I think most moms, like me, owns a “baby’s first year” book, and I think I am right to say that most of said books have a section in it where you are supposed to write your birth story. I have filled out every little piece of information in Nicholas’ book, from first smile to first steps, but I have not – so far, been able to write my birth story. I have sat down, pen in hand to do so many many times over, only to slam the book shut, put it back on it’s shelf and think to myself I’ll do it some other time…
The thing is that this other time, has yet not shown its face, and as I procrastinate I am scared I will forget more of this unique and beautiful experience, the thoughts that ran through my head as my waters broke, the relief that I felt when Kenny finally came bursting through the doors, the feeling of his little body labouring for breath on my chest..
I think one of the reasons I have yet not sat down to write this part of his story, is that it is so special to me that I am afraid I wont do this profound experience justice, that the keyboard with its measly 26 letters aren’t capable of putting it in to word and adequately expressing the emotions I felt during the few hours it took my little boy to come in to this world.
But the time has come, I’ve made myself comfortable on the sofa, Nicholas is sleeping soundly in his bed, Ken is away on a match until tomorrow, and there is a steaming cup of tea to keep me company whilst I try to put this amazing and truly awe-inspiring and defining experience in to writing.
Here goes nothing…P.S I share all the gory details, so if you don’t want to hear it, don’t read it:)
First let me start off by saying that I loved every part of being pregnant. I loved the way my body changed as the baby inside of me grew bigger, i loved feeling the first tiny butterfly like flutters morph into actually painful kicks. I loved the three first months that made me so tired that all I could do after work was collapse on the sofa and sleep. I loved my body, and I loved my bump. And most of all I loved never ever being alone- even with Kenny living in Fredikstad at the time and me up in Northern Norway I never felt alone, I felt companion-ship and a love like I had never experienced for this tiny little being growing inside of me.
From the very beginning of my pregnancy I was totally sure it was a boy, so when the ultrasound showed us a little tiny boy who tried his best to turn away from the probing machine we both just looked at each other and smiled. We were so happy to be going through this together.
Like most first-timers I worried a bit that something would go wrong with the pregnancy, but not more than that I told everyone I was pregnant only two days after I found out… I guess deep down I wasn’t too worried after all…
I was due on the 30th of April, and six weeks before my due-date I joined my husband who had moved to Sweden a month or so before me.
The club helped me find a midwife and I made an appointment to meet her about a week later. I was then 35 weeks pregnant, and very confident that my baby would come very soon.
Kenny and I went to her office, she did the normal tests (that I had already done in Norway but she needed for the Swedish Journal) she questioned me about which hospital I wanted to give birth in, to which I answered that I had looked in to either Danderyd or Karolinska, as they both had really good neonatal-care units, and that I wanted to be in a hospital that had all the expertise on sight if something was to happen during the labour. She put me down for Danderyd at first place, and Karolinska at second and we arranged a meeting for the week after.
The next week came, and I was now 36 weeks pregnant, i showed up to this appointment on my own, as Kenny was training, and we talked a bit about what I expected at my labour. I told her I wanted it to be as natural as possible, and that I expected it to go very fast as the women in my family tend to give birth quite quickly. I also told her that I didn’t want to go into labour thinking that I would ,one hundred percent,be able to do it without the epidural, because I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment, I would take it as it came… At the end of the session she asked me if same day next week would suit me fine for another meeting, to which I answered ” I really don’t think I will make it, I think my baby will be born by that time, but sure put me up for it, but if I don’t show you know why!” She laughed at me and told me that I shouldn’t set my hopes up so high for an early labour, as most first timers usually go over. But I was so sure that Nicholas would come three weeks early that I told her to wait and see.
