Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Birth Story -- Written by Bel

A lot of people have asked me about Kayleigh's birth experience & I've never really had the ability to put into words what it was like, nor have I really tried to explain it before. Don't worry - I will leave the REALLY gory details out of it.

Kayleigh was due on Monday, February 2, 2009. She was ready to come out, but I wasn't ready for her to. I was actually terrified of the whole labor & delivery process. Until the doctor started talking about induction. We had an appointment on the 2nd, and
the doctor scheduled an induction for the following week for if she hadn't been born yet. Once that was set up, I guess I decided that I was ready because I went into labor the very next day.

Around 1:00pm was when the first twinges of contractions started. At first, I wasn't sure they were really contractions at all, but by 5:00pm, they were in full swing & that's when I called Laura at work. So what do you do when you realize you're in labor? What anyone else would do - take a shower & make a giant mesquite steak dinner with baked potatoes (so much for a light meal!).

Since I wasn't sure if I wanted to get the epidural, I wanted to labor for as long as I could at home so that I could stay mobile & more comfortable. Once they give you the epidural, you're pretty much tied to the hospital bed & can't move around anymore. My biggest fear was that the epidural wouldn't work & then I'd be in horrible pain & stuck in bed. And since moving around was really helping me get through the contractions, I REALLY didn't want that. To add to the stress of everything, we were in the middle of the biggest snowstorm of the winter, so timing was going to be everything. We didn't want to leave too early & get sent back home in the snow, but we didn't want to get there too late for the epidural, in case I decided I wanted it.

At 2:00am, after over 12 hours of labor, we decided to leave for the hospital. We were hoping to be at 3cm when we got there so that they would admit me & I was really happy to find that I was already at 5cm! Woo hoo, halfway there & we were admitted at 3:00am. Most of our families were in the waiting room by 5:30am, little did they know we still had a long haul ahead of us.

At around 8:00am is when I finally gave in to the epidural. Even though I was in a lot of pain, I was still afraid of it - I didn't want to be completely numb, I just wanted to take the edge off. But I also didn't want it to not work at all - I have heard plenty of stories where the epidural did nothing for the woman's pain. Also, there's the whole giant needle in the back thing, which I wasn't looking forward to, especially since they were going to make Laura leave the room. But I guess I thought I was in enough pain to ask for the epidural. And wouldn't you know it - my worst nightmare came true. My right leg was completely numb. Like, dead, motionless, I cannot move it numb. So now I was definitely stuck in this bed for the duration. And NOTHING else was numb. It did nothing for my pain, whenever the nurse would pinch me to see if I could feel it, I could feel it. Except for my right leg. So if the baby was going to come out of my right leg, we would have been set.

Right after the epidural, the nurse said she was leaving for a minute & when she came back we could start with the pushing. But then she was gone for almost 2 hours and a new nurse came in - I don't really know what happened there. So around 10:00am is when we started the pushing with a new nurse.

At first it was overwhelming, mostly because I couldn't hold my breath long enough to push for as long as they wanted me to. And because when you're pushing, you can actually feel the baby moving down & out and it's scary because you're not sure if your body can actually handle it or not. But once I gave myself over to it, it got easier & I was less afraid. It was just a matter of will at that point.

When we got to the crowning part, they told me to stop & there was a mad rush of people into the room. There was at least 3 doctors, an intern doing his OB rotation, a group of nurses & a nursing student. I felt like I was becoming some kind of sideshow act. Especially when one of the doctors put on a splash guard over his face. I kid you not. I even made a joke about it to him.

I don't know if I can explain what the actual moment of birth is like. I think it is unexplainable. I've heard many, many women telling their stories, and none of them compare to what it is like to actually live it. We all know that the head comes out first, but you can't explain what it is like to see that & to see her little face being suctioned when she's not even fully out yet. And you don't even know that she's a she yet!! And that minute or so in-between, while you're waiting for the final contraction to push out the just seems like an eternity. All along, you've been fighting the contractions because they are so painful and here you are, impatient for the next one to come. And when it does...I can only describe it as an explosion. Literal, emotional, physical. You feel your body give out. There is an eruption of fluid & blood. It is a burning pain like you have never felt before in your life. And the weight that you have been carrying around this whole time is now magically...just gone. I think my friend Sarah put it best when she said that you feel hollow - There is nothing but flappy skin left where your baby once was. Like the quote, you can almost feel your heart leaving your body. And then they announced that she was a girl, which was shocking because I was so convinced that she was a he. They put this bloody, gooey little thing on you that is screaming because she doesn't know what just happened. And the moment that your eyes connect, there is a wave of emotion that is simply inconceivable. Her little eyes, swollen from being smushed down the birth canal, look right into mine & you can actually feel the instant connection between the two of you and everything else just disappears. I had no more awareness of what was going on around me in that moment & no one else was even in that room full of 50 strangers. It was the quickest, longest few minutes of my life. We've all seen women crying at that moment, and I knew I would probably cry. I just didn't think it was going to be that unstoppable. I thought it would be like every other time I've cried - I thought I would feel it building up and eventually the tears would come. But it's not like that at all - you literally can't control it - it just happens to you. There is no warning, there is no buildup - it just overtakes you.

When they took her away to clean her up a little bit is when I noticed all the blood and the rush of doctors around me. It was quite an overwhelming amount to be honest with you. The doctors were covered in it, I was covered in it - It actually looked like something out of a bad horror movie. The guy with the splash guard - not as funny anymore. I see his point. Thank God I was somewhat disconnected from it all because if I was fully aware of what was going on, and that it was all my blood, I would have started freaking out & would probably have passed out. And luckily I was so focused on Kayleigh, I only heard fragments of what the doctors were saying: "Pretty bad tear", "We have to stop it", "Move quickly".

Thankfully, all I could focus on were her little feet sticking up in the air as the nurses surrounded to tend to her in the layette. The little feet kicking, toes spreading, her little raspy cry, and the almost daunting feeling that I am responsible for another human life. I just gave birth. I am a mother. I can do anything now.