Birth. While absolutely beautiful because it brings new life in the form of a precious baby, an infant is not the only individual that is “born” on its birthday.
A mother and father are born.
For quite some time, I feared birth. Pregnant and expecting the eventual birth of my own child, I feared the day that I would actually have to birth said child. I feared the pain, the unknown, the challenges that would be brought forth by motherhood, the unfamiliar territory of raising a boy because I, myself am not one. I feared birth. I would cry any time I saw a movie or television show that included a scene in which someone else gave birth. I allowed my nerves to take over, although I knew (of course) that birth was indeed inevitable if I was to ever meet the precious little boy that was growing inside of me.
The night before my scheduled induction, the day before I would be left with no choice but to face my fears, I remember lying awake next to my sleeping husband, crying. Crying because I had no idea how much pain lied ahead, how well I was going to adapt to my new role as a mother, how such a big change would effect my marriage. Truth was, nothing that would come from the following day was familiar or could be predicted. It was all unknown to everyone except God.
But shouldn’t that have been enough? Shouldn’t it have been enough that God alone knew how the following day (and all days after that) would unfold? Yes. Yes, it should have been. Coming to this realization, I prayed. I cried and prayed for strength and for peace, and guess what: I received it. God captured my heart once again, reminded me that He was and would continue to be in control, and blanketed me with a peace that I should have had all along. All that was required of me was trust. Not trust in myself, but trust in God. Not trust in my husband, but trust in God. Not trust in my womanly body and strength, but trust in God. Not trust in my midwife, but trust in God. Not trust in my future, or my knowledge, or my experiences, but trust. in. God.
Once I put my trust in God, all else fell into place. Trust in God brought confidence in the ability that God gave me as a woman of His creation to birth a child, raise a child, and faithfully fulfill my role as both a mother and a wife. Trust in God brought peace. Trust in God eventually brought sleep..
The next morning, I awoke, ready to meet my baby boy. I awoke with peace that was lingering from the night before, but was even stronger. I awoke with the needed courage to endure and push through an unmedicated labor and delivery.
After packing the last minute items into our hospital bag and then praying with parents, my husband and I left the house as a family of two (humans) for the last time. How does one wrap their mind around that concept? It was easier, I think, to fall asleep as a fiance for the last time knowing that the next day I would be a wife. But, the idea of leaving my house with a full belly and empty arms, knowing that the very next time I walked through my door I would have an empty belly and a baby in my arms was amazing to me. I had spent the last 41 weeks falling in love with a child that was still growing inside of me, and I was finally about to meet this beloved stranger.
This child was beloved because I knew him. I knew his kicks and jolts, felt his hiccups, was the evidence of his growing self, and was the only person in the entire world who would ever have the privilege of carrying this boy internally and so close to my heart. This child was also somehow a stranger because I had no idea what he looked like, what he sounded like, what it felt like to touch his skin. He was somewhat a stranger because I had yet to actually hold him in my arms and meet him. What a beautiful mystery pregnancy is!
Closer and closer to meeting our little stranger, my husband and I arrived at the hospital. The valet driver opened my door and left with our car once we got our luggage out. I remember feeling silly, a little, because my experience already was so different from those of women in movies. I was not being frantically wheeled through the hospital in a wheel chair while I screamed and writhed in pain, I was not drenched in the fluid of my bag of waters, I was not yelling at a nurse to get me into a bed. I was calm, my husband was calm. We silently walked to the elevator that took us to the Labor and Delivery ward. We were greeted by friendly faces who congratulated us on the upcoming arrival of our baby boy. We were guided to our room, Birthing Suite B. We sat and waited.
Around 8am on November 4th, 2016, our 16 hour journey to meeting our son began.
I was dilated at 1 1/2, which had been a consistent number for the entirety of my last month of pregnancy. At 9:30am, I was given my first (and only) round of Cytotec. This tiny pill contributed to my increase in number and regularity of my contractions. I was told to lay on my side for two hours, so I uncomfortably but gratefully shut my eyes for a nap. My exhausted husband curled up into an awkward position on the small couch a few couple feet away from me and took a nap as well.
12pm, my friend and mother in law arrived at the hospital and joined the two of us for a walk around the L&B Ward. I was allotted 45 minutes to get out and about until I needed to be back in bed and on the monitor. We all sat in the waiting room, chatting while I cringed at my uncomfortable (not too painful) contractions every few minutes. Then, I returned to Birthing Suite B to be placed back on the monitor.
The sound of my son’s heartbeat sang beautifully on the machine.
When my parents arrived at the hospital, we got to go out and spend some time with them in the waiting room. We were all smiling and laughing, which had to mean that I was not yet experiencing the “real” contractions. Over the next three hours, I dilated further (to 3) and the baby’s head had proved to drop further. My membranes were stripped at 2:30pm, and the midwife said to expect a baby by the next afternoon.
6:40pm ended the fun completely. Family left our room, where they had been sitting for a while to keep us company, and returned to the waiting room. I left the comfort of the birthing ball that made my contractions less painful. The midwife broke my water, which was an extremely messy process. I felt the warm liquid flow right out of me, and that was the last slightly pleasant sensation I felt that day. This was when the “real” contractions began almost immediately.
