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I went for my 38-week appointment on Wednesday, January 24 and was still at 1 centimeter dilated and 50% effaced, no change from the previous week. My doctor went over the plan for what would happen induction-wise if I went late, so I wasn’t expecting much to happen soon. But, I also knew things could start happening at any moment.
On Friday, January 26, I started feeling more of a wetness during the late afternoon/early evening hours, so I began to suspect that my water might be leaking. I’d also started to get some bloody show during the day, enough for a pantyliner. But, I wasn’t convinced enough to call the doctor about it. My husband and I went out that night, stopping to get some litmus paper at a hobby store so I could check if the fluid was basic, which would indicate it was indeed amniotic fluid. (Yes, I’m a dork for getting the litmus paper, but hey, it was cheap!)
We went out to dinner and got home around 10 p.m. and I checked the pH, but it wasn’t showing up as basic, so it didn’t appear to be amniotic fluid. I just figured my discharge was starting to change in preparation for labor. Soon after we got home, I had quite a bit of diarrhea, which was yet another sign (especially looking back) that labor was going to start soon. Around 11 p.m., I started getting really strong, constant menstrual-like cramps in my lower back that sometimes were in my lower abdomen, as well. I knew from reading that this is often how labor starts, and since I hadn’t had any cramping during pregnancy, I really started to suspect something was up. I went to bed around midnight that night and started getting mild contractions during the night, but nothing major.
I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 27, and my husband and I dropped off the dog at 7:30 for his previously scheduled grooming appointment. I let them know that I was likely in early labor and checked to see if we could board him there if it turned out I really was in labor. They said that wasn’t a problem. (So glad we had the appointment for that morning!) My husband and I got home around 8 a.m. and the contractions, which were mostly in my lower back, were definitely painful. I wasn’t 100% sure this would be the real thing, but I went back to bed to get some rest just in case it was. I had to take my heating pad to bed because my back hurt so much from the contractions, which were about 15 seconds long and probably 8-10 minutes apart at this point (though we weren’t timing them quite yet).
I slept until about 10:30 a.m. and got up. We started timing contractions around 11 a.m., and within an hour, they were 3-4 minutes apart and lasted about 45 seconds. We decided to get ready to go to the hospital. I took a shower while my husband finished packing our last-minute items. By this point, my contractions were painful enough that I had to stop whatever I was doing in order to breathe through them. Leaning over onto all fours so my belly was hanging helped take some of the pressure off. The pains were still in my lower back mostly and sometimes wrapped around to my lower abdomen. I never really felt any contractions high up.
We left for the hospital around 1:30 p.m. and arrived at 2 p.m. We went to labor and delivery and got checked in; then they took me to the labor and delivery room. I changed clothes, used the bathroom one last time, then was asked a ton of questions (mostly health/pregnancy related) by the nurse. They checked me internally and said I was still only 2 to 3 centimeters dilated and about 90% to 100% effaced.
Around 3 p.m., they were ready to put in my IV, which was the worst part of the whole thing for me. It took three nurses and four tries to get in an IV–the first three veins blew–and I was bawling from the experience. Around 3:30 p.m., just when I was filling out my consent forms for the epidural, they injected Stadol into my IV to help take the edge off the contractions, which were becoming more painful, though staying at about the same frequency. I felt the Stadol nearly immediately, as the words on the pages in front of me quickly started running together. I was really surprised by how fast it took effect. It didn’t really take away the pain (I still had to breathe through the contractions), but it definitely made me care less about the pain!
At 4:30 p.m., the anesthesiologist (thanks, Dr. Bennett!) came in to administer my epidural. (I was already pretty sold on the epidural beforehand, and knew with certainty I would get it once I felt those early contractions.) My husband had to leave the room, so he took that time to call my parents, who wanted to come to the hospital, and his family, who all live out of town. (We wanted to wait until I got the epidural since we didn’t want to tell them I was having the baby and then have it be a false alarm.)
I was still under the effects of the Stadol when I had the epidural inserted, so I think that helped relax me. The numbing shot kind of stung at first, but I didn’t feel any pain after that. I could feel the catheter being threaded in, but it didn’t hurt. They also sent a small electrical shock down my left leg to ensure proper placement, but that didn’t hurt either…just a weird sensation. From start to finish, the procedure took about 10 minutes. My epidural took effect immediately, and I didn’t feel any contractions from that point on. My torso was very numbed, but I could still feel my legs for the most part and could even move them quite a bit. It was weird because I had the sensation of itching sometimes on my upper legs, but scratching didn’t help make it go away!
The nurses had a hard time finding my contractions on the external contraction monitor, so they ended up putting in internal monitors for contractions and for the baby’s heart rate once I had the epidural. They also inserted the catheter at this time, which I could feel, but it didn’t hurt.
My doctor wasn’t on call that weekend, so I met one of his practice associates when he came in to check on me around 5 p.m. I really ended up liking him a lot…he had a good sense of humor and was just real laid-back. He checked me around 5 p.m. and I was only at about 4 centimeters and 100% effaced. He also broke my water at that point, which I couldn’t feel, but I did feel the warm sensation of the gush when it came out.
