On Becoming A Mother

In some ways its easier than I thought it would be. I honestly thought that the movies had it right when they show you this glimpse of life with a newborn baby. You know, the mom with unwashed hair, piles of laundry everywhere, dirty diapers strewn about the room, you get the picture. So, when Sam came along and life just kept on going I felt like we had a pretty good handle on things. And this may be just because I have a fairly easy baby, but life seems pretty darn good these days. And to be terribly honest, being pregnant was way harder than being the mother of a newborn.
I got so many people telling me “Oh, just wait until the baby is here, you don’t know what tired is yet! You’ll be so exhausted! Sleep while you can!” and while, yes, it’s true, having a newborn is exhausting, it’s also the biggest, most amazing, wonderful, exhausting job there is. And being pregnant is exhausting, but in a much less fun way. There are no cute baby giggles and grins in pregnancy, instead it’s barf-buckets in every room of your house, hospitalizations for severe dehydration and nausea, crying because your back feels like its breaking, swollen feet, fainting spells, you know, fun stuff like that. Don’t get me wrong, while I didn’t enjoy pregnancy, I don’t want to knock it too much, because the end result is pretty much the best thing ever. And I really mean that.
The story of me becoming a mother and, well, this is a long story.
So, here we are on September the 2nd. I was pretty miserable, as all pregnant women are during the last weeks of their pregnancies. I was so ready to be done. I had a doctors appointment two days prior and was given some discouraging news. I wasn’t really progressing towards labor, (I was dilated to a 2, but I had been there for about a week) although since that was still 4 days before my due date they weren’t concerned about it, except for the fact that my back was really ready to give out on me.  Pregnancy did not do kind things to my back. (For those of you who don’t know, I had a spinal fusion when I was 15 because I had severe scoliosis) I was ready to throw in the towel. So, the doctor suggested we wait a few days, come back in two days, on Friday the 2nd, and check again to see where we were at. So, I waited, but unfortunately hadn’t progressed at all, so he suggested that we induce. I had been hoping to not go that route, but at that point I was ready to get that baby out. He said he was free that evening to start the induction. I said “Ok!” and called Paul at work and told him that we were having a baby this weekend! It was kind of nice to know in advance, because I was able to call my mom and tell her that we were having a baby sometime in the next few days, so she should get her rear-in-gear and head over.
We got to the hospital in the late afternoon on Friday to start the induction. By 5:00pm I was in my own little room with my IV started and the ‘primer drugs’ in me, but this stuff is really just to get things ready for labor, not to send you INTO labor, but for some reason it started labor hard and heavy. And it was all back labor, which, for those of you who have experienced it, well, it’s basically like having your lower back hit repeatedly with a baseball bat. I felt like I could handle the regular contractions ok, but the back contractions were something else entirely. So, after about two hours of hard laboring they checked me and I hadn’t dilated at all. Not one little tiny bit. Seriously?
Two hours later they checked again and I still hadn’t dilated at all, and by this point I was pretty much climbing the walls in pain. I was taking hot showers, walking the halls, having Paul giving counter-pressure, but I just wasn’t progressing at all. So after 4 hours of labor (around 9:00pm) they stopped the ‘primer drugs’ and gave me a shot of Numorphan, it helped me relax a bit, but even so it was a pretty rough evening. Around midnight I still hadn’t progressed at ALL (not even a centimeter after 7 hours of near-constant contractions!) so the doctor wasn’t sure what do to. So, we called the anesthesiologist. Ok- an epidural. I had really wanted to avoid that, but it didn’t look like I was going to be able to relax enough to dilate, and I wanted to avoid a C-section even more than I wanted to avoid an epidural, so I agreed. The only catch was that since I have a fused spine, the anesthesiologist was a little unsure if she’d even be able to get the epidural in. She said she’d give it a try, but she had several surgeries that she had to do beforehand, but knowing that there was a chance for relief got me through those next several hours, but that’s when the vomiting started… I’m not sure what made me start throwing up, but that continued until Sam was born.
Around 3:30am, they checked me again, so about 10 1/2 hours of hard laboring, there was still no progress, and the anesthesiologist was finally free they moved me into the birthing room and started the really fun process of getting an epidural. She had me leaning over and hunching my back as much as I could, which isn’t much due to the rods in my spine, but when she stuck the needle in my legs started going crazy and kicking out all over the place. It was surreal. I had absolutely NO control over them and they were totally doing a Riverdance. But then something went wrong and all the sudden I was surrounded by 4 nurses holding me down, yelling and pulling the IV out of my arm and trying to get a new one in. Apparently something happened to my IV while she was attempting the epidural and my blood was coming out instead of fluids going in, which isn’t a good thing. I had no idea what was going on at that point. One second they’re trying to shove a huge needle in your spine and your legs and going crazy, and the next you’re being pinned down by 4 (very strong, I might add) nurses who are armed with needles. Once they solved that little dilemma we got back to trying to get the epidural in. Since she couldn’t get it in while I was hunched over, they had me lay down on my side and they got it in that way, and then when I asked why my arm was completely numb the anesthesiologist  got a little worried, because your upper body is NOT supposed to be numb… then a nurse realized that it was numb because one of the nurses was in such a rush to get the IV started in my other arm that she forgot to take off the tourniquet and it accidentally got left on there for about 20 minutes.
