So, let’s just address the fact that I haven’t blogged in forever.
But we just had a baby!!! And that is totally reason enough to get my ass in gear and share a story. Prepare yourself: this’ll be a long one.
If you haven’t been hit yourself, you probably know someone that has this terrible flu that’s been going around. Well, I got it on the night of Christmas Eve, full term pregnant. It overtook me with chest pain, a horrendous cough and a spiked fever. After much stubborn arguing, I finally agreed to go to the ER early Christmas morning. After a bunch of tests, I was quickly hooked up to a fetal monitor and a uterus monitor. We learned that due to my fever, I was severely dehydrated which was causing baby’s heart rate to sky rocket to over 180 (should be around 140-160). I was hooked up to an IV drip and given medication to reduce my fever. I slept most of Christmas day with Trav by my side and was eventually released.
Thennn came Boxing Day. Again, I felt consumed by my fever. This time I was scared, knowing that last time baby’s heart rate was too high. So we went back to the ER and did the whole thing over again – with baby’s heart rate now over 190. Thankfully, the IV and medication brought it down and after a day in the hospital, I was released again.
The following day, December 27th, around 10 at night, I started to feel cramps. I went pee and noticed a little somethin’ somethin’ and thought, “Oh, I got my period!” A couple seconds ticked by as my baby brain started to comprehend, “Wait.. That can’t be..” I called for Trav and we both started to mildly freak out and all knowledge of what to do next left us both. We looked through my midwifery book and as per the instructions, we started timing my contractions. Realizing that they were far a part, I tried to sleep (note to all first time pregnant moms: ha, good luck sleeping knowing your baby is coming).
During the night I was texting my best friend, Meghan who was also my doula and she came over around 5 in the morning on December 28th – which just so happened to be my 28th birthday. My contractions started to become more intense so we moved to the living room so I could try positioning myself on the birthing ball. I spent the next few hours counting and breathing while Meghan encouraged me and relieved the pains in my back and Travis, on my other side, timed my contractions. My contractions became so repetitious that Trav would say, “Okay, in 3, 2, 1..” and on cue, an intense wave would hit.
We arrived at Peace Arch Hospital at 9 in the morning where my mom, my midwife Lisa and nurse Cherie joined my support team. I discovered that I was 4.5 cm dilated; now in active labour! I was moved into my delivery room and quickly learned that walking / moving into different labouring positions was hella painful. I opted to try the bathtub and OH.MY.GOSH. That changed everything. The warm water relieved so much pain and the dim lighting, my birthing playlist on repeat, Meghan encouraging me and the presence of my husband and mom all helped to calm me. Oh, and the laughing gas was pretty damn awesome, too. I spent what I think was hours in the tub. It was the only place I found some solace. Eventually though, the pain took me again. I remember crying out in fear of birth – thinking that if the contractions hurt this bad, how could I survive more? These types of thoughts took over and my desire for a positive attitude in birth disappeared as I cried out, “I can’t, I can’t. I’m done; I’m going home. Travis, you’re getting snipped.”
Eventually, I felt the need to push and knew I had to get out of the tub. Everyone helped me back into the bed and I was now 8.5 cm dilated. I was moved into different positions to try and help increase the labour process but the pain consumed me every time I moved even an inch. Everything hurt; on all fours, on my sides, stirrups, standing, all of it. I begged to lie on my back (although I knew it was not the best birthing position). I lay there and listened to Meghan’s positive affirmations and tuned every other noise / voice out and occasionally asked people to shut up so I could listen to Meghan. When the pain was too intense, my breathing naturally turned to hyperventilating and it took everything in me to listen to my nurse and Meg, and follow their slow breaths.
Then, it was time to actually push. My nurse made it clear that being on my back was going to make the birthing experience longer and more painful and asked me to turn onto my left side. I refused – in fear of the pain of that turning would cause. Eventually, I lost the argument and wound up on my side and I may have cursed.. A lot.
Pushing with the wave of each strong contraction was physically and mentally exhausting, especially while still being so sick and so weak. TMI, but whatevs, it’s my blog.. I was warned by several of my mommy friends that pushing feels like taking the biggest shit of your life. TRUTH. I remember thinking I was going to be on the news re: death by ass. Then she started crowning. And HOLY HELL, that must be what the Johnny Cash song, Ring of Fire is about. My mom and Trav saw it first. It was all so quick that my midwife didn’t even have time to grab gloves as her head came out.
At this point, I felt so spent, so weak. I had had enough. I cried out for an epidural but was obviously told that it was way too late. So I quit and I let everyone know it. I told my [amazing] team around me, “Nuh-uh, this ain’t gonna happen, you can all go home, I’m done.” And I meant it. Now at this stage, remember that only baby’s head is out so it was crucial that her neck come out and soon. That’s when I started hearing a chorus of everyone’s voices at once, “NO ASHLEY, YOU MUST PUSH. PUSH ASHLEY. DO IT. DON’T YOU DARE QUIT.” I was (irrationally) pissed off at everyone for this. So, after swearing at them, I thought to myself, “This is going to kill me. If that’s what you all want, fine.” And I pushed so damn hard, that she literally went ‘blerppp’ and fell out at 6:45pm.
She was immediately brought to me and I was so overcome with emotions (and shock) that I couldn’t talk, cry or even smile. It was so crazy to fathom that she’s real. That she’s here. And she’s ours. I was so incredibly weak and shaky, I could barely hold her. But it was beautiful to watch Trav with her. The big smile on his face as he kissed her and repeatedly whispered, “Daddy loves you.”
But then came.. the stitching. I won’t go into detail with that other than MOTHERBLEEPING, OW. (Oh, and if any pregnant mamas need advice on recovery care of your lady bits, holla at me cos I’m basically an expert now.)
So here we are, Atlas is 2 weeks old today!!! She is happy and healthy and now back at her birth weight of 7lbs 8oz. She is curled up on my new mama jelly belly right now in her little pink receiving blanket. And I just love her so much. I am so ridiculously thankful – for my incredible husband, my best friend / best doula, my supportive mama, my superhero midwife, my kick ass nurse and for my amazing birthday present; the love of my life, my little girl, Atlas Darling Schulz.
P.S. To all parents, parents-to-be, I cannot recommend this song enough. xo