Our little guy joined the world on May 22, 2014 at 8:42pm after about 19 hours of labor. Here’s the story! (Warning: It’s very long!)
I didn’t have much of a birth plan going into labor. The only thing I wanted to avoid was a c-section. I mentioned this to my doctor over and over that I wanted to do anything possible to deliver the old-fashioned way. The one other thing I wanted to avoid was an episiotomy. If you’re not familiar with the ins-and-outs of labor, that’s basically where they take a scalpel to your nether regions. Doesn’t sound too fun and typically involves a longer healing time and sometimes more scar tissue problems.
I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant on Wednesday, May 21st. I woke up to some ‘signs’ of labor coming. I won’t go into any gruesome details here. Throughout the day I had on and off cramping, but nothing super painful or regular.
Adam and I ordered pizza that night and watched a movie. Adam also found time to clean out the fridge from top to bottom. One last little nesting spree I suppose!
I felt like I should go to bed early, but unfortunately didn’t listen to my gut on that one. I ended up finally getting to bed and falling asleep around 10:30pm.
I woke up at 12:06 am on Thursday, May 22nd in the middle of a strong contraction. I immediately knew it was a true labor contraction because it was completely different than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been feeling for weeks. This one was very painful and had that telltale wrapping from my lower pelvis around to my low back.
My first thought was “Shit, this is really happening!” Haha. I was immediately scared! I figured I’d lay there and time the contractions since my water hadn’t broken yet.
I kind of went in and out of sleep for the next 45 minutes and around 12:45 am, I felt a surge of liquid down yonder. It’s so dumb to say this, but I really did wonder if I had just gone to the bathroom or if my water had truly broken. I thought maybe my bladder had finally given out after months of this big baby pushing on it.
I got up to use the restroom and definitely felt like it was my water that had broken. I was still kind of in and out of sleep at this point, but I still knew that it was my water. Since I was Group B Strep positive (a type of bacteria they have to give you antibiotics for during labor), I knew we needed to head to the hospital pretty soon instead of waiting around. I was a little bummed because I was hoping to time contractions throughout the night and labor at home. Once your water breaks, you’re put on about a 24 hour stopwatch to have the baby to prevent infection. Otherwise, you pretty much have to get a c-section. But the fact that I was having contractions on my own already was a good sign.
I woke Adam up and told him I was having contractions and my water had broken. We laid in bed for about 30 minutes, timing the contractions. They were coming every 3-5 minutes and lasting about a minute. A good sign that I was probably progressing!
After that, we called the doctor and started pulling things together to head to the hospital. While we were up getting ready, another gush of my amniotic fluid came out, which definitely confirmed my water had broken. We were out the door within 30 minutes. I said goodbye to Gracie which brings a bit of a tear to my eye to think about. I knew that her life was about to change quite a bit and she didn’t really know what was going to happen. I think she sensed something was up because she gave me a big snuggle right before we left. It was about 2:00 am at this point and I texted my brother that he would need to come by in the morning to let Gracie out. He was going to be staying with her while we were in the hospital.
Contractions were still manageable at this point but still very painful. Those Braxton Hicks I had been so used to were such a joke in comparison! We got to the hospital and opted to park and walk to see how I could manage contractions while walking. I had to stop twice on the way to the door and another time on the way to the elevator. A very nice security guard brought me a wheelchair at some point.
We got all checked into triage and she said I was 2-3cm dilated and about 75% effaced. I was so excited because I had been at a 1 and 40% effaced for weeks! Finally making progress. We were admitted and they let me start walking the halls after they checked on baby.
We walked the halls for a couple of hours. Contractions were coming every 2-4 minutes and lasting between 30 seconds and 1 minute. They were painful but I tried to remember some tips I had read online about managing labor pain. Instead of tensing up during a contraction, I tried to keep all my pelvic and back muscles relaxed. I also focused on breathing in and out. It really did help! Especially not tensing up.
I got checked again around 6:00 am and they said I had progressed to about 4-5cm and 80% effaced. I was so proud that I had made it that far without pain medicine! At that point I opted to get the epidural because I was able to manage the pain so far and knew I’d have to stay still for the epidural and didn’t want the pain to start to get too out of control. I ended up getting the epidural around 7:00 am.
After that, I was strapped to the bed, so it was time for us to hurry up and wait. Adam kept bringing me Italian Ice and popsicles which was the only thing I was allowed to eat during labor. (The last thing I had eaten was pizza at 5:00 pm the night before.)
We spent the rest of the morning lounging around and watching TV. We tried to sleep but it didn’t happen for me. My doctor came by to check on me (my doctor’s office is attached to the hospital so it was easy for her to stop by). I had a sonogram scheduled for 3:30 pm that afternoon to check to make sure everything was okay (since I was overdue) and I jokingly told her I wouldn’t be making that appointment.
