21 Years Ago

As long as I can remember, I always wanted children, always wanted to be a mommy.  Graduation from college came, then marriage, a career, and finally it was time to start a family.  I couldn’t wait.  Getting pregnant didn’t come as easy as I had hoped.  I remember going to my doctor after 11 months of trying to conceive, begging him to do infertility testing on me.  His response was, “Not until you have tried for one year.”  My husband had already been tested.  He was fine.  So I had one more month.  Miraculously, I got pregnant on that 12th month of trying.  I was ecstatic.  I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  At 4 weeks, the morning sickness hit.  Hard.  At 6-7 weeks there was some bleeding and a worsening of the morning sickness.  My doctor sent me for an ultrasound, and I was told all was okay, that there was a heartbeat.  But all was NOT okay.  There was more bleeding and more sickness.  My doctor started doing more tests (blood work) and at 8 weeks, I got the devastating news that the baby had died and I would need an immediate D&C.  What they thought was morning sickness was my body becoming toxic from a dead fetus.  So at 8 weeks, I had the D&C and started the healing process.    

When my husband and I were given the green light to start trying again to conceive, I was frightened.  Emotionally, I didn’t know if I could go through that again.  But I wanted a family and I was willing to risk it.  The first month passed with no luck.  Here we go again I thought.  But the second month, my home pregnancy test was positive!  I was so happy, but also scared.  I was scared to be too happy.  I scheduled a visit with my OB/GYN for the next week and my pregnancy was confirmed.  At 4 weeks, the morning sickness hit.  Hard.  Here we go again I thought.  At 6 weeks, there was bleeding.  I went running in to my doctor.  I will never forget sitting in the waiting room waiting to be seen, scared out of my wits and thinking another miscarriage was imminent.  Then a woman walked in and sat down beside me.  She had a newborn with her.  I looked down at the baby and I started sobbing uncontrollably.  Luckily the nurse called me in right about then.  I remember crying so hard when she was weighing me in the hallway.  I didn’t want to cry but the sobs wouldn’t stop.  I remember my doctor coming out of an exam room and asking if everything was o.k. and the nurse quietly telling him I was experiencing some bleeding.  And I remember the look on my doctor’s face.  I will never forget his face.  He did blood work and sent me for  an ultrasound.  All was o.k.  I wanted so badly to feel relieved but I didn’t.  I was remembering.    

My due date was September 3rd (which just happened to be Labor day that year).   My due date came and went.  On September 8th, I started having contractions around 11 pm that night.  I calmly sat down with my watch and timed them.  My doctor had told me to come to the hospital when my contractions were 5 minutes apart, had been that way for an hour and I was in “quite a bit of pain.”  My contractions were 5 minutes apart for 45 minutes, then another came 20 minutes later.  Then the pains subsided all together.  I was confused.  I had never had a baby before and didn’t really know what true labor felt like.  Was this false labor I had learned about in my Lamaze class?   My husband went on to bed.  I decided I would take a warm shower and go to bed too.  I woke up around 6 am the next morning, trembling all over.  My teeth were chattering,  my chin was quivering, my legs were shaking, and I could not stop.  I was having contractions again.  I woke my husband up and told him we were going to the hospital.  So off we went.  I had contractions (strong ones) all the way to the hospital.  I had contractions all the way while walking into the hospital – so strong that I had to stop walking and lean on my husband or up against the wall.  I remember a nurse seeing us coming down the hall.  A big smile came over her face, and she said, “OH SOMEONE’S GOING TO HAVE A BABY TODAY!”    

I got in a gown, was examined, and found to be 4 centimeters dilated.  Yep, I was definitely having a baby…. no doubt about it.  I was scared.  A little while later, my doctor walked in.  I didn’t recognize him at first.  He had been up delivering babies all night.  They told me he had delivered 3 boys.  His hair was ruffled and he had facial stubble (something I wasn’t used to seeing on him).  And he looked very, very tired.  I remember laughing to myself and thinking, “Do I really want this man to deliver me?”  Of course I did.  I loved my doctor.  My husband and I didn’t want to know the sex of our baby until it was born.  We wanted it to be a surprise.  I never had any ultrasounds after the one for the bleeding at 6 weeks.  I didn’t want to know.  My doctor told me all along he thought I was carrying a boy.  I was just sure I was going to have a girl.   

