Pregnancy & Birth: A Journey Full of Surprises.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was over the moon! At over 11 weeks, I was also nearly through the entire first trimester of my pregnancy. I had spent more than 10 years on the pill and when I came off, my cycles were completely out of whack. There was nothing regular about them. They varied from 45 to 60 days, and I was convinced I wasn’t ovulating.
After six months of “trying―and a hell of a lot of research―I went to the doctor and demanded a prescription for Clomid. The doctor gave me a pregnancy test, which was of course negative, and told me to come back when I had my period.
That period never came.
Test Positive: Pregnant at Last
Fast forward 12 weeks or so, and I was having the longest cycle I’d ever had. I was sure there was something fundamentally wrong with my body. I’d been tracking my basal body temperature for over a month without a single ovulation spike to be found on any of the tracking sheets I was keeping. So I decided to make an appointment with a different doctor because fuck that first one for not listening to me.
The first thing the new doctor had me do was take a pregnancy test.
I yammered on and on about how she should save her money because there’s no way I could be pregnant. She looked like the Cheshire Cat when she walked back into the exam room, and I can honestly say I’ve never cursed so much in my life. I’d have made a sailor blush.
I went into that office unsure if I’d be able to conceive, only to be told my dream of becoming a mother was a reality! And then reality set in bringing my string of profanity to a halt.“We just hosted a pub crawl and I blew the highest number on the breathalyzer! Is my baby going to be ok?” I asked.
I found a midwife I loved who delivered at the hospital, which I also loved. All seemed to be progressing smoothly with my pregnancy until we discovered that I’m a recessive carrier of cystic fibrosis, which was a scare until we ruled my husband Tim out as a carrier and were reassured our baby was safe from the condition. After that my pregnancy remained low-key, and I was excited to meet our daughter, Parker Donan.
About five months into my pregnancy, the startup Tim worked for was acquired by a tech company in the Bay Area. We were sworn to secrecy until an official announcement was made. I could not tell my family that we were moving thousands of miles away from them in Florida, where we had been living, to California where I would complete my pregnancy and have our baby and to build a life.
We were moving away from the people I loved most, away from my support system…I felt out of control.
We left Florida on the last day I was cleared to fly. With our house sold we moved into a duplex on the other side of the country when I was seven months pregnant.
An Early Arrival
I went into labor three weeks early to the day.
Parker was born on the first day I was “term”. My water broke late the night before.
For the entire two weeks of my pregnancy, before I had Parker, I’d been having periodic contractions that felt like period cramps. They came in succession and increased in length and frequency during each episode… then they’d stop.
I told my new doctor about them at my regular pregnancy checkup, and she said they were Braxton Hicks and that Parker would come on time. I didn’t agree with her because they didn’t feel like what I’d read Braxton Hicks contractions should feel like.
The day Parker was born, Tim was supposed to catch a plane to Vegas for his new employer’s annual party. If my water had broken even 12 hours later, Tim would have missed Parker’s birth. During what turned out to be my last visit with the OB, my doctor swore everything looked good with my pregnancy, that I should have my baby on schedule, and that Tim was clear to go on his trip.
Parker arrived a week later.
My water broke at 10 p.m. while Tim was at a hookah bar with his best friend, Alex. I’d just gotten ready for bed and was about to crawl under the covers when I thought I peed my pants a little.
I thought to myself, “Great. On top of everything else, now this pregnancy has taken my dignity. I can’t even control my bladder, and I need to wear fucking diapers.”
So, I went to the bathroom and tried to pee again and changed my undies. When I crawled back into bed, I peed my pants a little bit again. Fuck! What the fuck is wrong with me?! I wondered. I headed back to the toilet and tried to pee again.
As I stood up to get more undies, I peed myself a third time. Freaked out, I called Tim. This conversation went like this:
“Tim! I’ve either peed myself three times or my water just fucking broke! Either way, there’s definitely something wrong with me and you have to come home now!” <CRYING> “I can’t have this baby! I’m not ready! I still have stuff at work to finish and the nursery isn’t even set up!”
We didn’t have anything washed or ready for the baby to wear, my bag was not packed for the hospital, her room was not set up. So, I spent about three hours after my water broke getting ready to go to the hospital.
I took a shower and shaved my legs and washed my hair and packed my bag. We cut all the tags off the newborn clothes and started the laundry. Tim sat here, twiddling his thumbs and asking, “Are you ready yet?!”
I didn’t want to go because I was afraid they were going to make me stay, and I wanted to labor at home and go in at the last minute.
Which is basically what happened.
Quite a Ride
Tim had just bought a VW GTI because his ’84 Jeep CJ7 was not “baby-friendly.” By 1 a.m. he was begging me to let him speed to the hospital on the 101. Finally, I said, “Fine, but I want to arrive alive, not dead, so be smart, dammit.”
When we got off the freeway, there was a roadblock and the street was full of cops. Tim was as giddy as a school boy when he pulled up to the police and shouted, “You’ve got to let me through! My wife is in labor!”
Not so giddily, the cop replied, “Sorry, a building exploded and you’re going to have to take the detour. No one gets through here.”
Tim was disappointed, but not for long because two patrol cars rolled up beside us and signaled for us to follow them. Throwing on their lights and sirens, we got a police escort to the hospital. My husband was stoked!
When we left for the hospital, the contractions were strong enough to give me pause when I was walking, but I could talk through them no problem. They progressed quickly though. Once at the hospital, the medical team actually had to slow my contractions down because I was ready to deliver before the doctor had arrived. My labor lasted just under nine hours from start to finish and would have been quicker had the doctor come when the nurses asked her to.
