My Sweet Poppy,
Here I am with only one week left until your first birthday, and I’m finally sitting down to write your birth story. It’s not that this is something I haven’t thought about. Trust me, I’ve thought about it literally every single day. I always knew that the story of how you came into this world was something that I wanted to spend time capturing, so we would never ever forget a single detail. I think how I feel about your birth and how I feel about being your mom is so overwhelming that it’s been hard to actually sit down and do it. Your birth is the single most monumental event in my life and always will be. Here it goes...
Poppy, you were due on November 12, 2016. In the weeks leading up to your due date, I was so incredibly ready to meet you. In case your dad hasn’t told you, I'm not a very patient person, especially when it comes to presents. And seeing as how you are my most precious gift, this was no different, yet far more intense.
By 37 weeks, I was on the ‘I could technically have a baby any time now’ train. And even though everyone told me to count all the way to 40 weeks, I just KNEW you’d be coming early…just as much as I KNEW you’d be coming late. Can you see how crazy I must have driven your dad leading up to your birthday?
So as 40 weeks was approaching, I naturally was doing all the things to help you make your entrance to the world. Eating a TON of spicy food and pineapple, taking evening primrose oil, walking, sitting on the birth ball. All the things. Even though I knew none of those things were actually supposed to work. You were going to come when you were ready.
In the couple of days leading up to your due date, which was on a Saturday, I started feeling some contraction-like pains. I remember telling your dad, ‘I just know things are starting to happen! (I had also been searching for my mucus plug for weeks by this time. I decided that ‘losing’ my mucus plug was probably never going to happen, because I was trying to FIND mine! I never did…)
Your due date came and went, so you can imagine how crazy it was making me, your impatient mother. That Sunday night, the day after your due date, I found myself doing figure eights on a birth ball in the family room, and I am absolutely convinced that is what started to make things happen. You see, when I got up to pee for the 10,000th time that night, right around midnight, I went to get back into bed and felt something wet leak out. Now, I knew that my water could break…but when it actually happened, it was like I had no idea what was actually happening. I went back into the bathroom, turned on the light, looked at my purple underwear and saw that they were wet. I then immediately called out to your dad to come look.
‘I think my water just broke. What do you think?’ I showed him my underwear. He replied, ‘It’s wet. I don’t know what I’m looking at.’ Shocker.
I knew that at this point there wasn’t much to do but go back to bed, so I got back in bed and tried to sleep…unsuccessfully…for 30 minutes…until contractions started! I was so excited that this was actually happening! Needless to say, I don’t think we did much resting. But we did lie in the bed until around 2am when I decided to call our Midwife. She told us to check in in the morning.
That morning, instead of going to work, we knew it was the day we were going to welcome our baby! We got up and went for a walk at 8am. By this time, your dad was timing my contractions, and I remember slowing down and oohing and aahing a bit with each one. Looking back I can’t help but laugh at myself for thinking this was the real deal.
We went to see the Midwife at 1pm to do a non stress test to make sure you were doing ok and to get a prescription for a birth cocktail from the local herb shop. Since my water had 'broken' we had a more limited amount of time before you had to be born, so we decided to try to speed things along a bit. Your non stress test went beautifully, by the way, and the midwife later told me that she thought I was around 4cm by then.
So we got the birth cocktail and picked up my long awaited Italian hoagie on the way home, which I had been waiting for and talking about for nine months. The birth cocktail was gross—think essential oils, ginger ale, and almond butter all together. I drank it quickly, practically inhaled my hoagie, and got in bed with your dad to rest. We may have dozed off for a minute or two, but in under an hour, my contractions were starting to become no joke. I couldn’t stay in the bed anymore, so I started pacing. This was around 4pm.
Your dad started timing my contractions again, and they were quickly getting to less than 5 minutes apart and lasting for 1 minute. I walked back and forth across our bedroom, pausing at the end of the bed, holding on to the footboard, moaning at the top of my lungs. I don't think I could recreate those noises now even if I wanted to. Your dad sort of just hung out over on his side of the room, standing with his watch. At one point I tried sitting backwards on the toilet and quickly decided that wasn’t happening. The birth ball was up next, and I hated that even more.
As I was sitting on the birth ball, leaning into my side of the bed, your dad decided it was the optimal time to give me a present. A present I obviously did not know existed, or I probably would have nagged it out of him like I did my engagement ring, but that story is for another time.
I can’t remember what he said when he presented me with this gift, but he opened a small ring box with a gorgeous filigree diamond band. It was the sweetest gesture, and I love him for being so thoughtful. However, I only got to ooh and ahh over it for 2 minutes or so before I had to hand it back to him to get through the next contraction. That, and my fingers were so swollen that I couldn’t wear any of my rings, so right back in the box it went, and right back to focusing on labor I went.
At one point, we talked to the midwife, and she told us that it was time to come to the hospital when I started turning inward and not being able to focus on anything but the contractions between the contractions. What I didn’t know then was that that time was coming FAST.
