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Sleep, Pretty Darling, Do Not Cry

“Once there was a way
To get back homeward
Once there was a way
To get back home
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby”

Once there was a way, To get back homeward, Once there was a way, To get back home, Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby

I should think I owe you a birth story – the fourth of its kind on this blog (and in general).

I rarely re-read anything I’ve ever written here, but I have re-read my birth stories before and it astonishes me every time how many details are in those stories that I don’t remember anymore. It’s really important to me to write down things and photograph things, because it’s a way to mark down what may fade away from your brain. And it’s not really age; it’s time. It’s natural for your brain to sweep away some details to make way for new ones. These stories, though. I have levels of trauma from the last three births, and it’s rather amazing how the trauma gives way to healing, and eventually, to nostalgia. I remember being nostalgic for Rider’s birth, long after my body had healed, but I can’t say I’ve forgotten that natural birth pain. Oh no – that’s stitched in my brain forever. Sawyer’s birth was almost natural as well, although not without complications.

So, let’s begin!

You guys know me. I’ve got trauma. I’ve got major hospital trauma. I’m not a therapist, but I think it’s because my father passed away suddenly when I was almost four, and he got taken to the hospital and I never saw him again. And I’m not a doctor or midwife, but I get very squirrelly about my own health, especially when it comes to my blood pressure, blood sugar, heart health, whatever. I didn’t even take the glucose test with Sawyer, because instead I monitored my blood sugars four times a day for three months. Literally didn’t miss a meal. I know I wrote about my blood pressure struggles at the end of pregnancy here. My readings started going up and down when I took a screaming Rider with me to an appointment. I think it was anxiety and then being in labor but like I said, not a doctor! I think it’s cool how Rider’s birth took some of the trauma away from Des’ birth. And Sawyer is currently taking away breastfeeding trauma from Rider.

There is no baby to take away trauma from Sawyer’s birth. There is only time, and there is me.

Once there was a way, To get back homeward, Once there was a way, To get back home, Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby

So we begin at my 38 week appointment, which was actually closer to 39 weeks. I had been contemplating a membrane sweep and I was nervous. That morning I was having completely consistent contractions. I thought they were Braxton Hicks contractions but I had to remind myself that I had done this three times and that each time, I got to 8cm or 10cm before even registering deep pain. So it was sort of my little secret as I made breakfast, packed lunches, and said goodbye to Rider and Cassidy. I even joked, “I’ll see you in an hour from now, or I’ll see you at the hospital.” Rider cried a little when I left, and Cassidy deftly distracted him but I remember thinking that I didn’t want that to be the last time I saw him. Especially with not knowing what was ahead. I know what it’s like to spend a week in the NICU with a toddler waiting at home.

And I know that giving birth is often not, but can be dangerous.

At the appointment, I met a new (to me) midwife. She was lovely but I was a wreck. During the appointment, my blood pressure was back up to borderline, and I was already 5cm. They sent me to the hospital to have an NST (non-stress test) to monitor my blood pressure, test me for COVID, monitor the baby, and assess. COVID was negative, blood pressure was up and down, baby was doing great, bloodwork was awesome, and contractions were consistent. I think I was in that bed for two hours. They offered me a full hot lunch and drinks but I knew I was in labor. Maybe I wasn’t ready to admit it. The midwife at the hospital was the first midwife I’d ever met when I was pregnant with Rider. It was a memorable occasion because I only saw doctors with Scarlet and Des, as I didn’t know I had other options. And this was RIGHT before the lockdown in March, 2020. Maybe only days. So I feel comfortable with this midwife. She had good/bad news.

Once there was a way, To get back homeward, Once there was a way, To get back home, Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby

The good news was that the baby was doing great, and my bloodwork was doing great. The bad news was that I was diagnosed with Gestational Hypertension and they wanted to do another induction just in case it turned into something worse. Now I won’t go on forever about knowing my own body and knowing my anxiety and that I WAS in labor, which all contribute to blood pressure fluctuations. That’s besides the point now. She told me I could think about it, but I was advised to stay at the hospital and have Cassidy bring me my things. I knew I wanted to go home and pack a bag, and also say bye to Rider. Time was passing me by, though, and my contractions got stronger and closer together. I knew I wasn’t going home again, and I think Cassidy did as well. That’s when we started to plan for what was ahead. That’s home coverage!

