As with life, the only predictable thing about going into labor is that it is unpredictable.
Today I’m excited to talk about the most transformational part of my life because of one tiny, adorable person: my son! I’ve written about him a lot, but after his first birthday in May I started to reminisce about everything again. Today he turns 18 months (a year and a half old)! I thought it would be a good time to document his birth story since it is better late than never. I have been bad about putting together a baby book, so I figure noting one of the most momentous days of my life here will be an even better way to remember it. When I was pregnant, I also remember reading a large amount of birth stories from new mothers, so I hope my story will give some insight to a soon-to-be mother in some way. With all of that said, here is my (very personal and extremely long) birth story. I’m not sugar-coating anything, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!
MONDAY, MAY 1, 2017:
It was the start of a new week. My husband Migs and I ended a fun, warm weekend BBQing with friends the previous day. Baby’s due date was still three weeks away (May 24th, 2017). I figured I had at least another solid week of keeping this bun in the oven since I didn’t show the slightest hint I could go into labor. I had been feeling pretty normal and I was excited there was 3 weeks were left to carry the baby out to full term. I knew at this time anything was fair game, but supposedly most first time moms actually go past their due date. I was scheduled for a cesarean on May 21st. I had Gestational Diabetes in the very last portion of my pregnancy, so my doctor wasn’t going to allow me to go past my due date. My personal preference was to go into labor naturally before May 24th, and avoid a C-section unless absolutely medically necessary.
7PM – Migs came home from work. We decided to get as much time out before the baby came so we went to a local steakhouse and enjoyed it. I was far from the stereotypical pregnant woman who got to eat everything and anything she wanted because I was “eating for two.” Nope, I was actually on a strict diet and can proudly say I followed it for almost all meals to keep my blood sugar levels in check for a healthy baby. However, I’ll admit that as my due date got a little closer there were a couple of times I decided to indulge. I ordered chicken piccata with a side of creamed spinach and steamed broccoli. Migs enjoyed a steak with the same side dishes. Little did we know at the time that it would literally be our very last sit-down date night together as a family of two. After we went home, we watched some T.V., and got ready for bed later that night. Migs had work in the morning and it was beginning of the last week he’d have to work in-office. The following two weeks he would be working remotely from home since we were inching closer to my due date.
MIDNIGHT – I woke up thinking I had a slow leak of amniotic fluid. I felt normal and didn’t have any pain. During the course of my pregnancy I had heard so many times that the start of labor almost never happens like it does in the movies. I read somewhere that only 15 percent of women have their water fully break (meaning a full gush) to start off labor. For most women, it happens once they have been experiencing contractions for several hours and possibly or most likely already in the hospital. For others, their water never breaks at all and the doctor must do it when it’s time. I stayed awake for an hour or two because I couldn’t sleep. In one of the books I read (plus, major amounts of Googling), it said to throw on a pad and go to sleep. In the morning, I’d be able to tell if it was a slow leak if the pad was fairly soaked.
TUESDAY, MAY 2, 2017:
7AM – I had 3-4 good hours of rest. Migs was about to leave to work. I wasn’t in labor and I didn’t have contractions, but I had to trust my instincts so I asked him not to go. I called the doctor’s office and they directed us to go to the hospital to get checked out.
9:30AM – After being at the hospital for about an hour, they ran all the tests needed and said that the monitor was showing I had very mild contractions, even though I didn’t feel them at all! They saw a bit of inconsistency with baby’s heart rate, so because of that they were required to keep me in the hospital to monitor until they felt it was safe to release me.
NOON – Our sweet nurse from Sardinia, Italy (who had such a motherly way about her) told us I was going to be released! She said to grab some lunch and head home to relax. They weren’t going to keep me there and I was totally fine with it. She said if I got some food in my stomach and rested, I’d probably start feeling normal again.
1PM – I was discharged and we went and grabbed some breakfast sandwiches for lunch. We took it to go and headed back to our place.