The labor wasn’t difficult until about four hours in. My water broke at 10 p.m., we arrived at the hospital around 1 a,m., and I had the epidural between 2:30 and 3 a.m. I went in with the mindset that I was going to last as long as I could naturally, and if that took me through delivery, awesome. If it didn’t, that would be ok too.
I got an epidural at 8 cm.
Once I was checked in, they put me in a bed and checked the baby’s vitals. Near the end of the checkup, I felt a sudden and urgent need to walk (this is around 2 or 2:30 am). It didn’t matter what they were doing. They had to finish right then because, by God, I was getting out of that bed and walking.
Tim and I walked down the hall to the snack machine. I had to pause during contractions, but I could talk and joke with Tim. On the way back, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to walk between the contractions, and I was cursing like a sailor under my breath.
When we got back to the room, I felt like I needed to poop. I was so terrified that I was going to poop during labor.
Fantastic! I thought I have to poop! This is great! Now, I won’t poop when I have the baby!
So I told Tim, “I have to poop. You’re coming with me.”
We closed the door to the room, Tim sat on the edge of the tub, and I can’t remember if I pooped, but that’s not really the point. The point is that the contractions were so strong and frequent that I couldn’t form words anymore to express myself, and I was bleeding. Everywhere.
As soon as I sat down, Parker was like,“Yes! I’m ready! Let me out of here!”
The rooms are sound-proof, but the nurses could still hear my moans and screams down the hall from their station. They sent a nurse running to see if I was ok. I went from being totally fine just strolling down the hall to trying to poop Parker out on the toilet while screaming like a dying cow in a matter of 15 minutes.
When the nurse came in and found me on the toilet, she said, “We need to get you in that bed. The baby is coming. I’m going to call your doctor.”
As Tim was helping me across the room to the bed, I shouted at the nurse, “Get me an epidural!”
It was all really comical, but you should know that there are a good 20 minutes between when the pain is bad enough that you’d give your left arm for an epidural, and when you actually get an epidural. I had no idea I’d have to wait so long.
I yelled, “Where’s the anesthesiologist?! What is taking so long?! I thought this was immediate!” I was cursing like a sailor again. Just strings of profanity flying out of my mouth. I was also breaking Tim’s fingers.
This is what my active labor felt like: My only focus was getting through the pain of the contractions, and the contractions were practically one on top of the other. There was barely a break in between to catch my breath.
Through all of this, I was trying to sit, but mostly just leaning on the bed, and Tim and the nurse were in front of me watching the monitors and telling me when the contractions were ending. I cussed out the nurse and then apologized for way more than I’d like to admit.
In fact, I continuously apologized to everyone for everything. The nurses all just laughed at me… Apparently, this behavior is normal.
The main reason I wanted to wait for an epidural is because I didn’t want to have to take Pitocin. I’d learned that epidurals slow your labor down, and Pitocin speeds your labor up. So, if you get an epidural too early, you’ll also get Pitocin to counteract the epidural. The problem with Pitocin is that it makes your contractions really frequent and really, really strong. Contractions like that can put your baby in distress which, can lead to a c-section. I definitely didn’t want a c-section. The only way I could see to avoid that was to not get an epidural, or not get an epidural until I was in active labor. So, I planned to “go as far as I could go” before asking for one. I counted on the fact that I could get to active labor first, and I did.
The Big Surprise
When I finally got the epidural, they turned it up super high to slow down my labor because my doctor was nowhere near the hospital. We ended up just sitting there for an hour waiting on her. I was annoyed but so relieved that the pain was gone.
During this time, I played on Facebook and called my boss to tell him I wouldn’t be at work that day. It was nearly 4:30 a.m., but I was so jazzed up that I couldn’t sleep. And I told Tim he wasn’t allowed to sleep if I couldn’t, because we needed to experience the birth together!
When the nurses knew the doctor was on the way, we dialed down the epidural and I started pushing. Then, we waited again because the nurse could see Parker’s head. When the doctor finally got there, it didn’t take long before Parker was in the world with us.
Tim was super-helpful during labor and delivery. He was the only person in the room with me, so he did everything. He helped me with my breathing (yoga breathing) which, he’d taught me before our birthing class. He was also great at lightening the mood because the man loves to laugh and to make everyone else laugh too. He fielded calls and questions from our friends and family and made sure I was as comfortable as I could be.
Tim was a rockstar.
There was just one rule I insisted Tim follow throughout our ordeal… I didn’t want him helping below the equator during delivery. But, by the time we were pushing, he was holding my left leg and the nurse had my right. We weren’t even given an option.
Tim saw everything.
Afterward, he said it was gross (thanks, babe) but that he was glad he got to watch his baby being born and that it was magical… or, maybe I said that. Who knows, really. By the time we were pushing, I didn’t care what he saw. He’d already seen and heard so much, I figured he was scarred for life anyway.
Parker made a grand entrance into this world sometime after 5:30 a.m. weighing in somewhere between 6 and 7 lbs, and at around 20-something inches long.
When the OB finally arrived, and I finally had a baby, she looked at Tim and said, “Wow! Are you gonna tell her, or do you want me to?”
Tim looked up and exclaimed, “We had a baby!”
To which the doctor responded, “And it’s a boy!”
Camden has been a mother for nearly 8 years and has two children. She doesn’t particularly enjoy writing, but she does love running, and deep diving into the dark recesses of her soul to see what she can heal. She sounds like a Southerner, because she is one, but she currently, and likely will always, reside in sunny Central Oregon. If you want to learn more about Camden, too bad, because she doesn’t have an online presence. Or, you can follow her on IG at xserafinx. Don’t ask where the handle originated. She was 13 when she made it up, which was nearly 25 years ago. She’s committed… or she’s deeply opposed to change. You decide.