On Thursday my sweet baby girl will be 7 weeks old! It has been the most rewarding and exhausting 7 weeks of my life so far. So exhausting in fact, that it's taken me this long until I felt like I had the brain power to be able to sit down and blog about Logan's birth.
To be honest, I think having the past few weeks to really digest everything that happened before writing about it, has been helpful in the healing process.
Let me begin by saying this...
[[Giving birth doesn't have to be scary.]]
It doesn't have to be dramatic like the movies... and it doesn't have to be full of screaming, crying, name calling, or yelling.
It can, in fact, be calm and peaceful... & THAT was my number one goal going into labor and the exact reason I picked a birth center over a hospital.
I'll be honest and say that my labor and delivery was not the birth story I had envisioned and so diligently prepared for, but it was somehow, still perfect.
Back on Sunday November 19th, I started to experience all the signs of early labor. In the wee hours of that morning I lost my mucus plug (the gross bloody mess that tells you it's going to be game time soon). I remember being weirdly excited about this because it meant that I would get to meet my beautiful baby soon. Art got home from work shortly after this happened and I greeted him at the door with a big smile on my face as I was telling him what happened. His response was,
"So does this mean we're having a baby?!"
I excitedly said, "well not right this minute, but soon hopefully!!". The truth is, it all depends on the person. This bloody show meant that labor would be soon. Soon meaning... possibly in the next few hours, days, or even weeks!
I had decided that I was putting it out into the universe that it was going to happen in the next few days because I was SO ready to have her out of me. As the day went on, I tried to keep myself busy hanging out with my mom and shopping... anything but focusing on the inconsistent surges (contractions) that I was experiencing.
By the end of that night, I eventually called my midwife and asked if I should come in. I felt so stupid for calling.. but I was a typical paranoid first time mama and when you've never experienced this before, it's challenging to blindly trust people when they tell you not to worry and just continue to labor in the comfort of your home. As comforting as my house is, I was terrified that I was going to suddenly go into active labor and not have enough time to get to the birthing center.
HA!! If only my labor happened that fast!
I text my doula and birth photographer that night just to keep them in the loop and also because I was afraid that the money I spent on having these people present during the birth would go down the drain if I just suddenly popped this baby out on my kitchen floor or something.
Side note: The irrational thoughts that went through my head during the entire early labor stages were so crazy. My anxiety was at an all time high... NOT because I was afraid of the actual birth process, but because I was having to release control of a lot of little things leading up to the birth.
At about 3am Monday morning, the surges got to a point of serious discomfort and I decided to go into the birth center to see the midwife on call. After a brief exam, we established that although I was in labor and was dilated to 3cm, I still wasn't far enough along to stay at the center.
Cue the disappointment.
I felt like I could see the disappointment in Art's face that it still wasn't "time" and I suddenly felt this pressure to progress faster, which we all know was out of my control. We drove home, Art tried to get some sleep, and I just sat there with the surges continuing to come in waves and feelings of disappointment and anxiety building up.
That Monday, our doula came to our house and spent the entire day with us. Counting the time between surges, reminding me to eat and sleep, and giving me the reassurance that I could do this. After an entire day of inconsistent (but strong) surges, we did a few laps around the park near my house and then called it a night.
Again, I felt stupid.
I felt like I had wasted her time because I really thought it was going to happen that day.
[Tuesday felt like Monday on repeat.]
Early in the morning on Tuesday, we went into the birth center only to find out I was now 4.5cm dilated. Although I was told I could stay at the center if it made me feel more comfortable, my midwife recommended that I go home and try to get some rest.
Yeah... some rest. What a joke.
I hadn't slept more than 30 minutes at a time since Saturday night and I didn't see that changing any time soon. I think at that point my midwife could sense my frustration and sadness with how things were going. She offered to give me a shot of morphine mixed with some vitamins that would help me to sleep through some of the more mild surges and get the rest that I was going to need for the up coming days. I jumped on the idea of sleep and after getting the shot, slept for a few hours straight for the first time in days.
Turns out that rest was going to come in handy as Tuesday night turned out to be the REAL beginning of show time.
At 10:30pm on Tuesday the 21st, we headed back to the birth center. I think Art knew that this time was different than the days before. I didn't talk much, I was just trying to breathe. I remember I was freezing, and every bump in the road felt like a giant boulder beneath us. Normally, Art drives like a grandpa... but that night I remember glancing at the speedometer and seeing how fast he was driving with the hazard lights on as if to say... get the fuck out of my way.
I appreciated the urgency and couldn't wait to get out of the car.
Once at the center, they did a physical exam and then recommended that I walk the staircase and do some walking lunges as they prepared a room for us. I've never hated the idea of lunges more than I did in that moment. I was holding on to Art as we baby stepped our way back and forth across the room in an attempt to help the labor progress. With each surge, I'd stop in my tracks and fall into his arms just to stay upright. Occasionally overwhelmed by the pain, I'd just sink to the ground as he put counter pressure into my back until the surge was over.
Eventually, our room was ready and we made our way back there. I immediately got into the bath tub because the burning hot water was the only thing that dulled the pain. By this time, my entire birth team had arrived. The birth photographer, our doula, my mom, Art, and the midwife were all there and ready to jump into action. Even though the room was full of people, it was so quiet and peaceful in there. The lights were dim, our music was playing in the background, Art was holding my hand, and my mom and the doula were alternating pouring hot water onto my belly to ease the surges as they came.
As the pain intensified, I remember thinking to myself that I needed to relax. Tension creates more pain. All the hypno birthing books said to focus on releasing all tension in your body... so there I was, laying in a tub with my eye closed trying to get into the zone.
