So I wrote this while we were in Copenhagen, months ago...which was also 2 months after birth. But I really love birth, so it still feels fresh in my mind. Bowie is almost 6 months old now! And we get to snuggle him all the time.
I’m laying in bed trying to sleep after jet lag, and my mind is buzzing all over, so I figure I might as well get some stories out.
At the end of our pregnancy, I was slightly depressive and very very ready to be done. I love being pregnant in theory, but it takes so much out of me physically, and I was hurting emotionally just knowing it could go on for extra weeks. I bow to the women who could do this many more times. And I feel for all the women before me (and still) who had to do it involuntary. Pregnancy is beautiful and miraculous, but at the end, I couldn’t sleep past 1am, and I couldn't use my normal human things that make me cope with depression (exercise and wine).
January came, and we eagerly joked that he could arrive any day. My due date of Feb 5th had shifted a few times, and my own kids had been born at 41 and 38 weeks, so in my head it could be any time. I had always wanted the water-breaking story, so I tried to envision everything water. At 37 weeks, I walked, bounced on the ball, and obsessively googled labor-starting solutions. Marissa was on board, anxious and eager to start the next phase. We met with my beautiful doula and yogi friend Tiff to manifest some good things for the birth, and she walked us through meditations that helped us manifest bringing this baby. She gave us a powerful essential mix that would help start and ease contractions. I bathed in the oil for a week, until Juniper broke the bottle on the floor and I fell into a crying mess. Hormones at the end of pregnancy are intense. Contractions came and went, but never progressed into anything. I stopped telling Marissa about them because we were getting exhausted by being ‘ready.’ I took primrose oil and pumped, which allowed us some colostrum. Hope my dr doesn’t read that, totally off the record.
Finally, on the night of 1/28, I started feeling contractions that stuck. I walked a few intense loops around the neighborhood, and tried to finish some design work. I got more excited every time the pain came, and texted the Hewkos to be ready. A few hours later, I told Ben it was time, and M & J came to pick me up. We rode the 3 minutes to the hospital, me apologizing and preparing them that it could be a false alarm. Despite super slow progress, the nurses liked our story and helped us get a room. We walked for hours in the hospital with mild contractions. I was so happy to be there and finally fulfilling my favorite part of the process - birth. Ben joined us, after my mom relieved him of sick baby Juniper (she had started barfing minutes after I left for the hospital). Ben brings such a sense of calm during birth, and during life.
After a slow night of little progress, the nurses started a pitocin schedule and contractions got more intense. M&J were excited, and still wavering on a name for baby. We were happy and ready. Eventually things progressed very quickly from 5 cm to 10 cm. Around 7am, my doctor came rushing in right before we were ready. I pushed once. Twice. Baby came out after barely any pushing, and the doctor rested him in Marissa’s arms. It was everything all at once - so happy, relieving, sunny, emotional, and raw. Ben took a video that makes me cry every time. If I could do *just* that moment over and over, I would.
A few minutes after birth, the nurses became concerned with my bleeding, and called the staff OB to come check on my uterus. He brought the on-call ultrasound tech to check, and found retained placenta. What followed was somewhat blurry, and incredibly painful. The doctor reached into my uterus with gloved hands to manually scrape out extra placenta...it felt like a million periods all at once. There wasn’t time for pain meds. After this, the bleeding still didn’t stop, so I was rushed to the OR. Ben came with me until he wasn’t allowed, and I vaguely remember asking him if I was going to die (it may have been the exhaustion or pain talking, but something about all the rushed doctors and nurses was absolutely terrifying). A few frantic minutes later, my doctor was called in and implanted a balloon to stop the bleeding. My body wouldn’t stop shaking, and continued to shake as I was recovering in the ICU. The nurses in my care were the nicest most calming humans ever, I hope they get paid in diamonds and cheesecakes and Ferraris. That night was very painful, and at one point my body started 'birthing' the balloon... so the nurse had to order an emergency removal. After that, and some insane painkillers, I had the best sleep of my life. It was unreal not having a baby inside or next to me. During the whole journey, everyone had asked how it was going to feel afterwards, and I guess and in the end, I guess I felt accomplished. Like a long race, or learning something new. And now we have a new baby soul in the tribe, and all is well.
All photos by Benjamin Squirrell.