When we got married, we already knew we wanted a family and one quickly. All forms of protection were tossed to the side and we set forth in our attempt to get pregnant. The thing was, we didn’t know if we could. We didn’t know how easy it would be. We knew of my medical history; precancerous cells having been removed years before meant there were risks if I were to get pregnant and a chance I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant at all. We also knew our age was a factor. Both inching closer to our mid-30s, we knew the timeframe to become pregnant was rapidly coming to a close. So we tried and we hoped.

It wasn’t until we went onto our honeymoon that we stopped hoping. I mean, of course we hoped. We wanted it to happen but we didn’t expect it to anymore. We put off our honeymoon by half a year, deciding to go overseas to the United Kingdom when they have the best weather so that we could enjoy it the most, rather than straight away after our November wedding, and after months of not getting pregnant we figured it wouldn’t happen–until it did.

When we returned from our honeymoon, I caught a cold, and then I felt my period coming on… and it kept coming on and not actually arriving. Five days after my missed period I took a pregnancy test because, I figured, like previous months where my period was late taking a pregnancy test and seeing I wasn’t pregnant was enough, it seemed, to get me to get my period. I had so little faith that I would get pregnant I forgot I took the test. I went about my apartment in the early morning while my husband slept, cleaning up puke from a cat–how romantic, that in the moments before life-changing news I was cleaning puke off a floor–and it wasn’t until I returned to the bathroom to wash my hands that I saw the test and remembered I had taken it.

I grabbed it, already about to throw it out, and glanced at the screen expecting to see “not pregnant.” But that wasn’t the case.

After a blood test and confirmation of the pregnancy by my OB, we knew we were indeed pregnant and so did my body. Morning sickness came rapidly and I went from feeling a little queasy every now and then to feeling completely like death all the time. Within a week’s time I was dry-heaving continuously and the only relief I ever found was through laying down and sleeping. This continued until the end of my fourth month of pregnancy when, after vomiting exorcist-style, I suddenly and gratefully felt better.

But the discomfort didn’t last for long as within two weeks I began feeling a soreness between my legs. It felt like I had been kicked, like my pelvic area was bruised. The pain continued, gradually getting worse and causing walking to be painful. Suddenly, I couldn’t walk for long, two or three minute stints at most. I hadn’t been able to go grocery shopping while I had morning sickness because the scents in the store made me openly gag, now I couldn’t go grocery shopping because I could only make it through half the trip before the pain in my pelvic area was too great. And that pain continued to get worse with every week as my belly grew.

But that wasn’t the only concern. The surgery I had years before to remove pre-cancerous cells came to haunt me. The doctors couldn’t tell how my cervix would react to pregnancy but felt there were two possibilities. One, that the cervix wouldn’t allow itself to dilate and I would have to get a c-section. Two, the cervix would be too weak and I would go into pre-term labor. Even worse, they were concerned my labor would occur before the baby was viable and I would lose him. So I began having sonograms every three weeks. Every three weeks I would sit nervously until the technician said my cervix wasn’t dilating and it was the way it should be. Then I would see my little boy wiggle and move on the screen until the doctors began to show another concern–his size.

He kept measuring ahead of schedule. Something that wasn’t a surprise to me, I was certain I was pregnant earlier than they claimed but they disbelieved me and kept going by a dating structure which is insufficient. March 6, that was his due date, they were sure of it. And as the pregnancy progressed, my pelvic pain grew worse and other concerns stepped in.

Regarding my pelvic problems, I suddenly struggled to walk short distances, such as the few feet it took to cross my tiny apartment. I had to begin working from home and was going to a chiropractor multiple times a week. There were scares that sent me to the hospital and after confirming the baby was fine, a doctor diagnosed me with symphysis pubis dysfunction, which meant my pelvic bone was separating and the two sides kept rubbing against one another. I was told not to lift anything greater than 5, 10 pounds max, and restricted from doing nearly all household chores. Suddenly, my world became nothing but work, completing graduating school, and sitting still while I grew a baby.

Beside this, the doctors were still worried about the baby’s size and that I wouldn’t be able to push him out and would have to rely entirely on a c-section. By this point, I didn’t care, I just wanted him out and for my pregnancy to be over with. I missed movement, I missed freedom, I missed having control of my own body.


