Birth should empower you. No matter how it happens, you should walk away confidently. You should feel proud of your body, soul, and mind. You should look at your sweet baby’s face and remember how strong you were and how hard you worked to meet him.
Why wasn’t I feeling that way this time around? I certainly love this baby with my whole heart. But every time I think back to how he got here I get uncomfortable.
June 2nd, 2016
Around 9 am, I started feeling anxious. Like I was late for an appointment and stuck in traffic. Or trying to find a parking spot at tripler.
I busied myself with laundry. Washing, hanging, folding. Then I realized I kept needing to sit down every 5 minutes or so. I was having contractions!
Oh. No. Today is not the day. Sebastian gets frocked tomorrow, mom and dad just signed their lease and want to move! I mean, no. Just a fluke.
Like all the other times.
As the morning went on, I neared my appointment with captain swift (the very same from Maebel and Marvins birth stories. My very favorite). I texted Sebastian to call as soon as he could and drove myself to my appointment.
I walked in and the contractions were now 4 minutes apart. Easy though. They’re not making me hold my breath. They’re easy.
She asked if I wanted her to move things along, but I declined. For said reasons above, I didn’t want to have this baby today.
I left the hospital and Sebastian called, “so I have training this afternoon. Are we having a baby?”
“No. Kristen thinks I won’t make it through the day let alone the weekend, but I’m going to lay down and chill out and cross my legs.”
He went back to training, I went home and laid down. Trying to nap I watched as Kayla fed the kids lunch and got them in bed for naps.
Around 2:15, I felt a little squish. Shoot, I must really have to pee. A little more. Not pee.
I rushed to the bathroom, a little excited and a little disappointed at the timing. But at least it wasn’t 2 AM! And at least there’s no traffic to tripler!!
I sat down to let the remaining water go and laughed at my movie-like start. It’s never happened like this before!
Then I saw it. Green water.
Oh. No. He pooped. The baby pooped. He’s in distress and I’m 30 minutes from the hospital and I won’t be able to live if I lose him!
I texted my family and close friends, asking them to pray. Then I called the boat. I remember someone saying something (turns out I knew the guy who answered! I must have been very out of it because that didn’t register one bit).
“Is petty officer W there? He’s in the Chiefs quarters for training. My water just broke.”
In no time he was one the phone. “Hey! Is it baby time?”
I confirmed and then waited until he called on his cell phone to tell him that my water had been dark. After some quick googling, he assured me that he’s probably fine, late babies poop, and it’s most likely not a big deal.
Most likely < — that’s what I heard
We got to the hospital and told them the circumstances of my water. They sat us in the waiting room.
“Well it must not be a huge deal, babe. No ones rushing you in!”
After about 5-10 minutes, a nurse came in to start our check in. She checked his heart rate. “He’s fine. Just pooped. No worries as long as his heart rate stays up!”
Big fat sigh of relief from all parties in the room. At this point my mom had joined Seb, Kayla, and me. She brought her own “don’t mess with me” attitude which definitely helped me settle in and not be too concerned about interventions being pushed.
We met with the on call midwife. She had me sign the paperwork and excitedly discussed my plan to continue with this labor with no pain medication. She was hopeful, what with this being my 4th, that she’d get to see it happen, but assured me that I could relax and she’d do her best to get me what I needed.
We got to the room and waited. I started to get a bit concerned, cuz nothing’s worse than being a 4 and waiting for the contractions to hit you like a freight train. But they didn’t. They were easy. I slipped into a nice trance like state and waited for my baby to kick things into gear.
Then came shift change.
A midwife has the ability to set the tone of the entire delivery. Her role is an important one. It comes with power.
This midwife knew that.
I was about 6 hours into my labor. Because my water had broken, she didn’t want to perform any exams for risk of infections (for which I was thankful) but then. Then the intervention words came.
“You know, if it doesn’t seem like you’re moving along, we will have to address some other options. Pitocin could be really helpful at this point to speed things up.”
I shook my head no.
“Well, you know we can’t be doing a whole lot of exams, but it’s important that your body start to show some signs that you’re hitting transition. You’re a multip, so it’s not like it’ll be long. But we’re on a timer with your water being broken. We could ultimately end up with a cesarean.”
Timer. Pitocin. Why aren’t you progressing faster? Cesarean.
All of a sudden I felt rather small. You see, I know how my body labors. I hang out at 4-6. Whether it’s my 1st or my 4th, it didn’t seem to matter really.
But now I started to doubt myself. Every labor is different. What if somethings not working this time? All the while my mom is asking about other options, less painful and invasive than pitocin. All of which she’s not considering at all.
She left the room, and my husband made light of the situation. My mom assured me no one was coming near me without getting through her.
At this point my contractions were weak. Like, calling them a contraction demeans the word contraction. I was alert and awake and very hungry.
Kayla went for coffee for all of them and a sandwich for me. No one said I couldn’t eat, but I didn’t want to chance it. So I comically ate my subway with an ear toward the door.
