Birth Story Round Two: Carson Scott

Birth stories, to me, are incredibly personal, emotional, and raw experiences attempting to be captured in written word. Oh how words fail to do them justice! After each of my 6 wk postpartum checkups I vividly remember feeling a sense of loss. Yes, I had my babies – absolutely no amount of follow ups or questions could hold a candle to that joy. But suddenly, before you’ve gotten enough sleep to process the significant physical and emotional turmoil you’ve just endured, you’re set back into the world – to walk alongside strangers who, without view of your baby, are none the wiser of your recently raw vaginal tears or your newly sewn uterine wall. No doctor wants to hear from you any more. No stranger is showering you with questions about your growing baby bump. No one is talking about your labor & delivery anymore – yet it’s still vividly present in your mind.

This is where I believe birth stories serve a therapeutic role in attempting to harness the thoughts and process the emotions. Sharing them and reading others is a personal decision I believe women make when they’re processing the feels, celebrating the joys, seeking comfort in the sadness and pain, or searching for insight into the myriad of unknowns that come before delivery. I cry at the point of transition every time.

Here is my second birth story, with my now super smiley, handsome, second born son…

October 2nd, 2018 12:30 pm

I had just arrived at work, settling in to answer email and get started on my patient list for the day. It took a few Braxton hicks contractions to get my attention but by 1:30 pm, I was tuning into my body more frequently and recognizing their consistency.

Suddenly, nausea and strange fear paralyzed me. Yes this was my second baby and yes I was loosely prepared for delivery, as my due date was the next day. But, working full time, savoring every ounce of time w/ my toddler, enjoying all the pool/beach/park days over the summer, and celebrating my sister-in-laws wedding the weekend before, left little room for final preparations. Extreme nausea and shakiness continued, followed by a random bowel movement.

I began researching signs of labor and reading other moms accounts of pre-delivery jitters w/ their 2nd, 3rd babies. Not because I was unfamiliar, but something about re-familiarizing myself, in that moment, felt calming. I had anticipated anxiety over enduring the physical pain of drug-free delivery once more. With my first, from the first contraction to delivery, it took 30 hours, 11 of which were spent in active labor. I was left with a vagina full of stitches in third degree bilateral labia tears and a flesh memory of exactly how it felt when it tore. Yes, the pain was excruciating, but the way I felt afterwards was incredible. The words strong, empowered, alive do not do it justice. I daresay I have, in an odd way, chased that experience ever since.

Prayer, trust in God, and focusing on that post-delivery feeling calmed my nerves. The nausea resolved and suddenly I was hungry. I ate the lunch I had brought, knowing if these contractions progressed I would not feel the sensation of hunger again for a while, but would need the energy. {aren’t women’s bodies in preparation for labor AMAZING?!?}

By 2:30 pm I had begun tracking contractions on my app. It was a particularly busy day. I was the only RD present and fielding multiple questions, complaints, consults from patients and staff in addition to my case load. I took my phone into patients rooms with me and discretely clocked my contractions during assessments. Initially they were ~8 minutes apart – I knew I had plenty of time so I made no plans to leave work or alert my husband yet. Contractions seemed to intensify very slowly, however looking back, I believe it went mostly unnoticed as I stayed so busy. By 6 pm, I sat down to finish charting the remainder of patient assessments. Charts that would’ve typically taken me less than 20 min were taking me closer to 45 min. The contractions were a little more intense and coming between 4-6 min apart. I called my husband who had picked up our son, and let him know I’d be leaving soon and had been contracting with progression since arriving at work. We’d be heading to the hospital that night or early the next morning (Ha!)

