I don’t know why, but I have put off writing out the story of Squishy’s birth for the past several weeks (5 to be exact). Or maybe I have been distracted. Either way, I finally got my kick in the butt this afternoon when C said she was working on hers. So, I sat down at my computer and started writing a rough draft. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I got about half-way through, when C posted hers. Initially I wasn’t going to read it until I had finished mine, but of course, I did. And (obviously) it was nearly identical to what I had written so far, except far more eloquent and concise. And so, with permission from C, I am instead going to share with you her version of the story that led to Squishy’s birth, with my point of view added in italics. She wasn’t even able to find an IP version of a birth story, and now, we’ll bring you both sides of the story combined….
Squishy’s Birth Story – An Intended Mother’s (And Now Surrogate’s) POV.
I know, I know – it’s been a while! I apologize for being so MIA but this Mom thing takes up a lot of time. That’s right – I’m a Mom! Our Squishy joined us November 16th at 7:26 pm, perfect and healthy, wearing pink. We have a little girl!
And here is where the surrogate goes and throws a HUGE curveball at all of our followers. C and J did not know that they were having a little girl and wanted to be Team Green. However, by no fault of my own, I found out mid-summer that there was a little girl in there. It was probably the hardest secret that I have ever had to keep!
In between cleaning bottles and changing diapers, I’ve been scouring the internet trying to find a couple birth stories from an Intended Mother’s point of view. Well, there are none so I’m going in blind..
Sunday, November 13th: After a long 3 days of driving, J and I arrived in Manitoba just in time for supper. We spent some time with A and her family, let Squishy know that it was time for eviction and then finally and happily crashed in a bed that wasn’t a hotel.
After being paranoid that I was going to go into labour before they arrived, I was finally able to relax, and my H was going to let me walk further than the end of the driveway. Mommy and Daddy had made it!
Monday, November 14th: The next day, after grabbing a spicy lunch [around 2:30 pm], while A was giving us a tour of the condo we’d be staying at once Squishy joined us, she stuck her head out of the bathroom and said to J and I, “Are you guys ready?!” Her water had broke less than 24 hours after our arrival to Manitoba. Squishy wasn’t wasting any time! Or so we had hoped.
We went right home and called the Midwives who told us to come in so they could confirm that it was, in fact, her water that broke. We got there within the hour, they checked A out and did a Nonstress Test on Squishy. Everyone was healthy and although A’s water had broke, there were no other signs of labour so we were sent home around 4:30 pm to wait for contractions.
And wait, we did..
The day my water broke also happened to be the day of the supermoon; the closest supermoon since 1948. I had read that full moons, and supermoons in particular, could cause a pregnant woman’s water to break. I had also read that they could cause a woman’s water to break prematurely, without any other signs of labour afterwards, leading to augmentation or induction of labour. I always laughed at full moon theories, thinking there was no way it could be true. But, the supermoon timing and theory sure ended up making sense with us.
Tuesday, November 15th: Through the night, A experienced some contractions but by morning they had stopped, so once we were all caffeinated and the kids were off to daycare and school, we headed back to the Midwives’ office for 10:00 am to reassess and look at our options.
They did another Nonstress Test and, unfortunately, Squishy was still very content in there so we were sent back home with some tips to get things moving in hopes that we could meet Squishy that day.
While yes, I was disappointed that things weren’t progressing yet, I was very thankful that the midwives let me go home again, and didn’t insist we go to the hospital. The typical (outdated) norm is that a woman should deliver within 24 hours of her membranes rupturing, but I was not willfully signing up for an induction. I knew at this point that the midwives were going to respect these wishes and were ready to advocate for me if they needed to.
After a couple hours of bouncing on her exercise ball and using her breast pump, around 6:30 that evening, contractions started coming fast and hard. I was so sure that this must finally be it! We packed up our hospital bags, had Grandma put the kids to bed and headed to the hospital.
This is where I tell you (whether you like it or not) that I never want to see another breast pump again in my life. The contractions that that thing brought on were fast and furious and didn’t even stick around once I stopped.
