I’d been pregnant for about… 7ish years. In my head. Technically, I was 40 weeks, 5 days, but in my head? A full seven years.
My body was revolting against me. I had a testicle/cyst growing larger each day (oh, you really should read all about that), and at my 40 week + 4 day appointment, my midwife had to utter the word “induction” to prepare me for the possibility that it might be the only way to stop me from being pregnant for ETERNITY.
(Please do stop yourself if you’re about to comment about how nobody is pregnant forever, babies pick their birth dates, blah blah. Rational arguments were lost on me at that time. That’s what I’m saying.)
The next morning, July 30th at 7:30am, I woke up to a small gush of something down there. My first thought as I shook off the fog in my brain was, “Oh, hell yes. Please let this be it.” Followed very quickly by the following train of thought:
“Oh. Shit. Get off the bed, get off the bed, VERY CAREFULLY GET OFF THE BED. Back your ass out of this thing. Scoot backwards. Don’t roll over. Oh, holy crap. Please don’t be my water breaking, please don’t be my water breaking.”
See, we recently purchased the bed of my dreams. A very expensive bed of my dreams. One made of foam that I imagine is pretty absorbent. One that we did not have any sort of plastic barrier on because my water NEVER breaks on it’s own.
And that’s a good thing, my midwife told me the day before, because I had SO MUCH amniotic fluid this time and the baby was floating so high up in it that IF my water did break, we might have a serious situation on our hands. A situation that would definitely require an immediate drive to the hospital, and possibly an ambulance ride if I felt “anything slipping out down there, like an umbilical cord… or an arm.”
After getting to the bathroom without dropping a water balloon out of my vagina on the way there (or an arm), I determined it was probably my mucus plug I felt, not my water. PHEW. And EW. There was spotting, and then a contraction.
The contraction was nothing to get excited about. I’d been having them for about 6 weeks. But the other signs were making me a little giddy. Scott was working from home that day, so I told him he might need to let his boss know he needed the day off (and the next month- three cheers for a month of vacation days saved up!). After about an hour, I called my midwife’s office. Contractions were pretty irregular and not painful at all. Sometimes I’d go 15 minutes without one. I didn’t expect things to happen anytime soon, but the office wanted me to head to the hospital anyway.
We live 45 minutes from it, and I knew that I was capable of going from 0-60 very fast, based on my 1.5-2 hour labor with Leyna. So we calmly packed up the car and left about an hour and a half after that. Then we stopped to get something to eat. It was all very casual. I’m sure the good people at Panera had no idea I would walk out with a bagel and cream cheese, then push a baby out by the end of the day.
Last bump selfie, just before heading to the hospital. Who’s happy to get this baby out? THIS GIRL.
The contractions were such a joke that by the time we got to the hospital, I was expecting them to just send me home. Nope. I was at a 4/5. (I was barely a 2 the day before.) Problem was the baby was still very high, not at all engaged. I was admitted anyway because everyone was confident I was in active labor, but I was preparing for a long day and night. Scott and I took off for a walk, which seemed to make the contractions stop. When we got back, I was monitored for a bit, then I opted to take a little nap. I was suddenly very tired.
The whole time I rested, I didn’t feel a single contraction. Not for the entire 40 minutes. But my anxiety started to ramp up as I started to feel really hot, and like I couldn’t breathe. I was dizzy. It made me freak out. OMG, did I have a blood clot? WAS I GOING TO DIE? Maybe my testicle-cyst was trying to kill me!
Seriously, the anxiety was a bitch. I begged Scott to get the nurse. I explained to her that I was afraid something was very wrong with me. She asked if I’d felt any contractions. In my head, I was all:
“Contractions? Let’s forget about the labor thing for a minute and focus on how I’m ABOUT TO DIE because CLEARLY something is not right.”
But she insisted on checking me. Hilarity! I hadn’t had contractions in more than an hour.
I was at a 6, almost 7. Baby was definitely engaged, much lower, I was 60% effaced. So a good portion of this labor progressed with the help of a panic attack instead of contractions. Lucky me?
Mostly confident that I was actually NOT dying (at that point), I decided to get in the labor tub. I was suddenly really worried that things were going to go super fast. I texted my birth photographer- Monica of A Sacred Project– and asked her to head on up to the hospital. Then I just… hung out. Just all chill in the warm water, casually kicking back. I felt contractions every 5ish minutes, but they didn’t hurt. I was laughing and talking through them. I was that woman in labor that people probably hate.
Don’t worry. I paid for it later.
Anyway, Monica got there about an hour after I got in the tub, so this is the point in the story where I’ll start to provide her lovely visuals for you all. And by “lovely” I do mean that some are terrifying. (But NONE are of anything below the bump or NSFW.)
