“On the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered.
‘Life will never be the same.'”
I know people have mixed reviews on sharing birth stories. For some, it’s a private experience shared among family members only, for others, they want to share for a variety of reasons. Neither of these are wrong, to each their own in my opinion, but I decided I wanted to share Poppy’s arrival for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to let people know that sometimes your birth plan doesn’t work out, and that’s okay. And secondly, I wanted to get it down in writing so I can remember it vividly and share it with her someday.
I don’t think I actually shared here ever, but baby’s actual due date was 12/12/17 (we didn’t know the sex at the time). By the 12th I wasn’t progressing, so we scheduled an induction for 12/19/17 in case he or she didn’t come beforehand. The whole week leading up to the induction, I hoped she or he would come on his or her own, but baby must have been cozy because we made it to the 19th with no labor signs in sight. It wasn’t how I pictured our “labor experience.” I was hoping we’d be sleeping or watching TV and I’d yell dramatically “it’s time” as I frantically watched my husband scatter around the house collecting bags and tending to the dogs. But it never happened, so instead, we packed the bags and loaded up the car knowing we’d be bringing the most valuable item ever home when we returned. Upon arriving at the hospital at 8PM for our appointment, we learned there wouldn’t be a room for quite some time (apparently every woman in Durham had went into labor on her own that evening), so we wandered the halls of the hospital, grabbed an ice cream and hung out in the Neurology call room (perks of being married to a doctor where you deliver). Tired and worn down, we finally were roomed around 1:30 AM, but didn’t even get to see the Dr. until later that morning. At around 6 AM, the induction began. I first got a pill and then later a foley bulb (the most painful thing ever) both of which were supposed to jump start labor by progressing me to 5cm. After some time, it worked and I was finally in active labor and on the road to meeting our baby.
That evening, I was both getting more and more nervous about the labor part, but more excited to know if we’d be welcoming a baby girl or boy. The contractions at this point were getting stronger, but I didn’t want to get an epidural and be confined to the bed, so I continued to wait. Aaron and I roamed the halls and toured the different wards, with him showing me all the places he spends time day in and day out. I was definitely uncomfortable walking those halls, but part of me also never wanted the walk to end. It was officially the last walk we would take with just the two of us in life.
Once we got back to the room, I began to bounce on the giant ball in hopes of getting things moving. The contractions were getting more and more intense and finally I couldn’t take it anymore. Before long, I was in tears, telling Aaron I wasn’t strong enough to do “this,” how much pain I was in etc., so we called in the epidural. That night was long and tiresome. I was woken up every 45 minutes to switch positions, get vitals taken, etc. But just like it always does, morning finally came and I was hopeful we were close. But the thing was, we weren’t. Despite all the signs pointing to “time to push,” I had barely progressed, my body temperature was rising and baby’s heart beat had increased. The moment the Dr. said he recommended a C-Section due to risk for infection, my heart sank. I remember looking at Aaron and seeing tears in his eyes and just thinking “No way. I did everything right during pregnancy to have a normal delivery.” To say I was scared was such an understatement. I’d never had a major surgery before and the thought of baby or myself having a possible infection or being high risk seemed terrifying. But it was best for baby, so we agreed. While they prepped me for surgery, Aaron informed our families.
Being wheeled back in the OR and waiting for him to join me seemed like an eternity. I was shaking terribly from the nerves and the epidural and I couldn’t seem to calm down. Every bad thought was racing through my mind and I couldn’t seem to focus on anything positive – why should I have an amazing experience when so many others don’t. Would I be lucky enough to have everything go smoothly?
When Aaron got into the OR, a wave of relief rushed through me. While I was still SO scared, having him nearby definitely helped calm my nerves. In what seemed like an instant, the doctor held up our baby and asked me to call out the gender. It was a girl! We had a baby girl and she was healthy and wailing. Our lives would never be the same, we were mommy and daddy and would be for the remainder of our time on Earth. I remember tears rolling down my cheeks as they placed her in Aaron’s arms and I remember looking into the bright light of the OR lamp and just thanking God.
Due to very low blood pressure, I spent more time in recovery than I would have liked, but it didn’t matter. We had a healthy baby girl and her name was Penelope Grace, a name we’d chosen long before we knew how much she’d mean to us.
Overall, it definitely wasn’t the birth story and experience I was envisioning. I was prepped to push, I had come to terms with pooping on a delivery table and I wanted my husband to look me in the eyes and tell me how strong I was and how unbelievably brave I was. I wanted to lay with my baby skin-to-skin and be in awe of her as soon as she breathed her first breath smelling her sweet newborn scent. But I didn’t. Instead I was hauled away from my husband to be prepped for surgery and instead of skin-to-skin, I had a wave of nurses checking my vitals post-op. But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Sure, I didn’t get to push her out, but I still labored, I still felt pain and my husband…he still looked at me so many times throughout and said “you are strong, you can do this, and you’re so brave.” I didn’t get to poop on a table (not something I was looking forward to anyway), but I did get a pretty bad ass scar to show my daughter someday. And guess what? At the end of the day, I still became a mommy, Aaron a daddy and the three of us a family.
I don’t want to tell my daughter that her birth story wasn’t what I expected and I was disappointed. What I want her to know that her dad and I ate Guasaca before arriving at the hospital and we laughed about our last “date night,” that he made fun of me about how heavy my hospital bag was and that her entrance into the world was just as God intended it to be, eventful and memorable. I want her to know that in that moment finding out we’d have a C-section, her dad almost cried and I could see the fear in his eyes. I want her to know that at that moment on the OR table when I was shaking so badly that I just wanted her to be okay and I completely forgot about how scared I was for myself. I want her to know that she was loved prior to entering the world, but that it multiplied two fold the moment I saw her in her dad’s arms with that little bow cap.
It wasn’t the perfect birth story, not at all like I’d planned. But our daughter, Penelope Grace…she was perfect.