At 36 weeks and 2 days, I lost my mucus plug. The baby was already measuring at 40 weeks at this point and my chiropractor and a close friend (former L&D nurse) were certain I’d go into labor within a week. But I didn’t. I measured at one cm dilated at my 37-week appointment.

During my 37th week, I began having repetitive contractions that were bad enough to send me to the hospital. I was in pain, breathing hard and crying from the discomfort. I was certain things were moving along but when we headed to the hospital the contractions began to drift off, becoming less painful and further apart.

I went to triage in the women’s hospital and they monitored me for an hour before sending me home. Braxton hicks contractions, they claimed. I was so upset because I had been so certain that we were going to be welcoming our little man into the world.

The following week I went for my 38-week appointment and they said I was still one cm dilated and no more. I was so disheartened; I had been certain there was progress based on how painful the contractions were the week prior. I also felt the constant feeling that my son was getting into position and dropping down, but they said at the moment he was high up.

My husband, knowing how upset I was, suggested we go out for the evening. We had Italian at a restaurant we had never been to then slowly waddled our way to the car and stopped at Barnes and Noble then a game shop. It was a nice outing, just the two of us, and we were out much later than we had been in weeks. We came home and watched a little TV before I drifted off to bed and he fell asleep on the couch.


Some time after 1 am, I got up to go to the bathroom. At this point of pregnancy, I saw the bathroom frequently. Nearly every one to two hours through the night I would get up and make my way into the bathroom without a light on, pee, then go straight back to bed. I had it down to a few minutes of being awake, at most, before I was back in bed and asleep.

Except this time.

After going to the bathroom I stood up and suddenly there was the sound of something falling into the toilet water followed by a splash that hit my legs. It was as if a water balloon had been dropped–a sudden, gathered drop of water that exploded and splashed everywhere. In my sleepy haze, I thought I had dropped my cell phone into the toilet although I hadn’t brought my cell phone into the bathroom with me.

Blindly running my hand along the wall, I flipped on the bathroom light and looked down, still expecting to see my phone in the toilet, but paused. There was a steady stream of clear liquid running down my legs and pooling at my feet. I stared for a moment before realizing that this was, without a doubt, my water breaking. Often I’ve heard of women going to the hospital thinking their water broke. I had done it myself and I knew others who did it too. “You’ll know when it happens,” I was told repeatedly and I would sigh. How are you to know it’s happening when it’s never happened to you? Every time I thought my water was breaking, I was sure it was happening, but now…now I understood exactly what they had meant.

The liquid kept coming, like a garden hose was draining out between my legs with hot liquid that made my cold skin pink. It pooled onto the floor, stretching out over the tile, and I screamed for my husband. He came skidding into the doorway, bleary eyed and confused, and looked at the floor then at me. He cursed then spun in a circle. “What do I do? What do we do?” he asked, the sleep still hanging on every word he said.

“Call the doctor, tell them what’s happening. I think they’ll want us to go to the hospital. Bring me paper towels.” We went through half a roll trying to cover up the seeping fluid on the floor as more came out as I bent over to put the paper towels down. During this time, my husband made his call and the night nurse said she’d get back to us. “I’m calling my mom,” I stated. “I’m texting Andy and Diana,” my husband announced–our dear friends who have two kids of their own and the knowledge of Diana being a former L&D nurse. Everyone said what we had already assumed: get to the hospital.

But when you have a constant stream of liquid coming out of you and a carpeted bedroom, preparing to leave seems impossible. I remained in the bathroom until the liquid tapered off, having made my way to sit at the edge of the tub and let myself drain into it. Once the flow slowed, I washed my legs as best as I could then slowly got on new underwear and sweat pants.

“Feed the cats, get my purse, put our overnight things by the door for the hospital bag,” I instructed my husband as he ran in a panic through our apartment trying to get everything ready to go. He was sleep deprived and nervous and excited and couldn’t focus. I was sleep deprived and nervous and excited but couldn’t go anywhere while my water was breaking all over the floor so it afforded me the concentration of what needed to get done.

It was after 3 am when we left the apartment after taking one last picture of just the two of us–a family of two–and made our way to the car. It was raining as Bruce secured all of our items and I gently covered my seat with a garbage bag and towel. I got in and felt a gush of more fluid rush from my body and soak into my pants and the towel. We made our way to the hospital through empty, dark roads gleaming from traffic lights and arrived to a hospital that was locked down and silent for the night.

