Let me paint a picture for you: It’s 11 PM, the baby is bathed, fed, rocked and fast asleep in his bassinet. Connor is laying in bed and I am in the living room enjoying a glass of cold rose. I just pumped so that I could drink a glass of wine and folded up today’s 2 loads of baby laundry. I have baby puke in my hair, but I already washed it so I am letting it be. I am staring at the clock, typing furiously because I know in a couple of short hours, Colin will be awake, requesting my motherly services at 2 AM, and I need to have gotten at least a little sleep. I am a new mother.
Colin is 2 months old now. It is hard to believe 2 months have flown by, and yet when I look at Colin, I feel like I have known him forever. It’s strange and wonderful at the same time. I wanted to write a post about our “birth story”. I wanted to do so because when I was pregnant, I absolutely soaked up every last drop of info I could get online, and a lot of my comfort came from reading other women’s personal experiences that they had before, during and after labor. So while I am no expert, and am in no way doling out advice, here is my experience, for what it’s worth.
On Thursday, April 24th 2014 around 7 PM, I was at home running around getting dressed for dinner while on the phone with my BFF, Carlos. He was asking me if I was super excited, if we were ready for Colin. We were having a good chat when Connor got home, and I suddenly felt a warm trickle that I had never felt before. I passed Carlos off to Connor, and they caught up while I went and checked on things in the bathroom. There was no more fluid coming out. I told Connor what was up and we both looked at each other, unsure of what to do. I figured if it was my water breaking, it would have been more of a gush, right? We decided to proceed with our dinner plans and play the next couple of hours by ear.
We headed out to grab some Thai food. During dinner, the warm trickle had turned into a consistent flow of liquid. As we walked to the car, I became sure. This is it, I told Connor. We weren’t due for another 11 days (however my doctor had scheduled to induce that following Tuesday), but this big boy was ready to meet us. It turns out that when your amniotic sac breaks up higher, it tends to trickle instead of gush out. Just a little pro tip to you pregnant ladies out there.
We called the hospital and asked the on call doctor whether we should come in or not. I wasn’t having any contractions, and I had read that they usually want you to deliver within 12 to 24 hours of your water breaking to avoid infection. The doctor told us to come in, and off we went.
It was very quiet at the hospital. No body seemed to be in a hurry, which was very calming for us. Everyone had a smile and sweet disposition, and I can’t emphasize enough how much that helped me to stay relaxed. Once I was checked in to my room, my first nurse came to check to see if I was dilated. I was barely at a centimeter, so they decided to start Pitocin right away.
We checked in to the hospital around 9:30 PM. I didn’t end up getting any sleep until somewhere around 4 or 5 in the morning. It took a while for the Pitocin to start contractions, but when they did, they came on strong. I was having them about 2 to 3 minutes apart at first, and things were getting intense very quickly. After about 30 minutes of laboring without pain medication, I was eager to get the epidural I had pre ordered (no judgement ladies! I have a HUGE respect for women who can give birth naturally!). It wasn’t for another 2 hours that the anesthesiologist came to administer the epidural.
That two hour period was very intense. Connor was the most wonderful, helpful, patient partner. This is something any woman in labor needs. I assumed I would need space, that I would become ferrel during labor, but the opposite happened. I needed Connor. I depended on his presence to keep me in a calm place. He helped me through each contraction and encouraged me to dig deep for my inner strength. There are no words to describe labor pains. It is a primitive pain. Unlike most pain, however, it is a positive pain, meaning that while it does not feel good, it means that everything is working as it should to bring you your sweet baby.
The anesthesiologist came at last to relieve my pain. I was so ready. She walked me through the procedure first, and I tried my best to stay aware and listen to her kind instructions. My nurse, Kelly, had become very important to me at this point. It’s crazy how quickly you get attached to your nurses! My mother was en route from Houston, and I so badly needed some maternal comfort. The most difficult part about getting an epidural at a later point in labor is that you have to remain very still. This is not easy to do during a contraction, contractions which are likely coming about a minute and half apart by this point. The epidural did not take the first time, so she had to administer it a second time. Connor was not allowed in the room for this part since it is a sterile procedure. I needed some help. My nurse Kelly could see on the monitor that a contraction was coming. I was so so tired. I whimpered, and she asked if I wanted to rest my head on her shoulder during the insertion of the epidural, and I quickly accepted the offer.
After the epidural kicked in (about 25 mins), I was able to get some sleep. Interestingly, the epidural works on gravity, meaning you have to switch from side to side to get the medicine to work properly. If I laid too long on one side, the other side would start to feel some sensation again. Also, the epidural does not numb things completely. For me, it more “took the edge off” and made things bearable. I still felt the pressure and mild (very mild) pain of each contraction. This may not be the same for every woman. This was just my experience. Still, I was incredibly comfortable. I was able to sleep. I was able to joke around when I was awake. I was able to have lucid conversations. My mom arrived and we waited, excitedly, for that moment when the nurse told me I was ready to push.
