Since Little Lady Bird's arrival is eminent and I've been prescribed bedrest from now until her birth, I've been laying here thinking a lot about Jude's birth, excited to see if LLB's birth unfolds in a similar manor.
When Jude was born, I didn't share a lot of details here because I kept all birth stuff and family stuff separate from this site. In the last two years, I've become more comfortable sharing stories about my family here, so I thought I'd take a moment to relay some truths about what really went down on Jude's birth day. Beware. This story is very detailed and very long, but for those of you who are curious, here is my complete and true account of what really happened the day Jude was born.
WARNING: Do not read on if you're squeamish about birth details or a male (who is not Chris) who knows me personally. There's a NSFW "photo" below, and honestly, I would never wish for you to picture any of the things I'm about to tell you.
First thing, first: With Jude's birth, I opted to do a med-free homebirth with a nurse midwife, which shocked and surprised most everyone who knows me since no one would describe me as granola or crunchy or even against medical interventions. Our midwife has since partnered with another midwife in town, and we've hired them to oversee LLB's birth this time. There are a lot of reasons why I chose a home birth over a birth at a birthing center or hospital, so feel free to ask me questions about that decision in my comments or via email or Facebook. Anyway... on to the birth story:
For those of you who have not birthed, I want to tell you something important: while birthing, you may lose your mind. You may go insane and become a version of yourself that you never knew. That, my friends, is what happened to me.
Oct. 1, 2010: Friday night. I went to a fashion show in south Austin, nearly three weeks before my due date. I came home around 10:30 pm, and that's when the first sign of insanity came. I came home and insisted that our entire bedroom had to be Green Machined. I got down in my maxi dress on my hands and knees and scrubbed every inch of our carpet in a manic fury.
[just hours before Jude's birth]
Then I went to bed. At 3:30 am, I bolted upright and said, "My water just broke!" and I ran to the bathroom. That's when my water broke, coming out in a big, fast gush. "I am not peeing myself, I swear!" I said to Chris. We were both a little surprised since I was only 37.5 weeks along, had zero signs of prelabor, and more than 50% of first time mothers go past their estimated due date. I was hoping to birth closer to my birthday, around Oct. 30th.
My Bradley instructor and midwife advised that when labor starts, if possible, rest. They said to try to ignore early labor and go back to sleep. I attempted to stick a pad in my underpants and to sleep on the bathroom floor, but the dang pad was just sponging up the water that just kept on coming. "We're going to have a baby today," I said to Chris. "Hopefully today," he said, subtly reminding me that I could be in for a long labor.
An hour later, around 4:30, I needed to go to the bathroom, and I started getting mean. "GET OUT! Get out, get out! I have to number two!" I kicked Chris out of the bathroom, and I was on the toilet for the greater part of the next hour and a half.
Let me take a step back here and tell y'all that I am very modest. In the six years we had been married, Chris had probably seen me on the toilet less than five times (all of those times due to the dog pushing the door open on me). Additionally, I am verging on Never Nude territory. In college, I don't think any one of my roommates ever saw me naked, and I do not go to the bathroom in front of people. Ever. In our birthing class, we were told that one of the signposts that labor has advanced is the loss of modesty. I swore up and down that I would never lose my modesty and even planned to wear my American Apparel skater dress for the birth.
But remember: I had lost my dang mind. Along with my mind, somewhere between resting my hot face on the bathroom floor and sitting on the toilet, I lost my nightgown.
Chris [through the bathroom door]: Do you want me to call the birth photographer?
Me: DON'T YOU DARE CALL HER. I don't need any photos of me naked, on the toilet!
I finally allowed Chris to come into our bathroom as I tried to explain what I felt like, "I feel like I need to poop, but nothing is coming out. And I feel like a sword is being shoved up inside me and that there are needles in my underpants."
Chris tried to time my contractions, but truth be told, I wasn't even sure I was feeling contractions. I figured this was just prelabor pain-- my body clearing itself out prior to the real contractions. The pain was constant and there didn't seem to be a break in between. Little did I know that my contractions were double peaking and that I was already in advanced labor.
Somehow Chris convinced me to move to our bedroom. "DON'T LOOK AT ME!" I crawled on my hands and knees from our bathroom, and sort of hugged a giant exercise ball, while kneeling on the ground. I was not getting up into the bed. No way, no how. I had also brought along what we now call the "washcloth of modesty"-- a tiny washcloth that I attempted to hold over my butt the entire time I was birthing. I did not want Chris, or anyone else for that matter, looking at my anus (geez, I'm embarrassed even typing the word "anus"). The tiny washcloth was absurd, considering that everything else was as bare as could be, but as I've said, I had lost my dang mind, and in my head my washcloth of modesty was keeping my dignity in tact.
For those of you who can't even imagine how this looked, I sketched you an amazing "Draw Something-esque" likeness:
And dear Chris... he was so sweet, trying to massage me and tell me things like, "You're so brave. I love you. You're doing great." Whereas I just snarled and snapped, "Don't you touch me!" and "Stop talking!" and "Get out of my face!"
