Friday, October 12, 2012

The Day I Became a Mom

*Warning: This post is long. Plus, it has a movie and lots of pictures! 

August 30 will always be one of my favorite days. It is the day I became a mom. Our Little Man made a speedy debut after less than 7 hours of labor two days before my due date. Actually, Cory and I had a minor meltdown the night before. I was so sick of being pregnant, but I knew that pregnancy typically ends with labor...and I was very nervous about the unknowns of delivery. We knew starting our family was the right choice, but my irrational 39 week 4 day pregnant mind started wondering, What were we thinking? I don't even like babies! and then of course realizing there was no turning back. Cory was scared as well, but his nervousness involved far fewer tears than mine. I guess Little Man knew we were at our wit's end, because my water broke within 6 hours.

To preface, I had a goal of having an unmedicated labor. Why did I want to go natural? It's not because I'm a whack job. Basically, I wanted to avoid as many medical interventions as possible. In my mind, interventions include IVs, constant electronic fetal monitoring, inductions, Pitocin, epidurals, narcotics, episiotomies, stirrups, forceps, vacuums, and Cesareans. While I think some of these are needed at times, I personally chose to avoid them. That Tylenol I took really took the edge off. Not. Also, this is lame, but I'm terrified of needles. Including really big epidural needles. Essentially, I wanted to be in as much control as possible and know exactly what was going on. To accomplish this, I planned to labor at home as long as possible, and then have a water birth with midwives at a hospital. I really wanted to have a water birth. But, you can't have one if you receive an epidural. I hired a doula, which is a woman who has given birth who helps you during your labor. While these were my personal preferences, I absolutely understand why many women get an epidural! Believe me. However, while I did feel a significant amount of pain during my labor, I think there is a difference between pain and suffering. Will I go natural again? Probably, but I'm open to other options as well.

I also hired a birth photographer. The budgeting side of me asks, "Why Crazy Lady?" There is only one first moment. One first breath. The moment that takes your breath away; that moment you fall in love. Cheesy sounding, yes, but my birth photographer captured those moments. I debated posting our birth slideshow, but Cory thought there would be some people who would want to watch it. Also, I am now a huge fan of birth photography. If you are considering it, I say bite the bullet. Note: I am having a baby in the slideshow, but there are no graphic shots. Skip to 2:50 to just watch the first time we saw him.

What did contractions feel like? During my pregnancy, I found it infuriating that whenever I looked up online, "What do contractions feel like?" I could never find a solid answer. I mean, hello, millions of women have given birth and we cannot create a definitive answer to that question? Now, after going through labor, I can see what they mean. It is unlike anything I have felt before. It is a tightening in your abdomen that takes over your whole body, ramps up in intensity and then gradually lessons. It hurts, yes, but each contraction has an end and labor doesn't last forever. I just took it one. contraction. at. a. time.

On Thursday morning, at about 3:30 am, I woke up to my water breaking. It was like a golf ball of water inside of me just popped. Pro: You know you're in labor. Game time. Con: If your contractions don't start pronto, you probably have to get induced.

I sat there realizing that I was going to have a baby that day. Which meant I wouldn't be pregnant any more! I was excited but nervous. No more time to agonize or mentally prepare. Although I was not yet having contractions, I decided to wake up Cory so he could put in a request for a substitute. He asked me what we were supposed to do next. I told him I thought that we were probably supposed to go back to bed, try and sleep, and wait for things to start rolling. Within minutes, the man was passed out. Meanwhile, I'm laying in bed, wide awake, wondering what I should be looking for.

Within an hour, I started having mild, cramp like contractions. I didn't time them, and just breathed to ten through them. After a while, they intensified, nothing major, but enough that I realized there was no chance I was getting any sleep. Around 6 am, I got up and took a nice, long, hot shower. I had a few contractions in the shower that I just breathed through. As I stood in the shower, I thought of all of the moms who said to say goodbye to undisturbed showers when you have kids. I love long, hot showers. It sounds so lame, but I stood in that shower wondering if this was my last wonderful shower. Negative! You can still take awesome showers when your kid is immobile. During this time, Cory gets up and starts tidying up the house.

