My OB checked me for the first time at 39 weeks and I wasn’t sure I even wanted her to. I assumed I was nowhere near ready for delivery so hearing the news that I wasn’t dilated in the slightest would have been discouraging. Because of how low I was carrying and the pressure I felt in my lower abdomen, she insisted she take a quick look to see how close I was getting. I was dilated 1 cm and my cervix was getting soft so she went ahead and stripped my membranes as best as she could. She said that if William wasn’t here by my 40 week appointment, she would mark me down for an induction at 41 weeks. Following the appointment, I went back to work uncomfortable and in quite a bit of pain.
I didn’t feel great that whole day, so I went to sleep early and tried to shake the crappy feeling I had. I woke up at 4 AM having a pretty strong contraction. I hadn’t experienced any Braxton Hicks contractions throughout the end of my pregnancy – but my symptoms had me, and those around me, convinced that was what I was experiencing (and therefore wasn’t starting labor). Have you ever had a charlie horse? That is the best way I can describe a contraction. This feeling, and the length of time they were persisting, helped me realize it wasn’t Braxton Hicks, but the real thing – I was starting to have contractions. They were coming about every seven to 10 minutes, but the pain was manageable. I decided to work from home that morning and Alex went ahead into work.
My OB told me she wanted me bent over in pain and unable to walk, with that feeling coming every three to five minutes before heading to the hospital. While this was not happening, I decided to call her to see if I was in fact in labor. She recommended I take Tylenol and if the contractions subsided then I wasn’t in real labor. Once the Tylenol kicked in, I definitely felt the contractions slow throughout the day. Alex came home around lunch and we walked (it was an unusually warm November afternoon). We walked and walked and walked some more, trying to keep my body in motion in case I was starting pre-labor. Contractions would speed up and then slow down. This abnormal rhythm had me convinced today was not going to be the day I delivered.
That night I finally fell asleep around 11PM. 15 minutes later, I woke up with a painful contraction. Three minutes later I had another one. Four minutes later I had another one, and for the next 30 minutes this cadence of contractions continued. Alex called the hospital and alerted them we were coming in whether they recommended it or not. I’m pretty sure the hospital staff thought we were crazy (and at that point, we probably were) because no one seemed convinced I was in real labor. On our way to drop Maisy off at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, my water broke in the car. HA! I am in labor!
Everyone tells you that your water breaking is nothing like the movies. Sometimes people don’t even realize that their water has broken. Mine was exactly like the movies, leaving a trail of fluid from the parking garage into the hospital (great visual, I know). From that point on I was in full panic mode and Alex was weirdly calm.
I was not that person who looked naturally beautiful heading into the hospital. I was clearly in pain and very nervous.
I walked into the hospital around 12:30 AM and the nurse immediately checked me to see how far along I was (4cm and full effaced). By 3:15 AM the epidural was in. I had been told that women either feel like they got the epidural too soon and didn’t feel like they gave it long enough, or they feel like they waited too long and felt like they let themselves suffer. In my own experience – there is no “too soon” to receiving the epidural. It. Was. Amazing. I actually slept for a little bit and was able to relax before the sun came up. Outside of a little pressure, I couldn’t feel any contractions which helped calm me down. Around 7 or 8 AM, the attending OB came in to check me because one of my nurses was concerned with how William was positioned (she thought he was coming down ear first). He confirmed that and also was concerned that I was having a really big baby and told me to get some rest as I was going to need it. At this point, both nurses had me doing yoga moves and stretches with hopes of changing William’s position enough for him to come out head first vs. ear first. And if anyone tells you that you can’t move after the epidural, they are wrong. While attempting yoga, I felt safe with Alex and two nurses on either side of me to ensure I didn’t fall, and was able to move onto all fours to attempt to get that baby in a better position.
About three hours later, I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. After two pushes, William’s heart rate dropped really fast and took a while to come back up. My nurse called my OB, who told me she wanted me to stop pushing until she arrived in case we got into an emergency situation. 30 minutes later my OB came in after cancelling her appointments for the rest of the day and spent the rest of the afternoon with me until William arrived. I can’t say enough wonderful things about her – she was by far my biggest cheerleader (after Alex) that day.
