Night Moves

I’m writing this for me. If you’re interested in a long read about how I gave birth then by all means, please continue. But if not, that’s cool, because this post isn’t meant for anyone else anyways.

By week 38, my pregnancy was progressing along exactly as expected. So I was quite surprised when I had a weekly checkup on Friday with my OB-GYN and she told me that my cervix was already 4cm dilated. I hadn’t felt a single contraction or slight discomfort up to that point and I was expecting every cm of dilation to be part of the overall going into labour process. My OB-GYN said some people just have favourable cervixes that soften and open up fairly easily. She did a “stretch and sweep” to see if she could continue to encourage my cervix along. I left that appointment 4cm dilated already a little freaked out. The doctor told me that if I wanted to, I could go to the hospital right that moment to be induced, because based on the conditions of my cervix they would keep me there.

D had to wait in the car for me because of current COVID policies at the doctor’s office, so when I got in and told him the status he was pretty freaked out too. We were both feeling like this baby was just going to pop out at any minute!

We decided to go home. We both were expecting to do two more full weeks of work and I didn’t want to try and force the whole process. It’d be better if everything just progressed naturally. We went home and everything was fine, I felt the same as before. No contractions, no discomfort.

I woke up that Saturday morning around 2am feeling some cramping in my stomach. I rode it out for about 15 minutes until it passed, but I shook D awake to alert him that maybe this was it. We were both super wired and not sure what to do with ourselves. The cramping sensation went away and didn’t come back, so we figured it was okay to go back to bed, but neither of us could sleep.

We woke up around 8am and D immediately went into prep mode. He got out and did a bunch of grocery shopping and some errands to try and wrap up last minute things in case I did go into active labour. That whole weekend came and went, us on edge the whole time, but without anything eventful happening.

I went back to my OB-GYN for my 39 week checkup just a few days shy of 39 weeks. She checked my cervix again and confirmed I was 5cm dilated and 70% effaced. She did another stretch and sweep to see if that would kickstart active labour for me and we went home. We finished up the work week again and figured we’d hopefully make it to the 40 week mark without issue. If we made it to 40 weeks, we’d go to the hospital and get induced. I kept waiting for this magical mucus plug everyone talks about to come out, but I never saw it. I did start having some watery-like discharge and thought that was a bit weird, but didn’t think too much of it.

On Saturday May 23rd, D and I went for a walk after lunch because it was such a nice sunny day. As we were nearing the end of our walk I felt this sudden little gush of fluid that I couldn’t control and assumed I’d just pissed myself in the street. When we got home, I noticed again that it was a very watery substance and didn’t seem like pee at all. That was when it clicked that I was probably leaking amniotic fluid. I texted our doula for her advice and she told me I should call the Labour & Delivery line at the hospital to see what they thought. Knowing the state of my cervix, our doula felt that I might have a very fast labour once it did start actively so wanted us to be on the safe side and get to the hospital earlier than planned. D was outside and had started cutting the grass. I called the Labour & Delivery line and they said I should definitely come in.

I started rounding up our bags and packing a few last minute things we needed. D came inside for a quick glass of water, thinking he could get started on the backyard next, but I told him to get his shit together because we’re going to the hospital today and we won’t be leaving without a baby.

We got the car loaded up and drove to the hospital, we were there at 3pm. I had to go in first to be assessed and they told me if I was admitted then I could text D to come in. Another quick check of my cervix and the doctor recommended that we start the induction process. They advised that I was slowly leaking amniotic fluid and likely had a small tear high up on the amniotic sac. I was taken to a birthing room and made a quick call to D around 3:30pm to tell him he could come on in.

The nurses got me into a gown, hooked me up to their machines for monitoring, and started a low dose of oxytocin around 4:30pm to jumpstart some contractions. The doctor also broke my water. I setup my bluetooth speaker and got my carefully curated labouring playlist rocking so we’d have awesome music to help me stay relaxed. When the nurse came back to check on me around 5:30pm she confirmed that we were now 6cm dilated and 95% effaced, and I still had yet to feel a single thing! Except for the occasional gush of amniotic fluid spilling out from my broken water. We joked around that maybe I was one of those lucky “silent labourers” and that this could be a really easy process for me.

That unfortunately, was not the case. Around 6:30pm actual contractions started and I was definitely feeling them! They came on hard and fast with a BANG. My contractions were lasting one minute but with only one minute of rest before the next one would start. One on top of the other, boom boom boom, the contractions were relentless. I was managing the pain by staying on my feet swaying along to my music with some hand holding and encouragement from D, but it was getting pretty tough.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about epidurals overall. I was game for trying to labour without one, but also totally open to the possibility of having one as well if I felt it was needed. I asked the nurse what my point of no return for getting an epidural was and she told me it was at 10cm, fully dilated. With that in mind, I kept labouring and trying to manage the pain as much as I could. The next time the nurse came to check me I was 8.5cm dilated and well on my way to 9cm. To be on the safe side, I decided to ask for the epidural. We were so close to 10cm and the pain was only getting more intense, it didn’t ever seem like it would ebb. The nurse told me that the anesthesiologist was on the floor and already lined up for four other epidurals so I’d have to wait another 30-40 minutes. I just had to hope my overly ambitious cervix wouldn’t go on to 10cm before the epidural could be administered.

