Our baby girl is OFFICIALLY HERE! We’ve spent the past 15 days just soaking her all up and learning our new normal/trying to get into some sort of a routine- which really means to say, realizing that there is no routine, but hey, we’re going with it! Before I forget all the details, I wanted to write down and share my birth story. So here goes nothing!
Sunday, December 27th at 1:30ish am I woke up to some pelvic pain and the same cramps that I’d been feeling for the past couple months- the only difference being that they were about 10 minutes apart and feeling more frequent then others I’d had before. Not that different in terms of pain though. I could still talk through them and move/ flip over to my other side as I laid in bed. I tried to sleep but couldn’t and then at around 2:30 am, I felt a trickle of water run down my right leg. With the increased fluid and discharge that is expected/normal during pregnancy, I thought it was just that because again- I wasn’t feeling any real pain as far as contractions. I’d read that if your water had truly broken, if you stood up, the water would not stop running. So I woke Joey up and told him I thought my water had broken and he helped me get up out of bed, when I stood up the water kept flowing down my leg. I went to the bathroom and told Joey to call the doctor. We let them know that we thought my water had broken and they told us to come in. This was at 2:41 am. We got dressed, grabbed the go bag, fed our cat one more time, and then head out the door. I was still able to walk, granted it was more like a waddle and very slow, but the same walk I’d graciously acquired the past month anyways. As we got into the car, I was certain that we’d get to the hospital and be told to go home and wait (something I’ve read happens to majority of first time moms to be). I was sure that we’d be told we came to the hospital too early and that if I was actually in labor, that I’d have to wait it out at home longer. I thought this was going to be the case because at my last prenatal appointment, 6 days earlier on December 21st, my OB had checked my cervix for dilation and said I was not dilated at all but that she could feel changes and that softening had started. But also let me know that dilation is something that could still take weeks to happen.
When we got to the hospital at 3:00 am, we called the labor and delivery unit and they came to get me from the parking lot with a wheelchair. Almost immediately after sitting down in the chair, the contractions I was feeling intensified and were extremely painful. I couldn’t talk through them and with each contraction I started to cry, I couldn’t help it with the pain I was feeling. Before officially admitting me, the nurse needed to confirm that my water had broken and that I was in fact in labor and then they had to COVID test me AND get the results before any treatments (i.e. my epidural) could be administered. We were wheeled into a “waiting room” where I changed into a hospital gown and then the nurse had me lay down in a hospital bed to check if my water broke. She inserted a speculum and as soon as she did, a huge flow of water rushed out. The contractions continued to intensify and were now about 5-7 min apart. With confirmation that my water had broken and that I was in fact in labor, she COVID tested me. It was supposed to only take an hour to get results back before I could get the epidural. With confirmation of labor starting, I was wheeled into a maternity room where I would stay during delivery and postpartum. My contractions continued and I ended up waiting 2 hours (from 3-5 am) before getting the damn epidural.
This is what I’ll say about contractions- it was the absolute worst pain I’ve ever felt. I don’t even know how to explain or compare it to anything. It was absolutely gut wrenching. I thought I would pass out because of the pain, that’s how bad it was. I had a lot of difficulty breathing through them as well because I felt like I was being suffocated and couldn’t breathe anyways. To the women who don’t get an epidural- WHY?!?! I’ll never understand it. Why put yourself through that?! For bragging rights? Not worth it in the slightest IMO (but hey, to each their own!) But damn, I was so afraid if I didn’t get the epidural that I was going to have to have a C section to deliver because the pain was seriously on the verge of taking me out.
It was around 5 am when they got my COVID results back and I was negative. It was officially time for the epidural and my nurse was so nice and called the anesthesiologist and asked her to come as soon as possible. She watched and saw how much pain I was in for the last 2 hours so I appreciated her urgency.
The hard part about getting the epidural, was you have to stay really still. And because I was contracting so frequently, I was in so much pain that it was hard for me to stay still. Joey sat in front of me and helped me as I leaned over and curved my back for the doctor. It took about 10 minutes to get it all in place and started working immediately (thank the Lord). The pain went away but I could still feel light tightening when a contraction would come. The nurse was happy about this because she wanted me to feel when I needed to push. Because I was hooked up to multiple monitors, they could see when my body was contracting even if I couldn’t feel them as well, so I never worried that by getting the epidural, I wouldn’t be able to push when I needed too. At 6:45 am, they checked my cervix again and I was 4 cm dilated. They said on average, women dilate 1 cm an hour so thought I would start pushing and likely deliver in the afternoon. Also, because of the epidural my contractions started to space out a bit. They were at 3 min apart and went to 4 min apart (this is normal with an epidural) so they gave me pitocin in an IV to keep my labor progressing. Around 9:30 am they checked my cervix again and I was 10 cm dilated! At this point I had also started to feel a lot of lower back pain and a bit of the contractions again, although nothing compared to what I previously felt. I asked if I could have more medication via the epidural and the nurse told me I could press the button to the IV to receive more but that if I couldn’t push efficiently due to the epidural numbing me, that it was possible my delivery would take much longer than it otherwise would. I got the feeling that she really didn’t want me to take any more of the drugssss. BUT I didn’t want to feel the pain soooo I pressed the damn button. I convinced myself that I could get my body through pushing- even numb if I had too- but I couldn’t tolerate both the pain and focus on pushing at the same time.
