November 18, 2012

a river runs through us: a birth story, part two

apparently it’s much more difficult to find the time to blog these days...but here we are, it’s birth story time again. if you forgot what happened to this point, check it out here.


i’m shocked that i’m not further dilated by this point. but i shake it off and focus on the fact that i get to stay and prepare myself for what’s to come. it’s more real now than ever and i’m so excited for what’s to come.

how much more intense will these contractions get? what will it feel like to push my baby out?

let’s. do. this.

i put headphones on, listen to my hypnobirthing cd and get in the zone.

now, time is hard to recall during this time. it was a blur during the day and it’s even blurrier in the hospital. i know i listened to that cd for hours. i know we sat in the shower for a long time. the hot water running down my back, my face, my belly, it was an amazing distraction. when my fingers pruned, i got out and went back to the room, strength regained for a short time.

they started to get the hot tub ready for me. it was something i had anticipated loving, something i was looking forward to for months. and then, i got in. immediately, i wanted to throw up. i felt nauseous and out of control. i hated it.

i feel like that’s such a great reminder that you truly have NO idea how any of this will feel once the time comes. you can plan and plan. you can prepare and hope but you just have no clue what you’ll actually want or need during birth. such a great lesson for the next time around. for me, at least.

so quickly, i got out. and because i was feeling so ill and because i was exhausted at this point, i asked for something to take the edge off. not an epidural but anything they had available to me in the birthing center.

the nurse brought my midwife in and she made sure that’s what i wanted. without a doubt, yes. give me something, please.

they put an IV in my arm, shot me up with some goodness and i immediately fell asleep. for 2 hours. it was heaven.

i think it was around 2am.

when i woke up, there was a lot of pain. new pain, stronger pain.

some hours passed as i walked around the room, bounced on a ball, breathed through each surge. they came in and checked me and i was at 6cm.



while she checked me (aka, had her lady hands all the way up in my lady parts) she broke my water inadvertently. and woah, hello water party! i kinda liked it and hooray for another milestone closer to meeting our little guy. i was excited!

the sun is out now and we’re well into friday morning. because my water had broken and things were progressing...slowly...they gave me the sexiest underwear i would ever wear. get excited about these ladies. made of stretchy gauze and bigger than any pair you’ve ever seen...

my undies bring all the boys to the yard.
and they’re like, they’re bigger than yours.
damn right.

so with my new outfit complete and a pool of water beside my bed, we got moving. there was a lot of deeeep breathing. a lot of pulling on bed posts and squatting down. a lot of sitting on the exercise ball. a lot of hand holding, hair rubbing, back massaging and a lot of encouraging words from all the lovely people in the room.

who was there, you ask? my nurse, my doula, my hank, my mom, my sister, my sister-in-law. and every now and then, my midwife with her apprentice.

it’s maybe 1pm now.

they check me again, curious about the progress i might have made.

i’m at 7cm.


i’m trying really hard not to cry hysterically.

it was then that the midwife, the doula, the nurses all looked at me with their most sympathetic faces and told me that it was time to intervene. their suggestion, pitocin.

at this point, i knew my body. i knew that i had endured a lot already and on very little sleep. i knew that i could keep going naturally but on pitocin - with faster, stronger contractions to face - i was going to need an epidural. i was going to need sleep.

they asked me twice, was i sure? is this what i really wanted?

it was.

...and just like that, what i envisioned for my birth was not to be. i was nervous and emotional. but the idea of not feeling the pain was also so exciting and i could barely wait to get that huge needle in my back.

a wheelchair rolled into the room and we packed our bags to move down to labor and delivery.
natural shmatural.

so things are very different in l&d. they immediately hook me up to machines and i have to be careful not to tangle myself in tubes and cords as i sit up for my epidural. within minutes, there is relief. they turn the lights down, close the curtains and i sleep for hours. i have no idea how many but it was marvelous.

my family will tell you that when i woke up, i was me again. i made jokes. i was able to speak! it was a new day and i didn’t even care how long it was going to take to get to 10cm. and good thing because it took a while. i took two more naps before they checked me again and proudly proclaimed, it was time!
you’re at 10cm and we’re ready for you to push now.

