It’s been almost four weeks since we welcomed our little babe into the world. Four weeks of cuddles, crying, napping, trying to keep our eyes open, poops, and smiles. I know that this season won’t last very long, so I am trying to soak in every little noise he makes, thank Jesus for even the hard nights where all baby wants is to eat and sleep on mama, and celebrate the time we have been able to spend together as a brand new family of three.
I want to remember the day that Oliver joined us and share it with anyone who stumbles across this blog. I read so many other women’s stories of labor and birth, and they helped so much to form realistic expectations and confidence that I could do it too. Here is a glimpse into our journey of bringing a new life into this world. (This is a labor and delivery story…so if you don’t like this kind of stuff, don’t read it!)
Thirty nine weeks. I had hoped that baby would come before I hit that milestone. Belly measurements indicated that he was likely going to be a big baby, and I wanted to avoid a c-section or threat of one from the docs. I was also just ready to be done. The last few weeks of pregnancy were, for me at least, tough. I wouldn’t wish that kind of discomfort upon anyone. A huge belly meant constant back pain, bathroom trips more times in a day than I thought possible, not getting a wink of sleep at night, and longingly looking at shoes that no longer fit my swollen feet.
(last belly shot)
I woke up that Wednesday morning feeling pretty bleh–crampy, tired, uncomfortable. I spent most of the day at home with a heating pad and napped as much as I could. I didn’t feel like I was in labor, and didn’t have any noticeable contractions. It felt like nagging period cramps, which I chalked up to the cervical check I had the day before. Baby was staying put as far as I could tell. Thursday I decided I needed to get out and be active, so Mulch, Murphy, and I went to the French Press and I planned on walking back home for another lazy day waiting for baby to come.
One of the many unglamorous yet laughable parts of pregnancy is a woman’s increasing inability to “hold it” when she needs to go pee. While this had been going on for me for several weeks, Wednesday I noticed that it was happening a bit more frequently than before. Mulch suggested I call the advice nurse just to make sure that this leaking was actually pee and not my water breaking. So Thursday morning I called, left a message, and didn’t think much of it. I was convinced baby was just putting a bit too much pressure on my poor bladder 🙂
We sat in the patio at the French Press, I ate a scone and drank some tea, and that’s when my phone rang. I chatted with the nurse for a little and she suggested I stop by the hospital just to “make sure” my water hadn’t broken. Again, without contractions or any other signs of labor, I was sure it would be a few more days before baby came. Instead of a walk, we hopped back in the car, dropped Murphy off at home, and drove one minute over to the hospital (and we would’ve walked over if there had been parking on our street). I didn’t even take my hospital bag or give Murphy a proper goodbye.
Apparently there were lots of other pregnant ladies needing attention that morning, so I was put in a labor room instead of a triage room because they were all full. We joked with our nurse for a little bit about my confusion, she told us she’d do a quick test to see if it was urine or amniotic fluid, and she would also check to see how dilated I was.
I had thought I would labor at home for a while and head over to the hospital when we felt I was in active labor. We lived so close, so I didn’t see a need to rush over. I had experienced braxton hicks contractions off and on in the final weeks, but had no idea what real labor felt like and didn’t think my crampiness could be signs of early labor. So, I laid in the bed in my cool hospital gown, still joking with the nurse while she shook up some magical potion that would tell us what was going on. Without skipping a beat from our conversation, she casually said, “Well, it’s amniotic fluid! Your water broke. You’re going to be having a baby today!”
Mulch and I looked at each other with equal parts amazement, fear, and giddiness. What the what? Those “cramps” I had been feeling since the day before had helped me progress to 4 cm, and as if my body suddenly knew it was in the hospital and time to give birth, the real contractions began within a few minutes of her announcement. Yep, we were having a baby.
