A Marvelous Birth Story
This blog post has been semi-written and sitting in drafts since January. It's taken many forms and numerous hours of mental processing to get it to this point. I told myself that I needed to publish it by Marvel's birthday, and here we are almost a week later. Everyone has asked for her birth story, and those I've told it to are usually absolutely amazed. Up until a couple of months ago, I would only give people the two-sentence quick version of her birth story. "I woke up at 2 AM to go to the bathroom, and my water broke. I walked into the hospital at 10cms and had her by 4:30 AM" Yes, you read that right I had a two and a half hour labor and delivery. Get ready for this story, friends.
The doctor had said early on in our pregnancy that my chronic illnesses and small size could cause Baby Girl to arrive as early as mid-September. We were moving into our new apartment at the beginning of September. So it was a race against the clock to get ready for her arrival. During the same week as our move, our doctor informed us about our hospitals' new "C-Section Policy" at the time. It stated that unless there was a major medical reason, the baby would not be delivered until at least 39 weeks. The hospitals' wanted to lower their C-Section rate overall, and my OBGYN couldn't get any of my reason cleared. So by September, I was back on IV's to combat the 24/7 nausea and dehydration. I couldn't keep anything down, whether it was food or water. Baby Girl was breaking my ribs because she was running out of room inside me. Years of acrobatics and contorting had left my back and hips out of place with no relief. I was so miserable that I spent most of my last days lying and crying on the couch with Coco and "Bucky" the bucket while Andy put the apartment together. I was told time and time again by Kaiser to wait it out to 40 weeks because there was no "medically threatening reason for her to come out now." That statement didn't include my sanity.
I managed to make it to my 38-week doctor appointment, where the hospital finally agreed with my OBGYN that Baby Girl could be delivered the following week. At this point, I was thrilled and ready for her to be here. My OBGYN went to put her gloves on to examine me but said, "You know what? You will be here next Tuesday for her to be born. I'll save you from the extra prodding, and see you next week." I left the doctors office feeling fine and on a mission to get my last minute stuff done. After all, I still had a week left, or so I thought.
I went to Target for last-minute postpartum supplies and even half-packed our hospital bag that afternoon. I had started creating multiple to-do lists of the things we need to finalize like food stock ups and tying up loose ends at The Game of Nerds. Andy and I went to bed no different than we had the past nine months. At 2 AM on October 2nd, I woke up with the need to urgently pee. I tiredly trudged myself to the bathroom, sat down, and my water completely broke. For a second, I had to pinch myself because I thought I was dreaming. I opened the bathroom door shouting at Andy that my water broke. Out of a dead snore, he replies, "You gotta be kidding me?"
I replied, "No dear, I just thought it would be a fun game to play at 2 AM! You want to come to check?" He shot out of bed, searching for the Labour and Delivery number that we were supposed to input into our phones only about a million times but never did. The nurses knew I was a C-Section from my file, so they told me to take my sweet time. No joke. The nurse told us to take showers and pack our bag. "You have plenty of time to get here. Don't worry about anything until the contractions are closer together." Within 4 minutes of hanging up the phone, I was yelling at Andy that we needed to leave NOW. Andy tried to convince me that he had time for a shower and to wait for my parents to get Coco. But, I knew it my heart she was coming, and I wasn't panicking.
So we jumped in the car doing 90 MPH down the freeway. Our closest hospital is only five minutes away, but we had planned to go to the one twenty minutes away. It was newer, equipped with a better NICU, and my team of doctors was there in the case of an emergency. At one point, we had timed my contractions to one minute apart in the car, but Andy was convinced we were doing it wrong. We arrived at the hospital around 2:30 AM with me screaming in the parking lot that I would have her in the car if we didn't hurry. Since there were no wheelchairs in the ER, I walked into L&D, yelling my water had broke, and I needed to take the most massive crap of my life. If anyone is wondering what labor feels like, it's that. The world's biggest poop of your life and you KNOW that turd is HUGE! If you are a mom who's given birth, you also know that it usually means it's time to push!