I got checked again around noon and was about 7-8cm and 90% effaced. Yay, more progress! We were still in very good spirits at this point. We figured I’d be fully dilated and ready to push in a few hours. Of course, things never go as you plan.
We spent the next few hours doing some more waiting around. (Oh, the beauty of epidurals.) I got checked around 2:00 pm and was at a 9, so I thought I would be pushing soon.
Around 4:30pm, my doctor came by to say Hi and check on my progress. I was still at 9cm, which wasn’t good. I had been stalled there for awhile. My doctor said that if I didn’t progress in the next few hours, they’d have to look at other options. Other options meaning a C-section. I was devastated! After laboring for 16 hours, I didn’t want to hear that I might have a C-section.
I forgot to mention during this whole time, the nurses kept coming and flipping me from side to side (something you can’t do on your own when you have an epidural – no feeling!) and putting this peanut shaped ball between my legs. This was supposed to help with progress. The baby’s heart rate would drop when I was on my left side. Unfortunately for me, that was the side I felt most comfortable on. When they flipped me on my right side, his heart rate would stabilize, which was great. BUT, when I was on my left side, I could FEEL my contractions. Contractions when you’re further progressed in labor (and hooked up to a pitocin drip) are much more painful and stronger than early labor contractions.
So, being able to feel my contractions combined with my doctor telling me I might have a C-section after 16 hours of labor plus no sleep and no food pretty much sent me over the edge emotionally. By that point, I was exhausted and hungry and physically and mentally spent. I couldn’t stop crying. I was texting friends from church and asking them to pray for us. Adam and I started saying a lot of Hail Mary’s for strength and a normal delivery.
One of my friends suggested via text that I try elevating my bed to get gravity to help out(at that point, I had been flat all day long). I asked the nurses to do that, but they wouldn’t, so Adam and I took matters into our own hands, and elevated my bed ourselves. I think this is where I really started to progress! It lessened the pain from contractions quite a bit and I started finally feeling that pressure in my tailbone that they kept telling me to look for which meant that the baby was moving down the birth canal.
FINALLY, at about 6:50pm, our nurse checked me and said I was fully dilated and it was time to get set up for pushing. Hallelujah! I was so grateful that I would probably be able to deliver naturally instead of having a C-section.
Another curveball was that I started to develop a fever, which is common after your water has been broken for several hours plus being on a pitocin drip. They had to keep checking that to make sure I could handle delivery. If it got much worse, the threat of C-section would come up again.
A bunch of nurses and the on-call doctor filled the room and I finally started pushing around 7:15 pm. I was so scared! I just pictured everything being pulled apart down there from the pushing. But I had to remind myself that this was my only choice! I needed to get my baby out safely and I wanted labor to be over with already.
I totally went into another world during pushing and worked my ass off. Adam and the nurses counted for me during every contraction. I did 3-4 sets of 10-count pushes during each contraction.
Everyone was really encouraging and said I was making awesome progress with every push. I know they were lying a few times, but it was still helpful. After a few pushes, they said, “He’s got blonde hair!” and that was so encouraging. I couldn’t wait to see him!
After an hour and a half of pushing (and an unfortunate episiotomy from the doctor), our little guy was born! I’ll never forget that feeling of that last push when I could feel his whole body come out. Of course, I started bawling instantly. What an emotional rollercoaster of a day!
The baby had a bowel movement during the delivery which isn’t super uncommon, so they had to suction him out pretty quickly. He also was having trouble breathing and was just grunting, so they kept checking his oxygen levels. Everything looked good but he just didn’t sound very good. So, I didn’t get that immediate skin-to-skin contact with him because they were spending time checking him out.
They finally weighed him – 10 pounds 2.3 ounces! Wow! We were NOT expecting such a big boy.
He was still grunting, so after I held him for a bit and got to meet him, they took him to the nursery for more checks. I don’t remember much else of the next 24 hours! It is so weird. My memory is very fuzzy from his first day of life. I think the stress of the day plus no sleep and food and all the hormones are to blame for that. Luckily, we have pictures to remember the day by.
Overall, I am just happy he is healthy and safe. After that, I’m so grateful that I did not have to have a c-section. The doctors and nurses were so great in trying to prevent that as much as possible. Although, I didn’t have my “perfect” delivery because I did end up having an episiotomy and I didn’t get that skin-to-skin contact right after, I think it went pretty darn good considering how big he was and the obstacles we encountered along the way. I know that I’ll be flagged for future births as having big babies, so hopefully my doctor will work with me to avoid a c-section for all future deliveries as well. Life with a newborn is hard enough with a normal recovery! I couldn’t imagine breastfeeding and caring for a newborn while also recovering from a C-section! I have way more respect for anyone that has had a C-section.
So, there’s the birth story of our little man! The hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the best thing I’ve ever done! We love this little guy so very much. He is literally the best thing that has ever happened to us! <3