So I’m not pregnant anymore, which is weird because that means I HAVE A BABY. LIKE, AN ITTY BITTY HUMAN. AND THEN THEY TOLD ME TO TAKE IT HOME.
Let’s just run through the last few weeks of my pregnancy, shall we?
37 Weeks Pregnant
At 37 weeks pregnant my friends and family threw me an awesome robot themed baby shower where I ate a lot of waffles and received a lot of awesome presents. It was Christmas/New Years around this time and my sister was in town as well so I never got around to taking a belly shot. Here’s a picture of me at my shower though.
And here is a festive picture of my sister and me making flipper hands in front of the Christmas tree. Just… don’t ask.
38 Weeks Pregnant
I started feeling kind of off around this time: getting randomly nauseated again for no apparent reason, etc. I cleaned and organized a couple things, which is highly unusual for me. I was hoping I would go into labor before my due date of January 15 and had a sense that I would, though that intuition was based on absolutely nothing except for maybe the fact that I was tired of being pregnant. I was fully prepared to go past my due date though, since that’s pretty common with first time moms.
Here’s the last belly shot I took: 38 weeks pregnant. I was 39 weeks pregnant for about a day so I didn’t exactly get around to taking that picture because I was busy having a baby.
You should probably stop reading this now if terms like “mucus plug” and “cervical ripening” make you queasy. As I said when I lost my mucus plug, (see? It’s beginning already) pregnancy is full of all sorts of new, exciting, and disgusting bodily fluids.
39 Weeks Pregnant -- Birth Story
On Tuesday, January 8, I went in for a routine 39-week midwife appointment. My midwife that day offered to check my cervix for the first time and I accepted, halfway hoping she would be like, “Oh look, you’re crowning and in no apparent pain at all!” And I would be all stoic, like, “Oh? You don’t say. Quite. Let’s have some tea and then have a baby, shall we?”
I don’t know why I’m British in that fantasy.
Anyway instead, I was 1-2 cm dilated and a smidge effaced. We thought I probably wouldn’t go into labor immediately but probably wouldn’t be overdue either. Acceptable options, I felt. However, before we left the midwife joked that all her patients she checked the week before all had their babies the following weekend so maybe it wouldn’t be so long after all. Har har!
So, I blame the midwife with magic labor-inducing hands for what happened next. I woke up shortly after 3 am that morning to pee and as I attempted to hurl myself out of bed, I felt a small gush of fluid. I froze. Either my water had just broken or I had peed myself. Neither were very appealing options at the time. I decided to ignore the contractions that immediately started because I was definitely not in labor, right? RIGHT?
I couldn’t fall back asleep.
I got up and started timing the contractions, which were something like 5-8 minutes apart at the time and lasted about a minute. Around 4 am, I decided to wake Joe. I called the midwives and the soothing Australian midwife was on call, which was very, you know, soothing. I filled her in and she listened to me have contractions, which I could no longer talk through. She thought I was indeed in labor and told me to take a shower and call her back when my contractions were a little more regular for a little longer.
I took a shower while Joe frantically bolted around the house gathering all of our things. My contractions were getting stronger and suddenly I couldn’t remember why I wanted to have a natural birth. I started repeating my upbeat mantra of the morning, “I don’t know if I can do this!” Joe called the midwife back to let her know that we were heading over to the birthing center. I entered delusional birthing land around this time and became very preoccupied with brushing my hair while Joe paced around me, confused by the ease with which I was able to acknowledge the need to leave without actually moving at all. Joe finally convinced me we had to go and I reluctantly got in the car, though not before throwing up. Being in delusional birthing land, I wasn’t all that bothered by it. Nor was I surprised, as I knew many women throw up during labor. Since my stomach hates me anyway (see: an impressive eight months of morning sickness) I assumed I would be one of them. Tragically, I was very, very right about this.
Soothing Australian midwife met us at the birthing center and checked me again, where I was now 3-4 cm dilated and 75% effaced. I was having baby today, WHAT? And then I threw up again.
My sense of time is pretty much completely destroyed at this point but I do know I spent a lot of time laboring in the shower, which felt excellent. Or at least more excellent than not being in shower, since it didn’t stop me from telling Joe and the midwife, “I don’t know if I can do this!” about every 3 seconds. Soothing Australian midwife kept telling me (soothingly, naturally) that I was ALREADY doing it. Yes, I thought, but it SUCKS SO MUCH.
Baby then moved in such a position that caused me to have back labor instead, which was harder to deal with somehow. Suddenly I would trade anything to have my crappy regular contractions back. The midwife coached me through several different positions to help reposition the baby and eventually something worked and my crappy regular contractions returned instead. Yay?
By this time it must have been a more reasonable hour in the morning (Joe interjects: it was 8:00 AM) because another midwife came to take over. She continued to coach me through some different positions to labor in and I returned to the shower for a fair bit. She checked me a couple more times and while I was making good progress, my bag of waters was still somewhat intact and preventing the baby from coming down as quickly as he could. She asked if she could break my water completely and though I was nervous that things would get more intense, more importantly I was like HAVE THE BABY QUICKER? YES PLEASE DO IT NOW THANKS.
Somewhere in there I threw up a couple more times. Thanks for the encouragement, body. Luckily someone had left behind a lemon-lime flavored Gatorade at the birthing center because the red Gatorade I had brought along was less than appealing after I threw up it up multiple times.
I felt the urge to push shortly after she broke my water (Joe interjects: it was 11:30 AM) and got in the birthing pool for awhile. And then things got a little complicated. Baby was descending slightly cockeyed (asynclitic), with his head leaning towards his shoulder. This made pushing really hard for me. I ended up pushing for around 4.5 hours and pretty much exhausted the midwives' bag of birthing tricks, I think. Which makes it sounds like they were going to pull my baby out of a top hat, but you get my drift.
Ideally, I wanted to give birth in the birthing pool but the lack of gravity was actually making things harder. I was coached through every strange position imaginable including one called “the duck walk” which is so ridiculous that when it was demonstrated in our birthing class, I turned to Joe and said, “We are so not doing that.” Well, guess who duck walked naked through the birthing center while silently plotting how to kill the midwife who suggested this?
Eventually all the ridiculousness paid off and at 3:52 pm on January 9th, Theodore Isaac finally entered the world. All 7 lbs, 19 inches of cone-headed baby was immediately placed on my chest and left to chill there for a couple hours until they did his newborn examination, which he passed with flying colors. I knew he would be gifted.
You will not be seeing the other pictures of me immediately after giving birth because I look like a train wreck. A happy, sleepy train wreck.
And yes, jokes aside, I’m really glad I did it naturally. Honestly it was hardest for me in early labor and then my body must have really kicked up the endorphin production because it didn’t get much harder to handle from there. Eventually I stopped saying, “I don’t think I can do this” because, as the midwives said, I WAS doing it. You surrender to your body and it just knows what to do, which is pretty incredible. Which isn’t to say I didn’t have anything to do with it either, because it was hard work, damnit, and I want my credit too. Obviously pushing for hours was not exactly how I envisioned things going but it felt so much better than the contractions. I can’t imagine having an epidural and trying to push like I did. If I were in the hospital under the same circumstances, I can easily see myself ending up with a caesarean. I’m proud of myself and proud of my body.
My little niblet’s head is rounding out nicely and he breastfeeds like a champ. He also excels at peeing on everything. Like I said, he's gifted. And we love him.