The doors were closed, locked, and all was left was a sign telling us to hit a buzzer to request access. “Uh,” my husband began, looking at me as we stood on the sidewalk outside of our car that we parked there. “My wife’s water broke, so we came here.”

The doors opened and two security guards offered me a wheelchair as we gave our information to the front desk. Then I was wheeled away, going to triage as I had done before but never in a wheel chair. Triage always struck me as lonely and cold. A circle of rooms, each one small, and always somewhat terrifying. I had been to triage a handful of times during my pregnancy and it never wasn’t scary. Twice it was for bleeding, once because my doctor felt my cervix was softening and showing signs of pre-term labor, another just a week before because I thought I had contractions, three times it would have been a disaster if I had gone into labor. The week before had been simple disappointment that he wasn’t coming. But for some reason as I stood with shaky legs from my wheelchair and crawled onto the hospital bed I felt that this was exactly where I needed to be.

The previous times I had visited triage it was an hour of questions and monitoring before I was told to go home, but there seemed to be an urgency in this visit. They wrapped the three monitors around my swollen belly and I heard the familiar thumping of my son’s heart, they checked my dilation and cervix, but through it all the conversation had changed. There was talk of what to do next–being brought to my room, getting our bags from the car, where did my husband park, did we have a living will–and yet I still couldn’t stop myself from asking “will you be sending me home?”

The doctor laughed and shook his head. No, I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital until the baby was born.

Despite that they monitored me for an hour, the time passed quickly. I still hadn’t dilated, still had no effacement, it was just that my water broke. I had no contractions, no pain, and they began talking about concern of infection if my body didn’t begin to go into labor soon. “We don’t like to go past eighteen hours,” they said as they double-checked when my water actually broke. “We’re going to give you Pitocin to urge the labor to start.”

I’ve never been one for needles, despite having multiple tattoos. I squirm and look away and go very still, the nurse always apologizes repeatedly and always, always, the needle will go through the vein and they’ll have to start over. This was no different but after multiple tries, I was hooked up to an IV and just in time to be rolled out of the room to be taken to labor and delivery when everything went on hold.

At the other end of the hallway a woman came in on a stretcher, her belly bulging much like mine, and they rushed her into the first triage room. We continued on our path, heading towards the doors she had entered from and as we passed she let out a blood curdling scream.

“She won’t be making it to labor and delivery,” my nurse murmured and my eyes went wide. Her scream was filled with pain and that was what I had waiting for me–but perhaps, hopefully, it wouldn’t be as bad with the addition of an epidural–yet the solid closure of the elevator doors made it seem like I was being locked away and for a brief moment, I wanted out.

The feeling passed when the doors opened on the next floor and I went rolling along to what would be my room. I don’t even remember the process, just the elevator doors opening and my arrival to the room. The nurse helped me to the bathroom and hooked me up to the machines. The Pitocin was given immediately and I was urged to get comfortable and rest if I could. It was, by this point, after five in the morning and the world was just starting to get a hint of daylight. I began to realize just how tired I was and tried to relax but sleep seemed distant.

The morning passed without issue and my doctor who I had just seen twenty-four hours beforehand came in. It was her day to work in the hospital and it seemed fitting that the doctor I saw all through my pregnancy would be who would birth my child. She checked to see how I had been progressing and seemed satisfied. Contractions were starting, I was dilating, all was well, and so we waited.

Hours passed as we rested as best as we could, I was banned from eating and could only feast on ice pops and liquids so Bruce slipped away to eat beyond my view. It wasn’t until lunch time, near 11, that the pain grew worse and I requested an epidural.

I had always heard of the epidural involving a long needle and requested to not see any of the items that were to be used for my epidural. But when the nurse handed me a pillow and said “Hold onto this” I grew nervous. Despite my big belly and the dull aches of each contraction, I had to hunch myself over the pillow and arch my back as the doctor pressed between each spinal column bone and gave a local anesthetic. The pressure from the insertion of the epidural was uncomfortable and the sensation of the numbing agent blooming down my spine and into my legs was cold, but soon enough I no longer felt pain.


It was shortly after noon when there seemed to be an uptick in activity. More visits from nurses, more visits from the doctor, and the contractions being felt again despite the epidural. My doctor returned and pressed into an area “that’s where you’ll want to push,” she pointed out, “we’re going to do practice pushes.” My husband and a nurse grabbed my legs and held them up and I pushed, holding my breath all the while, for ten seconds then let go to take a breath; I repeated this three times before being allowed to rest.

