. Although I was getting excited, I also knew that this was called the "latent phase" of labor and could last anywhere from 24 hours to a week. By Wednesday night, however, my contractions were becoming a bit more painful, and a bit more regular. Hubs and I went to bed around midnight, and at 12:30 am, I started to feel this little trickle of liquid coming out, but being the people-pleaser that I am, I didn't want to let anyone know that my water had broken until I was sure...I think I ran into the bathroom about four times before I was convinced that I wasn't just accidentally peeing myself. When I decided that, yes, my water had broken, I got in the shower while Hubs went and woke up my parents to let them know that we were going to head to the hospital.

By the time we got into the labor ward, my contractions were getting stronger and much more regular than they had been. However, the midwife on-call decided not to do a check because she didn't want to introduce an infection, so she told us to go home and come back when my contractions were 2 minutes apart for at least an hour. But by the time we made it home, my contractions were a minute and a half apart, and coming on strong. Hubs put the TENS machine on my back, which helped for a bit, but about fifteen minutes after we got home, we decided that it was time to head back.

This time around, we went straight to the delivery suite, where the midwife on-call checked and found that I was 3-4 cm, which equaled active labor. I asked to labor in the birthing pool, and somehow managed to crawl in about 45 minutes later. Half an hour after getting into the water, the contractions were so strong that it literally felt like I was being ripped apart from the inside. I threw up from the pain, and began to panic--I had only been in active labor for an hour and a half, and there was no way that I was going to be able to make it through another few hours with contractions like these (or worse). The gas and air that I had planned on using to help me cope was doing nothing except to make me more nauseous than I already was. I started saying, "I can't do this. I cannot keep going like this. I need drugs. I want BIG drugs." The midwife tried to calm me down, saying that I couldn't have an epidural until my dilation was checked again, but they had a policy of not checking before four hours had passed from the previous check. She offered me some codeine, which I took, but knew that it wouldn't kick in for at least a half hour.

By now the panic was overwhelming and I was getting desperate. I could feel a lot of pressure, and (what I figured) was the sensation that I needed to start pushing. Hubs suggested that I have the midwife check how far along I was, even though it had only been an hour and a half since my last check, just so I could get my own bearings. So, although she didn't think that I had made much progress, she agreed to take a look. I managed to get out of the pool and back into my room, even though it seemed almost impossible to move. The midwife checked my progress and, come to find out, I was 9 centimeters. Yeah. 9. (No wonder I was panicking...I was going through transition and didn't know it.) Clearly surprised, she tried to reassure me with the fact that I was going to have a baby soon, and (unfortunately for me) drugs were not an option any more. With every contraction, the need to push got stronger, but I was told to breathe through it and fight that urge as much as possible. I needed to dilate to a 10 before pushing Jameson out, otherwise swelling could occur and that would make pushing him out that much longer (and more difficult). I asked when I would know that I could start pushing and she said, "When your body won't let you hold back anymore. Your body will take over and you won't be able to stop."

The back of the bed had been raised, and I crawled on top of it with my arms thrown over the back, in a kneeling position. Eventually, I started to push and couldn't stop. This was the stage that felt like forever, as I could feel his head moving down sloooowly with each push, but after I physically couldn't keep pushing, he would move back up. It felt like I was making absolutely no progress, and even though I knew that it was important for him to move down slowly in order to stretch everything out, it was frustrating. I finally felt him move down and stay there even after the contraction had finished. I knew his head was going to come out soon, and I geared myself up to push harder than I ever had. The next contraction hit, and the amount of energy it took to push his head out was unreal. It's almost hard to explain--it was a superhuman moment where I am sure that the Lord helped, because there was no way that I did that on my own.

After I felt his head come out, I tried to wait for the next contraction, but the delusional thought in my head was "I can't just leave him hanging there!" and so I decided to just push the rest of him out. It was almost like he slipped out on his own, and the midwife kind of jumped up to catch him. I had only been pushing for a half hour, but it felt like eternity.

After he was out, I started saying, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh." I picked him up off the bed, slippery and crying, and thought to myself, "Who is this little person that just came out of my body? I don't know who you are!" I stared at his face and couldn't believe that this was my son. My son, that had just been inside my body five minutes earlier. He looked just like his dad, and the first thing I said to Hubs was, "He has your nose!" Jameson only cried for a few minutes, and (after pooping all over me) we just stared at each other. The midwife left, and it was just the three of us in that little room. My two guys. My family.

--------------------------------

Although I spent most of my pregnancy trying to prepare myself for a natural birth, I don't think that there is anyway that I could have known how I was going to react until labor began. I truly did not want an epidural going into this whole thing, but by the time I hit transition (the puking and panicking stage) I was ready to try anything. 

To be honest, I felt like a bit of a failure asking for one, since I had just spent the last nine months gearing up to do this without pain relief, but I knew that (had I not actually been 9 centimeters) there was no way that I could have made it through another few hours with contractions as strong as they were--I was physically and mentally exhausted, and it was more important to me to get Jameson out safely than to save face. 

All of this to say, I think I'm grateful that everything went as quickly as it did, even though it meant that the pain became so intense so fast. It was only seven hours from my water breaking to actually pushing Jameson out, which is pretty unheard of for a first-time mother. Giving birth naturally is an experience I would not have wanted to miss, and I think my recovery has been quicker because of it. However, I understand completely (and have no judgment against in any way) why women opt for pain relief. Childbirth is something that words literally cannot describe and no one can prepare you for until you're actually going through it.

So there you go. 
If you made it all the way, thanks for hanging in there. 
This past week has been the biggest journey of my life, and we are simply getting through it day by day. 
I am a happy woman, a blessed woman, and every time I look at my son, I am overwhelmed with the fact that God chose to let Hubs and I take care of this beautiful boy.

The end.

5 thoughts:

Rach July 8, 2011 at 6:27 AM  

Beautiful story, Cami! It sounds like it went surprisingly fast for a first time labor (after you got done with all that annoying prodromal labor stuff). I'm glad you are loving motherhood!

Dan Boal July 8, 2011 at 6:59 AM  

Loved reading your story. It truly is an experience like none other! Glad you and Baby Jameson came through healthy and strong! =)

-Amy Jo =)

The Winkler's July 8, 2011 at 10:54 AM  

awesome story! you are an amazon woman! 7 hours!!!? That is forgeign to this mama! He is sooo perfect and handsome! Congrats!

Laura July 8, 2011 at 12:12 PM  

I loved reading your story, Cami! I can't believe you had such a short labor, that's amazing! Jameson is just perfect :)

Bex July 13, 2011 at 10:00 PM  

Thank you for blogging your story. Pregnancy is such a mystery to me, it's so great to read such a beautiful story that is so real. Congratulations!!

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