I was never going to have a standard birth story. Never.
And I suppose the real question became, does any woman?
Where I can’t say that I think any two women have the exact same situation when it comes to evacuating a child from their body, I will say that there is a theme to all the birth stories I heard before I myself evicted my daughter – FEAR. It seems that chicks like to scare other chicks. Maybe it’s a rite of passage, maybe it’s sick humor, maybe it’s the honest and true belief that one woman’s story can “prepare” another woman for her own experience. I’m not here to judge why certain women tell certain stories in a certain manner, but I can for sure tell you, my labor was not like any of the labors I heard/read/was told and for that, I was so grateful.
Hopefully this serves as a motivational and strength building read…if not, I’m sorry…
1/3/2015 – 2:30AM: I woke in a god awful hour of the early morning with what I knew to be as some sort of labor pain. As I was at this point 11 days early of my “dueish” date, but I woke Roy and immediately confirmed in my mind that I was finally having false labor pains, or Braxton Hicks contractions. These are the way the body prepares itself to eventually have labor, and I had yet to experience them, so I was sure that’s what there were and tried to calmly go back to sleep. In between the 30 minutes before I would have another “false labor” pain, I had these crazy dreams and finally got out of bed at around 9AM feeling groggy and bizarre, but in no way panicked or mentally preparing myself for the day my daughter would be born.
11AM: As I had plans for the day, I intended to keep them because A) I like sticking to plans and B) I needed to buy…stuff, crap, just futz to pass the time. So I met my girlfriend at Cost Plus, where we walked around aimlessly trying to pick out a rug and side table for our attic room, and occasionally I would have to lean up on something in the store to pass a “false labor” contraction, saying each time to my friend, “Hey, does this look casual?” and meaning it. Personally, I would be freaked out if I saw someone in labor out and about and didn’t want to scare anyone else over my labor demonstrations.
12PM: With shopping a bust, I insisted that we go get a coffee and ALMOND croissant, and we sat chatting, continuing with contractions, for about an hour. We meandered into a book store, again having contractions that I hoped looked inconspicuous, but with my friend starting to give me the long side eye over the regularity of my “false labor” issue. She seemed to be in the know much faster than I, sneaky girl.
2-4PM: We decided to go to my Mom’s house to pick up a few things and at this point my friend had secretly started timing my contractions as, according to her, she obviously knew at this point I was labor, but didn’t want to say anything to me, because…well…I’m me.
Case in Point: Roy and I had been to the doctor three days earlier for our 38 week check-up and we had a new RN working with us, as ours was on holiday leave.
She did not know me.
She was not used to me.
She definitely did not understand me.
So when she wanted to do a check to see if I was dilated, you know – for informational purposes – she was shocked as hell when I turned her down. HARD. “No, I don’t want you to look at my vagina to see if I’ve started early labor. No, I don’t want you to check me for amniotic fluid as my water may have burst recently. No, I do not care to know if I’m in prelabor”. She kept looking from Roy to me and back again, thinking I was INSANE for not wanting to know, but she had no idea how badly I DID NOT want this information. Why start freaking out over a thing that would eventually make itself known by TERRIBLE CONTRACTIONS and PAIN, like I had read would happen when “real labor” began.
So, my homie knew right away that even though she was SURE I was in labor, she wasn’t about to tell me. Fair point, friend, fair point.
4-6PM: At this point, I was now starting to question what was going on with my body. I had consulted Dr. Goggle, and it was saying the BH contractions weren’t regular and tended to go away, whereas mine were keeping on, and that was starting to concern me. These contractions were now making me sit where ever I was, no more casual leans, and they definitely seemed more serious, if not real.
I called my pregnancy guru, my good friend with 4 kids and asked her what was up. She couldn’t really tell me what my contractions were doing because they didn’t sound or feel like what she was describing as true labor contractions. So, again, I confirmed, that even though this had been going on all day, I was STILL not in real labor.
6-7PM: Shit changed.
