Hey girl! It’s me, you!
Well, future you that is. Things are a little different on this side of your timeline, but I’ll get there in a minute. I know things have been busy for you. Between nannying full time, being an attentive wife, sister, daughter, and homemaker, it’s really impressive that you’re finding the time to do all of the Pinterest worthy pregnancy crafts. You don’t think you’re doing enough, but you are.
You started writing in a pregnancy journal, it’s a really cute journal, you adore it. Every month it asks you a simple question. How are you feeling these days? It gives you three front and back pages to record your answer, and the guilt piles on. Each month reads redundantly the same: “I’m happy, excited, impatient, tired, achey, and completely clueless.”
You wish you had the energy to compile some sort of poetic twist to explain it all, but you draw blanks. Stop beating yourself up for it. You’re worrying that your little girl won’t know how loved she was before she was ever known, and you’re forgetting that she’ll come to know that truth through your parenting.
I want to warn you, sweet girl. Giving birth looks nothing like you envisioned it would. I know your hypnobirthing coach promised that you would feel empowered and pain free as long as you practiced your relaxation scripts every night. You did. You practiced and practiced, you read the book, took notes, hired a doula who had successfully hypnobirthed her babies. You did it all. You secretly felt bad for Mamas who felt pain. “If only they knew the power of their mind, and had found a hypnobirthing class, then they wouldn’t feel scared or powerless against their body.”
Slow down, Mama. Those thoughts are dangerous territory for someone who has never felt a contraction in their life. Take that pity, and start entertaining the idea that maybe, just maybe, there are hitches to birthing plans, and *gasp* it’s not the Mother’s fault! You see, what you don’t know is, while you were coloring your birthing affirmations, hanging them on the wall, ordering your birthing tub, planning your musical playlist for laboring, and practicing your breathing, God’s plan was going to humble you to your core.
You’ll wake up at 5:45am on October 5th, and know labor has started, but you won’t see that baby until 9:42am on October 7th. You’ll be gutted as each six hour chunk goes by. You waited about twelve hours before you had your doula come. Your contractions finally formed a normal pattern for an hour.
You were so excited!!! It was happening, you’re going to have a baby! Your doula showed up, and bam, your contractions went sporadic. They were painful too. Since it was your first time in labor, you didn’t know that you were experiencing severe back labor that spiked as soon as the contraction started, and didn’t wean like it should.
21 hours in, you are sure it’s almost time for baby girl to be born. You call your midwife. She knows you’ve been in labor for almost a day, and this is what she tells you: “It sounds like you’re still in early labor, I just delivered a baby who was born after 60 hours of labor.” THAT WAS IT. What happened to your sweet midwife who was going to come to your aid when you asked her to? She blew you off. You feel embarrassed, disappointed, and stupid for calling her. She isn’t going to come check you, after 21 hours? Nope. You called too soon.
After another 12 hours of rolling on your birthing ball, walking, squatting, climbing stairs, resting, bathing, you go in to the birthing center for your appointment. Everything hurts. Standing, sitting, leaning, laying, all of it hurts. You’re sure now that you’re 33 hours in, you’re going to be having a baby any minute. Your midwife checks you – “You’re at a 4.” and your heart breaks, you can’t control your crying. You did everything right! How could this be taking this long and be so painful?
Feeling embarrassed for bothering your doula and midwife, you send her home. You go home with Danny, sit in the bath, napping between each contraction timed 5 minutes apart. You get out to go to the chiropractor, because baby girl’s head is a little wonky, and it’s your last effort to get things progressing faster, and fix her alignment. But as you’re standing there, naked and shattered, a contraction comes on, and you lose it.
Danny grabs you, and braces you for the contraction like he has been for 36 hours now, and you can’t control yourself. Through snotty tears, and wailing, you’ll tell him that you can’t do another 30 hours of this. This is only half way through, and you cannot do it anymore. The contraction ends, you get dressed, and head to the chiropractor.
