Like most things in my life, I approached the subject of childbirth with nonchalance. I think this is mostly because if I allowed myself to think about it…I was quickly petrified. I mean lets face it, the idea of pushing something the size of a cantaloupe out of an area that is much smaller, is slightly terrifying. I could have taken childbirth classes or watched youtube videos to prepare myself, but I preferred to lie on the couch and eat a large bowl of ice-cream, a cup of ice, or frozen lemonade. Sure, I glanced through the “Labor and Delivery” chapter of What to Expect When You’re Expecting during that final month, but I lived in slight denial that a baby was going to emerge from down there. I just assumed that I had watched enough episodes of “Call the Midwife” to figure out what to do when the time came.
February 21st, I spent the evening chasing around middle school teens and doing squats. When my husband and I were getting ready to leave to come home that night, a close friend of ours looked at us and said, “that baby is coming tomorrow!” Not wanting to be induced, I quickly responded with an, “I HOPE SO!” When we arrived home, I went to the bathroom, only to find that I had lost my mucous plug. This was exciting news because at my last prenatal appointment which was February 20th, the doctor looked at me and said, “I will see you next week, you’re looking too comfortable. We will discuss dates for potential induction at your next appointment.” I walked out of the office determined I was going to do everything to NOT see him that following week.
We arrived at the hospital at 2 a.m, February 22nd…
Preparing for Birth
12:50 a.m.: I was laying in bed when all of a sudden I felt like I was peeing myself. I checked, sure enough there was a trickle of fluid streaming from my pants. I woke up Alex and told him I thought my water was breaking. His response, “Are you serious? Are you sure? I feel like Im going to be sick.” After standing over the toilet for roughly five minutes, I realized this definitely wasn’t pee… this was indeed my water breaking. I called our hospital line and they told me to make our way in within the next hour or so.
2:15ish a.m: We arrived to the hospital, and got settled into the assessment room. I was hooked up to a monitor to check to see how far apart my contractions were and the babes heart rate. This took about twenty minutes. I was still very much in denial that anything was happening. After the monitoring was done, I sat on my exercise ball, did squats and Alex and I tried to rest as much as we could while we waited for things to progress.
7:30 a.m: The doctor made his first appearance and wanted to do an examine to determine for 100% if my water broke and to check my cervix. To my surprise, it was the same doctor from my prenatal appointment. As soon as he walked into the room, I couldn’t help but smile! “Surprise! I didn’t make it until next week.”
We went down to the labour and delivery room and he did an examination. It felt like a routine pap test, until he finished… then there was a gush, and I officially started to feel my contractions.
8:45 a.m: The hospital room started to seem scary and since I wasn’t feeling much pain or discomfort, I had a lot of time to think about what lay ahead. I asked for a Gravol and Tylenol just to take the edge off and help me relax and hopefully sleep.
10:30 a.m.: My contractions started to get more intense but through grabbing onto the bed rails and slow breathing, I was able to cope through. Then, we heard a lady in the hallway walk by saying, “I’ve been having braxton hicks contractions all morn…AHHHHH!” And then the screams continued for the next two hours. I was PETRIFIED and started second guessing my birth plan and my ability to deal with what was coming next.
12:45 p.m.: We finally heard the baby cry and the screaming stop…but I was still so scared and decided I needed something stronger for the pain. My mom had finally arrived and it brought some comfort knowing she was here finally… but I told the nurse to bring on the pill for pain.
2 p.m.: Dozing off and on, I kept hoping I was going to wake up and feel better. Instead, I woke up after an hour to the feeling of intense contractions. I sat up and grabbed my belly, unsure of what to do. I began to feel really scared, which caused me to tense up. Feeling like I had a bad stomachache, I decided that was it…I needed the forbidden epidural, and buzzed for the nurse. I rolled from side to side, hunched my back, laid flat, trying to find relief. No matter what I did, nothing seemed to work. Twenty minutes later, still buzzing the nurse every two minutes or so…there was no sign of her. Finally, I told Alex I needed the nurse and he went to go find someone. After what felt like an eternity, she arrived and we quickly discovered the buzzer to call for the nurse wasn’t working. I told her I changed my mind and I wanted the epidural. Since I was at a small hospital, they only have one anesthesiologist on and she said it was going to take some time, plus she needed to ensure I was at least 4 cm dilated. I was forced to wait a while, so in the meantime they took me back down to the labour and delivery room and tried getting me to use the gas (which I absolutely hated!) Since I had only prepared myself for the pain by thinking “epidural,” the wait for the drugs seemed like the longest hours of my life.
Getting the Epidural
3:30 p.m.: The anesthesiologist arrived, a cart full of medicine in tow. She told me to sit on the bed, cross my legs and hunch over to round out my spine. I tried the best I could to stay still, as my nurse had instructed, but my contractions were strong and only one minute apart. My nerves were on edge, thanks to an intense fear of needles, so I concentrated on my husband instead of what went on behind me. The anesthesiologist numbed my back and administered the medicine. Relief soon followed. Shortly thereafter, thanks to the epidural, Demerol, and the gas, I felt the need to sleep creeping up on me. However, I was feeling very very very very happy, and talked everyones heads off. I was definitely feeling very loopy and sent some very interesting text messages to a few friends that were slightly incoherent.
5:36 p.m.: I continued to get vaginal exams, but felt absolutely nothing. I was finally at 9-9.5 cm dilated and it was soon going to be time to start pushing.
