So if you missed part 1 from Saturday night, you should check that part out first, it’s a pretty good story – click here!
PS this post is about labour – so dad, easy gaggers and guys – you’ve been warned – less laughs, more bodily fluids.
PPS After writing this post I realized it is incredibly long. I was tempted to split it into two more parts but seeing how I promised to publish part two on Sunday and it’s now Wednesday – I’ve realized life is unpredictable with a baby so I might as well get it all out now while she’s having a good long nap.
Ok..here it is.
We finally made our way up to the labour and delivery unit around 5:30 and really… I thought I was there to have a baby, but Courtney was there for a work reunion. Just kidding, it was good to have someone in the know. While Courtney was doing her rounds, a nice nurse approaches us and goes “hi dear, what can I do for you?” and my brilliant response “well, um..I think I’m in labour”. Well I’m sure this nurse was thinking in the back of her head “honey, if you *think* you’re in labour..come back when you’re quite confident”. But of course she was professional and “said let’s get you checked out” – though I’m sure she thought – “this lady could at least get through half of season of her favorite show on Netflix before she should be here. ” (She obviously didn’t know Shelly Olsen was my mother). Courtney rejoined us and we checked in at the nurses’ station. The amusing part was all the looks we got, Jord in a dinner jacket, Courtney in tights and my bright red lipstick. The nurse takes one look at us and goes “you’re the best dressed people we’ve seen up here all day”. Thank you, I’ll take it.
Eventually they escort us into a room and Courtney says something really comforting like “they must be very busy – I’ve only ever seen them use this room for storage”. Don’t worry, she gets more encouraging later on… And yes, they were busy. When the nurse finally came in around 6 to check me, she gives me one of those glamorous blue gowns (actually two. One to cover the front and one to cover the back.). I kind of wanted to keep my dress on. Courtney had told me that if I got amniotic fluid on it, I could keep it. (I had borrowed it from her). So far, still clean, darn. Jordan at this point is so excited to call his family he has asked me like five times if he could take my picture.I’m pretty sure I’m in labour at this point so I agree, I just didn’t want to jump the gun.
Here’s his first attempt at capturing the moment:
And then his second:
Definitely a good looking birth team.
Eventually, the nurse returns. This probably has taken her about half an hour or so. She tells me I’m about 3 cm. Boo. I was sure I was further along than that. She gives me the option to either stay, or go home (again, hah, she doesn’t know who’s daughter I am) From the time she checked me to now, my contractions have gotten increasingly intense and even getting to the car seems like a Herculean event. I confer with my birth team (I just like saying that, it sounds like I have an entourage) and we decide to stay.
We (Courtney and I) send our award winning photographer (aka Jordan) goes out to the car to get the bags. Up till this point, I’m actually doing pretty well. I can only describe my contractions as the strongest menstrual cramps in the world (I will never complain when Auntie Flow comes to visit again.) Thankfully, they were all in the front. No back labour. Do your squats and stay active pregnant ladies. I can only imagine how horrendous back labour is.
All of a sudden out of nowhere, we hear these guttural shrieks coming from down the hall. Now, this may seem a little late in the game but it has suddenly just occurred to me I am going to birth a child. Probably sooner than later. More to the point – there will be a baby coming out of my woo-hoo. I don’t know why, but I always just imagined during birth you just kind of go into game mode and things just happen. I was kind of depending on this “mother earth trance” to come upon me and I’d be so in the zone and in so much pain that things would just be happening. I wasn’t really expecting to be so “with it” and thinking logically ” this is painful, I can’t imagine it getting more intense”. So, as this reality check hits me I am suddenly terrified. My eyes fill with tears and I look at Courtney and say “I can’t do this. I think I’ve changed my mind. I’d just like to get another dog.” and Courtney says the most profound thing I want to tell every pregnant woman for the rest of time. She looks at me and goes “You’re not going to do it. Your body is. Your body knows what to do.” This is exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to remember that my body already made a child all without my input (and I’m kind of a control freak so that’s rather impressive). My body knows what it’s doing and it will know how to birth this baby it’s already made.
Ok. I can do this.
Jordan returns with the bags. At this point, I spy the bag of goldfish crackers on the counter. I stand up and waddle over to get them and mother Courtney says “Are you allowed to eat those?” (I’m starving! I had like two spring rolls at the wedding) and I was told to eat so I was nourished for labour. Apparently I wasn’t even clueing in to how fast things were moving. The nurse comes in at that exact moment and I sheepishly ask “Can I eat these?” and she smartly returns “Yes, if you want to see them again in transition”. Ok, cranberry juice and ginger ale it is (this is also a decision I will live to regret later).
