It’s been five weeks since I gave birth to my daughter, my first child. It’s taken me that long to finally have  the time, the mental, physical and emotional capacity to sit down and write-up the experience. My writing and vocabulary skills aren’t strong, wide or broad enough to adequately describe everything that I’ve gone through – but I will do my best to make it something relatable.

And so my birth story begins…

It was just a normal Tuesday morning. I had my regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment – the same one I’d been having every week in these last weeks of my pregnancy. I had been on bed rest for the past month due to high blood pressure so it was nice to get out of the house, all though it was incredibly exhausting just the short walk to the car, and from the car to the doctor’s office.

I went it in, wrote my name on the sign-in sheet and sat down to wait for my name to be called. It was all business as usual but that day everything was going to change. I was just sitting on the table, naked from the waist down except for a blanket that barely covered my lady bits, let alone keep me warm. The doctor was one I hadn’t seen since the first time I came into the office to find out I was pregnant. She was happy to see me and praised my stretch marks for their symmetry and beauty. I beamed at her response to those because I was proud of them.

I had heard many women complain about their stretch marks or use all kinds of lotions and creams to get them to fade. But I was proud of mine. Each mark was a sign my body had changed and stretched to hold this precious life within me. Each purple stripe was a badge of honor that I was going to be a mother. To have a doctor so openly praise them made me feel that much more proud to have them.

Then she said the words that literally made my brain stop.

“I want to induce you. Either today or tomorrow. I need to call the hospital to get it set up”. 

There was more she said, and she explained her reasoning why. Something about my high blood pressure being high still despite the bed rest, and that I was now 38 weeks, passed full term, so it would be okay for baby and better on my body. I wasn’t entirely listening. I was texting my husband to give him the induction news. I was texting my best friend who was literally in the next room (waiting for the doctor to come see her about her own pregnancy) about this drastic change in plans. I felt completely calm and at the same time like I was having an out-of-body experience.

I’m a planner by nature. I like to know exactly what is going to happen and to have it all written out if at all possible. My job is as an event planner. And yet, I did not have a birth plan. I had known and heard the stories of too many women who had a birth plan that went wrong – sometimes drastically so. So I didn’t make one. My only plan was to have an epidural, to give birth in a hospital, to have my sister-in-law as a doula at my side, and to give birth to a healthy baby girl. This all seemed simple enough to me. It wasn’t until she said induction that I realized my plan also included a natural labor, one that started on its own. But I didn’t let this shake me because at the very least this was some emergency c-section and my baby wasn’t in any danger.

We went ahead and scheduled the induction for the next morning. I was told to eat a heavy meal as my dinner that night and to come to the hospital that evening after dinner to get hooked up and put on a medicine that would help ease dilation and effacement. My husband and I begin the fun process of reaching out to family and friends, work and the like, to let them know that baby was coming tomorrow, a week before her official due date. My sister-in-law managed to change her plane tickets and get a red-eye out from Portland Oregon so she could be here for the birth. My parents and my in-laws rearranged their schedules to be up here in the morning and my sister dropped everything and got out of work to come help out as well.

Everything was ready. My husband and I enjoyed a great “last meal” while talking about what our life was going to be like and how excited we were that we were finally going to meet out daughter. I had the hospital bag packed and ready to go so we headed directly to the hospital after our meal. Only to find out that we weren’t on the schedule. The nurse called the doctor on call. I spoke with her and she informed me that since I was already dilated that there was no real need for me to go on this medicine tonight. I could go home and spend the night in my own bed and they would get me on the schedule for the next morning.

So 7:30am on Wednesday March 3rd, 2016 I was hooked up to the monitors and the IV, induction had begun and my baby was due to make her appearance that day. It was Dr. Seuss’ birthday – an auspicious day I thought. I was so excited that even as the first contractions began I didn’t really mind.

Give me a few hours of course and the contractions were much worse. I am a wimp when it came to pain but I breathed through them. My sister-in-law was at my side helping me breathe through, massaging my shoulders and talking with the doctors and nurses every time they came in to see how I was progressing. My husband was my rock and kept me calmer than I could imagine being while in labor. My family was there and surrounding me, making me laugh, letting me sleep and all very excited to meet the baby. They were all waiting to finally learn the name of our sweet Tadpole. She was going to be here!

Of course things didn’t go exactly the way we had all hoped. She didn’t arrive before midnight. In fact a little while before midnight the doctor had told me I was stuck at 9 centimeters and she was thinking c-section. My sister-in-law intuitively noticed the panic on my and my husband’s face. We really didn’t want that, especially since despite being stuck at 9 centimeters everything was going fine and the baby wasn’t in any distress. I backed off on the epidural, to bring a some feeling into my lower extremities so that I could feel enough to push.

About midnight things seemed to be moving once more and so I began to push. I thought it would be quick and easy after this point. Of course I wasn’t thinking straight due to lack of sleep, lack of food and the epidural. I proceeded to push for two hours. Two hours and 14 minutes to be exact. Because at 2:14am on March 3rd my daughter made her appearance in the world, with a loud squawk to let everyone know just how displeased she was with this bright cold environment.

I was handed my daughter, with my husband standing over my shoulder. She was covered in whatever babies are covered with when they come out of the womb, looking nothing like a newborn does in the movies or on TV. But looking like my very own child. My baby girl.

They say in that moment you life changes forever – that moment you become a mother. I had previously thought it a load of crap. Just something people ascribed to the moment after the fact. But in that frame of time when everything seemed to stand still I knew it for a fact. My life was changed. I may have literally given birth to a baby girl but I had also given birth to a completely different me.

When they took her over to be cleaned and checked out I couldn’t take my eyes from her. The nurses and doctor’s stayed out of my line of sight of her and I was allowed to watch as they cleaned her and measured her. I felt like I was floating as I watched the first few moments of my daughter’s life outside the womb. I was made to push out the placenta and was stitched up but this was all superfluous as I listened to my daughter cry and was once more handed the sweet baby. I held her, our eyes catching, and knew my life was forever changed.

A little while later while I slept and my husband held our daughter he came to this same realization. And as these weeks have passed – weeks in which sleep is a distant memory, breast-feeding took over the schedule and our home life was run by the tiny human – we have reached this same conclusion over and over. Each day we realize our lives will never be the same.

Some moments – when she’s squeaking and cooing, holding her head up, practicing her true non-bowel movement induced smiles – this change is perfect and amazing. We love it and couldn’t imagine it any other way. But other moments – when the nipples are cracked, bleeding and sore, when she’s screaming at 2 in the morning for no reason other than she’s tired, or when you realize you haven’t showered in days – you miss the other life, the one where we were only responsible for ourselves.

Neither of us would go back and change a single thing. We are each reveling in the precious awesomeness that is our daughter. Our love came together and we created a human. A little girl. She looks like her father. She has a club foot that requires a cast. She isn’t at all hindered by the cast. She’s a calm gentle soul, even when she’s screaming and crying you know it’s because she’s hurting from gas or just so exhausted she doesn’t know what else to do. You can already see her personality shining through.

And I have changed as well. My priorities in life have altered drastically. I feel like a completely different person. I’m not any calmer or less dramatic and emotional (not all of my emotion is hormones!). But I have a different focus. I of course still want to publish my novel and become a published writer – this dream hasn’t gone anywhere. But I have new dreams that have nothing to do with me. They have everything to do with keeping this baby healthy and happy. Showing her a world of love and joy. Protecting her and making sure that her dreams are within reach. I want to give her everything.

She has made me a new person and I couldn’t love anything more than I love her.

I may have given birth on March 3rd, 2016 to my daughter but in reality I gave birth to a new me right alongside her.