Fast forwards to the 9th of April in the evening. Kenny and I am sitting on the couch cuddling, and talking about the up coming labour and whether or not he would “look down there” He had been told by many people to keep his eyes away from that spot, as they said they could never look at that part of their wife the same way ever again. I told him that this was of course up to him, and that I though that in that particular moment you kind of separated the two things in your head, that at the time of the baby coming in to this world you didn’t think about a ruined sex-life or anything but the little creature that you had a part in making..
10th of April and Kenny was packed and ready to go he was finally going to start in the away game against Gefle IF, a city about 2 hours away. I had already told him that I though the baby was going to be borne the day after, but that hopefully it would wait until he came home. He said that since I was only 37 weeks the chances were slim to none that it would pick that particular day to come.. I was so sure that he would that I wrote this on my facebook status
which translates into:
Grass widow (what we call women when their husbands are away) until tomorrow evening. Nicholas will kindly have to wait with coming until Kenny is back home!!!
I am not sleeping alone in our bed, Charlie our dog is sleeping with me, but he has taken over Kenny’s side and doesn’t get to close. It is now 4 am and I have just been up to go pee, I am really tired and all I repeat over and over is “please don’t let my waters break before morning, please don’t let my waters break before morning” The thought of losing my precious sleep is all I can think of, I know for a fact Nicholas will come, call it instinct or what you will but I know, I can feel it in my bones…
I wake with a start as I feel this “popping” down in my uterus, and I literally jump out of my bed, I am soaked through and I remember thinking “how can there possibly be this much water inside of me” as I look down on the completely soaked floor… I have a towel in my bed, that I had brought in case of this exact thing happen the night before, and I aimlessly throw it over the water. It is 7.15 A.M, Game Day for Kenny…
Through my head my thoughts are running, jumbled up, and yet still clear to me , now 14 months later.
“shit, shit,shit, I knew this would happen, what do I do, should I wait with calling Kenny, and hope my contractions don’t start…”
” I read somewhere that I have 12 hours after my waters break before they really need the baby to be out due to infection,… I guess I could be lucky..”
“FUCK, i have to get in to the bathroom, how am I supposed to do that with this water spilling out of me…”
I went to the bathroom, and brought my phone with me, it was now almost 7.30 and I called Kenny. He picked up sounding rather groggy and tired..
“My water just broke…” I guess I didn’t break the news to him very gently. I quickly added that I was hoping that my contractions would take forever to start, and that I just wanted to jump in the shower to get “ready” for labour. In other words shave my legs, a thing any woman who has been about to burst with pregnancy knows is pretty much impossible after 6 months..
Kenny sounded like a headless chicken on the other side, just repeating “you are kidding, right?” and “oh, no, what shall we do!!”
I told him I’d call him back, but that for now all he had to do was go eat his breakfast, and tell his keeper-coach that I was in labour, and that he was on standby to come home..
I got into the shower, and the warm water was so soothing on my aching back and belly. My contractions had started, and let me tell you something; It is damned near impossible to shave your legs in a tiny bathroom shower with contractions coming every 60 seconds.. I think I was in that shower for nearly 30 minutes trying to get the job done, and just thinking to myself “It’s happening, I’m going to meet my little boy soon, I can’t believe the day is here!!”
At the same time over in Gävle Kenny is calling me for the 4th time, but since my phone is laying just outside the shower and I am in a bit of pain and trying to shave my legs I still haven’t picked up… On the 5th call I stick my wet hand out of the shower and grab the phone, and snap and angry “what?!” in to it.. Kenny is stressed out, I can hear it from his voice and is telling me that he was getting worried about me, and weather or not my contractions had started yet. I had to admit that yes they had, and that all hopes of him making it for the match that day were running down the drain, together with amniotic fluid and the hair from my legs.. I told him I thought he should look into how he was going to get home..
