It All Makes Sense Now
Camille Ramsperger is a 26-year-old single mother to a beautiful baby boy named Theodore. She is a full-time nurse working in the emergency department at her nearest hospital. She meant to write her birth story so as not to forget it, and the Birth Story Contest gave her the motivation to do so.
Before having my baby, I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids. I didn’t know if I would ever be ready or if I would even make a good mother.
When I was pregnant, it was so difficult, I couldn’t understand how anyone could go through with pregnancy more than once, WILLINGLY, when they knew what it was like.
This is the story of how my boy came into the world and changed my whole life forever.
“Quiet, shy, reserved…” I’m going to say quiet again, because I can’t emphasize that enough.
That was my mother’s immediate answer when I asked her to describe me. Not exactly the answer any employer would be looking for during an interview, but very accurate to describe my personality otherwise.
Or so I thought.
Going through labour and birth brought out a side of me that not only surprised myself, but everyone who had the pleasure of having their eardrums pop in my presence.
Let’s have a brief throwback to how this all started. When I found out I was pregnant, after the initial state of shock, reality set in that if I went through with this, I would be a single mother to a child. A real, human child. I didn’t tell anyone for weeks, going back and forth in my head about what I wanted to do. Realistically, this was some sort of formality I was forcing myself to endure, as I knew exactly what I would end up choosing.
And so, there I was, nine months later, about to have the most perfect baby boy. Not that I knew that at the time. This pregnancy was a surprise to start with, I figured everything might as well remain a surprise through to the very end (even though I KNEW he would be a boy. Mother’s intuition I suppose).
It was already the longest day of the year when 2 o’clock in the morning came around for the second time and I felt cramping in my lower abdomen and back. Little did I know, the next nine hours would make the day feel even longer?
Not to panic, I told myself, this is your first baby, there is no way you’re going into labour a day early. It’s probably just Braxton Hicks.
Ha. Let’s all laugh together now at how much denial I was in at the time.
I barely had time to adjust to the thought that my baby was coming than the contractions were already five minutes apart. My mom heard me walking around and woke up, coming to see what I was doing.
“I think I’m in labour.”
A little detail you must know about me is that I was kind of like the boy who cried wolf during the later stages of my pregnancy. At least a dozen times in the last few weeks, I had fooled my mom into thinking I was in labour by stopping mid-track and saying, “Ouf, I think that was a contraction,” while grabbing my rounded belly, watching her face turn to a mixture of fear and excitement, only to say, “Just kidding,” and watch her face fall with slight annoyance and disappointment. She was almost more excited for this baby than I was. Almost.
When I didn’t follow through with my regular joking remarks, I could feel her excitement rising.
“We’re about to meet this baby,” she said, giddiness apparent in her voice.
The contractions continued, closer and closer together. They were excruciating. I was screaming and holding back tears. I remember my mother and sister beside me while I was in the tub trying to relax telling me, “This isn’t the worst part yet,” which, as you can imagine, did not help put me at ease.
Having gone through pregnancy without a partner, I knew I wanted to have this baby alone. I wanted everyone out of the room when it was time to push, so that in that first moment when he would be in my arms, it would just be the two of us, as it had been for the past nine months. But I did agree that my mother and sister could be in the room as long as it wasn’t yet time to push. And I am eternally thankful for their presence. They held my hands, pushed on my hips to relieve some pressure, brought me ice packs, sips of water and small bites of food (which I immediately vomited, but the sentiment was appreciated nonetheless), and continuously offered words of encouragement. I knew I could do this, because I had these two amazing women by my side who I love and who had been through pregnancies themselves. I trusted them.
I was very adamant about giving birth at home, in the comfort of my own bedroom, surrounded by familiar things. I wanted to have my baby in my arms, and not have to eventually get into a car to go home once the baby was here. I wanted to be home already. And that is exactly what I did. My midwife had told me prior to all of this that if I changed my mind and wanted to go to the hospital, all I had to do was say it and it would all be arranged for me. I shrugged that off.