About 5:15 p.m., the blood pressure of both me and the baby plummeted from the epidural, and my temperature dipped quite a bit, too, and I started shivering. I was still feeling the effects of the Stadol, but I do remember them inserting blood pressure medicine into my IV a couple different times in order to stabilize me. They also had me lie on my left side and gave me oxygen for about an hour. I came really close to vomiting at that point and gagged a few times but managed to avoid actually throwing up. They finally got the vitals looking good for both of us and then started a pitocin drip in order to really get the contractions going. My parents arrived around 6:30 p.m. and chatted with us while I labored.
Around 8 p.m., the nurse told me to let them know if I started getting a sensation of pressure, especially in the rectal area. About five minutes after they mentioned that, I started getting that exact pressure and called in the nurse. The doctor came in again to check me around 8:15 p.m. and said that I was fully dilated and it was about time to start pushing. I was actually kind of surprised because I figured it would take longer before I started pushing. My parents went to the waiting room since I wanted it to be just me and my husband for the delivery, and the nurse got things ready for delivery, including getting the bed adjusted into the right position, getting out supplies, and getting the stirrups in place.
I started pushing around 8:40 p.m. In the delivery room were just me, my husband, the doctor, and one nurse. My epidural was still turned on, but I could feel some pressure at the start of each contraction. The doctor did good with telling me how to push. My first couple pushes weren’t great, but after he corrected me and told me how to make it better, my pushes were more effective from then on. We did three pushes on each contraction, with either my husband or the nurse counting for me. The doctor would start talking/joking about random things in between contractions (and sometimes during contractions! LOL), like my career field and state politics, and I really think that helped distract me when I needed it.
A couple times, though, the other three got into their conversation so much that they forgot to finish counting for me. I pushed as long as I could, then jokingly yelled, "Thanks, guys, you stopped counting!" At one point, the doctor asked if I knew what the vacuum was and started going over pros and cons of using it. At the next contraction, apparently I pushed even better than I had been, because he said, "Yep, mentioning the vacuum always makes them push better." Perhaps not a sense of humor for everyone, but he really was amusing.
My husband was able to be both by my side holding one of my legs and could see all of what was going on. (This was fine with me. I’d told him beforehand that it was completely up to him regarding how much he wanted to see himself.) He was fascinated by it all, and I’m actually glad that he was so into it. About 20 minutes into pushing, I suddenly started getting the overwhelming sensation that I was going to throw up, so they got the bedpan for me. I threw up just once (mostly just water since I’d purposely not eaten much that day in anticipation of labor and knowing that vomiting isn’t an unusual occurrence) and felt better after that. Before my last couple of pushes, the doctor went ahead and put on his delivery scrubs, and they called in the baby nurse, who would take care of the baby once she was born. I asked to reach down and touch her head once it was sticking out, and I’m glad I got to do that. Pushing to get the rest of the head and shoulders out hurt a little bit (but still not as much as the stupid IV hurt!).
Kathryn Alexandra was born at 9:09 p.m., after pushing for about 30 minutes, and weighed in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces and 19 inches long. She had a rash on some of her face and most of her body, so they wanted to take her to the intake nursery soon in order to make sure it was nothing to worry about. They got her cleaned up and then I got to hold her for only about 10 minutes before they took her. They had my parents come in from the waiting room so they could see her before taking her. I ended up with no episiotomy, and just one minor first-degree tear that did not require stitches. We’d done perineal massage at the recommendation of my doctor ever since my 36-week appointment, so I’m not sure if that’s what helped, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt.
My husband cut the cord (he was unsure if he wanted to, but the doctor had convinced him to do it and he later said he was glad he did), and then the doctor delivered the rest of the umbilical cord and placenta, saying, "And now you are officially not pregnant any more" when it came out. I was under the impression that delivering the placenta took longer, but it was fully delivered within just a few minutes of Katie being born. The doctor put it into a bowl and showed it to my husband then inspected it before setting it down, but I asked to see it, too, since I really was curious. It was turned inside out, but the doctor turned it back out for us so we could see what it looked like in utero. Yeah, it was kind of gross, but I figured I don’t have many opportunities to see something like that, so I might as well! I’m really glad I did. I believe they said Katie’s APGARs were 7 and 8.
They took Katie to the intake nursery to check her rash (which ended up being fine and was mostly gone by the next day) and to give her a bath and check all of her vitals. My parents and my husband went to watch through the viewing window, and my best friend showed up just as my parents were leaving. They got me cleaned up, removed the epidural catheter, and around 11 p.m. they wanted to see how well I could feel my legs to know if I could be moved yet. I still felt a lot of numbness in the left side of my torso and in my lower back (that numbness lasted most of the rest of the night), but I could hold my weight and walk (with some help) just fine. They moved me to a wheelchair to take me to the mother/baby wing, where I would spend the rest of my time in the hospital.