I am drying myself off, also a difficult task when your contractions are coming close together, and all I can do is pace. I walk back and forth from the bathroom to the livingroom, completely naked, and unable to stop for a second. It feels like some instinct is telling me “walk maria, walk and it wont hurt you” so I walk, and walk. It is nearly 8 and I still haven’t called the hospital or timed my contractions, the things I guess my husband was supposed to do whilst I was dealing with the pain. I call Danderyd’s Hospital in between contractions, and tell them that my waters have broken. I am somehow able to carry out a completely normal conversation with the nurse in the other end whilst pacing back and forth. She asks me if I have timed my contractions, but since I somehow can’t seem to get it right with my looking at the watch, and remember to look again I tell her no.. She informs me that Danderyd is full, but that my second choice Karolinska will be waiting for me, and to call them when I think I have to go in..
I decide to try to time my contractions, and manage to open a webpage with a contraction counter. I press the button, pace and press the button again, and then again, and all I get is 1 minute in between, and I think I am doing it wrong because I know that it’s supposed to be like 10 minutes between contractions in the beginning of labour.
Kenny calls me again, and this time I tell him to ask Lee, his keeper coach, who is also a father, about how to time the contractions, and he tells me to do exactly what I have been doing.. And I still think I must be doing something wrong..
I pace some more, and think “what the hell am I supposed to do with the dog, I can’t walk him in this condition..how the hell am I supposed to get dressed.. It hurts if I stand still, and I don’t have any clothes laid out…Fuck, I knew I should have packed the hospital bag earlier!!”
At the same time I am trying to pack the little suitcase I had gotten Kenny to take down from its hiding place a week earlier, thinking I would pack the bag as soon as I got to week 37.. I am pacing back and forth, throwing things like my passport, and hospital papers, underwear and nursing bras higgledy-piggledy in to the suitcase, and at the same time trying to get dressed. My body REALLY doesn’t work with me here. My contractions are still only a minute or so apart, sometime I feel like I’m getting a window of 2 or three minutes, and it is in one of those I manage to pull a chair over and prop the balcony door open in hopes that Charlie will go out there to do his business.
And in another window like that I call again to Karolinska to ask them if I should be coming now it is now 9. 06 AM.
I am getting stressed out, and my contractions are coming very close together. The nurse on the other end waits patiently as I breathe and pace through another contraction, and I break down crying when she tells me she thinks I have to come right now. I remember asking her “how am I supposed to do that”, and she saying, well, your aren’t all alone are you?! To which all I answer is well, yes, I don’t know anybody here, and my husband is away. And start crying. She tells me I have to take a taxi then. And I remember hanging up the phone and thinking “but I don’t have the number to any taxi company, and I really can’t sit still long enough to find it on the computer…”
I am finally reasonably packed, remembering to bring my camera, knowing I don’t have anyone to take pictures even if I do bring it. And I call Kenny to let him know I am going to the hospital by taxi, and that I will walk 200 metres down the street where I know there should be taxis waiting to pick up a fair. I haven’t put into consideration that it is only a bit over 9 o’clock Sunday morning, and that there might be no cabs there.. Kenny tells me that a lady called Patricia will come meet me at the hospital and stay with me until he gets there, he is already in the cab, as the much quicker train had already left, and the next one didn’t leave until a few hours later.
I hang up, and get myself out to the elevator, thinking to myself that I am glad nobody can see me now, with my cheeks flushed, red and with dried up tears crusting my face. I am feeling like the baby will pop out of me any second, and even though the pacing had made me feel better, actually walking in fresh air, down the street made me feel worse.
In the distance I can see ONE cab standing there, at the completely deserted street, the cab driver visible through the windshield. And I remember getting scared, and crying and wishing and praying that nobody gets there before me, because I know I need that cab, and that I wont be able to wait for another one to come. And I remember repeating over and over again, please don’t drive, please don’t drive, please don’t leave. As another contraction completely stops me in my tracks, and knocks my breath away.