Please note that at this point, we had not yet called our midwife Julia. I didn't want to jump the gun; I was certain that I was in for a long day. Most first time moms have labor that goes on for at least 12 hours, and Julia had left instructions to not call during early labor before 7 a.m.
Around 6:30, two hours after my first bathroom pains, I hit my breaking point. I knew I had to quietly and calmly reason with Chris. If I was hysterical or crying he would not take me seriously. I took a deep breath and tried to speak evenly, "Chris, I've made a big, big mistake. I've only been at this for two hours, and I cannot imagine doing this for another ten. It's just too painful, so you're going to have to take me to the hospital."
He was anticipating this because at some point, most women during labor think they cannot do it any longer, so he did what he was instructed to do and perfectly gave me the Bradley Method Coach's pep talk. He told me all the reasons why I had chosen to have a med-free home birth, told me I was strong and made to birth, and told me he was proud of me and excited to meet our baby.
So I took another deep breath, looked him in the eye and growled, "If you do not take me to the hospital right now, I am going to call the ambulance and I am going to go to the hospital by myself and you're going to be stuck with the ambulance bill."
He did not acquiescence. I was trying to come up with a rebuttal, but I had to put my diatribe on hold. At that moment, I swear I felt the baby's head come out a little bit then go back in.
It suddenly became crystal clear to me that I was not in early labor. "Chris! Chris! I can't help it, but I have to push! I have no control over it! And I feel the head coming out and going back in! You have to call Julia!"
"Are you sure?"
"YES! CALL HER NOW! Gaaaaaaaaah! [<-- animalistic moan of pain as my body is pushing the baby out without my consent]"
He called, but there was no answer, so he left a message: "Hi, Julia. This is Chris. Sorry to call before seven, but my wife thinks she's in labor. Please call back."
It turns out that Julia and her assistant Nina were at another birth. Julia called back five minutes later, and she could hear me in the background. "GAAAAAaaaaaaah!" She and her assistant Nina decided to leave the birth they were at (because that lady was actually still in early labor) and come to me. "They're on their way," Chris reassured me. And more signs of utter insanity occurred:
Me: You have to call Heidi! She needs to come get the dogs! Gaaaaaaaaah!
Chris: The dogs will be okay in the backyard.
Me: CALL HEIDI RIGHT NOW. Gaaaaaaaaah!
Chris: [on phone, leaving Heidi a message] Heidi, this is Chris. If you get this message in time, can you come get our dogs?
Me [meanwhile in background]: Gaaaaaaaaah! Gaaaaaaaaah! Baaaaaaaaah!
Needless to say, Heidi had the weirdest message on her phone for a while there. Sorry, Heidi.
Me: [sweetly to baby] Oh, please stay in until the midwives get here. Keep your little head in! Gaaaaaaaaah! [demanding to Chris] I need my toothbrush! Bring me my toothbrush and toothpaste!
Chris: You're fine.
Me: I HAVE TO BRUSH MY TEETH! Baaaaaaaaah!
Chris returned with my toothbrush with toothpaste on it and a cup to spit in. I must have been a sight: nude, laying over/ kneeling in front of my exercise ball, still holding the washcloth of modesty over my butt and brushing my teeth.
At 7:10, Julia and Nina arrived. "I've turned up the water heater. Should I begin filling the birthing tub?" Chris asked.
Julia took one look at the baby who was already coming out of me and said, "There is no time for that. Let's get her on the bed."
Nina threw down the glorified puppy pads from the birth kit (which incidentally had only arrived a few days prior), and Julia tried to get me to lay on my side on the bed to slow things down, but I was not letting go of the exercise ball... nor was I letting go of something else...
"My washcloth! My washcloth!" I cried as I climbed up into the bed. Nina ran to the bathroom and brought out a cool, damp cloth for my head.
"Nooooooooooooo!" I groaned.
"She wants a washcloth... to cover her bottom," Chris said. It's a wonder I did not hear him roll his eyes.
Nina dutifully found my washcloth of modesty and held it over my butt as requested.
At 7:39 a.m. my sweet baby boy was born. My midwives had been there for less than 30 minutes. "Is it a boy or a girl?"
"It's a boy!" Chris exclaimed.
We prayed, sang happy birthday, and my first remark was, "His ear looks weird. Is it going to be like that forever?" Jude's ear was folded forward, but Julia reassured me that it would straighten out within the hour. "Also, he smells weird." It turns out that weird smell was ME. I had worked up quite a sweat birthing, but for some reason (again, it must have been the temporary insanity) I thought the smell was the baby.
See? Insane. This has all been filed under "things no one ever told me about childbirth". I was expecting pain and discomfort and triumph and joy, but I was not expecting to lose my mind! At least this time, I'll be a little more prepared for that aspect of it.
Worth it? Oh, definitely.I am anticipating a more normal birth this time around: the whole 12- 17 hour shebang instead of the three hour deal. I do, however, have my toothbrush and washcloth of modesty on standby.