5:41 p.m.: My doctor arrived at the hospital, due to the fact that the babes heartbeat kept dropping during my contractions. They informed me that it wasn’t super concerning as it wasn’t much, but they would try to get everything under control, and it would be a good idea if I turned on my side.
Ready to Push
6:30 p.m.: After yet another vaginal exam, my doctor announced me fit to push. As they set up the room, I spotted my mom and husband huddled in the corner. The doctor sat himself on the edge of the bed and said, “Look, I see hair!” Both my mom and husband looked and I could see on their face the amazement. Babes head was right there! I thought to myself…jeez, I am going to push like three times and he’s going to come flying out of there. This hasn’t been so bad… I could definitely do this again!
7:00 p.m.: Since the epidural had left me with no feeling in my lower half, we had to use the monitor to spot contractions. I grabbed behind my knees and bore down at each contraction (just like a bowel movement!) in 10-second intervals. Even though I was in active labor, I felt a little out of it. I actually almost pulled out my IV. The pushing continued for about an hour and a half, and nothing seemed to be progressing. Eventually, I went from being quiet and trying to focus my pain inwardly, to being vocal about how much this sucked and having a lot of questions about why he wasn’t out yet. The doctor informed me that babe was flipped, and his head was starting to swell, and he wasn’t able to progress any further. He said he felt the need to call for the obstetrician to see if she could come intervene.
8:40 p.m: The OB arrived and assessed the situation. By this time I was so exhausted and in so much pain, I felt like I was living in a dream. I vaguely remember the series of events, I just remember someone saying something about a c-section. I was so tired and so done with pushing, I told them I wanted the c-section, I felt like I didn’t have it in me to push anymore. The OB said it would be about an hour before I would be able to get it, so I told her forget it, we need to get this baby out now… I felt like I was going to die.
She told me she could help me by using the vacuum on the babe. Being so out of it and having tried everything…including being on my hands and knees, I told her to go for it. She attached the vacuum and started to pump it or whatever it is that they do… I went into full blown panic, the pain was too much! I started hollering for her to take it off and out, she continued as we were running out of time, the babes heart rate had just dropped. I started to panic and scream, and tell everyone I couldn’t do it. The pain was so excruciating. I found out later that the OB actually had braced her feet onto the end of the bed, and pulled full force onto the cord that was attached to the suction cup on babes head to get him out.
When it didn’t work, she told me she needed to do an episiotomy, (which was actually a relief because I ended up tearing even more, thankfully due to her judgement call it made the stitching a little easier) and that this babe needed to come out and come out now. I laid back and cried… tears of fear and tears of pain. I looked at the ceiling and thought to myself, this is it… I am going to die.
9:35 p.m: The head started to emerge and, at that point, my mom and husbands voice were made known in the room. I had blocked everything out and tried focusing on my breathing and pushing, I hadn’t heard them the entire time. Babe started “crowning,” and I heard clapping, and my husband yell, “HE’S RIGHT THERE, I SEE HIM, YOU DID IT!”
A few more pushes and at 9:39 that night, a 7 pound, 14 ounce baby boy named Wyatt was born. He had a head full of dark hair, and was 52.5 cm long, and looked nothing like I expected, but was everything I could hope for.
Seconds after Wyatt was born, I was given a shot to stop the bleeding as I had lost a ton of blood. I was absolutely exhausted and in complete shock he was finally here, and I survived.
We stayed in the labour and delivery room for roughly an hour, and while I was given antibiotics to bring down my fever, Wyatt and Alex curled up next to my bed. I could hardly keep my eyes open, but between each slow blink, I couldn’t believe the sight of my husband holding our son. We were moved into our room around 10:30 that night, where we spent the next two days recovering and getting to know Wyatt. We quickly learned that he hates being cold, loves the warm water in the tub, and prefers to be snuggled 🙂
Looking back, it is such a surreal experience. It is unbelievable what a woman’s body is capable of and how instinct just takes over. It is also an amazing time where you bond as husband and wife. Even though I spent a lot of my time being quiet and wanting to just focus on breathing and coping through the pain by squeezing the bed rail, Alex was by my side the entire time. For hours on end he switched out face-cloth after face-cloth for my head and neck, he applied lip chap and was such a supportive birth coach. I found out after everything, there were a few times he had to step out into the hallway, to let the tears fall, wiped his face and pulled himself together to come back in the room and support me through the most intense hours of my life.
It is also an incredible experience to have your mom in the room. My mom and I were in the room while my sister delivered her baby girl. It was so neat to see my mom become a grandma and support my sister through the entire process. It was very surreal to have her do the same for me. The comfort that it brought to have her face to look at when I legitimately thought I was going to die, and to hear her say, “its okay, you’ve got this!” Then to watch her hold her new grandchild, it was beautiful. She also did a great job at documenting the entire process, not to mention having her there during the aftermath to hold and snuggle Wyatt and help with my first bath.
Child birth is both one of the most blissful, and utterly disgusting times. As I write this blog, with Wyatt laying on my chest, I wouldn’t change any of the pain or scariness, knowing he is here, healthy and doing well. There are no words, no videos, or classes that could have prepared me for the feeling I feel now. I am so overwhelmed with love for this little guy already. I am so ecstatic about this new journey!
Wyatt, means Strength in Battle.