Another birth story!**
After having a C-section with Carter, I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) with my next. It had little to do with wanting the experience of a vaginal birth, and much more to do with the horrific thought of recovering from another major surgery while also parenting a fifteen month old. I vividly remember bursting into tears a week post C-section after lifting an empty box...and it was then I knew I'd do whatever I could to be sure #2 came out the front door and not the sunroof.
**So many of my male friends just closed their browsers.
So, much to the dismay of my husband, I elected to try for a VBAC at the only hospital in the state that would let me: UCHealth in Aurora. For all you geographers out there - Aurora and Littleton aren't neighboring cities by any stretch of the imagination. On a clear summer day without an ounce of traffic, it was still a 45 minute drive. Factoring in that this would (hopefully) be a spontaneous birth...we fought about this decision. A lot. Oh, and did I mention our baby was due in snowy January?
I was nearing 40 weeks and getting more pissed by the minute. As any pregnant woman would feel at that point - I was mentally and physically done. On Saturday, January 13th, I loaded Carter up and drove to My Usual Spot (Target), plopped him in the cart with a bag of Goldfish and started to make my usual rounds. I was feeling off but certainly wasn't in labor. The pains in my abdomen that took my breath away definitely were't early signs of my child getting ready to make his debut. The one sharp, shooting pain that had me leaning over the side of the cart for support certainly wasn't my first real contraction. Hindsight is 20/20, people. I was definitely in labor but was too busy checking out Chip and Joanna Gaines' newest shit to notice.
I came home, proceeded to eat 3/4 of a Digiorno pizza by myself, and ushered Donald out the door to go play his annual show for Celtic Legacy. I assured him I wasn't going into labor that evening and told him to have fun. About an hour or so later, I settled into the couch after rocking Carter to sleep. I queued up The Office and pulled the blanket up to my chin as I simultaneously felt a snap in my nether-regions and the arrival of Niagara Falls into our living room. I still giggle when guests come over and sit on that section of the couch, thinking to myself "THAT'S WHERE MY WATER BROKE, SUCKER!" Don't worry, I sanitized the cushion later. I think.
The next few events were a blur, but included:
waddling around a lot
calling Donald and telling him not to panic, but that he needed to come home
realizing Donald was going to panic
calling our good friends to come stay the night with Carter. While crying on the toilet.
Donald making a 45 minute drive in 30 minutes
wishing I hadn't eaten almost an entire pizza solo
Within 45 minutes of recreating Canada's largest natural wonder in my living room, we were on our way to the hospital. Things were moving just a bit faster then I had anticipated. I remember thinking "how is this happening so quickly? Am I timing these right? I was always so bad at math. I guess I was in labor at Target. Damn you, Chip and Joanna Gaines!" I also recall realizing this:
Pro Marriage Tip: when you and your husband spend the better half of 9 months passionately debating which hospital, for sake of proximity, you will birth your child at...and you ultimately "win" the "discussion," DO NOT...under any circumstances...bitch about how long it is taking you to get there. DO NOT. With every bump, turn, and jolt, I dug my fingernails and heels deeper into the unforgiving interior of our Extended Sports Utility Vehicle (eh, minivan). It was hell. I remember seeing the exit for Colfax and feeling like I had been in the car for 19 hours. Did I vocalize these thoughts and feelings? I did not.
It's ironic to me that the moment we pulled up to the Inpatient Pavilion was when I started to really panic. I had worked at this hospital for a year as a consultant; for three years as a full-time employee. I had been to 30+ appointments there between my two pregnancies. Despite my frequent flier status, we pulled up to the pavilion and I couldn't remember where to go. It was then I started crying - feeling like all of this was happening too fast for me to handle. None of this was going according to plan - I didn't get to labor at home. I didn't get to ease into these contractions. My body was in go-mode and my mind was still catching up.
Let's talk about contractions for a hot second before I wrap this saga up. Someone once told me that they feel like "a really bad menstrual cramp." To that, I say there's a special place in hell for you, you liar. Perhaps they feel like a bad menstrual cramp if your period is also trying to kill you. To me, it felt like every sin I had ever committed had manifested in my uterus and was trying to murder me from within. One time, in college, I watched as my girlfriend accidentally crushed my finger in a doorjam...and I didn't even cry. That experience gave me a false sense of security that I had a high pain tolerance. I do not. Contractions are no joke. I will stop there, because no future mother or already-pregnant reader needs to hear any more.
We entered the hospital. We skipped triage because I was making a scene.
I was a huge bitch to anyone who tried to help me, ask me questions, or reason with me.
We had been in the hospital room for all but 5 seconds before I yelled "Waffles!" To which Donald replied "So, you want an epidural?" "Waffles" was our code word. It was code for "I'm not fucking around. GIVE ME THE GOOD STUFF."
I had planned on waiting longer than this. I had planned on trying to do this without one. I had planned a lot of things, and not one of those things seemed to be happening.
So, I got an epidural. I slowly retracted my claws. I transformed from Wolverine back to sweet, sweet Liz. I waited. I pushed.
I met the most beautiful son. 7lb 15oz of pure boy; hints of red hair and deep dark eyes. They gave him immediately to me, which was an unfamiliar step in the process. I kept asking if he was okay - didn't they want to check him over? Do his vitals? How did they know he was healthy?
My midwife looked at me and said "he's perfect. enjoy him." And I did. Donald and I laid there together with Cullen wrapped up in our arms and basked in the moment that we were the only people on earth who knew he existed. It was like he was our secret for however long we wanted to keep it. We kept it a while before we shared the news with family and friends. I'll never forget that.
Later on, one of the nurses gently teased me about my use of the word "waffles." I told her we had planned to come up with a code word, but forgot until we were in the car on the way to the hospital. I told her 'waffles' was the only thing I could think of in the moment. And now, much like the cushion on my couch, I can't help but giggle when I see them. Waffles are no longer a breakfast treat.
They are a reminder that even best laid plans go awry. It's okay to ask for help. Life's going to keep moving whether you're ready or not. There's no right way to have/raise/feed/love your baby. And sometimes...you just need the good stuff.