My cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby girl today and, naturally, it brought me back to when I gave birth just four months ago. While the details of that day are becoming more and more fuzzy with time, it's a day I'll never forget. I've never felt so much as I did that day—physically and emotionally. I wanted to write it all out for Margot, so she'd know her story, and I simply just wanted to share.
I'm an organizer, a list-maker, a planner; but when it came to this pregnancy, no lists were made and everything was left to the very last minute. In retrospect, I now realize that it was my mind's way delaying the inevitable. For a control freak like myself (who'd never made a doctor's appointment before this pregnancy), being unsure of what exactly that day would bring was such a scary thing, and as much as I wanted Margot to be here and to meet her, putting things off made the reality of actually having a baby less of a real thing.
I did a lot of meditating on the days leading up to her birth, and after some much needed mental preparation, I finally packed our hospital bag. I was ready. Later that night, we watched fireworks from our balcony in preparation of Canada Day. The next morning, my water broke—at 37 weeks and 6 days, little Margot was on her way.
I remember waking up, my shorts and the bed wet, and just knowing it was "'bout that time". I checked my phone to see what time it really was—6:20am—got up and tip-toed my way to the bathroom while calling out to Matt to wake him up. "Babe, hey babe, I think my water just broke." "Are you sure?" "It's def not pee," I answered, as I made may way to brush my teeth and shower. Matt had apparently been Googling "ways to be sure that your water's broken" and had me lay on my side for 20 minutes, then stand up to see if water had "pooled"..."yeah man, you've got a baby on its way." I lay in bed as he called our OB to let her know, but because it was Canada Day, the office was closed, so he called the hospital to ask what we should do. They told us to come in right away.
We got to the hospital at around 8:30am. We were placed in an assessment room where I changed into a hospital gown and a nurse hooked me and the baby up to a heart monitor. She also checked to see if the fluid coming out was indeed amniotic fluid...yup, it was. She later came back in with the doctor who introduced himself, checked how far along I was (4cm dilated), and advised that an induction vs. waiting it out would be the way to go, as I hadn't felt any contractions up to this point. Matt and I agreed, and around 9am, the nurse hooked me up with an IV of oxytocin (the drug that gets things moving...and yeah, it got things moving) and we waited. I asked the nurse how I would know when I was having contractions. "Oh, you'll know."
I didn't really have a birth plan going into it. The only thing I was certain about was that I wanted an epidural. My contractions started at around 10am and were totally bearable...I was eating cookies and making jokes with Matt between each one. I don't really remember an in-between stage of pain...it went from eating cookies to unbearable pain. I was ready for an epidural. Unfortunately, all of the delivery rooms (the only room that the epidural could be given) were unavailable. The contractions at this point were super intense...all-consuming. But I lay there, doing my best to get through them, hoping it was my turn for a room. I repeatedly asked Matt to find out when a room would be available because I knew the baby was coming soon. I don't think the nurse realized just how soon, but she finally came in with a wheelchair to shuttle me off. It was noon.
The following 25 minutes were a blur. I was having a contraction as I was wheeled in, people were asking me questions to which I don't remember my responses...all I heard was the delivery room nurse saying, "OK let's get you an epidural." I was asked if I wanted to go to the bathroom (after you've been given your epidural, you can't go again) so Matt brought me. By the time I was able to sit down I was having another contraction, this time paired with a heavy bearing down, a pain and pressure so intense and unbearable, I let out an uncontrollable shriek—a sound I didn't know I had in me! I'm not one to show any sort of vulnerability, but at this point, I can assure you that all guards will be quickly let down...mine definitely were.
The nurse asked me if I felt like I needed to push and I wept as I nodded—I knew it was too late for medication and I'd have to do it on my own. She examined me and the expression on her face confirmed my fears—"I'm sorry sweetie, but I only have time to set up for a delivery." I was terrified, as I hadn't mentally prepared myself for ANY of this. But a switch went off. I'd already been through this much and I only had so much more to go...I was ready. Scared, but ready. The nurse was setting up around me as my contractions to push came and went. She coached me through each one as I looked to her for strength; Matt by my side, speaking words of encouragement. I pushed as hard as I could—I'd never been so determined in my life. I told myself that there was no way I'd be here for any longer than I needed to be. I wanted this baby out NOW. The doctor showed up, I gave two final pushes, felt an instant release and heard her cry. It was 12:25pm.
She was immediately placed on my chest while Matt cut the umbilical cord. I held her as she cried, shushing and comforting her—something that felt so natural and innate. The outside world became a blur as her cries quieted and she opened her eyes. She watched me as I familiarized myself with her tiny, perfect face. She was taken away for a moment to get measured and weighed—19in, 7lbs 3oz—bundled up, then given right back...and she was ours.
We watched and held her all day and into the night. I couldn't sleep at all during our one-night stay at the hospital (I didn't sleep until the second day we brought her home)...all I wanted to do was to keep watching and holding her. She was real and perfect and here.