I am lucky, nobody takes the cab, and nobody sees me walking like a cripple towards it either. When I get there the 50-something old man takes one look at me and loses his head. “OH MY GOD” he says, “we need to get you to a hospital quickly!” I get in the car, and it is the longest, most painful car ride I have ever taken. I am slipping and sliding around in the back seat, it feels like torture not being able to walk. Sitting down I feel like I am squeezing my baby’s head, and it hurts! I am trying to talk politely to the stressed out cab driver, who bless his heart,runs all the red lights on the empty streets of Stockholm. When we arrive outside the doors of “Forlössningen” I jump out, and throw him my visa, mumbling something about having to get in there right now, and not even bringing my suitcase. Thank God for Honest cab drivers, he brings my suitcase in, with my wallet, and gives it to one of the midwives who in turn brings it in to me in the room I am in. It is now exactly 9.25
A nurse comes in to the room to examine me. I have been given a not so flattering hospital gown, and those massive one time netting-underwear with a massive pad in it. I lie down on the bed, and hardly manage to hold still while she feels me and tells me I am 4-5 cm dilated. As soon as she is done I jump up and pace again. So she connects me to the CTG with a long wire so I am able to walk, and then leaves me in the room. All by myself… And how lonely I feel at that moment, without anyone to share this new experience with, and how happy I am when this woman I have never even met before comes in the door, and introduces herself as Patricia. And gives me a big hug and tells me I will be all-right. It is now 09.45 and I have been in that room on my own for 20 minutes, and it feels like the baby is going to come out of me within seconds. I get Patricia to go get the nurses, but they tell her I have to stay on the CTG for 30 minutes before I can leave that room to go to the actual birthing room. I tell her to go get them again, and to tell them that they need to examine me now, and thankfully they come this time. She checks me again, and this time I am 10 cm dilated, and they finally get that I need to be in the birthing room NOW.
At 10 o’clock my midwife comes in, she asks me if I want to have an epidural, and I tell her YES! She puts the needle in my hand so I am ready for it and they call for the Dr to come set the epidural. I already feel the need to push, but I am still holding back.. at 10.30 the Dr has been there and left again without me getting the epidural, I don’t feel I need it after all. I have gone to somewhere within myself, it feels like my body has taken me over, and it knows what to do and how to do it. I remember feeling like I had to have my leg “right here” and that when they tried to move it to the stirrups I pulled it back to the place I needed it to be. RIGHT here. and they held it for me. They tell me they can see his head when I have a contraction, but that he is slipping back in in between. I remember thinking that it isn’t time just yet. Kenny isn’t here, and I am somehow in league with my body, as it is holding my precious baby in just a little bit longer..
It is now 10 45, and Kenny bursts in through the door, he comes over to the head end and gives me a kiss, I think I might have pushed him away. I was perfectly in the “zone” and really didn’t do much other than thinking this hurts like hell, and screaming in my contractions, because somehow those primal groans made it feel better. I am now leaning over the head end of my bed, and my contractions finally give me a little breather of a few minutes. I take the minute in between to drink, drink, drink, and I remember Kenny filling the glass,and lifting the straw to my lips, and I remember thinking that ‘“this is how it is supposed to be”
My midwife asks me when the last time I went to the bathroom was, and I told her I hadn’t gone since before I went to the hospital. She tells me the reason he might be “slipping” back inside after every contraction is that he is pushing against a full bladder, and she asks me if I want to stand up a bit, over this metal chair “potty” to see if I can pee a bit. The standing up part appeals to me somehow, and I roll out of bed, and stand over that thing, and feel like the baby is going to slip out of me. It is 11.17am and I can feel his head between my legs, and I can feel my body slowly with each contraction pushing him further down the birthing canal. And it is a crazy feeling to feel his head still there when my contractions have stopped.
They get me back up in the bed and I feel my body taking over, and pushing, and pushing, and not when they tell me to, but when my body tells me to, and he finally at 11.27 he slips out of me, this perfect little boy. I can see him in a pool of water between my legs. He cries a little bit, and they put him right on my chest,
and I just look at him, and look at him, and I can tell something isn’t right.