Every single nurse and doctor I came in contact with those first twenty minutes blew me off. "Don't worry, honey. You have time." "Your water just broke, and it's your first. You will be here a while." It took them almost 30 minutes to get a doctor to come to check on me. When the doctor finally examined me, her face went from 0 to 100 real quick. I knew I was in trouble. "We got to get her in a room fast. She's coming." The nurse quickly informed me that I had just walked in L&D at 10 cm, and my daughter was on her way out. There was "no time" for a C-Section as we had initially planned. As I'm trying to gain my bearing and process everything, I asked for pain medication. I had to wait for the anesthesiologist, and let me tell you she was a peach. She seemed super annoyed and bluntly said to the nurse, "You know I can't give her anything, so why did you even call me?" By this point, I was flat out panicking.
My entire birth plan and prep had been thrown out the window with no plan B in place. My doctor, who had been treating me for fifteen years, had told us to skip the birth class because we "weren't going to need it" with a c-section. Yet, here is some strange doctor who I've never met before staring at my crotch, telling me I didn't have a choice anymore. I automatically looked at Andy and said, "I don't want to try and then end up on the table anyway." Andy looked like a deer in headlights, unsure of what to do. It was the situation that even my doctor was most worried about because we didn't know how MY body would react to labor and being that physically stressed out. But it was clear that we weren't making the decisions anymore. I was about to meet my fate and our daughter.
They wheeled me into the delivery room and got ready without even glancing at me or asking how I felt. I was given an oxygen mask because I started hyperventilating. At one point, I asked to change positions to give birth and was denied. The doctor just kept yelling at me to stop talking and push. I don't remember much after that. Andy says I scared the living crap out him because I went dead silent. I think I just went into some zone and didn't come out until I heard her cries. We arrived at the hospital at 2:45 AM, and Baby Girl was born at 4:39 AM. She was 7lbs 6oz and 19 inches long. According to the head nurse, they never had a woman walk-in at 10cm, still talking like I was. I became part of an impressive percentage of women who had a fast natural birth. They warned me, though, that my next one will be even faster. Oh, Joy!
The next most commonly asked question asked after her birth story is about her name. The minute she was on my chest, I knew her name was going to be Marvel. None of the other names we had chosen would have fit her. We had been talking about boy and girl names for a while during my pregnancy. Andy had vetoed almost all of the girl options we had picked out. I hadn't been sold on anything really up to that point. During one of our Funko shopping trips to Barnes and Noble, I picked up a name book since I was starting to get frustrated with him. We wanted our daughter's name to be unique and have meaning. The book I picked up had Marvel written on the back cover as a new "Pop Culture" themed baby names. I immediately added it to the list, and it went to our top three pretty quickly once we added Lee as a middle name. Most believe we did it as a tribute to Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics. Lee is my brother, dad, and grandfather's middle name. When we put it with Marvel, it was our perfect mix of unique and family meaning. We are keeping our second name choice a secret in case we have another girl down the road.
Yes, we want more. We've enjoyed this past year with Marvel even though it's been tough. It all comes down to whether or not my body can handle it again. A pregnancy with extreme HG was exhausting and didn't set me up for the best postpartum experience. My entire birth process was more traumatizing than empowering. Marvel broke my tailbone and delivered over two dozen stitches on her way out. We ended up not finding out about my broken tailbone until my six-week postpartum visit. Everyone told me, "Oh you just had a baby. It's supposed to hurt to sit." Little did I know that it wasn't supposed to be so painful you couldn't sit down at all. It would take me seven months to finally sit and move without pain. After months of hurling and unable to keep anything down during my pregnancy, it took my body a while to start liking food again. It took me weeks to use our tiny master bathroom without hyperventilating after experiencing my water breaking in it. That bathroom triggered my entire birthing experience over and over again. It took me a whole year to talk about the birthing experience without cringing, becoming angry or quickly jumping to the spark notes version. This blog piece will be the final piece of that chapter. The shock of delivery and recovery on top of caring for a new baby took a considerable toll on me. But yes, after all that misery, pain, and vomiting, I still want more. Marvel is the best thing, Andy and I have ever done together.