Almost four weeks ago, I gave birth to the most amazing, inquisitive, funny, at times cranky, always loving baby girl. After watching a few birthing videos and hearing so many tales of motherhood gone wrong, right, and unexpected, I knew it would be time for me to actually experience having my very own child.
She made us wait a little longer than normal so I knew she would be special. On January 10, 2013, I was finally able to say, “Hello Brooklyn”:
My due date had come and gone by a long shot. I had moments of frustration that turned into contentment. God had sent me a wave of patience and I was just waiting on her arrival. In the meantime, I got my hair braided, wrote a blog post or three, and spent the last childless moments being Chanell.
Enjoying fresh coconut water and an arepa at the Farmers’ Market (at Memorial Miramar Hospital)
Every day that week, I received calls, texts, social media messages asking if I had given birth. “Not yet. You’ll know when I do,” I replied.
It stopped getting annoying around day three. I was used to it by that point. My doctor and midwife had given me orders to go to the hospital every other day for a non-stress test and ultrasound to check on the baby’s progress. Since I was overdue, that was common practice. The nurses recognized me by face and the security guard even asked (on my third visit that week) “You haven’t had that baby YET?”
I had gone from feeling tight all over to feeling like my old self with a huge belly. I knew that was the calm before the storm so to speak. On Wednesday, January 9, around 11:30pm, I began contracting. Though I had experienced false labor before, these contractions were a bit stronger. So, I downloaded an app to my phone that tracked the time between each contraction. They were abnormal in length and intensity for about four hours so I decided to wait and go to the hospital in the morning for my scheduled non-stress test and ultrasound.
I barely slept that night. I was uncomfortable but the pain wasn’t too much for me to handle. I eased the pain by stretching on an exercise ball and soaking in the tub for a while. Though I had never taken a child birthing class, I knew the importance of breathing through the pain. So, I breathed.
The next morning, around 6:30 am, I woke up and started getting dressed. My hospital bags had been packed and in the car for two weeks. It was a struggle getting my husband up but a lot of coercion (and a little Pregnant Lady yelling) and we were out the door. We picked up breakfast and headed toward the hospital. On the way there, I could feel every pebble on the freeway. It hurt for me to sit and the ride was about twenty minutes. At that very moment, I wished I had picked the older hospital that was just ten minutes away.
I wobbled into the registration area at the hospital and waited to be called. I had been to the hospital so many times I knew some of the employees by name. I was sent to see the same woman who had checked me in three times before. “It’s time?” she asked.
“Yep,” I managed through contractions.
She hurriedly typed in my information, gave me a hospital wristband and sent me to Labor and Delivery.
The nurse in L&D put me on the monitor to start the non-stress test and track my contractions. At that point, the contractions were still infrequent so we had to wait until they got stronger. In the meantime, I still had to get an ultrasound just to be sure.
It was quite possibly the worst of all the ultrasounds I’d had since being pregnant. I was contracting like crazy and the baby wasn’t moving the way the ultrasound tech thought she should. Again, I was overdue and they were looking for certain movements from the baby. I guess she was tired and didn’t want to cooperate. Well, that meant nothing to the techs. Not only was the lead technologist very impersonal, but he was also training another employee on my belly! Once that was over, I was wheeled back over to L&D triage where the nurse informed me that she had spoken to my midwife and given orders to check my cervix for dilation (fun stuff) to see if I was ready to be admitted.
I was only one cm dilated (which is the most progress I had shown the entire pregnancy) and my contractions were picking up. So I was admitted. Yay! Finally!
The plan was to start the induction process so I could possibly give birth by Friday.
My nurse Anna asked if I wanted to eat something since I wouldn’t be able to eat until after I gave birth. Food? Yes, please!
I devoured the eggs, toast, and cereal and gulped down the orange juice. While I wasn’t full, it was enough to keep me satisfied. I kept thinking, I can’t possibly survive on this until tomorrow morning.
At 11:55 am, I was done eating, it was time to start the Cervidil, a medicine used to soften the cervix. I asked Anna tons of questions and she patiently and efficiently answered them with a smile.
