*Note: If you’re currently pregnant and you feel feelings of immense frustration and terror when moms share their birth stories without an invitation, click away from here and go take a nap or continue your Netflix binge. While I don’t consider my experience to have been scary, I know it can 100% sound that way to a hormonal first time mom. So go grab yourself some chocolate and we can swap stories later.
*Additional note: Don’t worry. This will not be in graphic detail. Keep eating your lunch.
Text Message from Holly to Will:
8:14am – Having real contractions I think
I had my first “real” contraction around 4am the morning of August 10th, but because I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks, I didn’t think too much of it and fell back asleep. Another contraction woke me up around 6am, this time inspiring me to download an app to keep track of the time between contractions. But I fell asleep again mid-count. Around 7:45am I woke up and this time managed to stay awake for several fairly lengthy, somewhat uncomfortable contractions that no longer felt like a Braxton-Hicks practice round, so I texted Will from the living room couch, my bed for nearly a month as it was the only spot in the house where I could get kind of comfortable. My text brought Will downstairs almost instantly, and we tossed around the idea of going to the hospital. But the contractions weren’t bad, and they weren’t frequent enough to send us out the door, so we casually prepared to go later in the day. We played with Elliott while my mother-in-law showered; it was a no-stress morning for about… 15 minutes. Out of nowhere my contractions increased in both time and discomfort.
5 minutes apart. Wait, now 4 minutes apart. UH OH.
Luckily my hospital bag was already in the car so all we had to do was leave the house with no prep necessary. Will led me through our courtyard while I tried to remember my breathing exercises.
Text Message from Will to Holly:
9:05am – Where are you
9:08am – Where are you
This was the main moment a tour would’ve come in handy. Will had to drop me off at the front of the hospital in order to park, and due to construction, the main, most convenient parking lot was closed, so he had to drive ages away to find a parking spot. In the meantime I stumbled my way to the OBGYN department and managed to squeak out, “Wehen!” (vay-hen), which is the German word for “contractions!” I was suddenly whisked away by a nurse who wrapped me up in a hug to get me to the elevator. In between my contractions I tried to sputter out that my husband was somewhere in the hospital. She assured me she’d find him, then took my phone away and put me in bed.
Text Message from Will to Mendy (mother-in-law):
9:16 – Only 3 cm 🙁
Will eventually found me. The Hebamme (hey-bamma) (midwife) told us I was dilated 3cm, which is the same as when I arrived at the hospital ready to deliver Elliott. We were disappointed the number was so low because in our experience that meant we had hours to go before Lucy would make her debut. I was determined to go as long as I could without an epidural and took to the hospital halls. Will walked with me to and from a nearby kitchen to get energy snacks and water, but my contractions were so intense I couldn’t eat or drink anything. By this point, nausea had set in and I was beginning to sound like a wild forest animal. Will got me back to my room, and after several more just flat-out painful contractions, I sent him back to the car to get my hospital bag. (I wanted to be sure the hospital was going to admit me before we busted out the bag.) While he was gone, I got sick… on the floor, which was a bit of a low point for me since I was by myself. But I tried to focus on the things Sarah Scharf taught me in her yoga class… Breathe through the surges, breathe through the surges, BREATHE through the surges…
Text Message from Will to my dad:
(Will) 10:19am – It will be a while. She’s in a lot of pain but only 4cm. It will be a few hours still.
(Dad) 10:23am – Second ones tend to be faster so maybe not as long as E.
With the news that I had only gone from 3cm to 4cm after all the hall walking and lonesome puking I’d done in an hour, I was discouraged and began to seriously doubt my ability to continue without medication. Each and every “surge” was more painful than the last which made the idea of a giant needle in my back sound like a cake walk. Will and my Hebamme cheered me on and helped with hand-holding and back rubs, but I started to give up and asked my Hebamme if maybe, possibly, perhaps we could revisit the epidural. Smiling, she said she was positive I wouldn’t need one. There wasn’t any time.
Text Message from Will to my dad:
(Will) 10:46am – Wow 8cm now. That WAS fast
(Dad) 10:49am – Told you.
Text Message from Will to Mendy:
(Will) 10:46am – 8cm now!
(Mendy) 10:47 – Oh my word!! Walk more!!
First of all, LOL to the idea of me walking more at this point. I was totally done. But my Hebamme was right – no time for an epidural. Once Lucy decided she was ready, she didn’t mess around. It took 25 minutes to go up 4 more centimeters. And then…
Text Message from Will to Mendy:
(Will) 10:51am – She’s coming
(Mendy) 10:51 – Now?????
(Mendy) 10:52 – !!!!!!!!!
The following 7 minutes were the most excruciatingly painful minutes I have ever experienced in my life. Afterwards my Hebamme told me the deliveries that go as quickly as mine did tend to be much more painful than the ones that are more drawn out. Makes sense. It’s ironic to me the number of baby books and apps and doctors that say births are not like the ones on TV or in the movies because I very much felt like I had become Natalie Portman’s character in the movie Where The Heart Is (the one where she gives birth in a Walmart and she screams a lot), if that gives you an idea of what it sounded like in my room. Or if you haven’t seen that movie Will later told me, “You definitely didn’t instill confidence in any of the nearby laboring mothers.” Oops 🙁
At 10:58am, Lucy was born and in my arms. I was in awe of her little self but also in shock from the intensity of it all. I couldn’t believe my person was capable of such a difficult task. But it was, somehow.
So here I write, with my little Lucy fast asleep on my chest, cooing and giggling as she dreams about whatever it is babies dream about. (Milk?) She has brought joy and love (and blowouts and sleepless nights) to our little clan, especially to her older brother who adores her and dotes on her every chance he gets. Sometimes the way Elliott dotes on her is by squishing her nose or showing her one of his cars by driving it on her head, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She’s our little Lucy lady, and I couldn’t be more thankful for her arrival, including the way she chose to make it.