I’d been experiencing prodromal labor for weeks, almost a month. Not braxton hicks, but the real thing. I’d been dilating for so long, but water never broke and the contractions would start, get stronger, get closer together, then suddenly just stop. And it would all be over until it started again. This drove me crazy emotionally, because we were just SO ready to meet our girl. I’d cleaned and rearranged our home about a hundred times, and was going totally crazy, walking miles every single day to try to get her out.
Her due date (7/10/16) came and went, and the days just kept passing without any real sign of labor. We’d planned a homebirth, so induction was something I just didn’t want to deal with. I prayed so hard for my water to break, or some sort of sign that real labor was going to start, completely on its own. On Tuesday, DJ’s work had a mixer of companies all around town getting together at his office and eating hors d’oeuvres and drinking spiked tea. When planning our summer, we thought when we’d come to this, we’d have a week-old baby to hold. Instead, just a giant, heavy belly and continuous questions asking when I was due, and my response being “9 days ago…” every time.
We got home and did our usual routine. Ate ice cream, watched The Office late into the night, listened to our crazy party-house neighbors party on and we headed to bed pretty late. At this point in my pregnancy, I was waking up like every two hours to pee through the night. So I did, sometime around 1:45am and then something was different… I lost my plug. I got so excited because this was my first “real” sign of oncoming labor without induction. I tried to keep cool and not read too much into it. I went back to bed, told DJ and then something got caught in our little fan that startled us both because it made a loud noise. He got up to check it out, and then my water broke.
It literally felt like Niagra Falls came pouring out of me. It was such a surreal feeling. We had plastic under our sheet just in case this ever happened… thankfully. I just stayed laying down because I was soaked! I didn’t know what to do and felt so uncomfortable! Every time I moved even more came gushing out. DJ went and grabbed towels, and we tried to just remain calm even though we knew what was happening. Contractions began almost immediately, but they were bearable. Every time a contraction came, more water fell. My tummy had already shrunk!
I got up after drying off and getting situated, and went to bathroom to curl my hair and put on some makeup (remember, it’s like, 2am so feel free to insert eyeroll here). The adrenaline just sort of took over, and I assumed Nora would be here in a couple hours and I wanted to feel at least somewhat presentable for her ;)
The adrenaline faded pretty quickly, and the contractions were getting more intense. DJ called our midwife team and sent a text to my mom. They all showed up about an hour later. I had to find different positions to labor in comfortably… I was still talking and was able to smile so it was clear I hadn’t transitioned yet. The pain was definitely getting more intense though, and I started to fear I wouldn't be able to make it through. The thing about labor is, you just don’t know when it will end. I had in my mind that I’d birth Nora sometime during the morning hours, so when each hour passed, I was still in so much pain, and dilation had slowed… I got extremely frustrated and had a hard time pushing myself through it all mentally.
After a while my midwife insisted that I go walk around the block outside. I protested through my pain for a bit because I didn’t want people seeing me walking around while laboring haha. We lived in midtown so it was really busy; cars driving everywhere, people walking around… people would totally see me! But after a while, I got determined to do whatever I needed to get Nora further along and OUT. So I walked. DJ was amazing and such a huge support. He helped me walk through the contractions, not stopping to let them pass, but pushing through them and allowing them to do the work they needed to do.
I never wanted to eat, but they made me my favorite breakfast and I forced down a few bites. We showered, went for several more walks and tried to work it all out. After a while (sometime in the afternoon) during one of the walks outside, I felt the urge to go to the bathroom. Like, bad. I lived upstairs so every time we came and went outside I had to climb the stairs. I managed my way to the bathroom and couldn't do it. My midwife had me go back into the bed, and put me in some positions that made the contractions a whole lot stronger. They got SO INTENSE. I threw up and finally ended up in the warm tub of water.
I think this was the point where I transitioned. The contractions were intense, I finally realized the sensation I was feeling was the need to push my baby, not my bowels. DJ sat right behind me as I labored quietly and peacefully in the water. Soft acoustic worship music was playing, essential oils were diffusing, the afternoon light was shining through all the picture windows in our midtown treehouse… it was so peaceful and beautiful in this moment.
