And here it is, for the first time in print ANYWHERE, a year and a half later, Note’s birth story. Eventually I’ll repeat this to Note every year on their birthday. It’s a tradition I picked up from my mother in law (she even made up a fake birth story to tell me on my birthday) that I absolutely love.
I went to bed on April 20th, 2014 filled with relief that I had reached full term and finally letting go some of the anxiety about having a baby before my due date (which isn’t actually bad, but I’m quite neurotic after all). I remember my last thought before I drifted off to sleep was “You can come any time you want now, baby.”
I woke up the next morning feeling strange. It is a feeling I can’t quite describe and I’ve never felt before, but I just felt inexplicably different. I knew, without knowing how I knew, that I would be holding a baby in my arms instead of my belly by the end of the day. I got up, went to the bathroom, and lost my mucus plug. That must have been some time around nine am. I was getting belly aches, which I suppose were contractions, but they didn’t actually hurt. They were a strange sensation that made me uncomfortable and not want to be sitting, but they weren’t actually painful. Frank still had days off at the time (how I long for those once more now!) so we had a pre-natal appointment scheduled for two pm. We called the midwife and told her what was going on. She asked how far apart my contractions were, and when I said three minutes, she didn’t believe me and told me I must be counting wrong (bitch please, I’m an engineer) and said to just wait for my appointment.
Frank loaded everything up into the car that I had listed for our bags, which we were going to find out was a really unnecessary amount of stuff. It felt like an eternity to have to wait for our appointment, but we somehow managed. Frank tried to force me to eat, but I really didn’t want to put anything in my mouth at the time. We left around noon to go to Wesleco and get to the birth center. I threw up along the way, and I was so glad I had decided to keep trash bags and towels in the truck in fear of this.
Our appointment went well. Wight, blood pressure, listening to Note’s heart, etc. They did a cervical check and I had just barely entered active labor at four centimeters dilated. By this time, the contractions had started to pick up (and they finally believed that they were coming three to four minutes apart) and actually started to cause pain. Heather, the midwife and the only one on duty, told me it would be a while before I had a baby, so I could go home and wait or stay there and wait. Luckily, I’m extremely stubborn and I decided not to leave. This decision was probably the best one I made throughout the whole ordeal. We were ushered into a random birth house and told to wait there and take a nap and rest up. I somehow managed to sleep a bit between contractions, but most of the time I was crying and screaming that I wouldn’t be able to do this and I wanted an epidural. I went into the shower every time there was hot water and took a nap in the tub for a while too. We called and asked for Heather a few times, asking her to bring some Tylenol for pain relief, but she never showed up. We just kept being told she was really busy.
At some point a little after 5:30 I really felt like I had to poop. I went to the toilet and started trying to have a bowel movement, but couldn’t force it out. I went to cry (literally cry) to Frank about how I just really wanted to poop and he told me to try again, so I went back to the bathroom. I couldn’t force anything out yet again, and something just clicked in me to reach into my vagina and check for the baby. I almost fainted when I could feel the bag of waters around Note’s head. I yelled for Frank and told him to call Heather now because I was having that baby if she was there to catch it or not.
Heather (finally) arrived about ten minutes later. Her nurse started getting the tub ready for a water birth. At first, before later, I had been quite against a water birth just for fear, but once I was in labor I found that water was the only thing that soothed my misery. She was leading me to the tub when she decided to check my cervix instead, so we went back to the bed. I was fully dilated and effaced and she could easily feel Note’s head.
I could barely walk to the tub and climb in, but somehow I made it, whining all the while about how I wanted some pain relief and asking if I had other options than having a baby, as well as, very awkwardly, asking “why is this happening?” Luckily, everyone was smart enough to leave that question alone. The water barely covered anything at all, and my greatest fear was realized: I pooped in the water. I didn’t care at the time, and I don’t really care now. But before labor I was really worried about it.
It took two pushes, one for the head and one for the body, and then Note was born at 5:55 pm.My water never broke, and Note was born en caul, a quite rare and special experience. Note’s umbilical cord was also wrapped around their neck twice, which was scary, and I tried to unwrap it myself but they were slick with birth stuff. Heather was great at this point, freeing Note without pushing my fumbling hands away. While waiting to deliver the placenta, I took Note in my arms and tried to latch them for the first time. They did it and nursed like a champ. It was such a magical moment, and all the fears and reservations I had about being a mother simply melted away in that moment. That was when I knew that Note would be my child forever.
At some point, I wanted relief from the awkward position we were sitting in, so we migrated everything to the bed. The placenta still wasn’t ready to be delivered, but the cord had stopped pulsating so we were ready to cut it. We had discussed with Heather before that Frank would be cutting the umbilical cord with his chef knife, and he did. He still uses that knife as his primary knife to this day. He does want to retire it until he begins working somewhere else, but he hasn’t found a knife he likes enough to replace it with yet.
Once the umbilical cord was cut, Note was taken to be weighed and measured (7 lbs 7 oz and 19 3/4 in long) with Frank watching while I delivered the placenta. That wasn’t a painful experience at all, except for Heather’s hand pressing on my mid-section. After it was delivered, she showed it to me and explained how healthy it looked and what made it so. That was a really interesting lesson as I love learning all sorts of new things, and I had never read any of that in the pregnancy and childbirth books.
Note footprints and handprints were taken for the baby book, and after that we were left to be a family. Maribel arrived late, so she completely missed the birth, but it was nice to have her there for support once Note was born. She took a couple of pictures and helped us out with packing things up once more. We barely got any of the thousand items I thought we would need down, and didn’t use almost any of them at all. Really, all that was needed was some clothes for me, a diaper, and an outfit for Note. And don’t forget the always-important carseat.
We left as soon as we were discharged. We thought about staying the night because Frank was on house arrest at the time and this was our chance to be out and also be alone as a family. We ultimately decided against it and just went straight home. Note didn’t mind the carseat or car ride, and I sat in the back with them.
Once we got home, Frank’s mom was waiting for us. She didn’t impose, just wanted to see the baby, know how it went, etc. She has become like a surrogate mother to me, so I was more than happy to have her there. I couldn’t imagine having to stay in the hospital for three days with my newborn. The next day, Frank and I were out and about showing Note off and running errands. I can’t imagine being bed-ridden due to a c-section either. Overall, a vaginal delivery was amazing. I loved giving birth and would do it a hundred thousand times if my body would let me. More than anything, I loved becoming a mother, and I absolutely cannot wait to do it again.