Friday, October 22, 2010

Max's birth story

This is not the birth story that I thought I would write.  At least not the beginning of it.  Max was due on September 21, 2010.  This story begins on September 4, 2010.

Actually, September 3rd.  It was Friday evening, and I was home after what felt like the longest week of my life.  I had just started back at work, and the first week of school is always exhausting, never mind being 9 months pregnant.  I was not sleeping well at night because I had to get up and use the bathroom roughly every hour.  That was my one plight throughout my pregnancy.  When I got home from school on Friday, even though I was tired, I was anxious to get some baby stuff done.  We still hadn't built the pack n play which would be used as a bassinet on our main living level.  We didn't have a diaper bag.  We needed to rearrange some furniture.  I convinced Damien to take yet another trip with me to Babies R Us.  We only spent a little while there, but just long enough for Damien to point out that it might be one of our last trips out together, just the two of us, without a babysitter.  Oh, how right he was.

We spent the evening building the pack n play, moving furniture and watching my belly as it noticeably got harder every once in a while.  I was feeling a slight pain in my lower stomach, but since I was still 2 1/2 weeks away from my due date, I just chalked it up to Braxton Hicks contractions.

Saturday morning came early.  I was up by 7:30 and made pancakes.  Damien jokes that on the morning that I gave birth to Max, I made him breakfast in bed.  Well, I did.  After that, I cleaned like a madwoman.  The whole time, I was noticing the ever-present pain that was taking over my body.  It was dull enough not to be concerned, but strong enough to notice.  We went to my mother's house for a family lunch at noon.  I treated it like my last supper.  Throughout the lunch, the pain in my stomach was getting worse.  It was becoming clear to me that I was, in fact, having contractions.  I just was not sure as to whether or not they were real labor contractions.  The thing was, they almost seemed too strong and too close together to be the real thing.  I couldn't imagine that they would start out this severe.  Plus, my water hadn't broken and I wasn't due for another two and a half weeks.  As I was shoveling food into my mouth, my aunt did point out to me that if they were, in fact, actual labor contractions, that I may want to stop eating.  My reply was "uh huh" as I stuffed another forkful into my mouth.  Then another contraction rolled through my body and I broke down in tears.

I called my doctor's office, but being a Saturday, I got the answering service.  The doctor on call would get back to me within 15 minutes.  I continued to eat.  When the phone rang, I jumped up to talk to her, to tell her that I couldn't be in labor and to have her put my mind at ease.  She told me it was up to me whether or not I came in.  Looking back, had I known that I was in labor, I would have stayed home.  I would have labored more in the comfort of my (or my mother's) own home.  We decided to go in, just to get checked out, knowing full well that we would be home that evening.  Or so we thought.

I still hadn't packed our hospital bags.  The car seat still wasn't installed in the car.  We came home from my mother's, threw some things in a bag, and started out the door.  Then we remembered the car seat.  On the way to the hospital, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and each lasted over a minute.  But I could still talk through them.  I still wasn't convinced.

We got to the hospital at 2pm.  We were sent to triage and I was assessed.  I was 2 centimeters dilated.  I had seen my doctor that Tuesday and was 1 centimeter.  The doctor told me to get up, get moving to see whether or not I could could speed things along.  The next two hours were spent walking through the maternity ward of the hospital, stopping every two to three minutes to attempt to breath through what were slowly becoming the most powerful and painful (I am struggling here to come up with a word to even name what it was that I was feeling) pains that I have ever felt.  Nothing can describe the rolling sensation of each contraction as it begins with a dull ache and then builds and builds and build until it peaks by encompassing every inch of your body and then finally releases, only to start again within minutes.  By this time, I could no longer talk through the contractions.  I could only breath, short deliberate breaths, concentrating on getting through it until the next one hit.

