It’s the first time since the birth of my son Benjamin three years ago that I’m actually attempting to write my birth story. I’m just three weeks away from delivering my baby girl, so I thought it would be very therapeutic and freeing for me to share Benjamin’s birth story.
I’ve been so resistant to write this, and I couldn’t figure out why. When I spoke to a friend of mine, he said something that resonated with me and I finally realized why I was having such a challenging time opening up. He was telling me about a very personal piece he wrote and shared on REDEF about his experience with depression, and he said something along the lines of, “Maybe there’s something going on deep within that you’re not allowing yourself to feel. People are constantly yearning for a deeper connection with each other, not an edited version – the real thing that’s going on.”…and it suddenly became clear. I broke down in tears because in that moment I realized the reason I wasn’t able to share my birth story for so long was because I wasn’t being honest with myself.
So beyond scared to go through this again and I’ve been trying to remain so strong and positive, but the truth is: I’m terrified. The second I allowed myself to let that in and truly accept and own it…I was able to sit down and write.
After three years, I am finally able to share Benjamin’s birth story.
I didn’t have a doula or a midwife for Benjamin’s birth because I already had such a strong connection with my doctor and nurse, that I didn’t think it was necessary. I’m the type of person who thinks less is more when it comes to opinions from others; so having another body in the room (including my husband Noah) seemed like more than enough people. I did a few private birthing classes and was planning on giving birth naturally (vaginally). I had a very open mind towards drugs and was prepared to use them if I felt it was necessary. However, one thing that I never gave much thought to was the possibility of a C-section because it wasn’t even an option in my book.
I was one week past due, and made the decision to induce labor because my doctor was getting ready to leave town a few days later that week. Noah and I went to the hospital in the evening, where they immediately began the process. I was able to sleep normally that night because of the meds (and the fact that I can literally sleep anywhere).
I woke up in the morning and was further dilated, but my water hadn’t broken yet. My doctor decided to break my water manually, and that is when everything changed. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were both in the room with us, and my mood quickly shifted as the contractions came rolling in. I went from the outgoing person that I am to being silent and not wanting anyone around. I asked for everyone to leave as I tried to breathe through the pain. I managed the pain for as long as I possibly could, then finally asked for an epidural.
The epidural began to kick in, and while I couldn’t feel the pain from the contractions, I could still feel an immense amount of pressure. I was about 8cm dilated at this point, and as soon as the epidural kicked in I was a totally different person. Once my pain was managed (insert epidural relief), I instantly realized that I wanted my mother-in-law and sister-in law close by because there is nothing more important than family who would do anything for you, so they stayed outside the door and were nearby the entire labor. Everyone really scares you about the epidural, but in my opinion, nothing is worse than the pain you’re in when the contractions intensify.
I started vomiting and shivering uncontrollably from the meds. At this point, Benjamin was head down but face up which makes for a much more challenging push, but I was determined to get him out regardless. My doctor had me lay on my side to try and flip him, but nothing shifted. Now at 10cm dilated, it was time to really push. Like I said before, I took some birthing classes but nothing can fully prepare you for this moment.
I pushed…and I pushed for HOURS, but there was absolutely no progression because every time I pushed he kept hitting my pelvic bone over and over again. My doctor recommended to turn the epidural off so that I could feel my push in hopes to get him out faster since he was experiencing major trauma to his head from constantly hitting my pelvic bone. Well…let me tell you…this is when shit got REAL. I was 10cm dilated, and now felt every little thing. Holy shit, I had no idea what real pain was until this moment. I’d like to think I have a very high pain tolerance, but this was unbearable. I could hardly breathe through the pain, let alone push a watermelon-sized baby out of my vagina.
I screamed. And I screamed. I tried the best I could, I was exhausted from being in labor for so many hours at this point and was feeling defeated. Noah was everything I needed him to be and more in these difficult moments. He made me a meditative playlist when I was trying to focus on my breathing and a house music playlist (our favorite type of music) to help me through those toughest hours of pushing. One moment I will never forget was listening to a song by Alesso and watching everyone’s head bob to the beat in the room. I pushed for about two hours in excruciating pain until I couldn’t bear it anymore and begged for another epidural. The anesthesiologist was busy so I had to wait for what seemed like an eternity until they came to relieve me again. It’s almost like the flip of a switch when that baby kicks in. I’ve never appreciated Western Medicine more in my life.
I was back to pushing…but still nothing. Several more hours of pushing with zero progression. His heart rate was slowly going down and I was losing steam. My doctor called a C-section. I said no, hysterically and wouldn’t give it another thought. I pleaded with her to let me keep trying, which she did for a little while longer until she finally made the call. Benjamin’s heart rate kept dropping, and it was the only thing left to do. I cried a kind of cry I had never experienced before. Noah cried, my doctor cried. We were all crying because I was begging not to have a C-section. In my eyes, at this time in my life, I saw this as the ultimate defeat. Failure. Like I wasn’t strong enough to push him out. Noah was holding me, we were both crying but his words helped me pull it together so we could finally meet our son. He told me that nothing was more important than my safety and the safety of our son. We were both experiencing so much trauma, and the C-section was a call that needed to be made. They quickly got me ready and pulled me down the hall to the emergency room. I’ll never forget hearing a woman screaming a scream I had never heard before (she was clearly in the heat of labor), and strangely, I felt a moment of relief that the labor part was over for me.
As happy as I was to no longer be faced with the struggles of pushing, nothing could have properly prepared me for the C-section. They give you regional anesthesia, which allows you to stay awake but numbs your entire lower body. I felt like I had lost my legs. My uncontrollable shivers came back from the meds and they had to pin my arms down so I would stay still. Then I started feeling intense pressure- not the pain but the pulling and the tugging (which makes me nauseous to even think about). It seemed to be taking too long, almost like something was wrong. Then they told me I was about to feel a lot of pressure. More?! I didn’t think it could get worse until they pushed down so hard on my stomach I thought they broke my ribs. I actually started screaming, “You broke my ribs!!”
Hysterical and anxious and after what seemed like hours…I finally heard that little cry. He was here! After all of this, there was nothing more I wanted to hear than that cry. They cleaned him up and walked him over to us. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that he looked scary. Like a baby Shrek because of all the trauma he experienced during the labor. They put his face up against mine and that’s all I can remember. I instantly passed out from exhaustion. After a very long labor and resulting C-section, I could no longer keep my eyes open. I slept for hours. As soon as I opened my eyes, I felt immense pain, but then I looked up and I saw Noah pushing the little bed Benjamin was in with a look on his face that I’d never seen before: pure bliss. He rolled B over to me and he looked so beautiful. I was relieved to see that the swelling of his face had subsided and he was healthy and perfect.
Of course, to this day, there’s a part of me that wonders if things might have turned out differently had I not been induced. Or if I opted to have a doula or midwife present. Would I have been able to give birth naturally and avoid having to do a C-section? The truth is that what’s done is done. I truly believe we are faced with certain experiences because we are meant to learn something from them; and this process has taught me so much. I needed to let go and forgive myself for not being able to give birth the way I had “planned”. And, I have. I’ve learned that I cannot control everything, and I needed to learn to let go and accept the things I cannot change. Motherhood in itself has taught me this on a whole new level but it was this experience that taught me to truly surrender to what is. And…that is when you experience life’s lessons.