Thankfully, when the anesthesiologist got to me I was holding strong at 9cm. They had me sit upright on the hospital bed with my legs over one side. D stood in front of me and needed to keep me still and calm while the doctor did his thing. D said this part was the most stressful for him. Watching a doctor probe my spine while I was suffering absolutely brutal contractions and being told to stay perfectly still or else. The doctor kept feeling around and asking where I felt things and then all of a sudden I cried out in pain because of an immediately stabbing sensation in my left hip. I told him what I felt and he said “okay that’s not the spot then” and kept feeling around. He found the right spot after that and got the epidural going.

Once I could move again the nurse had me lay down and try to relax while the drugs kicked in. That was a very chill hour. I just shut my eyes, felt the pins and needles sensation in my feet slowly spread into numbness all through my legs, and listened to my tunes. I remember looking at the clock and it was about 11pm. We started to wonder now that it was getting close to midnight if this was going to be a May 23rd or May 24th baby. The nurse said some women on the floor only pushed for 10-15 minutes and was encouraging me that I could probably be a quick pusher too. We’d just wait a bit for me to tell them when I felt any sort of pushing sensation.

Nope! Oh man, so much nope on that. The epidural worked too well I guess because I never once felt any kind of pushing sensation down below. I did feel a band of tightness every once in a while under my ribcage. When I mentioned that to the nurse she said those were my contractions now. Holy shit!

The nurse told us how it was going to go down: when I felt that tightness under my ribcage she’d lift and hold one of my legs and D would do the same with the other. I’d take a deep breath then start pushing while D slowly counted to 10. I’d do this three times in a row then take a break before the next contraction started.

D was super calm. Very quiet and serious. Exactly what I expect from him. When shit hits the fan he clamps down hard on any sort of emotion and shoves it out of the way so he can deal with the immediate issues. He was supportive too, but in his own collected way. I felt very calm as well. I was determined to just roll with whatever happened during labour and be cool, man. I did not turn into that stereotypical angry and cursing woman everyone insisted I would become. I never once screamed at D not to touch me or to go away or hate on him for “doing this to me”. That’s fine if it’s what works for other women, but for me I don’t think that’s productive at all. We both wanted this baby, I just drew the short biological straw and had to be the one to offer up my crotch as sacrifice.

Pushing lasted almost 3 hours. Around 2.5 hours it was obvious that all the pushing in the world couldn’t make this baby come out and the nurse called in the doctor. Baby was super low into the birth canal and conditions were all optimal for pushing him out, but for some reason he was really wedged in there. The doctor advised that a vacuum assisted delivery was necessary and we agreed.

Here’s a crazy detail: there was a big overhead light right above my hospital bed and the clear plastic cover over it was highly reflective. When I looked up at that light it was basically a mirror and I could see everything happening to myself on the table. I watched them bring out the vacuum and start fitting it into my vagina. When everything was setup the nurse advised we’d start the pushing process again. I bore down on every part of my body I could still feel and pushed as hard as I fucking could. I looked up at the light that was basically a mirror and started to see a dark round shape emerging from my body. Surreal. It looked so tiny and in my mind this whole time I had a bowling ball inside of me that we were trying to get out instead of a tiny little human.

With one sudden whoosh the baby’s head was out and the rest of the body followed so smoothly. I couldn’t believe the baby was out, I was speechless. D had to tell me three times that it was a boy before I even registered it. The one thing that stood out most for me is that of all the songs on my well crafted playlist, Night Moves by Bob Seger is what was playing when he finally arrived. And now when I hear that song about horny teenagers trying to get laid I cry because I think about my baby boy. Awesome. Although, I guess it is kind of cool because I did have a “black-haired beauty with big dark eyes” so it works in it’s own ridiculous way.

On May 24th at 2:52am our baby boy Elwood Broderick Brown was born.

They took him away to do some quick tests and measurements while I delivered the afterbirth. I wound up with a second degree tear and an episiotomy, fun!

When they put him in my arms for the first time the playlist was rocking Good Times Bad Times by Led Zeppelin. Super cool.

I hugged him and cried.

We stayed in the birthing room for a while longer so they could continue to monitor Elwood. Since they had to use a vacuum on his head during delivery they wanted to make sure there wasn’t any unusual swelling or bruising. I got to give him his first bottle and we had lots of snuggles.