We got to the hospital and our amazing Midwife had a room all set up for us. She hooked A and Squishy up to the monitors, everything looked great but unfortunately, once A stopped pumping, the contractions had slowed down to every 10 minutes or so. The midwife, again, gave us some options and, in the end, we decided to go ahead with a Leave Of Absence from the hospital for that night so that A could spent the night in her own bed. We grabbed some Chinese and head back home.. Again.
But also, again, very happy to be allowed to go home!
This was harder on me than I had initially expected – the waiting, seeing A in discomfort, admitting to myself that even though she was in pain, I was still jealous. It was the beginning of a very emotional 24 hours.
I don’t know why this thought came about that same evening, but I wondered about this. I distinctly remember thinking about it when we were getting Chinese. And, though I don’t really get it, I understand why.
Wednesday, November 16th: After another restless night with contractions every 10 minutes, lasting around 1 – 2 minutes each but nothing more substantial [and certainly, no Squishy], we returned to the hospital at 8:30 am. A and Squishy were hooked back up, everything was still good but now it was time to discuss induction.
I woke up that morning frustrated, and I think my body held onto that feeling for the rest of the day. I was terrified of being induced and having another c-section, but was trying so hard to trust my body, Squishy, and the midwives that were caring for us.
A was incredibly clear with us and with our Midwives about her / our birth plan. She wanted to bring Squishy into this world as naturally as possible. The goal was an unmedicated VBAC and 45 hours after her water broke [at 11:30 am], A was in active labour and 5 cm dilated.
When I walked into the hospital with my first daughter, I was 6 cm dilated and still in denial that I was even in labour, so when I found out that I was only at 5 cm after 45 hours, I was crushed. This was our first check all pregnancy and I thought I would be much further along. I figured this baby was never going to come out.
So.. We walked. And we walked and we walked and we walked. If, for no other reason, than to get our steps in for the day [which, we totally did] because walking didn’t seem to be bringing Squishy to us any quicker. After our laps around L&D, A went back to the breast pump and by 2:30 that afternoon, after being checked, she had only progressed to 6 cm.
Since I was a VBAC candidate, hospital protocol is that I should have been hooked up to IVs and monitors the second I walked into the hospital. I am so thankful that the midwives left me alone (with our team) to walk. I would have gone crazy if it weren’t for those walks.
But, again, I was crushed when they checked me. And in hindsight, my body was holding onto that feeling of disappointment. The contractions started coming on fierce, but after labouring for 3 hours and only dilating 1 cm, I was convinced that they were doing nothing. My body starting tensing up and I couldn’t relax between contractions.
After being checked the second time is when things got rough – for A, of course, but also for me. I don’t want to take away from the truly amazing thing that A did, but I can truthfully say that I have never felt so useless in my entire life. Here was this incredible woman, keeling over in pain to bring me a baby, to give me a family, to make me a mother and I just sat there and watched. There was, literally, nothing I could do for her. Her husband, on the other hand, was astounding with her. Afterwards, she referred to him as her rock and that truly is the only way I can describe his actions that day. He was there for her; not for us or for Squishy but to be her support and her advocate, and he was just that. As much as I wanted to be there for her, I know I couldn’t have done it any better than he did.
Oh, C, always so humble. She was not useless that day. She did exactly what I needed. While yes, I didn’t physically hang off of her like I did my H, she and J were also my rocks. They walked with me, gave me calming and reassuring looks, and kept the room quiet, just like I needed. Throughout this entire journey, up until today even, C has been exactly the calming, reassuring presence that I have needed.
Hours later [around 6:00 pm], out of pure exhaustion and seeing no progression in dilation, our amazing Tummy Mommy opted for an epidural. She looked at us and her husband and with tears in her eyes, she whispered, “I tried” and that was when I broke. She was disappointed in herself that she couldn’t get through the rest of the labour without medication. After 51 hours of labour, 51 hours of no sleep, 51 hours of discomfort [for someone else] she was disappointed in herself. I was at a loss. She didn’t “try”, she was doing it! She was bringing us our baby and yet, she was upset with herself.
