Wow. So I made it here to my very first blog post. I think the best way to start this blogging thing is to share my birth stories with you and how I ended up where I am now.
Long long ago, when I was pregnant with Harper, I sat on my bed telling my husband I wanted a C-Section. I decided that my husband had a big head and therefore our baby would have a big head and you know, women can’t birth babies with big heads, or so I had convinced myself. This pregnancy came amidst a very stressful time in my life, my parents were in the middle of a not so peaceful divorce, and we were living in a very unfinished home. I think I subconsciously was needing to have control over something in my chaotic life, fortunately I met some people who changed my mind.
I was breastfed as an infant and I remember my mother talking to me about it when I was younger. The notion of feeding your child with your own body had always been normal to me and I wanted to do that for my daughter. Through a convoluted unimportant chain of events, I landed myself 8 months pregnant at a breastfeeding meeting at a midwives office. It was there, after a few meetings that I realized I was in the care of the wrong hands, and that my birth plan was ridiculous (trust me it really was! I didn’t even want Stephen to see her come out). After one of the meetings I spoke with the midwife and asked if she would take me on as a patient this late in pregnancy. To my surprise she agreed!
I woke up one morning, about a week away from their due date and one day off of the due date I made up, with severe back pain and light cramping. I sat in bed and timed the contractions, they fit the 5-1-1 criteria. I texted my midwife to let her know and she urged me to stay home as long as possible. What does that even mean when your having your first child? My husband, that sweet caring man I married, jumped in the shower before me. Thanks babe. I then had my shower and we got our things together to head to the hospital. We arrived after an annoyingly painful drive and waited for my midwife to get there in order to be checked. 4cm. WHAT! Hey whatever it freaking hurt. She let me stay in the waiting room instead of admitting me so that I didn’t have to be confined to a bed. I checked in at 7am. My natural birth plans went out the window. My back pain was pretty intense, it actually was so painful that I realize now it superseded any contractions I had and in fact the only thing I could feel was major back pain. I had nice nurses offering me epidurals hourly like it was some type of candy or whatever. One was so sweet, she came in to tell me that if I didn’t get one now that I would have to wait because the anesthesiologist would be busy. How thoughtful. Not. I caved and had my epidural in by 10am, it barely hurt. My progress was slow and frustrating, the epidural didn’t take away my back pain at all, but it did render me and my entire body useless. I finally was exhausted enough to relax around 4pm. By 6pm I was fully dilated and ready to push. But how does one push when they cant feel a damn thing or lift their 100lb legs. The IV in my wrist didn’t help either, so I was left to push with a measly weak left hand. After an hour and thirty minutes of struggling, begging for a c-section and a vacuum and asking the midwife to shove her hand into my vagina and pull my daughter out, I finally managed to get her out of me. Oh hey Harper, there you are, face up and covering your head with an arm. She came out pink and squished. She was the most adorable thing I had ever seen, but she was quiet. She didn’t cry but she took short breaths and just stared into my eyes. The baby nurses took her to the other side of the room and called the NICU team. This wasn’t supposed to happen, we were supposed to stay together skin to skin and have a beautiful serene first latch. Instead strangers held my baby down and shoved tubes deep down into her airway where they proceeded to suction her and puncture her lungs. They later claim she had spontaneous bilateral pneumothorax, but I will credit that to the lovely training nurses. After a week of the two of us being tortured in the NICU, we were finally able to go home. We didn’t have that peaceful amazing baby moon that’s supposed to follow birth. Instead our first months were riddled with doctor’s appointments, questions, cries (from the both of us), and what I assume to be post partum depression brought about by our separation and the bullying I encountered in the NICU.
During that first year if you had asked Stephen and I if we would ever have another baby, our answer was no; until we were pregnant again, just 12 months after our nightmare of an experience with our first child. I knew I couldn’t go back there. I remember the smell of my hospital room, the smell of the food, I remember every single little detail about the entire experience. I wanted none of that again. I had been lucky enough to be connected to an amazing group of mothers on the island who went the more natural route. I meshed well with them and trusted their opinions. Many of them had had homebirths or attempted to have them, they were the resources I needed. I then sought out midwives in the surrounding areas to meet with. None of them impressed my husband or I. A good friend of mine recommended her midwife but said I would have to beg her to take me since I was already 20 weeks pregnant. So I put my pride aside and begged a stranger to help me deliver my baby. She gave in to my relentless texts and phone calls. She came the next week and oh my gosh I fell in love. I have kind of a girl crush on my midwife! She is so reassuring and amazing. Nothing phases her, she is like the god of midwifery. I felt like I could deliver sextuplets at home upside down with her. The day came and at 6pm, after tucking Harper into bed, the first contraction came. It was strong and exactly what I had hoped for. I was looking forward to this pain like I was about to play in the world series. This was like a game to me, and I was going to perform and I was going to win. I credit Ina May’s Guide to Child birth for giving me every bit of knowledge I needed about labor and contractions. Everything continued on perfectly, my water broke at 10pm and he was born at 12:38am. To get through the pain of his birth I went deep inside myself and didn’t come back around until after he was out. I remember every detail, but I wasn’t communicating with anyone around me. He was here, safe and sound in my arms. We spent the next few days cuddled in my bed nursing away. No one came between us and it was glorious.
