July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. I don’t normally put things off. I’m pretty crazy – and anything that can get done tomorrow is better done yesterday. But, when it came to Landon’s birth story, I am so glad I have given myself time to process what happened. I did jot notes down. Lots of them. They are in a notebook with so many memories from those early weeks. I am thankful that I have these notes to read, reflect and appreciate, and now see from a different perspective. I view my birth experience so differently now than I did those first few days.
My mom was going to come down for Landon’s birth. Of course, I believe that everyone, including my sweet baby, should be on time. I wasn’t going to be medically induced, but I just knew that he’d be here on time. So, we booked her flights from Vermont to be the week exactly surrounding Landon’s due date. He was due Saturday, November 14th, and we booked the flights to arrive in Lynchburg Wednesday, the 10th, and leave the next Wednesday, the 17th. I had my “last” OB appointment on Wednesday morning. I was checked and was thinning, and about 1-2 centimeters dilated. Later that afternoon, I went and picked my mom up from the airport. That afternoon we spent running business errands. I had to meet people all over town – per the norm. One of our employees was relieved that he was off “baby-watch duty” now that my mom was in town. (My husband, Michael, was working on a new house over an hour away with terrible cell service so he had designated helpers to keep an eye on me.) We went for a walk on the Blackwater Creek Trail, like usual. I was at Subway (where I had been eating lunch constantly — my “craving” — and since it’s nearby, I’d walk there) when I lost my plug. (TMI, sorry!) I lost my appetite as well, and we left. Our afternoon walk around the neighborhood was slightly less comfortable for me. I started feeling cramping and really wanted to just relax. When Michael got home that night we had what would be my last “meal” before delivery (which, as you’ll find out, wasn’t for quite some time!)
Thursday morning Another favorite place of mine during pregnancy was Target. No wonder it’s Landon’s favorite store now. Mom and I decided to go to Target to walk, just in case, because I was getting uncomfortable. In the store, I had to push the cart just so I could stop every now and then to bend over during these early contractions. I had the cashier in shock when she asked when I was due and I responded, “...in two days". I was uncomfortable enough to have my mom drive us home. Michael got done early that afternoon and was home. I felt contractions about 5-6 minutes apart, although they were varying in intensity. We decided to call the doctor's office to see what they thought.
**Here’s where I need to place a little background. Please excuse the intimate details. A few months before finding out we were pregnant with Landon, I had a miscarriage. With this first pregnancy, I felt nausea, exhaustion, everything. It was very real to me. We were excited. Four weeks after the first tests came back positive we had our first OB appointment scheduled. It included an ultrasound. They wanted to wait until they thought I was around 8-10 weeks along which is why they waited this amount of time. At the ultrasound, there was no heartbeat. I can’t tell anyone who hasn’t experienced this how heartbreaking it is – and if you have, my heart breaks for you as well. I had to have a D&C — three days later. It was such an emotional time. I felt like a failure and that my body couldn’t do what it was meant to. The doctor couldn’t give us any explanation as to WHY the baby stopped growing — just that he/she measured around 5 weeks. After this experience, I was so scared. When I took my first pregnancy test with Landon it was very early. At first, the line was so faint I couldn’t see it! I took another pregnancy each day for a week to see if the line was getting darker because this would mean that my body was producing more of the pregnancy hormone. I found out on a Friday at 5:35 that I was pregnant again, with Landon. I HAD to get in to see the doctor; to be reassured that this baby wasn’t gone already. They again made me wait for three weeks. It was agonizing. That first ultrasound appointment, I couldn’t even do a urine sample; I was too nervous. I couldn’t look at the screen and Michael said I didn’t take a breath until I saw him smile when he saw the heartbeat on the screen. It was such relief. However, I was still so scared. We didn’t tell people about the pregnancy until I was 17 weeks along. Each doctor’s appointment, I was still so nervous. I wanted them to reassure me – I wasn’t trusting my body. I knew I hadn’t “done” anything “wrong” with the first pregnancy, but I still couldn’t let myself trust myself. I didn’t have sickness, I was tired but not exhausted, I didn’t *show* until around 18 weeks. I WANTED those symptoms to reassure me that everything was okay. I wasn’t scared of delivery, and I planned on doing it without medication because I was *sure* I could do it. But, as you’ll find out, this loss had scared me into not trusting myself and blindly listening to people who didn’t have the same outlook as I did for my birth.