Around 6:30am D took a minute to get changed out of his clothes from the day before and brush his teeth. The nursing team cleared out of the room to let the three of us be alone. When D came out of the restroom it was just me and Woody. In that moment, without a million random people in and out of the room, D was hit by all the waves of emotion he’d been clamping down on all night long. We hugged each other and cried together, in complete awe that the little human we made, who we’d been dying to meet, was here now.

And now here we are, two new parents born, a mom and dad with a little baby boy. Working on an entirely new set of Night Moves. Working on mysteries without any clues.

Workin’ and practicin’,

Workin’ and practicin’ all of the night moves

Bumpdates!

I am 37 weeks pregnant right now. And I am freaking out, man!

40 weeks sounds like such a long time but it goes by in a flash. Everyone told me the last few weeks will feel like they go on forever and that I’ll be dying to get the baby out, but right now I can’t picture myself feeling that way at all. Even under normal societal circumstances I know there’s a lot to process mentally and so much preparation that goes into this momentous life change. But I think expecting my first baby in the midst of a global pandemic has affected my perspective in ways that simply aren’t comparable to everyone else’s non-pandemic pregnancies. At this point I’d prefer if I could just hit a giant pause button and keep the baby in as long as I want until I decide the world is safe again.

I never expected the world would be so difficult to navigate, ravaged by a pandemic, right as we prepare to welcome our baby into it. It’s fucking nuts. Somedays I can accept it, other days I can’t even believe this is really happening. The first two trimesters my pregnancy was lovely, just the usual thoughts and worries about how a baby will change our lives that everyone has. The last stretch though has been marred by this weird new COVID world we’re all living in.

There are so many things I want to remember about these last 37 weeks, this first full-term pregnancy of ours. I’m writing them down so I can reflect back on this journey later.

Things I Like About Being Pregnant

  • My hair has never looked better. For real, I’m having the best hair days of my life! I can go days without washing my hair and it looks incredible
  • I can wear whatever I want and just let my gut be free
  • Crazy weird dreams
  • All of my weight gain has gone directly to my belly and I haven’t had any swelling of my hands, feet, or face. Very thankful for that!
  • Weird hormonal laughing fits. This has happened to me at least six times, something is just so funny that I laugh until I cry and am completely breathless and can’t stop. D has found this part very entertaining
  • Super cute maternity clothes!
  • Feeling the baby move around inside me and sharing that with D
  • Taking pictures of my bump as the weeks go by and comparing how far along we’re getting

    12 weeks – nobody knew yet!

Things I Dislike About Being Pregnant

  • Frigging heartburn ALL THE TIME. Doesn’t even matter what I eat, the burn is constant
  • SO tired in the first trimester! All of a sudden all of my energy was drained. I felt like Brian Wilson lying in bed with zero will to live during the first 3 months
  • Having to sleep on my side; I can’t wait to be a starfish tummy sleeper again
  • Lower back aches, you can fuck right off any time
  • Leaky boobs – like why? There’s no baby yet!
  • Food restrictions – I am DYING for a huge salami sandwich. I need cured meats back in my life. And rare steak.
  • People trying to make you focus on the negatives and saying stupid clichéd shit like “get used to never sleeping again haha”. You’re not funny. Or helpful. Why don’t people say positive things instead?
  • Clipping my toenails and shaving my legs are now deeply uncomfortable and practically impossible activities

    17 weeks – at IL Fornello eating ALL the pasta and free bread!

Pros to Pandemic Pregnancy

  • I’m eating better than ever before because we make all of our meals at home with fresh groceries
  • Social distancing and staying home means I don’t have a bunch of randos out in public trying to touch my belly or giving me unsolicited advice (apparently that is something that happens during non-pandemic pregnancies that people said would happen)
  • D has been working from home for my entire third trimester and isn’t stressed about being downtown in the middle of work or client meetings if I suddenly go into labour
  • We won’t be swarmed by visitors in our first week home when we’re beyond exhausted and can actually settle into our new life with baby
  • We’ll hopefully be discharged from the hospital sooner, provided everything is okay

    23 weeks – jumping on the bed in our hotel with baby!

Cons to Pandemic Pregnancy

  • I want Wendy’s!!! I would love some chicken nuggets, a burger, and a frosty right now. RIGHT NOW. Sadly, it’s just not worth the risk
  • Worrying about hospital policies and protocols that could have D missing out on time with our new baby
  • Not being able to have a proper baby shower with actual guests in person
  • Not being able to show my belly off to family, friends, and coworkers in person
  • Nowhere to wear all my super cute maternity clothes
  • The doula we hired probably won’t be able to come to the hospital with us
  • Having no idea if or when it’ll be safe for family to even meet the new baby, and not being able to trust if people who do want to meet the baby have been properly quarantining
  • Not being able to run out and easily get last minute supplies if needed
  • Every trip to the OB’s office or for an ultrasound feels like a death-defying feat
  • People telling me “everything will be fine” when they have no fucking clue how it feels to be pregnant in a pandemic and they got to have totally normal pregnancy experiences – just don’t. If you want to be comforting or make me feel better then send me some donuts and tell me my hair is amazing because that will work, every time.