On my way home, I stopped by a Royal Farms to stock up on chewy ice, preparing for what I imagined to be, an evening of laboring at home, snuggling my toddler, and waiting to head to the hospital. I called family to let them know I believed labor had begun. Coming home, my hubs was upstairs packing with our toddler. I began to grab things and prepared to take a shower. My contractions, which had been coming every 4-6 min while sitting at work and driving, seemed to slow once home moving around. My brain seemed foggy and thought patterns unclear. I recall trying to pack yet continuously setting things down or failing to grab what I intended. In hindsight, I wish I had ignored my hospital bag and sat and snuggled my toddler. Not wanting to arrive at the hospital “too early” as we had done w/ our first, and with the sudden lull in contractions, I thought it would be fun to take Jeffrey out for ice cream. The plan in my head would be to watch my little man enjoy a fun ice cream outing, come home to snuggle and read books, and then take him to my mother in law’s on our way to the hospital. A large part of my focus leading up to delivery was on my toddler – I wanted him to feel secure, loved, and have fun. I was not willing to give up any seconds with him until it was necessary.

8:45 pm Tuesday Night

The contractions which had slowed while showering and packing picked up full force by the time we reached Sweet Frog. It was 15 minutes prior to closing and the employee was busy sweeping the floor. I made Jeffrey a froyo cup and we chose a table. Standing at the edge of the table squatting and breathing, my hubs and 2 yr old chewed on Reese cups. We kept giggling thru my pain at how odd the employee must’ve thought we were – coming into Sweet Frog to eat froyo while visibly laboring.

Back in the car, contractions had intensified further – they shook my entire body and I struggled to relax my muscles against them. The pain I was feeling in my back/rectum was miserable – I was certain this was back labor and remember thinking how much more painful these contractions were than the contractions I experienced with my first born. There would be no snuggles and books when we arrived home – my husband grabbed our bags quickly as I held my toddler, squatting and breathing in the kitchen. He was now nervous at my pain; eyes wide, arms up, wanting me to hold him. “What doin’ mommy?” “Mommy hurt?” He showered my belly with kisses. We re-loaded into the car and made the 5 min drive to my MIL. I clung to my little man before taking him inside; snapping our last photo of his single child life.

As we exited the neighborhood, my contractions were back to back. Sitting in the seat was miserable. My husband turned on the emergency lights and we made the 12 min drive to the hospital in 7. He dropped me off at the ER door. Witnessing my stage of labor, they put me in a wheelchair immediately; hurrying me to the elevators after obtaining name and birthday. My husband met me in the L&D waiting area just before a nurse came to get us. Weight and vitals were obtained prior to sending me to the bathroom for a urine sample and clothes change. I remember it taking me at least 10 min to pee – the back labor was so intense I could not relax my muscle long enough to urinate before the next contraction would come.

10:30 pm Tuesday Night

Unable to produce enough urine, they went ahead and got me into bed and checked on baby. I vividly remember looking deep into the nurses eyes and asking, “is rectum bursting a thing? Because I’m pretty certain mine is going to explode as these contractions intensify.” she reported “no.” My body said “liar.” The doctor came in – it happened to be the same doctor who showed us our first image of our first baby – I was comforted. He too received my butt hole bursting question. I had to giggle as my husband shared embarrassed but silly eye contact with all practitioners in the room.

This pain was magnitudes more intense than what I remembered with my first. No positions, hot packs, pressure was relieving. Fear set in. All I could imagine was if this active labor persisted for 11 hours like my previous, I didn’t believe I could endure without an epidural (not what I wanted). My husband and I prayed. We talked with my nurse, a seasoned momma of 5 babies. She told me it was my decision, but encouraged me – I had delivered my first drug-free and my second would likely come much faster considering the time frame. Confidence in my resolve for a drug free labor was restored.

Twenty minutes after that convo, prior to feeling as though I had to push, my body was reacting – almost as if it was starting to push without my effort. For the benefit of sharing experience – I felt my body push (more like a convulsion), on its own as though it were trying to vomit or have a bowel movement. The doctor came in. I was 8 cm dilated but already feeling like pushing. My membranes were still intact. Deja vu – I had been 8 cm with intact membranes with Jeffrey as well. Considering my body’s independent desire to push this baby out and unrelenting back/rectal pain, I allowed the doctor to break my membrane, knowing contractions would further intensify. He reported he’d check back soon.