Cory loves to tell the next part of the story. Let's back up a bit. In the weeks leading up to Sheppard's birth, I had been refinishing our kitchen table. The night before he was born, I had put on a coat of polyurethane. I wasn't completely happy with it, plus I wanted to do another coat anyway. I came out in my towel and asked Cory where he put the sander. Confused, he told me that he had put it away. I made him get it out for me and then proceeded to sand my table, pausing every so often for a contraction, then resuming. So, yes, in the short part of my labor where I was having contractions but they were not yet all consuming, I sanded our kitchen table.

Meanwhile, Cory was watching the Today show, or doesn't matter. All that matters is that it was annoying. There was a hurricane hitting the Gulf and Cory kept wanting to small talk about the hurricane. I remember thinking, "I don't give a crap about the hurricane." At one point, I said something about how the contractions were getting closer together and he thought I was referring to the hurricane. No. Again, don't care about the hurricane. By the time I finished putting on the coat of polyurethane, which looked fabulous,  it was around 7 am and I decided it was time to text our doula, Jamie. By this time, contractions were much closer together. Jamie had me start timing them, and I think they were about 3-4 minutes apart. In retrospect, I should have texted her sooner, but she had told us that if I went into labor at night, to wait to contact her until I knew I needed her, because if it's a false alarm or too early in labor she usually is unable to fall back asleep. Mistake number one.

Cory made me a smoothie, but I was only able to finish part of it. I went into the bathroom to do my makeup. It may be vain, but I knew we had paid a birth photographer good money to document this day and I was not going to look busted!  It was difficult, because by this point I was having to stop and focus during each contraction, which were getting more and more intense. They reached the point that I was on my hands and knees during each one.

Due to the sanding incident, Cory thought that contractions were still mild and manageable. So, he was folding laundry in the other room. During one contraction I realized, "Where the flip is Cory?" I yelled, asking where he was and what was he doing? Laundry. Laundry? I don't care about the laundry!

Cory came in and it was so wonderful. He was so good. By this point, contractions were every couple minutes, lasting 30-45 seconds. So, before you've pushed out your first human, you don't really know how you are going to react to the contractions. My go to position was hands and knees. For a few contractions, I wanted Cory to lift up my belly. I wished that my doula was there with her rebozo. I told Cory to contact her again ASAP!

After that, I mostly wanted Cory to gently rub my back during each contraction and tell me that I could do it, that the contraction would end, and that I was doing a good job. Did I mention by number one love language is Words of Affirmation? By this point, contractions were intense enough that I was getting scared. I'll admit, I cried a little bit, but mostly because I was scared of what was to come. It was about 8 am, and contractions were already intense, requiring my full attention. Although my mom and sisters all had fairly fast labors, I thought I would probably have 5 more hours, since I was a first time mom. Since I was hoping to go medication free, that thought was unnerving.

During this time, I was nice to Cory; I only got mad if he referred to any contraction but the current one! No past contractions, no pending contractions, only the present contraction! During pregnancy, I had purchased an exercise ball because I had heard some women liked to labor while sitting on the ball. I had Cory bring it in. No go. I hated that ball. Why did I buy it? Stupid purchase.

I asked Cory to give me a priesthood blessing. It was honestly one of the best blessings I have ever gotten. In most priesthood blessings that I have received, the speaker talks about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the third person (i.e. Heavenly Father is mindful of you, etc.). Well, in this blessing, Cory gave the blessing as if he was Jesus Christ talking to me. It was really special. To paraphrase, the blessing said, "I can't take away the pain, but I know exactly what you're going through. You will be able to handle it and have the birth that you want." It was very cool.

Did I forget to mention that I was still in my towel during this episode? And that we are on the bathroom floor? Cory encouraged me to get dressed, so in between contractions I put on my yoga pants and shirt. We headed out to the living room, where things really started rolling.

Looking back, this was transition. Transition is the part of labor where most women say, "I can't do it. Where is the wonderful epidural God?" I can totally see why most women get an epidural. Contractions were coming every couple minutes, rocked my whole body, and I needed Cory to get me through every single contraction to the peak. He was so helpful. Contractions were lasting 45-60 seconds long, gradually getting more intense, until they peaked and then declined. However, after the contraction, my body needed about 15 seconds to sit there and recover. I kept asking Cory to call Jamie but there was a wreck on 820 and she was stuck. Sad!

