Jack's Birth Story, Part One: My Water Breaks

I've been trying to write Jack's birth story for months now.  I've started, stopped, changed, and deleted his story several times.  I'm not quite sure how to capture our story.  His birth wasn't anything like I hoped or planned, but that doesn't mean it's not an incredible, life changing, epic moment.  It was scary, unexpected, and turbulent   I'm just not sure how to convey all that his birth was.  I'm terrible about writing about my emotions.  I can write about what happened, but I never seem to fully convey all that I was feeling.  Some moments are blurry, some moments I wish I could change, and some moments I'll never, ever forget.  But I've been putting this off for too long and so I'm just going to write it already.  It may be long....grab a drink and make yourself comfortable.

36 hours before my water broke; my friend Bug is ready to catch the baby

I don't trust doctors.  Especially when it comes to the business of delivering babies.  I don't trust them at all.  Before getting pregnant, I did A LOT of research about what birth in America is like and I didn't like anything I learned.  Our nation's cesarean rate is alarmingly high, our infant/mother mortality rate is alarmingly high (for a developed country), the number of "necessary" medical interventions during birth is alarmingly high, what women actually know about labor and delivery is painfully inadequate, and I feel like the whole industry puts profits before the well being of mother and baby.  I could write an entire blog about how awful I think the American birth industry is, so let's just say that I don't trust doctors and didn't want to be anywhere near a hospital for the birth of my child and leave it at that.

After the highly medicalized start to my pregnancy, I desperately wanted a more natural and holistic experience of pregnancy and prenatal care.  I didn't want any more (what I deemed to be but felt pressured into) unnecessary ultrasounds.  I didn't want any more invasive checks of my body.  I didn't want any more blood draws.  I was healthy, the baby was healthy, and I just wanted to be left alone to be pregnant.  Instead of transferring from my fertility doctor to a regular OB/GYN, I decided to see a midwife for my prenatal care and planned a water birth at a birth center.  I always knew I wanted a natural, intervention free birth (even more so after all the research I'd done).  A birth center would provide me with all the care baby and I would need, and since no interventions were available through a midwife, our chances of complications were greatly reduced.  I was so looking forward to my water birth.  But that's not what happened.

At 7 am on October 22, 2012, my water broke.  I was rushing home after taking my Mom to the Greyhound station, and I really had to go to the bathroom.  I put my key in my back door when I felt something warm and wet running down my leg; I hoped it was just incontinence and I had wet myself because I was only thirty-three weeks and three days along in my pregnancy.  It was seven weeks too early for my water to be breaking.  This simply could not be my water breaking.  No way.

I went inside with a pit of dread in my stomach, rather confused about the warm and wet sensation at the back door.  There wasn't a lot of fluid like you see in the movies and the pressure on my bladder seemed to have let up, so I assumed it was time for me to go to the store and buy some Depends if I was going to be wetting myself for the next 7 weeks.  Certainly this wasn't my water breaking.  I decided to pay closer attention to what my body was doing, just in case I hadn't actually wet myself, but I was trying to stay optimistic obviously in complete denial.  Dennis had already left for work, and I didn't have to go in until 10 am, so I decided to ignore what had just happened and take a power nap.  Surely my water hadn't broken.

I got up at 8:30 am and had to pee (if you've ever been pregnant, you know that running to the bathroom constantly is a recurring theme to your days).  I took two steps from the couch when a small gush of fluid came out of me, this time just like in the movies.  I froze, in shock.  This couldn't possibly be my water breaking.  Surely, surely I had peed myself.  I stood there, in the middle of my living room, frozen in place not sure what to do and all I could think was please be pee, please be pee, please be pee.   After a few seconds of dumbfoundedness, I ran to the bathroom chanting, "Please be pee, please be pee, please be pee..."  I ran back to the living room, "Please be pee, please be pee, please be pee..."  I ran back to the bathroom, not sure what to do.

I stood in the bathroom doorway completely panicked.  I didn't know if I should run to the car and drive somewhere (not sure where), or run to the street and flag someone down (not sure why - help, I think my water broke! - it's not like I was dying), or if I should call 911 (really?!? - again, not a life threatening situation).  I took a deep breath and tried to slow my pulse; my heart was trying to beat it's way out of my chest.  I grabbed my phone and called Dennis:

D:  Good morning, Honey.
J:  Hi.....so, um, yeah, I think my water (burst into tears) just (sob) broke (uncontrollable crying).
D:  Okay, so we're having a baby.
J:  (sob, gag, sob) But it's too soon! (sob) I'm not ready yet (sob) I haven't even packed my hospital bag (sob, gag, sob).  We haven't finished our (sob) childbirth class! (gag, sob, gag)
D:  It'll be okay.  People have babies early.  We'll be fine, calm down, call the Midwife, and let me know what she says.
J:  (sob, sob, sob)
D:  Honey, calm down.  Take a deep breath.  We're having a baby!!!

