It is pretty surreal typing up this story because I have waited for so long to tell it. I actually have a fertility series drafted but never published but here I am skipping a long and very emotional journey to get to this happy beginning. I did commit this to paper 2 weeks after her birth so I am just going to retell it for you all (maybe a bit abbreviated).
*WARNING* There is going to be some details you may not want to read!
Everything started it seemed the day after Thanksgiving. While fully stuffed and having leftovers for dinner I had some bleeding. I called the nurse to let them know and told me everything was normal and since I had no contractions along with it, I felt O.K. Since I was checked for dilation the day before the holiday we figured Monday morning we would schedule something.
I woke up at 6AM on Monday to use the bathroom and noticed that finally my mucus plug came out which was brown and snot like. I woke Mike and her perked right up and wanted me to call the doctor asap. I hesitated because that is just me but when I did the nurse said yes that was normal and if we wanted an appointment to call when the office officially opened. We did some timing of contractions but they were not consistent. The contractions themselves felt like period cramps and tightening.
Once the office opened we called and they were very accommodating - I remember telling her 'sorry we are nervous first time parents' Instead of a 12pm appointment we went in for a 945am! I logged into work and told my boss that we were going in and did a little bit of work until then. We met with the midwife and said I was still only 1cm but thinned out enough that she could easily push me to 2cm. She asked if I wanted a membrane sweep to get things going and I can sure. Man that was the most uncomfortable situation but said after the sweep 24 hours we could have a baby! Well alright then..
Once we got home I tried to go back to work but still unable to focus a few minutes at a time. Mike was also working from home (thank god) and continued to time contractions because they seem to have picked up. I paced around the house I was thinking 'uh this sweep was a bad idea' - the pain was definitely intense. I sort of forgot to formally log out of work and got my yoga ball to bounce on.
As we neared 4 minutes apart I was also hesitating to go to the hospital because I was thinking that this was too soon - what happened to the 24 hour timeline?! All the materials I read said 5 minutes or less its time so as we made it to the car again thinking that 'it's too late! what if I can't get the epidural?" The hospital drive was luckily 5 minutes and I can't believe people live father than that but maybe people also don't wait as long as I did.
Mike tried to get a parking space but couldn't and some guy swiped one and he yelled like the person could possibly know I was in labor (it was is panic Dad moment which was cute). We pulled up to the doors so he could get me a wheelchair and up we went to the 3rd floor maternity ward. It was around lunchtime so no one was at the check in desk and we were locked out. An orderly happened to come by asked if we needed help and Mike said "My wife is in labor!" and this guy just ran towards us an let us in!
We sort of crashed the ward and totally should've called first (we obviously never did this before). The nurses at the station were like "oh hello!" They got me right into an exam room and luckily my doctor was the one working the floor that day. I got undressed having to pause for contractions of course so I can get an exam and explain what was going on (my mucus plug, the sweep etcetera). The contractions were still frequent so Dr. Bony figured to just admit me and then check on my progress.
I left the exam room and the nurse asked if I could walk or wheelchair it and I just figured let's relax and got wheeled to room #302 - the one stop shop. This is where I will give birth and post birth care. I really love that it's all in one room and I could settle and focus on the job at hand. I got checked and I think I was 2 or 3cm and Michael called my mother. Once she arrived I felt relief because she has been a nurse for so long and obviously I want my mommy (even though I was about to be one myself).
Before too long I really couldn't talk through contractions and I moved to the balance ball with Mike and Mom at each side. The pain really got worse and worse and times I didn't want to be touched or even talked to. Mike told me later how delirious I was and how I was just spaced out. The nitrous gas was not helpful to manage my pain - I could barely get a deep breath in and the mask smelled like plastic obviously. I don't remember when I threw up but I did multiple times thankfully just water! I do remember probably the nurse saying "Oh already there huh?" I guess that is typical too!
The 3 to 4cm move truly was the worst transition and I got the epidural. In hindsight I am not sure what I was thinking trying to do this naturally but at least I tried. I completely forgot all about using my essential oils and other techniques. Waiting for anathsia was agony and I tried super hard to stay still and relax so it went smoothly and luckily did. I also remember the contraction as I sat on the side of the bed waiting for the needle it was such a wallop I can't believe I did stay still. It took about 10 minutes or so but it hit me in the right foot and travelled upwards. Finally some relief so I laid down to rest around 5pm. I could hear Mike and Mom chatting and I tried to sleep but I could still feel the contractions which was good. I didn't want the epidural to slow me down and the nurses kept checking in an moving me from side to side. The tightening was there but not the pain.
Dr. Bony came in also to check and I was 6cm and she said "great probably by midnight!" Michael sent out a text to update his mother and sister, while I kept trying to rest. I felt really relaxed which was amazing and when Dr. Bony came back for a check (literally don't remember time at this point) she said I was 10cm and time to start pushing. I couldn't believe it I immediately thought "Oh okay let's do it!" because I was legit so calm in my body right beforehand. So we got me in position to start pushing. Mom (grabbed my leg) and Mike (took my hand) were on my left and nurse on my right. It was hard to look at him as much as I wanted because I was uber focused somewhere else.
Even though it didn't feel like I was making progress while pushing I was assured I was. I had these handlebars to use during the contractions and felt like I pulled every back and neck muscle I ever had plus keeping my breath for 10 seconds three time per contraction. It was so hard to bear down like that. I remember letting out one "son of a bitch" during a particularly difficult push.
Aubrey would move forward but would go back in between pushed so Dr. Bony suggest a suction/vacuum to help. She ran quickly down the list of risks being increased jaundice, cone shape head etc. In the moment of course I was like "yes whatever you want!" I just wanted her here heathy especially because her heart rate would drop a little between those pushes. I remember getting weepy because everything was happening and I was just in that moment - we were close to meeting her!
When she finally was here there were so many things happening. I can't exactly pinpoint my thoughts or emotions but they cleaned her up (suctioned out her mouth and she definitely started crying after) and her up on my chest. Mike followed her to the warmer as they started checking all her. As Dr. Bony was stitching me up I remember saying something so out of this world "Oh that wasn't too bad..I'd do that again!" Literally the drugs were talking and working so well. She replied "We love to hear that!" and my Mom was laughing. The euphoria and adrenaline afterwards was nothing I've ever felt before.
All in all I got exactly what I wanted - Aubrey was healthy, I had the best support team with Mike cutting the umbilical cord; my mother witnessing this special time and my doctor being there! All the unknown and anxiety I felt over everything was sent away once I looked at her and had her here. If you made it through reading this, please enjoy some hospital photos and the first few days of her home.