With a full tummy and an empty bladder, I laid back down. Murmurs of “you should walk” were heard as I zoned out. I walked last time. It wore me out. I wasn’t interested in being utterly exhausted at the end. Chances were I’d be tired enough. Every time she came back into the room I left my eyes closed.
This is backwards. I’m never timid. But every time I talk she explains why my experience probably isn’t what’s happening. She explains her knowledge about it. She makes my experiences feel like opinions.
Around 10 (I think) I told my husband I felt pressure. And nauseous. He asked for them to come in and she performed the first exam since she’s been there.
“Only a 6. And 85%. Certainly not time to push.”
Sebastian said “okay. Well she always vomits during transition, and she’s feeing nauseous. This part is pretty fast too. You’ll need to be close when she does have to push the babies come fast.”
“How fast?” The nurse asked, “no worries, I have caught babies before!”
One push and the last two flew out — i said.
“Oh I pushed for over 2 hours with mine!” Chimed the midwife “well be close. But she has awhile. And there’s never a guarantee that this one will come that quickly too.”
She doesn’t believe me. This is literally my worst nightmare. She’s not going to be here. I need her to be here.
Insert panic mode. I’ve now lost all relaxing labor techniques. I have zero trust in the team I’m going to have catching my baby.
My contractions are worse. I have to breathe through them.
Around 1 AM I can’t get comfortable. I’m exhausted. I’m telling my team that I’m hot and cold. I have puked 2 times (subway was not ideal).
She does another exam “you’re still only an 8. I’m going to step out and check on another mom”
I’m not sure what happened at this point. I just remember feeling very overwhelmed. I wanted to cry a lot. I felt very abandoned and not safe at all. I was mad, too. How dare she not believe me? I know how I work. I know this baby is in my pelvis. I can go from 8-10 in a flash.
I got up to go pee for the 400th time. This time there was no more green. The first clear use of the toilet. I got back to the bed and could no longer fathom laying down. The nurse took a hair too long to help me up into the bed and the contraction that came was unbearable. I leaned on the back of the bed with my back to the room. I remember fighting through 3-4 contractions here. I remember wanting to lay down and sleep and be comfortable but having the worst restless leg syndrome. I remember not being able to find an angle to get my head comfortable.
Then, I felt him turtle.
I need to push.
I’m pushing – I said.
According to my husband, I was very matter-of-fact. Eerily lucid. And she looked unbelieving.
My mom urged her to look.
Sure enough, when she lifted my gown he was starting to crown.
She rushed to get gloves on. For the first time since Salem a baby sat and waited for another contraction. I pushed again, his head came and the rest of him followed, albeit, more painfully than the head. I have yet to know why that was the case.
At 1:58 AM on June 3, 2016 Ralph Alistaire Warren was born, weighing 8 pounds 4.3 oz and measuring 21 inches.
They tried to hand him to me through my legs, which overwhelmed me a lot, I wanted to turn over, but I was having trouble communicating that.
There was a lot of chaos. A lot of pulling at IV cords and detatching monitors. Then I felt her tug my cord.
“Wait until it’s done pulsing to cut it.”
“It’s about there” she handed Sebastian the scissors.
He cut the cord and then handed it back. I felt a tug again.
“No I want it to detatch on its own”
She agreed, but not joyously. I was trying to focus on my baby, who was crying very loudly. But I felt like I needed to make sure she wasn’t pulling.
A few minutes later she said its right here. Give a little push.
So I did.
Then. Then the most unimaginable pain I’ve ever experienced.
She told me she needed to remove my clots. She reached up, you know, where an 8 pound baby just traveled in tight quarters, and proceeds to drag her fingers across my uterus while pushing on my stomach.
This happened 4 times. I cried out. I asked her to stop. I felt like I was begging her. Somewhere in between 2-4 she mumbled a reason as to why she had to do this while I was holding my minutes old baby. Something about milk supply and infection. They sounded like puny threats.
They call it the golden hour. I truly only remember the gold fluorescent lights I stared at while someone dug around inside me.
I remember after. When I saw 8 pounds on the scale and stared in disbelief. I remember after they wrapped him back up and gave him to me again, I thought, he has a big nose.
But that first hour I remember feeling panicked. I remember feeling rushed.
Because of those memories, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to bring myself to a hospital to have a baby again.
No, that doesn’t mean we won’t have more children. It does mean, that I will choose 1 maybe 2 people to be my midwife. It means I’m not interested in the luck of the draw anymore. I want to know the person at my birth and I want to know I can trust them to ask me before performing something and explain to me it’s necessity.
I don’t want to be doubted. I want my provider to trust me. I want to be able to trust me. I don’t want to be put on the back burner because I’m not going fast enough. I want to feel important and prioritized, no matter how slowly my children choose to come.
Most importantly, I never want to leave a birth feeling disappointed ever again. I want to only focus on my new baby, not get distracted by all of the ways my hospital stay didn’t sit right. I don’t want to keep remembering all of the ways I was wronged.
My sweet little ralphie is perfect. Even though my labor wasn’t what I dreamed about, my baby boy is. Yes, we’re both healthy and yes, I am thankful. But I expected more from the team that was there. And I should be able to expect more. Birth should always leave you feeling empowered.