He's always so calm in these situations.

I call the Midwife and tell her what happened.  She tells me to stay calm and that it could be any number of things that aren't my water breaking.  I feel pretty skeptical about her answers, but am so deep in shock and denial at this point that I cling to the hope that my water did not, in fact, just break.  Since I wasn't having any contractions, she told me to come in that afternoon to get checked out.  I'm still so in shock that I ask if I should go to work, or lie down and rest (or stand on my head - maybe that would help); I really wanted her to tell me to call in from work (I never call in - I even worked through 3 months of horrible morning sickness), but she doesn't.  She tells me I can go to work if I feel like it, so I decide to go in to work.  Honestly, if she had told me to sit down and learn to knit, that's what I would've done at this point.

Since she said I could work, I decided to go to work (did I mention I was in denial?).  Getting ready and going to work was normal.  Normal meant my water did not break.  Normal meant there was some other explanation.  Normal meant we'd all have a good laugh at the morning hysterics I had just gone through.  Normal meant I had only peed myself.  I called Dennis and told him what the Midwife said and that I was headed to work.  He was going to get me at lunch time and take me for my checkup.  Everything was not normal.

I shower and get ready for work, by which point it is incredibly obvious that, yes, my water has broken because I'm STILL LEAKING AMNIOTIC FLUID!  And I'm leaking so much that I have to put on a pad to contain it.  So you would think at this point I would call in from work and head straight to the birth center, but no, that's not at all what I do.  I figure since I'm not having any contractions that I can make it through until lunch and get checked out then.  Denial, denial, denial.  I was in shock.  My brain was fuzzy, my hands were shaking, and I was probably driving 30 mph on the freeway trying to maintain control of myself.  I get half way to work when I come to my senses.  I call Dennis back:

D:  How's everything?
J:  I'm halfway to work, and it's pretty obvious to me now that my water broke.  I don't think it could be any of the other things the Midwife said.  I'm not having any contractions, but I don't think I should be working today.  How sanitary can it be for me to be leaking fluid all over the place, anyway?
D:  Probably not very sanitary.  I thought it was kinda strange that you decided to go in.  Call the Midwife when you get there and tell her we're coming straight to the birth center.  I'll meet you at work. (laugh)  Well, you did always say you'd work until your water broke.
J:  (laugh) True.  I guess this is a good enough reason to call in! (nervous laugh)

I get to work and it still hasn't fully sunk in that I will most likely be having a baby in the next 24 hours.  I call my bosses and let them know what's happening, but tell them there's a chance it's nothing and I'll be back at work the next day - always the optimist still in denial.  I get hugs from my coworkers.  I try not to cry.  My client (who is a regular client of mine) arrives:

C:  Good morning!  How's the baby?
J:  Soooo, my water broke this morning on the way in (white lie to cover my stupidity for coming in anyway).
C:  Get in my truck, I'm taking you to the hospital.
J:  My husband is on the way to get me.
C:  Well, okay, if you're sure I don't need to take you in.
J:  I'm sure; everything's fine.
C:  Okay, see you after the baby.  Good luck with everything!

I call the Midwife again, and stress to her that I really think my water has broken and I need to come in.  She agrees; if I feel that strongly I should come in, but it could be nothing.  Better to be safe than sorry.  I get off the phone with her and wait for Dennis, wondering what's going to happen next.  By this time I've pretty much accepted the fact that my water broke, but I'm hoping something can be done to delay delivery.  I know I'm not far enough along to deliver at the birth center and don't want to go to a hospital.  I'm bargaining with Fate to not let me go into labor until I can deliver at the birth center.  Please not the hospital, please not the hospital, please not the hospital.   I'm trying to stay calm and not panic.  I pace back and forth around the lobby at work, my hands shaking and my breath short trying to burn my nervous energy instead of breaking down in tears.

Dennis shows up and gives me a big hug and I start to feel a little better.  We don't have much to say to each other.  I think we were both pretty nervous, but he is always pragmatic and sensible where I am always an emotional wreck.  He says something that makes me laugh, but I can't remember what it was that was so funny.  We get in his car and head to the birth center.

Like I said, this is a long story.  Now that I'm into the story I realize I'm going to need to break it down into parts so your eyes don't get tired and you don't get too bored reading this.  I'll finish up all the posts today, so I guarantee I'll have the rest of the story autoposted in the next day(s).

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