My husband and best friend carried all of our stuff to the new room and they got set up there while the nurses helped me pee (I really had to pee once I could feel again!). I was able to sit down and get up off the toilet fine, and the nurses cleaned up a lot of the blood and gave me the mesh panties and pads to wear. They also showed me how to squirt warm water after I was done peeing in order to keep things as clean as possible. I walked back to the bed mostly on my own with some steadying from the nurse; they were surprised by how much I could walk on my own at that point.
I got back in bed and visited with my best friend while my husband left the room to make phone calls to family and friends with the good news. They started me on two bags of pitocin in order to get my uterus to shrink back, and the nurses came in periodically to check and massage my uterus and keep an eye on my temperature (I’d developed a fever at the end of labor) and blood pressure. My best friend left around 12:30 a.m. and my husband and I just sat and talked for a bit while we waited for them to bring Katie to our room.
She finally came around 2 a.m.–the first time I’d seen/held her since the short time I had her after the birth. We tried breastfeeding immediately, but it was kind of frustrating at first. It felt like everything I’d read about what to do went out of my brain, and of course she didn’t know what to do immediately, either. By the second day, that got easier, but it was certainly frustrating those first couple times. It also didn’t help that I was so tired and just not in the right frame of mind to be patient with breastfeeding, so I decided we’d get a fresh start the next day. We sent her back to the nursery around 4 a.m. so we could get a few hours of sleep. My bleeding was still really heavy at that point, but less than it was right after delivery. It was more manageable by the second day and much like period bleeding after that.
We had Katie in our room all day on Sunday, January 28. I was definitely sore in the crotch, like someone had kicked me hard there, but I imagine it would have been worse if I’d had tears or stitches. Still, getting in and out of bed really hurt. My husband did all of the diaper changes, and feeding went better that day. My best friend and her mom came to visit us that afternoon after church, and the whole day felt like a parade of people who came into our room, one after another…nurses obviously to check on us, but then the hospital photographer, the lactation consultant, the pediatrician, the on-call obstetrician, the birth certificate/Social Security person, etc. I finally got to take a shower around 8 p.m. that night and felt a lot better after that. My best friend came back later that night with her fiance to visit and stayed for about an hour. We sent Katie back to the nursery around 10 p.m. so we could get some rest (with instructions to bring her back during the night when she needed to be fed, which I did around 1:45 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.). My husband and I took a walk around the halls for a few minutes, which was the only time I got out of the room since I was so sore when I walked.
On Monday, January 29, they brought Katie back to our room around 8 a.m. and we waited to be discharged, which they were hoping to do around noon. The pediatrician came and gave his okay to discharge Katie (though we had to take her back to the doctor two days later since she looked jaundiced), but we were still waiting on my obstetrician to come talk to me and give me the okay to leave. We thought he would come while doing rounds before his office hours, but he never came and the nurses didn’t know where he was.
We gathered up our stuff and watched TV while waiting for him. He finally came around 1:30 p.m. and sat down to talk with me. He said he’d been doing a c-section that morning, then had another delivery in the late morning, on top of keeping up with his office appointments, too, so at least there was a good reason for why he was later coming to see me. He asked me how things went, and I said that everything went way better than expected and that the IV was the worst part for me. I said that maybe it was a good thing hearing everyone’s horror stories because maybe that made things better for me!
He started going over instructions on care for my stitches, but I told him that I hadn’t had any stitches. He looked surprised, checked my chart, and said, "Wow, you’re right." I know it’s not the norm to not need stitches, so I really do count myself lucky there. I started asking a few questions about exercise and some other things, and he said that the only rule I had was that intercourse and tampons were forbidden for six weeks, but other than that, I could proceed as I normally would. He told me to continue my prenatal vitamin for as long as I was nursing, and to keep up with my iron supplement for about three months.
All in all, I really think things went extraordinarily well. From the start of the initial cramping, my labor was technically about 22 hours, but it seemed like less than that since my real contractions didn’t start until the next morning, and I delivered only seven hours after arriving at the hospital. I was prepared to push for a lot longer than 30 minutes, since I know it’s common to push for an hour or two (unlike what you see on TV and in the movies!), so I’m very glad that wasn’t the case. I really don’t think I could have asked for a better delivery, despite the few unpleasant parts about it.
Deanna is a copy editor who lives in Kentucky with her husband, daughter, golden retriever, and two cats. You can read her parenting blog "And Baby Makes Three" here.
I was born four and a half months after Pearl Harbor and the entry of the U.S. into WWII.
My father had tried to enlist , but no branch of the service would take him because he had flat feet and was deaf in one ear. He thought that he could do a desk job or cook and so free up someone who could march and hear to fight; but all soldiers must be able to march at need and hear orders, so he couldn’t. Instead, he spent the war working as a welder between the hulls of battle ships,
thereby losing the hearing in his good ear.