The practice pushes continued every few minutes and the doctor left. I’m not sure when the practice pushes ended and my real pushing began. The nurse that was in the room acted so relaxed by everything that I didn’t realize we were actually working on having the baby until the pushes continued with every contraction. She sat beside the bed, only getting up to hold up one of my legs when the contractions hit and count out loud, and asked us how we met, what we liked to do, and other questions that were distracting enough that I never realized two hours had gone by until there seemed to be more hustle and bustle in the room again.

One of the nurses who popped in and out told my doctor on one of her brief visits that she felt it was getting to be time, my doctor nodded then disappeared behind the curtain. When she returned, she was in full garb as if going into surgery, right down to the clear blast shield over her face. “Oh shit,” my husband blurted out and I felt the same way. Suddenly, everything was very real. Suddenly, I knew this was almost over with.

I only had a few moments to become frightened–I had been frightened of delivery for so long and kept thinking of all the horror stories that tend to make their way through the news every couple of months–before there were more nurses in the room and the doctor was at my feet. After some back and forth, I agreed to have a mirror placed at the end of the bed but I continued to keep my eyes closed when I pushed and avoided looking at the mirror.

But then there was a chatter of voices, my husband sounding excited, everyone urging me to look. We got to the point that when I pushed, the top of my child’s head could be seen. After another push or two, I got the courage to look and sure enough, there it was.

At this point I knew when the contractions were coming because I felt a pressure to go to the bathroom, to push, and I allowed myself to listen to my body’s inherent signals. I pushed during my contractions and after seeing my son’s head, I pushed harder. One contraction, two, everyone was cheering me on and urging me to keep going, telling me I was doing well, saying that I was so close to delivering my child.

I pushed, I pushed harder than I had before, the biggest push I could, and everyone leaned forward and cried out with happiness. I didn’t see the start of the birth, but I saw my son’s chest and legs as they came out of me quickly and into the hands of the doctor.

It was all with one push, one moment he wasn’t there and then he was. Pink skin, fists flailing, and his screams filling the room. My husband stood in shock, tears filling his eyes, and I let my head fall back with relief. Everything had happened in a blur and continued to. My husband cut his umbilical cord, took our child in his arms, and placed him onto my chest.

This tiny, squirming, screaming infant flailed at my chest angry at entering the world and abandoning his warm home in my belly and I cried. We made this, this little creature that had grown from a cluster of cells and an egg sack. He lifted his head to fully scream his displeasure as my husband and I gasped at his very presence. He nursed immediately and then was whisked away to be measured and weighed.

I lay on the hospital bed as the doctor sewed up my minor tears and sighed, my eyes finding their way to the ceiling. It was over and it wasn’t bad. Honestly, the nine months of pregnancy was by far the worst part of it all.


We were moved out of labor and delivery and given a private room where our vitals were taken. Shortly after, I was able to stand again as the feeling in my legs quickly returned and the epidural was withdrawn. I went to the bathroom for the first time and was frightened by the amount of blood leaving my body. It was explained to me that this was normal and I could expect to bleed for up to 8 weeks. The nurse went through an entire process to clean myself down there and how to prepare a pain-killing and cooling padding to wear, something that would run my life for weeks following and make any trip to the bathroom three times as long.

Otherwise, my back killed me from the epidural, the spot where I had been poked ached, and I was horrendously hungry and exhausted. Immediately following giving birth the nurses urged me to order food and all I wanted was a bagel and fruit, they brought it in just as I left labor and delivery and I devoured it in my new room. My in-laws visited after and brought me a Subway sandwich that I ate quickly. After not having eaten in 24 hours, I was ravenous.

And there, amongst it all, was our tiny infant. He had calmed down and was sleeping steadily, doing so through the entire night where I dozed as well from pure exhaustion. He would fuss, randomly, and my husband would bolt from the couch they provided to check on him but he would already be back to sleep. The following day, we had a flood of doctors coming in to run tests and check charts and family popping in with food and hugs.

We were exhausted by the end of it, but still happy to see three of our friends who quietly came in just before visiting hours were over. They each held our tiny son and spoke softly to him then left quietly. It was the perfect end to our first day as parents but quickly we learned our rest would not be obtained.

