Lila is one today so I thought I'd get my birthstory out in words.
In February 2013 I found out I was pregnant, we had just arrived home from Cuba. Jocelyn and I were semi-living together in Oakland but I still held onto my San Francisco place, renting it out via Airbnb. On October 13, 2013 I finished moving myself out of my bachelorette pad. At 37 weeks pregnant exactly, I walked up and down those 40 steep stairs carrying bags filled with souvenirs from my past. After saying bye to my little lonely nook on the hill I joined my friends for a BBQ. The entire time I complained, I made sure everyone knew I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant and Lila could come at any time. I talked to my huge belly, telling her to please please relieve me of this discomfort as soon as possible. I couldn't see my feet anymore and the nights were unbearable, I resorted to sleeping sitting up. Pregnancy did not look good on me. I literally gained 60 pounds and had weird rashes all over my body. Although I planned a home birth we were scheduled for a doctors appointment the next day. Lila was breech and we were going to talk about my choices for her birth which likely wouldn't include me at home. I continued to burn the moxa sticks and practice my inversions in hopes that she would turn before our appointment. We would have likely scheduled a c-section at 39 weeks and I was afraid my baby wouldn't be able to come on her own terms. I didn't want her to feel intruded on. Fortunately, that night when I arrived home from the BBQ Jocelyn asked me if I wanted to go out to eat and I opted for take out, glad I did.
With a mouth full of Chinese food, at around 8pm I felt a pop. My brother in law was sitting at the table with us. I think he was horrified. A waterfall followed me wherever I went. We called my midwife, Amrit, as I stood in the shower crying. She said we had to go to the hospital. I wasn't crying in fear of my birth or the obvious unknown but instead because I knew I'd be having this baby at the hospital. She still wasn't head down and Amrit didn't want to perform a breech home birth since this would be my first baby. I didn't have a hospital bag ready, I scurried around grabbing things I knew would make me feel comfortable. I slipped in my water all over the hardwood floors. THUD. I slipped and hurt my knee pretty badly. Jocelyn helped me up and insisted we just get going, he didn't think I needed mascara or moisturizer as much as I thought I did.
We drove across the Bay Bridge to UCSF. My contractions started as soon as we got in the car. They were waves of intense back pain. "Jos, we need to get there, seriously." I'd squeeze my eyes tight and clench my teeth in pain. My body was starting to work. Lila had answered my pleas to come at 37 weeks and here we were. The pain would pass and the urgency of needing to get to the hospital would go away. I was so afraid of being cut open it was all I could think about. I had planned for a natural home birth and had prepared myself completely. I'd never been through surgery and the idea of a knife to my abdomen was horrifying.
At around 9:00pm we got to UCSF, the waterfall between my legs still going strong, I wobbled through elevators clutching onto Jocelyn as each contraction hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt so uncomfortable under those bright florescent lights. I wasn't ready for this. I used the bathroom and there was toilet paper all over the floor and a huge yellow caution wet floor cone. I wanted to be home, in my bathroom, under my lights and I hated that yellow cone. Amrit was there, waiting for us with a huge smile on her face. The nurses checked me, I had dilated to 5 cm within an hour of my water breaking and was well on my way to 6. My labor was coming on fast. I started to feel a huge weight drop. I knew she was coming. The nurses had to give me Terbutaline to slow my labor entirely. The docs congregated and agreed we would try for a breech birth. UCSF is one of the only hospitals in the country to regularly perform them. I was so relieved. I was thankful to be able to feel my contractions and to know my baby was coming on her own terms. She would choose her birthday.
We had to prepare for an emergency c-section if it came to that so I was given an epidural. I hated the feeling. My legs went limp and I felt cold. I could still feel the contractions in the left side of my back, a part of me wanted to feel them fully. Jocelyn and I sat there, unable to sleep. We waited for Lila to fight through the Terbutaline and make it to the birth canal. At about 4am The nurse came in and felt Lila's little toes. The docs came into the room and told us the baby's foot had dropped down and it would be impossible to perform a vaginal birth as she was now a footling breech. We were headed to the OR. I was terrified. Jocelyn waited outside until I was prepped. It was taking forever. The epidural still wasn't kicking in on my left side. The doc would run the blade over my abdomen asking if I felt anything. YES! I begged them to just put me to sleep, I was terrified I would feel something. The medicine wasn't making it to my nerves, it took over an hour to position the needle until I was completely numb. Jocelyn was scrubbed up and by my side once we started. I felt them tugging and pulling, it felt like forever. Jocelyn peeked over the curtain, "Don't look!" I was afraid he would never be able to look at me the same way. She was out! "Is she okay? What does she look like? Why isn't she crying!?" And bam! At 5:15am I heard my baby's cries for the first time. All of the discomfort went away, I just wanted my baby. She was all bundled up and Jocelyn laid her on my chest. I didn't want to let go, there she was my perfect baby. When a baby is born via c-section they have to take them away to the NICU to check vitals etc. I wanted Jocelyn to go with her and Amrit to make sure she didn't have a bath or any sort of petroleum jelly in her eyes.
They had to sew me up. They counted their tools, making sure not to leave any inside of me. My doula sat with me while Jocelyn and Amrit were with Lila. And BAM she hit the floor. Yes, my doula fainted in the OR room. I think I was a pretty good sport about it, despite being terrified. I was finally wheeled back into the recovery room where Lila was waiting for me. Amrit wasted no time and promptly placed her on my breast and just as quickly Lila latched on and snuggled right up to me. It was at that moment I became a mother. The oxytocin flowed through my veins and that rush kept me wide awake for the next two days, all I wanted to do was feed my baby. I've never felt so close to my primal instincts.
We stayed in the hospital for 7 days! Lila ended up under the blue lights on account of a mild case of Jaundice. I stayed with her, breast feeding throughout the night and dreaming of what it would be like to snuggle her up in our bed. The c-section recovery was rough and it made holding Lila very difficult. I was frustrated. I couldn't pick my baby up without the aches and pains of my stitched up abdomen. The first time you get up to walk is the hardest but the most important.
The time finally came to take her home. After hours of baby-gazing and getting to know each other the time had finally come! All of the fear melted away and it felt as though I'd just received the most precious gift. I learn more and more about you everyday my sweet baby. I love you.