Can you believe it’s already been TWO months since Freddy was born? I truly can’t believe it and have no idea where the time went.
It’s taken me a while to finally find the energy to type this out. To be honest, my birth experience was a little rough mentally and super tough physically – so if you’re looking for a birth story that is only a positive one, please refrain from continuing on.
Though, I wouldn’t necessarily call my experience negative. It was my own unique adventure that happened so fast and slow at the same time. I really believe I was in another world, almost like a dream state with one mission in mind: Get baby out safely.
It was Saturday evening when I first noticed some weird cramping. I already convinced myself that Freddy was going to come a week or two late because that’s typically what happens for first time moms – usually from the anxiety and anticipation.
The cramping was super mild and only happened once ever few hours. I thought nothing of it. Saturday morning rolled around and we went to brunch at Anchorage with my mom, dad, and my step-mom. I was feeling completely out of it and the cramping had gotten a tiny bit more intense. It didn’t feel like a contraction – or at least, it didn’t feel like what people described as a contraction – so I shrugged it off. After brunch we went to Walmart and pick up a few last minute baby items, specifically a diaper trash can (literally just a normal plastic trash can) and some Dreft strain remover spray. I noticed the cramps getting even more frequent, but still not enough for me to consider them being contractions.
We were supposed to have dinner that night with my dad and my step-mom. We ended up postponing as everyone was tired. I was feeling incredibly tired and noticed my cramps getting more consistent. I could feel them in my back and lower abdomen.
With this being our first time, we truly had no idea what to expect. I remember sitting on the toilet Sunday night googling “can a contraction be in your back and/or lower abs?” and to my surprise the answer was yes. I called out to Eric and told him that I think I’m in early labor. We decided to wait and see if the contractions got closer together and more frequent. We assumed we’d be in early labor for some time and planned to go to work the next day.
Well, Monday came and around 7:00 am my contractions were way closer together to the point where Eric had us to go the Birth Center. When I got to the birth center, my midwife Miranda checked my dilation and I was only at a 4. She suggested I try walking for 2 hours in hopes that it would help increase my dilation. 2 hours pass and I remained the same. We headed back home and I felt super frustrated. Trying to get through a contraction while in a moving vehicle is not fun.
When we got home, Eric wrapped me in 3 heating pads and I fell asleep for a few hours. When I woke up, the labor was so intense. It felt like I was having a contraction minutes apart. It was about 9:00 pm (Monday night) and Eric made the call to head back to the birth center.
I was sad to learn that I was still only 4 centimeters dilated and felt completely defeated. Eric quickly asked about our options and she said we could do one of two things: Head back home to labor and wait it out or transition to the hospital to get some relief. In my head, my priorities went like this: 1. health & safety of me and the baby 2. my overall experience 3. having a natural birth. By this point in the labor I felt completely miserable. It was right then and there that I realized that I needed to own my heart and follow my gut. My experience was completely compromised and I knew what I wanted to do. I refused to continue to let the experience be completely terrible.
I made the decision to go to the hospital with the goal of seeking relief and to gain back control of the situation. I wanted to enjoy the rest of my birth experience. As women we have to remember that more often than not, we have a choice. I also believe that sometimes we just know what we have to do.
After making the call to move to the hospital, the pain in my lower back continued to escalate. My midwife made the arrangements for the hospital and we were put in a room right away. We had the sweetest nurse helping us and got us situated so incredibly fast. I was really impressed! I then got an epidural and it worked pretty fast. Within 20 minutes I was measuring 6 centimeter! It was clear my body just needed to relax and after over 24 hours of laboring and barely eating. I knew I made the right decision.
Side not: During labor I didn’t feel upset about my decision to go to the hospital, but after Freddy arrived, I definitely felt some residual sadness for not having the birth I initially wanted. I felt like I took the easy way out. Like I gave up. I’m sure there are plenty of women that have gone through the same emotional experience after birth. I know now that we have no reason to feel upset about our decisions. That those hard choices don’t make us weak, and in fact, make us that much stronger. There are still days where I feel sad about it, but then I look at my little babes face and remember that it was all worth it. No matter what your birth journey looks like, it’s incredibly beautiful and sacred.
After a few hours of sleep I woke up to being 9 centimeters dilated! I then got a small dose of pitocin and used a peanut ball for an hour to help move things along. This did the trick and it was time to start pushing!
A few minutes into pushing and I definitely didn’t feel the epidural anymore. It felt the same as the contractions I had before the hospital. I ripped off my hospital gown and belly monitor and turned into a baby-birthing goddess beast. I didn’t want anything touching me, so being hooked up to an IV was really frustrating. I so badly wanted to stand up but couldn’t since I still had the epidural. Every other minute I shouted for an ice chip to help keep up my stamina. I needed help pushing my legs back much farther than those silly stirrups. I definitely turned into gumby! I was pretty flexible as a kid ( I was a dancer back in the day) so I knew that my baby bearing hips needed to do the job they were always meant to do: GET THE BABY OUT.
I truly believe that I went to an alternate universe to retrieve my baby. I’ve never felt more vulnerable and powerful at the same time. None of it seemed real. In my head I kept asking myself if there was even a baby in there. Sure, you have the baby bump as solid evidence but while pushing (which felt like ages) it was hard to believe any progress was being made. I was so proud at how focused Eric was with helping me breathe and get through it. He was beyond encouraging throughout the entire processes and I’m pretty sure he was running on literally no sleep for over 24 hours.
After a solid two hours of pushing I finally got to meet my baby. The midwife pulled him up so quickly and put a blanket around him to cover his bottom half. I wanted to announce the sex and everyone waited for me to grab my breath to make the reveal.
I didn’t get that magic emotional moment you see in all those birth photos on Instagram. I was coming down from the epidural (even though I had no pain relief while pushing… but seriously the ring of fire is no joke!) and I was hyperventilating and needed oxygen. After taking a few minutes to calm down (again, it felt like an eternity!) I welcomed a sweet baby boy into the family.
I can’t remember everyone’s reactions but I do remember finally letting out the tears of joy that I’ve built up for 9 months. I truly couldn’t care less about the sex of the baby – I just couldn’t believe that he was finally in our arms. He was exactly what I imaged him to be. He was (and still is of course) the most beautiful, red headed baby and to this day I still can’t believe he’s our son. He was born a hefty 8 pounds and 13 ounces! I was in complete bliss being able to finally call him by his name: Freddy.
He latched right away and ate his fill of colostrum since my milk didn’t come in until that Friday. We settled into our rooms for the night and was visited by our midwife the next day. She told me that Freddy was facing sunny side – meaning his head was down but he was facing the opposite way! This made so much sense as to why I had excruciating pain in my lower back during labor. She was impressed that I pushed him out as quick as I did. She also told me that a lot of sunny side babies result in c-section (which I would have welcomed happily for the health and safety of me and babe) but I was thankful I was able to deliver him the way I did.
Freddy is the 7th of his name and he brings incredible joy to our lives. We’ve already learned so much about him and ourselves and can’t wait for what the future holds as a family of 3.
Postpartum is lot tougher than I thought it would be. I plan on doing a separate post about my experience featuring things that I’ve learned.