Within 10 minutes, the baby was coming. The doctor, nurse, assist, and husband were all in position within two minutes. My first push revealed baby’s head. My second push freed his head, face, and part of shoulder however the cord was wrapping his face – I was instructed to stop mid push while the doctor very quickly and calmly moved the cord. With my third push, I felt my baby leave my body, with very little pain – almost as though he had pushed his way through a tight rubberband. There was no tearing.

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 – 12:44 pm

Fourty four minutes into our due date, our precious baby boy, Carson Scott entered the world. He snuggled into my chest with bright eyes and sweet newborn squeels. For a few moments the prescense of anyone but eachother and our sweet baby was not felt. I took in every ounce of his swollen little face; making flesh memories of his little squirmy body on my newly doughy belly.

The nurses took Carson for check-up and my husband joined them to take pictures. I remember catching my breath, feeling amazing once more. Astonished at how quickly and almost effortlessly he arrived once I began pushing. I was jolted out of my daze as the doctor began delivering my placenta – slightly more uncomfortable than I remembered with my first.

Carson was reunited with my body and quickly began to nurse. After nursing for 22 months, this felt familiar, comfortable, and easy. There was no nervous awkwardness. Carson latched beautifully and suckled for almost 40 minutes. He was swaddled and put in his cradle while I was helped to the bathroom to clean up, pee, and head to the mother-baby unit.

Deja vu continued as we arrived to our room, were introduced to new staff, and both my husband at baby fell sound asleep. Each of my boys were born late at night/early into the morning. My after delivery experiences have been clothed in dark quiet rooms with whispering staff and mostly silence. It’s been a beautiful time for me to pray and reflect. To attempt to grasp the recent traumas and re-familiarize myself with an utterly changed body. A body that is no longer housing a baby. I did not sleep with either birth, despite exhaustion – I simply sat in bed staring at my hubs and new baby – listening to them breathe and feeling so content.

The after-birth pains and uterine contractions while nursing were far more intense, as I was told they would be, with my second baby. But the confidence and ease in which I felt capable to care for, nourish, and emotionally process was far improved than the struggle new mom angst had been. I remember sitting in my hospital bed after my first was born, feeling ultimately unchanged. I had heard of some instant motherly change – instincts, love, immediate maternal bond, etc. Yes, I was deeply and sacrificially in love with my baby – but amidst the excess minutia on breastfeeding vs formula, swaddles, cry it out vs coddle, attach vs independence, screen time vs none…nothing about my first 6 mo as a mom felt instinctual. I experienced constant anxiety over my choices and actions as a mom. Down to whether people believed I was holding my baby too much or whether or not my son felt the same bond I felt, as he was content in the arms of strangers. He smiled at everyone. He didn’t ‘seem’ to miss me when I returned to work as other moms reported he would. Postpartum anxiety and signs of depression helped me spiral. There was anger and sadness and lack of confidence. It was lonely as I perceived my husband, MIL, even strangers in grocery stores to be bonding with my own baby better than me. The lies anxiety and depression (ultimately the devil and sin) help us to believe!

Now with my incredibly attached, loving little toddler and very clingy, very different second child, I’d encourage any new mom – do not let the lived experiences and beliefs of other moms seep into your current experience. Don’t allow yourself to build expectations of your birth/return to work/baby’s sleep-nurse-bottle-development-emotions-etc. Your baby is its own individual and YOU are their mom. Live in the present with them and experience them as they are – not thru the lens of others.

Carson Scott’s entrance into the world has been a beautiful blessing, a breath of fresh air, and a death to mothering my children by anyone’s standards but God’s – the one who gave these boys to me. This new season of motherhood has posed challenges, but I could not be more grateful for where God has brought me in this journey. I could not be more in love with my little boys!

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