Now, I need to make an honourable mention: The nurses. Before delivery, I kept hearing how amazing the nurses were. This was more true than I could ever imagine. Someone at some point basically told Jordan “don’t worry about remembering anything from your birth class – the nurses do it all anyways.” True. From the moment I got there, they coached me through my breathing, helping me to stay on top of my contractions. Jordan then tried to “critique my breathing” when I veered from my controlled breathing and I just about fired him as my baby-daddy. Just let the nurse do it. They were so patient and incredible. We had a shift change near the beginning and our departing nurse throws down the gauntlet “I’m leaving, but I’m back tomorrow morning. I better not see you here then” I’ll do my best. Our new nurse Caroline was this cute perky (also pregnant) little lady and was oh so lovely through the whole thing. If I said jump, she asked how high. I wanted to keep her. Forever. (Ps how do labour and delivery nurses see all these crazy labours all the time and still have children? I’ve had one child and resigned myself to only getting dogs from this point forward. Birth is the best form of birth control.)
At some point Caroline asked what my birth plan was and I basically said “my plan is to try and do it without drugs, but if I decide I need something – then give it to me”. Super specific.
The contraction situation: I am currently sitting on a stool with a wobble seat on top (kind of like a tippy bike seat type of a thing), wobbling back and forth. During each contraction, Jordan sits on the edge of the bed leans over and I brace myself on his back while rocking back and forth. Through the contractions I kept breathing and poking my fingers into Jordan’s back. I have a contraction, Jordan gets a massage. Totally fair.
At one point they tried to get me to walk around the ward. Stupid. Who wants to be out in public while in pain? Not me. Back to my room. Caroline also brought me an exercise ball to try – I didn’t like it. I went back to wobbling.
Eventually, around 7:30, they have a delivery room ready for me and so I waddle down the hall to the last room on the end. Courtney then provides more hospital commentary “Oh room eight! That’s a good one. Nice and quiet.” Excellent, that makes up for putting me in a broom closest at the beginning. At some point after that, Courtney left the delivery room and went home to quickly get changed. I don’t remember when that happened.
As we got settled into our room, I remembered I should keep going to the bathroom to keep my bladder empty. I announce this to the nurse “Yes dear. That’s a good idea – but if you feel the need to have a bowel movement, we need to check you – that’s probably a feeling of having to push”. OH MY GOSH – that’s what that feeling is. This is all happening too soon. I pee then they check:
Doctor: “Ok – you’re about 7 cm along”
Jordan: ” SEVEN?!”
The doctor informs me that I still have a bit of the sac that hasn’t ruptured. She’s going to rupture it for me. I remember my mom once telling me how they did that.
Shelly Olsen: “It’s like a giant knitting needle and they just pop it like a balloon”
That seriously could not have been more accurate than that. She literally burst my bubble. (Too much? Maybe.)
This was game on. Contractions were fast and furious and intense. They offered me some gas to take the edge off, I tried it. What I wasn’t expecting was it just to be a little tube I was suppose to breathe in and out of. I assumed it was a gas mask. I kept breathing in and taking it out and breathing out. Probably not the most effective route, and they had to keep telling me to keep it in my mouth. I finally decided this was doing absolutely nothing for me except giving me something to concentrate on and I think I said something like “I don’t like this – here.” Jordan later informed me that I had in fact actually yanked the hose out of the wall and they kept having to put it back in. That might explain the feeling nothing.
Jordan got a cool cloth and was blotting my head – this felt like something out of an old movie but it felt nice. More effective than stupid gas. I guess no one got the Shelly Olsen memo because suddenly it was time to push. Now. Birth is a lot like your wedding day – no one tells you about the behind the scenes drama until after the big event. Jordan told me afterwards that things happened so quickly the nurses hit the big red button for the doctor to get back in there, they weren’t expecting me to be that fast.
The amusing part about this was early in my pregnancy Jordan had tried to float the idea of him not being in the delivery room. (He isn’t that good with “body stuff”) I had assured him he wouldn’t have to be in the end zone, he could just be up by my head and hold my hand.
Now. *this is the “detailed” part – you are warned* The nurse says “ok Jordan, grab her leg (oops..did I say you’d just have to hold my hand? I meant leg.) so now I’m thinking about “well this will be a good story later” / “I hope he doesn’t pass out”. Pushing was definitely a different experience than I expected. But as I begin to push, new curve ball – I began to throw up. I was so shocked (as I’m sure the nurses and doctor were) but surprise! Jordan was right in the splash zone. Poor guy. I’d push and puke. Jordan, (who was promised to just be hand holding) was now holding my leg and a puke bucket. With every push, I’d throw up, then I’d apologize. Jordan finally said “It’s ok..I think I have the better end of this deal”. Wise words dear. Wise words. It was strangely comforting as the older motherly nurse kept saying “Oh you poor dear, oh my goodness poor you” this made me feel a bit better about this unexpected guest appearance of this bodily fluid. (Jordan later told me the nurse told him after that she hadn’t seen anything like that in all her 30 years of midwifery and nursing. – Lucky me.)