Two hours later, I was assessed again.  I was still 2 centimeters.  At this point, I was given a choice.  I could stay or I could go home and labor at home until either my water broke or until I was having contractions that were more severe and closer together than the ones I was having.  Now I know that I was new to all of this, but I questioned the doctor at this point.  My contractions were 2 to 3 minutes apart, lasting an average of 45 seconds to 1 minute and I could barely breath through them, never mind talk through them.  I knew it was going to get more intense but I couldn't imagine that what I was experiencing wasn't grounds for admittance.  And then I remember Damien asking a question.  It was the question that was on both of our minds since we first realized that I might be in labor.  He said, "What are the chances that he will be born within the next 24 hours?" to which neither the nurse nor the doctor could answer.  He then followed it with, "because I am a wedding photographer, and I have a wedding tomorrow..."  And then I burst into tears.

When Damien booked the wedding for Sept 5, neither one of us really thought that we had much to worry about.  We never imagined Max would come early, especially not that early.  He did have a wedding booked for the following weekend, but he was smart and hired a backup photographer, just in case.  Just in case Max did come early and he had to miss the wedding.  I'll never forget sitting on that hospital bed, tears running down my face, repeating over and over again, "He can't miss this; he has to be here when Max is born."  The reality of it was that he would have to miss it.  He did have to leave and do that wedding.  We both knew that.  All we could do was hope that Max got there before he had to leave.

I think both the doctor and the nurse felt sorry for us, because they both started to rally around us, telling us to stay in the hospital, really get moving, and try and get Max here as soon as possible.  We spent 2 more hours, walking, stopping, breathing, and then walking again.  I was still in triage, still not sure as to whether or not we would be having our baby that weekend or not.  At 6pm, I was checked again.  I was 4 centimeters!  Max was on his way.

We made a few phone calls, letting our families know what was going on, and then we were in our room.  I labored for another hour and a half and then I broke.  I had wanted to have a medicine-free, natural birth.  I really wanted that.  But I was so beaten down at that point.  I wasn't mentally prepared for the pain, or even for having Max then, and I broke down.  I had the epidural at 7:30pm.  After that, things did get so much easier.  I could still feel the contractions a bit on my right side, but nothing like they had felt.  Soon after, I started getting the urge to push.  I don't remember how much time had passed.  It suddenly felt as though a balloon had popped inside of me and I realized that my water had broken.  My mom and Damien's mom decided to leave the room, to let Damien and me be alone, together, as we welcomed Max into the world.  I started pushing shortly before 11pm.  He was born at 11:11pm.  I pushed for 17 minutes and then he was there.  He was put onto my chest right away, and Damien and I just sat there and stared at him.  He was blueish.  He had a cone shaped head.  He was tiny.  But he was ours.  He was perfect.  Neither one of us cried; I think we were both still in disbelief over the fact that our son was now here with us.  They finally took him off of me, and another hour or so later, they were done tending to him and to me, and we had our moms come back in.  And then Damien and I both started to cry.

Max, some day, you will be old enough to read this.  You will be able to know every detail of the day you were born.  You will know that both your father and I were scared, we were nervous but we were so happy and excited to have you.  If you remember nothing else, please remember that you were brought into the world on the most perfect fall day, by two people who couldn't love you any more than we do. This may not be the birth story that I thought I would write, but it is yours and for that reason, it is perfect.


  1. i just cried reading this even though you told me the story already! i love you guys and i love max! he is so perfect and so loved!

  2. So sweet! I am glad you wrote it all down. I am going to do it today for Wesley!

  3. you are such a good writer. i have a tear in my eye. i have to admit im jealous you only pushed 17 minutes as compared to my 2 1/2 hours. haha still cant wait to meet him and Nikita still has that runny nose. see you next weekend though!!

  4. I'm with Jamie. Even though I already heard the story I still LOVED reading it!

  5. just reading all this brings back memories.. i still can';t believe that mrs.clarke (still in my eyes) lol , is married and welcomed a baby boy , and your stories as motherhood and pictures are loving and touching !! , i cannot wait for my little man to arrive as well , and my story might be different than yours ;-) ... you survived and did it momma! he's got a special mother , love you and take care of the family!! btw i loved the story and he will one day tooo!!


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