ahhhh! i couldn’t believe it was time. it was so awesome!

the midwife leaves me with the nurses to get started. i can still feel the pressure of the contractions and know when it’s time to push. they tell me to try and push 3 times with each contraction. sometimes, i’m even able to get 4 in. i want this baby out. i want to pull him out and hear him cry and see his little face.
the nurses tell me i’m doing a great job and that they can even see his head coming down, they’re going to get the midwife. ohhh man.

she comes and coaches me. she can see that i’m doing everything i should be and that he should be coming out. 2 hours pass....

she reaches in and tells me that he’s sunny side up. she tries to turn him, twice. it doesn’t work. BUT it does successfully push him back up to negate all of the progress i made to get him out.

um, thanks?

they do an ultrasound and see that not only is he facing up, his arm is hooked around his neck. as in, that is not going to fit through any holes i have.

she tells me that she’s going to get the doctor to come see me.

she doesn’t directly say what this means but i have an idea. and the sadness starts setting in.
a doctor i’ve never met comes in, introduces herself and says she’s going to try and turn the baby as well. she reaches in, tells me to push and does her best.

she can’t turn him and she says,
i know you’ve been through a lot and you’ve done such a great job but i think it’s time for a cesarean delivery.

i immediately start crying. balling.

i tell them, no, i can turn him. let me push on all fours. let gravity pull him around. please, let me try. please. i do not want a c-section.

they tell me i get one hour.

in retrospect, i know they did this to be nice. they knew then that there was no way i could turn him and that i had no energy to push anymore.

i turned over, careful again not to pull out any cords, and pushed and cried. and cried and pushed. nothing happened. nothing changed.

my fate was sealed. i was defeated. i told them to just fucking do it.

now the worst part for me at this point, besides the extreme disappointment and fear of surgery, is that i haven’t been upping my epidural meds at all since i started pushing. they give you a little button that you can push anytime you feel pain so that it’s manageable over time. well, i thought i was going to push him out quickly. i didn’t think i’d need to keep the drugs coming. and now, i can feel everything again.

except now, everything is at 10cm, without a water cushion, on full steam pitocin. so basically, every contraction is at full strength and without pause. they just come, one after another, after another. i watch the monitor and keep asking why it’s not going down? why is this happening? i’ve already done this. i’ve already endured these, make it stop.

it takes one hour for the anesthesiologist to get to my room.

during this hour, i am crying, gripping the bars of my hospital bed, sweating, counting. there are people at every side of me, rubbing my back, my head, my arms, my legs to try and distract me. they are crying too and there’s nothing any of us can do but wait.

wait for me to be taken into surgery. not exactly a comforting thought.

finally, they come, shoot me up with more drugs, make me sign my life away and roll me  into the third room i’ve seen since i’ve been there. this is the room where my son will be born, so far away from where i thought it would happen.

they transfer me onto this tiny metal table. they place my arms outstretched on either side of my body.

i’m on a cross. it’s cold.
i’m shaking uncontrollably.

they introduce themselves one by one and tell me my husband is on his way.

hank comes in and sits by my side. as soon as he’s there, they start and within 5 minutes, our son is out.
we hear him cry and they carry him past the blue sheet to the left of us. to a warm bed where they clean him up and get him ready for the inaugural cord cutting. of course, they’ve already cut the real cord from my body but still, they let hank cut the remaining part.

we’re so overwhelmed. with all that has happened and now our son is here and he’s ok and healthy and beautiful.

i try so hard to feel happiness and relief. to focus on my child. but i can’t because i’m still on the operating table, wide open. i feel immense pressure everywhere. i imagine them moving organs around and stuffing things back in. i feel my body being moved from side to side, up and down, in and out. i’m still shaking.

it takes about 20 minutes for them to close me up.

i hear them do a tool count, twice. making sure they left nothing inside my body. i hear one doctor say to the other, nice job on my incision closure. i hear the anesthesiologist tell me that i’m ok, even though i tell him i’m starting to feel things down there. i hear hank tell me that river has 10 fingers and 10 toes. i hear people move me onto another bed. i hear them ask me to push the button to play the song that a new baby has been born. i hear myself tell hank that no, im not ready to hold our son. i hear it all but i don’t feel it.

