Guys, I’m a mom to a six-year-old. Those words feel so unnatural to say aloud… SIX. YEARS. Six years that I’ve been a mom. What a wild ride.
Re-reading this birth story that I remember writing through rose-colored-hormone-induced-newborns-sleep-a-lot glasses is hilarious. I truly had no idea what I was in for–the guilt, the crazy, the heartache, the uncertainty, the milestones, the laughs, the joy.
He’s here. Mr. Harrison Gordon Garner finally made his long awaited appearance. Harrison was born February 9, 2012 at 7:34 p.m. He weighed 8 lbs, 7 oz and measured 21 inches long. His journey in to the world was anything but smooth, however, everyone was amazed that through my entire labor his heart rate never fluctuated. He was a strong little guy from the beginning.
I approached labor and birth with a completely open mind. I didn’t want to have an elaborate birth plan only to have something go wrong and, knowing me, completely stressing myself out. The one and only thing I didn’t want was induction. Almost everything I had heard about being induced was negative—longer labors, more complications, higher chance of c-section—and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. So when Mr. Harrison was late and my doctor set up an induction date of February 9th, the stress immediately set in. I started googling “natural labor inducing methods” and trying every one I could find (none of them work, by the way). By the time the 8th rolled around I was pretty much resigned to the fact that I would be going in at 7:30 the next morning to be induced. And then nature laughed. We went to bed around 11:30 that night. At 11:59 p.m. (I distinctly remember looking at the clock) I got up to pee and felt a little trickle out. My first thought was oh shit, I go this whole pregnancy without peeing myself and I have to start now. Then when I sat down on the toilet and everything came pouring out I realized my water had broke. HOLY CRAP. I yelled Tyler’s name. No answer. Tyler. No answer. TYLER. Huh? MY WATER BROKE. OH HOLY SHIT WHAT DO WE DO OH MY GOD OK. I just had to laugh. At this point I had been up since 8 a.m. that morning—so a total of 15 hours—little did I know this would be my longest stretch being awake in my whole life.
The long morning.
We got to the hospital at 1 a.m. They checked to make sure my water broke (side note: it doesn’t stop…like I was leaking all over the car, all over the hospital hallway, pretty gross) and then they moved us to our labor room. We met our nurse, Lori, who was absolutely amazing and who I would have as my nurse later in postpartum. The next 4 hours were spent walking the halls as contractions got stronger and stronger. My doctor wasn’t on until 7:30 and the doctor on call wanted to start me on Pitocin to get things rolling at 3 a.m. I was not thrilled about this but was so overwhelmed and, to be frank, freaked out I didn’t say anything. Thankfully, our amazing nurse saw the look on my face and suggested we wait until my doctor was on to get things rolling. So thankful she spoke up for me. This gave my body the time I think it needed to get things going on its own. So the next six hours were spent walking the halls, bending over on Tyler each time I had a contraction and anticipating Harrison’s arrival.
I remember thinking the morning was going by so quickly. I was in pain, but it was manageable and I was more worried about how intense they would get after Pitocin was started. I got hooked up to the IV—my first ever—and attempted to watch a movie. No go, couldn’t focus. Tyler attempted to get some sleep on the super comfortable (sarcasm) couch-bed. My doctor came in to see me at this point but I couldn’t tell you what we talked about other than I was still only 2 cm dilated. I do remember him looking me in the eye and saying, “You’re going to have a baby today!” At 8 a.m. I was starving and my doctor ok’d a light breakfast—big mistake—later I felt like I was going to throw it up because of the pain of the contractions. However, it was good I ate because I wouldn’t eat again until close to midnight. Contractions continued to get stronger but I got really good at breathing through them. Time was flying by, suddenly it was 10 a.m. and my mom showed up. We talked, I breathed through contractions and by 1 p.m. I was dilated to a 6. By then the pain was so intense and contractions were regular so I asked for an epidural. My plan all along was to go as long as I could without the epidural knowing that ultimately, I would probably get one.
The final stretch-kind of.
The epidural hurt. Really freaking bad. It didn’t help that I got the biggest doofus for an anesthesiologist who was talking about random things while poking and prodding around my spine. It also didn’t help that he offered no warning as to when he was going to poke me and he had a problem finding the right spot. I was bawling, squeezing Tyler’s hand and terrified I was going to be paralyzed because I was moving so much (I really wasn’t, it just felt like it). But when Dr. Doofus finally got the epidural in, it was instant relief. Tyler even said I took a nap—don’t remember it but at least I got some rest. At 5 p.m. I was 9.5 cm dilated and soon after I felt the urge to push. My family left to go to the waiting room fully expecting to hold a newborn baby in about an hour.