Everyone told me that I would know when I went into labor. Even though this was my second pregnancy, I wasn’t sure if my body was truly in labor, or just teasing me. With my daughter, my water broke naturally (in medical terms, grossly ruptured) and it still took Pitocin for me to have contractions, so how could I be sure that my body would know what to do?
My son was due to arrive on July 20th. I went to the doctor and she told me that I was dilated two centimeters, but it didn’t look like the baby was ready to come out. I complained of pains in my rib cage. I whined about the carpal tunnel that the pregnancy had induced. I told her that I could tell this baby was much bigger than my first. I begged her to take him out, now. She told me that I was healthy and having a perfect pregnancy and that the baby would come out when he was ready. I would have to schedule an appointment for the following week to see how things were going. Fortunately, I had chosen a practice that did not believe in forcing labor, no matter how much I begged. I did not want Pitocin again and my doctor knew that, but my need to have things planned, was taking over. I wanted to make sure that someone was at my house to watch my daughter, that my mom was in town so she could meet this new being when he arrived, that I wasn’t in line at the grocery store when my water broke. I left the doctor’s office and hoped that labor would start before the following week.
On July 21st I decided that I wanted my mom. She lives six hours away and I knew that I needed some help. I was tired and it was hot. My two year old wanted to be outside playing and I just wanted to relax. My mom agreed to come the next day and stay for a week. I worried that I wouldn’t go into labor until the following week and she would only be able to see her new grandchild for a day or two. But in the end, I just needed my mommy.
My body must have known that I needed to get my mom to our house to make the plans I had go smoothly. On the 23rd I started having contractions. They started around 7pm and only happened when I was up and moving. I dusted. I folded laundry. I wore a path in the carpet from the living room to the bedrooms. When I put my daughter to bed, I told her that I might not be there in the morning, and gave her kisses. Around 9:30 I started keeping track of the contractions. As long as I was moving, they were ten minutes apart. I took a break and sat down to type some hopeful emails, and went thirty minutes with nothing. I decided the dishwasher needed to be unloaded and they started again. By 11pm the contractions were coming every ten minutes without fail, but still weren’t anything strong. I told my husband I was going to call the doctor, just in case. At midnight I told him I thought we should go in because I had a few contractions that were strong and across my back and seeing as my mom was here to watch our daughter, it wouldn’t hurt to be checked.
As we left the house, I began to cry. I was excited to be bringing this new life into the world, but at the same time, I was so sad for my daughter. She had been the center of our world for two years, and that was about to change for her. She was going from having mommy and daddy’s full attention, to having to share more than she would be able to understand. I knew I would nurse my son, and that the decision to nurse would greatly limit the time my daughter would have to cuddle on my lap. I needed to mourn the loss of time I would be able to spend with my daughter and prepare for a new relationship as the mom of two.
The hospital is twenty minutes away and half way there I was sure we made the right decision. I filled in paper work and went through the admitting process with a few minor contractions. They took me to a room and checked, I was 4 centimeters and the baby was zero station. I told them I was going to want an epidural. I had been through this before and even though I can deal with quite a bit of pain, I loved being calm and clear headed as I controlled the birth of my daughter and wanted the same sensation with my son. I would have to wait another two hours before the anesthesiologist would come to see me due to other women and emergencies. During that time, I paced around the room, resting my head on the bed during contractions or sitting on the bed cross-legged rocking back and forth.
When they got me to the delivery room around 3:30am, I measured 5 centimeters. At 3:45 I got an epidural and finally was able to smile. The epidural made my blood pressure drop way below the comfort range for the doctors, but after me assuring them that for me it was normal, and no, I did not have a metallic taste in my mouth, and I was no more light-headed than usual, they left it in. At 4:30 I woke up from a short rest when my water broke, grossly ruptured, again. I asked my husband to call for the nurse. She helped me get some clean sheets and then left so I could relax. At 6:10, I called for her again to tell her I was feeling a great deal of pressure. She started to get the room ready. My doctor came in at 6:30 to introduce himself and then he left. (There are six doctors at the practice. I had seen five during my nine months of pregnancy. He was the only one I didn’t see.) The nurse called him back ten minutes later because I told her I needed to push. She had checked my progress only to see the baby coming out on his own. I had them decrease the epidural, a must for being able to push. The doctor returned and asked me to push with the next contraction. Three rounds of pushing later he told me to stop. I stopped, but the baby didn’t. He just kept coming down. A small episiotomy was done to keep me from tearing and the baby was out and screaming.
The doctor helped me lift Garrett onto my chest. It was 6:52am on July 24th. Garrett Thomas arrived on his own four days past his due date. The lights in the room were dimmed and the nurses and doctor did what they needed to in silence. They let me hold and nurse Garrett before they took him to be weighed. I stared at him, this creature who just a few moments before had been inside me. He looked so big compared to my first, but still so small. My husband’s face beamed with pride as he gently caressed Garrett’s head. Garrett had a perfectly round head covered with dark brown hair and a look of absolute contentment to be nestled up against me.