Roy became mission control and starting rallying the troops over to the house. He called over my friend that I had been with earlier in the day to watch Kingsley as he was getting all hot and bothered about what was happening to his Momma. He then called my sister, who was our acting Doula, and told her to come on down, this baby was coming. Low voices and secret calls started to give away that he also knew I was in true labor and was making sure we were all handled on our end.
I had decided that my focus point would be the many saved episodes of Downton Abbey I had yet to watch, and would have contractions staring violently at the KVIE insignia and the bottom right of the screen. At one point, I was on the phone with my other sister in Texas, and while having two contractions in our short conversation, listened to her bawl with joy that her little sister would have a baby in the new few DAYS (keep this word here in mind). We all assumed that this was the beginning of labor, and there were going to be many, many, many hours to go.
7-9PM: My doula sister arrives at our house and now we’re having timed contractions of between 5-6 minutes apart which are leaving me to “WOO WOO WOO WOO” through them while loudly blowing out air. At this point I was feeling extremely grateful when I have my break in between contractions – I was starting to look forward to these more than ice cream, donuts, or traveling.
How I can describe them at this stage? Maybe like a terrible period cramp that has a wave to it and when the contraction hits the crest, the rest is a mental game until it goes away. It’s intense, but the in between parts are so calm, it is a breath of fresh air to get rallied to go through until the next one.
At this point, my sister asks me what I want to do with myself: go to the hospital or stay at home longer? We had called the advice nurse at around 8PM, and who, OH SO (NOT) HELPFULLY, told us that since my contractions weren’t 5 mins apart on the dot, (ranging now between 4:30 and 5:30) I should continue to stay home. When I told my sister that the nurse said I wasn’t ready and really, I didn’t want people poking around in vagina any earlier than I had to, we agreed that I would try and make it until 11PM before we should just bite the bullet and head to the hospital.
We then toughed out the next very hardcore two hours.
9-10:45PM: At this point, I was having contractions that caused me to yell out during their duration. The pain was the not sharp in any way, but like the most intense overall dull, bludgeoning pain you could have. “AHHHH AHHHHH AHHHHH AHHHHH”, I moaned as I stared at my new focus point, a light switch across the room of my darkened attic, where I had sequestered myself alone to deal with the pain. At this point, I KNEW I was in labor (ha!) and knew I had to get my game face on. Dealing with the intensity of the contractions was getting the better of me, but I had decided come hell or high water I was going to make it at home until 11PM. My sister did what she had to to keep me chill, and finally put me in a warm bath to relieve some of the pain. We had three lesser contractions in the water and I was feeling so good until I yelled out,
“I HAVE TO PUSH!!!”
You should have seen their faces.
If there was one call a person can make during labor that gets everyone moving and shaking, that’s the one. At this point my contractions were hard and every three minutes, so we had to do everything in stages.
Have a contraction, get out of the tub.
Have a contraction, get me dressed.
Have a contraction, get me to the car.
Right before I got in, I had a great one where I was leaning heavily on my friend, saying, “I can’t do this” and she cooed and calmed me with soft words of support and comfort. That moment will never be forgotten.
I had 4 contractions in the car, of which I held tightly to my sister and yelled, “I HAVE TO PUSH”, which got me the fevered and insistent response in unison from both my husband and sister, “NOOOOOO, we’re almost there, DON’T PUSH!”
11:25PM: We arrived at the hospital and I was that lady who was being wheeled in grimacing and panting in quick labor pains, probably scaring the hell out of the few people who were in the lobby, but I couldn’t care. I was going to have this baby on the floor if we didn’t hurry. We got into the labor and delivery area with me holding my Kaiser card above my head as I was hurried into the triage room. I was still yelling, “I HAVE TO PUSH NOW” while hurriedly, the attending doctor was trying to get a read on my state
Then my water broke.
