I love birth stories. Collectively, they are all the same – somehow, someway, we enter the world. When Caleigh was born, I became part of a community of women all over the world who lived the same experience. It’s a powerful connection, this mama club. I tend to ask personal questions too soon of people I’ve just met, but I find that women want to share their birth stories. It’s a badge of pride to have a child by ANY means. So, to honor Caleigh’s 3rd birthday this weekend, I though I’d share mine in something I hope she’ll read one day.
You were late. Two-weeks-to -the-day late and it should have been an indicator of who you are as a person. Not tardy or chronically late, but someone who does things when she is 100% ready. You went on to roll for the first time, crawl, walk, and speak in this same manner. It’s as if you practice in your mind until you know your body can get it right.
You were due on the 29th of September and truly, I wasn’t ready for you to leave. I loved being pregnant with you. You were safe in my belly and you seemed pretty happy in there, kicking and wiggling at the sound of our voices (and empanadas). Even though I wasn’t ready, I was more excited to meet you. I, we, loved you so much and had already waited so long to have you in our lives. So, I braced for impact on the 29th. We were packed for the hospital, slow cooker meals in the freezer, nursery done, ready to go.
We waited. I kept working to try to move around and coax you out. (My students were terrified I would go into labor at school!) You were not coaxed. Our doctor told me that if you waited too long, beyond two weeks, that she would need to induce me. We set a just-in-case date on a Monday at 8:00am.
Almost two weeks pass and you’re still swimming around in my belly, waiting to be evicted. Your dad and I tried every technique we could find to try to get you into our arms: I ate spicy food, we drove on incredibly bumpy roads, I got a pedicure and had my ankle pressure points massaged, I drank red raspberry leaf tea. You were not convinced of any of these tricks. We kept waiting.
On Sunday night, your dad and I went to bed talking about what the next day would hold. As you know, sweet girl, I like to plan and of course, I had printed and laminated a multi-page birth plan for your arrival. Needless to say, much of it didn’t not go as I thought it would. I was nervous and excited for the unexpected.
I woke up on Monday at 5:00am to pee (your small infant body squished my bladder and I had to pee all the time!) and when I stood up, a small pond rushed down my legs and I thought I peed myself. The liquid was clear and when it didn’t stop, I knew my water broke! You waited until the last possible day to arrive; I had an appointment at 8:00am to induce. But you were coming! I called out to your dad, “She’s coming!” and pregnancy-ran to the bathroom. We called our doula and the doctor and they told me to go back to sleep and wait until our scheduled appointment. Love, I tried to sleep. I really did, but I was too excited to meet you! I talked to you and sang and read to try to get you moving, but you were taking the doctor’s advice.
8:00am took forever to come. We packed up the car with all of our hospital bags and headed in. We were admitted to the maternity ward and the joy we felt was palpable (as you can see by my selfie in hour #1!).
Even though my water broke (and re-broke and re-broke and re-broke), you still stayed snuggled in my belly. For hours. I colored, tried to watch tv, read, and talk to Daddy. I even did my makeup at one point because it helped calm me down. After 12 hours of light contractions, we needed a little help. This came in the form of something called Pitocin – a drug that would help you want to enter the world. The downfall of this was that it intensified everything, including the pain. True labor really started within 20 minutes of Pitocin entering my veins and boy, did we feel it! Because we we able to move around, I tried walking while contracting to help with the pain, I sat on the ball and bounced, and I used some of the positions your dad and I practiced from our baby class. The pain wasn’t something that could be taken away because so much of it was in my lower back. You were trying to meet us, too, but you were a little turned around (I know it must be a confusing ride out!).
Twelve more hours went by and I was tired. I should have gone back to sleep in the morning like the doctor told me to! I was told that if I couldn’t deliver you within a certain time frame, we would need surgery to get you out. Cal, that was NOT on the birth plan! So, we tried an epidural to ease some of the pain. It did help! It was strange not being able to feel my legs. I knew that I was having contractions and I could feel the tensing of my body, but it didn’t hurt any longer. After a few hours, they were over and I waited for the urge to push. I was able to rest for a bit while the epidural wore off. It’s so strange that my body and you just knew what to do. All of a sudden, the pushing began. We were in the final stretch!
The final stretch lasted for six hours. Babycakes, you were and are a stubborn human and I doubt that when you’re reading this letter this will have changed. I could feel you moving down and eventually, the final pushes came. The wonderful doctor who delivered you, Dr. David, told me to wait until the next contraction to push but after so many days of waiting, I couldn’t. She hadn’t finished putting her gloves on when you left my body!
Those moments seemed to blur and slow at the same time. You were placed on my chest and you looked right at your dad. I remember you looking like a small purple monkey and this surge of love and light overwhelmed the room. You were here. We all cried with tears of relief and joy. You, our healthy baby, were finally here.
Ok, so I know this is a long story, but I never want to lose the details of how the best thing I’ve ever done came to me. Cal, you have always been and will always be so incredibly loved.
So, happy 3rd birthday my sweet Caleigh-Doodle. Thank you for being the love of our lives.
With all my love,