Throughout the pregnancy, I swore she was going to come earlier than her guess date of September 6.
Clearly this was just what I wanted since I had no actual way of knowing that.
The closer that day came, the more the anticipation grew.
Almost to the point of becoming disappointed that I was so wrong about what I thought I knew (there’s a lesson in there somewhere).
I was googling every single feeling I had to see if maybe labor had started.
Contractions would come and go, fooling my head but not fooling my heart.
I knew she would come on her own time and the more I wanted it, the further it became.
My mom was scheduled to fly into Portland on the 6th either to see our baby or be here for the birth.
I was often reminded that first time mothers usually give birth after the due date. So of course that came with anticipation and pressure, “she can’t possibly spend a week here and not meet her granddaughter…” so leading up to that day we tried everything to get the process moving.
Dates, pineapple, spicy food, sex, long walks/hikes, accupressure, massage, visualization, meditation- all things stimulating.
We were scheduled for an appointment with the midwife to check my progress on Monday and she told us me were still sitting where we were the week prior, 2cm dilated and 70% effaced.
She then offered to sweep the membranes and try to get the prostaglandins to trigger labor. And of course we took her up on that offer, knowing very well it was going to be uncomfortable and possibly ineffective.
That night brought on minor contractions, and Tuesday night it felt like it was all beginning.
Contractions were 7 minutes apart and becoming more and more regular, so I went to bed thinking I’d better get some rest before the unraveling.
Only to wake up the next morning feeling more energetic than the day prior, and still very pregnant…
Thursday arrived (her due date) and so did my mom.
I was so excited that she got to see my pregnant belly and the energy behind it so we went on a steep two mile hike around the (hilly) arboretum and walked down to the rose garden (which had about 50 very steep steps).
On the way down my mom made the comment of, “With energy like this, you’ll probably be pregnant for another week.” (cue nervous laughter)
But on the way back up, it felt like I had taken a hard internal blow to the pubic bone. Everything contracted and I was bent over, propped up on a tree in cold sweats.
“That felt real,” I said.
“Yeah, the look on your face says you’re not going to be pregnant for another week.”
From there we went home and had dinner.
I jokingly insisted that we should all go to bed early just in case we end up with little sleep and then I drank 2 tablespoons of castor oil with a tall glass of orange juice before getting ready for bed.
I don’t remember my thoughts upon falling to sleep but I woke up right around midnight to go pee which didn’t seem out of the norm (thanks to the giant baby pushing on my bladder).
When I sat on the toilet to relieve the pressure, a HUGE gush of water came out and I was immediately hit with very intense sensations.
Rather than feeling confused or startled, I stood up, walked over to my partner and confidently said, “hey, something’s happening.”
He got up and observed what was going on for a brief moment and got ready to time the contractions.
I was naked, leaning on the edge of our high bed trying to breathe into all of the things that I was feeling. The pain was unlike anything I could have been prepared for. It was sharp, loud, radiating, and insanely overwhelming. My body knew exactly what was going on; there wasn’t ever a moment where my brain questioned whether or not I was in labor.
My partner went to wake up my mother in the room next to ours and the moment she saw me, without hesitation, she said “it’s time to go.”
She was calm, but she meant it.
I wasn’t getting a break in between contractions like everyone had said I would. Everything was unfolding so quickly and we needed to get to the hospital.
Luckily for us, we only lived 4 miles from the hospital and we were there in no time. I don’t remember where I was in the car or even who was driving, but I know I was definitely loud.
I couldn’t walk when we got out of the car, I couldn’t even straighten my spine (thank you back labor). And from what I can remember, sitting in the wheelchair wasn’t all that comfortable either.
We made it to triage (it was somewhere around 12:30am) where they monitored my contractions and heart rates. It wasn’t long before they informed us that I was already 7cm dilated and to expect a baby soon.
It was closer to 1:15am now. My good friend, Ivy, and my mom were already in the room by the time I got there, along with my hospital appointed doula who quickly sprang to action. She held my hand, asked if I wanted to change positions, used cool towels, and held space while I navigated labor land.
The contractions still hadn’t let up.
I read and was informed that during birth usually labor will progress and you can ride the contractions like a roller coaster, coming up to the peak only for it to release back down. And then *usually* you’re gifted a nice pause to allow your body some rest.
Where was the drop?
And where the hell was that pause?
Doula Mary asked if I would like the birthing pool to be filled up to which I remember harshly responding with, “what is that going to do for me?” And she said, “slow things down.” Or maybe she said “tone things down”, either way I grumbled a yes and slowly flipped onto my hands and knees to labor in that position for a bit.
She was gone for a little, Matt and my mom were beside me while Ivy was taking pictures.
I was completely absorbed.
They say that when you birth a child, you leave your body to retrieve this new being. It’s a spiritual perspective but I can confirm that I was not in my body. The pain was real, it felt like my bones were breaking open. I had no cushions to soften the accelerating unraveling, no pauses to process and accept what was happening. My physical body was experiencing the full blown intensity, but my mind was completely dropped out of space and time. I was navigating a land that felt both familiar and foreign simultaneously.
Some point around 2-2:15am, doula Mary came back into the room and asked if I was ready to get in the warm water. I was still on my knees, gripping to the back of the hospital bed. My mom chimed in before I was able to move and said, “please check her before she gets off the bed.”
They did. I was 9cm dilated.
Everyone started to move around the room a bit quicker.
Doula Mary was by my side while they called for my midwife, who was also named Mary. She asked if I wanted to try and roll onto my side to relieve some pressure. I tried, but didn’t make it far before I stopped and had the urge to push.
“Can I push?” I asked out loud into the void.
Which is actually a really silly thing to ask, in hindsight. I had no control over the natural urges that my body was responding to.
Midwife Mary arrived just as I was bearing down.
The pain was unreal.
I don’t have many words to describe it because it’s not like anything else I have ever experienced. It’s unbearable, but I stayed with it. It’s torturous and at times I thought I was having my skin burned off. I vaguely remember announcing to everyone around me that I was about to poop, to which they assured me that I hadn’t and I wasn’t.
The ring of fire is as terrible as people make it seem, however once you get passed that point it gets… “easier”.
I heard a voice say, “Her heart rate is dropping. Come on, Sami, we’re going to need a big push.” And with that I channeled all of my remaining strength and power to push my daughter to safety.
My daughter was born at 2:54am on September 7, 2018.
She was placed on my chest and I returned back to my body.
The person that had been growing inside my uterus for the last 9 months was finally right in front of me, and I felt bruised, battered, and extremely whole.
She latched while I hemorrhaged. Real life was blurry and static, but the warmth on my chest and amount of oxytocin that was flowing through my body kept me in this state that can be described as pure exhaustion mixed with a psychedelic high.
We did it.
I did it!
It was a birth, a death, and a rebirth.
And that was the day my entire life changed.
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