She asked Cory to call her during one of the contractions so she could hear how I was reacting to judge my progress. Honestly, that contraction was one of the worst contractions of the whole day. I had to grab onto Cory and yes, it hurt really, really, bad. But, one of the best parts about labor are the breaks. Oh, those breaks are sweet relief but never long enough. I started having pressure down low and I was nervous for the 20-25 minute drive to the hospital. I was still on my hands and knees for every contraction and needed Cory during every second. That didn't jive with sitting in the car.

Despite my incessant reading during pregnancy, I still didn't realize I was in transition. In my preparation for trying to do a natural birth, I knew that labor pains were going to be some of the most intense pain I had ever felt. Add that to the unknown length of your labor, and it was difficult to know how far along I was. I wish my doula could have been there to tell me, but with the accident, that was not happening.

A this point, I think I entered what they call Labor Land. You start to feel a little out of it (translation: loopy) due to the endorphins. I started wondering if we should just meet Jamie at the hospital when I had a contraction where I felt Little Man move down. Way down. First off, it hurt. Second off, I was scared. I stood up and started heading towards our bathroom. I was thinking that we might just have to have him at home. Cory was like, "No. Wrong direction!" He steered me toward the door. Cory was panicking about getting our hospital bags in the car. As I said, contractions were about two minutes apart, but you time contractions from the start of one contraction to the start of the next. So, if your contraction lasts for one minute, you really only have one minute (or less) between contractions. In that one minute, Cory was sprinting down to the parking lot, chucking stuff into the car. One time, he didn't make it back in time, and I realized how important he was during my labor. It would be so hard to labor (without medication) alone. Our neighbors probably thought I was a flipping nut job.

Right before we left, I asked Cory to give me another blessing. This time, his voice was shaking. He pretty much just said that we would make it to the hospital. We should have left for the hospital sooner than we did. Mistake number two.

So, we got in the car, and I'm just totally out of it. Well, not so out of it that I didn't notice Cory was speeding. He was going at least 85. He joked later that if a cop did try and pull him over, he would have just put his hand out the window to signal him to follow him to the hospital. Thankfully, the contractions settled down. I was praying like crazy that they wouldn't be bad in the car. I was actually able to stay quiet through them, hold onto the handle above the door and lean towards Cory. I always wanted the breaks to last longer. Always.

Cory jokes that he knew things were serious when we're pulling up to the hospital and I told him that I didn't care about the money. Do valet. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm obsessed with the budget. As I get out of the car, I realize that I got the front seat of our car all wet. We were in such a rush, we didn't think to put down a towel and my water was still leaking everywhere. Mistake number three. Rookies. And, believe it or not, some people told me to buy Depends for that exact purpose. I bought them, but was too weirded out to wear them. So, does anyone need 3 pairs of Depends??

Cory said I kept on apologizing to everyone. Sorry for ruining the car, oh don't mind me if I yell while we're in the elevator, oh, I promise I'm not usually like this, etc. Duh, I'm not usually a whack job crazy lady. We checked in at the emergency room; I even got a wheelchair. As I'm being wheeled in, I had a contraction and totally slipped out of the wheelchair. Everyone was a little alarmed, but I really couldn't stop it from happening! Embarrassing.

As I'm arriving, one of the nurses asked me nicely if I could take off my 'britches' so they could check me. Now, I'm usually a very private person, but I was like, "SURE! I'd love to rip off my clothes." I'm not even kidding. Those clothes were off in record time. Jamie was there, and I was so glad to hear her soothing voice. Cory was thrilled to be able to hand off some responsibility to her because he was emotionally exhausted by this point. It is a different kind of pain watching someone you love be in pain and not being able to take it away. Cory doesn't cry, and it made him cry. So sweet, right?

They checked me and I was dilated to a ten. TEN. I was so thrilled. On the way to the hospital, I had told Cory that if I was at a 4, I was getting an epidural. I knew then that I would be able to get my natural birth, and I was totally pumped. We got to skip admissions, and they rolled me up in the hospital bed. I told them how comfortable the bed was and they said they didn't get that very often. I'm telling you, I was out of it.

