Trigger warning this story involve mentions of my first pregnancy that became my first angel baby.
This story is of my first birth. Of how she came to be and the journey we embarked together.
“MOM! That’s so gross!” laughs my thirteen-year-old daughter, interrupting me from getting to the really good part of her story into this world. After my post “Writing your Birth story” I decided it was a good time to look for the roughest drafts of my own birth stories. Cut to me knee deep in memorabilia in the storage closet long distracted from my original task. My daughter, Azariah sent to retrieve me, falls prey and gets sucked in. As we are milling through baby clothes and stuffed animals, she asks to hear the story of her birth. Task restored; I start to tell her the story of her birth…
I had been grieving the loss of my first pregnancy. Content to live my life in depression’s embrace. After a time, my friends and family helped me realize that for my health, I needed to make a change. I set my mind that the New Year would bring new meaning to my life. I worked the rest of the year on my mental and physical health. Focused on improving my relationships with my husband, friends, family, and myself.
New Year’s Eve that year was low key and wonderful. My husband and I stayed home with his mother, nieces, and nephews. We cheered to the new year and went to bed. Three weeks later I knew something was amiss. My monthlies hadn’t faltered yet, I knew. Sure enough 2 lines. Test after test, 2 lines. I was so confused. I was so abundantly overjoyed, and heartbroken. I thought of my baby that I didn’t get to meet. The baby I failed. The mother I wanted to be and the ways my body failed at completing the task. I was scared and so hopeful. The chance to be a mom. To love a child. To have a family. I begged the Universe, forces of life, and the All Mighty that might hear my prayer, to please let me be a mother on this earth. Please grant my body the ability to carry and birth life. To share hope, love, and life with. Though I had lost one, I was desperate for this new hope. I felt horrible for wanting to have this baby. I hadn’t forgotten my first. I felt guilty because I was ready to jump at a chance to let her go and love this new baby growing in me in a little under a year. (I received counseling.)
Morning sickness starting at 4 weeks and morphing into all day sickness by 7 weeks was my penitence, I was sure. No matter what I ate, drink or did, everything was determined to violently come up making for some VERY interesting trips about town. I still will not go to Chilies in Weatherford from shame. I later found out I was suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I worked with a nutritionist to find solutions. For me that meant eating what I craved (a TON of Arby’s), a creative meal plan to ensure nutrient goals were being met, flintstone vitamins (my tummy couldn’t handle prenatasl), lots and lots and even more water, pressure point therapy, massage, and just accepting that I was going to puke every now and then, so like the scouts, “Be prepared,” became my motto.
By 4 months along, I was a pro. Even took my “Kit” with me into the sonographer’s office the day of the big gender reveal. I knew, just instinctually knew, that I was hosting a female. I could feel her strength, her passion, not to mention tons of headaches. We had discussed girl names for weeks. My husband cough his mother cough wanted concrete proof before settling on any names. I wasn’t going to argue. I knew her name. I was excited to be proved right and to see my baby. Reassurance that she was okay, that I was still an expecting mother. With this much excitement and nerves, I was going to need my Kit. No matter who it embarrassed. Together my husband, his mother and I settled in to see the baby. After tons of prodding, sure enough we got the information. I was still expecting to be a mom and to a daughter. I secretly named her the moment I had seen her heartbeat. My daughter, Azariah. Azariah meaning “helped by God” or “true to the nurturer of love”.
With my first pregnancy I had taken childbirth education courses and even began work as an assistant to a midwife. I thought that I knew everything that I needed to know about birth and what to expect. All the questions to ask and how to spot red flags in a provider. I was wrong.
My OB was kind, understanding, and agreed to everything I asked of him, no questions asked or recommendations made, even after discussing my birth plan and request for no blood products. I thought I had hit the jackpot. At 6 months I started having contractions. I went to the hospital and was told it was Braxton hicks, or false labor, and to drink more water. My OB wasn’t on call. After 3 days of contracting on bedrest except to float to the bathroom, Monday morning I see my doctor. I was 4 cm dilated and 30% effaced after a hospital observation for 3 days. I was released to bedrest told I would kill my baby if I did anything else. I felt unsafe. I was 17, scared, alone (my husband had to work), and bullied to believe I wasn’t doing everything I could for my baby, the baby I had wanted for so long. I recalled my knowledge from that childbirth education course: “If you feel unsafe you might be with the wrong caretaker”. Inexperience led to me being bullied to believe that I would never get another provider to care for me this late in the game, not with my health record. And I believed him. I should have fired him right then and there. Hindsight is 20/20.
At 38 weeks I was talked into being induced. Told that it was the best thing for me and my baby. I knew that going into labor naturally was the best scenario but was told that since I had started and stopped natural labor at six months, my body wouldn’t start again. So, we decided to go for it. After all, I was tired of bedrest! I wanted her out! So, we decided at 39 weeks I would be induced. After 24 hours of Pitocin a nurse walked in with two bags of blood and things to break my water. I’m told that the doctor ONLY delivers after moms have had a bag or 2 of blood depending on their levels. I demand to talk to my OB immediately. The staff is not happy with my decision or that they have to call my doctor in early to “deal” with me. Warning bells going off like crazy! My OB arrived perturbed. He said he would discuss the issue of blood with me once I agreed to a vaginal check. My exam revealed I was still at 4 cm dilated and 30% effaced, with baby at 0 station. My contractions had stopped for the first time in 4 months, even with Pitocin on high. I was scared and determined. I had come hoping to see my baby, but I would do what was best and what my instincts said. I would birth my way. He notified me that to move forward, I had to accept blood because HE ONLY delivers that way. When I asked why I wasn’t told this the multiple times we discussed my labor and delivery, he said he hadn’t seen the point in arguing and upsetting me early on. That it was better to wait.
