Before we can really begin Hixon’s birth story we need to go all the way back to finding out I was pregnant. This story begins there. And folks, it was a little nuts.
On January 2nd, 2015 I went to my OBGYN for an appointment. I’d had a LEEP procedure in August and this was supposed to just be a follow up appointment. WRONG. As I am sitting in the room waiting for the doctor to come in (already feeling awkward because, let’s face it, those sort of appointments are so weird) when the nurse comes back in and the following conversation happens:
Nurse: “Your test was positive!”
Me: “What test?”
Nurse: “Your pregnancy test.” (I could see her excitement changing to concern quickly.)
Me: “You must have the wrong room. I didn’t take a pregnancy test.”
Nurse, clearly concerned at this point: “Yes ma’am you provided a urine sample when you got here. You’re Katie right?”
SHIT. SHIT. SHIT.
Me: “Yes. That’s me.” (Cue the tears.)
Y’all I had no idea. None. Not one single ounce of me thought “Hm, maybe I’m pregnant?”
I legit thought I was getting fat. I was trying everything to not feel so bloated all the time. I had given up gluten (because that’s what everyone else was doing.) I GAVE UP CHIPS AND SALSA. FOR NO REASON! My periods had always been irregular so missing a few didn’t shock me. I was on birth control and never missed a pill. This just wasn’t possible.
Seeing that I was in disbelief the doctor offers to do a quick sonogram to help me take the whole thing in a little better.
I of course immediately went into full panic mode. Sweating, crying, cursing, all of it. I was sobbing and the nurse was handing me tissues as fast as she could.
The next five minutes or so is a complete blur. I know there were lots of questions. Then the doctor starts measuring me (remember I was there for a quick little follow up appointment!?) He proceeds to tell me he estimates I am about fifteen weeks pregnant. Excuse me? Fifteen freaking weeks!? How in the actual hell did I not know for FIFTEEN weeks?
Once I calm down and see that he isn’t playing a horrible joke on me, I see that there is an actual human life inside of me. I am going to that little thing’s mom! Then panic sets in again. I start crying again, but this time my reasons have changed a little. It’s January 2nd. Y’all. Holidays. Alcohol. That poor little baby. It’s almost embarrassing now when I think about it. We had been through Halloween, my birthday, the margarita ball, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. I have no idea how the 1st trimester went so smoothly and this little munchkin survived. The doctor informed me that things looked okay so far. My blood was drawn, and I was sent on my way.
How on earth was I supposed to tell Manuel? We were living with his parents. We didn’t even have our own place! We were doomed. This was nuts. More crying.
When I got home, I darted to our room as fast as I could. Hoping no one would notice my red face and swollen eyes. Of course, Manuel knew something was up. He followed me and almost immediately said “You’re pregnant.” Friends, he handled this news better than I could have ever imagined. I had convinced myself he would run for the hills. He didn’t. I’m not sure what he was really thinking, but he was rock solid from my point of view. Manuel has always been a sort of “roll with the punches” kind of guy.
Since I was so far along we were able to find out the gender of the baby within the next couple of days. The doctor knew after that first sonogram but I was so overwhelmed in that moment, I wanted to wait and bring Manuel with me.
Fast forward a few months to our hospital tour. My plan at the time was to have an un-medicated hospital birth. I felt pretty strongly about natural birth and thought my doctor was on board. But that hospital tour did not sit well with me. Something felt off. When I asked questions I didn’t get the answers I wanted. A friend at work was also pregnant and had shared with me how awesome her midwives were and how she was so excited to give birth. I knew these midwife women must be doing something right because how in the hell could a woman be excited about pushing a baby through her vagina without any pain medicine? I was not excited to give birth. Not at all. Not one single bit. I knew it was what was right for my baby, but I didn’t think for one millisecond it would be fun. I decided I would at least have a consultation with the midwives and see what the whole birth center thing was all about.
From the second we sat down with midwife Gina, my mind was made up. If we could work out the finances, this is what we were doing. I never went back to my other doctor. It was clear these women knew how to prepare my body. They believed in me, heard my fears, and held my hand every step of the way.
Fast forward again, to being 37 weeks pregnant. Baby had been measuring “big” the whole pregnancy. I was huge. A damn whale. People would constantly make jokes about how I was never going to make it to my due date. (Just so we are all clear. These things are not nice to say to a pregnant woman. We know we are massive. Don’t remind us. And don’t predict our baby’s due date.)
I went to the 6pm gym class, like I did most days. Worked my ass off. Did burpees. Felt better than I had in a while. When I got home I started getting dinner together and then BOOM. My water broke. Except there was no real boom. More like a trickle down my leg. I thought for a minute I had wet my pants. But then another trickle. And another. And it just kept happening. I called my midwife and let her know what was happening and she confirmed, my water was breaking. Very slowly. (How do you confirm if your water is breaking, or you’re wetting your pants you ask? You sniff. Pee smells. I’ll just leave it at that.) Manuel wasn’t home yet so I just sat at the kitchen table waiting. I knew there was no point in calling him since his phone would be in his gym bag.
When he got home all I could say was “Babe, I didn’t cook dinner, we are having a baby.”
Since no real contractions had started, I sent Manuel to get us some dinner and then we attempted to get some sleep. By the time I woke up in the morning contractions were really starting to get stronger. I called the midwives to give them an update and they instructed me to call them when contractions were consistently four minutes apart.