I resumed my walking back and forth, having the most knee shakingly, hand twichingly, body meltingly intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life. And yet, looking back, it was the best pain of my life, because it meant we were close to meeting you. I’d hit the peak of my contractions in the doorways of our closets, holding on, because my knees were buckling. And then I made it to my closet one final time, and with that contraction, I literally felt my body open and you drop down. I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. It is the single most vivid image I have and the thing my mind instantly goes to when I think about your birth.
I knew right then it was time to go to the hospital, because you were on your way. It was 6:45 when we made this call. NOT EVEN 2 HOURS after I started active labor. You crazy lady.
So after having one knee buckling contraction in the driveway, making a comment about how the neighbors were probably wondering what the hell was going on at our house, we got into the car. Your dad in the driver’s seat for the most nerve-wracking drive of his life, and me on all fours over the car seat, face in a pillow, in the back seat for the most unforgettable ride of my life. Now, when I say my face was in a pillow, this is important, because after what felt like an eternity, I asked your dad if we were almost there, to which he replied, ‘yep, almost there.’ Then, as I looked up, I saw the McDonalds on Hull Street.
This means that on your birthday, your dad was a liar. McDonalds on Hull Street is approximately 2 miles from our house. Seeing as how it was 7pm on a Monday night and raining, traffic was awful, and we had been stopped for most of the ride. I clearly had no idea, because I was too busy trying to stop pushing.
‘My body is pushing!” I grunted. Your dad immediately freaked out and said, ‘don’t push, don’t push!’ To which I replied, ‘I can’t help it! My body is just doing it!” (Insert another pushy grunt) Crazy.
After a white knuckled rest of the drive to the hospital, we squealed into a handicap spot, got out of the car (which was super difficult), put my shoes on, and waddled up to labor and delivery. I remember having one crazy loud contraction on the way in. In front of random strangers. ha.
They knew we were coming, so we walked straight back as soon as we got there. Once inside the delivery room, it wasn’t 5 minutes before my pants came off, I got on all fours on the bed, and my midwife told us I was 8 centimeters with a bulging bag of water. (Which means my water never actually broke; it was just a ‘high tear’). So I gave one push, released the tsunami, and BAM—10 centimeters.
And just as soon as that happened, all of the pain went away. I felt the urge to push with contractions, but the contractions didn’t hurt anymore. This is where things start to feel out of control to me, because I was no longer laboring on my own, in my house.
There were lots of nurses in the room, holding monitors on my belly, telling me to lay on my side, putting a peanut ball in between my legs, and then telling me to get on my back and push. All of that went by as fast as I’m writing it. It felt frantic and out of control. Your dad was putting wet compresses on my forehead, and I was breathing oxygen at times to keep your heart rate up.
When our Midwife started to see your head, she told us we were having a bald baby, which made your dad and I very confused. We both have a lot of hair, so clearly you could not be bald! I could see your head start to come into view in a mirror as I pushed. Turns out you weren't bald at all. Side note, your dad did not look in that mirror. Not even once.
And then you were crowning. I said the F word, looked up in horror, and was told this was normal. Holy stinging! And then it was just like that that you were here! Head first then the rest of you all at once. You were born at 8:25 pm. Less than 1.5 hours after we got to the hospital. Less than 5 hours after starting active labor.
You were gently plopped up on my chest for only a minute before you were taken over to the baby warmer where the nurses had to help you breathe. Your cord was wrapped around your neck and you were having trouble getting started on your own. Your dad went over to be close to you. I remember saying I was scared, but I didn’t actually feel scared because of all of the adrenaline rushing through my body. I was shaking uncontrollably.
Within minutes you were crying and back on my chest. Your dad was standing right over us, and he was crying. You were the most amazing thing we had ever seen. You were real. And you were ours. And you are the best thing that ever happened to us.
Thank you, sweet Poppy, for opening my eyes to the enormous responsibility of being my own advocate. Thank you for teaching me that creating a vision for my birth right from the start, when everyone told me it was strange/pointless/would-never-go-as-planned, would be one of the most important things I’ve ever done. Thank you for igniting the all-things-birth, babies and mamas spark that has radically shifted my view of the world. This is a Poppy colored spark, and it’s all because of how monumentally significant your birth story is to me. You have absolutely changed everything about my life. And I will be forever grateful.
Lauren Patterson is a professional Birth Doula, currently certifying through toLabor. After the birth of her daughter, she felt an intense internal pull towards doing birth work. She is captivated by this profession and has a strong belief that prenatal education and a supportive birth team are the building blocks to a positive birth experience. Lauren is committed to providing care that is unique to her clients and the way that they wish to birth, whatever way that may be. She believes the importance of a family's birth experience is monumental and lasts a lifetime. For more information or to contact Lauren, visit www.lpdoula.com