1:30PM – We arrived home. Suddenly, something felt different again. I went to use the restroom and to check. It turns out it was my “mucus plug.” Sounds so disgusting, but hey, if you’re about to have a baby then thats the furthest thing you care about. Women’s menstrual cycles are worse in my opinion. I called the hospital again and talked to the same nurse who then said to return. At this point, we realized that this may really be happening and we were ready with our hospital bags. I called my brother, Eric and asked if he could come pick up my dog, Roxy. Over the next half hour, I was weirdly calm. I insisted on doing things like using the restroom and taking a shower. While waiting for my brother to arrive, I ate my breakfast sandwich and gathered the last-minute things I may have needed. He arrived to pick up Roxy, we chatted for a good 20 minutes, and then he left. I felt a little wave of sadness mixed with anticipation saying goodbye to them because I was going to be gone for a few days. The next time I would see my dog, she would have a baby brother or sister in the house. The next time I saw my brother, he would be an Uncle.
2:30PM – 5:30PM – We settled in at the hospital and had been sitting around. The nurses frequently came in and did some tests, but nothing was progressing. The monitors showed I had light and inconsistent contractions every 10-15 minutes apart, but I couldn’t feel them. A hospital dinner arrived that I just picked at. I would say I was still smiling at this point… and waiting around.
6PM – Still not dilating! I was getting fairly uncomfortable and shifting in the bed a lot. This may be the true start of my labor, because that’s when I started to really feel the contractions. It was a lot of mid section cramping and I would calmly practice my breathing. Nothing to panic about, but it wasn’t pleasant. They would come every 8-10 minutes.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2017:
MIDNIGHT – I went 6 straight hours with contractions about every 8 minutes. I hadn’t slept and I was starting to get pretty tired and frustrated because things were just soooooo uncomfortable. I sipped on water. The doctor came in to check on me and said I still wasn’t dilating AT ALL. The doctor said I was in prodromal labor because I had shown many signs of labor thus far – slow amniotic fluid leak, losing my mucus plug, contractions every 8-10 minutes. I learned that prodromal labor can sometimes soften the cervix, but it does not produce contractions that significantly dilate the cervix. Prodromal labor contractions are also different from Braxton Hicks because they feel more like labor contractions. Lucky me! They are stronger and supposedly cannot be stopped by rest, sleep, hydration, or anything.
For the next hours through the morning, I let Migs sleep on the cot to my right while I was going through the motions and enduring the pain. No more smiles. I tried my hardest not to wake him because I knew this was the last sleep he’d have in the next few days, but he would wake up throughout the night to check on me. We had our own hospital room, so I sat in the dark, with only the light shining from the monitors and from the TV where I had FRIENDS on. I flipped from my left side to my right which felt like every 20 minutes. Listening to the beeps of the monitors while I prepared myself to breathe through another contraction every eight minutes felt like a lifetime. How could I not be in freaking active labor? I was getting so frustrated. This was unreal to me! It was uncomfortable and painful, enough to where I couldn’t sleep, but not to where I needed medicine or was moaning or groaning. I would just breathe. My body was definitely preparing itself.
9AM – What a long and uncomfortable night, but I was being discharged! I had sat the entire night (literally about 15 hours) with contractions. They said since I was still not dilated yet, they couldn’t keep me EVEN THOUGH my contractions were 8 minutes apart. Scary! So, we went home. Before leaving, they did ask me if I wanted some pain killers, but I refused it.
I arrived home but I couldn’t sleep or relax. Through the contractions, I was on my medicine/yoga ball and breathing. I would lay in bed, take a warm shower, sit and focus on breathing to relax myself. Nothing helped.
NOON – I tried to eat, but I took one bite and couldn’t. I sat in our new glider that was for the baby and endured each contraction, now about 5-6 minutes apart. At that point, the birth affirmations I had thought about weeks before had helped a lot for me. I just went over them in my head with each contraction.
3:30PM – The contractions were still 5 minutes apart. When they came, it felt like I was caught in the waves of the ocean trying to breathe. It was as if every time I caught my breath, a new wave would crash down on me and I felt like I was trying to swim to the top. It felt like really excruciating menstrual cramps while gasping for air. This is why I believe breathing techniques were so important and they helped me a lot.
I asked Migs to call the hospital. The hospital asked him to bring me back in because I was unable to talk on the phone. When you’re at the point when you can’t talk, you know it’s time.
4:15PM – On the car ride (which was about 10 minutes), I felt I was at that same pain level I had been in the last hour. THEN…. something changed. Suddenly, my hands were profusely sweating and clammy. I started getting anxious. I needed to get to the hospital ASAP! It was so bad, I thought the baby’s head was coming out (but it wasn’t). It sounds so funny now, but seriously it was terrifying.