The main event.
The epidural was wearing off a bit so I was able to feel contractions as I started pushing. I got in to a good rhythm and honestly felt like I was doing a good job. They could see his head but every time I pushed it was a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. Harrison was slowly making his way out. After an hour of pushing the lack of sleep, not eating for 10 hours and just pure exhaustion was getting to me. At this point, my poor nurse, whose aim was to be encouraging, mistakenly said, “You’re about halfway done!” ONLY HALFWAY?! That was the first time I thought I was going to die. Pushing continued and it turns out Harrison was sideways, making his descent that much more difficult. At two and a half hours of pushing the decision was made to use the vacuum on him. I was exhausted and my pushing was making little to no progress each time. As I watched the doctors and nurses get ready for his arrival it felt like a dream. There were a few more nurses in the room, Tyler was dutifully putting cool wash cloths on my forehead and it was almost time to meet my son. The vacuum was in place and I felt another contraction come on. My doctor asked if it was ok to make a little incision to help him come out. My mind immediately flashed to all of the reading I did on episiotomies and how awful they were so I blurted out NO. But back tracked when I realized he wouldn’t have suggested it if it wasn’t necessary and said that if he thought it was necessary then yes, absolutely do it. He ended up not doing the episiotomy and I wonder if the outcome of my labor would have been better if he did. I’ll get to that in a second. So the vacuum was in place and I was pushing through a contraction. I felt him crowning at the end of the contraction and there I had to stay, with his head halfway out, until the next contraction. I have never felt such pain in my life. It was also the longest minute and a half in the history of history. Finally, the next contraction came and I was determined to get him out so I pushed with everything I had and I felt, then saw, his little body come out. He immediately started crying so they put him to my chest. I was bawling, I couldn’t believe I did it. I was looking at my son. Tyler was crying. We were both just in awe that he was here. Harrison stopped crying on my chest and looked in to my eyes and I immediately fell in love.
If I would have been more observant at the time I would of realized that not everything was fine and dandy. The nurses looked frantic and my doctor looked more serious and focused than I’ve ever seen him. Turns out I lost a lot of blood, like I was inches from a transfusion. On top of that, I had a fourth degree tear, the worst possible tear you can have. To put it mildly, I was a mess. It took a good 30 minutes but my doctor got me stitched up. My family, I was told, was freaking out. My mom was pacing by the door because she had a terrible feeling that something was wrong. Everyone was relieved when they could finally come in and hold the little guy.
The poor guy had a big knot and bruise on his head from the vacuum. We were told it was likely he would develop jaundice because of the bruising but he never did. See? Tough little guy. He couldn’t have a bath until close to 2 a.m. that night because he was running a slight fever. But thankfully, that subsided pretty quickly. He didn’t cry getting his shots or even when he got his circumcision. Such a good baby.
That night was really hard. I attempted to walk to the bathroom at around 2 a.m. and started to feel really nauseous. My nurse was with me and called for another nurse to get the backward wheelchair thingy (I don’t know) to help me get back to my bed. As I was about to step to the chair, everything went black and I actually said, “I’m blacking out.” I collapsed and felt all of these arms catching me then holding me up. It’s amazing how quickly there were four nurses there to help. This was the second time I thought I was going to die. It was scary. When they got me back to my bed I immediately started bawling, I never imagined it childbirth would be this hard. Tyler was out of the room helping to give Harrison his first bath. Just one of the many things I missed on his first night. I wasn’t able to get out of bed—except to pee in the portable-chair-toilet—for over 24 hours. It was hell. My hemoglobin count was extremely low and I had to keep the IV in until my last night in the hospital. Pain meds helped a little but I felt very helpless during my stay. Tyler was an absolute saint, he got up every time Harrison cried, changed every diaper, and took care of me the best he could. The nurses were HEAVEN SENT. I couldn’t imagine having to do their job but they did it with humor and a smile on their face, which I appreciated so much.
I’m slowly starting to feel like my old self. I’m healing well and even got out of the house to go to Target on Harrison’s 12th day. I’m not going to lie, this whole experience was terrifying and I doubt I will want to go through it again anytime soon (if ever) but I am so in love with our boy. He’s perfect. So I guess all of the clichés are true in that I’d do it all over again just for him.
You may not know this about Heather and I but we love a good birth story so if you’ve got one, we want to read it! Drop your links in the comments!