After he finished his first meal, the nurse took him to be weighed and cleaned. He was 8 lbs. 9 oz., almost two pounds heavier than his sister had been. The nurses and doctor told me what an easy patient I was and that I was a great pusher. The doctor said I should do this one or two more times and I told him that it is always a possibility. They took Garrett for his first bath and me to my post-partum room. As soon as Garrett was returned to me, I let my husband go home to rest and tell our daughter that her brother had arrived. I stayed awake, holding my son in my arms. It didn’t matter that I had been awake for most of the last 24 hours; I needed to study every part of my new baby.
My husband, daughter, and mom came in later that day. As I sat in the hospital bed, with my two children in my lap, I could not feel more blessed. My daughter suddenly looked so big. I could not believe that just twelve hours ago, when I had kissed her goodnight, she had been a baby. Now, she was a big sister. As I gazed at my little boy swaddled tightly in his baby blanket, I looked forward to learning about his unique personality and all that he would bring to our family.
Stacey is a stay-at-home mother to her two children: Corinne who is
three years old and Garrett who is 1 year old. She lives in New
England. You can read the birth story of her daughter here.
now know the difference between myself and other mammals. Other mammals are
unable to get on the "Nurses’ Little Favorite" list because they
cannot call the nurses murdering killers when they are birthing their young. And
who wouldn’t want to take advantage of this purely human opportunity? Certainly
It was 10:26 on December 26th, 1999. I was sitting in the living room watching a
movie with my visiting sister-in-law, and Dan had gone to bed. I found myself
thinking, "My, these contractions certainly are REGULAR and they certainly
are STRONG. Isn’t that interesting? By 1:10 am I had taken a long shower, slurped down a big
glass of water, and stretched out in bed, and they were still moving right
along. So when Dan woke up and said, "Honey, are you alright?" I
hollered "NO!" At 3:00 am we were in the Camaro pelting down the
highway with me moaning and groaning and clutching myself and Dan saying
"BREATHE BREATHE" and me saying "I CAN’T I CAN’T." Just
like in the movies. Except we had the top up. Which, in retrospect, was a
missed opportunity. But what can you do?
We arrived at the hospital and they put me in a room to check me out. In the
screening room, I was perched on the table with one leg on each side, arms propped
up on a big garbage can, head inside, puking aggressively at regular intervals,
and still hollering and moaning with each contraction. IT REALLY HURT. A LOT. MORE THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD. When the nurse
came in to tell us we were getting admitted, she said "Would you like an
epidu-" and before she had the chance to add "ral" I had said,
"YES YES YES IMMEDIATELY PLEASE" and grovelled on the floor like a
By 6:00 am (yes that was two murderous hours later) I had
my epidural, was numb from the waist down, and was possibly the happiest person
on the planet. The man who gave me my epidural asked me what color my nail
polish was and I had the presence of mind to respond, "Blue." This
probably wasn’t what he was asking but it seemed hilarious at the time.
EVERYTHING seemed hilarious. I was in epiduralandia and I wanted to stay
At 8:00 Dr. Crockford came in and broke my water, and
very soon I was dilated to 8 centimeters and completely effaced. At 10:30, Dr. Crockford said it was time to push, and my nurse, Amy, started coaching us through the pushing. At this point, my
epidural still had me flying HIGH so I was all too happy to hook my hands
behind my knees, pull myself up into a ball, and push like bally-hoo.
Unfortunately, two hours later all my good virtuous pushing had had absolutely
no effect. This might have had something to do with the fact that I was
vomitting with increasing frequency, so that every time we really had some
momentum worked up I had to take a break to spew horrid bile all over Dan. We
went through 20 emesis basins, and then we started rinsing them out and
re-using. You have to be environmentally responsible when you’re puking your
way through labor, after all.
At some point during all this frivolity, my epidural decided to re-evaluate its
life choices, turn in its portfolio, and take a permanent vacation. No one TOLD
me this of course, so I was still plaintively pushing the little "More
Medicine" button and getting absolutely NO medicine at all. Things took a
decided turn for the ugly when I was feeling every contraction, feeling all the
pushing, and feeling rather miserable and violent. The nurse decided to try
pushing on my hands and knees, since the other way wasn’t working, and I was
supposed to roll myself in a ball with my head down and push sort of backwards.
Oh, my. Suddenly, the patient was full of hate and vitriol. "I CAN’T DO IT
THIS WAY. I CAN’T BREATHE. I CAN’T KEEP MY HEAD DOWN. STOP PUSHING ON ME. I
CAN’T PUSH. HELP ME." You get the idea.
Finally she let me turn back right side up. Dr. Coates came in and evaluated
the situation, and told me that the baby was "Sunny Side Up" which
means that his face was turned up toward the ceiling, and his head was
basically stuck in the birth canal. For several thousand years, I pushed with
Dr. Coates’ assistance, and the assistance of half the population of mainland China, or so it seemed as the room filled up with
helpful observers and participants. I had one nurse pushing on my belly on the
left, one nurse pushing on my belly on the right, and one nurse kneeling on the
table above my head pushing on my belly from above. Very. Exciting. For. Me.
