I can’t believe that my little girl is officially one month old today! ONE MONTH! Where has time gone? In honor of that, and the fact that I can now sit down and write this without crying (we can thank the baby blues and raging hormones for that), I thought what better thing to write about then her birth story.
I have always loved reading and hearing about women’s birth stories. Each one is completely different and special – I love hearing how little babies enter this world. So, today, I’m going to share how Miss Harper Elizabeth came into our life. I’ll go ahead and preface this story by saying it’s not for the faint of heart. I had a very challenging and painful labor so if you get squeamish then I suggest you read one of my posts about cupcakes instead. :) But if you’re like me and enjoy these types of stories then read on…
Going in, I never had a birth plan. In my eyes, what was going to happen wasn’t up to me. Sure, I would have some control, but at the end of the day it was up to God and my baby. I wouldn’t be able to change my body’s shape; I wouldn’t be able to change the baby’s position; all I would be able to do was go with it. And go with it I did. In hindsight, I’m so glad I didn’t have a birth plan because what ended up happening was 100% opposite of what I would have planned.
Contractions started at 10:30pm on Monday, February 18th – Harper’s due date. They were a bit annoying but I was still able to get a few hours of sleep. By 1am there was no more resting and I thought a hot bath might help. By the time I had dried off and gone back into our room, Ryan was up and asking if it was time to start timing these contractions. We did and they were almost instantly timing 3 minutes apart so we called our midwife, who told us to come to the hospital. We packed the last few items into our suitcase and off to the hospital we went. I remember our car ride there: the night was pitch black and there wasn’t another car on the street- just us, and it seemed so peaceful outside. I remember looking at my husband with such love and saying to him, “Babe, our lives are never going to be the same. It’s no longer going to be just us. When we come home we’re going to have a baby. I hope we’re ready for this.”
We arrived at the hospital around 2am and were immediately put into a birthing room. Everything just seemed so serene. Kim (our midwife) came in and checked me. I was 2cm and 100% effaced. I labored naturally (using the birth ball & tub) until 6am when she re-checked me and told me that I was 4-5cm. At that point, she broke my water… soon after that, my contractions became so intense! Truly, I’ve never experienced anything like that in my ENTIRE life and I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone.
I had wanted a natural childbirth so I persevered through the pain and went without drugs for another hour or so. However, I started to feel that I was losing control (blacking out due to the pain) and I knew that’s when I needed the epidural. I know my limits and losing control is not OK with me. Let me just say that getting the epidural was the best decision I could have ever made! Once it was in the pain was gone. Ryan could see the contractions on the monitor but I couldn’t feel a thing. It was heavenly. Having the epidural also allowed me to get a few hours of sleep, which was so nice since I’d been up since the night before.
Around noon Kim came back in to check me and said I was ready to push. At first I was so excited… we were about to meet our little girl! But then they turned down the epidural and, once again, I felt everything. I pushed. For 2 hours. I pushed on my back, on my side, on all fours. I cried. I threw up. Everything (down there) was swelling and the pain was incredible. It was hell. As we were rounding the 2-hour mark and I truly thought that death was a better alternative, I asked my nurse to get Kim. I asked her what my options were. I could just feel that what I was doing was going nowhere and something wasn’t right. When she checked me & realized the baby had not progressed (not even the slightest bit!) she said the words I would never forget, “Well my dear, there is no way you are going to deliver this baby in this way. You could push for weeks and it wouldn’t make a difference.”
At that moment I felt two things. On the one hand, I felt such a sigh of relief: we were doing a c-section, Harper would be born soon, and I wouldn’t have to push anymore. On the other hand, though, I felt like a failure. Why wouldn’t it work the way God had intended birth to? I felt like my body was betraying me. But then I remembered the ONE GOAL of this birth (since there was no birth plan) was to deliver a healthy baby by any means necessary. Whether it was with drugs or without. Vaginally or cesarean. All roads would lead to the same end result: The birth of my baby. I later found out from my midwife (after my surgery) that the way my pelvis is shaped, no baby would ever be able to fit and going forward I will have to have c-sections. This was music to my ears as my intuition was right; the pushing was getting us nowhere and something needed to be done.
Around 2:05pm, I was wheeled into the OR and there were tears in my eyes as well as Ryan’s. The wait was finally over, we were having this baby. The surgeon cut me open and went to work. It was the weirdest feeling. There was so much pressure and pulling on my abdomen. Alas, I heard the doctor say, “Daddy- get that camera ready, here she is!” And then I heard the sound that every mom wants to hear, their baby’s sweet cries. That was followed by almost everyone saying, “Oh my gosh, look at that head!” I immediately started worrying, what was wrong with her head? Was she OK? Apparently, she had such a cone head from attempting to get through the birth canal for so long.
They whisked Harper away to clean her off and Ryan was able to hold her while they stitched me back up. I couldn’t hold her, but Ryan brought her over to me and when I saw her I cried. Here was our baby girl, the little one who I had carried for nine months, in the flesh. I couldn’t believe all the dark hair and these sweet chubby cheeks. For both me and Ryan, there were feelings of nothing but pure love.
Having a baby changes you. Going through labor is such an incredible feat and I have the utmost respect for every woman who goes through it. I remember saying to Ryan, “This might be our only child, I don’t think I can do that again.” After all, I had the pleasure of feeling pain from pushing for 2 hours and then the pain of a c-section. I can honestly say (a month later) that the pain fades. What you get out of it is more than worth it. And yes, Lord willing, I will do it again.