It was a cloudy, cool October afternoon. I was at work, sitting at my desk. Nothing felt too out of the ordinary, other than the fact that I had felt subtly nauseous all afternoon.
In the day’s leading up to this, I was expecting my period. Wasn’t paying too much attention to my cycle, because we weren’t trying to get pregnant at the time. I sent Perry a text mentioning how I had felt all afternoon. He sent back a quick, sarcastic, “maybe your pregnant”.
That was when it hit me. Somehow… someway… I just knew I was pregnant.
I ran to my car, drove to the closest drug store and bought a pregnancy test from every name-brand available. I remember my hands trembling as I opened up the boxes & read the directions as fast as I possibly could.
Two minutes later, my world completely changed. Every single test came back completely positive. Telling Perry we were pregnant was one of the best moments of my life.
Fast forward 6 months and we find ourselves in full fledged, baby preparation mode. I’m wearing maternity leggings every single day. Perry’s researching the best ways to save for Ella’s future college education & wedding. We’re attending a weekly “natural childbirth” class; learning ways to cope with the pains of childbirth in a non-invasive manner. I am convinced that this labor is going to go according to my plans. Ha ha ha.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy are completely miserable. We have two false visits to labor & delivery. I’m day-dreaming of the days when I used to be able to climb a flight of stairs without breaking a sweat. We watch our due date approach with building anticipation, only to be completely let down as the date comes and goes.
At this point, I’ve tried everything to naturally kick-start labor. Long walks around our neighborhood (easier said than done), pineapple smoothies, bouncing on the exercise ball, evening primrose oil, alongside a dozen other things I wouldn’t recommend to anyone looking to maintain their sanity.
We meet with my OBGYN to set an induction date at 41 weeks pregnant. For the first time ever, I’m beginning to question my whole “natural childbirth” plan, knowing a big dose of Pitocin is going to be kick-starting my labor. I had already heard the horror stories. I was not excited about it. But, the baby had to come out one way or another.
Perry and I arrive at the hospital on June 27th at 8pm to begin the induction process. They start me on Cervidil, which is a cervical ripening hormone administered over a period of 12 hours (before Pitocin). They recommended that we get as much sleep as possible since we’d most likely be having Ella the next day. We go to bed.
Once 3am rolls around, I desperately have to go the bathroom. Once I begin to make my way back to the hospital bed, a nurse comes barging in. I figure, maybe I knocked one of the monitors off my stomach while moving around? She asks me to roll over onto my side, quickly. At this point I’m still half asleep.
She says to me, “I’m going to push this button and a lot people are going to come into the room. Don’t panic”. This was the first time I had ever had any complications throughout my whole pregnancy. Ella’s heart rate was rapidly declining, and about a dozen hospital staff came into the room to begin working on me.
First they put me on oxygen. Then they get me on all fours, with my head pushed down into the bed to relieve any pressure on the umbilical cord. One nurse pulls out the Cervidil while another nurse hooks me up to an IV.
This whole ordeal feels like an eternity. My face is shoved into the bed. I can’t tell what's going on. I’m just waiting for one of the nurses to tell me that our baby is okay. For the first time ever, the thought of losing her is beginning to flash before my eyes. Hands down, this was the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. Thankfully, it was just a feeling.
They were able to stabilize her heart rate, but not give me any definitive answers on why it had suddenly dropped. At this point, a normal heart rate for baby is anywhere from 120-160 BPM. She dropped to 50 BPM.
I convince myself it’s because I went to the bathroom. Until I deliver her, I am terrified to relieve myself for the rest of day. LOL.
The doctor on duty decides it would be best to give my body a break from any induction/ ripening agents and to reassess our plan around 10 am that morning. While I am sleeping, my contractions begin to naturally kick into gear around 8 am, thus our plan begins to move a little faster. The doctor comes back in the room and says they’d like to get me started on Pitocin. She also offers to break my water. This is where my whole “plan” begins to go downhill.
I had already heard the horror stories; contractions becoming wayyyy more painful once a woman's water breaks. My whole pregnancy I was hoping my water wouldn’t spontaneously break so it could help ease the pain throughout a portion of my labor.
In the heat of the moment, I completely forget about all of this.
I say to the doctor, “will it speed up my labor”? She responds with a very enthusiastic, “Yes!”. So I give her the go. At this point, I’m just so anxious to meet our baby. Perry looks at me like... what has gotten into you?
Once the Pitocin begins to drip and my water is broken, the wheels begin to fall off the wagon. Within the hour, my contractions go from, “wow this is pretty uncomfortable” to “HOLY LORD NO ONE PREPARED ME FOR THIS MISERY”.
I can remember Perry & my mom trying to coach me through some breathing techniques during the contractions. At this point, I lose my cool and say something like, “STOP TELLING ME HOW TO BREATHE”. That was the end of that.
Between contractions, I call the nurse line and ask them what my pain management options are. They offer pain medicine... or an epidural. I ask about nitrous oxide (an option I learned about in our birth classes), and they tell me that would be available if I’d like to try it. I say, "let’s give it a go".
It only takes one more contraction while that nurse is hunting down the laughing gas for me to call back and say, “I’d REALLY like to sign up for an epidural”.
The anesthesiologist was my hero that day.
Leading up to my birth, I was so dead set on doing this thing drug free. Honestly, MAJOR props to every woman who is capable of doing so. I was really astonished by the intensity of it all. To describe the pain, I’d say my groin was on fire, my cervix was being electrocuted & my entire abdomen was being constricted by a cobra. None of that is an exaggeration. How lovely.
Once the epidural is in place, things begin to progress quickly. A few hours later, I feel a subtle urge to push. The nurses check my cervix and give me the news that I am fully effaced. I’m ecstatic! After weeks of only being 2 cm dilated, I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
For me, pushing is the most exciting part of the ordeal. Because with each push, progress is being made. My epidural had worn off just enough for me to feel the pressure of each contraction, so I was able to push alongside them. Twenty minutes later,
Ella gets placed on my chest.
When I see her for the first time, I experience a rush of emotions that I have never felt before. It’s like every hormone from my entire pregnancy explodes out of my heart. The warmth of her body, the smell of her skin. Her tiny little butt that fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. The memory of it all is etched into my brain forever. It’s something I will never forget.
Two days later, I make my way out of the hospital with a two degree tear (ouch), a deflated tummy, and an angel baby in my arms. She is the light of Perry & I’s life.
I can’t put to words the way Ella has already changed us for the better. It’s only been a month since we’ve brought her home, but in some strange way, it’s felt like a lifetime. Everyday she’s teaching us something new. I’m filled with so much excitement whenever I realize that this is only the beginning. The beginning of Ella’s life. The beginning of our adventure into parenthood. And the beginning of this family we will send into this world. Cheers to this moment. And cheers to the future.
We love you so much, Ella Marcia Faye. The best is yet to come.