I went upstairs to the birthing suite and they immediately started filling the birthing tub. They weren't lying when they said it is the midwife's epidural. It felt wonderful. I realized that contractions still hurt even when you are pushing. When I was reading about the pushing stage, people would say they liked pushing because it felt productive. I guess I translated that to mean that contraction pains went away. It was a sad moment when I realized that pushing contractions may feel 'productive' to some people, but they still are uncomfortable in a different way. But, I couldn't pass the baton. The only person who could finish the job was me. So, you finish. Meanwhile, Jamie, Cory, and my midwife are spraying warm water on me, putting hot packs on my back, and massaging me with mineral oil. That stuff is legit. Man, did it feel good. At one point, my midwife tried to get me to push in a semi-sitting position. I hated it and went back to my go-to hands and knees position.

 All in all, I pushed for probably around 25-30 minutes, which is short for a first time mom. It took a bit longer than it would have because my initial pushes were not productive because I wasn't holding my breath. Details, details. They always wanted me to give one more push per contraction. I said no, if the contraction is over, I'm taking a break.

I was making progress, but the midwife had to leave for just a moment to go to another girl (who had gotten an epidural) who was having her baby. That girl's baby was 10 lbs 9 ounces. Holy mother. I pushed with Jamie and the nurse for a minute, and I start crowning.The midwife came back, I pushed through a couple more contractions. On the last pushes, ouch, ouch, ouch, it burned. Because of the stinging, my body reacted by popping up out of the water. At that point, Little Man's head came out and they said, "Oh, don't go back in!" See, babies can be born under water but only if they start under water. Once any part of them touches air, they will start to breathe. So, since his head touched air first, they didn't want his head to be under water when he took his first breath. I was a little bummed about that part.

And Sheppard was here. 10:11 am. I was totally in shock. They immediately handed him to me. They told me later the first thing I said was, "He's here, he's alive, he has hair!" When I was reading about labor while pregnant, a common phrase was, "Oh, once the baby is here, the pain goes away. It's amazing." Liars. Take that in. Li-ars. Yes, it was absolutely 100% amazing to hold my beautiful, perfect, healthy, baby boy. But, I had just pushed out a baby. Tenderness replaced the previous burning. But it was worth it!

Cory cut the cord and I held Sheppard for a bit while they drained the tub. Then, Cory held him while I delivered the placenta and got fixed up a little bit. Now, while I wanted an unmedicated delivery, let me be clear in saying that I am all for the drugs once baby is out of me. I told them to bring on the lidocaine! You can prescribe me Vicodin? Awesome. At this point, I was still totally in shock. My labor had been so quick, I had done it naturally, and I was a mom. A mom. But, that whole getting stitched up and getting your abdomen massaged to get out blood clots is an unfair fact of life. The pain should be over when you get your beautiful baby.




While my doula set up a hot herbal bath for me in the birthing tub, I held Sheppard and chatted with Cory and whoever else would listen about the birth. The endorphins had kicked in and I was on an adrenaline rush that would last for a couple days. We soaked in the bath for a bit before being moved into the postpartum suite.

All in all, it was hard, hard, work, but an absolutely beautiful outcome. We are absolutely smitten with our healthy baby boy.I will never forget August 30, 2012. The day I became a mom.

Welcome to our family Little Man!


  1. Read it all! I can't believe anyone can look so good during a time like that! The part about the baby being born under water as long as he doesn't touch the air was so interesting. I never knew that. So why were you in contact with your doula instead of your midwife? And why do you need a doula if you have a midwife?

  2. Yay yay yay! Tell Cory I said thanks for making you post your story. It is a beautiful one. I'm so glad you got the l&d you wanted! You are such a strong lady, and I totally admire you. Your pictures are adorable, and Sheppard is one if the cutest babies ever. I am so thrilled for your little family!

  3. Read the whole thing. Watched the video AGAIN. Can't get enough of the pictures!! Love that little guy.

  4. Good work, mama! I appreciate your honesty. @Kari- a doula provides non-medical support before, during and after birth, a "birth coach"; a midwife is the primary medical support person, the one who would assist with actual delivery.