Birth Story Part 4: Going Up The Country

The epidural was in. The balloon was in. And we were coming up on 48 hours in the hospital. Before coming in for my induction I just kept saying, “I hope this doesn’t take more than twelve hours.” And at this point I think it had been nearly twelve hours since I was able to move. So spirits were a little low to say the least.

A nurse came in to check on the balloon- to see if it had fallen or popped or filled up with helium, to be quite honest I’m not sure.

“Your membranes have ruptured.” she said and I panicked.

Was that supposed to happen? Was that medical talk for you pooped? It had to be.

“I’m sorry, I had a lot of jello and–“

“So did you feel your water break?” the nurse asked.

“My what?” Ohhh… membranes rupturing = water breaking. Who knew? Probably a lot of people, but it was news to me. “Oh yeah, I did.” *I definitely did not.

But upon hearing this update Chris and I both got excited. It also reaffirmed my fears about the fact I had literally no feeling for what was going on down there. I prayed it was only my membranes lingering under the scratchy white hospital sheets.

“So this is good, right?” Chris asked.

“It can be,” the nurse said, but she wasn’t that convincing.

Never the less, Chris and I clung to the hope that the end was near. The nurse checked my cervix and…

“Any change?” I asked, one hundred percent certain there had to be some dilation going on. There just had to be.

She sighed heavily and I knew.

“There is not,” she said.

And now I was wondering what in the hell was wrong with me? And if this were the 1800s what would have happened? I wondered a lot about the 1800s while in the hospital. Or just the past in general I should say… How have women been doing this forever? And more importantly if God magically put baby Jesus inside of Mary why didn’t He magically take baby Jesus back out, you know what I’m saying? Seems like that would have been easier for everyone.

I don’t know. These were just some of the thoughts I had while laying in my hospital bed hoping I wasn’t unknowingly shitting the bed. The mind goes to weird places in times of distress.

The doctor came in shortly after and it was time. Time to talk about a c-section.

Now I’ve been asked if I was disappointed I didn’t give birth vaginally. I know this is a big thing for a lot of women and I respect that ideal. To each their own delivery. But from the very start Chris and I told our doctor our only “birth plan,” was to get baby girl in our arms as safe as possible, whatever that may be. I really didn’t have a preference.

“Let’s move forward with the c-section,” I said around 8 p.m. on November 18th. Enough was enough.

And eight weeks later my vagina and I have since discussed this moment at length and we both agreed it was for the better. Like I said, to each their own delivery.

The moment this was decided things picked up at hyper speed. After waiting for 48 hours it’s difficult to put into words the shift that took place. There was suddenly a flurry of people in our room readying us for surgery.

“You’ll have a baby within about 45 minutes,” one of the nurses said as she asked Chris to gather our things to move into the post delivery room.

The anesthesiologist began to increase my drugs and check my vitals, “You won’t feel any pain,” she said. “But about five minutes into surgery you might feel the sensation like you can’t breath and you’ll be gasping for air, but just remind yourself to calm down and take long slow breaths.”

Wait, what? A few things to know about me: #1. I am very claustrophobic and hearing something like this is absolutely terrifying. #2. When I get anxious I already can’t breathe. And #3. WHAT?

“You’re going to have to explain that again, because just hearing that makes me feel like I can’t breathe,” I said as I began dry heaving again. The heaves quickly turned into full on vomiting, a fun side effect of the increased drugs.

But things start to get foggy at this point. I’m not sure why/what the anesthesiologist was referring to when she told me that little tid bit, but I think it had something to do with the part when they pull baby from your ribs, I don’t really remember.

Suddenly I’m being wheeled back to a surgery and I can barely focus on what is happening. I remember thinking to myself, well this is nothing like the movies. Giving birth is supposed to be magical and powerful and most of all, you’re supposed to be coherent, right? So a part of me was like STAY PRESENT, you’re about to have a baby. And the other part was like ah screw it, just float away. I’m sleepy.

Once in the surgery room every doctor and nurse went around the room and said their name. They were all women and they were all incredible. Just being surrounded by this group of strong women made me feel so much more at ease. Mentally, I mean. I was still physically rather sick and getting sicker by the second. Chris would have to hold a brown bag next to me through out the entire procedure as I never stopped throwing up. Once again, why don’t we ever see that in the movies? No one prepared me for all of the vomiting.