“You can’t get up for at least five hours or so, so get comfortable,” she warned.
I got as comfortable as I could on that hard bed. My butt was starting to get numb so I asked my husband (during one of his InstaGram breaks) to get the beach blanket from the trunk of the car so I could have a little extra cushion. I told him to go to work since I wouldn’t be giving birth until the next day. He told me he would wait until someone arrived to sit with me. (He never made it to work that day.)
My contractions kept getting stronger and closer together. But I wasn’t sure if I was dilated. The Cervidil was supposed to help with softening the cervix for possible dilation. Once that part was over, I was supposed to get Pitocin which would force my body into labor. Or, as my sister told me, give me contractions that would start “thundering out of my soul”.
At around 3 o’clock, Anna came in to let me know she had spoken to my doctor. My midwife was busy with another patient and the doctor would be delivering my baby. I was a bit nervous because I knew his track record with Cesarean sections and I didn’t really want to go that route. But if my body wasn’t cooperating (like it had not been for the past two weeks) I would have to deal with it.
My doctor had told Anna that if at 5 o’clock I wasn’t dilated he would come in and do a C-section. I was in so much discomfort at that point that nothing mattered. Another nurse asked if that’s what I really wanted and I didn’t know if I had a choice or not so I said, “I don’t care at this point.”
When Anna checked me, I was at 5 cm! Finally, some progress. By that time, I had a few more visitors. Along with my husband, my friend Roxy, and my minister’s wife (and close friend) were there as well. I could barely talk and asked for some pain medication. Just something to take the edge off. I was given a sedative that knocked me out for what felt like thirty minutes. I could still feel the contractions, I was just sleepy.
Another friend came by (who I completely forgot about until I talked to my husband and read through my text messages) but I was out of it during most of her visit.
By 6:30, my doctor arrived and checked me one last time to see what our next plan of action would be. I was 8 cm dilated and moving fast. “You’re almost ready. You could go natural,” he said.
“Could I still get the epidural?” I asked.
“Yes, but you don’t really need it,” Anna said.
I imagined pushing without it and the pain that I had already felt (which wasn’t that bad) and decided to save my sanity and get the epidural.
By that time, my mother-in-law and one of my sisters had arrived. Once the anesthesiologist got there, everyone had to leave the room. My mom and another one of my friends were on the way to witness the birth of BK. Traffic near the hospital was heavy so I wasn’t sure they would be there. Either way, I had a village of women (and my husband) there to support me.
Once I could feel the effects of the epidural, my legs were placed in the harnesses and I was told to push when I felt pressure.
At 7:10 pm I updated my Facebook status to let everyone know I was at 10 cm and ready to deliver.
“Oh, I’ve been feeling pressure for a while now.”
It all happened so quick.
“Put your chin to your chest and push hard like you’re trying to take a bowel movement.”
I could barely feel my legs but my lower half wasn’t completely numb. I was comfortable. I felt like I was having an outer body experience. In a matter of minutes, I would be holding my baby.
Push! Push! Push!
On my left side stood my husband, my sister, and my mother-in-law. On my right side was my minister’s wife and a nurse. My husband was about to pass out and looked on as the ladies held my legs with me.
“She has a lot of hair,” someone said.
I was still in a daze. I would have a baby, one that I had to take sole responsibility for.
After about 10 pushes she was out.
At 7:25 pm I became a mother.
Tears of joy. Brooklyn reaching up for mommy. Priceless feeling.
Her eyes were bright and she was looking around like she knew exactly where she was. When her gaze met mine, my life was changed FOREVER!
She was placed on my chest and feeling her heart beat against mine was the best feeling in the world.
“Hi,” was all I could manage. I got choked up and cried silent tears as she was weighed and wrapped up.
Yeah! I’m here! (This is the funniest picture EVER!)
While I should have been tired and hungry I was exhilarated. My mom arrived shortly after and held her second granddaughter who was busy sucking her fingers.
My husband and I looked one another in the eyes and said, “we did it.”
I gave him a double tap and a salute (we’re corny) and got ready for the ride of my life.
I thank God for every moment, every morning I can wake up and say, “Hello Brooklyn.”