Once the nurse knew I was 10 cm dilated, she called the doctor to come and check. It was close to 10 am when the doctor came in and instructed the nurses to start the pushing process and to get her when baby had crowned, for delivery. The nurse instructed me on how to push and how to breathe efficiently while pushing. Joey got on my side, held one of my legs, held my hand, and did the counting for me. He counted out loud for 10 seconds each time when I needed to push.
Before pushing, the nurse also let me know that if I couldn’t push efficiently due to the epidural that they would have to turn it down. When I heard that I was like oh heeeelllllll nooooo. I’m going to push the best I can because turning down my epidural was just not going to work out well for me. So, a little after 10 am I started to push and baby was born at 10:58 am.
The pushing wasn’t easy and was honestly exhausting but focusing on Joey’s voice was all I thought about and it helped tremendously. Squeezing the shit out of his hand helped too.
Once she was born, it felt like my stomach had popped. All the tightness and pressure I’d become used too for the past 9 months was immediately relieved and I felt my body just cave into the hospital bed. After making sure my baby girl was good, they placed Avery on my chest and then let Joey cut her umbilical cord.
I could not believe the flood of emotions that hit my body. It was such a relief to be done with labor and to know that 9 months of hard work had come to an end- so to speak, the postpartum journey hasn’t been easy but we’ll save that for another day!
It was amazing to finally see and meet this tiny human who I’d dreamt of meeting for so long. And then to watch as my husband held her for the first time, I will never forget how proud I felt.
All in all, I feel very lucky and blessed to have had the labor and delivery that I did, other than the 2 hours of hell I endured waiting for my epidural. I didn’t really have a birth plan, other than definitely a yes on the epidural and for the doctor to do whatever they needed to, to deliver a healthy baby. That being said, a lot of things obviously happened that I didn’t necessarily expect– going into labor a full week early being one of them.
Also! My OBGYN that I had been seeing regularly throughout pregnancy was actually on vacation for the week of Christmas, so an on call doctor ended up delivering my baby. I liked her as much as I liked my original doctor, which was a relief! She was very calm and just let Joey coach me and let me focus on him. It was nice to know it was really just about me and him getting the baby out, rather than a stranger, even being a doctor, shouting orders and instructions at me.
I will say, the doctor said that when we called her, she hadn’t expected me to get to 10 cm dilated for a couple hours. She was home when they first called her and she didn’t expect to have to come in till lunch time. She was also shocked that I had managed to push for less than an hour before delivering baby. She said that was extremely rare for a first time mother. I felt pretty good about that, BUT I know full well that I did the absolute best I could with pushing for the sole purpose of not having my epidural turned down. You do what you gotta do!
Now for some TMI- you can stop reading here if you’d like! But for the sake of transparency and recording of my full birth story for future me- I had a second degree tear which required an episiotomy. After delivering Avery, my doctor let me know that I had torn and she was going to be stitching me back together. I didn’t feel a thing thanks to the epidural. They started me on 600 mg of Motrin and lots of ice right away. More on that fun stuff later!
I feel lucky that my labor was not as intensive/long as others. My nurses told me they expected me to push for at least 3 hours and all I can say is thank God I did not have to endure that. Every labor and delivery is different and if you’re currently expecting, my biggest piece of advice is to have an open mind and just listen to your body and go with the flow.
I think because I didn’t have a hardcore birth plan, it was easier for me to just focus on what I needed to do, rather than worry about whether things were going “as planned.” I didn’t have to worry about oh no, I don’t want the pitocin, I just said do what you have to do to make sure baby and I make it out of this thing healthy. I definitely don’t think birth plans need to be as detail oriented or thought out as some people make it seem. I can almost guarantee that your labor won’t go as planned anyways. I mean- I went into labor a whole week early! That definitely wasn’t what I had planned for or expected!
Now, the biggest part of the labor and delivery for me was my husband. Your support person is truly the most important part of the entire process. I was crying, screaming, and so afraid that my body was shaking with each contraction I felt before and even after my epidural when I heard the doctor say it’s time to start pushing. I was terrified. Joey held my hand, rubbed my forehead, and talked me through the entire thing. The positive encouragement he offered made me feel like a) I could actually do this and b) that I was going to be alright. Afterwards he told me he was just as afraid as I was but that he knew he needed to be strong for me to be strong. And if that’s not what you need in a partner, I truly don’t know what is.
I would not have made it through without him. His coaching and unwavering support through each push was what kept me going. I wanted him to be proud of me so I worked harder with each push for him.
Now we are home and just in that space of complete bliss, awe, and happiness mixed in with the total exhaustion of being new parents, all of which is totally worth it every time we hold and look into our baby girl’s eyes.
That’s it for today! Thank you for reading my little birth story!