Every year around Taylor’s birthday I always think back to her birth day. She is nearing five years old and her birth still feels like yesterday. Even though it’s still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share our story before it becomes lost in the memory bank since every year is filled with new experiences and memories.
Finding out I was pregnant right before my 33th birthday came as a surprise. I just moved to Stockholm, Sweden six months prior and having a baby was, just barely, on my radar. I did have this funny thing about having a baby born in 2013 though. You see, 13 is my lucky number from competing at the Olympics and it’s sort of stuck with me since. I know, the weird things we hold on to, right!? Anyway, although the year 2013 was approaching, the timing of having a baby just wasn’t right. I was starting to learn Swedish (and still am….), I was trying to find a job after uprooting my life, adjusting to life in a new country, and oh, so much more that I could tell you about. Moving to a new country comes with many challenges you just can’t prepare for. Learning that I was pregnant was exciting, shocking, scary, and serendipitous all at the same time and I’m sure many of you can relate. I wanted to have a calm pregnancy, timed just right, but the cards were not lined up for that; when are they ever?
Overall, my pregnancy was great. I did have many days of feeling nauseous, wondering if I was going to make it into work, then getting to work and feeling like I needed a nap already, and there was one incident of throwing up in a trash can on a side street in Stockholm. But I also had some great days too. I was able to exercise throughout most of the pregnancy, bike to work on most days, and overall felt ok.
My pregnancy progressed normally and by the final month I began having more regular checks as my doctor thought I was too small. I did not feel small, that’s for sure! Luckily, I didn’t feel too stressed about these extra checks, in fact they brought me calm since most women don’t get as many check-ups during their pregnancy. The check-ups were all fine, I felt fine, and having exercised through my pregnancy I may not have gained extra weight that is considered normal.
My birth prep was probably considered abnormal. Since I was new in Sweden, figuring out where to find birth info was a bit tricky but, luckily, for the Internet and a few English library books, my own version of birth prep had to do. I read a hypnobirthing book, which was a really great guide on how to listen to your body. I found it interesting and after many years as a high-level athlete, I knew how much mental preparation was important and envisioning the birth was just as good as going through it. Your body can prepare without actually going through the actual event.
My due day came and went, by ten days. I carried on as normal as I could and the day before Taylor was born I was working from home. I had taken a walk at lunch time and I remember feeling so tired afterwards. Like a tired that you can’t fight. I ended up lying down for a little bit because I couldn’t keep myself awake. In hind sight, my body knew. I went to bed that night and around 4 am I got out of bed needing to go to the bathroom. My body didn’t feel right and I had some pains. Nothing crazy but I didn’t feel right. About an hour later I got out of bed and went to the couch because I was starting to have pain and I didn’t want to wake Daniel up. He did wake up though and came out to find me sitting on the couch, as I started to have pains that were not possible to stay quiet about any longer. Obviously, it was finally time!
Daniel called the hospital and they told us to wait a little longer. My labor had just started they said, so deal with the pain at home for a while and call back in a couple of hours. Around 6 am I started throwing up and needing to go to the bathroom. My body wanted EVERYTHING out. We called again around 7 am and said it might be time for us to come in but they said, ‘take a shower to deal with the pain.’ I did that but at this point I think I was past “take a shower to deal with the pain” and was throwing up in the shower. Water did not soothe anything that was happening! I remember texting my mom a little earlier and she had said, “go in sooner than later. It can go quick.” I told Daniel to get the car because I was so nauseous that I didn’t want to be in the car feeling any worse than I was. I held on to a bucket the entire drive to Huddinge Sjukhus (Hospital).
We arrived around 8 am, they took me into a room and I was 4 cm dilated. A bit to still go. :/ My birthing plan was to do this naturally, no pain meds so we started with acupuncture. Not long afterwards we were escorted to a room and the pain was crazy. I felt like my insides were trying to come out and basically they were. They gave me some oxygen but that made me feel claustrophobic. I couldn’t even stand anyone too close to me so, forget about soothing backrubs! Instead, I basically started going into a zone which, was weird at the time but really cool too. I was there but I wasn’t all at the same time. The pain became so bad that I gave in and asked for the epidural. Just as I was about to get it, I waved the doctor off because a contraction was coming. It was a big one and my water just broke at that time. It turned out to be too late to get the epidural. I am so grateful for that though! The pain was crazy and I remember making the loudest noises due to the pain but, being able to feel a baby come out of your body is a wild experience. Taylor was born just a short while later at 10:54 am on October 3, 2013.
Giving birth is an experience like no other and such an incredible bonding process with the baby. Although we celebrate the kids on their birth days, I think us mamas deserve a bit of a head nod for the whole process!