(This post is going to be crazy long, so please click through from my homepage to read the rest and see the slideshow at the end of the post!)
There’s really only so much time you can spend in a warm tub of water, and a little over an hour was reaching my max. I decided to head to the shower, but not before we finished writing down our predictions for how much baby would weigh. Since my 2nd baby was 9.9, and I was even bigger with this one, everyone was expecting a whopper. (Though my midwife did sweetly write that her “wish list” birth weight was 8.12.)
Obviously, Scott hates me? He was thrilled at the idea of a 10 lb baby. Butthead.
When my midwife told me that this hospital is super cool because it has showers to labor in, I was very skeptical. I have never craved laboring in a shower before. It actually sounded like hell in previous labors. But I had never seen a shower like this. A bench to sit on, 5 shower heads, 3 strategically aimed at my lower back, one on my belly, one overhead. It was as close to laboring in a spa as (I imagine) it gets.
I think I was enjoying it a bit too much. And maybe I was procrastinating on the whole have-a-baby thing. By this point, I was not looking forward to what I knew was to come. After hanging out in the shower for I really don’t know how long, my midwife and nurse convinced me to hop out to get monitored and checked. My contractions were getting a little more difficult at this point.
I was nearly an 8, which didn’t seem like I’d progressed much, but the baby had moved down even more, and my bag of water was bulging. My midwife then asked me if I wanted the rest of this to be a marathon or a sprint. Because we could keep going the way we were going and take our time, or she could break my water and we could get this show on the road. Having had my water broken with my other 2 babies when I was at an 8, I knew what that would mean. It would bring on transition. It would HURT. It would be INTENSE.
And then it would be over.
I was ready for it to be over. I was ready to sprint the last 6 miles of this marathon. (Marathon and birth comparisons will never get old for me.)
We all expected buckets of amniotic fluid to pour out of me when she broke my water, but the baby had plugged the dam and there was very little that came out. I headed back to the shower, and immediately recognized that these contractions were going to be different.
I spent maybe another 20 minutes in there with mobile monitoring. We kept losing the baby on it because the water was beating down on the device, so my midwife told me if they could get one good tape with me out of the shower, I could get back in after and they’d stop monitoring me. Sounded like a good plan.
I hopped up on the bed.
No. That’s a lie. I hobbled to the bed, stopping 2 times for contractions, then I carefully eased myself onto it and immediately felt another contraction.
“I hate when this shit gets real,” I sighed between contractions.
Everybody laughed. This seems to be a stage of labor for me- making jokes. I become quite the comedian right before transition hits. I warned my midwife about the next stage of labor for me.
“I drop a lot of F Bombs when I’m in transition. That’s how you know it’s getting serious. I will not stop saying fuck.”
Again, everyone laughed, but I was totally serious. It wasn’t long before I exhaled, “FUUUUUUCK” at the end of a contraction. There was no way I was getting back in the shower because that would require walking, and there was no way I was standing to walk. So my midwife coached me on different positions to labor in on the bed.
I knew it was about to get intense. I tried to dredge up those vivid memories of what it would be like, what to prepare myself for. I’d been through transition twice. I could surely do this just one more time. Just once more. That’s it. That’s all I was obligated… committed to making it through. Already, I was questioning my sanity, but somehow I felt peace just thinking of the pain I’d endured previously and knowing I came through it
just fine without dying.
I thought I could remember. I thought I was prepared. The pain I recalled seemed absolutely horrible. I braced myself for it.
Turns out, my brain GROSSLY downplayed the realities of previous labors from my memory. GROSS. LY.
“Absolutely horrible” as a descriptor is like putting a tutu and strawberry scented glitter powder on what it ACTUALLY FELT LIKE.
I was now repeating things like, “Why, why, why, WHY do I do this? WHY DO I DOOOOOOO THISSSSS? I am never doing this again, NEVER AGAIN. SERIOUSLY NEVER. Fuuuuuccck.”
Here’s the thing about the pain of childbirth- no matter how hard you try, you will NEVER remember how bad it felt until you’re right back there again. And then? AND THEN you’re like, OH. RIGHT. That’s it. THAT’S what my brain suppressed FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.
And then? Too late. Too late to decide you don’t want to have that baby at all. Even too late for an epidural. You are fucked.
So then I’m saying things like, “Get it out. Get. It. Out. OH MY GOD GET IT OUT.” And, of course, a lot of fucks. And hating my husband for even having a penis at all.
I’m sure at this point my midwife was sensing that I was getting much closer to the finish line. Still coaching me on different positions to labor in, she suggested I pull myself up on a bar attached to the end of the bed and labor in a squat position.