Once we get there, I’m sitting in the wheelchair letting out a few groans of pain. They take me immediately into the same room I had stayed overnight in. The nurse proceeds to tell me to get the hospital gown on (while she set up everything). I think I had most of my clothes off before she even said this. Again, it wasn’t funny at the time, but now thinking back it is pretty crazy what you don’t care about when you’re in that much pain. Going through labor pretty much diminishes any inhibitions or reservations you have about others, even complete strangers seeing you so vulnerable, whether it be experiencing extreme pain, or being completely naked.
I remember her saying, “Oh, you were just here this morning! I’m going to check you and see how much you are dilated.” My response was, “I’m sorry if I’m a wuss, but it hurts and I hope I’m more than 3cm dilated. I really don’t want to go home again.” My hospital requires you to be at least 3cm dilated in order for them have you stay.
She examined me and said, “You are a little over 9cm dilated. You are ready to go NOW and we have to prep you. We don’t have time to sign paperwork so let’s get an IV in. We have to get you to the delivery room. Do you want an epidural?” I think after she told me how many centimeters dilated I was, a slight bit of profanity came out of my mouth while I turned my head to look at my husband who was smiling. He was so happy, but of course I was thinking “You have no idea what I’m going through!” I have no idea where the wheelchair went, but they had to get me to a room just a couple of doors down, so I said I would walk and just started walking. I did not care. I started to have another contraction just outside the door. I kept thinking this baby felt like it’s head was hanging out of me, even though I had no pain “down there.” Things just felt heavy while my pelvic area was cramping.
5:00 PM – I’ve been told that first time moms usually take anywhere from 2-5 hours once they begin to push. It varies with everyone, of course. The nurse looked at the clock on the wall. “For the birth time we’re probably looking at 7:30PM – 8PMish maybe?”
An oxygen mask was slapped on my face, and the I.V. was put into my right arm while my husband quickly signed paperwork. I was pretty terrified, but tried not to panic. Migs had been by my side this entire time. I just tried to focus on the fact that we were going to meet our little girl or little boy soon.
The delivery team asked if I wanted an epidural, and I decided I would get it. My level of exhaustion was so bad I could hardly keep my eyes open. Since it would be a few hours, I thought I could get some rest. I heard stories from others how they were able to sleep before ‘the big show.’
I actually think the placing of the I.V. was more painful than the epidural. Call me crazy. However, within minutes of receiving the epidural, I told the doctors I had to push. I was told the epidural usually takes 10 minutes, but I couldn’t wait, so it hardly worked! My body was naturally going through the motions.
I pushed the baby out in 13 minutes. My husband happily said, “It’s a boy!” My world would never be the same.
The act is such a mama and baby show – it goes together. Although he was being born, so was I as a mother.
The moment he took his first breath, he took ours away.
He was tiny, at 5 pounds, 10 ounces and 18.5 inches. He looked just like his dad! He had lots of hair just like both my husband and I did when we were both newborns. We loved him from the moment we laid eyes on him.
The doctor put him on me immediately for skin to skin, and I just couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. There is this natural “mama bear” feeling that happened with me where I am to protect him for as long as I possibly can. The tiny life that was inside of me for 9 months was finally laying on my chest, and I got to see him. I was still taking it all in. And to be honest, I still am taking it all in. There are days where I have to remind myself that I’m a mother, and that he is MY son! He lay on my chest while the stitch up concluded. I actually had to get a local anesthetic because the epidural didn’t provide numbing!
The delivery team was teasing and laughing at me saying I did really, really well giving birth to him. I’m sure they were happy I didn’t keep them there for hours! I was so incredibly proud of myself because they sounded pretty darn impressed I was able to push him out so quickly. Thank God!
I couldn’t believe I birthed my son. All the pain was worth it. It is beautiful, and it was also the hardest thing I had to do in life. To think that every day he heard the beating of my heart, and every time I went to the doctor’s, I heard his. He felt my every move constantly and I felt his kicks (and he kicked hard!). And now, it’s the thought of that ultimate closeness, that extraordinary time in my life, that incredible journey that we took together that keeps me strong in my moments of weakness, exhaustion and exasperation.
It’s crazy because parents tell you, “Don’t worry! Your motherly instincts just kick in!” and it couldn’t be more true. It’s scary and emotional. He was so fragile with his floppy little head. But still, he’s MINE and that alone makes it feel so natural. And it’s so true what they say: “It’s different when it’s your own.”
We’re so glad you’re ours, Nico.