Emily’s Birth Story
I’ve been trying to get this post out for a while now, but I don’t know where the day goes. I know you hear this all the time from new mothers, but seriously – there was no time and the little time I did have I choose to shower or brush my teeth or eat rather than blog. I’m slowly trying to make my way back to some of my beloved habits (including reading blogs) but it’s difficult. This morning is the first morning I’ve had any caffeine since Emily’s birth (because of breastfeeding – and you know a whole separate post is coming on that topic!) and I almost feel human again.
Rewind to three weeks ago…..
On Tuesday afternoon we headed out to dinner before arriving at the hospital for our hospital tour. I was 37 weeks and 6 days pregnant so I snapped this shot for my 38 week bump update the next day:
We had a lovely dinner at one of our favorite restaurants (if you’re a local – this place). Little did I know that was to be our last date night as a couple.
The hospital tour was great. Overcrowded with a few too many couples, but we got the gist of the routine and saw the delivery and recovery room floors.
It was business as usual when we got home that night. We went to bed and a couple hours later (right after midnight) I woke up to my water leaking. I was startled, and though I was just peeing (not that I had ever actually wet the bed during this pregnancy, but it wasn’t an unreasonable explanation all things considered). I got up and tried to stop it but couldn’t. I sat on the toilet and water was just leaking out of me. I didn’t recognize for sure that it was my water breaking because I was just barely 38 weeks, but it went on forever. Not in a steady stream, but enough that I couldn’t get up without getting this fluid everywhere. My husband eventually woke up after a couple of minutes (or longer??) and I told him as I’m sitting on the toilet with the sound of water streaming in the bowl, “I can’t tell if I’m peeing or if my water is breaking.” Looking back now of course it’s totally obvious my water was breaking, but when your in the moment I think your kind of in disbelief – like I’ve been waiting so long for this to happen, this can’t be it.
I left a message for the midwife and waited for a call back. I tested positive for Group B Strep so as soon as my water broke I needed to get to the hospital so they could start an IV drip of antibiotics. After speaking to my midwife (I thought I was going to get my first choice midwife because I knew she was on call at the hospital Wednesdays and technically it was Wednesday at this point, but it was my second choice midwife – out of five so I was still pretty pleased with that) she told me to go ahead and head to the hospital so I threw on a diaper (my husband got some adult diapers for me – I think he read somewhere that I would need them after the birth and they came in handy before as well because I was still leaking water all over and didn’t want to get it all over my house). I finished packing my hospital bag and the contractions started almost immediately. I didn’t bother timing them because I figured I had lots of time and was told in my childbirth class, “don’t bother timing them until your in active labor.” If I had to guess I’d say they were coming around every 7-10 minutes. We headed out to the hospital and arrived around 1:30.
Before officially checking me in they had to make sure that it was my water that broke so I peed in a cup while in the triage room. By this time my contractions were getting stronger and the best way I could work through them was to stand up, lean forward onto the bed with my arms resting on the bed in a prayer type position, rest my head on my arms, and rock back and forth through the pain. It was working pretty good. I remember trying to get into the bed to relax a little, but that felt AWFUL. I had to get up and on my feet. I also felt super nauseous and threw up. I’ve never thrown up because of pain before. Sure I’ve come close with the watery mouth and sick feeling, but never actually went full out vomit. At some point the nurse came back and said they were going to get the IV needle inserted. Now I’ve never ever had a problem with needles being inserted into my body. Never had any bruising or trouble getting them into the veins but for some reason she could not get the needle in where she wanted it. In fact, I had a bruise in the spot she was determined to use which just went away a couple of days ago. When she was trying to get that needle in my arm it hurt like a mother fucker. I don’t know why she had so much trouble but I remember leaning over the bed (during a contraction) thinking bad thoughts about her. She finally gave up and tried to get it into my hand. Had problems with that. She went and got another nurse to try her luck at it and she couldn’t get one in the other hand. WTF?! I’m not sure if this was a problem because my blood pressure was a little high or what but I was over the needle business. Finally one of the nurses got it into my hand and we moved on. I swear we were in that triage room for almost a couple of hours but my husband swears it was only 30-45 minutes. I’m still not sure I believe that.
Once the IV needle was taken care of, they moved me into the Labor and Delivery room. Shit was getting serious. My contractions were getting stronger and more frequent and I was ready for the epidural. The only thing on my ‘birthplan’ was getting an epidural at 6cm. The rest of it was go with the flow. No disappointment, no regrets. That was the best birthplan for me and spoiler alert – I nailed it.
After getting settled into my L&D room they hooked up the antibiotics and it was the weirdest feeling. I could actually feel it go into my veins and it was FREEZING. My whole body became so cold but it was a nice distraction from the contractions. After hooking me up to the contraction machine (whatever it’s called) I said, “I’m ready for my epidural please.” She said “Do you want me to check you to see where your at first?” I said, “No thanks, wherever I’m at – I’m ready for it” and she said, “No problem I’ll get that ordered up for you.” Just then my midwife called and asked the nurse to see where I was at so she did and can you believe I was at 6cm. Told you – I made that birth plan my bitch! Order up. [All paraphrasing of course, but that was pretty much how the conversation regarding the epidural went down]
childbirth is a beautiful thing, but not attractive!
