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Francesco's Birth Story Pt.1

So I've wanted to share these for ages... but as they werent current events, they were usually put on the back burner. Birth stories are also quite personal, so there was hesitation in the sharing as well - but Im hoping there is still time, now, before my 3rd birth, to document the first two for you here. Even if they are not all posted before, I'm hoping the words have been recorded beforehand, and look forward to sharing the 3rd as it comes.

As you move through your pregnancy, and closer to the due date - there is a lot going on in the head of a mother, or soon to be mother. I was getting ready to welcome my first baby into the world, and actually still really enjoying being pregnant. The baby room was set, we had the stroller and a car seat ready to go. My bag was pretty much packed, and the paper work that needed to be filled out was already printed and prepped. The anticipation of meeting this tiny person was continuing to grow and we were so excited to see if it was a boy or a girl.

We saw the doctor at 36 weeks, and she had said I was 2 cm dilated - and made the comment - you might meet this baby in the next two weeks, or maybe it hangs in there a bit longer. Yikes! This was still with a month to go. We hadn't done our birth prep class yet, and still had a to-do list to work our way through as my nesting phase was in its prime. Luckily we got through July, right up to the due date on the 31st... and then we kept waiting. We had Berlin summer heat to battle with, and being in a dachgeschoss gave us no refuge. Tommy and I passed the first days of August with day dates to new restaurants, the Natural History Museum, long walks to keep us active, and chill evenings at home trying to coax the little one out.

On the 3rd of August, we had to pay our first visit to the hospital to have my levels checked, and make sure all was still good. On the way, we encountered disrupted tram services and ended up walking the distance to catch the Sbahn to the hospital. We, unfortunately, had a very dramatic run in with the Sbahn controllers, as we jumped on the first train to pass us on the platform. We were already running late, and looking back, didn't even grab a train that went to the hospital (after living on the train line for 5 years, we would have known this, but two anxious, soon-to-be parents were not in the right head space). We were also buying tickets through the app as we entered the train - and such bad luck, the controllers of course thought we were trying to cheat them. After purchasing the tickets, and explaining where we were headed, we still had to get off at the next stop and argue it out. A 40+ week pregnant woman did not this do without emotion, mostly shocked they were doubting my intentions and through a few unclear steps, they ended up ringing the police and we were left to sit there for nearly an hour waiting to sort out the whole mess. Without all the details, we left the situation feeling humiliated, in disbelief and in Tommys position, angry and overly protective... I was shaken up and distraught by the time we finally reached the hospital. The whole incident left a dark cloud over our afternoon together.

We managed to articulate the incident into a written statement, and cleared our heads enough to have dinner at home together in peace. We woke the next day and went about our usual tasks, including trying to pay our Sbahn fines unsuccessfully. Tommy left for football practice, I had a nice walk with my neighbor and fellow pregnant mama, Jessica. Returning home, I had a catch up call with my mom, where I told her the whole story of the previous day and decided to endulge in my balcony garden - asking Instagram friends what to do about the wasp problem we were experiencing.

Suddenly the first pains arrived, which I actually thought was my body saying I needed to use the bathroom, but it quickly went away, and returned again. Soon after, Tommy walked in - and I told him that I think it was starting. We weren't ready to get too excited about it. He went to make dinner, and I went to have a shower. We both were determined to stay calm, and at home as long as we could - but by the time I was finished with my shower, I could barely stand through contractions. I was off to lie down and time how far apart they were. They were already less than 2 minutes apart?!?, but it had only just started.

