Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Rose's Birth Story

Rose Teresa McCallum. Born May 20, 2016 weighing 8 lbs 12 oz. 
I love hearing about peoples birth stories. When I was pregnant, I would lie in the bath reading story after story out of Birth Issues magazines. I think every birth is such a beautiful miracle and I find it so fascinating how each experience can vary so much.

So here is my birth story with my first baby. I tried to not go into it with too many expectations. I wanted to do it naturally but did not want to end up disappointed if things didn't go according to plan, so I just didn't really make a plan and I tried to stay open to whatever happened. Birth isn't really something we have much control over! We just have to do our best with what God throws at us.

Though it was (without comparison) the most painful experience of my life, it was also an amazing experience. I am in awe of God's miracle of childbirth, and feel proud of myself for all the hard work I put into getting Rose out into the world.

So I guess my story starts in the middle of the night on May 19th, 2016. I couldn't sleep and went to have a bath upstairs. I had been a little grumpy all day because I kept thinking to myself, "this baby is never coming! Why am I even getting my hopes up!" I was up late that night texting my friends and talking to my mom (we were staying at my parents house for the night) because I felt like something might be starting to happen, but nothing did and eventually I was able to fall asleep.

At 6 in the morning the next morning, Matt's alarm went off and I woke up to eat breakfast with him before work (planning to go back to sleep when he left...). We were saying good morning and I noticed I felt a little wet, so I got up to go to the bathroom and felt some liquid gush out and drip down my leg as I walked. I hoped it meant my water had broken, and started to feel excited, but at the same time just kind of calm and ready for things to happen (finally!!!!). 

I went and told Mom, and Matt tried to put together a quick sub plan as he frantically tried to find a sub for the day (unfortunately the website wasn't working, so he never actually got one. When he called the school later, though, they told him it was all taken care of and to focus on his coming baby). In the meantime I packed some last minute things, then went to the bathroom again and noticed there was a lot of blood (sorry if that's too much information! It's hard to know what to leave out and what to include). It was a little worrisome because of the amount of blood, and I had never heard of this before, but I actually felt pretty calm. I was just praying a lot to St. Rose of Lima to pray that my baby would be okay. Because of the amount of blood as well as a large blood clot, Matt called an ambulance and while the paramedics headed over the lady on the phone was telling Matt to get a bunch of things ready in case the baby came right away. I could tell Matt was kind of panicking as she was telling him to get a string, a clothes pin to clamp the umbilical cord, put pillows underneath me... I remember saying "Don't worry Matt, she's wrong, the baby is not coming right now."

The paramedics came super quickly and we answered all their questions, they put me on a stretcher and carried me out to the ambulance. You could tell they are trained to put people at ease, and we made conversation throughout it all. I still felt a sort of peace surrounding me, but was frantically praying inside my head in between our conversations on the way to the hospital. I hadn't felt the baby move since before going to bed that night, so I was really worried about that and I so badly wanted one little kick of reassurance. Although I was really worried about my baby, I felt peace because I knew it was all in God's hands, and he's always taken care of me before. It all really felt somehow bigger than me and I knew I just had no control over what happened, so I really had no choice but to just trust.

I think my first contraction was around 7:00 am, and in the ambulance they timed my contractions and at that point they were about a minute long and ten minutes apart.

They took me on the stretcher into the hospital and a nurse had me sit down in a chair. Just before she hooked up the machine to check the heartbeat (so I could be reassured the baby was okay), I felt a little kick. Thanks a lot Rose, you couldn't have done that in the last hour? But I was so relieved the baby was okay.

As I was hooked up to the machine monitoring me the nurse asked me questions. She asked Matt his name while writing on her clipboard and followed with "Do you have any allergies?" (directed at me) and Matt answered "No." She said the question was for me, and Matt looked a little embarrassed and then we all burst out laughing, and I seriously could not stop laughing. Maybe I was a little delirious. Matt kept making jokes between my contractions and I was laughing so so hard even though I was trying not to cause I wasn't sure if the machine would pick it up or something.

They brought me upstairs and checked me, and I was 6 cm dilated which they all seemed surprised about. As the contractions progressed I felt in control, even though the contractions were painful. I actually felt a lot of joy because my baby was finally coming, and I had actually been excited for labor because I was so curious to see how I would handle it, and to see if I could do it naturally like I wanted. I was mostly excited, though, because my baby was coming.

When the contractions would come I would say all these things to myself in my head about embracing the pain, and Jesus taking care of me, and how this was my body getting the baby out, and how my body knew what it was doing. At this stage, saying all those things to myself really helped me stay calm and focussed. I also focused on relaxing and taking deep breaths. Matt was saying the nicest things to me and it made me feel so happy, but I know my face wasn't showing any appreciation. I was in this super focussed mode and I couldn't even muster polite smiles for nurses. I'm sure they're used to it though.