I try telling them that he is turning more blue.But they are so pre-occupied with Kenny cutting the cord that they don’t listen to me.
I look at his little mouth and I see bubbles, and I see that he isn’t breathing right, and I tell them, take him please! And they tell me noooo,probably thinking I am one of those fussy moms, that want him all cleaned up, and I tell them again, and finally she looks at him, and looks at me pushing him up in her arms, and she runs over to the table to suck slime and water out of his lungs, at the same time as she turns around and tells me we have to take him to the Dr, she presses an alarm, and Kenny is told to follow her.
All this happens so fast, and in Swedish, and Kenny only thinks they are going to go weigh the baby.He tells me what happens afterwards, when he comes back into the room. He got a massive shock when a team of Dr swoop down over tiny Nicholas who has completely stopped breathing, and starts pumping oxygen in to him, and doing CPR on his little body. He thinks we are going to lose him.
I am back in the room, with only Patricia and another nurse there, and my placenta has just come. I feel completely fine, not even a bit sweaty, I have after all only been in the hospital for 2 hours, only 1,5 in the birthing room. Patricia is sitting on a chair, and they are bringing in a breakfast for me to eat, and I remember being 100 percent sure that Nicholas was fine.
Later I have though to myself that survival mode must have kicked in, cause there I was chatting happily with the midwife whilst my son was up in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit fighting to breathe.
Kenny had been up there and taken a picture of my little baby, who didn’t look little at all, but nice and chubby and with tons of black hair, and who was now full of cords and wires.
He got a glucose infusion as his blood-sugar had dropped way below where it should be as a reaction to stress. He has a laser monitor around his leg, to monitor his intake of oxygen, and electrodes on his chest to monitor his heart. He had a CPAP in his nose that forced air down his lungs, and there were monitors beeping all around him.
All those pictures I had planned to take with my little son, the wheelchair ride up to the hospital hotel, all of that I didn’t think to mourn at the time. All I could think was that I had to pee fast enough for me to be able to go up and be with my son. I remember sitting on the toilet thinking if i can only pee, they will let me go, keeping the water running and thinking about waterfalls and every other thing I could in order to get something out. And finally, finally squeezing a drop out, flushing, and coming out and announcing proudly that I was ready to go be with my baby.It had already been 1.5 hours since he was born..I had spent that time on the phone to my mom who was very concerned about how Nicholas was doing..
The midwife told me that she would go get the wheelchair, to which I answered, if it was far. She told me it was only down the corridor, and up a floor in the elevator. I told her I was perfectly capable of walking, and I was. I felt Fine. I would gladly have done it all over again. It was so much more intense than I had thought, and yet so much easier at the same time!
When I got up to the NICU I just wanted to scoop him up into my arms, and the lovely nurse who was in charge of Nicholas must have known, cause she pulled up a comfortable chair, and asked me if I wanted to hold him. I did, and I sat with my little baby, connected to tubes, for the next 4 hours without moving.
I just sat there, and enjoyed feeling his little body, and hearing the air that was forced into his lungs, and looked at him, and loved him, and it felt so natural. So right.
Kenny left to go walk Charlie, and drive him to the doggie day care so he would be free to stay with me the next few days at the hospital. And I just enjoyed the time with my son. It wasn’t as I had planned it. But it was perfect because I had him…
Later the same night they took him off the CPAP, and I got to hold him with only one cord and one monitor..
It is only later that I have mourned the time I missed with my little baby, the first hours of his life that he spent without me, without me loving him, and wishing him happy birthday. Without me showering him with kisses, but with strange people prodding him, and changing him, and putting all sorts of electrodes on him. It’s only now that I look back and wish I could change that, and that I get angry that they wouldn’t let me go to him sooner..
But the birthing part, that part was perfect. And I would do it again. And hopefully I will..
I know this was a long post, and to those of you who read the whole thing, thank you for sharing my story with me. It was finally time to spill this one…