Looking back now, I think I was probably in the beginning of transition at this point. But after having basically no progression the few hours prior, I didn’t think it was possible. And I was exhausted. I was still too terrified of induction and a c-section, that some pain meds seemed to be the lesser of the evils, so our Midwife convinced me to get an epidural to allow my body to finally relax.
The awe and the admiration that I have for A is something that I can never truly put into words. In our Birth Announcement, I used the term “power house” and that truly is how I saw A over those few days. And still do. Having been through labour and delivery before, she still chose to do this for us; people who, 2 years ago, were complete strangers. She knew it would hurt. She knew it could be awful. She knew things might not go according to plan. And yet, she still chose, still wanted to do this.
And yet I can’t imagine NOT doing it now! Even in the midst of all the pain and discomfort, I had no regrets. All it took was a quick glance at C and J, and I knew exactly why I was doing what I was doing. I knew that they had been through enough; that it was my turn to bear the load for someone who deserved it.
When the doctor came in to administer the epidural, J and I were asked to leave. I’ve yet to tell anyone but D about this but this was the hardest part of my entire journey; being kicked out of my own child’s labour. It was, essentially, a breaking point for me. One where I thought it might even be too hard for me to duplicate. In that moment, in the midst of my heartache and my anger, I decided that Squishy would be an only child, then and there. [That, since, has changed. I imagine in the same way that a woman experiencing labour says that she’s never having any more children so I guess it’s only fitting that the most painful part for A was also the most painful part for me.]
I know that even I felt completely out of control of the situation at this point. I can’t imagine what C was feeling. And that was her baby in there. I promise, I was doing my best to still take the very best care of her. Until the bitter end.
An hour later, by some miracle, A’s husband stuck his head out into the hall and said, “Are you guys ready to have a baby? Because.. It’s happening!”. As soon as the epidural was administered, A was able to relax and magically progressed to 10 cm in no time. So, this was it. It was time to have a baby. No turning back now!
I was shocked and so relieved. The OB had convinced our midwives to give me the epidural so I could sleep and start induction the next morning. The NEXT morning?! I guess that was enough to tell my body to smarten up.
When our Midwife told me it was time to push, I nearly cried tears of joy. I was going to be able to push. For any woman who has had a prior c-section, and hoping for a VBAC, you’ll know that those words were music to my ears. Everything was going to be okay. My body knew what it was doing. I was going to get to see C and J meet their baby. If I were to have another c-section, I might not have gotten that moment. I had been waiting months for that moment.
As unpredictable and frustrating, as the past couple days had been, this moment in time was, literally, picture perfect [seriously, we have the pictures to prove it]. We walked in and I sat beside my [now] sister. The Midwife [literally] handed me A’s foot as she pushed our tiny human into our lives. Through tears, I got to watch her join us and after 14 minutes of pushing, at 7:26 pm, after 53 hours of labour, she was mine [okay, ours], in my arms – perfect.
I remember the last few moments vividly; in a way I didn’t expect. I knew that Squishy’s head was out, but I could still feel her kicking inside. I looked at my H and said, “This is it. This is the last time I will feel this.” And the tears started to well up. I never felt like I was going to miss being pregnant when I gave birth to my own babies; in fact I was excited for it to be over. But when they were out, they were mine. This one wasn’t mine. In one (pretty significant) aspect, this was our goodbye.
And yet, I still wouldn’t have it any other way. She came out and her parents got their baby; their family. And I got my moment. It really was picture perfect.
Being able to see your own child enter the world from the point of view that I did is something that very few women can say they’ve done. It’s something that I will forever cherish; rather than covet. Coming into this as an Intended Parent, there’s always going to be the weird thoughts when thinking of the labour portion of this journey. Where you’ll stand. What you’ll look at. How you’ll feel. But as soon as I walked into that room, everything just fell into place. Nothing was awkward. Everything just.. Was.
And it was an honour.
If you would like to read C’s original post, you can find it here at She Doesn’t Look Pregnant. Make sure to check out her other posts while you’re there!