Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Preemie Birthing story: Bernadette's entrance into this world

It was a sunday and we went to get breakfast tacos, as every good Austinite does on sunday morning.  However your father and I will always joke that it was these breakfast tacos that brought you into this world. You see I am a particular person, especially so when pregnant (we've decided that if I ever write a memoir it should be titled 'I have this thing...'  good title, yeah?)  Anyways, I do. I have this thing, a thing where I believe each breakfast taco should be individually wrapped in aluminum foil, that way they stay warm for as long as possible. Well, needless to say that these breakfast tacos were not individually wrapped, so by the time I got to the second one it was cold.  Perhaps this is no big deal to the average person, but to the 33 week pregnant person, this is a catastrophe. It didn't help anything that after the taco catastrophe there was a donut fiasco (I won't go into details, but i'll just tell you it had something to do vegan donuts not being all that East Austin makes them out to be).
Ok, so I actually didn't go into labor until about 5 hours after this, but your father will joke that you came into this world to kick ass and teach people how breakfast tacos are supposed to be served.  Saying things like this made me laugh, which was very needed in the days following your birth.  Because as happy as we were to meet you, we were planning on meeting a much chubbier you.

It was 4 o'clock, Monsters Inc was on, your big brother was playing with toys in the living room and your papa was reading on the iPad.  I was partaking in my favorite pregnancy pastime, cleaning the kitchen.  Then they started, the cramping. I wasn't too worried, I had noticed many strong braxtonhicks this pregnancy.  However after a few contractions I realized I should probably lay down and get out a clock. For the next hour they stayed 7 minutes apart. I emailed the midwives saying I'm sure it was no big deal, but that if they thought they needed to, to please call me.  After 5 minutes I changed my mind and just called them.  Julia didn't sound too worried, but said I needed to "get in the bath with a glass of wine and not in five minutes, do it NOW."
One would think with this being my second kid that I would recognize this as active labor. But not only was I only 33 weeks pregnant, but it was very different from your brother's labor.  Where as yours was a healthy 'normal' labor, starting slowly then each contraction getting more and more intense, Redding's labor was rough right from the beginning.  There was no buildup, my first contraction with him was as strong as the last (and the last few with you).

I get in the bath and immediately the contraction subside a bit, I explain to your father not to worry, that I'm fine and I want him to take Redding and go to the store to pick up some crampbark.  Although I should've known it was the real-deal, because in the next sentence I started crying "I just want my mom," I sobbed (which you should know is exactly what I said after a couple contractions into Redding's labor). He foolishly trusts my judgement despite this, and takes Redding to the store.  While they were gone I remember giving you a little pep talk.  In my memory I told you how much I love you and how excited I was to meet you.  However, in reality I might have just begged you over and over again to please stay-put for a while longer.
After getting out of the tub everything happened quickly.  I think reality hit when I fell onto the bed, looked at the clock and saw my contractions were a minute and a half apart, lasting for 40 seconds each.  Oh, I realized, this is serious. I called the midwife and she agreed, it was serious (and also very kindly scolded me for sending john out to the store).  With nothing to do but wait for john and my midwife laurie (who was coming to check my dilation), I decided to start a movie.  And do you know what movie I started my love? It cracks me up now, because it is definitely not a relaxing movie (although it's one of our favorites). I started the fugitive.

Your father got home and I think turned on yogabbgabba for your brother to watch.  This is where the labor got bad. I was entering transition, but mostly I think because I became filled with fear.  I was terrified at the thought of you coming so early and somehow, even more terrifying, was the thought of getting us all to the hospital.
At this point, the story becomes filled with bodily fluids.  I'll just say i labored on the toilet not letting your father leave my side (but, not letting him face me either).  You see thats how scary the pain of contractions are.  You would rather someone hold your hand while pooping then be alone.  So your papa held my hand (or rather let me hold onto his forearm). At some point around this time I also threw up (par for the course m'dear, at least this time it wasn't all down the hallway, like with your brother).

It must've been getting rid of all of those extra fluids, because a calmness took over me.  Your father was frantically trying to keep Redding and Bronson out of the bathroom where I was laboring.  I said "John" (in the calmest, coolest voice you could imagine) "look in my closet, get the black cotton dress that is the farthest to the right and bring it to me.  Then I need you to put Bronson in his kennel and get Redding into his carseat, we have to go."  I think he said something about the midwife being on her way, and I in just the same voice told him we didn't have time for the midwife that we had to go now.  You see, I felt the pressure (on my ass). And if you've been in labor before you know that means the baby is coming,  there is no stopping it now.
Luckily Laurie walked in at this moment, she needed less then a half a second to check my dilation before she said that we needed to get in the car ... now (I was fully dilated, she told me later).  We walked to her car, having to stop for two contractions on the way (I wonder what our neighbors thought!? Your mama is not a quiet person!)
I was so lucky to have her there, she called the hospital while we were on our way and set it up so that my room, equipped with NICU nurses and Dr, were waiting for us.  BUT oh man honey, she took 38th st. to get there, which 1). Isn't the fastest way from our house and 2). has like a MILLION roadhumps. I asked her on the way what was going to happen to you, reminding her I was only 33.5 weeks, she said happily (because midwives are always happy, aren't they?) "Oh! almost 34 weeks! She'll be just fine, she might have to stay in the hospital a while, but she will totally fine".  This was all I needed to hear, my body relaxed and the terrifying part of labor was over.  She did tell me later that I was repeating over and over again 'it's going to be ok, you're going to be ok' (and of course, it was. and you are).
Once in the hospital my contractions slowed down, I was able to relax and practice my hypnobirthing (so much so, that the NICU Dr told your father it was probably just a false alarm and I'd be sent home soon! HA!  Little did he know, Your mother is a birthing CHAMP! making the hardest work a person can do look like sleep!)