The next seven hours were a blur. Mulch called our amazing doulas, and labor came on in full force. Baby had the choice of facing forward or backward based on the position he had been in, and while I hoped for backward, he faced forward. Lot’s of mom friends I spoke to told me what made labor more bearable was the fact that you had breaks in between contractions. I was banking on that. To my dismay (horror?), baby’s position put his head up against my spine, creating what is known as back labor. So, while I had rhythmic, normal contractions across the front of my body that came and went, I also had an nonstop pain in my back that got worse with every contraction. The closest way I can describe it was like someone was taking a burning hot knife and slashing it across my lower back over, and over, and over…
So, for me, labor went from 0 to 100 in a matter of minutes. I was totally in my zone (like primal zone), doing everything I could to move around and find space where I could focus and get through this madness. As much as it hurt, I wanted so badly to not dwell on the pain. Our doulas led me in breathing and movement that definitely kept me going longer than I would have been able to. Mulch was so supportive, and was encouraging me and loving me through it all. The tub was amazing, but the wireless monitors that they wanted stuck to my belly kept moving and the nurse eventually made me get out. We had a scare at some point in the process where baby’s heart rate dropped, and I had to lay on my back for a while, which was the worse thing anyone could have told me to do in that moment. Baby was okay within minutes though!
I wanted to labor naturally as long as physically possible. The level of pain I was experiencing was beyond anything I could ever imagine, and because it was constant (literally–no breaks! My takeaway: don’t bank of anyone else’s experience of labor. Yours will be yours, and even innocent expectations will only bring disappointment). I was feeling so fatigued. The vomiting didn’t help either…I finally grabbed Mulch, crying I’m pretty sure, and told him that I wanted to get an epidural. Though I was totally out of sync with time, I had been in the intensity of labor for almost 7 hours.
The anesthesiologist was in an emergency c-section, so I had to wait. I think knowing that relief was coming helped me. The nurse was able to call in a different anesthesiologist, and before I knew it he was there. Mulch told me later that apparently he held out his hand to shake mine when he came in. I was moving into the transitional point of labor when he arrived and was not going to shake anyone’s hand. Sorry dude.
I had told Mulch at some point that if I ended up getting an epidural, that I wanted it to be the least amount possible. He told the doctor, who said they always start it out low, but he would go lower. I could still feel my legs, but finally had relief if my back. It was just what I needed. I had also made it to 8 cm, and the nurse told me to get some rest, as I’d probably start pushing in an hour.
I rested, and Mulch, our doula Courtney, and I joked about what had just happened. There was one nurse that I literally wanted to scream at during one part of the day who was so loud and asking me so many questions. Don’t ask a laboring woman questions. That’s also when Mulch told me I had totally ignored the handshake offer. Oops.
As an hour passed, I started feeling the urge to push. I snuck in a couple practice pushes at Courtney’s advice, and my nurses began switching from the day to night shift. Meanwhile, I made it to 10 cm, so it was time to push. My first nurse was really nice, but very by the book. She had pulled out the stirrups for me to start pushing. Once she was gone, the other nurse told us we could push in whatever position that made sense. We had plenty of time to try different ones, as you will soon see.
So, for the next FOUR HOURS, every 2ish minutes, I pushed with literally everything in me. I had to stop looking at the clock and just do it. I kept telling myself that there was absolutely no other way out of this than pushing the baby out; it just had to happen. Baby was doing fine, but was just not getting in the position he needed to be. Mulch counted to ten for every push, and him and Courtney were ultimate bosses holding my legs for those four hours.
The doctor on call came in at 3 hours in, did a few pushes with me, and said that she was going to come back and they were going to use the vacuum to see if baby could be helped along. If that didn’t work, it was a c-section. Almost another hour passed, and suddenly the room was swarming with people. I was so exhausted, but the energy in the room motivated me to really make these last pushes count. The doctor came in, and it was time for baby to come. A couple more pushes, and with the help of the vacuum, Oliver Duane entered the world. Because my water had been broken for so long, they whisked him away immediately to make sure he was okay, so I didn’t get skin to skin right after he was born. He also was so quiet! All I heard was the nurses all exclaiming how much blonde hair he had and a couple baby squeaks.
It was such an out of body experience. Mulch cut the cord and took a few photos of our boy and showed them to me. All I could say was that he was so big. My placenta delivered within a few minutes without any complications, and while I was being stitched up (least favorite part for me), they put my sweet babe on my chest. Amazing.
He WAS big. The moment of truth came, and they put our pink, chubby baby on the scale: nine pounds, seven ounces (almost eight). Yes, I delivered a nine and a-half-pound baby!
And that is it–beyond the normal difficulties of recovering from labor and catching a cold (just me!), mama and baby are healthy and happy. I’m so thankful for the wonderful team that helped bring our baby boy into the world–what an honor it is to be supported by such incredible humans that dedicate their lives to mamas and babies. And now, I am going to keep cuddling my squishy, over ten pound baby, and look at photos of him while he sleep ❤
(his poor head)