April 2, 2011: The Day that Changed My Life

I suspected that I was pregnant around then end of the July 2010 – barely a month after I had turned eighteen – this was confirmed for me by a home test on the first day of August and again at a pregnancy crisis center. Naturally, I freaked. Having a minor case of tokophobia (fear of pregnancy and/or childbirth) this seemed like the worst possible thing for me – especially considering the fact I had just graduated high school and had been hoping to try my hand at modeling before starting college. I would never go as far as to call my son a ‘mistake’ or ‘accident’ but this was one little surprise I did not feel ready for.

Yet despite my fears that I would die in labor and despite the fact I couldn’t stand the thought of being pregnant at first my boyfriend (now fiance) and I decided to keep the baby. While I could be considered ‘pro-choice’ I personally couldn’t see myself ever having an abortion unless it was medically necessary and didn’t have the heart for adoption. I won’t lie – I did not completely enjoy pregnancy – my pregnancy was relatively low risk despite the fact I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia but the symptoms were awful for me. My ‘morning sickness’ was constant throughout the first trimester, the second not so bad, and the third was hell on me. I was completely over it.

My due date was set for April 2, 2011 and as it was my first child everyone doubted he would arrive on time. Most people bet I would go over, some people including my mother, chose to believe I would be early. I didn’t begin to really show until the end of my sixth month but once I did it was hard to believe that my skin could stretch anymore – I’ve always been tiny, my pre-pregnancy weight was only 97 lbs. I gained forty-two pounds and my weight came in at 139 right before I delivered. At any rate though, it looked as though all of those making bets would be wrong.

On my due date my boyfriend, David and I were at Wal-Mart around midnight or so (we don’t like the crowds) shopping for groceries and pricing computers. As we walked through the store I could feel so much pressure and I was having contractions – which I still assume were Braxton Hicks – that made me stop to rest quite a few times. I remember telling him that I would not have been surprised if my water broke right then and there. But it seemed the baby wasn’t quite ready to make his appearance yet and we were able to head home to get a full night’s sleep.

Around nine-thirty or so I woke up to contractions – nothing too big but relatively frequent – coming on every ten minutes or so. The feeling in my gut was telling me that it would be today. I didn’t know when but I went out and I told my younger siblings that I was pretty sure it’d be today and that they needed to clean up in case I needed to call my midwife over. I was antsy and could not sit still which might have helped to speed my labor along – my mother was sure to tell me to stop trying to pee because the pressure I was feeling was the urge to push. The contractions started to get stronger and more frequent so around ten I woke up to tell David that he needed to call off work. He called in to say that he might need someone to cover him and we debated calling my midwife.

Around ten thirty I was certain I needed her to come check me out. The contractions had reached the point where I was in tears and were lasting for a minute between three and five minute intervals. When I called her I had a contraction on the phone that was only forty five seconds and she asked if I was sure that they were lasting a minute each. I told her that I was more than sure and I just needed to know if I was in active labor. I hadn’t felt any abdominal contractions – my labor was entirely back labor – and so there was a part of me that wondered if it was just extreme Braxton Hicks.

It took her approximately an hour to get to my house and I remember sitting in the bathtub crying my eyes out trying to ease the pain with my mother telling me that we didn’t need to wait for my midwife any longer and practically begging me to just go up to the hospital which was only five minutes away. My birth center was an hour away – forty five minutes with no traffic. At that point David called her and found out that she was already a minute away from my house so I was shepherded out of the tub and into my bedroom. We had no doubt that I was in labor and my midwife announced that I was already dilated to a six. She told us she would call the birth assistant to have her fill up the tub and have her get the room ready. She would meet us at the birth center.

At that point everyone went into a panic mode of sorts. I got dressed and hurried to the car telling my mother that she had to come with me and she told my dad to take my four younger siblings separately. The ride was intense. It honestly reminded me of the stereotypical movie labor – we hit not only what seemed like every traffic light and idiot drivers but construction zones as well. I’ve never had a high tolerance and did not handle the pain well – I screamed with almost every contraction and said words I would never normally say in front of my mother. I was also sure to make David know full well that at that moment I absolutely despised him. (Though it takes two to tango.) He seemed to find it funny – especially when I yelled at him to drive off the road to avoid redlights – and my mother was horrified. She and I were both terrified that the baby would come out in the car and I kept picturing the possibility as we drove. The urge to push was already there and I was trying my hardest to avoid doing so.

One particular moment that stood out was my attempt at a conversation with a friend in Michigan. I called her in an attempt to distract myself – I told her I was in labor but wound up having to hang up early due to the pain. She later told me that she had just woken up and when she left her room wide-eyed her asked aunt what was wrong. Her reply? “I don’t want kids anymore.” She was also sure to mention the fact she hoped I wouldn’t scream in her ear with the next child.

We arrived at the birth center at 12:47pm and I ran inside to find the birth assistant on her laptop I asked her where to go. She told me to go straight back into the ‘garden room’ and as soon as I got there I rushed to get my clothes off. I just wanted to get in the tub but of course they wanted to check my vitals and to see how dilated I was. My water broke partially as I sat on the bed and the midwife broke my water the rest of the way as she told me that I was dilated to a nine and a half. After checking the baby’s heartbeat I was allowed to jump into my tub and start pushing. I did so gladly.

However I was told to try and slow down so that I wouldn’t have to be transferred for tears. My body was telling me to push like crazy but having heard the horror stores of third degree tears I did try to slow down. The water didn’t help the pain nearly as much I had hoped it would – yet I could relax and focus on delivering my baby. The water helped to ease some pressure and being free to move around was amazing. David sat in the tub with me and held me as I pushed – my midwife told me to tell her when I felt a burning sensation and not long after I did she told the assistant that the baby was crowning. I had moved to hold the bar on the wall and let gravity do it’s work and she told me to move back and lean on David. After only a couple more pushes Michael Alexander made his appearance underwater at 1:20pm. He was scooped up and put into my arms immediately after being wrapped up in a blanket. I might have been in shock as I came so close to dropping him back in the water and my initial reaction was “Oh my God!”

The sad part is I was terrified of him – I may have wanted him near me but I didn’t want to hold him yet. I was terrified of hurting him by accident. He was the tiniest thing and yet when they weighed and measured him I realized he was so much bigger. Eight pounds, three ounces; twenty-one inches. The circumference of his head was thirteen and a half inches. While I might have been stunned I can honestly say that giving birth to Michael was the most amazing experience of my life and looking at him now I can’t believe I was ever terrified of him.