Note from Design Mom: After a 7-month pause, the Growing-a-Family series is back! Twice a month I’ll be posting stories about pregnancy, birth and adoption. I’m not pregnant — I promise. I just miss the stories. : ) First up: A birth story from Emily Frame.

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I think most first time moms can agree that we are prepped and primed to believe that our first go at pregnancy will last for 42 weeks and labor will take at least 36 hours before we meet our bundles of joy. I most definitely believed it and with a month left in my first pregnancy my husband found a great deal on about 1,000 square feet and a project seemed to be the perfect solution. Who wants to bring a newborn home to the peaceful sounds of nail guns, sanders, and toxic stain fumes? Not us. So he got started ripping up our existing tile, carpet and wood flooring and later that afternoon we headed to our 36-week appointment.

When we learned that I was 80% effaced and dilated to a four, we felt a little panicked. My main goal was to keep that baby cooking for at least another week, to give his lungs more time to develop and my husband time to finish his large and now worst-idea-ever project.

One full week of men working around the clock and it was time to head to our 37-week appointment. While I had felt cramping for a couple hours the night before, I was still feeling great and after all the stories of “you’ll just know” when contractions start, I didn’t know if I had felt a real one yet.
My doctor checked me and laughed. I was now dilated to a six, 90% effaced and as he said I had “one bulgy bag of water”. I also tested positive for Strep B and needed at least one four-hour round of antibiotics before our baby was born to ensure he didn’t catch it. The doctor ordered us to the hospital straight away to start the antibiotics and to not waste any time.

We headed back home; I grabbed a water bottle out of our fridge (which was currently in our garage) and packed our hospital bag. I took one last look around our home, covered in dust, wood scraps, and about 600 square feet left of flooring to install and 1,000 that would still need to be sanded and stained.
We headed to the hospital, and faced confused nurse after confused nurse. “No, I haven’t had any contractions, yes I am at a six.” The sheer improbability of it all hung in the air like a balloon and followed me everywhere. They hooked me up and started the antibiotics and I watched the monitor as contractions came and went, I wasn’t feeling a thing.

As we neared the end of our 4-hour session, the on-call OB suggested we start pitocin and get my contractions consistent. My plan was a natural med-free delivery, but hoping I might avoid that looming 36-hour labor curse I agreed. I was dilated to an eight at this point but our said “I’d like to get your contractions to a place where you can’t laugh or smile like you are now.” So at 8 p.m. they came in with that large crochet hook to break my water. I waddled to the bathroom to clean up a bit and bam, there sitting on the toilet; I felt my first true blue contraction. Whoo-wee. I felt urgent about getting back in bed and started what little I could remember of Lamaze breathing. With my mom on one side and my husband on the other we worked through each contraction.

By the time I was in transition I was exhausted and it had only been an hour! With the Pitocin in my system I barely had any time in between each contraction and they were off the monitor charts. I was so tense during each contraction I couldn’t even hold my head up in between, so my husband held my head. My mom inches from my face tried to get me to follow her breathing “hee hoo hee hoo” but all I could say was “heehooaaahhouchhh.” And just when I thought I couldn’t do it for another second, bam! The overwhelming urge to push took over.

It was now 10 pm and my doctor had gone home to sleep. They paged him and said he’d be here any minute, but at this point I was like, “Who?! Give me the stirrups!” That first contraction I started pushing was rejuvenating and invigorating. Finally, I could do something about this intense pressure; labor was in my hands now. I pushed my heart out and gasped for breath in between. With a group of nurses cheering me on I quickly learned what a good push looked and felt like and I was feeling like a warrior. If I had a crappy push, I did an extra one (where this motivation is when I’m at the gym, I’ll never know.) Finally the doctor arrived, guided me through three more pushes and then said, “Stop pushing!” I didn’t know if I could, at this point I was just guiding the pressure I felt. My mom told me to take small quick breaths and I was able to hold onto that overwhelming need to push. After a moment that felt like an eternity he said “Okay, push! Hard!” And then a cry! He offered the scissors to my husband to cut the cord but he could barely see through his tears, we were both so overcome. They laid his perfect tiny body on my chest and it was like the last three hours hadn’t even happened. Peaceful, blissful, calm. At 11:12 pm on March 10th, 2010 weighing in at 7 pounds 8 ounces and 20 inches long, Hayes showed his beautiful face three weeks ahead of schedule.

Somehow two days later, we walked into our house and why yes, the fridge was still in the garage, but our floor was done.

By Emily Frame of Ruffling Feathers. Images of the Frame Family by Nicole Carman Christensen.

P.S. — For a little contrast, here’s 35 hour labor story from Michelle Hartney.

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. My baby is hardly a baby anymore — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at gabrielle@designmom.com.