I removed my clothing except for my nursing bra and retreated to the Jacuzzi bath, where the warmth and pressure of the jets comforted my cramping and contracting body. When this no longer brought enough comfort, I stumbled to the birthing ball and breathed through my contractions while my husband massaged my hips and back. When the contractions felt so strong that I could not bare to sit, I crouched over the back of the hospital bed and hugged it while I received relief through more massaging to my back and hips. Over the course of the next few hours, I rotated between the Jacuzzi bath and the bed. I could feel my poor husband’s hands begin to tremble as I cried for more pressure on my hips.
In the Jacuzzi, I began to panic and attempted to add up the unknown number of hours that I would endure labor until my son’s arrival. Expect a baby tomorrow afternoon? I contemplated asking for an epidural, but wanted so badly to trust that my body, which was created to birth a child, could persevere. That I could persevere. My husband remained calm, and fed me the encouragement that I needed. He told me that I was strong, and that he knew I could do this. I believed him. I believed in myself.
At 9:30pm, I begged the nurse to check my cervix again. She took her time, and thoroughly examined my cervix before excitedly telling me I was almost at a 9. She was excited, but I was not. Almost at a 9 meant not a 9 yet. It meant 8. I was dilated at an 8, and needed to be at a 10 before I could begin pushing.
I repeated my rotation, getting less and less patient with my body and needing more and more physical strength to get through my contractions and mental strength to focus on my breathing and on anything but the pain I was experiencing.
I thought about my wedding day. I thought about the number of people that doubted my ability to birth unmedicated. I thought about my doubt toward myself. I thought and thought and thought.
Time slipped away from me for a while, but at one moment I told the midwife that I was feeling the urge to push. She calmly told me that after two more contractions in the tub, she would have me get out and begin pushing.
One. I whispered so softly that only I could hear myself, “One…”
Two. Not much louder, but as loudly as I could make my voice go, I said “Two… That’s two.”
The midwife let out a calm laugh, then said “okay, that was two,” and directed me to sit on the toilet and try pushing through a few contractions.
This was much more difficult than I had expected. Why didn’t I know which muscles to use? Why couldn’t I figure out how to manipulate my body to focus solely on pushing this baby out?
Still, I pushed.
Eventually, I was able to very slowly move to the bed, where I attempted to push while squatting and holding on to the back of the inclined hospital bed. I pushed, but still could not seem to figure out which muscles I should be pushing with.
The midwife had me lay on my side, which ended up being my back because I could not seem to keep myself on my side. She excitedly told me that she could feel the head. I thought this meant I would be done very soon, but “soon” could not come soon enough. I was directed to pull my legs toward my chest, and wrap my body around the baby when pushing. The midwife inserted her hand to help me focus my energy and my muscles where her hand was. This helped a lot. I hated being on my back because it meant that I had to use every single muscle in my body when attempting to push through painful contractions. I decided to try squatting again.
Apparently, the baby did not like me squatting, because he would come down while I pushed and then go back up between contractions. I began to panic once the pain became so strong and I felt I had been pushing for hours. My breathing was no longer thought out, my eyes seemed to bare the weight of the pain and exhaust that I felt, and my energy was lacking. My husband was directed to feed me oxygen through a mask between contractions, and give me juice or water.
I was so tired.
The midwife asked me to attempt pushing on my back again, so I reluctantly laid down. I pushed several more times, and each time was told “more!” “harder!” “I can see his head!” “Keep going!” “One more!”. One more. One more. How many times was I going to hear “One more” until would finally be true?
I pushed. I received Oxygen. I smacked the mask away. I sipped water. I took a deep breath. I whispered “okay”. My legs were pushed into my weak, trembling arms. I pulled them to my chest. I curled my body forward, around my baby. I PUSHED.
This happened multiple times, and I couldn’t help but watch the clock. For the next hour and a half, I finally began to push effectively. The times before served as somewhat of a warm up, although my muscles were actually being put to work. By the time I was effectively pushing my baby down, my entire body was sore, weak, and exhausted.
The midwife explained that when we saw her start to change, we would know that the baby was coming soon. I stored that information at the forefront of my mind and hoped for her to start changing soon.
Finally! Finally, I watched the midwife collapse the front half of the bed while my legs were in the stirrups, put a gown over her scrubs, and tell the nurse to page the nursery. I began to feel the wave of the oncoming contraction, and decided I was not going to wait to push. The contraction grew stronger, and so did I. I pushed, I felt the “burning ring of fire”, I felt the baby’s head exit. The startled midwife rushed over and encouraged me to push one final time. With every last bit of strength and energy I had left, I pushed.
Out came my precious baby boy with his umbilical cord wrapped around him twice. The cord was unwrapped, my baby was quickly wrapped in a blanket and placed in my arms. I could not stop kissing my baby. Exactly a minute later, the cord was clamped and my husband cut it.
A mother and father were born.
The moment our precious, full-faced, long baby boy left my familiar, safe womb and entered my tired, weak arms, a mother was born. A father was born. And the realization that from that moment on, a mother and father we would always be was astounding. From the moment we met and held our baby, we became a mother and a father, and that was something that could never be taken from us.
On November 5th, 2016 at 12:35am, Hudson Walker Parry was born at 9lbs 1oz and 21 1/2 inches long.
A son was born.
A mother and father were born.
I know this was long, but thank you for reading!