As I was timing contractions I started to feel like the pain was WAY more intense than I was prepared for. I assumed I was just a wimp and needed to hang in there. Contractions were still only about eight minutes apart. Then the pain got worse. So, so, so, so much worse. I began to vomit, sweat, cry, and panic. This was too much! How could I keep going until the contractions were four minutes apart?! I felt like I would for sure not make it. I was going to be a complete failure this whole natural birth thing. I needed meds. All the meds. And I needed them now.
Manuel called again to let the midwives know I was really in a lot of pain and the contractions were still not four minutes apart. Midwife Kaitlyn instructed him to wait thirty minutes and call her back with an update. My instant response was “No, you call that bitch back and tell her we’re on our way. I’m pushing this baby out!” Guys, having the urge to push while you are still at home “waiting” is just about the scariest thing ever. I was so afraid of having the baby in the car or at home! Manuel called her back and we headed to the birth center.
By the time we got there (only about 10 – 15 minute drive) I was certain I needed to push. Of course with this being my first baby Midwife Kaitlyn assumed I was not quite ready and just feeling anxious. NOPE. When she checked me to see how far along I was she realized I was completely dilated and effaced! I was right! This baby was coming! Her exact words were “Oh my gosh you have the cervix of a goddess. You’re ready. Let’s have this baby!” Midwives are so weird. The water wasn’t even warm yet in the birth tub, but I was desperate for a little relief so I got in anyways and almost immediately started pushing.
And then I pushed some more. And a little more. And a little more. I continued to push. Forever. I pushed in the water. I pushed on the bed. I pushed on the birth chair. I pushed on the birth ball. I pushed on the toilet. I pushed in the shower. I pushed while walking. I pushed and pushed and pushed. At one point I was STANDING on Kaitlyn’s knees, squatting and pushing all at the same time. Acrobatic child birth y’all. We were determined to get his baby out. Kaitlyn could see baby’s head. The assistant midwife could see baby’s head. My photographer (who was a retired midwife) could see baby’s head. Why wouldn’t this damn baby come out?!
Seven hours of active pushing later, I was completely exhausted. I had labored and dilated so quickly and then everything had come to a screeching halt. I had mentally prepared myself for a long labor. But this was so physically demanding. I had nothing left to give. Nothing. We began talking about transporting to the nearby hospital and called the doctor to get his opinion. I was so afraid that if we transported, they would make me have a C-section. After all that work. After so much prep beforehand, helping my body get ready for labor. I was even restricting carbs so that baby didn’t get too big. Only 50 carbs a day! A banana has almost 25 carbs. This was version of hell for sure. Now he was stuck. I was devastated, but too tired to protest. After talking with the doctor and filling him in on what was happening, he didn’t seem to think C-section was even necessary. He was pretty sure we could use some suction and gently help baby come on out. By this point I had been pushing almost eight hours. All I wanted was for this real life hell to be over. Anything (except a C-section.) Get this baby out.
So, we transported. Manuel drove us in our car, while my midwife led the way in her car. Everyone take a moment to really get a good image in your head. I had been pushing this baby for eight hours. I was crowning. I had a baby ALMOST out of me. And had to take a ride in the car. Pure Hell. At every stop light I just knew I was dying.
At the hospital the front desk calmly asked me to fill out some check in paperwork. Manuel about shit his pants. “Ma’am, she is crowning. She has been pushing for eight damn hours. Get us a room.” Off to a room we went. Waiting for the doctor. Still pushing. Still no baby. When the doctor finally came in the room I could tell he didn’t quite believe us. He wanted to wait for the next contraction to see what was happening. When that next contraction came his expression quickly changed. He could see now. Yes, baby was right there, just stuck. He then instructed me to push even when there was no contraction. I had to give it everything I had left (which really wasn’t much.) When I pushed, he suctioned baby’s head to make sure he didn’t pull himself back in. Less than fifteen minutes later, we finally had our sweet baby boy. Hixon Eugene. The most stubborn baby there ever was. Neither the doctor nor the midwife could explain why he wouldn’t come out. I swear he just changed his mind and wanted to stay in a little longer. I was obviously VERY swollen and Hixon had a little cone head from the suction cup, but we both survived.
My emotions in that moment were so confusing. I had seen all these birth videos where the mom just loses herself when baby is laid on her chest. Tears, smiles, maybe both. I was so tired I felt nothing. I just wanted to close my eyes and rest. When I look back at the photos I can see I was just in such relief. It was finally over. I did it! A birthed a baby! With zero pain medications! I actually did it.
I can honestly say that was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was not how I had imagined it what so ever. I could have never prepared myself for what happened. I couldn’t even be upset about not getting my perfect water birth, I was just so relieved.
Two years later I now understand that we can plan and prep for birth. And birth is such a beautiful event. But we all birth differently and that’s ok. The goal is a happy, healthy baby. A mom must ultimately do what is right for her and her baby. We judge ourselves and others so much based on each other’s birth choices. No choice is a wrong choice. We do what we feel is best for us. Natural birth, epidural, scheduled C-section, emergency C-section, it’s all birth. Each option brings a new life into this world. Each shows the strength of a mom in a totally different way. Each is beautiful. And each choice is something to be celebrated.
So, cheers to birth my sweet friends, however you decide to do it. Or not. Your choice. No judgement.