Hours went by as I moved my way all around the room trying to find positions that would ease the pain. I'm pretty sure I used every birthing tool possible that day. From the shower with the birthing ball, to standing, squatting, the bath tub, and laying on the bed in every position known to man.
At some point in the middle of the afternoon, I felt like it was time to push. I gave it everything I had for hours but progress was minimal. At that point, I think everyone in the room needed a break... and I was completely exhausted so I asked if we could just take a time out.
Yup, a time out... in labor. haha
But seriously, I felt like I was so worn out at that point that I wasn't able to push as hard as I needed to in order to get her out. I felt like I just needed to take a little time to try and recover and then try again. The midwife agreed that a break might be helpful for everyone so she encouraged everyone to leave the room and get some rest either at home or on the couches of the birthing center.
Everyone cleared out, Art eventually fell asleep on the bed in the room, and there I was, alone, in the bath tub. Occasionally, the birth assistant would come in to check my vitals and see how I was feel, but for a few hours it felt like just me and my thoughts.
I tried closing my eyes between surges, and pep talk myself as the waves grew stronger. I remember tears rolling down my face at one point, as thoughts of doubt crept into my mind and I suddenly felt so alone. I started to question if I was strong enough to make it to the end of this process. Eventually, I realized that this fear and questioning of my ability WAS part of the process and all I needed to do was simply surrender.
Surrender has a different meaning for everyone. For some, they surrender to their higher power and put everything in the hands of their higher power.
For me, I decided to surrendered to the pain. This meant I decided to stop trying to fight through the surges, and instead embrace them as opportunities to push and get my baby girl earth side.
I felt like in that moment, I had reached a different level mentally. I was in a battle and I was going to fight like hell. At that point, I let the midwife know I was ready to start pushing again. She rallied the troops and we started the show all over again
Again, I pushed for hours.
At one point, all three midwives were in the room with me. Coaching, helping me to bear down, and another trying to turn the baby manually. I continued to push and I remember suddenly throwing up because the pain became so intense. Even while puking, I thought to myself "your body knows what to do". I was determined to make it to the finish line and I think everyone in that room wanted to see that happen as well.
Unfortunately, after hours of pushing and trying every labor trick in the book, just before midnight the midwives came back into my room to talk with Art and I about the next steps.
They said that although the baby was descending down the birth canal, she hasn't moved any further down after hours of pushing. They reassured me that it wasn't a lack of effort, but at that point I had a decision to make.
I could rest for a while and try pushing again in a few more hours, or I could go to the hospital where they might be able to better understand why the baby wasn't progressing further down the birth canal.
I asked to have a few minutes to discuss everything with Art and make our decision. For me, it was simple.
I looked at him and said...
"I'm ok with going to the hospital, but if we do, I want to get a C section right away".
I know what you are probably thinking... what a polar opposite choice for someone who initially wanted a natural birth at the birthing center.
Well here was my thought process. I had just naturally dilated to 10cm, pushed for almost an entire day with 3 different midwives by my side, and there was certainly not a lack of effort displayed in that room.
I literally gave it all I had.
So my thought at that point was that something must be wrong. Call it instinct or mother's intuition... but I knew in my heart that if everything was ok she would have continued to descend. Since she wasn't, I knew she must be stuck.
Art, like he always is, was supportive of my choice.
We let the midwives know that we were going to go to the hospital and they agreed that it was probably the best option at that point. They reassured me that I could go there and try to push still if I wanted to, but I explained the gut feeling I had and that I didn't want to waste any more time pushing. I just wanted to get her out and know that she was safe.
Once we got to the hospital, I could feel the judgment from the admitting person and the initial nurses I came in contact with. It was that judging "had you not tried a birth center to begin with" look. As they asked me questions, you could hear the attitude in their voices and I was so irritated by that. I told them that I just wanted to get a C section once the on call doctor got there. They tried to tell me about all the different things they could do to try and help the labor progress but I said I didn't care... I want a C section.
I felt like I didn't need to explain myself to them. I KNEW something was wrong and all the drugs and pushing in the world wasn't going to change that feeling that I had.
As they began prepping me for surgery, I remember thinking to myself...
[eye on the prize]
I wasn't going to let all the hospital, needles, drugs, or surgery scare me. It almost felt like tunnel vision. At that point, no pain felt like it could compare to the 4 day long journey I had been on. I was ready, and eerily calm as they pushed me back to the operating room.
Finally, at [2:28am on Thursday November 23rd, 2017] my beautiful baby girl was born.
Logan Delaney Gonzalez
A little bruised up, but overall perfectly healthy :)
Turns out Mama was right... she was VERY stuck and didn't have a chance of coming out the way I had hoped. In fact, the doctor later told us that it was the second hardest C section she had ever performed because of how she was positioned in my pelvis.
Reflecting back on that whole journey now, I feel surprisingly satisfied with how everything went.
Was it the ideal birth I hoped for? No.
In a perfect world, I would have delivered my baby right into the arms of Art in a dark and quiet birth center, surrounded by people who supported and encouraged me along that journey.
Instead, she was pulled out of me as my body lay cut wide open on a table in a cold and bright room, surrounded by strangers chatting and laughing in casual conversation.
My labor journey went from one extreme to the other and gave me the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be on both ends of the spectrum. I essentially got the natural birth experience by dilating and pushing drug free but didn't get the prize at the end. Instead, I got to experience what it feels like to be so disconnected from your body when you are given an epidural and laying in an operating room.
The recovery from that has been the hardest part of this journey... both mentally and physically.
I'm almost 7 weeks postpartum and although I am still physically recovering from surgery, I have finally made peace with the cards I was dealt and the birth story she ultimately has.
Logan less than 1 Day Old
Logan: 6 Weeks Old