I wasn’t sure how much of this story I was actually going to share on such a public forum. Why divulge the intimate details of such a meaningful and life changing moment?
Reason #1: One of the lines in this post resonated with me. I could completely relate to Molly Mahar’s desire as a first time mama to read as many birth stories she could find. Mainstream media is flooded with so many negative and dis-empowering statements about the process of birth. While I was pregnant, I loved hearing stories of positive, natural deliveries where women trusted their bodies and were surrounded by a fabulous support team. That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with Molly’s opening statement that “there is no right way to be pregnant, give birth, or parent your child.” Each life is so dear and full of unique experiences.
Reason #2: I have been overwhelmed by all the love and prayers that have been sent our way over the past couple of months from family and friends. Some have asked questions, some have heard the intimate details, and others have quietly offered their support from a distance. I am so grateful for your support in how our story unfolded. Each of you have played a part… now, here is the whole:
At about 9 pm, I went upstairs to listen to a relaxation script as part of my Hypnobabies childbirth prep homework. Lexi, our Shih Tzu puppy, snuggled next to me and we both started to drift as the familiar relaxation music and soothing imagery played in the background. I remember hearing Lexi’s soft snores.
All of a sudden, still in a light sleep state, I felt a gush of something fill my pants. I literally threw the covers off of me and sprang out of bed. When I realized what might be happening- what it just had to be- I went over to the door and started screaming for James who was in the basement. Fortunately, he had just finished up his work and was heading upstairs so he heard my cries immediately. James was so calm and collected. I told him in between panicked sobs that I think my water broke… every couple of moments, more trickled out, which only served to confirm my theory.
James quickly called my parents to let them know we were heading to the hospital while I changed into another pair of pants. I don’t remember much of the short car ride to the hospital other than talking to my parents and asking them to call the doctor’s exchange since I didn’t seem to be able to locate the number in my phone.
James dropped me off at the ER entrance and suddenly everything was becoming very real. The woman at registration asked “Can I help you?” as I walked in and I remember not being able to speak. In between sobs and feeling more trickles, I managed to blurt out something to the effect “I’m 33 weeks pregnant and I think my water broke.” By that time, James had parked the car and they both were assisting me to a wheelchair where I was whisked up to the Labor and Delivery floor. Everything seemed to be happening so quickly. James would later tell me that I called out to him at around 9:50pm and we were in a hospital bed by 10:04pm.
I was immediately hooked up to an IV and a continuous fetal monitor, 2 medical interventions that I desperately wanted to avoid. My dream of having a private, home birth with little medical assistance was shattered. My birth plan was safely housed on my computer and our birthing preferences were slowly being eroded in front of our eyes. One thought was at the forefront of my mind, “Is she ok?”
The first couple of hours in the hospital were a bit confusing. The on call doctor wanted to check my cervix (which was completely closed) and confirm that the fluid was indeed from my amniotic sac. She also ordered a test to assess how mature Olivia’s lungs actually were at this point in the pregnancy. It appeared as though it was one giant waiting game to see what was going to happen next. We kept asking how long it would take to get the lung maturity test back from the lab- no one was able to give us a clear answer.
My contractions (or birthing waves in Hypnobabies lingo) started within a half hour of being at the hospital. The nurses kept asking me if I felt anything and at first I told them no. It wasn’t really a lie, per say, but perhaps a futile attempt to avoid the fact that things were progressing. I guess I was holding out hope that the doctors would suggest some magic cure to fix the whole situation and guarantee the safety of my sweet baby.
My parents arrived at the hospital around 10:30pm. My mom had a long tiring day prior to this event- both of my grandparents ended up being hospitalized after their doctor’s appointments earlier in the day. Prior to my admission, she had already gone 10 rounds with coordinating hospital arrangements. Now, her baby was in the hot seat.
While we waited, our wonderful doula (Alicia) stopped by the hospital. We called her initially to tell her a heads up over what was happening and she immediately set things in motion to have her back-up doula join us at some point. Alicia had just given birth herself 4 days prior to our surprise delivery. It was such an incredibly nice gesture for her to come to the hospital to lend us her support. She asked the doctors several clarification questions and attempted to give us some tips on how to proceed with our natural birth plan in our new circumstances.
When it became clear that my pressure waves were becoming more intense quickly, the situation in the room started to shift from one of “wait and see” to “she is having the baby now.” I had heard that when a woman is hooked up to a continuous fetal monitor, a dynamic in the room shifts. All eyes start to watch the monitor instead of the pregnant woman. So true! Our eyes became fixated on how our little girl’s heart rate was tolerating each contraction. Was it going to stay within the safe zone? I’ll never forget how after each intense wave, James lovingly reassured me that the baby was doing great.