We both napped between contractions. I don’t know or understand how when they were two minutes apart… but I guess when you’re that exhausted… your body just does what it needs to. Each time I woke to the rising of a contraction, I began to push with everything in me. I groaned each time I pushed, and my neighbors or midtowners walking by probably thought something crazy was going on haha.
After an hour or two of pushing, and Nora crowning then going back in instead of coming out, my midwife checked to see what was going on (I was/am like super finicky down at my lady parts, so I always avoided being checked and would put it off until absolutely necessary), and her fingers hurt SO BAD, like, that burning that they tell you about when the shoulders come out… well I couldn’t handle it and just pushed with everything in me and Nora came out, and I jumped up out of the water because of the pain. Nora was there!!! I scooped her chubby, black haired sweetness up out of the water with DJ’s hand on her and my midwife’s too and I held her so close. It was the most beautiful moment of my life. All the pain washed away. It was all forgotten because this moment was so incredibly powerful.
We stared at her and she stared right back and she began to cry a strong healthy cry. I held her close and she continued to gaze at us with eyes wide-open. My midwife was telling us that her arm was at her face, she had a compound presentation which is why I had weeks of prodromal labor (my body was literally trying to move her hand away before preparing for birth) and with her large size plus her fist, that’s why she was having such a hard time coming out.
We got out of the water and onto the couch. They checked both our vitals and Nora nursed right away. She latched immediately which was the most beautiful feeling. There was no issue and my heart skipped a beat about it! Her cord had detached from my placenta, and I wasn’t having any more contractions, so I was having a really hard time getting it out. I was given a small dose of pitocin, and it came out fairly quickly after that… and it was HUGE. It was 10 pounds I think. I had lost SO MUCH fluid it was insane. Plus Nora was huge… my belly was literally flat already! It was so squishy and all my organs were out of place, but it was such a strange feeling going from a really heavy belly to so small so fast.
My midwife checked all the delivery deets, and I had a fourth degree tear. It was highly recommended that I got repaired at a hospital because of the damage, and the healing would likely be a lot better to have it done elsewhere too… however, this meant having to leave Nora behind at home while getting this done. We knew this was the wisest thing, so I nursed her a few more times, got lots of loving and snuggling in… made sure all was well and that things were all set. We called ahead and told the situation, and were told we’d be back home in just a couple hours. My midwife, DJ and I headed to the hospital and my mom stayed home with Nora. Some bags of breastmilk were donated for the few hours we were to be gone.
Upon arrival and admittance, I ate a sandwich I asked for from an ER nurse, because I was STARVING. I had just had a baby and pretty much ate nothing for 24 hours! It took so long for an actual doctor to come see us. Nothing against hospitals or doctors, really. But I just wanted to get this part over with and get home to my baby STAT. Hours later, the on-call OBGYN came in and checked everything, we agreed to having me get anesthesia since DJ wouldn’t be able to come into the OR so I didn’t want to be laying there being operated on, awake and alone. The problem was, since I ate that sandwich, I had to wait TWELVE HOURS before we could do the procedure because of the risk of vomiting while being under anesthesia. I was so upset. How was I supposed to know? We were all so tired, so frustrated, and I just wanted to be home with my brand new baby girl.
Anyways, they pumped me with antibiotics in case of infection, and admitted us to a quiet room where DJ and I could get some rest until time for my surgery. Since we thought this would be a couple hour situation, both our phones were dying, we didn’t bring a single personal item… phone chargers, toothbrushes, change of clothes, nothing. The next morning I was rolled down on the bed to the OR and I don’t remember much of anything until I woke up afterword. My midwife and DJ were both there and we talked with the nurse, signed a few papers, then headed home to be with our baby!
I couldn’t help but cry and cry when I was reunited with her. She nursed easily thankfully. I was so nervous that since she’d had bottles the last 12+ hours that she wouldn’t want to nurse, but she did and I was so grateful.
Her day of birth was wild, crazy and unexpected… exactly how my sweet girl is. I love her, and I love her birth story; even the hard parts. I’m just so in love with my baby, my husband and this motherhood journey… even the hard parts :)
Nora Jane Salas made her debut July 20th, 2016 at 5:13pm in our home on I Street in midtown. She was a healthy 9lbs 8oz and 21 3/4 inches long. She had a FULL head of dark hair, and dark blue eyes. Her voice has been raspy since her very first cry and still is today, one year later.
We love you our darling Nora!