From start to finish, I think the entire c-section took less than eight or nine minutes.

“They’re like a Nascar pit crew,” the anesthesiologist said to Chris and I before they started. I don’t recall the name of this anesthesiologist who was next to me the entire time, but she was a hoot. I’m not even kidding, both Chris and I loved her. She was also the one who instructed me to lay like “naked Jesus,” before things began. How’s that for a fun visual?

“What kind of music do you want?” She asked after everyone introduced themselves.

“Chris, you know what to put on.”

And then someone grabbed Chris’s phone, hooked it up to the operating room speakers, and as the birthing process began Canned Heat flooded the room.

I’m going up the country
Baby, don’t you wanna go?
I’m going up the country
Baby, don’t you wanna go?

I’m going, I’m going
Where the water tastes like wine
I’m going
Where the water tastes like wine
So we can jump in the water
Stay drunk all the time.

I’m gonna leave this city
Got to get away
I’m gonna leave this city
Got to get away
Well, all this fussing and fighting
Man, you know I sure can’t stay

Did we discuss this before? No. But Chris just knew. This is my happy song. Was it an odd choice for giving birth? Oh, for sure. But never the less, it was the one we chose.

Other than listening to Canned Heat, followed by Janis Joplin, I don’t remember a lot of the actual c-section. That is until they started to pull her from my ribs. I recall that part… I’ll never forget it. I could feel my body being yanked back and forth, and back and forth. It wasn’t necessarily painful, just very strong, and very weird. This is the time when the anesthesiologist warned I might not be able to breathe. I’m not sure if this happened because I was just focused on wondering if my lower half would still be there after all of this.

And then someone said, “She’s here! Your baby girl is here.”

I don’t think she even cried, it was more like a squawk, like a little baby bird. Chris pulled the down the sheet and I asked him if it was true, “Is she really here? Do we have a baby?”

“She’s here,” he said. “We have a little girl.”

And then they whisked him away as I lay there in a fog. I remember feeling incredibly sad that I was so sick and out of it. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Wasn’t I supposed to hold her immediately? She needed skin to skin, right? But at the same time I was grateful they didn’t immediately give her to me. I could barely lift my head, how was I supposed to hold a baby?

I don’t know how much time passed before I saw her. Maybe it was a minute or maybe it was ten. Chris said he brought her next to me while I was still on the operating table but I don’t remember any of this. I could barely open my eyes.

They stitched my stomach while Chris cut the umbilical cord. Eventually we were all moved into the same recovery area and I finally got to hold our baby.

The nurse put her on my chest and I felt her little heartbeat against mine. The same heartbeat I’d been hearing inside of me for the last nine months was now outside of me. So while I may not remember much of the delivery, I remember the heartbeat. I remember the first time I heard it inside of me back in March of 2020 and prayed I’d get to someday hear it outside of me. Every doctor appointment thereafter I lived to hear that heartbeat. And finally on November 18th, 2020, I got what I hoped for. And every day since I still feel for her heartbeat (several times a day.)

“Hi little baby, it’s me,” I said. (I’m terrible with introductions.) “We know each other.”

It’s such a surreal moment when the tiny person you’ve been thinking about constantly and talking to every single day for nearly a year is finally with you.

“Is she Beatrix?” Chris asked.

“She is,” I said. “She’s Beatrix Harlow Hillis. We’ll call her Birdie.”

Our little Birdie.

Don’t act surprised by the middle name, it’s a family name. 🙂 And it’s a great name.

That my friends, is the birth story of Birdie, and the day we became mom and dad.

Stay tuned for parts 5-500 when I discuss postpartum life as well our first night with her when my pulse dropped into the low 40s and doctors and nurses were in and out of our room all night asking, “are you alive? Because the machines are telling us you aren’t.”

At one point the doctor asked if I was an extreme athlete and I responded, “kind of, I won every event at the 6th grade track meet.” If that’s not extreme I’m not sure what is. Classic me, always wanting to let the world know I did well at that 6th grade track meet.


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