I tried to hold myself up during the contraction and ALL THE PAIN BELONGED TO ME. “Nope. NOPE. NO, I HATE THIS,” I screamed. Not only did I HATE that position because of the pain, but also because I did not sign up for a cross-fit workout while laboring. Squatting with a 40lb bowling ball attached to my core? NOPE.
But I guess my midwife knew what she was doing because shortly after that my contractions started feeling “push-y.” This both excited me and scared me more than Samara from The Ring. I was SO over laboring. SO. OVER. DONE.
I was SO not ready for the hell that is pushing.
After a couple contractions that ended with me grunting, I informed everyone that seriously, I was serious. I was ready to push. For real. It was happening.
Then I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done. I prayed out loud. Okay, maybe not so much “prayed.” More like I yelled at God and didn’t care who heard me.
“Dear God, please let this be fast. Dear God, please let this be fast. DEAR GOD, PLEASE LET THIS BE SO FAST.”
I had just enough time to finish that little conversation with God and for my midwife and nurse to breakdown my bed and get my legs up. When the next contraction hit, I was instantly glad I insisted they get ready for me to push. Because yeah.
That? Was happening. NOW.
See? Totally terrifying picture. And also a little funny. Very real, and very, very scary. Are you running to get your tubes tied right now? I can wait. Oh, it’s okay if you laugh at this.
I showed this picture to Scott earlier today, telling him I was a little shocked and freaked out by it the first time I saw it. He glanced at it and gave a knowing nod.
“Oh yeah. That’s your pushing face. I’ve seen it 3 times,” he said all nonchalant. That guy. Such a keeper.
So anyway, back to the pushing. If that picture came with sound effects, it would sound exactly like how I imagine an animal sounds after getting hit by a car. I made dying animal noises and pushed. And pushed, and pushed, and pushed for what seemed like an hour, but I’m told was more like a few minutes.
I knew that contraction meant business, and I’m kind of a pro at pushing by now, so I just gave it everything I had. Shortly after I started pushing, I started to feel what I thought was the “ring of fire” (the baby crowning), but then I started thinking that wasn’t possible because I just started pushing.
Then I heard a lot of people running places and people being called into the room, and by the time I realized the baby’s head was coming out my midwife said, “Reach down and grab your baby!”
I didn’t have the energy to argue with or question her, though it made no sense to me at the moment how I could be grabbing my baby when there was no way this hell was ever going to end.
But then? It did.
And to my great surprise, after the longest push ever on the planet, which I’m not even sure how I survived since I don’t think I took a breath for 5 minutes, there was a baby in my arms.
Do not be fooled by this picture. That look on my face is not one of wonderment and joy for the miracle of life. That look is me saying out loud, over and over, “Oh my God, it’s over. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh, thank you, God.” I guess he heard my prayers and went ahead and made that whole pushing thing SUPER fast. So fast my midwife barely had time to get prepped to catch the baby.
I have no idea how long the baby was on me before I heard someone ask, “Do we know if it’s a boy or girl?” At that point, I was 1. celebrating the fact that it was over and 2. a little distracted by all the new sensations I was feeling down there, like the umbilical cord rubbing up against some very sensitive areas.
Honestly, by then I didn’t care if I had just birthed a cat. An alien. Whatever. It was OUT! REJOICE! But I guess other people wanted to know, so they picked the baby up off my chest.
“IT’S A BOY!”
Lowell Scott Krause was born at 8:14 pm on July 30th, 2013 at Baylor McKinney hospital. He was 20.75 inches and 8 lbs 11 ounces. He shot out of me with one push and the force of an olympic sized pool of amniotic fluid behind him.
We called my mom, who was at our house with Kendall and Leyna. Then we called and ordered pizza. I was HANGRY.
About an hour and a half later, Lowell and I were wheeled into our recovery room, where we got to be a family of 5 (eep!) for the first time.
Kendall and Leyna fell in love with Lowell instantly. Watching them meet him was one of the biggest joys of my life. Their excitement was tangible.
And just like that, my heart grew 3 sizes, and all my babies fit perfectly inside.
If you’ve made it this far, bravo! Birth stories are my favorite posts to write, so it’s a little sad to think this is the last one I’ll have to share with you all. But not so sad that I’d like to endure transition and pushing again.
This happens to be the one and only birth story I have that I can end with a slideshow. Not only did Monica capture this time for us with pictures, but she also got some great video, and she merged them all beautifully into a 6 minute montage.
OH! And I know there are some of you who stuck this whole thing out just to find out how my testicle-cyst is doing. Well, good news is it didn’t rupture during birth OR grow to the size of a citrus fruit. It’s actually shrunk so much in the last few weeks that it’s possible I won’t have to do anything to remove it.
But I’ll have much more to say about all of that when I bring you yet another “Rest Of The Story” all about the postpartum period. Stay tuned.