December 28, 2020
I’ve seen birth before…many times…in all kinds of ways. I knew how I wanted my birth to go but had to expect that I would have to let go of all of my expectations. My due date was July 13th. On July 14th, I went to what would have been my last Non Stress Test appointment. I left the appointment around 11am feeling a little crampy with some pain in my lower back. I shrugged it off as early early early labor signs and went over to my grandmas for lunch. She was making me my favorite middle eastern meal. Bamia(Okra) and Rice. She told me earlier that week that I should “Come over for lunch, have Bamia and then have the baby” and that’s exactly what happened.
While I was at my grandmas house the cramps were getting a teeny bit stronger and I was feeling a little more sleepy and fatigued. But I was so happy that my last meal before hospital food was delicious. I went home and the cramping continued. Joe came home late that day around 5 o’clock and I’ll never forget what he said to me. He comes home and says, “Are you feeling better?”. This was after I had told him earlier that I thought maybe I was in labor.
By sundown I was in labor. Back labor. I felt constant pain in my lower back…all night long. It worsened with contractions but there never was any relief in between. I made deep, low pitched sounds in every contraction. To me, making those cow like mooing sounds helped. They are such unnatural sounds that it helped distract my brain from the pain. I wasn’t sure what stage of labor I was in all night because my contractions were all over the place. I had an app on my phone that timed them and they were 5, 3, 6, 2, 1, 15 minutes apart. There was never a consistent pattern. By the time the sun came up I was thrilled. I was so happy to see the sun rising because it meant time was passing and I was getting closer.
By 8am Joe recommended that we go to the hospital. I could barely speak to him through the pain, but I could walk around and think clearly. I had about 4-5 contractions in the car on the way to UCSD La Jolla and a few more in the waiting room. As soon as we got into the room where we were seen by my midwife Amanda, I lost my mucus plug. She checked my cervix and this is how the conversation went.
“Do you wanna know how far along you are”-Amanda
“Am I at like 2? -Me
“You’re at 7cm”-Amanda
“What the F*#$ really?”-Frankie
She asked me if I wanted an epidural and I said, “I’m already at 7, let’s do this”. I wanted to go unmedicated from the beginning but was giving myself permission to change my mind. Amanda was so supportive and gave me the words of encouragement that I could have a unmedicated birth.
Labor continued and by 12 I only progressed to 8.5. The baby’s head was turned to the side blocking my water from breaking. Amanda suggested a spinning babies technique to help turn her head. I laid on the edge of the bed and during 10 contractions I rolled my left leg over my hip until the contraction was over. It worked. Her head turned and my water continued to break after that. The pressure of the contractions intensified from there on out.
By 2 Amanda wanted me to empty my bladder and as I got up off the birthing ball she asked me to stop so she could check me once more. This is how that conversation went.
“Uhh you’re not gonna go pee because I can see your baby’s head”-Amanda
“Omg what, really?”-Frankie
“Where do you want to deliver, the bed?” -Amanda
“The counter is fine”-Frankie
I knew I wanted to deliver standing or squatting. I did not want to be restricted on my back. I took a few steps and leaned over the counter. They gave me a pillow for cushion and began to get everything ready.
I pushed for 45 minutes. It hurt like a mother. I screamed, I grunted. I was encouraged, loved and I tried with everything I had.
After 45 minutes of intense pressure, contractions and pushing our girl was born. Joe was the one to tell me that we had a little girl. I couldn’t believe it.
Berlin screamed and screamed for what seemed like forever, but once I started feeding her she was happy. There was so much hustle and bustle after she was born, Nurses in and out, an IV in my arm with Pitocin to stop my heavy bleeding. My eyes were so fuzzy for what felt like forever. I don’t know if it was shock, exhaustion, my body adjusting to birth or what but my vision didn’t come back clearly for a long while.
Joe cut the cord, even though I knew he was grossed out about the whole thing. I even made him take his shirt off with all the midwives and nurses in the room so he could do skin to skin with Berlin. We didn’t want to stay in the hospital for the 2 extra days so we brought her home the next day in the afternoon. Berlin was perfectly healthy and we couldn’t believe we had a little girl of our own. I sat in the backseat while we drove home, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She slept and we stared at her, we held her close and cherished every moment, even the frustrating ones, even the hard ones, the exhausted moments were still good.
The first days were an absolute blur, we didn’t know what day or time it was, we were just trying to survive. Berlin was alert from day one, she didn’t want to miss a single thing and still doesn’t. My body recovered within weeks and nursing has been going well, even with thrush and a persistent milk blister! I didn’t love breastfeeding at first. It was hard adjusting to sitting and not doing things myself like I used to. Joe brought me all my meals, tea every morning and has been an incredible partner to raise our girl. I could not have done it without him. We’re still figuring things out, Berlin definitely keeps us on our toes, but we love her to pieces and are excited to watch her grown into one fiesty chick.