Birth Story

It’s a good thing I don’t technically have deadlines with my writing right now. I promised you guys a post a while ago, and well, I failed to deliver. I would start off with an apology, but I’m tired of apologizing. Shit happens. I don’t want to admit slipping back into a bit of a slum but if this blog is all about transparency and real life, and connectedness, then yes, that’s what happened. I had some shit moments, and I allowed it to control the way I felt, what I did, and the way that I acted. I’m not proud of it, but I’m also human, and I’m learning coping mechanisms and using them like I haven’t before, even if its in small fractions.

My kid is pushing the limits like she never has before. If you haven’t read any of my prior posts, I have a three-year-old, who will happily tell you she’s the “Boss Baby” of the house. She will then proceed to giggle and laugh her way into your arms where you can’t deny that she is indeed, the boss baby. I would be lying if I said that parenting wasn’t a huge source of stress for me. Parenting is fucking hard you guys. When scientists can figure out why we can’t stand to be away from our children when they are gone but would love for them to leave us alone for like 2 minutes so we can pee peacefully, then we should throw a huge freaking party. Lydia is currently in the “I will literally do nothing that you ask me to do” stage. Wait, is that all stages? Shit. I have never been asked for snacks so many times in my life. Also, when did my child ever think it was ok to scream at me over and over again for freaking cookies and gummies at 6:30 in the morning like I’ve EVER given that to her for breakfast?

As I sit here laughing and simultaneously clawing the eyes from my head, its no question that there is an intense and unconditional love for this little rascal of mine. At the end of the day when she finally (after many hours of continuous activities that seem like they will never end) settles down, and closes her eyes, when her little lips pucker, and her eyelashes are soft, and cheeks are rosy, I am utterly in awe of her. I am almost obsessed with the beautiful creation that is my little Lydia. I suppose most parents feel this way, as we should. When the chaos settles down, and you get to appreciate the gem of a life that YOU brought into this world, or raised or chose to be a part of your family, however, your child came to you, there is nothing more awe-inspiring.

These magical moments with my wild child and love of my life wouldn’t be possible without my badass self bringing her into the world. This is my experience with birth, and it is not to belittle or compare myself with anyone but to share my experience with fear and triumph. A quick little tidbit about myself first, for the better part of my life I have been petrified of needles, pain, and anything hospital related. So as you can imagine, finding out that I will now need to birth a human through a hole in my crotch was not on my “I’m so excited to do this” list. I remember being given a tour of the Birthing Unit at St Mary’s when I was about 20 or so weeks, and the nurse kept showing me the rooms and I was SO uncomfortable that I couldn’t even look at her. My mom was with me, and both she and the nurse asked if I was ok, but I couldn’t answer. I was so short with them because it felt like I was dying inside. When my mom and I got outside and into her car to leave, I lost it. I just started crying and couldn’t stop. “I can’t do this,” I cried, over and over again. I never believed anything so strongly, I COULD NOT give birth. I didn’t want to experience the pain, the horror, the potential trauma. I’m not sure where my fear started. I attribute it to being in the hospital a lot as a kid and not liking shots, and having to have many of them, or maybe it was having my tonsils removed before I was 5. Either way, I felt utterly incapable of doing this amazing and miraculous thing that my body was going to eventually force me to do.

Lets speed ahead to about week 36 in my pregnancy. I think this is where things start to get really juicy. I promise you don’t want to hear about the other 35 weeks where I had my head in a toilet the whole time (yea that’s basically the picture.) My pregnancy up to this point wasn’t super fun. I did not glow, I was not so in love with my baby bump, my energy levels were non-existent and I seriously just wanted to snap my fingers in hopes that it would all be over in doing so. Oh, now I know why I like fantasy movies so much… And don’t get it twisted, I am a thankful person, I was grateful that my kid was super healthy and safe, but I was just freaking miserable the whole time. That’s not me being ungrateful its just the reality of the situation. So here I am 36 weeks along at my routine prenatal visit, and my midwife is looking for my kid’s heartbeat. Hmm, ok, heartbeat found but guess what, not near my freaking vagina. The kid apparently either rotated herself or never actually turned head down. COOL. It just wasn’t something that I really wanted to hear considering the fear I was already harboring. So then the conversation had to go like this “You’ll have to have a c-section (fuck no, more needles and cutting me open and shit) or we can try to manually flip her.” This was called an external version, and the idea is to put pressure on the outside of your stomach and flip the baby in the uterus so that you can have a natural vaginal birth. In the meantime, I was sent home to begin performing all “natural” steps to getting baby to flip, including flipping yourself upside down and flashing a light into your crotch. And yes, I flashed all the lights in my hoo-ha.

I know it sounds crazy to want to have a natural birth if I’m already scared of everything surrounding birth, but to me, it seemed like the most non-invasive and most natural way to have a child without creating more opportunities to be stuck by needles. I was determined to have a natural birth also, which was super weird for me because hello, natural birth. I was hoping it was just going to be rainbows and sunshine, but when you mix fear with lack of understanding, you only get more fear.

So one day I’m sitting at work, about a week had passed from my last appointment (I’m 37 weeks at this point), and out of nowhere, I am just overcome with pain. It was like a wave hit me and washed over my body and back out. Was I having freaking contractions? Like now? And I knew Lydia hadn’t flipped, so I’m sitting there freaking out thinking, I should just suck it up because I’m probably just making a big deal out of nothing when it hits me again. And this time I want to cry. And they just keep coming, wave after wave. At this point, I know that things aren’t right, so I have to get up and leave and head over to the hospital. I stop into my midwives office, and she happens to be upfront, listens to my dilemma and sends me up to the birthing unit for observation.