Once they got the epidural in I was able to start relaxing a little, and around 5:00am the back labor stopped and it was just regular contractions that I could feel, so it was a lot more tolerable. Around 7:00am they finally started me on Pitocin. (Pitocin and I are not friends) At 7:30am the doctor stopped in and broke my water. That was one of the weirdest sensations of my life. Then around 9:00am I was finally starting to progress, but I was still only around 3cm, which really isn’t great progress, but hey, 1 cm is 1 cm, am I right? But the doctor was concerned because Sam’s head still wasn’t engaged in the birth canal, even after 16 hours of contractions, so he basically told me that we’d watch it for a bit more and then if I hadn’t progressed at all I’d have a c-section. (Nooooo!!!)
Around 11:30am I was having non-stop contractions still, so they stopped the Pitocin, and I was dilated to about 4cm, so it was still really slow progress. (And just FYI, the epidural totally did not take away all of the pain. I thought it would, but this was still really painful)  Then around 1:00pm they restarted the Pitocin back at the lowest dose, trying to get my contractions to be productive.  Around 2:00pm I had some weird breakthrough pain where the back labor started back up again and I was losing it. So the anesthesiologist came back in and hit me with a megadose of the epidural, but since I was laying down flat and it’s a gravity drug (basically it will go whichever way gravity pulls it) it hit my chest and lungs, so I couldn’t feel myself breathing and I started panicking and they had to put me on oxygen because I was freaking out so much and hyperventilating. I remember being really scared that I was going to die because I couldn’t breathe, even though I was breathing just fine apparently.
Then around 3:30pm they checked me again and I was only at 6 cm, he mentioned c-section again… I begged for a bit more time, he said ok, and when he came back to check it at 5:00 pm I was at a 10. 24 hours to get there, but we were finally there. I could have danced around the room if I had been able to move my legs! After 22 1/2 hours only dilating 4cm (I was already at a 2 when admitted to the hospital) I went and dilated 4 cm in an hour and a half. I was so proud of my body FINALLY cooperating.
It was go-time. I hadn’t slept in over 36 hours, was nearly delirious, and as soon as the doctor gave the go-ahead to start pushing I forgot all about hitting that epidural button… and if you forget to push that button every 30 minutes, well, then your epidural wears off really, really fast. So, then there was the pushing. Sam wasn’t even in the birth canal yet, so I had a long way to push him down. Oh man, I did NOT think it was going to last that long. I figured once I started pushing he’d be here soon… I was wrong. They do call it labor for a reason, it’s hard. Two hours of pushing, blood vessels in my face and neck making my face spotty, sweating profusely. Finally, a few minutes before 7:00pm the doctor again mentioned a c-section because the baby wasn’t making his appearance. That just made me all the more determined. It had already been two hours of pushing, and once the doctor said that if I didn’t get him out in the next few minutes he would have to take me to surgery, well, that was the push I needed. Apparently this was the point where I started sounding like a wild animal, but hey, you do what you need to do, right?
7:01pm, September 3rd, there was Samuel. My Sam. 7 pounds and 5 ounces of pure, beautiful goodness. He was mine! My very own, my tiny little love. I’ve never felt anything like that before, that love of seeing your own child for the first time. Your own flesh and blood.  I know I was sobbing at this point, probably a mixture of exhaustion, hormones and relief knowing that labor was finally over. When I said his name out loud for the first time after he arrived I knew it fit him, his name means God’s Word, My Beloved in Hebrew. Knowing that our gracious Heavenly Father has entrusted this tiny little human, this small soul, into my possession is beyond my comprehension. He has blessed us beyond belief, and we are so happy to the parents of this little man, little Samuel David, our little Beloved.
And that’s the story of how I became a mother.
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3 thoughts on “On Becoming A Mother

  1. Ali, I’m so glad you wrote out a detailed account. There are so many details that blur together over time.
    Thanks be to God that you didn’t have to have a C-section, and that little Sam came out healthy and strong. And by the way, you look fabulous for not having slept in almost 40 hours. 😉

  2. Good on you for writing it down. Every birth is different so i makes a nice keepsake. My daughter was born all natural, no painkillers. As for my son, well I vividly remember Pitocin( nineteen years later). Just about shot the little fella across the room. Kept telling them to turn the drip down…lol.

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