My baby is going to be ONE. Already. It both seems like yesterday and like a lifetime ago. In a sense it was a lifetime ago, as while Leo was being born I was simultaneously born as a mother. And my new life began with him.
He was not in a terrible rush to come Earth side. The day after Leo's due date my midwife called me and informed me some of my levels had been off(after running tests on his due date after a false alarm of water breaking)and I was showing signs of preeclampsia. She told me to get ready, with my husband to go to the hospital. This was devastating news. I was looking forward to a lovely birth at the serene birth center with zero intervention with the exception of penicillin for my GBS.
I sobbed in the shower, drowning myself with shame and guilt. This was not how it was supposed to be. My ego was assaulting me from the inside. I was saying some pretty nasty stuff to myself at this point. Blaming myself for somehow endangering our son. Like I had control. We made our trip to the hospital. I focused on trying to calm down. I didn't want to have to tell anyone I was in the hospital. I was embarrassed. My birth center plan had gotten plenty of criticism, so the fact that it fell through made me feel pretty guarded about sharing my admittance to the hospital due to complications.
I was seen almost immediately upon arrival. The nurses checked my blood pressure, they attached me to the automated cuff and after the reading was complete an alarm went off. I muttered something about always needing a larger cuff for my BP To be read. My husband looked at me and said "Honey, don't worry about that right now." My BP was 180/110. The doctor explained to me that I had severe preeclampsia. My kidneys and liver were in distress. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby and placenta. Immediately I was hooked up to IVs for blood pressure medications and a triple dose of magnesium to prevent stroke or seizure. My deepest fears were happening, I was in the hospital and attached to IVs, and the next step was to induce labor.
The staff was wonderful and extremely compassionate of my situation. I am so grateful for that, they were committed to maintaining as much of my birth plan as possible. While the main focus was regulating my blood pressure, they began the super fun "ripening of the cervix process" ugh. After some progression, it was pitocin time.
At this point I had only informed my mother and my best friend about what was going on. I was feeling very guarded and private at this time although I nagged Mike to call his mom. My mom and brother came later in the day, knowing that they weren't likely to leave until Leo arrived. I wanted to move around and get labor moving, but had to be mindful of my blood pressure. My best friend Rochelle came later on, brought Mike some beers and gave him a break from my side. She brought a piece of Selenite to assist me energetically(she gets me like that).
They increased my pitocin, and I started feeling the contractions. They weren't too bad, I kept my moans deep and low(thank you Ina May for Sphincter Law!) and dozed in between. One of the lovely nurses noted that my contractions were "quite strong" I hadn't noticed much pain so I was thankful and gained confidence. I dozed in and out between contractions, Ro came and went, mom and Karsten(my brother) were in and out. The magnesium made me drowsy and slightly dizzy, so getting up was always a process. I refused underwear(what was the point?!) and casually went from bed to bathroom bare assed in my hospital gown, often followed by whistles from my sweet husband. At that point I gave zero fucks as to who saw what.
The night was uneventful, contractions continued. The next morning they broke my water which was a bizarre sensation and as many know MESSY. I was bewildered by all the blood and fluids and wanted to get to the restroom to get cleaned up. The nurse came in with me but I was struggled with the IVs and the gooey mess on my bottom half. The nurse was not giving me what I needed(the shift change happened and I was less than thrilled with their demeanor)so I yelled for my mother. She came in and helped me get cleaned up around the IVs. My mother talked with the new nurses and things improved immediately. At some point team of doctors and medical students came in and talked at me about my preeclampsia and spewed all the facts that I already knew. I know they were doing their job, but I didn't need the reminder. The IVs and fetal monitor along with constant BP checks were reminder enough.
Contractions got more intense. I had the shakes....I remembered the description from birthing class. I was getting close. I got lucky and didn't vomit. I was rotating from side to side, Mike was applying counter pressure to my back and hip traction on my command. He is an ANGEL. I was moaning deep, low and sometimes made unintentional chewbacca sounds which was pretty funny. I was rolling with it. At that point I was at 5 cm dilated. I quickly progressed and felt the need to bear down or to put it bluntly I felt like I had to shit. Because that's what it feels like when you're about to give birth, like you have to take a massive shit. I yelled "I'm ready to have this BABY!!! I feel like I. Gonna SHIT!!!" They checked me and sure enough 10 cm. Nobody was ready, no doctor, no team assembled. They instructed me not to push. This was not ok. "JUST LET ME HAVE HIM!!!!!" Was my response.
After an eternity the team was assembled. My brother(he's a photographer, I had asked him to document the birth) was stationed behind the bed, as not to get too graphic of a show. Mike held my left leg, one of the nurses held the other, my mom held my head. At this point I was on a different plane, this I believe was the death of the me that wasn't a mother. It was a surreal, fragmented feeling and for a bit, the contractions took control. I was not focused. Then I heard my mother's voice, she said "Look at your husband, look at his face." I did it and I see Mike's eyes welled up with tears saying "Good job baby, you're doing so good!" Crowning. Burned a bit, I pushed his head out quick and with one more push he kind of "shot" out according to Mike, like a salmon, which is a comical thing to envision. Relief. So much relief, I had pushed him out within 20 minutes. No epidural. I honestly didn't ever feel like I needed one, and it was the ONE thing I have held onto since my "birth plan" went awry.
The doctor it placed Leo on my chest, he was very purple and motionless. They quickly took him away. I asked if he was ok, but was quickly redirected to push the placenta out. Stupid placenta took longer than Leo to come out. I shot my placenta out and hit my doctor directly in the face. She didn't have a mask on, as she came in in a rush. I apologized, but nobody could deny that it was funny. My mom stayed with me for the placenta and she sent Mike to be with Leo, who needed assistance breathing.
My uterus was not contracting properly, I was hemorrhaging more than what was normal because of the magnesium. The nurses proceeded to "scoop" clots out of me as if I was a pumpkin. I screamed in agony. This was the most horrific thing I had felt in my life. I had just pushed an 8lb 9oz baby out of that same space. I remember not even recognizing the sound of my own anguished screams. I just wanted to hold my baby. Then the stitches. I was getting salty at this point, "Just fucking do it!!!" I shouted. And that "numbing" shot is bullshit. After that fun, I got the lovely "uterus massage" which is more like "let's punch your uterus into submission." Finally. I got my son. He was ok and he was absolutely perfect, beautiful and alien all at once.
This last year has been the most intense, joyful, scary, magical and challenging of my life so far. We think that when we become mothers we will be doing the teaching. We hold these expectations of ourselves as to how we will be as parents. The most important thing I've learned is to learn to let go of ALL of it. If you don't, your child or some sort of set of circumstances will. That's how it works. It's imperative to not feel like a failure because you didn't "measure up" to your made up rules as to how you should handle raising a human. There's no real preparation, because you can't predict any of it, nor can you predict your reactions. The person I was before Leo arrived left me in the labor and delivery room. This is not an uncommon phenomenan, many women feel this, I can tell you for a fact that I felt her leave me, and that's ok. All part of the transformation. This is my experience.
Happy Birthday my sweet little boy. You are my heart and the light of my life. Without you, there is not me. Thank you for choosing me as your mother. I love you.