The anesthesiologist showed up a few minutes later and it was a quick and painless procedure. He did a fantastic job. My only fear was that I would have a contraction during the procedure because you have to remain as still as a rock. And you know what I did have a contraction – but your in the zone and you rise to the occasion, so it works out. My husband was kneeling on the floor on the side of the bed and I was leaning over him to stay still. It worked out nicely.
My contractions were coming about every 4 minutes and the baby’s HR was steady. My midwife showed up shortly after the epidural and we literally bullshited about who knows what. I feel like my room was a party room. Totally relaxed. Finally the midwife told me to get some rest and she turned off the lights and left. Party foul. It was so hard to get some rest when your this close to the moment you’ve been waiting for for so many months. But I was a good little patient and tried to rest and did my best not to look at the contraction machine while being totally memorized by what my body was doing.
The sun was coming up and the clock was ticking away.
After an hour or so my nurse came back in and asked if I felt any pressure yet. I didn’t. She was surprised. She left and came back a short time later and I had started to feel some pressure at that point. My midwive came in and gave me my instructions on how to push. When the contraction starts (I could feel the tightening but not the pain) I was to push three times for 10 seconds each taking only a brief pause between each of the three pushes (brief enough to only breath in to catch my breath). The first couple of times I was getting my bearings trying to figure it out. The midwife and nurse were SO SUPPORTIVE. I cannot say enough about them. All of them. I was pushing for what felt like a long time and even though they kept assuring me that I was making progress, I felt like nothing was really happening. One thing I would like to add about the midwife is that she was fairly hands off – which I appreciated. The nurse as well. That’s the thing about midwives. They were letting me be in control. In fact, she even left the room a few times and allowed my husband and I to labor on our own. The nurse was in and out a bit but mostly in.
sidenote – If your thinking an epidural means you gave up all control – not true. I could still feel my legs and move myself around. Perhaps not walk around but where was I going to go? The nurses station to discuss what I was going to eat after I delivered? Hardly. I was perfectly comfortable with my bed, husband, nurse, and midwife. I was totally present the entire time and I can’t speak to what it would have been like had I went unmedicated – I can say that the epidural made childbirth enjoyable rather than what I was feeling before I got to 6 cm. Which was not enjoyable.
I think I had been pushing for like an hour and I was starting to feel like this little girl was never going to come out. They kept assuring me that I was making progress and this was totally normal for first time births. I asked if getting the epidural was causing me to not push to my full extent and she said, “maybe – but sometimes pain also keeps women from pushing and progressing effectively so you never know” Hospital shift change was happening and in came my new midwife. MY FIRST CHOICE midwife! and two new nurses (one had just transferred from a hospital across town so she was partnered up with another nurse to learn the ropes but had worked in L&D for over 10 years). My new nurses were just as awesome as my first one. I was kind of sad that the first nurse who had gotten me through the early stages wasn’t going to be there for the birth. I told her I would never forget her and she laughed. I was serious.
The shift change was a nice change of pace and at this point I was not pushing through every contraction. I was taking a break every few because they were coming so quickly I barely had enough time to recover. I was alternating between a couple of different positions as well. Finally the head was starting to come out and they asked me if I wanted a mirror but I declined. My eyes were closed tight while trying to push so I didn’t think I would really see anything but now I wish I would have because it would have been cool to see her head. Or not. Not sure. I did reach down and feel her head though and that was pretty amazing.
I apologized because I knew I was pooping and they could have cared less (as little as I cared, but I still felt an apology was in order). I also apologized for it taking so long. Funny to think about hat now. What a silly thing to apologize for. I truly had not considered the pushing when visualizing my labor. I had visualized the laboring and the after, but for some reason I assumed the pushing would be 1-2-3 done. One hour and forty-five minutes later she was finally out. Her cord was wrapped around her neck and her head was a little cockeyed which the midwife believes is what took so long to get her under the pubic bone and through the birth canal, but once her head was out, the rest of her practically slid out with ease. I think I only had to push once or twice to get her little body out.
As soon as she was out before I could even catch my breath she was placed on my chest and I was totally overcome with emotion and the scene that had just taken place. There are no words.
Speaking of little body – she was teeny tiny. After a while she was taken to the scale and placed under warming lights while they did the measurements and Apgar test. Her first test she only scored a 5 which they believe is because of the cord being wrapped around her neck. The second one five minutes later was a 9.
5 lbs 12 oz and only 18” long. That’s the head of a vaginal birth that took a lot of pushing. A few quick minutes later she was back with me and the midwive stitched me up. I had a second degree tear and five stitches. Not bad at all. I think that’s fairly typical.
Eventually (there was no rush in the hospital – they are very family centric baby stays with the mama at all times) the nurse helped me get up and go to the restroom (obviously, I handed her off to my husband). OMG – two words: crime scene. I still to this day have not looked under the hood for fear of what I will see. When I stop seeing blood, I’ll check it out.
After I was up and moving they moved me to the Recovery floor.
I got to my recovery room around 10am and we left the hospital about 25 hours later. She was so small we had to stuff a couple of blankets around her just so she would fit into the car seat. One of the nurses (again ALL of the nurses on the recovery floor were awesome – I cannot say enough about them!) found a preemie outfit since the ones we brought from home were huge.
She is a dream come true!
And that is how it all went down.