And when a moment later she examined me and declared that I was 10+ centimeters dilated and I was about to have this baby, the first thing I yelled out was, “NOOOO, my sister told me I get drugs!!!”. It was a pretty hilarious moment. The realization of having the baby still wasn’t occurring to me, as much as not getting the golden, rainbow of drugs that my sister had been telling me the last two hours were mine as long as I got to the hospital. Now, there were no drugs, and not only that, I was apparently about to have this kid with NO NUMBING ASSISTANCE.
I again yelled out, “PLEASE HELP ME, I have to pushhhhh” and was nicely requested to NOT push until they wheeled me to the actual delivery room, where I told them honestly, “I’LL TRY, OK?” I wanted to keep my polite nature, even in the midst of this pushing frenzy.
I had read about this moment so many times before the baby was to make her arrival that I KNEW how terrible and long it was about to be. I knew that I would be in 3 or more hours of pushing torture, and that my whole birth plan that I had laboriously laid out, was going right out the window, just like everyone said that it would.
11:35(ish)PM: In the labor and delivery room, everyone was in a flurry to get things set up since I surprised the hell out of the staff with my dramatic arrival. I got moved to the labor bed and after Roy and Andrea each took ahold of my legs was told I could finally push.
My response took a different turn.
“I CAN’T DO THIS”, I moaned. The idea that I’d have to make this baby come out without any drugs seemed impossible based on what I knew of labor from other women, and I wasn’t prepared for the pain of this moment. But that fear had no place in this room. As one nurse told me, “You just wanted to push and now you’re saying you can’t. You need to push and get this baby out, understand? Now put your head to your chest, hold your breath and PUSH!!”.
And so I did what I had been doing for the last 21 hours…breathed heavily through my contraction.
“No No No”, the staff chanted. “Hold your breath, tuck your chin and push through the next contraction”.
Again, I did my standard breathing.
One more time they told me my instructions, and when the contraction came, I held my breath, tucked my chin and pushed.
It was so satisfying to finally push but the pressure was like nothing I can describe. I knew I was going to have to find my strength in every fiber of my being to do this quick and for real. The second push brought me to state loudly to my growing audience of doctors and nurses, “RING OF FIRE”, which was the realization of where the baby was in her arrival…close to out. This sensation momentarily made me doubt that I could do this at again without help. (If you don’t know what the Ring of Fire is, either goggle it or don’t, depending on how much you want to know…be wary, I’m warning you.) Finally, I gathered whatever power I had saved up and gave on last push la resistance and POP, out Evelyn Ku came.
Just. Like. That.
11:42 PM: Suddenly a red, puffy baby was laid on my chest and my shock that the whole experience was over was so profound and overwhelming, I absolutely could NOT compute what was going on. My sister took a video and I’m literally muttering nonsense on the table, staring of Evelyn, WHO WAS A GIRL, showing my shock and awe.
“I can’t believe I just pushed you out of my vagina”.
“I can’t believe we had a girl. Grandma wanted a girl hella bad”.
“I’m sorry for yelling”.
“Can you believe we just had a baby?”
And suddenly, I was a mother. Roy was a father, and life as we knew it changed forever. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my birth story.
Now we’re on day 11 and I love my daughter more than I even know how to describe. She is my being, my creation. It’s not hard to feed her, or change her. It’s tiring and overwhelming, but the love and understanding I have towards her as a real person is so profound and deep, I could never doubt its sincerity and truth.
I hope you can all meet her one day, she’s pretty special.
So, I hope for those of you who read this, I didn’t portray a super scary moment in my life. I hope I demonstrated that it can be merely a testament to the human female mind and body the creation and arrival of a new life. It’s not a pleasant experience, but that’s all it is, just an experience. To be scared, just adds a layer of nothingness which doesn’t do anything to move along the process but threaten to delay and overwhelm it.
Don’t fall for the bullshit. Don’t fall for the fear.
Just think that you are bringing the best Chanel purse into your closet, or a new Ferrari into your garage. And it’ll take some determination and grit, but it’s totally doable and absolutely, 110% worth it.