That moment didn’t come for a while – I ended up laboring for a total of almost 14 hours. When I finally hit 10 cm, my nurse told me it was time to push. It’s important to note that while we didn’t have a “birth plan” per se, we were well aware of the fact that Colin was a large baby and that we might have problems delivering naturally. There is a lot of controversy around delivering large babies via c section. Some people prefer natural labor above all other options, and I have upmost respect for everyone’s personal preferences. However, I trusted my doctor, who for months leading up to the day of Colin’s birth had warned us that his size could cause complications during pregnancy, and that we might need to be prepared for the possibility of a C Section. Still, Connor and I wanted to at least try to deliver naturally – so far the labor had been normal and Colin’s heart rate was perfect. So when I started to feel the pressure of an oncoming contraction, and with Connor and the nurse’s aid, I beared down and pushed with all my strength. The nurse had me give three good long pushes with each contraction, with steady breathing through each push. It is understandably hard to push when you are partially or fully numb. It took a few rounds to feel confident in the work I was doing. At one point, Colin was getting so close. Connor was able to see the top of his head and commented on how much hair the baby had! It was so exciting to see the love in his eyes at that moment. My doctor showed up about an hour later, and I continued to push. I am sure lots of mommas have said this before, but labor is nothing like it is depicted in movies and television shows. Everything was very calm and we were in a nice routine – contraction, push, breath, push, breath, push, breath, relax and repeat. Still, after two hours, Colin was not crowning. My doctor said that I was doing a great job pushing, but that he was faced upward and she was trying to turn him. She also said that every time I pushed, she would think we were almost there, but as soon as I relaxed my muscles, he would “turtle” back into the birth canal. Those shoulders were just not making it through. She worried about me tearing, or having a prolonged labor, and suggested that we go ahead with a C Section. We were ready to meet our baby, so we gave the green light!
They took Connor and I into the operating room and prepped me for surgery. After they upped my epidural, and I was still feeling some contractions. They administered more anesthesia, and yet I still had some sensation in my abdomen. They decided the safest bet was to go ahead and put me completely under, so that I wouldn’t feel during surgery. I was sad that I wouldn’t be awake during the moment they would lift Colin out, and I was sad that Connor couldn’t be in the room with us since I had to go completely under. But, I was exhausted, and obviously the alternative was a little daunting. They had Connor sit on a stool right outside the room and wait.
At 3:14 PM, Colin was born! He weighed in at 9 lbs 5 oz and measured 22 inches long – BIG BOY! The cleaned him off and walked out to Connor and handed Colin to him. He said it was a very emotionally intense moment – the two of them alone in the hallway. He was so over joyed and amazed, he said he had a hard time controlling himself. I’m sad I missed that moment, but part of me is happy that they had that special moment just the two of them. After I was woken up, I immediately asked my nurse if Colin was okay. They assured me was, and told me his weight. They pushed me in my bed back to our room, where I saw Connor sitting in a chair with little baby Colin in his arms, all pink and bundled. I immediately burst into tears of happiness, of relief. There was my boy, that little person I felt moving around inside of me for the better part of a year. That little boy that I dreamt of meeting for some time, my whole life even. There he was. Perfect. Healthy. It was truly a dream come true for me.
They immediately brought him to me and had me remove my gown so Colin and I could do some skin to skin contact. As we lay there, I inspected every inch of him – his fingers, toes, his ears and knees. He was perfect, and I was in love.
We ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days. I ended up getting a nasty UTI from a variety of factors (my water broke before labor, I had several nurses checking my dilation, my doctor had to push Colin back up the birth canal a little to perform the C Section – all of those things beat up my bladder a bit) and kept getting a fever. They had to administer antibiotics through an I.V. and monitor me for 24 hours after.
All in all, we had a GREAT experience. Every women’s birth story is different. We were lucky to have such an amazing staff of nurses and doctors that made us feel safe and that we trusted. The following hurdles – learning how to breast feed and healing from surgery – well those are stories for another blog post. I will spare you for today.
So here we are – two months later! Still figuring things out, but enjoying every second. Even the really sleep deprived seconds that feel like an eternity. I get the sense that this is all going to fly by, and before I know it, I will be reminding a grown up Colin how he used to nuzzle his sweet little face in my neck.
Some important things I learned from my experience:
1.) Be prepared to deviate from your “birth plan”. Connor and I didn’t have a specific plan, other than to attempt natural labor. I had initially wanted to try to do labor naturally, but I quickly changed my mind within the first 30 mins of laboring without medication. I did not feel guilty or ashamed by my decision – and I don’t think any woman should! It’s a personal choice that you have to make for yourself and your baby. In the end, it was the best choice for me.
2.) Pitocin will speed up your contractions. Anyone who has done natural child labor after taking Pitocin is my hero. The drug, which helps speed up labor, makes your contractions very close together, and longer – like a minute and half apart and they last for 20 to 30 seconds to a full minute. You would be surprised out quickly that will wear you out! Imagine doing that for 14 hours!
3.) EXTREME THIRST YOU GUYS. This is something I did not anticipate. You know how you always see women in movies eating ice chips during labor? I never knew that this was because they don’t let you drink water during the whole process. By hour 14 I was so thirsty, all I could think about was downing a huge jug of water. I would secretly wait until my ice chips had melted some and drink the water a little. Be prepared for that!
4.) Be prepared to let go of your modesty. By the end of the hospital stay, I was certain every nurse had seen every part of my naked body. Breastfeeding was a challenge, so I was constantly working at it when various hospital staff walked in to my room.
5.) Oh yeah. Breastfeeding. You guys, I honestly thought this was going to be so simple. You give birth, then you make milk, and then the baby drinks said milk. Easy peezy, right? Wrong. For me anyway. This is one of those things that I am sure is different for each woman, but my milk didn’t come in for 5 days, so we ended up having to supplement with formula. Another thing you should not feel guilty about! Breastfeeding is a difficult feat and it doesn’t work for everyone! I will say that I am glad I stuck with it because it has helped me to lose weight – during the first 2 months I have lost almost every pound I gained during pregnancy (over 50!), and I only started back my exercising (light running about 3 days a week to start) 2 weeks ago. In the end, do what’s best for you and your baby!
Ultimately, be prepared to be totally in love. There is absolutely nothing I would not do for Colin, and he is the most amazing little guy in the world!
Thank you for letting me share my story. I would love to hear about yours!