    25 weeks – Valentine’s Day!

All the Cravings I Had:

  • Wendy’s doublestack! That was the first official thing I craved hard, that was about 1 month in
  • In the early days I needed all kinds of fried chicken (nuggets, tenders, strips, wings, burgers, etc.)
  • Sandwich: turkey on rye with harvati and tons of yellow mustard that I ate for lunch every day for two weeks straight
  • Unquenchable need for orange juice. I was drinking it by the gallon!
  • Shitty frozen pizzas – I would make one for lunch every day for almost 3 weeks straight. And before that I hadn’t bought a frozen pizza since my university days ended. You guys know how much I love delicious pizza, so it was weird to crave crappy frozen ones so ferociously.
  • Sausage McMuffin if I was up before 7:00am – mostly so I could get more orange juice when the house was all out
  • Cake! I pestered D about needing professional grade cake for a few weeks and then one day he showed up with a slice from the Cake Boss vending machine that opened downtown in the fall
  • Barq’s Root beer, it’s got bite! Also, Barq’s Cream Soda – thank you Jesus for inventing that!
  • Clementines, especially eating them at night in bed

30 weeks – funky little chili pepper on board!

Special Moments I Want to Remember

  • Hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time at the doctor’s office and happy crying because I was finally able to let go of the worry that I might miscarry again
  • Using TheBump app to track my pregnancy and getting excited for the new fruit/veggie that the baby would be “as big as” each week
  • I passed my G2 road test while I was 10 weeks pregnant and was fully ready to cry and blame it on hormones if I failed
  • Finally getting to share the news with everyone, what a relief!
  • Singing in the car to all my favourite songs while I drove to work on Mondays and feeling baby bop along with me. Baby already loves Billy Joel and Van Morrison
  • D eagerly waiting for the moment he’d finally be able to feel the baby move, and him hoping it would happen on our anniversary at the end of January
  • Our “babymoon”/anniversary road trip to Montreal. We stayed in a fancy ass hotel with a huge ass bathtub. I had two baths a day every day and it was glorious. I also found a Ben & Jerry’s store a few blocks from the hotel – game changer!
  • D actually getting to feel the baby move for the first time. It was the very end of Valentine’s Day, around 11:50pm. D was asleep and I was watching TV in bed when I felt movements bigger than any before. I shook him awake and when he touched my belly he finally felt it too
  • Celebrating my birthday Sixteen Candles style by baking my own ’80’s frosted cake and sitting on the dining room table with it and baby, in a bridesmaids dress no less!
  • Nesting and building a beautiful nursery for the baby that makes me so happy every time I go into it
  • Having a drive-by style baby shower due to social distancing and it still being a special day because we have so many lovely people in our life who support us and care about the baby

    34 weeks – baby gets spoiled by loved ones from a distance!

My Hopes for Baby

  • You will be perfectly healthy and you’ll get here safely, when you’re ready and not a moment sooner
  • You will be loved – even if you can’t meet your immediate family right away because we have to keep you safe, you will not be forgotten and you will still be loved from afar
  • Harvey will accept you and be loving instead of jealous (please!)
  • You’re going to be a good sleeper and eater
  • You will be a wonderful new addition to this family and you’ll fit right in with us – you’ll have a huge appetite for life and give zero fucks about what anyone thinks (like me) but you’ll also be grounded and reliable (like your dad). And you’ll have all sorts of your own unique charms that delight us every day
  • Someday you’ll feel thankful that we’re your parents and lucky that you were born into our family

It’s been an interesting journey. We still have no idea what we’re having. I think the whole idea of a gender reveal is so tacky (to each their own, but it’s not for me). I always thought I’d want to find out the gender before the birth, but now I prefer the excitement created by not knowing. As we get closer though I can’t help but wonder about who I’ve got rolling around inside me. What kind of person did we make? What will the baby look like? I feel like I have some intuition about what kind of person this baby will be just based on how they behaved at various ultrasounds, how they’ve moved around inside me, and some dreams I’ve had about them. But there’s really no way of knowing until whoever it is decides to come out and meet us.

37 weeks – the homestretch!

I don’t think I’m freaking out any more now, man. I think I’m back to just feeling excited again. I’m 37 weeks pregnant and I’m going to meet my baby soon.