I was trying to do way too many things: stay calm, but work through intense contractions. Rest on the bed, but also water the plants and clean up downstairs, pack away the last things in my bag, and gather the produce in the fridge, fill a hot water bottle, but couldn't stand long enough for the kettle to finish. I was sure that I was throwing my body into some sort of stress, and imagining the pain that I was experiencing. Tommy carried on making dinner, and I was trying to ring my mom via FaceTime to ask if she thinks the pain was normal. She wasn't able to answer, but seeing my call, my dad tried to ring me back... I couldn't hang up the phone again fast enough as I tried to breathe through another contraction. I called my midwife next, and she listened to me work through another one. She told me that I was definitely in labor, but these contractions were not going to help my baby come out - that I needed to try to relax, drink the herbal tea that my holistic midwife had given me, and just listen to my body when it was time to go. I remember having this moment of panic - shouting to Tommy to please just DO SOMETHING (as he had just prepared dinner for us) and told him to shower or pack his bag but get ready!

I will preface this by saying, Tommy was everything I could have hoped for in a partner during birth, but in this moment he, with all good intensions, said to me, "I know you don't want to hear this, but you need to try and calm down." I could only look back him with a raised voice and say, "Calm down? Tommy I don't even know what's happening to my body right now!" He was also trying to be helpful, and didnt expect to be taken as an insult. Reflecting back on it, this moment was clearly the moment that was time to go. But it was the first time I went through this, how should we have known? I expected contractions to come in slow waves, not rush on like a hurricane. I asked Tommy to call the ambulance service that the hospital had given us while I went to the bathroom.

It was there that I saw my underwear full of blood, immediately raising concern - I shouted to Tommy that we needed to go. He was stuck on the phone with the ambulance, and struggling to get through. I listened to him try to give his phone number two or three times, and the address another two or three. I just started screaming - HANG UP THE PHONE. CALL A CAB... (much to the delight of our neighbors I am sure). I had texted my midwife to make sure bleeding was normal, and she had responded that my cervix was opening quickly, and I should probably ask for an epidural. With a short glance at that text, I threw my phone into my bag, and didn't see it again until the baby had arrived.

I waddled down the stairs, climbed into the back of the cab, and we started the drive to the hospital. I feel like I remember it well - was mostly concerned about the bleeding, and was trying to not fully sit on the seat. Contractions calmed a bit, but I was still struggling through them. Bless the driver, he said he had four children himself and everything was going to be fine. We rounded the corner to the hospital, as I prepared for a strong contraction that was building up. The driver then passed the entrance to the hospital and I made him stop as I fought to open the door in a panic.

As soon as I was out, I ran to the fence along the sidewalk to work through the next contraction. I remember some young people gathered nearby, probably just for usually Friday night shenanigans - and can only imagine what they thought of me! We unloaded the bags, and carseat, from the cab and walked our way in. Seeing as we had only visited previously in the daytime, we tried to walk to the back entrance for the baby ward, only to realize that it was closed at this hour and we had to walk back to the front. I could only make it about 10-15 steps before getting down on my hands and knees between contractions. With each stop I made, Tommy was trying to lift something else off of me - in turn dropping my wallet and a couple other things out of my purse. I was barking at him, and picking up the contents while trying to get up from the most recent contraction. What I would pay not to see us arriving that night. Mind you, we were carrying the carseat, multiple bags (as we thought Tommy would stay if we got a family room), and bags of food - all our fresh fruits, the meal Tommy had just cooked us, as well as a nourishing frozen soup he had prepared ahead of time for my post-partum. I am sure we looked ridiculous.

A sweet soul met us at the door with a wheel chair - he briskly put us in the elevator and delivered us to the Kreissaal. There I was put into an examination room, hooked up to a CTG machine and they were calling for the English speaking midwife on duty. I could not stay sitting on the couch, and for each contraction would get back onto the floor on my hands and knees, against the wishes of the midwives and the CTG machine. I kept moaning that 'its not supposed to be like this' when the midwife asked what I meant. I said it was happening too fast, and repeating my midwifes previous words - that it wasnt helping my baby come out. She said back to me - "sometimes it is like this. lets check your cervix." I was so relieved when she told us I was already nearly 9 cm dilated, and she wanted to get us straight into the delivery room.

Thats end of part 1 for now... my dramatic and comedic arrival to the hospital... thankfully nearly fully dialated and ready to birth our baby. Will look forward to sharing the rest with you.

Continue reading part 2 here.

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