After 2.5 hours of pushing with a couple of really great pushes and too many not so great pushes, my OB ultimately didn’t feel confident with William’s chances of making it far enough down the birth canal and we started to talk about the need for a C-section. She said I could continue trying to deliver naturally, but she was concerned his heart couldn’t handle another three hours of pushing, which she was sure I would need in order to get him out.
At this point I had been up for 36 hours and I was exhausted. I was extremely discouraged and emotional about the thought of a C-section. But at the end of the day, I just wanted William to come out healthy…and soon. So we moved forward. The sweetest moment was when they took everyone to prep for the C-section, leaving just me and my OB in my room. She held my hand and assured me that everything was going to be just fine with William and commended me for how strong I had been. She waited until the team came to wheel me into the room and then left to scrub up for the surgery.
Photo: Alex outside my surgery room waiting to be called in.
The room was extremely bright and cold. That is one of the strongest memories I have. That and the fact that there were like nine people in the room – three nurses for William, four doctors (all women I might add), an anesthesiologist and Alex. Once the sheet was pulled up, covering the view between me and the doctors, Alex was invited in to be by my side. I remember the nurses taking a really cold cotton ball material, running it up my body and asking me to tell them when I felt cold. I didn’t feel the material until it hit my neck. By that point she had already started the initial incision. About five minutes into the surgery, I was told to prepare for a lot of pressure (I felt my entire body slam down) and at 3:55 PM, out came our beautiful, perfect baby boy.
I didn’t have the additional nurse you need (and didn’t know to ask for it) to do skin to skin right away. Looking back on it, I can’t decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing. After William came out, I was in full panic mode – Alex was emotional, I couldn’t see anything they were doing to William or if he was OK, I knew my body was cut open on an operating table…so in my mind, I’m thinking that if they tried to do skin to skin I wouldn’t have handled it so well, but then the flip side maybe it could have calmed me down? Either way, William was perfect and he and I bonded just fine 20 minutes later.
While they were stitching me back up, I wouldn’t let Alex leave my side (like a crazy person-who doesn’t let their husband go to their new baby?!). The nurses cleaned William up, weighed him and made sure everything looked right and then called Alex over to cut the umbilical cord. After he cut the cord, he finally had a chance to hold William. It only took about 20-25 minutes to get me sewn up and bandaged but I swear it felt like hours. All I wanted was to get back to my room, hold my baby and get some sleep. The feeling I got when they handed William to me for the first time is like nothing I have ever felt. It was immediate tears and unexplained love. I couldn’t believe he was mine.
I was finally able to get some rest and so started our five day journey in the hospital. While we had hoped it would be a short stay, my recovery was shared by William having to recover from a case of jaundice. Quickly into the 2nd night we realized the nursery was our best friend. No one should feel guilty about sending their baby to the nursery. The nurses brought him back to nurse every two to three hours so I never felt like I was away from him for that long. And it gave me and Alex some much needed, uninterrupted sleep. Once they send you on your way, the exhaustion really kicks in so I was glad we were able to lean on the nursery while we were there.
Photo: Sweet William needed to spend 24 hours under the billy lights to get rid of his jaundice
The nurses at MoBap, the entire staff, the pediatricians, everything was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience even though it ended differently than I expected. Childbirth is such a crazy and wild ride and it is absolutely incredible to see what our bodies can do for us. When I think back to how long William lived inside me without knowing if he was getting enough nutrients and progressing the way he should, it’s just amazing that he came out so perfect. And he is so loved by so many people – we feel like the luckiest people in the world.
I was not one of those women who had her cute PJs ready to change into by my bed. I wore this pink hospital gown for two days. Finally someone told me I could shower and I was like OMG I have to get out of this gown? …gross.
GAH William was such a chunk when he was born…THOSE CHEEKS.