I wanted to share Petra’s birth story on here for a few different reasons. Number one: I just really wanted to remember. I wanted to look back and remember the small details of the almost 40 hours of labor that I went through. Number two because I needed to write and get it out of my system. I know that having a baby and giving birth is such a big thing in life and I don’t want to be the person trying to explain to others what a big deal it is when they already know. The thing is, looking back, I don’t think I really knew. My personality has always been on the more relaxed side, jokingly saying that I would be the cool mom and my baby would be different and her second language would probably end up being sarcasm. But now, none of that makes sense. Now, I don’t know what kind of person or mother I’m going to be. All I care about is just making the right decisions.
I woke up having contractions at 6am on Tuesday, May 10th. I didn’t know they were contractions, I just thought I was having slight pain in my back and my pain woke up Lukasz. We laid in bed for a while before he decided to start timing how often the pain came and went. Luckily, I also was due for another OB checkup that day so we weren’t worried about going straight to the hospital. The pain, of what I realize now were contractions, was slowly getting stronger and they were about 5 minutes apart by noon when we arrived at the doctors by a lyft. After she checked me, she said I was definitely in early labor but only dilated one cm which would mean the process would be a long one. Though we came prepared with our hospital bag, we ended up going home to deal with the contractions. Doctor advised us to return when they were closer together, maybe three to four minutes. Per Lukasz’s suggestion that more walking be done, we took the subway home.
At home, I tried to not think about the pain. I made cookies to feed myself, Lukasz went shopping for sustenance (gummy bears, applesauce, sugar, etc.) and we generally tried to remain calm expecting a baby to happen tonight or tomorrow morning. The pain gradually got worse and every contraction, Lukasz was there to time it, rub my back and hold my hand. We had quiet discussions, about how things would change, about how I’m taking the pain like a champ, about the middle name we would give Petra. It got to the point where I insisted we go to the hospital because I couldn’t stand the pain anymore and at 12am on Wednesday, after bursting into tears and begging to go, we were on our way. Of course, after triage, they said I was still dilated only 1cm and I could walk around the hospital or I could go back home and keep laboring there. I cried when they told me. We went back home for the second time.
It’s hard to describe what happened in those morning hours. I was exhausted and I really wanted to sleep so bad. I laid myself down dozing off for 5 minutes at a time only to be awoken by really sharp pain that I couldn’t bear anymore. My temper started to run short, I just wanted to not feel pain anymore. Lukasz ran me a hot shower and he napped while I stood in there, letting the hot water attempt to soothe me. I know it sounds dramatic but they truly were some of the hardest moments I’ve ever had to endure. As Petra descended into my pelvis, every contraction felt like a desperate need to go to the bathroom. Everything stayed that way until 9am when I decided we would go to the hospital and I wouldn’t let them tell me to leave. I wanted an epidural. I wanted the pain to go away.
The second drive to the hospital in the back of an uber was one of the worst rides of my life. I had completely lost all need for keeping quiet and I yelled in the back of the car when every contraction came and went. When we arrived at the hospital and they triaged me, I was still only one centimeter dilated and I cried telling them I couldn’t take the pain anymore. They let me lie there monitoring me while the nurse checked with the on-call doctor to see if they would let me have an epidural for the pain. When she came back and said I would finally go into the laboring room and they would give me pain medications, Lukasz and I both cried. After setting everything up and calling the anesthesiologist, the epidural was administered and I felt the pain leave almost immediately. I mention this because I have so much respect for the women that have done this without the epidural. I never had plans to not have it and looking back, I know I made the right choice.
Because of the epidural, they were also able to give me a dose of Pitocin, a man made form of oxytocin, to speed up my contractions and help me dilate faster. Around 4:00pm, I was dilated only 4 cm and the doctor broke my water. Then it was a waiting game. Time seemed to move at warp speed. I could hardly believe that I had been going through the pain for more than a day now. It all molded into one big lump of time. When the doctor came back at 8:15 and saw I hadn’t made any progress, she upped my dosage of Pitocin and gave me peanut shaped pillow to lay between my legs. Lukasz decided to grab some power bars to give me energy since I had hardly slept since 6am the previous morning. While Lukasz was gone, I began to get really bad pain and it felt like I really needed to go to the bathroom. I immediately called the nurse who said that she would help me go but she would need to check how dilated I was first. After checking, it had only been about 30 minutes with the uncomfortable pillow between my legs, she said I was ready to start pushing. I slightly freaked out knowing Lukasz wasn’t by my side, but after texting him, he came running and it was go time.
I feel like this is the part where we were the most blessed. After reading so many birth stories, after pouring over all the books, this is the part I was most scared of, the active labor, the breathing, the pushing with all my strength. For some, for most, for first timers, this could take hours and I wasn’t entirely prepared to be pushing for hours. In the end, I don’t know if it was Lukasz’s words of encouragement or the doctors calm demeanor or my need for all of it to be over already, but Petra arrived into this world after pushing for only 30 minutes. The emotion of having our daughter placed on my bare skin after being born is something I would never be able to explain. I cried, Lukasz laughed and cried and Petra cried for two seconds before calmly taking in this new world that she was a part of now. It was, with absolute certainty, the most jarring experience of my life.
We both held her, we both stared at her and we both fell overwhelmingly in love with our little girl who was so teeny and tiny, I was worried that whoever held her, would break her. I stared at her little face and her tiny eyes and I just wished that she would always be happy and that I would always be able to make her happy. It so amazing how quickly that love and feeling comes over you the moment you hold your newborn baby. Tomorrow she will be one week old. That would be one week of me being a blubbering mess just hoping I’m doing everything right. Nothing else matters anymore. Just Petra. Petra is the only thing that matters now. I want the whole world for her. I hope that we can do that, I hope that Lukasz and I can give her our whole world.