On the way, you keep having contractions that take over your body. You’ll look over and see Danny sobbing at the wheel. You’re not the only one feeling defeated. You feel like you failed somewhere, you didn’t practice enough, you should’ve done more. Danny knows he can do nothing to ease your pain. The normal counter pressure is excruciating to you, and nobody is there to encourage both of you. Your heart breaks for Danny. You tell him that you got this. You will push through all of it, and he doesn’t have to worry about a hospital bill out of pocket after already paying for the home birth out of pocket.
You’ve always been a fixer, he will be amazed that in the midst of labor from hell, you stopped to encourage and comfort him.
You arrive at the chiropractor, the adjustment is made, and it makes your back labor worse. Nothing feels right, but you have to do this. This is what you signed up for. You should have planned and thought about how this could really go down. You are so harsh to yourself.
Three hours later, Danny calls Mom. He tells her everything that has gone on, and with a moment of clarity, he says that it’s been long enough, something isn’t right, and he thinks you need to go to the hospital. Mom agrees, and he gets off the phone. He tells you what he thinks, and your first words will be “What did my Mom say to you?”
To your surprise, it was all his idea. You agree and start getting ready to go to the hospital. Mom and Dad are on the way, and praying for you. 40 hours in, you’re at the hospital. By 42 hours they gave you that sweet sweet merciful epidural, praised you for making it 42 hours unmedicated, and with no professional help. You will feel relief, relaxed, and empowered by your sweet nurse. You tell her your birth plan, and that you want delayed cord clamping, and everyone is on board! You even signed a form so your doula could have your placenta encapsulated. You are thrilled. By the way, you’re at a seven!
Danny calls the midwife and doula to let them know the initiation you two took. Your midwife is frustrated because “she would have come to the apartment if we had called her.” You will be irritated after she planted a 60 hour labor in your mind and made you feel humiliated for being persistent earlier during your labor. You’ll secretly blame her for how long your labor took. You’ll feel like it was her responsibility knowing that this was your first baby to come over and check you when you were almost 24 hours in. She dropped the ball, and you’ll resent her for it.
Your doula is surprised you’re at the hospital, and will come be part of your birth. You’ll also secretly end up disliking that she insists you relax during pushing when your epidural wears off. But we haven’t covered that yet.
An easy labor at the hospital results in it being push time at 49 hours! Half way through, your epidural wears off, and you aren’t having it. You will be so angry and that’s okay. The staff changed, and you don’t have your lovely nurse you started off with. Naive you thought she would have shared your birthing plans with the new team. She kind of did, they just didn’t check your notes well enough to care about it.
After a while of pushing without an epidural, the anesthesiologist finally gives you a “delivery shot” and you’re back in heaven. There’s a problem though, you’ve torn, and are bleeding profusely. The nurse calls in the doctor who will deliver your girl. Baby girl is stuck on your pubic bone. She pushes past it, then slides back up. Her head is swollen, and there’s no other choice but to have suction assistance. You’re fine with this because you’re exhausted.
52 hours of labor, and your beautiful baby girl is born. You feel fine and happy, until you get home.
The birth tub is still there. The birthing affirmations on the wall. You will feel the blame and pain of the dead birthing dream all over again. So, even though you won’t write this until it’s too late, I hope you can give yourself grace. I hope you hold onto the beauty of a healthy baby girl who was born where she was supposed to be born, and that was in the hospital. You won’t believe this, but it’s true. Don’t let yourself get too blue.
When it’s all said and done, look at that baby, look at Danny, and thank God for the gift of a supportive and loving family. Thank him for hospitals, and don’t get too down when you come across another Mama, who like you, believes long, hard, and painful birth is the result of not trying or doing enough. It will sting, and that’s okay. Pray she gets the birth she wants, and if she doesn’t, be the first to offer support as someone who has been there.
With love, Future you