When I found out I was pregnant with Ashleigh, I was terrified and excited all at the same time. If there was one absolute truth I had always known it was that I wanted to be a wife and a mom. I had been a wife for about 6 months, and I was a few months from being a mom too. I had no idea how this whole pregnancy and birth thing worked, other than I knew my body was made to have babies, and it would.
I found the OB who looked best on paper and made some phone calls to set up my appointments and blood work. I knew that a natural birth was what I wanted, but I didn’t understand how different the ideals of this OB practice were from my own.
After an uneventful pregnancy I asked when we would discuss my birth plan. My comment was met with horror and disbelief. WHY would you want a NATURAL birth? That’s why they make epidurals! I quickly considered changing practices, but I felt like it was too late for me to meet new people and become comfortable with them delivering my baby.
At 36 weeks my blood pressure was slightly elevated and at 37 weeks they put me on bedrest. At my 40 week appointment they told me I needed to be induced, because that is how it was done. It was my due date and it was time. I sobbed. I knew I didn’t want to be induced, and no matter how much I tried to express that to the Dr. she insisted. It is your due date, you need to be induced. We will see you tomorrow morning.
So like a good patient, we showed up at 8 AM on Friday March 11, 2005. Terrified and excited. And exhausted. For two people who worked retail, 8 AM was ungodly early.
By 9 AM I was on saline, by 9:30 my pitocin had started, and by 10:30 they had broken my water. I was on monitors, strapped to cords and connected to an IV post. Definitely not what I had envisioned for the birth of my baby. But I perservered. Each contraction became more uncomfortable and the nurses kept offering me an epidural I didn’t want.
One nurse was quite upset that Wes kept getting me new chux pads to sit on. She sternly told me that if I didn’t stop changing them so often I would run out. I remember being frustrated and hurt. I was laboring, on a 4 foot cord, working hard to bring new life into this world and I didn’t feel supported at all.
After hours of pain I allowed them to give me a narcotic via my IV. It helped me relax between contractions, though the pain of contractions was still there. I was scared. And I felt alone. I finally decided it would be ok for the grandparents to come to the hospital, as I knew they were all anxious and things were clearly not going as I had envisioned anyway.
The next few hours are a blur. But at 7 PM they checked me again and told me I was 7cm, so I had about 4 more hours to go. I sat up in bed and said, no. That’s not ok. The Dr just looked at me puzzled. I told her if the baby was born before 11 PM I could go home Sunday, after 11 PM I had to wait until Monday morning and I was NOT staying here until Monday. She assured me that if all was well with me and the baby we could go home the next day. I felt a huge sigh of relief. I just wanted to give birth to this baby and go home. I also was then slapped with the reality that I had been on Pitocin for about 10 hours and I had 4 more to go. I just didn’t think I had that in me. As much as I didn’t want the epidural I broke down and agreed. I was 3rd in line for the anestesiologist. He arrived around 8PM and kicked everyone out of the room. The nurse who was on at the time was amazing. Her name was Rachel, and she held my hands and coached me through each contraction as I tried to sit still for the doctor to find where the needle needed to go. I felt such peace and calm in that moment. I felt supported and the pain of the contractions was no longer bigger than me. Once the epidural was in place they went out and allowed Wes to come back to me. As soon as he opened the door the baby’s heart rate dropped, one nurse put me flat on my back and put an oxygen mask over my face while the other adjusted monitors and told Wes to get OUT. I had no idea what was going on and I was TERRIFIED. Eventually everyone stabilized and they allowed Wes back into the room.
I had a few more peaceful contractions. The next one was a little easier, the next one easier still, but the 3rd one I didn’t even notice, then I felt something COMPLETELY different. It turns out it was her head. The epidural was placed high enough I couldn’t feel the contractions, but I could feel the birth. So it was time to push. They broke down the bed, brought me a mirror, and it was go time. I pushed a few times, they stopped me and gave me further instructions, and then with the next contraction I pushed better. Wes who was afraid of watching the birth stood there over the OB’s shoulder exclaiming with excitement that he could see a head and our baby was almost here. At 9 PM she arrived and the OB exclaimed, it’s a girl! They cleaned her up and handed her to me and I got to hold my baby. It was the most amazing feeling in the world.
It made the rest of the day much easier to deal with knowing that I was holding my firstborn child. The moment of holding her was something I can’t even explain. I held on tight and knew that all was right with the world. She was incredible and perfect and I was going to protect her and take care of her forever.
The rest of our hospital stay was frustrating and annoying, but we brought her home at 8PM the day after her birth. And then all was right with the world.