I’m so grateful for that early education class. It gave me the knowledge and confidence to do what was right for my baby and myself. I asked to be discharged. I signed an AMA (against medical advice) and left knowing I was doing the right thing no matter how scary it was. I thought that I was going to have to deliver my baby unassisted at home, unable to find an opening for a new care provider at 4 and 2. I was also very fearful of this as an option with my first.
I spent the next 2 weeks at home in the bathtub, the only place I found comfort. Now in a safe place, my contractions returned. We tried every trick in the book to bring on my labor. Nothing worked. There was a particular nasty bout with a bottle of castor oil.
My husband was due to travel to Irving for a work training that would be 2 weeks long. I just knew the day he left I would have the baby. So, the true waiting began. The day of his departure he told me that he had gotten permission to take me with him and the company booked a room with a motel next to the hospital. Here is where my story gets blurry. I was in early labor for a long period of time and with hormone surges unable to fully remember, unaware at the time that is what it was. Here is what I remember, how I remember it today 1-28-2021. That day was the best! No contractions (so I thought). I got to lay around and relax. I watched tv, snacked, went for a walk, talked with the attendant, and got to take a long nap. When my husband arrived back at the hotel, we went out to a good dinner. Was having no discomfort until 12 when something felt off. Back to the trusty tub. Hours seemed to pass in minutes, and something wasn’t right. The tub was holding back the power that bring relief to my aching body. I woke my husband and we traveled to the hospital at 9:30. I got checked and was still at 4 cm dilated, but this time 40% effaced, and told to take 2 Ambien if still unable to sleep. If it’s true labor, I should come back in the morning. I went straight back to the tub at our arrival at the hotel. I start to drift in and out of sleep.
(Here I started to read my rough draft notes. These are the notes I wrote in the space after her birth. My mind groggy and drowned in hormones.)
Time has started to crawl; moments feel like decades. Even though I am mentally present, I find my conscious drifting off to the sidelines. Watching, waiting, anxious for a change in existence, yet unsure of what it is. I startled awake to a new sensation. At 3:42 I woke my husband. “We have to go back! There is something wrong!” As we walk into L&D, a nurse says “Oh, back already? Frequent flyers are ya?” In this moment I’m glad she wasn’t my nurse, as I was swayed by this interaction to despise her. I am taken to a room by a young nurse who is kind. After witnessing a few contractions as she gets me set up, she instructed my husband to go to nurses’ station to get some scrubs on. She was going to get the doctor. They both leave me. The moment I had been counting down to, the moment I dreaded, come to fear. The moment I desired more than life itself was finally upon me. Alone in the dark, chill air, caressing my body, caused my skin to prick up. I was aware of the smallest details letting the larger escape me. Wires were streaming from my arms and across my torso, binding me to the hard bed. Lost in thought, staring into the emptiness of my dread, I start to see glimpses of hope, shards of time filled with love. Painted with the images of the path I chose. My new world, my first true soul mate. My child.
A soft patter beyond the door pulled me from my daydreams. A sharp knock fully pulled me back to place. A shock of excitement ran up my spine. A pudgy, middle-aged woman with a wide smile and shining green eyes popped around the curtain, greeting me good early morning. She told me her name was Adele and that she was there to help me on my path to birthing my baby. She asked if she could do an exam. As she started my exam my waters broke, only a small amount, with baby’s face right behind! She says “Oh, Lordy! You’re in a hurry!” She shouted for a doctor, but it was too late. My contractions were no longer waves but crashing typhoons pushing my tight abdomen tighter and my baby farther down. The pressure had taken its toll on me. Something primal and undeniably from deep within said PUSH! I said, “I know I’m pooping on you, but can you break it off its starting to be uncomfortable.” Adele’s response was “That’s your baby’s head! Not poop!” I’m lost in a fog of pain, love, hope, faith, trust, understanding, and realization. All reason comes flooding back. I’m almost done! The most beautiful sound crested the room’s orchestra. Her first cry pulled my heart. I am a mother.
The young nurse took my daughter over to the corner where a glass bed was waiting. Something had gone wrong. The doctor once waiting by the door now rushed to replace Adele. My eyes were shouting for understanding. Adele read my expression and quickly crossed the room. She looked at my daughter and then returned to my side. She told me that my daughter’s body had been in meconium (first poop) for hours, and that me sitting in the tub saved her by allowing her face to create a seal of fresh fluid for her to breath. But they still had to take her to NICU to be examined. As my baby was ushered away from me, my husband following, I felt the surge again. My placenta was delivered. The young nurse caught it in a bowl and covered it to whisk it away. I demanded to see it. She told me that it’s gross, but I demanded to see the organ I created to house my child. One quick glance and a poke was enough to satisfy 17-year-old me. After the rush of cleaning up, I was left alone to wonder, to fear, to process. I took the time to write some notes and fell asleep. I awoke to a nurse reading my blood pressure and asked 3 things: “Where is my baby? Where is my husband? Where is my food?”
My daughter was born 8lb 7oz 19 3/4 in long at 4:26 am Nov 13th, 2007, without any medication or augmentation. She was born after 2 pushes and 1 grunt. I only dilated to 8cm due to sexual trauma at an early age. I delivered with the aid of a second-degree episiotomy. My daughter was lucky in that she had not aspirated any meconium.
13 years later, I look back at the mix of emotions and memories fondly. We conquered the birthing day together. We continue to have our ups and downs, learning who we are and growing together, and enjoying every minute of it. Through this experience, and the loses, I will always remember. My other four birthing experiences all led me to assisting others along their journey. A decade and half later, I’m serving the DFW area as a Doula and Childbirth Educator for Birth Boot Camp. It’s my honor to teach and assist families as Odyssey of Life Birth Services.