i am not present.

hank says it was almost an hour before i held river.

when the midwife came in and said that i must try and breastfeed him, i did. i took him into my arms for the very first time and he immediately looked for me, for my breast. i don’t know if i cried then but i’m crying now. he knew me and he did exactly what he needed to do to survive. such a good boy, such a smart and capable boy.

he had tons of hair and big eyes and perfect lips. and he was ours. we made him.

after all that, he was here and it didn’t matter anymore. because those moments were gone and this one was here and we had made it. together.

we love you so much, river henry.

a million times, xo.


  1. Well, I'm crying.

    This is the most beautiful story I have ever read. River is lucky to have you as his Mummy.

    I need to stop crying!

    Thanks for sharing this amazing story, and good job for looking amazing in labour. I didn't even think that was possible!


  2. It's barely 7:30 a.m. and I just lost my shit, crying everywhere. Thanks!

    This story is absolutely beautiful. You did an amazing job, giving it everything you had until the very end and that's so admirable. It's ok to NOT be ok with how everything went down, but all that matters is in the end you have those squishy baby cheeks to stare at and the most handsome little man I've ever seen.

    Thank you so much for sharing!!

  3. This made me cry, too. You forgot one part though - when the midwife's assistant thought I was your first kid.

    Good job remembering everything and putting it together so nicely.

  4. I'm crying over here, crying. It may not be the story you thought you were going to tell, but it's your story & a beautiful one. <3

  5. Honey, you did just fine. From what I know about births, it never goes as planned. It's completely unexpected, as is the absolute perfection of the human you make in the process. And you look smokin', as usual. Also, not going to lie, def brought a tear to my eye <3

  6. well now i'm crying too... you are so strong and this was an amazing story!

  7. I have been waiting forever for part 2 of this story! And it was beautiful! You had ALL of us in tears by the sound of it!
    And like Marianne says, may not be the story you've always thought you'd tell but damn girl, its a GOOOOOOOD story :)

  8. Can't stop crying! Such a beautiful story. You are incredible and I'm glad that after all that you and River endured you're both happy, healthy and so loved :)

  9. So I'm totally crying at work right now and I know people are wondering...but seriously, this is one of the most beautiful birth stories I've ever read! River is so handsome and you are such an awesome mom!


  10. Vicki, as a midiwfe i truely TRUELY loved reading this. Its so refreshing and humbling to hear a birth story from your perspective. You sound like you had a classic first-time labour experience, they always take their time!
    your def right with the birth plan thing, I always tell my patients, screw the birth plan, just do lots of research on all your options available and roll with the punches cos you never know how your going to react, how you'll cope and what makes you comfortable until your in the throws of labour, and that way, you wont be disappointed!
    sounds like you did an AMAZING job!! that wee man was just determined to come out superman style!!
    wishing you guys all the happiness in the world!!

  11. This was beautiful and hard to read. You are so amazing, and so is your son (ok, your husband is ok too)!
    I love you so much! Thanks for writing this.

  12. Such a beautiful yet intense birth story! Although it may not have gone as you might have hoped, it is still a miracle that your little boy is here! So happy for you, Vicki!

  13. This is the sweetest story! Congratulations. He is perfect!

  14. this gave me shivers..what a story!! I'm so glad it all went well in the end. he is adorable.

  15. well, now i'm sitting at work, crying! (really. my coworker just asked me what was wrong.) so sweet! Rea's birth didn't exactly go "as planned" either, but at the end of the day all that matters is our littles arrived safely.

  16. I'm so behind on reading this, but Vicki, this was beautiful.
    I was wrapped in by your story.
    SO glad that River is a healthy baby boy!

  17. wow! excellllllllent post! thanks for being honest! i found your blog from Southern Living Our Way. :)

  18. I saw you featured on Kimberly Erskine's blog and wow...this is phenomenal. Your writing in general, is phenomenal. So happy to have found you :)