Throughout the entire labor, I was continuously thinking about how much I wanted to eat. My body felt so weak and I knew if I could eat a bit it would help me so much. I kept asking the nurses if I could eat, but they kept telling me that until the bleeding stopped I couldn't. Nobody really knew why I was bleeding so much, and they were worried I might have to have a c-section or something because of all the bleeding. The bleeding didn't stop the whole time so I couldn't eat at all and I honestly hated it because I felt so incredibly weak and super hungry in between the contractions. One of the first things I asked after Rose was born was "Can I eat now???" They laughed and said of course. I contemplated getting Matt to sneak me one of the granola bars in had in my suitcase because I was so obsessed with wanting to eat, and was thinking about those dang granola bars so much! I knew I needed to listen to the nurses, but I still thought about it.

Past a certain point, I did not feel in control anymore because the contractions were so incredibly painful. Those hours are kind of just a blur of super super super bad pain. Matt massaged my back for so many hours, and said so many supportive things to me, and at the time he probably just thought I was super annoyed with him because of my responses, but I was just in so much pain. The amount the massaging helped was huge, the pressure was such a relief for the intense pain in my back. The supportive things Matt would say also helped me so much. I felt like Matt was so proud of me and he made me feel like I was so strong. I'm so glad he was there for me through it all. I cannot believe that even in my grandparents time the husbands wouldn't normally get to be there for the labor and delivery! That would suck!

At one point I said "next time I am getting an epidural." I wanted to try to do it naturally for this baby, but we will see for the next one! A couple times I thought about whether I wanted to ask for an epidural but then would think "No, I've made it this far. I should just go the whole way."

At some point Matt asked me if I wanted my mom to there. I said I didn't know because I just didn't have the energy to make decisions, and I told him to decide. He texted her (apparently her and my sister Christa were in the building because they had to bring Matt's bedding) and said she could come up. Matt seemed to completely relax once Mom got there, and they were honestly the star support team. I can't even explain it. They took turns massaging and rubbing my back while I went through the labor in various positions. At one point I was in the shower (that was before Mom came), sometimes I was on the birthing ball, and there was also this one position where I leaned on the bed and that helped to relieve my back pain a bit, and for a lot of the end part of the labor the bed was propped into a sitting position with me resting on the top while on my knees, swaying my hips back and forth because it somehow relieved the pain a bit and could potentially move the baby down a little more quickly. Mom and Matt talked me through the contractions, saying I was doing so well and reminding me to breath and many other things I don't even remember that really helped. At times I remember being so annoyed with the reminder to breath slowly though, even though it was of course really important. I just wanted to get through the pain I didn't want to focus on breathing hahaha.

I also told my sister she could stay if she wanted, so she got to see Rose be born as well. I have probably scared her off having children, or at least scared her into getting an epidural haha!

The nurse offered me laughing gas which she said would just take the edge off the pain. I originally said no, because laughing gas sounded weird, but as the pain progressed I asked, "Okay what does that laughing gas stuff do?" and she explained it all. I couldn't exactly tell if it helped with the pain and at times the tank ran out so I wasn't even actually breathing anything in, but I was obsessed with the thing. It really helped me to control my breathing because it would force me to take a deep breath in and deep breath out, it gave me something to focus on, and there was a possibility it was helping so even if it was just somewhat placebo effect, I loved it.

When the nurse said I was 8 cm dilated I was whined that that was "So long to go," and even at 9 and a half cm I was annoyed there was still more to go. Matt kept telling me the baby was coming soon but I was seriously doubting him.

I think I knew a point when I could push, but didn't actually have to yet, however all I wanted was for the labor to end and to get that baby out. My "talking in my head" had turned into a litany of praying "please God let this baby come out soon. Please God let this almost be done." So I asked the nurse if I could push and she checked and I was fully dilated, they were all set up, and so sometime just after 3:00 pm I started pushing. I think had I waited just a bit longer I may not have tore, or just had to push for a shorter time, but the possibility of it ending was just so enticing. Everyone acted really impressed with my pushing (I do not know if it was genuine or just a way to encourage me, but either way, it helped) and I was putting every ounce of strength I had into pushing because I wanted the baby out so badly. 

There was one push where I screamed so loud because it was so painful (maybe that's when I tore? Who knows). Suddenly I could feel the baby's head come out, and they told me to keep pushing and I felt more of her come out. I saw a white baby being somewhat roughly handled with a towel being rubbed on her, and then my baby was on my chest. I felt tears in my eyes and I will never forget that first feeling of her warm skin on mine. Matt cut the umbilical cord, I asked if she was a girl and she was. Someone was saying "you did it" and Matt was beside me and my baby was out.

I noticed her dark hair and I noticed she seemed bigger than I expected (that was about all I could process at the time). Mostly I just thought she was beautiful. I was so relieved the labor was over and pregnancy was over and I finally had my baby with me in the outside world.

I was a complete wimp about the stitches, there is something about those sorts of things that just completely makes me cringe and grosses me out so I hated getting them, even though they should have been paling in comparison to the pain of the labor and delivery.

I felt so proud I did it, I felt so much love for Matt, and I felt so much joy that my baby girl was with us. Our little Rose.

Minutes after Rose was born - the moment my life changed forever.
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