A Birth Story: Elizabeth Lopez
I had my mind set on the birth I wanted. I was determined, committed and convicted about having a certain type of birth. I did the research, I did the kegel exercises, went to prenatal yoga, went to a chiropractor, everything. Throughout my pregnancy I kept saying, “If anything happens we will be transferred to the hospital,” but in the back of my mind I was saying, “yeah right, that will NOT happen.”
I had a sonogram at 30 weeks and found out our daughter was breech. Everyone kind of shrugged it off as normal and not a big deal. So I did too. I kept going in for sonograms to check her positioning, 34 weeks, 35 weeks; still breech. I was so frustrated because I knew breech delivery at our birth center was not an option, but I was not going to have my baby at a hospital. I was going to do this the way I planned.
I did everything. I did flips in the pool, weird exercises with my feet up in the air, went to a chiropractor who specialized in flipping babies, my yoga instructor even had me doing headstands at 38 weeks pregnant to try to get our baby to turn. Nothing. When I had my final sonogram at 38 weeks and she was still breech we had to reconsider. “Can we give her one more week?” I asked my midwife. She was going to turn. I knew it. So we didn’t set a birth plan. We were going to give her until week 39 and then consider other options.
It was one of my normal middle of the night trips to the bathroom. I always looked at the clock when I got up to see how long I held it in my sleep. It was a little game I played with myself. How long can I make it through the night without peeing. I was the winner AND the loser. 3am. I got back into bed.
What was that? I felt a gush of fluid. No one told me this would happen. Everyone said this wasn’t normal. Labor doesn’t usually start this way. “Noe, my water broke,” I said in a panic while trying to stay as calm as possible, “but I don’t know. I’m going to look it up.” I ran to the bathroom and put on an adult diaper, the part of pregnancy people DON’T tell you about, and hopped on the computer and googled “how to tell if water broke.” Yep. It was happening. But we didn’t have a plan. Our birth plan wasn’t set (I’m still 38 weeks) and she was still breech.
I called my midwife and she told me to go back to sleep. That wasn’t going to happen. So my husband and I packed bags and ate breakfast and got back into bed and stared the ceiling for a while. My contractions hadn’t started. I was confused. Where were they? Aren’t they supposed to start right away? I thought I was prepared for this, but I clearly wasn’t. I didn’t know what was happening. So, when the sun came up we took our dog for a walk around the block to try to get my contractions going. I had another breakfast because why not? Then it was time to go to the birth center. We knew what was coming. We knew I only had one option. I had to surrender. I knew that. My stubbornness could only take me so far and after that I knew I had to do what was best for our daughter.
Once we arrived at the birth center our midwife gave us two options. Have a cesarean at Baylor, a hospital close to home, known for being very progressive and natural birth friendly. Or drive to Denton, for a possibly breech birth with a doctor we had never met and didn’t know if he was on shift at that time. Also, Denton was about an hour from home. It was Baylor. It was a cesarean.
In the middle of rush hour traffic I began to have more intense contractions and by the time we arrived to Baylor I was in active labor. We got into the room and it was so hectic and overwhelming. Noe was off parking the car and I was alone in a room full of strangers. I had no idea what to expect because when it came to the hospital, “yeah right, that will NOT happen.” So here I was, stuck in a hospital bed hooked up to IVs and not allowed to stand up trying to tell the doctor my situation. With each contraction getting stronger I had the natural urge to walk, squat, get on all fours, anything but lying in bed on my back. But I knew I was about to have a cesarean so I just had to push through for a little longer.
I was in the operating room (OR) around 10:45am and given all the meds when the nurse asked if we had a playlist. Thank goodness because this changed everything. The music was playing and it felt like it was just me and my husband in the room and nobody else. Once the surgery began, it went quick. Olive was born at 11:03am.
I’ll never forget the moment we heard our daughter start crying, we were looking into each others eyes (weeping, obviously) with Little Lover by Foreign Fields playing in the back ground and there she was. A cry we’d never heard never sounded so familiar. Those first moments in the OR with Olive on my chest, I’ll never forget them. I’ll never forget how tiny she was, how pruned her body was, how much she looked like her father. The high you feel when your child is placed on your chest is incomparable to any other feeling I have ever felt or ever will feel.
After a few minutes a nurse walked over and said, “wow, she is lucky to have you two as parents.” What a way to make a new mom feel amazing! Since putting me all back together takes longer than the actual birth, we just laid there as a little family, smiling, laughing, crying, enjoying that life changing moment in a setting we never thought we would be in. But it was ok. Our daughter was healthy, I was healthy, we were finally together and that’s all that matters.