Back to Landon’s birth When we called, I was told to go in to the hospital since it was my first birth and I didn’t know what to expect. They put me in triage and started to monitor. Not much. But I was so uncomfortable! It felt like somebody was stabbing my back. I didn’t feel much of anything in front or low. They had me wait for an hour before telling me that it wasn’t time and I should go home. (Thursday night) I felt like a fool. We went back to the house. Michael made a fire and I lay in our bed that we had moved to the living room to be by the fireplace. I took a bath practically every 20-30 minutes to find relief. I would wake up in pain and grab his arm. Friday morning/early day I don’t remember much. I was told not to eat anything ever since calling the hospital Thursday because “it could be soon.” I was exhausted. Thank goodness I had been walking so much so I had some stamina! I refused to go back to the hospital, though, because I didn’t want to be sent home again. Michael and my mom finally convinced me to go back. It’s now Friday evening — around 5-6pm. We got to the driveway and I made Michael drive past. I wasn’t ready to go. Again, I couldn’t trust myself and didn’t want to be turned away. After being home for an hour, I couldn’t wait anymore. I was so weak that I couldn’t do anything to help with the pain. They put me in triage, again, and had me walk the halls for an hour before admitting me. I was 5cm. When they offered the bathtub, I was thrilled. I had sent in my birth plan a few weeks earlier and they said everything looked okay.
My water didn’t break and I had been there through the night, sleeping some, I think because I just didn’t have any calories in me to stay awake. I was given something light for the back pain. At 7cm the doctor broke my water. Then it got really painful. It was all in my back. I was expecting cramps – like menstrual cramps. I didn’t know what to do to help myself and although I *knew* I should move around, no nurse was encouraging this and I was so tired! Then they brought in the epidural video and said, “I know you weren’t planning on it, but you’ve been here for around 15 hours now so we wanted you to watch this.” I didn’t concentrate on it because the contractions were so strong – but I just remember seeing happy families. My major concern was I wanted to nurse Landon right away and I wanted him to be alert right after birth. They told me that epidural doesn’t affect babies’ alertness. I got a fever shortly after this. I asked for ginger ale, but quickly threw it up. I was told by the nurse I shouldn’t have had anything to eat/drink. I got the epidural because I just couldn’t go on and didn’t want to give up having a vaginal birth. At first, I was ashamed to admit having an epidural. Now, I can see that it was what I needed, given my experience, to continue birthing Landon myself. The nurses came and said I could push. But I couldn’t feel anything. I didn’t know where I was or wasn’t pushing. It was embarrassing. I wanted to push him out. I wanted to feel it. I know that’s crazy, but I feel like I missed that experience. I was so exhausted. The doctor came to use suction – telling me if I didn’t get Landon out they’d c-section.
The next thing I remember was seeing Michael’s face. He was by my side holding my leg. He looked like he had seen a ghost. The cord was around Landon’s neck – twice – and Michael thought he wasn’t going to survive. The doctor quickly undid the cord from his neck and Landon started crying. Color returned to Michael’s face. Then, just as quickly, it went white again. He wasn’t prepared for the amount of blood and thought I was dying. *I love him.* Landon was born absolutely posterior – face up and with a perfectly round head! (I had to convince people that I really did have a vaginal birth. “Are you sure?” they’d ask. “Yep, pretty positive!” ) Because I had a fever during labor – even though at birth it was gone – they took Landon took the NICU. He wasn’t feverish. He had great color, was crying, and even peed – twice – on the nurses while they were checking him. I didn’t get to nurse him right away. But I did get to hold him. It was the most amazing thing to see him on my chest. I remember not being able to grasp the idea that this was OUR BABY, yet at the same time, nothing in the world had ever felt more natural – more meant to be. They took him to the NICU – which I regret letting happen now, but didn’t know I could have said no. I’m just thankful he was healthy and that it was just precautionary.
Landon was born on his due date! Even after starting labor pains on Wednesday, my baby boy came right on time. He was born Saturday, November 14, 2010, 9:00 pm, 7lbs, 0oz. Very punctual - so much like his mama!
In my room, I finally got to eat – after three days. At this time, I didn’t care about all that had gone “not according to plan”. I was just so glad to have Landon here, safely. When they finally brought him in to me, around 1:30 am, I was so pleased that he took to nursing right away. I loved having him on me and we spent most of our time in the hospital nursing.
I’m glad I waited to formally write this because although I’m sure it sounds like there is some resentment toward the way things went, I truly feel like it was beautiful because it gave me a healthy, amazing boy. I can appreciate the lessons I learned and now trust myself, my body, so much more. I won’t regret anything about this birth because I couldn’t have asked for a better result. Landon is SUCH a JOY and I DID birth him! With future births, I do hope to use my knowledge and experience to have a different experience, but every birth is beautiful. Birthing your baby is the result of that amazing journey and each one is beautiful.
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