Designing Life: a graphic designer's birth story•
Posted on August 17 2017
Graphic designers are known to be control freaks. We are detail oriented planners who set up rules and regulations for brands to follow. We love our to do lists, setting and following guidelines, choosing what’s above the fold etc. I am well aware of this personality trait of mine, so when I was embarking on motherhood I knew I’d have to loosen up a whole heck of a lot. As a first time mom, there were so many things to obsess over but I was determined to make a conscious effort to relax about my birth plan. I decided I’d be very go with the flow—which to me meant make no set plan. I knew I wanted an epidural and was shooting for a vaginal birth (seemed pretty standard) but was mentally preparing for the necessity of a c-section, just in case. I even took the birth classes so I’d have full exposure to possibilities and how to cope with my options—totally covering my bases (so I thought)!
40 weeks pregnant rolls around and to my dismay, no baby. At my 40 week appointment my cervix was still completely closed. I had only even felt maybe one Braxton Hicks contraction throughout my entire 40 weeks, but I wasn’t even sure about that! The silver lining to this appointment is my doctor agreed to induce me at 41 weeks on the dot. Induction: not my initial or ideal “plan” but I warmed up to that idea realllly fast (at this point I thought any exit strategy would be ideal).
After adjusting my expectations, I awoke early the next morning to what I believed to be a few contractions. Excited at the prospect of something happening I clocked my contractions until they were coming about 5 minutes apart. After a lot of deliberation we decided I should swing by the hospital, get my cervix checked and just to see if there are any updates (not expecting to stay but maybe to get an idea if things can be sped up a little).
The OB Emergency Center was pretty quiet for the holiday weekend so far but, like all quick hospital drop-ins, the visit took forever! I felt like the staff looked at us like we were silly for wasting our weekend afternoon when I wasn’t huffing and puffing in pain. Fortunately, they seemed less put out when they learned I was full term and the machines confirmed my growing contractions. My cervix had only opened 1 cm (out of 10) so they did not consider it much progress. Being that it was my first baby the doctor and nurses said labor will take a long time so they recommended I go home and eat a meal, take a nap—probably through the night, and take a brisk walk to get that baby moving. They said we’ll maybe see you in 24 to 48 hours at least to get this party started and to come back when the contractions hurt so much you can’t talk or breathe through them. At this point it’s after 4pm and my contractions have grown to be uncomfortable and occurring every 3 minutes.
Once we get back home (after an ice cream stop) taking a nap felt like a joke so we decide to take the brisk (and miserable) walk to my mom’s house a few blocks away and back. I’m sure my heavy breathing and breaks every three minutes for a contraction terrified the neighbors, but we did it. Next up is food and/or sleep. Eating anything is no longer an option and neither is sitting much less laying down. I took Tylenol, a trick the nurses suggested, to help the pain and to determine if it’s the real deal or not (if there’s no pain relief then it’s the real deal labor.) Trying to avoid another unnecessary stop at the hospital I waited 1 hour to see if the meds would kick in. I force myself to shower and my nausea comes back. Finally, I’m so miserable I tell my husband, Jake, we have to go back to the hospital. It’s about 8:30 pm and I waddle to the car my mind only focused on all the real pain meds I’d be getting soon.
We pull up to the hospital and I tell Jake we have to leave the car at the front—no time for parking. Woman on a mission I can’t wait for a wheel chair and book it back to the OB Emergency Center. When I enter there are no questionable looks this time. Despite the very busy waiting area I was immediately made a priority. Jake begins filling out the paperwork as they prep a room for me. I require Jake to stand in the doorway to flag down the doctor immediately. We aren’t usually pushy people but I was not waiting around this time. Fortunately, my pain was very visible and audible so nurses and staff were bustling around to help us. In fact it was my same doctor from a few hours earlier. Jake never makes it back to the car and the doctor reports that I am at 7 cm. The nurses looked shocked as they nod approvingly and congratulate me on the success of that brisk walk. They tell me they are prepping my room in labor and delivery and ask if I want an epidural- I respond “I want all the drugs!”
In minutes I am wheeled in the most uncomfortable wheelchair down to the labor and delivery room but not before my water breaks all over the Emergency Care room. Once we make it to our destination the bustling nurses have cleared and it’s just me, Jake and our delivery nurse, Melissa. As I get into the bed I ask Melissa if my epidural is here, as a clever reminder that I’m ready for it! She quickly checks me and cool and calmly tells me it’s too late and I will not be getting the epidural. My eyes get wide and I respond, “fffff*ck” (I went from 7cm to 10cm in a matter of minutes!) Melissa replies “f*ck is right, but you can do this”. I turn to Jake and say, “This is my nightmare.” In all of my birth plan assessment I knew a natural childbirth could happen, and certainly felt sorry for those ladies, but didn’t think it could ACTUALLY happen to me. Jake attempts to reassure me as I’m convinced I’m not going make it. Alternatively, there is too much pain to really panic so I just do what I’m told—a Jesus and Melissa take-the-wheel moment. Fortunately, Melissa’s calm and helpful demeanor is wonderful, but it’s not over yet. The next hurdle is keeping the baby in until my doctor gets here to deliver. It’s not even my doctor on the way but one of her partners who is on call for the weekend (and I haven’t met), but again there was no time or energy to panic about that.
What feels like an eternity goes by as I hold in every urge to push. I can only focus on the door and the clock as I await the doctor and Melissa gets us prepped for pushing. Barely holding on, I finally see the doctor walk in and it’s go time. It takes three contractions and less than 10 minutes to push my baby all the way out. I felt every little wiggle as she exited and it was amazing. She proceeded to poop all over my stomach and I didn’t even care because she was perfect and I felt like a rock star!
Our car thankfully did not get towed. I was only at the hospital an hour and a half (the second time). There was no time to call family to be at the birth (which was a-ok with us!) I had second degree tearing, which I was told was normal. If I could do anything all over again I don’t think I’d change a thing. Except maybe doing more kegels :)
Check back soon for a post about my first week with baby... it’s not exactly part of the birth story but we do make another trip back to our favorite OB Emergency Care...!