Welcome, Ruthie!

Ruthie Lin Barcus. Born at 6:17pm on Saturday, May 9th, at 39 weeks and 1 day. The most perfect little human being I have ever laid eyes on. She weighed 8lbs 2oz and was 19.25 in long. Her head was 13 1/2 in which–before giving birth–was a stat that meant nothing to me. Now, I realize that it’s an absolutely crucial detail, and each mom deserves a trophy with that number etched on the front of it.

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The week leading up to Ruthie’s birth was full of doctor’s visits and big decisions to be made. On that Tuesday during my routine testing, they discovered Ruthie had a heart arrhythmia. While they weren’t extremely concerned, the Fetal Medicine Doctor decided that because of the arrhythmia combined with other factors of my pregnancy, I should be induced at 39 weeks to ensure a healthy baby. More testing Friday, arrhythmia still there. Green light for induction Saturday morning.

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It was not an easy decision. I didn’t know how much to research or wait, to trust or move forward. I didn’t anticipate being induced, or having the bittersweet luxury of knowing the exact day I would go into labor. I wasn’t sure how my body would even handle having labor kick started instead of letting it start naturally. But we prayed, trusted our instincts, and ultimately felt at peace that we were making the best decision for our little girl.

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We arrived at the hospital for our 6am induction at a timely 615 (hey, this party starts when I say it starts). We had a solid two hours worth of preparations and questions while they started my IV antibiotics (since I’m strep B positive) and shortly after, the pitocin to kick start contractions. We probably would’ve had a quicker registration process if we had bothered to take a single class, pre-register, or pretty much do any of the hospital prep they suggested. Just flyin by the seat of our pants here. We had “first time parents” written all over us.

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Disclaimer: I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you’re okay with some intimate labor details. I’ll try to keep it as classy and clean as possible, but there isn’t too much cleanliness about pushing an 8lb human out of your lady bits. Things. Get. Messy.

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I came in at about 4cm dilated, which made me foolishly think this baby would just fly out the second I got induced. Not a great mental way to start the day. They started pitocin slowly to give me the 4 hours of antibiotics needed before I could give birth. Contractions were steady, but very little progress was made. The morning was long, slow and tiring.

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The doctor arrived around 12-1230 to break my water and apparently my sanity, because contractions now came hard and fast. I tried some temporary IV pain medicine which rendered me a 45 minute “nap” where I basically felt calm, drunk, and still in a lot of pain. Perfect.

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Around 330, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was only dilated to about 6cm and was going nowhere fast. Contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and getting more and more painful. I was up to my “acceptable pain level” that we decided when I came in, so I decided with Adam it was time for the epidural. Not that he was for it or against it, he was just there to reassure me and support me in whatever decision I made. And calm support is exactly what you need when you’re starting to lose your marbles.

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Getting an epidural in the midst of intense, body twisting contractions was one of the worst experiences of my life. “Hold still” they say, as they prop you up in bed and prepare to shove a giant needle with all sorts of possible side effects right into your spine. The whole scene is one I’d rather block from my memory forever.

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Shortly after the epidural, I not only progressed quickly to 9cm and was getting ready for the big push, but it had caused my right leg to go completely numb. Like, it might fall out of it’s socket during labor numb. So Adam had to give up his bleacher seating up by my head and take a front row spot on the field, holding up my leg up for a premium view of all the action. He was a CHAMP and helped me count through the pushes of labor, coaching and encouraging me the entire time (Please. Who said you need classes to prepare for this…). Also in the room for her big debut was my doula best friend and my mom, both giving steady, deeply needed encouragement.

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Our girl arrived at 6:17pm, squishy sweet and covered in so much disgusting goo. The moment your baby leaves your womb and is tossed into your arms is one that NOTHING can prepare your heart for. It’s surreal and incredible. Right from the start she had the biggest pouty lip we had ever seen, rendering us total mush in the hands of the tiny force that had just come screaming into our lives. Through weepy smiles and pants of exhaustion, all I can remember is saying, ” Hi Ruthie… I’m your mommy.”

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The details after that are a bit hazy, and thank the Lord for that. The scene of afterbirth is one that NO one wants to remember, let alone see in the first place. When Adam asked the doctor how many stitches she used to “put me back together again”, she laughed and said, “Ohh honey. We don’t count stitches. The thread was thiiiiiis long.”

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Fantastic. That should heal up in about 2-5 years I imagine.

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Another thing you can’t really prepare for is the aftermath of healing (more mesh panties and ice diapers, please) and the surge of emotions that take over. I wept for pretty much the entire first week (okay, first two weeks) of her life. I was thankful her vision is blurry and she’s too little for memories so that I still have a shot of her not thinking I’m a crazy person.

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 As I sit here with a sleeping baby on my chest, the whole experience seems like a distant, foggy memory. I read somewhere your brain chemically erases the pain and trauma of the experience of childbirth, making us suckers forget the bad and want countless more adorable, squishy newborns. Which means I’ll probably have to take back all the threats I made to Adam during labor about this being our only child, and us being celibate roommates the rest of our lives.

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I still wrestle with parts of my birth story, as I’m sure most women do. I felt like a failure for laboring naturally for so long then getting an epidural. Like I was tapping out or giving up. The natural birth movement is a strong one, and sometimes unfairly so. There’s pressure and expectations, standards and unspoken (or sometimes very spoken) ideals about how an extremely unique and individual experience should happen. I had bought into more of that than I realized. But at the end of the day, I listened to my body and did what felt right as life was happening, rather than sticking to a script or plan that no longer worked for me.

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And solely by the grace of God, we have a healthy baby girl. It’s miraculous, really.

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 For this tiny, beautiful life, we are so very thankful.

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3 responses to “Welcome, Ruthie!

  1. Thanks for all the details of your birth experience that we moms and grandmas love to hear! Told in your absolutely charming style. I was laughing and teary-eyed throughout. The picture of Ruthie couldn’t be more adorable. Enjoy your new job! (and yes, you do forget the bad parts!)

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