My labor stopped dead soon after getting to the hospital.  My doctor came in to break my water and said sometimes that would stimulate labor again.  It didn’t.  So I was hooked up to a pitocin drip.  A nurse came in and asked me when I wanted my epidural.  I was confused.  I had gone through Lamaze I said, and I wouldn’t be getting an epidural.  She looked at me and told me I was going to be screaming for an epidural in a while.  I remember being hooked up to an external fetal monitor and an internal fetal monitor.  Because of this, I was flat on my back and couldn’t get up and move around.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  In Lamaze, they told us it is best to get up and move around during labor and to change positions.  They would not even let me up to go to the bathroom.  I remember getting in a VERY bad mood.  I felt like I had to urinate very badly but they wouldn’t let me up.  They brought me a bed pan but I couldn’t go.  They FINALLY let me up to go to the bathroom but I just couldn’t go.  I felt like my bladder was going to burst, but I couldn’t empty it.  The nurse brought in a foley catheter but couldn’t get it in and went and got my doctor.  It is hard to relax for someone to put a catheter in you while you are having contractions.  After some effort, my doctor was able to get it in.  He then became very serious with me and told me that I was way too tense and he felt like it would be best if I went ahead and got the epidural or I would stress the baby.  The epidural was worse than labor or the birth.  I got electrical shocks up my spine throughout and kept jumping.  The anesthesiologist kept telling me to be still.  Three years later at my second birth, I had the same anesthesiologist giving me my epidural and again I got the electrical shocks up my spine.  I jumped with every one.  She kept telling me I needed to be still.  I told her I couldn’t help it, that I was experiencing painful shock sensations in my spine.  She said that had never happened before.  I wanted to tell her yes it had.  Three years ago.  But I didn’t.    

Finally it was time to push.  My oldest sister was in the birthing room as the photographer and videographer.  My mother was also there with me as was my husband.  Other family waited in the waiting room.  The birth was difficult.  The baby got hung up on my left ischial spine and the doctor told me he thought my tail bone had broken.  No big deal….. I would just be a little sorer for a little longer.  The baby was delivered at 2:18 pm.  I remember hearing the words “IT’S A BOY!”  I remember the joy I felt.  I remember crying.  I remember my mother crying.  Then I remember the doctor getting a  concerned look on his face and telling the nurse to let him see the baby’s lip.  I saw my son’s face and it was all bruised and his upper lip was split and bleeding.  I thought he had a cleft lip.  I braced myself and asked the doctor if he did.  He told me he had thought that at first, but then realized that it was only cut – probably where his face had been hung on my pelvic bone.  I heard my son cry and then they laid him on my chest for me to see him.  He was beautiful.  He was bruised and battered but he was beautiful.  The doctor said it looked like he had been in his first fight and lost.  After he was cleaned and swaddled, my husband carried him down to the nursery while I was stitched up.  He weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. and was 21 inches long.  Someone pointed out later that he was born on 9/9/89 and was  8 lbs. 9 oz.  Eight and nine must be his lucky numbers.   

After they cleaned me up and let me rest a while, they brought my son to me for his first nursing.  It was a learning process for both of us, but he soon caught on like a pro.  Then it was time to move me from the birthing room to a regular room.  But every time they would try to get me up to move me, I would get weak, turn white, and almost pass out.  This went on for hours.  Finally, they told me they were going to HAVE to move me.  I told them I was going to faint.  I fainted sometime during the move from the bed to the wheelchair.  I remember waking up on a bed across the hall with a slew of nurses around me and one was putting smelling salts under my nose.  One of them told me that the next time I said I was going to faint, that she was going to listen to me.  The next few hours I experienced a cloud 9 euphoria  thinking about the precious little baby my husband and I had created.  It had finally hit me that I was a mommy.   Exhausted but happy, I fell asleep for a few hours.  I remember being in a lot of pain all that night.  They didn’t let me get up.  The next morning I was in so much pain.  They came in to get me into a sitz bath.  I almost fainted again and had to lay down.  They told me I had lost a lot of blood during the delivery.  The baby was fine and nursing well but all I remember was pain.  I developed a bladder infection and started running a fever.  I remember crying and asking the nurses how I was supposed to take care of a newborn when I was in so much pain.  I left to go home the next day.  I  was still in a lot of pain, still running a slight fever, and very miserable from the bladder infection.  I remember my boss and his wife coming to see me in the hospital and my boss later said he was surprised they were letting me go home.  I was so thankful my mother was staying with us for a week.  I hadn’t anticipated all this pain.  I couldn’t bond with my newborn like I wanted to because of the pain.  All I kept thinking was that I wasn’t prepared for this.  All my preparation had been for a natural birth and I had failed at that.  I was disappointed.  I felt that I had not gotten the support that I had needed.  I can’t explain it, but it was like I had studied and studied for a test that I felt very prepared to ace, and I never got to take the test, after all that preparation.   I wished I had skipped the Lamaze and prepared more for the postpartum PAIN period.  For a while I was a real grouch.  Pain does that to you I guess.  Or maybe it was my hormones going crazy.   

