I was quickly realizing that every labour and delivery is as different as the child that it produces. With Ella, I had what some would refer to as a “traumatic birth”…sideways baby, forceps, and a child with a broken nose was something that prepared me to expect the unexpected when it came to the birthing process. I was certainly not expecting the delivery that was coming…
I was joined shortly by my mom at the hospital and that’s when everything stopped…I wish I could write some over sensationalized post about how everything went perfectly and fell into place instantly but that’s just not what happened… I was headed down the labour and delivery path at light speed 30mins before hand and now all of a sudden I couldn’t feel my contractions anymore. The nurse assured me I was still in labour and I should start walking around to try and move things along. Thus began the slowest night of my life… I walked the halls of that hospital countless times, and I just couldn’t seem to get my contractions going. I remember, I had a group project due for school so I spent some of my labour doing homework, cursing my body for deciding to go into labour the day before a big deadline and filled with frustration that I was being made to stay in the hospital when nothing was moving along. Inevitably, they ended up putting me on the drip and breaking my water manually to get things going. I was so exasperated with this baby! I had called Kyle, he had booked his flight, i was admitted to the hospital, so what was happening?
What’s that saying? “Be careful what you wish for”… well as soon as modern medicine intervened my contractions really started to pick up… and they were painful. As any woman who has given birth can attest to, it’s not exactly a picnic. I was terrified of pain…I kept asking the nurse to let me know when I could have my epidural. I had laboured with Ella for a long time before I had it, and I remember the blissfully pain-free moment the medication started to work, and I wanted the same experience with this delivery, but it’s so funny how life works…
My epidural didn’t work. I was forced into the uncharted territory of a drug-free birth and I was scared. I actually had 2 epidurals, and neither of them worked, so low and behold the thing I feared most became my reality. I had talked about it endlessly leading up to delivery, and everyone knew that my birth plan consisted of one word EPIDURAL.
After a lot of painful contractions I felt like it was time to push. With Ella I didn’t ever experience that sensation because the epidural took that all away. I was amazed that my body knew exactly what to do…I called the nurse who told me I was fully dilated and the baby was ready to come out. The doctor told me to push so she could get an idea of how long I would be pushing for, so I pushed… and all of a sudden I was hearing her yell “Stop Stop Stop Stop!!!!”…. excuse me? STOP!? For all those women who have had a baby… stop?! how do I stop!?!? When they tell you to push you PUSH because isn’t that the goal? To get the baby out?! I can’t put the baby back in there, so it’s coming out… she told me to reach down and grab it because one more little half push and I heard the beautiful sound of a screaming newborn… and as I lifted him onto my chest she announced it was a boy and I said “I knew it!” because in my heart I knew that I was carrying a boy. Our special bond began on the day I felt I was pregnant, despite my negative tests, insisting to everyone around me that I wasn’t crazy. I had purchased an entire closet of boy’s clothing, and planned a boy’s nursery because I was just THAT sure.
My mom was hesitant, but I convinced her to cut the cord. It was something I knew she would never get the opportunity to do again in her life, and she has since thanked me for allowing her to be apart of his birth in such a special way. But the truth is, I should have thanked her…because she helped me through the entire process and in the absence of Kyle, she was the next best thing. This experience would be something that we would share for the rest of our lives, and it would solidify our deep mother-daughter bond. Was it unconventional? Yes, but was it amazing? Absolutely.
The room was filled with what felt like hundreds of doctors ready to check on him because of all our prenatal red flags…but they let me hold him. They let me soak him in, and enjoy our first moments together. I felt this instant connection to him. He was the only one who had been through everything with me…Through every test, every procedure, every sleepless and uncomfortable night, every ache and pain, every appointment, every tear cried alone in the shower worried about his safety… We had been through so much together and now it was my turn, he had been with me through the last 9 months and I would now be with him through everything that life would throw his way.
I’ve since come to realize that my labour and delivery was a massive symbolic metaphor for the baby that I had… Sometimes you’re forced out of your comfort zone, to deal with uncertainties that give you an undeniable sense of fear (like giving birth without an epidural). But we are equipped with an unbelievable capacity to adapt. Just as I would later come to realize, this baby would not be the one I expected to have…he would be so, so much more. He would force me out of my comfort zone and test my strength and resilience, but he would fill my heart to overflowing. Sometimes life hands you an unbelievable gift, and on March 14 at 3:49am I was given one of my life’s many gifts. The birth of my son Ethan.