See the thing is, I don’t really trust anyone with Rider. I’m a mama bear, I’ll admit. He’s one! He’s into everything! We have three kids and three dogs. It’s been a pandemic. I only really trust Scarlet with Rider, as well as my sister, Lindsay. And that’s because she’s CPR-trained, close to my age, is a NURSE, and has a high energy preschooler. So I asked her probably six months ago to be my person. Now of course, life happened a little fast, and she was at work when I went into labor. So I called my mom and told her to immediately come, and that Lindsay could follow her. I also called my good friend Tara because she’s one of my special people and I trust her with my kids. And she immediately helped Cassidy with the hospital and the kids. I have two sets of in-laws and I thought one set was in Rhode Island. Later on, Cassidy told me they were home and could attend Scarlet’s band concert that night, which Cassidy and Des were supposed to attend.

Once there was a way, To get back homeward, Once there was a way, To get back home, Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby

My other mother-in-law and I had been texting, I think, about anxiety relief (putting hand to heart and to stomach) and I told her a bit about what I was going through. She asked if there was anything she could do to help and I just said to contact my mom, or maybe to contact Tara (I was REALLY hazy) to see if they needed anything. The short story is that Lindsay never came, one set of in-laws attended the concert, and my mom and other mother-in-law were home with the kids – and no doubt trying to make sense of our crazy home. Oy! I was trying to stay present.

All I could think about was Rider, though.

There was a lot of waiting time. My nurse, Meghann, was calming and I told her I wanted her to be my nurse for the birth. She said I was sweet, but her shift was ending. I will never forget her kindness. A nurse brought Cassidy into the room, luckily, and I was already 6cm by then. He had finished packing my hospital bag and brought my things to me, and this was really underway! I was definitely freaking out a little. I was already discussing pain relief, even though I had had two natural deliveries with Scarlet and Rider, and I hated my epidural with Des. It was similar to this situation, in that I went from my routine 38 week (and two days) appointment straight to the hospital, and friends and in-laws had to scramble to care for Scarlet that day. I wanted some part of me to relax, so I asked for an epidural to arrive well before the midwife broke my water. I didn’t need Pitocin, since I was progressing on my own. Two new nurses came on shift, and they were fabulous, and I wandered around the hospital room sitting on a ball, sitting on the bed at times, lying down, and just roaming. The anesthesiologist came and I’m sure I cheered for him.

Once there was a way, To get back homeward, Once there was a way, To get back home, Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry, And I will sing a lullaby

He began the process and I experienced all the weird sensations. I didn’t care. He told me I would feel a zing in my leg and I swear I kicked the nurse accidentally and said it was more like a ZONG. The rest of the process was a blur but I’ll never forget him looking at the catheter and saying, “Uh oh.” Apparently he saw spinal fluid in there. “Is that a big problem?” I asked him. He said, “No…” Cassidy asked him, “Is that a small problem?” And he said, “Yeah..” I was pretty much at his mercy and felt a little numb (although not in the way I should have by then!) but we did ask questions. I think what he was most worried about is something called a spinal headache, which I thought he said would happen around 24 hours after the birth, and we would monitor it. At that point I was just concerned that the epidural wasn’t working at all. He kept adding more something or other to it, and I felt weird and heavy but not numb to pain. I don’t think it didn’t work at all, but it barely worked. He was there for awhile, looking concerned, but then he sort of faded into the abyss because I was 10cm and it was time to push! I was still myself, cracking jokes and expressing happiness that the midwife would catch this baby before the next shift..

It was GO time, and I was about to meet this baby, and find out boy or girl!

To be continued next week!

“Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles await you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby”

This is my new birth mix. “Golden Slumbers” is song #31.

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  1. So glad you decided to do the both story while it’s still fresh on your mind. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Hope the coming headache in the story isn’t too bad. I had an epidural that went kind of like this. I puked. All is well that ends well. Excited for y’all!!

  2. It is good that you write this all down. So much we forget because we kind of have to. It’s all too much. I look forward to reading the rest of the story!

  3. I was envisioning as l was reading Tamara! Your writing makes it so easy to do that. You left us wanting for more which is what great writers do. I can’t wait to read and envision even more in next week’s blog!

  4. Oh, the excitement! I never had an epidural. That must be a bit scary! Nicely written part 1 and I look forward to part 2 of your birth story! Congratulations again. LOVE to you and your family and new babe.

  5. A cliffhanger! I can’t wait to hear the rest. What a treasure that you write all of these details because, yes, for sure those memories fade. I wish I had done that!

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