“Pfft,” I said, “I can handle it. No matter how much it hurts, this baby has to come out, so might as well go through with it at home.”
“Well, just in case, remember that you do have that option. You just say the word.”
And that was that. I pushed that thought to the back of my mind, because to me, that wasn’t an option. I knew what I wanted, albeit there were many contractions that made me want to change my mind. Every scream I let out, I made sure not to state any desire to go to the hospital.
So back to my labour, the contractions were five minutes apart, and when the midwife got there around 5:30, I was already at seven centimetres dilated.
“Thank God, that means it’s almost time to push,” I naively said.
I could see the midwife and my family glancing at each other with uneasy looks on their faces. No one wanted to tell me that progressing to seven centimetres that fast does not mean the last three centimetres would be equally fast. They didn’t have to tell me; I saw their faces. I understood what they did not say, and my heart sank. This was going to hurt.
And it did, it really did.
The next few hours were a bit of a blur. There are, however, several moments that I won’t soon forget. My baby’s head was turned in the wrong direction, and so the midwife had me stand and sit and squat in numerous positions during contractions to try to turn him. I remember this vividly because I just wanted to cry and scream out and curl into a ball, which was the least uncomfortable. The lesser of all evil positions.
For one contraction, I had my right leg up on a chair. For the next, my left leg. Then I had to sit on the toilet and have a contraction there. Then I had to stand. Then my legs back on the chair. I was still screaming. It was debilitating. But apparently it worked because when she checked me next, his head had turned and I was at nine centimetres. What a relief, now I knew we were getting close. And I was getting the urge to push.
Now I don’t know what it’s like for all women who go through labour, but when I had the urge to push and was told I couldn’t, it was very, VERY difficult not to. My body and mind were barely working together in that moment. It took a lot of willpower to convince myself not to push. My midwife was advising me not to push until I got to ten centimetres, or I might damage and enflame the birth canal, making it even more difficult to push the baby out. I could understand that, but my muscles just weren’t listening.
Somehow, I made it to ten centimetres without too much damage, and it was just about time to meet my son.
I pushed for nearly an hour when the midwife told me she could see his head. I looked down and I thought it was a bum. The bony plates in my baby’s head that would later fuse together were overlapped on top of each other and looked like a little baby bottom. He had a decent amount of hair when he was born, so I knew it was his head, but this gave me slight comedic relief in a time of immense pain.
His head was out. My contraction ended. It took nearly two minutes for my next contraction to start again so I could continue pushing, but in the meantime, I was admiring this perfect little skull, that I loved so much already, hanging out of my hoo-hah. Some more comedic relief. In hindsight, it must have been pretty strange, but in the moment, I was awestruck. What a perfect little head. It took a fraction of a push for the rest of his body to come out, and he was then laid onto my chest and covered with a blanket.
I looked into his dark brown eyes and I could feel my own start to water. This is my baby. MY baby. He’s here, and he’s mine. I lifted the blanket briefly to confirm what I already knew. He’s perfect. I still to this day don’t believe that something so perfect came out of me.
In the background my midwife was telling me that I needed stitches, and that it would sting a bit, and I really could not have cared less. I had my baby in my arms, and that is all I could focus on.
Every ounce of pain I had felt, not only in labour but throughout my entire pregnancy, was worth it and already forgotten about. I would go through it a hundred million gazillion times for this little boy, and he would be worth it every time.
I don’t know what I pictured before I went into labour. I don’t really know if I pictured anything, or expected anything. I had never been through it before, so I wasn’t sure how it would all play out. What I can say, though, is that everything that happened was exactly aligned with what I would have hoped for. A home birth alone, aside from the midwives, to meet my son for the first time, a perfect, healthy little baby boy to call my own.
Before having my baby, I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids.
Now that I have my sweet little baby boy in my arms, I don’t know how women ever stop.