“Tonight is usually a cluster feeding night,” our night nurse informed us. Cluster feeding? What the hell was that? We soon discovered he would want to eat every other hour through the night and with my only being able to make a small amount of milk, and the baby not quite latching properly, we quickly moved from befuddled new parents to complete panic. A breast pump was brought in and then by 4 am, formula for the baby so he would be satisfied for a little while longer and we would maybe get some sleep.

My husband did, but I lay still in my bed aching and exhausted and unable to sleep. The trauma of pushing a living human out of me had caught up, the screams my child had given in the first day of his life just repeated in my mind even when he slept, and I couldn’t quite go to sleep because I kept checking his tiny burritoed form to see the rise and fall of his chest.

It took two more days before I wondered if we had made a mistake. And I won’t lie, I’ve wondered “do I regret this” on more than one occasion. The bleeding continued for weeks, although it slowly became lighter and lighter. The latching issues continued and while we finally figured it out, my child was so ravenously hungry that I was left depleted from each feeding until at five weeks I decided to exclusively pump breastmilk and feed him that way. The screams continued and at one point reached such a crescendo that we exhaustedly begged my in-laws to take care of the baby for a night just so we could get some rest. There were other times his crying left me in tears as my aching, sore, tired body couldn’t handle it anymore.

The recovery, much like the pregnancy, was worse than the delivery. The idea to nap when the baby napped went out the window because the moment I was able to put the baby down I had to use my time to shower, use the bathroom, tend to my wounds and ensure their healing, eat, or clean baby clothing. We lost all sense of time and days. We kept a sheet where we recorded every diaper change and feeding because the time between each always warped and I never really knew how long or brief it had been.

I experienced a sense of exhaustion I had never experienced before. So tired I was that I didn’t trust myself to drive. I didn’t trust myself to use kitchen knives to prep any food–even though the opportunity to cook came rarely. I would speak, wanting to say something, and I’d use the wrong words or my sentences would stop mid-way. I tried to read a book and the words suddenly didn’t make sense, they didn’t look like words, they were shapes and nothing more.

By the fourth week of postpartum life, I was so exhausted that I was in tears for the majority of the day. I couldn’t function and I wept because I missed sleep so badly. I was getting sleep, but it was all brief. An hour here, thirty minutes there, but it was generally my laying in bed with my eyes shut but awake, always awake.

My husband sent me to bed and only woke me to pump breast milk. I slept for 10 hours and felt finally like I could function but I was still exhausted. At five weeks postpartum, I had three nights where I slept and only woke once to pump. Friends and my husband watched the baby each of those nights and that was, by far, the turning point.

My bleeding subsided considerably, the soreness of my body was relieved, and suddenly I could last almost the entire daylight hours of the day before feeling exhausted. I could drive short distances without feeling as if I were falling asleep behind the wheel. Finally, I was starting to feel more human.

It’s been nearly four months since I brought forth this child into the world. For a few weeks, I truly wasn’t sure I was made for being a mother. I thought frequently of my options to escape the decision I had made and generally it boiled down to being so very tired. I just wanted to run away, leave without a word, and get a hotel to sleep in. I kept thinking, “I understand why some people leave their child,” but it was all with the end goal of obtaining sleep. But sleep came, and the frequent wake ups through the night lessened to once a night. I don’t feel completely wiped by the end of every day and I’m seeing parenthood slowly become more of a reward.

During his fourth week, I was in tears from exhaustion after he had a crying spell. I sat on the couch with my head in my hands then heard my son make a noise. I looked up and he was studying me quietly then, suddenly, smiled. It was the first time he had smiled and my heart nearly burst. Now he coos and talks to me in his babbling way in the morning, smiling upon seeing me, and grins when I sing to him. When I give him a million kisses, he giggles. There’s reward for it all and it has been getting more and more fun.

Now I see us as a family unit, I always picture him in our future endeavors. I think for so long I didn’t know what he looked like, I couldn’t picture his personality or little face, but now he’s here in the flesh and I’m familiar with him–and he with me–so it’s easy to see. Each week I realize I’m able to do more and my strength is returning, although it feels like it’s going too slowly. While the first month I couldn’t handle a full shopping trip without having to take a seat, now I’m able to go for walks and do household chores. It’s amazing how quickly he develops and I find myself beginning to feel overwhelming pride and luck, as I see more clearly with more energy and rest, that he is mine.

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