Like clockwork 12 months later we got those two pink lines again. We weren’t necessarily trying but we weren’t preventing it either. I am not a fan of birth control; I truly believe it is the reason we have such a high infertility rate these days. But that’s a horse of another color; so back to my third pregnancy. I texted the midwife that delivered Gunnar immediately, even before my parents. I had a very uneventful pregnancy, minus the fact that I threw up almost every day until my 20thweek, I could barely walk, and my pelvis felt that it was fractured into thousands of tiny pieces. I was due around the same time that 20 other people I know were due to have babies. I thought this baby would come early, but every day someone else had a baby in their arms but me. I grew anxious and even more tired. On Saturday the 29th, I wanted buffalo wings badly so we to Fridays as a family. It was interesting considering my kids had never seen one of these places before. We ordered them grilled chicken and broccoli of course. We got home and I laid my big butt on the couch and thought to myself that I certainly wouldn’t have enough energy to have this baby. I remember telling Stephen that I was worried at how weak I felt. We put the kids to bed, he ran out and got pineapple (its supposed to help you go into labor). Right before we went to sleep we did the same act that got us into this situation in the first place. Its supposed to help the baby come out for a few different reasons.
I woke up around 1am feeling a few contractions. They weren’t that strong so I just went back to bed considering I had some false alarms in the weeks before. A little while later I felt a huge wave of nausea hit so I ran as fast as I could to the bathroom. My stomach began to cramp and I wasn’t sure if I needed to be sitting or leaning over the toilet so I went into the shower incase both hit at the same time. It was there I realized I was in labor. I called out to Stephen to wake up and get the hot water turned up higher and start setting up. I came out of the shower to try and reach out to everyone I wanted and needed to be there, it was now 4am. The contractions were perfect, grinding down just as they should and lasting a minute or longer. I got into the tub around 4:30 and never left. Everyone else arrived at 5:15ish. I was completely present during this birth. I would sway in the water and moan but as soon as it was over, I was back to talking and laughing with everyone. Then, I felt some pressure in my but and asked everyone to bring Harper and Gunnar in. I started to get weak so my mom ran down for an ice pop. I simultaneously had felt my water bulging really low in my vagina. I could feel it push out even further during the contractions. I asked my midwife if I could pop it and I remember clearly what she said to me. But in true Nicole fashion, I couldn’t and wouldn’t wait and I popped it myself. Woah everything changed right at that moment. I could literally feel her head lower, I knew I would meet my baby any second. Just as it did with Gunnar, my body took over and pushed and I just helped it out a little bit. There’s her head, and one little push later and shes floating in the water. I scooped her up as fast as I could, careful to guard her butt with my hand, and put her on my chest. I looked at her and I immediately knew she was a girl, after 9 months of thinking she was a boy. Her face was just like harper. I waited for her to take her first breath, then I took mine. I looked between her legs and I was right. It was a girl. The best part of this birth was the fact that I was able to stay present. I enjoyed the experience from start to finish and I think that allowed everyone in attendance to do the same. My kids were so calm and helpful while I was in labor. I remember Gunnar handing me an orange and harper saying “its so cute” while I was crowning.
The important message that I want to convey is that it doesn’t matter where or how you give birth; what matters is that you felt that you were respected and that you had a say in your birth. It is important to know every single thing that may happen and why. It is important to know every single option you have and the statistics of those outcomes. Everyone says that the only thing that matters is a healthy baby. That’s just not true at all. Mothers need to be respected, they need to be informed and they need to take charge of their births. I believe the only way to do that is to become informed. Thanks to the internet, there are so many resources available to you. Join local birthing groups, join local natural birthing groups, join everything! Read! Learn! Embrace! Make Friends! Find your support system and surround yourself with like minded people. They are my biggest blessing and the reason I am who I am.