3 weeks ago I gave birth to our baby girl.
I love birth stories, and have looked forward to sharing mine, although I wanted to wait to share it until I could get through it without choking up. [That took a few weeks, and once I was able to get through it without being a hot mess, Chris went ahead and made me an absolutely beautiful video for Mother’s Day that I still can’t watch without bursting into tears. SEE BELOW.] One thing I had never really gotten from other birth stories I had read (mostly stories from Ina May Gaskin books) was that it could all change in a blink of an eye. I was very aware that births never went according to a “plan” and I was prepared for that (and I also felt that most first births were on the “slow” side), but I wasn’t necessarily prepared for it to all change in an instant. I hope in sharing my story, that may prepare someone else for that possibility.
So without any further ado, here is our story. I preface each stage with an emotion to help illustrate the emotional gong show that occurred over 12 hours. I never knew I could handle this range of emotions in such a short period of time. There were moments I thought my heart would burst into a million pieces, but rest assured, my heart is in tack and our baby girl makes it burst with joy every day since.
April 27, 2015:
6:30 am – EXCITEMENT – My water broke at the crack of dawn, and I yelled, “CHRIS! My water broke!” in true Hollywood fashion. As we scrambled to deal with water everywhere, I hopped in the shower, and Chris said the pupils of my eyes were HUGE. I seriously felt like I was high on drugs and kept saying “we are doing this!” Basically, I looked like a crazy person.
10 am – WORRY – My contractions started about an hour after my water broke, and we were at home in early labour dancing to 90s hip hop and R & B songs (which I assume is what everyone does at this stage), when we noticed there was some meconium in my fluid. That is a sign that the baby may be stressed, so we headed to the hospital to get it checked out. They hooked me up and monitored the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions, and although indeed there was meconium present, luckily me and the babe were fine.
3 pm – STRENGTH – Once we knew the baby was fine, my contractions picked up, and I went into the zone. I laboured all over the hospital. I was that insane person in the cafeteria having contractions! Chris was my rock, our doula was my coach, and I went deep into a guttural place for 7 hours.
5 pm – THE MOMENT IT ALL CHANGED – After 11 hours of labour the doctor noticed my contractions were strong and close together and decided to check how dilated my cervix was for the first time. When she did the exam on me, she said they wanted to get an ultrasound to confirm what position the baby was in (later she told me she felt our baby’s MOUTH or BUTT, she wasn’t sure which one!). Three doctors did an ultrasound, and exams, and they confirmed that our baby was indeed head down, but the baby was “face presenting”. Our baby was in the birth canal with her face forward and chin flexed up (instead of top of head forward and chin tucked down) and unable to get past my pubic bone. BASICALLY, they said this is a rare position (only happens in 0.2% of births!), and the only way to get her out was via c-section.
5:30 pm – FEAR – The moment we heard our baby was face first (and getting slammed into my pubic bone with every contraction!), I immediately said let’s do this c-section thing, whatever it takes! But shifting my mindset from “labour isn’t scary because it’s “natural”” to “I am about to have a major surgery” was really fucking frightening.
6:00 pm – COURAGE – Although I was really scared, I feel this is a defining moment of my motherhood. As in all births, no matter how they happen, I think our capacity to push that fear aside comes from the animalistic desire to do whatever our baby needs in that moment. I put my baby ahead of any of my own needs or desires for a particular kind of birth, the moment I said yes to surgery, and I will continue to put my child first for the rest of her life.
6:44 pm – PURE JOY – The surgery was TOTALLY INSANE (that is a WHOLE other post just about c-sections), and far more physical than I ever could have imagined. Seriously, if you don’t know anything about c-sections, ask someone who has had one to really tell you about it. I guarantee it’s not what you think it’s like. And at 6:44 pm on April 27, our whole world changed. And this is something I really won’t even try to put into words, so I will let this beautiful video Chris made do the talking from here:
Birthday from Chris Kelly on Vimeo.
And please feel free to share your birth story below! They are all inspiring and beautiful to me!
ps. An incredible amount of love and gratitude to our doula, Aimee, who took all of these incredible and priceless photos for us.