In my head I had it that you push a few times – the head comes out, then another good push or two, shoulders and then you’re done. Apparently my birth wasn’t like the movies (surprise!) As I began to push efficiently, the doctor says “ok, three more contractions and then I’ll get you to stop pushing for a minute”. THREE MORE CONTRACTIONS?! I wanted to be done in three more contractions!! The nurse then grabs my hand and says “Feel that? That’s the head” Well, apparently I’m not nearly as mother earthy as I’d like to be because, truthfully, that didn’t feel like the beautiful head of my first born baby, it felt rough and pokey. I was giving birth to a straw broom. Or Bob Marley.
As I was beginning to feel like this would never end and suddenly, Jord says as I finish off a very strong contraction “Do you see that babe? They’re bringing out the cart. You remember what that means from our tour? That means they’re getting ready to deliver the baby! It’s almost here!” Good work Jord. If there was any moment that made it worth having you here – it was that pep talk. I needed that to get me through the last few minutes. I also remember thinking as I watched the nurse stroke my leg as she held it “I am so thankful I shaved my legs this morning” (In my defence, I didn’t realize I was in labour while doing it – I just thought I was going to a wedding) After my “3 more contractions” I pushed with all my strength and probably the most dramatic shriek of my entire life. When the doctor pulled our baby out and put them on my chest all could think what “that baby is HUGE” and “why am I still in pain?”. As they put my baby on my chest, they asked Jordan “What did you have dad?” and they quickly covered us (baby and I) with a warm blanket. That makes for a fun guessing game. Between the umbilical cord and being so red and puffy… Jordan was like “ummmmmm” as we fished under the blanket to determine the gender of our child. The nurse finally took pity on us/ was impatient and strongly hinted “SHE doesn’t have any dangly bits!”
IT’S A GIRL!!!
My whole pregnancy I kept saying “All I can picture is having a girl, but I am convinced I’m having a boy”. I could not picture having a boy at all. We didn’t even have ONE boy’s name. I was panicking on the way to the hospital. I just kept saying over and over “I can’t believe we have a girl! I wanted a girl” I’m pretty sure the doctor and the nurse must have been thinking I was some kind of raging feminist.
I didn’t have this amazing unexplainable love instantly, but as I looked at her, all I could think was “you’re our baby. I love you because you’re ours, I can’t believe we made you and you’re here. You’ve been with us for nine months but now you’re here and you’re a GIRL! I wanted a girl!”
Finnley Mae Baker was here. All 7 lbs 10 oz of her. 18 minutes of pushing and 3.5 hours of active labour (Mom, thank you again for your genes. ). I think impressed the nurses with my speed (but not as much as with my puking) at least, they all pretended to be impressed. Maybe they do that for every new mom to make her feel like a champ when she feels like roadkill.
I also think I said to Jordan afterwards “I need to tell Trina and Laura (our expectant pregnant friends) they can do it. This is doable. But I never want to do it again”. If I have ever understood when people talk about appreciating their body – this was it. I couldn’t believe my body did this.
Now people, this is the moment where I can explain the ten million comments on having my hair done after delivery. Curl holds in my hair through workouts, sleep, rain and running. It was still curled from the wedding, I did not do my hair after delivery, who do you think I am, Kate Middleton? Jordan’s talented but he’s no glam squad.
I feel this blog post is already way too long and if you’re still reading, you’re either my mom or bored. I really don’t have any way to wrap this up neatly, but I will say, having a baby has broken my heart in new ways. I’ve heard it said, having a child is like having your heart walking around outside your body. My heart is so easily broken these days. I sat in the darkness of our hospital room that night holding my new baby, still so uncomfortable from delivery and weeping thinking of every Syrian refugee and mothers losing their babies as they were making their treacherous journey across the sea to freedom. Every mother having their babies in refugee camps, not only is that a scary place to bring a baby into the world but also thinking about how exhausted and in pain these mothers would be and they’d have to just keep moving. No rest, no sympathy, no recovery. Here I am, with my baby, safe, comfortable, doted on, with a safe place to recuperate, celebrate and rejoice in our new baby. Seeing every child on the news and my heart breaking on a whole new level picturing my sweet innocent baby. Crying for the heartache of mothers losing their children/struggling through issues with their children that were once their sweet innocent babies too. Suddenly my heart is so broken for the world. I hope I never lose this. I understand God’s love for us as His children and see a bigger glimpse of the Father’s love in sending His son in a powerful new way. We are so loved.
If you’re still reading – thanks for sticking with me this far. I’m sorry for taking an hour of your life- but, you were warned.