This is when I started yelling "YOU ARE KILLING ME. STOP TRYING TO KILL
ME. I CAN’T BREATHE. I AM GOING TO DIE." Dan, covered with hazardous vomit
and probably tired of counting to ten and yelling PUSH, was mercifully kind in
these moments, and actually let my head go down a couple times so I could get a
breath. The nurse behind my head could only say, "I DON’T WANT YOU TO BREATHE
I WANT YOU TO PUSH SO PUSH!" If I could have gotten an arm free to
dislodge her I would have knocked her across the room. Of course, now that it’s
over I am very glad she did what she did and I did apologize for calling her a
Finally the doctor informed me that I had three more contractions to push the
baby out and then they were going to do a C-section. The thought of being in
labor for one more second while they prepped me for surgery filled me with such
panic and fear that my sheer animal will kicked in and with the assistance of
all the peripheral pushers, I cranked the baby out about eight contractions
later. I was giving Dr. Coates the "I AM REALLY MOTIVATED NOW" eye so
she let me push a little over the deadline.
Finally, everyone in the room started shouting "YES YES!" and Dr.
Coates said, "Look down! Your baby is coming!" and in half a second I
had Benjamin in my arms, completely slimy with blood and gore and the most
angelic beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. I was instantly filled
with intense satisfaction, love, relief, joy, and the ability to finally
BREATHE! They rubbed him off while he laid on my chest, and then aspirated him
and took him over to the warming table. I was so euphoric, so totally charmed
and amazed and relieved that everything was swimming, including all the seeming
thousands of people in the room. I do remember seeing one face loom out of the
crowd, and I realized that this woman was staring kindly and with clinical
interest between my spread legs, and then looking up at me benevolently to say,
"Awww, honey. She’s fixing you up real nice down there! Good as new!"
And from this I knew that I had had an episiotomy and that it was being mended.
Possibly the most surreal moment of my life.
Benjamin was nine pounds, and twenty-two inches long. He has flaming red/orange
hair and blue eyes. He is the most wonderful little mouse-nosed cute-i-fied
rabbit child that I have ever witnessed. And he has been an angel from day 1.
Ben and I both had a temperature, so we had to stay in the hospital an extra
day while they gave him antibiotics through an IV. He used this time to nurse
so dutifully and earnestly that my milk came in on the second day, and he got
so nourished that he had regained his birth weight by the day after we were
He spends his days eating, sleeping, and making his Mommy and Daddy ecstatic.
He is a dear, sincere little angel baby and we love him extremely much.
Lydia is a homeschooling mother of two little clucking chickens, who rampage around Norfolk, Virginia, flapping their little wings in violin class, karate class, and other adventures. She keeps a mobile picture blog at "Keep Your Eye on the Kids" and also writes a homeschooling blog at "Little Blue School". This birth story was originally published here.
I wrote this for posterity, in honor of my son’s birthday. I’ll warn you now that it’s long. I purposely didn’t whittle it down because I want to remember it as it really was, long or not. If you choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it.
Tomorrow (Saturday) my baby boy will be one year old. I can’t even believe it. This time last year, I was in labor & delivery waiting for him to be born. It was an experience I’d not had before because my first pregnancy came to fruition with a planned c-section; something I had sworn to never participate in again. Suffice it to say, my first delivery was a wholly unpleasant experience that I will probably never write about because other than the moment my newborn daughter was put before my eyes, there’s not much about it I want to remember.
But the birth of my second child was completely different and something I want to savor forever. Sadly, I waited a whole year to write this story and my memory is already failing. Thankfully my husband, who can’t remember some of the simplest day-to-day things, has a pretty good recollection of it. Between the two of us, I’m pretty sure I got all the high points. So without further ado, I give you one of my fondest memories ever…the story of my son, P.
When we decided we wanted to have another baby, I was a little afraid. I’d had an inexplicable estrogen deficiency since the birth of my first child five years prior and had worn a small patch for hormone replacement ever since. I feared that maybe I wouldn’t be able to conceive because something in my body had clearly gone awry.
As it happens, my fears were unfounded. After the first month of trying, I invested in an ovulation scope and conceived the following month.
Because of my previous unpleasant experiences with obstetric practices and because I wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), I opted for an OB group that had a number of midwives on staff that was also one of the only practices in my city that would even allow a VBAC. The midwives were kind and caring and empathetic and best of all, they totally supported my wish to have a VBAC without an episiotomy. They totally GOT me. I was elated. I thought I’d died and gone to pregnancy heaven.
Being over 35, unaffectionately known as “advanced maternal age” I had to take all sorts of tests and screens and the results were very favorable so I declined having an amniocentesis. We found out we were having a boy and though I’d never imagined myself as the mother of a boy, we were very excited.
