This post is long overdue.
My baby boy was born on July 4th at 3:12am. Labor was long and hard and full of tears and grit and doubt and determination. But after these past 3 weeks with my boy I’m already forgetting just how grueling it was because what came next has been so incredible and all-consuming it makes everything that came before feel like a vague, inconsequential memory.
I started having contractions Thursday night, July 2nd, at 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. They were barely noticeable; I had to concentrate to pick up when they were coming and going, but did note they were exactly 10 minutes apart. By the time my husband and I got ready for bed they had gotten strong enough that I hesitantly told my husband that I thought this might actually be happening. He looked at me excited and said, “Then we should make sure to get a good nights sleep!” He fell asleep three minutes later. But I laid in bed wide awake for the rest of the night. Between the adrenaline and excitement of knowing I was in early labor and the increasing pain of the contractions I could not sleep. At 5am my husband woke up and noticed that I was pacing around. He got up and we finished packing last minute items in our hospital bags, had breakfast and started taking walks up and down our street, stopping periodically while I breathed through what I *thought* was a painful contraction.
By late morning the contractions were averaging 5 minutes apart and felt painful enough that we decided to go the hospital. We checked in, cheerful and excited, only to find out I was only 1.5 cm dilated. They sent me home, and the nurse told me to come back when the contractions were so painful I could no longer smile or talk.
And only a few hours went by before I lost my ability to smile or talk. The contractions turned into pain that I would never have been able to conceptualize or anticipate…pain that radiated through my lower back as if my back was being broken in half. I cried and swore and tried different positions while my helpless husband tried anything he could do to help ease the pain. I took a hot bath, I tried listening to relaxing music, I tried the breathing techniques we learned in our birthing classes. Nothing could make a dent in the pain.
We returned to the hospital in the afternoon, this time no longer cheerful, but with tears streaming down my face as I navigated another contraction while my husband checked in. At this point I was 4.5 cm dilated and we were admitted. An hour and a half later, we were situated in a beautiful hospital room, with huge windows overlooking Los Angeles. My epidural had fully kicked in, and my body was feeling a warm buzz from both the anesthesia and from finally feeling relief from such horrible pain. We had our relaxing labor music playlist going, and we watched the sunset over the Hollywood Hills from our window. I started to feel a sense of peace and a happy glow, and became even more overcome as I saw fireworks out our window in celebration of the pending 4th of July holiday. After such an intense day, I finally relaxed. But I still couldn’t sleep.
By 10pm I was fully dilated and by 11pm I began pushing.
And continued to push for four hours.
It was the most physically grueling experience of my entire life. I was nearing almost 48 hours of no sleep, over 12 hours without food, and my body was weak from all the overwhelming pain from the past 24 hours. But with every contraction I had to push with every bit of strength and determination I had and didn’t have. My baby got stuck in my pelvic opening and I started losing strength. I started to become unresponsive as my husband tried to get me to look at him in an attempt to revive me with a pep talk. I was dizzy and weak and panicked, and finally the tears came and wouldn’t stop. But I continued to push with every contraction, grunting and crying and pushing as hard as I could. My doctor started talking of vacuums and c-sections, but I couldn’t bear that thought so I just kept pushing. Even with the epidural the pain was intense and scary; I felt like his head would break all my pelvic bones.
And finally, at 3:12am he was out and crying and then instantly calmed as he was put skin to skin on my chest. I was suddenly no longer tired, couldn’t feel anything as they stitched me up; it was just my baby, my husband and me in this magical moment.
I finally had my baby. I finally had my boy.
The past three weeks have been an overwhelming mix of euphoria, exhaustion, disbelief, contentment, fear, self-doubt, and excitement, but also filled with love so intense it makes my heart feel like it could break. Caring for such sweet innocence has brought me to tears many times. I’ve had so many oddly paradoxical emotions as my postpartum hormones have fluctuated and settled. But all I know is I love this boy so much it breaks my heart.
Although I’ve been quiet in the blogging world lately, I still think about my readers and my fellow bloggers all the time. I have so much respect and admiration for all of you; the journeys you’ve all taken and the strength you’ve all shown. I know you are all in different parts of your story, and I want you to know I still feel pain when you feel pain, and I feel joy when you feel joy. I’m cheering for all of you every step of the way. You’ve all helped me immensely as I’ve managed my own emotions and my own story to getting here. Even those readers who follow silently and I only know of when I look at my stats page – you’ve also brought me so much courage and encouragement.
Thank you all.