Your father was holding Redding standing in the corner of the room, I was holding Laurie's hand with another wonderful nurse by my other side.  The OBGYN finally came in and said it was time to roll over on my back (I think I said 'no' at first), but like Drs and hospitals often do, they made it feel like an emergency to get you out quickly.  I visualized a documentary I'd seen where the woman had to roll over ... after the baby's head was already out of her! I figured if she could do that, then I could too! I rolled onto my back AND because of the pressure, on my next contraction my water broke. It was just like all the movies! It splashed out of me spraying the Dr.s face!!! (Seeing him around the hospital over the next month, I found it hard to look him in the eye. You know, the eyes that got my amniotic fluid in them ...)
They said, on the next contraction I need you to push.  And I think I argued again 'I'm not going to push unless my body pushes,' but lucky for them (or me?) it did.  As soon as I felt the push I called (screamed) 'John!' and he came over.  I didn't need him, really.  But I just treasure so dearly the memory of looking into his eyes while Redding was being delivered, I couldn't bare to not be looking into his eyes with you too. Luckily a nurse went to Redding (although it didn't help much, he was screaming and crying).
Oh honey, you were born in one contraction, three pushes.  I know that won't mean much to you unless you have children some day.  But I think that just shows how small you were (and how awesome we were at birth!).
It was a beautiful labor. It really was. And if it weren't for that bit of time at home that was filled with fear, it would've been completely relaxing and enjoyable.  It it amazing to me how much easier the second time is. My body was more peaceful and more relaxed.  I kept on repeating to myself three things: drop your shoulders, open your hands and relax your jaw.  These things are key to relaxing: anyone out there getting ready for childbirth! take note! I also would let the room get fuzzy, focusing only on my chipped red nail polish (I actually remember thinking, you should tell her about this some day).
Your labor was less then four hours, start to finish.  We were in the hospital 15 minutes when you were born. It was short and sweet, easy on my body and my mind.

I don't want you to ever think that because you weren't born at home your birth wasn't as special to me as your brothers was.  My labor and delivery with you was perfect and in many ways far better than his.  What matters to me more than the location, is that I was able to have two healthy, natural and vaginal births.

I'm ending the birthing story here.  I love you my little bird and your entry into this world is a truly beautiful memory to me, which is why I want to keep it separated from everything that followed in the next month.
I love you,
your very doting mama

This is your first picture, taken before even I got to see you.  You were so small. 4lbs 15oz & 16.5"
This picture was taken 24 hours before I went into labor with you


  1. Just beautiful

  2. Love this post.

  3. I love birth stories and was waiting for this one! It's a beautiful story and I love how you wrote it "to her". I had the birth experience that didn't go AT ALL how I wanted/expected. (emergency C after laboring for 10 hours....) Very dramatic, but in the end, all are healthy. I'm glad she's here!

    1. I'm so sorry that's how it happened to you. You know my mom said recently that know matter how our births go, it's never how it was expected. It takes time to accept it and grow from it, doesn't it? But having a healthy little baby sure does help the process along. <3

  4. OMG, Andrea, thank you for sharing your experience. It made me laugh at times but mostly I was reading it through very misty eyes. It really is incredible being able to follow your story, you're such a remarkable human being. x

    1. thank you so much, that's so sweet. It's hard sharing stories and feeling so vulnerable, so it means so much to have your encouraging words.

  5. Thank you for sharing this amazing story!

    1. thank YOU for reading it and commenting. I really REALLY do appreciate the support

  6. This is a truly amazing story. I want you to know that I have been reading your posts for a while now, and after reading this post, I can say that I just adore you. Your strength, Your wisdom. Everything. You are an inspiration. my 10 month old daughter had a NICU stay, so a lot of what you said hit home for me. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

    1. thank you bree! I'm so sorry your little one stayed in the hospital too. It just sucks doesn't it? that's the bottom line. BUT, 10 months!? she's probably chunky and crawling now, huh? so so sweet. It's strange to look at them and remember how small they once were. <3