In honor of International Women’s Day we are sharing birth stories over at The Baby Cubby. Pretty much everyone has a crazy birth story. Even if their story isn’t traumatic, per se, giving birth is eventful. I have never heard anyone say, “Yeah, well I got to the hospital, had the baby, and that was that.” It is life-altering if nothing else. The actual birth of my baby girl was a wonderful experience, and I’m not just saying that to be one of “those” people--it really was. What came after, however, was not at all what I expected.
Preparing Myself for Childbirth
To preface it: I am terrified of hospitals, needles, and blood. I’ve passed out getting my blood drawn. I’ve passed out just before I got my blood drawn. (I wanted to get out of class and get a muffin for a blood drive in high school and it didn’t go so well… still got out of class and ate a muffin though). I’ve passed out getting moles removed, getting moles numbed before they’re removed, and getting shots. I pass out a lot in medical situations.
As you can imagine, just the thought of giving birth was faint-inducing. I think the thought of giving birth is terrifying for basically everyone. Going through excruciating pain or having a giant needle stuck in your back for an epidural is scary. Having a child come out of your insides one way or another is frightening.
Knowing what I know about myself and what I knew about childbirth, I knew I needed to make myself as comfortable as possible. My first step was taking a tour of the hospital I would give birth in a month before my due date. I figured it would be kind of like the ACT and I’d do better if I was familiar with my surroundings. It may seem like a little thing, but it made me feel confident right as I walked in the hospital. Instead of nervously/frantically figuring out where to even park, I knew right where to go and right who to talk to.
I was induced a few days after my baby girl’s due date because I wasn’t dilated even to a one yet. It was basically a party. My husband, Chace, and I went to the hospital and I got set up on Pitocin at night. I wanted my mom with me when I delivered, so in the morning my mom came to be with us. I got my epidural right away. Once again, I was realistic with myself and just tried to make the day as calm as I could so I wouldn’t be passing out left and right. My mother-in-law called to see if she could bring Chace and my mom lunch, and when Chace went out to bring her into our room, guess who was sitting in the waiting room with a balloon and who would have sat out in the waiting room until the baby was born? My sweet dad.
So, Chace brought back my dad and his mom and we just chilled all day. I was surrounded by love and support all day while I labored painlessly. It was actually wonderful. I couldn’t have planned it better. They were tracking my contractions that you could see on a screen in the hallway that my dad kept me updated on. I was always winning apparently, although I think he was a little biased. We watched Signs and Minority Report and literally just hung out. I finally was dilating more that night and after 24 hours I was dilated to a ten.
The nurses prepared everything and my dad and mother-in-law waited in the waiting room. I pushed for maybe 20 minutes and she was basically out. My doctor was on call and zipping over from her son’s soccer game, but as soon as she got there, I pushed a few more times and there she was. Our perfect little cone-headed baby girl. I was so in love and so tired. In most of the pictures of me holding her for the first time I am definitely half asleep. My dad, mother-in-law, and stepmom all came back to the room to meet her. Then everyone left except for my dad who stayed to help move our bags to the mom and baby floor.
I had been soooo excited for the hospital to play the little lullaby to signal to everyone that a baby was born--once again, it’s the little things. I’m also all about the pomp and circumstance. (For example, I chose to run the Deseret Marathon specifically because you end the race running through the Days of '47 parade.) I wanted to be wheeled in a wheelchair to my room as the lullaby played! Unfortunately since she was born so late at night, they don’t play the lullaby to not bug the other sleeping patients. Okay. I just pushed a human out of me; everyone should be awake and celebrating, but whatever be considerate I guess. So my dad played “Born to be Wild” on his phone to make up for it.
My Postpartum Scare
My birth story is all I could have hoped for. The healing afterwards, on the other hand, was straight-up hell. There was the usual crying when I tried to poop for the first time and not being able to sit on my butt normally or walk normally, but it was the two weeks after giving birth where I experienced the trauma I always had imagined surrounding birth.
I tore from my perineum to my cervix and had about ten stitches. My daughter’s head is huge (she always ranged from the 95-99% on head size--she’s just super smart I guess). About two weeks after I gave birth we were getting ready for family pictures. I was changing her diaper when I felt like my pad was pretty soaked all of a sudden. So I went to check it out in the bathroom. When I pulled down my pants, I was literally gushing blood. I calmly called for Chace and said, “Hey, um, I think I’m hemorrhaging.” I could tell Chace didn’t seem worried because I’m also a hypochondriac and am “dying” from different ailments all the time. When he came in the bathroom, though, he started to panic.
I quickly asked for a towel and sweats and told him to call 911. I put on the sweats, shoved the towel down my pants, and got our baby loaded in the car. We started driving to the hospital because 911 said we would be faster. I was the most scared I’d ever been. Chace put pressure on my stomach as he called my parents to say, “Hey, Abby is bleeding out. Meet us at the hospital.”
We got to the emergency room and Chace rushed me inside on a wheelchair. The medical staff didn’t seem to be in a rush, even with all my descriptions of what was happening. They were waiting on a maternity bed to be available, but had me stand up to change into a gown. As I stood up and took my pants off, a fist-sized clot of blood fell out of me, and all of a sudden a normal bed would do just fine. They washed me off and put one of those puppy potty training pads under me. They kept asking if we had had sex, and I was like you’re joking right? In what world would a vagina lined with stitches be enjoyable for anyone?! No, we didn’t have sex, and after this our baby is going to be an only child. They didn’t know why I was bleeding though. They figured it must be some placenta left in me, so they ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound didn’t show anything in my uterus and the doctor said my bleeding was slowing. Okay, cool the puppy pad is soaked in my blood and spilling onto my back, but glad I’m doing better. A new doctor came in and said not to be scared unless they looked scared and ordered a transvaginal ultrasound. Before they did it, though, they wanted me to have my bladder emptied.
They brought in a little bed pan for me to pee in. I couldn’t pee. I had to go so badly and nothing would come out. Suddenly, a clot the size of both of my fists came out and I called for the nurse. I said, “I’m pretty sure I just passed a huge clot,” and she said, “I’m sure it’s okay.” She took one look at my bed pan and then said, “Um, I’ll go get the doctor.” That’s when everyone looked scared and I started to panic. They started suctioning the clot and the bleeding from my vagina. Just that amount added up to about one liter of blood. In doing the suction they were able to see that one of my stitches had dissolved already, began applying pressure, and got me two blood transfusions.
As we waited for the on-call OB to come in and stitch me up, people kept rotating in and out to apply pressure. Yep, rotating numbers of people applying pressure inside me (insert the hand to forehead emoji). The OB came about an hour later, and getting the stitches done without being numb was pretty much everything you would think it to be.
And want to know how it ended? Chace and my mom helped me out of bed to go pee finally and I passed out. It was inevitable really. How could I have passed out with such minimal procedures and not during something so traumatic?
When I woke up they transferred me to the mom and baby floor. I stayed over night to be monitored, but everything was just fine. In all, it tacked on a couple more weeks of healing and major PTSD for me, but I was alive and it all turned out okay. So okay, in fact, (or I just am really good at forgetting just how scary that all was until writing about it now?) that I'm having another baby in a week.
Wish me luck!