My 40 weeks of gestation flew by and other than leg aches and major carpal tunnel syndrome that impaired my already fractured sleep, I’d had an ideal pregnancy. As I neared my due date, I had to go every week to see my midwife and then, as my due date came and went, I saw them every few days. Every time, I was only dilated one freaking centimeter! I was getting nervous because if I were more than a week past my due date, the obstetricians would not allow a VBAC as the risks of a dangerous uterine rupture were increased.
On the morning of Wednesday, June 15, I woke up feeling crampy. It wasn’t all that unusual as I’d had cramps a few days before but today I felt different. And when I went pee, I noticed a very slight pink tinge when I wiped. Not wanting to be an alarmist, I decided to ignore it. I had a million things to do that day so I got dressed, got my daughter in gear and headed out.
I went to the grocery store, the post office and a few more places, still refusing to take the cramps seriously. As they became a little stronger, I started to wonder if this was labor. It didn’t feel like much more than a mild period cramp accompanied by a sort of heavy feeling in my lower abdomen so I decided not to call my midwives just yet.
By that night, the cramps were coming and going and I started to think maybe it was, in fact, labor. When I wiped after peeing and saw “bloody show” I knew for sure. At one point, between 10 and midnight they were coming every 40 minutes. Though I was getting excited, Hubz and I figured that nothing major would happen before morning so we went to bed around 1am.
At 2:30 am I woke up with what I believed were definitely contractions because they hurt. A lot.
I woke my husband up and he was really groggy and irritated. He didn’t understand why I didn’t just go back to sleep. I tried to calmly explain that the contractions hurt really bad, to no avail. His preference for sleep was really starting to piss me off. (To be fair, he claims he couldn’t get up because he was so tired).
I could feel myself becoming anxious and adrenalin was starting to kick in. I couldn’t sit still.
As the contractions got stronger, I became more agitated and couldn’t stop pacing around, talking and bugging my husband every 2 minutes.
I’m all “Hey! I’m gonna have a baby. Get your ASS UP!” and he was all “It’s not coming right now. Let me sleep”
I was so pissed. How could he even consider letting me hang out and have painful contractions ALONE??? We still bicker about that to this day.
Finally, he got up and accepted that I wasn’t going to leave him alone. We started to pack stuff up for the hospital and get my daughter’s things together so she could go stay with her grandparents.
At 5am, I called the hospital and told the midwife on call that my contractions were about 15 minutes apart and she was basically like “You’re a VBAC? Get here right away! You can’t wait!!!” Hah. Right. The baby would beg to differ.
So we dropped my daughter off at my in-laws house and arrived at the hospital around 6am. After the initial intake, I was taken to a small triage room where I changed into the gown that I would be wearing for the next 24 hours and proceeded to be poked, prodded, questioned and monitored while my contractions became stronger and closer together.
I was SO excited. I’ll never forget that feeling of anticipation; a feeling that something really special was about to take place. From my room, I could look out the window and see the sun rising over the water and reflecting off the buildings downtown. It was a fresh new day, so full of promise, and I was having a baby. Yay!
I finally wimped out and asked for my epidural because even though I was only 3 cm by about 7:30am, the pain was getting unbearable. Much to my irritation, I had to wait for an anesthesiologist to become available. If I’d known he would take so damn long, I would have asked a lot sooner, like five minutes after I arrived.
So while I was waiting, I got moved to my first labor & delivery room and some nurse came in and brusquely asked if I would mind having a military doctor training to be an OB observe.
I didn’t go to a practice full of nice, kind, mother-like midwives so some random guy I’ve never seen before could hang around and look up my dress.
So I said no and she got all snitty with me. “This IS a teaching hospital, you know” Uh no, actually I didn’t know.
And I replied, “Well, that’s the first I’ve heard of any of this and I really don’t want to do it.”
Turns out they were hanging all their hopes on me because the other women in L & D at that moment didn’t speak English and couldn’t give permission. Oh, well.
I eventually got my epidural and was able to relax. Ahhhhh. Much better. An hour or so passed and ouch! I started feeling pain again. On ONE side. My epidural had become lopsided.
Another big long wait while I writhed in lopsided pain and finally, the anesthesiologist came back and tinkered with it and left. No change. I was BEGGING at that point for them to just do it again but they were really afraid to because of potential complications. I could have cared less. I pleaded and they said they would get another guy to re-do the epidural because the first anesthesiologist didn’t want to do it.
To chill me out while I waited, they gave me some Fentanyl. Why do people like that stuff so much? Seriously, it was awful. I itched from head to toe for thirty solid minutes.
After a while, I finally got a new anesthesiologist and another epidural. It worked and life was good again. Except that I was still 3cm dilated.
At about 1pm (I’ve now been there for 5 hours) the midwife broke my water with a thing that looked like a plastic knitting needle in hopes of moving things along.
The rest of the day was a blur of me looking at the monitor and watching the contractions of my uterus as well as the contractions of all the other women in Labor & Delivery and getting my cervix checked. Nurses went off shift and new ones came and I never got past 7cm. I stayed there all evening.