I call my boyfriend (husband now) at this point, and he heads over to be with me. I’m all strapped up in this get up that wraps around your tummy, and they’ve stuck me with an IV because they think I’m also dehydrated (things haven’t changed much). I’m having fairly consistent contractions, and I’ve dilated just a tiny bit. I was NOT a happy camper. I was not ready for this to be happening. So then my midwife comes in, and they give me a couple options. I only like options when it involves what food I get to eat; unfortunately, I would not be choosing from that type of menu. I was told that I could either a. Wait it out and if those contractions continued I may need to have an emergency C-Section (no fucking thank you) or b. I could have them perform an emergency manual version to flip Lydia in hopes that it would stop the contractions, or if they continued, I could give birth naturally. FUCK FUCK FUCK. Why do all of these options suck? Where is option c? I want Hermione Granger to step out and be like “actuallyyyyy its levioooossaaaa” and she just flicks her wand and out pops my baby and we’re all laughing and passing mimosas.

Unfortunately, I guess I was just born a lame ass muggle and had to do things the hard way. So I chose to have the manual version. The thing is, typically when these are done, they suggest you get an epidural since it can be very painful. Well, you know ya girl wasn’t getting no epidural shoved up her spine. So I opted for a shot that you had to get regardless to relax the uterus and the version began. I honestly don’t think I could give you a detailed description of what happened. I don’t remember any pain. I just remember staring at the ceiling and listening to the doctors tell me I was doing good. Even then, I probably didn’t notice anyone else was even in the room. I entered some space where reality and time are transparent. My body was physically there, but I couldn’t register anything going on around me.

The process involved my midwife and another doctor placing all of their force on my stomach, each grabbing hold of Lydia externally and flipping her body. This procedure has to be done very carefully because flipping the baby could also mean potential harm to the baby like a cord wrapped around the neck, injury, etc. in which case I would have to have an emergency c-section anyway. Lydia and I were fortunate enough to experience the best case scenario, which was that my contractions stopped, she was head down, her heart rate was perfect, we were both safe, and I could deliver her vaginally.

WELL GUESS FUCKING WHAT MY DUDES? This kid then decided after all of that, that she would stay put. And by staying put, I mean, they had to induce me at 42 weeks because I wasn’t effaced (my cervix had not thinned out to deliver said baby), and I wasn’t dilated (cervix was not opening to deliver said baby). I tried acupuncture, spicy food, and all those fancy old wives tales that are supposed to help get that baby out! At this point, I was just so over being pregnant. I didn’t love my experience with pregnancy up to this point, and it felt like I was being forced to face a multitude of fears that I didn’t want to. Thanks a lot, Universe.

I was scheduled to enter the hospital on a Sunday night to have this fancy little tampon like medication inserted into my body so my cervix would thin out. Then after that, the plan was to insert a small pill to start contractions. But my body had other plans, of course. Within a couple of hours, I was experiencing contraction on top of contraction. Gloriously uncomfortable contraction on top of contraction. Ok so here we are laboring, for hours, and guess what. No dilation. No dilation, no baby. More contractions. I wasn’t getting anywhere, so my midwife suggested we break my water in hopes to get the baby moving.

We broke my water and began the next phase of labor. To make matters worse it was back labor, and if you’ve experienced back labor ladies, y’ all know what I’m talking about so let’s just say a little prayer for past me. I remember trying different positions, but most didn’t work. The only thing that made me feel remotely better was laboring in the tub. My poor mother and husband sat with me and tirelessly emptied and refilled my tub to keep the hot water on my back and help me through labor.

Folks, we went in on a Sunday, and I was STILL laboring into Tuesday morning. Half asleep and laboring in the tub, I remember a nurse coming in and asking me this glorious question. She said, “This is the last time I am going to offer an epidural to you, its the last time I can offer it.” I wanted so badly to do this on my own. I was so determined. I felt like getting an epidural was wrong. That I was weak for needing help, or something would go wrong if I sat there and let them put that needle in my back. A contraction hit me, painful, powerful, mighty, and deep. The best moments were the ones in between the waves, where it was silent, and I was connected with myself. I heard a voice, and it wasn’t one of those loud narrations from your favorite action movies, no it was sweet and loving and kind. It told me to get the epidural. It reassured me, it told me it would be ok, and that I was not wrong for doing this. It comforted me and gave me the best direction I’ve ever taken.

I decided to get the epidural, and within what felt like short minutes after receiving it, I had fallen fast asleep. Fast forward a couple hours I had finally fully dilated, my baby was ready to be delivered, and I began pushing. Guess what, I had that baby with a smile on my face. All 7 pounds 11 ounces completely pain-free. I needed that. I needed to see that birth was not going to be a train-wreck for me all the way through. You can choose to judge this; however you please, but we all have to experience things in a way that makes the most sense for us. We are not all the same, we can not all handle the same things. I know now that my body was refusing to allow the natural birthing process to occur because I was so frightened.

I discovered a lot about myself that day. I discovered that when push comes to shove, I can do what it takes to get the job done. I discovered that when I have to grin and bear it, I absolutely can. I also discovered that even before my child was born, I would do whatever it took to make sure she is safe. I wish I could go back to the moment I got to look at Lydia for the first time. She was so perfect, so tiny, and so cute. Her eyes were SO big, and she was so insanely alert for a newborn. Those last two weeks of cooking her in my stomach gave her some extra brain power. It’s tough to wrap up a birth story in a blog. I could probably write 2 or 3 posts on it so I could get to the real nitty-gritty, but if I want you to take anything from this post its that you can face your fears and overcome them, especially for the greater good, and my greater good was Lydia.

Chelsea Briggs