My mother was a big help the week after the birth.  She cooked dinner, did laundry, changed diapers, ran errands, and brought the baby to me for night-time nursings.  When I had been home 2 days, the postpartum blues hit.  I cried constantly.  I remember wanting so desperately for all my motherly instincts to kick in but they didn’t.  I worried I wasn’t bonding with the baby like I should.  And I was in pain.  Did I mention that?  I remember some women from my husband’s church bringing food, but I didn’t want to “visit” because I couldn’t quit crying.  Thankfully the postpartum blues didn’t last long.  My mother stayed for a week.  I didn’t want her to go and I remember crying when she left.  (Yes, surprisingly I still had tears left).  That day, after she left, I was laying in bed after nursing the baby.  He was sleeping so peacefully.  There was a phone right next to the bed and it rang.  I witnessed my son’s first big startle reflex.  He began screaming.  All of a sudden, my instincts kicked in and I felt ferociously protective over him.  I swooped him up, knowing it was my job to comfort and protect him.  I have always said, that it was at THAT EXACT moment that I fell in love with my firstborn.  I can’t even describe the feelings I had exactly but I have never quite experienced emotions that strong before.  It was as if my whole soul opened up to love this little being.  He was my newborn and I was his mother.  I knew God had given him to me to love and to care for.  It was a feeling of new love that I had never experienced and will NEVER forget.   

Here we are 21 years later.  My “little” boy is now in college.  He has grown up to be someone I am so proud of.  He is kind and caring and smart and handsome.  He is coming home today for the weekend to celebrate his 21st birthday with his family.  And I can’t wait.  I love him so much.   

me holding my beautiful son


 Gail ♥  


About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
This entry was posted in Childbirth, Fear, Love, Motherhood and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 21 Years Ago

  1. indie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your birth story. I don’t know if I could tell my birth stories so well and my oldest is only seven. I especially loved how you described the moment you fell in love with your baby as something that didn’t take place immediately after the birth, but a bit later. That was my experience too.

    You mention that you had felt like you failed. I don’t know if that is something you still feel about your birth or if you were only describing how you felt then. I just want you to know that you don’t have to feel that way. Very few moms can manage to have a natural birth when the hospital starts interfering with the natural process.

    I too remember feeling so much pain after my first birth. It was horrible and it took me about a year for all of the pain to completely go away. It was so hard during that time. Everyone was expecting me to do so much and I could barely walk for the first couple of weeks. Nobody ever said that it could hurt so much after the baby was born! I healed quickly and with minimal pain after the other two births so I know it doesn’t have to always be that way.

    Thanks again, Gail for sharing your story. I really appreciate your sharing it. I wish we had more opportunities to share our birth stories. It can be really healing.

    • Gail says:

      Oh Indie, your comment made me feel so good. Thank you! I LOVE hearing birth stories too (at least I do now – not so much when I was pregnant with my first as they terrified me)! I so agree with you…. hearing others stories can be healing. About feeling like I had failed… Yes, I did feel like that then but I didn’t blame myself. I just was upset at the lack of support I got at the hospital. I had mentioned to my doctor at one of my prenatal visits that I was going through Lamaze and wanted natural childbirth. I wondered why he didn’t say much about that or have any comments. I think I know why now! The nurse who came in and asked me when I wanted my epidural and then told me I was going to be screaming for one, (after I told her I was going to have natural childbirth), really upset me. Even if she was correct (in that I may have been screaming for one) I just think she should have been a little more supportive of my decisions/wishes. I felt like I was just a huge inconvenience to their standard routine. I remember my Lamaze teacher (who used to go to St. Philips by the way) calling me at home a day or two after I got out of the hospital to “see how things had gone.” I told her I felt like I had failed. Your statement that “very few moms can manage to have a natural birth when the hospital starts interfering with the natural process” made me realize that that is EXACTLY why I didnt’ even consider a natural birth the second time around. I knew the chances of it happening were slim to none in a hospital and I didn’t want to be left feeling like a failure again. So I got the epidural and did it their way. On the positive side, my second birth was much much easier, I did not experience the pain that I did the first time around and I healed a lot faster. The nursing staff were all very nice and helpful and it was a very positive experience. Thanks again Indie for your nice comments.

  2. Pingback: Another Birth Story | Moonlight Reflections

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