What better way to come back from maternity leave than to share the details of how my little boy made his way into the world? I feel a bit vulnerable sharing this, as there are definitely a lot of opinions out there. God knows I got my share of messages and comments when I shared that I was getting induced! Everyone’s birth story is different and personal (I’d love to hear bits about yours in the comments below!) and I hope that we can all be respectful of each other. Also, if you’re currently pregnant and not into hearing a lot of details about the delivery process, maybe just skip this post ;)
And with that, the story…
I had my last prenatal appointment with my OB on Tuesday, September 16th. Overdue and still only 1cm dilated, we decided to schedule an induction for Thursday night. Brian took the day off to enjoy our final baby-free day together. We had a slow, leisurely morning of reading, breakfast at Einstein’s and watching Netflix before my parents came over to help us knock some final things off our list. By 5:30pm, we were out to dinner, feeling excited to meet Jack!
At the restaurant, I started feeling pretty awful. My back was hurting a ton, and my leg had shooting pains from the hip down. It was so distracting, I could hardly eat. The only thing that made it better was thinking about heading to the hospital right after dinner and getting the ball rolling on the whole labor and delivery process.
We checked in at the hospital at 7pm and were shown to our room, where they had me change into a massive green hospital gown. It was so strange to go into the room pregnant, knowing I would have a baby in my arms when I left. The game plan was like this: the nurse would administer a “cervical ripener” (ew, I know) that would help me efface, then in the morning I’d be given Pitocin to get labor going.
All smiles just after arriving at the hospital, totally clueless about the next 24 hours of our lives!
Much to our surprise, I started feeling contractions at 9pm and they escalated quickly—something we absolutely were not prepared for! We watched Netflix to try to distract me from the increasing pain, but by 11pm I was having intense contractions every 5 minutes and couldn’t focus on anything anymore. As midnight rolled around, I was in serious pain, mostly felt in my lower back. By 1am, I had been in sobbing pain for a full hour and we called in a nurse to get some answers about what to expect for the rest of the night.
Our night nurse was unavailable so a different nurse came in to help us. When I explained how I was feeling to her, she said that what they gave me doesn’t usually cause contractions and that what I was experiencing was probably just cramps. (At this point I decided I would surely die from pain in childbirth.) She offered me some Tylenol, narcotics and an Ambien—none of which I was interested in—and by the time she walked out the door I was a total emotional mess, feeling broken and hopeless about the entire delivery.
At 1:40am, our regular nurse finally arrived. She affirmed that I was having real contractions (thank God!), and checked my progress, letting me know I was at 3cm. I promptly ordered my epidural, since it was a very busy night at the hospital and friends had told me it could take up to an hour to receive it. Much to our surprise, the anesthesiologist arrived 15 minutes later and totally made our night. His name was Vijay and he was all smiles and positivity—exactly what I needed. He got me laughing and feeling excited again about labor. Seriously, he was an absolute godsend.
The rest of the night was a total dream—that epidural was one of the best things that has ever happened to me! By 3:15am I was already 5cm dilated, and while I had a boost of energy from the relief I felt, Brian was sleepy and encouraged me to get some rest before the morning rolled around. We managed to sleep for several hours as I continued to progress. By 6:45am I was 7-8cm dilated, and by 10:30am, my doctor came in to check and confirmed that I was at 9.5cm. Since she was delivering another baby next door—and my epidural was still working perfectly—she had me “labor down” for a bit and enjoy some more rest.
The real work began at 11:40am when it was time to start pushing. The whole experience was so strange. For every contraction, I’d push for 10 seconds, then take a quick breath, then repeat 3 more times. It was tiring and exciting all at once. The nurses were so entertaining in between contractions, and I can honestly say we were having a great time in there, full of eager excitement to meet our boy. Since I had progressed so quickly in dilating, they expected Jack to arrive in under an hour.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
I pushed and pushed and pushed for 4 full hours with only a little progress, and started to feel dejected and nervous about having to get a c-section after all that effort if he didn’t come out soon. Based on my doctor’s recommendation, we decided to move forward with vacuum extraction (a technique she rarely uses, but was confident would work in my case). Her plan was simple: try the vacuum assist 3 times, and if that didn’t work, we’d go straight into the OR that was prepped and ready and get him out by c-section.
At this point, my epidural was barely working anymore and the pressure was super intense. They told me it was a good thing so I could better feel the pushing, but admittedly it made me both fearful and nervous (after all, I got the epidural for a reason!). There was a moment when they considered giving me a bit of Pitocin to move things along, but since my contractions were coming fast enough we were thankfully able to skip that.
The details of the final 30 minutes are a bit blurry to me, but I do remember feeling incredibly supported and empowered my my “team”—my doctor, the two nurses, and Brian of course! At the end, they were all huddled around me, supporting me both physically (holding my legs, etc.) and emotionally (cheering me on). Though for all of the pushes before this they had me hold my breath while pushing, I abandoned all of the “rules” and became a total pregnant woman cliche, literally groaning and screaming my way through the final few pushes.
And then, at 4:05pm, the whole world stopped.
They handed Jack to me and I could not believe the miracle in my arms. This child—who I thought I’d never have—had grown in my body all year long. The same kid that kicked me in my side night after night was now kicking his little legs as I held him in my arms, his grey-blue eyes staring right at me. Messy and beautiful and surreal—I’ll never forget that moment. Truly the most beautiful moment of my life.
We spent the next two nights at the hospital, adjusting to parenthood with help from some seriously amazing nurses. And then on Sunday evening, we headed home to a very clean house (thanks Mom!) and a home-cooked meal (thanks Dad!).
Life will never be the same, and I’m totally okay with that.