Finally, at about midnight (I’ve now been there for 18 hours) the midwife said they were going to give me a tiny bit of Pitocin because my labor had stalled and the baby had been without amniotic fluid for almost 12 hours. They typically don’t give Pitocin to VBAC candidates because it can be dangerous but because a C-section was starting to look like a real possibility and I was so vehemently against having one, she decided a small amount of Pitocin was warranted.
I fell asleep for the first time in 24 hours (remember, I had only slept about an hour the night before when the huz wouldn’t get out of bed) and when I woke up an hour or so later, I had the worst friggin’ back labor.
The feeling was indescribable and clearly something that the epidural wasn’t going to alleviate. The pressure was so intense, I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe. I asked for heat packs, which helped some, and realized that this baby would be here soon..but not as soon as I’d imagined.
More cervix checks and ice chips and monitor watching until about 4:15am (I’ve now been there for 22 hours). Then the midwife announced that I was finally 10cm and it was time to push!
I’d like to set the stage for you…
I was in my third room and second L&D suite at this point. This one had two beds, a TV and a ton of medical equipment. But the whole time I’d been in this room, they’d never turned on the ugly, bright fluorescent lights. They used these soft, warm, cozy overhead lights above my bed and it was so nice, like being at someone’s kitchen table.
There were only four people in the room; Jan, the awesome midwife, a very awesome, young-ish OB nurse, Hubz and me. It was mostly quiet and not at all like the births I’d grown up watching on TV where the light is all bright and glaring and there are like 8 people in the room yelling at the woman to push. It was so mellow and low key.
The nurse and Hubz held my legs and every time a contraction started to come, I was to put my chin to my chest and push while Jan counted to 10 and then I rested until the next one. I stopped waiting for Jan to tell me when to push. I would feel the contractions, get in position and start pushing. This went on FOREVER!
They had put a mirror at the foot of the bed so I could see the baby’s head. He had a ton of dark hair and it was really cool to see but after an eternity of being told to push because “his head is RIGHT THERE. He’s almost out!! Just a little more” by the three of them , I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I was exhausted. I told them, implored them, to use the forceps or vacuum but Jan said it was too late, whatever that means. I told them they’d been saying his head is “right there” for so long. Why was he not coming out already?
I begged for them to just let me rest because I couldn’t do anymore and Jan said something along the lines of “Yes you can! You’re having this baby!”
I swear, the whole exchange was right out of a movie.
They let me rest for about about 30 seconds and then it was back to pushing for all eternity.
Tra la la…
And then suddenly things became urgent. I was being asked to push harder and harder; harder than I ever have. I would find out later that the baby was in serious distress and needed to come out right away.
Jan told me she needed to do an episiotomy and I was like “Nooooooooo!” but I felt the sting and she told me it was already done.
Again, I was told to push harder, harder, harder. “The baby has to come out RIGHT NOW!”
And then FLOOOOOP!
Like a big wet noodle, he was out!
I forgot all about the episiotomy and everything else and marveled at this gigantic baby I’d just delivered. The room was suddenly full of people and everyone was talking about how big he was. I heard someone say, “No wonder he wouldn’t come out.”
They weighed & measured him with more exclaiming from the nurses. He was 9lbs 6.5 oz. and 21.75 in. And his head was some number that apparently isn’t even on the chart, but most importantly, he was healthy. (And poopy. He’d pooped right after delivery. And in case you’re wondering, I pooped during the delivery. Yep.)
I looked over at him while they were doing whatever it is that they do to new babies and was awestruck, as all mothers are, at this little creature I’d grown inside me for nearly a year. Though newborns are naturally kind of funny looking, I thought he was a work of art, the most beautiful thing I’d seen since my daughter was born. And considering that I pushed for 2.5 hours, his head wasn’t even all that pointy.
I was smitten then and I’m smitten now. P started out as a grumpy baby with a scream that could shatter glass, who had trouble pooping and wouldn’t sleep unless he was being moved rhythmically while tightly swaddled and grew into a mischievous, curious, playful, friendly little guy that I love more than words can say. I am truly head over heels in love with him. We are so tightly bonded that honestly, I really miss and crave him when he’s not with me.
And as a disclaimer, in case my daughter ever reads this, saying how much I love P in no way diminishes the love I have for her. She is my firstborn and I love and adore her with an intensity that cannot be described.
While I may grouse about the dullness and lack of spontaneity and fun in my life, I would not change a thing. My kids mean everything to me.
In closing, I was technically in labor for 48 hours, from Wednesday morning when I awoke with mild contractions (that I called cramps…lol) until I gave birth almost exactly 2 days later after pushing non-stop for two and a half ass-kickingly hard hours. P was a week late and actually born on the day that I would have had a c-section if I hadn’t gone into labor. Holy crap!!!!
Happy first birthday, big guy!Izzy is a mom of two kids aged 1 and almost 6 years. She is a WAHM graphic designer and creates aesthetically pleasing blogs for fun and profit! She can be found blogging during naptimes and late into the night at Izzymom (where this birth story originally appeared here.)
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