My sister in law wrote down all of the details of her son’s birth a few months ago and I thought it was the most wonderful story I had ever read, so naturally I copied her :). I wrote this a few months ago as well, when Andrew was maybe 4 or 5 months old, and I’m so glad I did because I find myself rereading it over and over again. It’s personal…really personal…and I hope you enjoy it.
I had yet another weekly checkup just 5 days before my due date. The midwife told me I would most likely be late because I wasn’t dilated at all and I hadn’t had any Braxton Hicks contractions. I was a little saddened because I really didn’t want to be late; I was ready to meet my little man. We went ahead and made another appointment for the following week. I left feeling disappointed but happy that the baby and I were healthy.
On the evening of October 16th, 3 days before my due date, Kyle and I were sitting on the couch watching TV and I looked at him with disappointing eyes and said, “Well, I guess we aren’t having a baby today.” My due date was October 19th but I had guessed that we would have our son on the 16th. That night I stayed up a little later than normal as I was having horrible heartburn. I finally went to bed and laid there for I don’t know how long before I came back downstairs because the heartburn wouldn’t subside. I went back to bed around 1 a.m., fell asleep pretty quickly, and woke up fairly abruptly at exactly 2 a.m. on the morning of October 17th because I was beginning to have contractions. The contractions were not that painful by any means but just uncomfortable enough to disrupt my sleep. I went downstairs, trying not to wake Kyle, and turned on Law & Order: SVU. I rested on the couch with our cat trying to get comfortable. Over the next 5 hours I paced back and forth between the living room and guest bedroom. I tried laying on the couch, laying on the floor, sleeping, leaning against a wall, I even tried doing some yoga but nothing seemed to work. I cuddled with our kitty and moaned through the discomfort. I kept telling myself to let Kyle sleep until 7, then I could go take a shower. I finally went upstairs at 7, hopped in the shower, and sure enough Kyle woke up a few minutes later. He walked into the bathroom to ask why I was up so early and I told him I thought I was in labor. He looked at me in disbelief, almost panicked, and said, “Okay, I’ll start packing my bag.” I told him not to rush because I knew we had awhile before we would head to the hospital. After I showered, I did my make-up and finished getting my bag ready. Kyle texted his manager and said he wouldn’t be making their meeting that day. We went downstairs and Kyle made some coffee and bagels. I wasn’t hungry but forced myself to eat a half of a bagel and some grapes. We watched TV, tried timing the contractions, I read some baby magazines from our birthing class, and then we decided to go for a walk. I prayed none of our neighbors would see us because I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I kept telling him I didn’t want to go to the hospital unless I was sure I was in labor. I was sort of in denial; I was absolutely in labor but didn’t actually believe that I was. I told Kyle we should wait until 11 or so before leaving for the hospital. As we were driving there I kept saying, “I really hope I’m actually in labor. I mean, I don’t know what else this could be!”
We arrived at the hospital, went straight up to the third floor because that’s what we were told to do on our tour, and the nurse in the labor and delivery unit asked us if we had checked in downstairs. We told her we hadn’t and she asked us to go back downstairs to check in. We went downstairs, told the old man at the desk that I was in labor and that we needed to check in, and he gave us a confused look. He had no idea what he was supposed to do so he had us sign a book to check in and that was it. We then went back to the third floor and the nurse said we should have been given a pass. I was pretty annoyed at this point and told her I was not going back down there. They finally got it worked out and showed us to a room.
A nurse came into our room, told me to change into a gown and then checked me. I was 5 cm, woo hoo!! We signed some papers, they hooked me up to a monitor and it was go time. I was excited yet nervous. The pain was definitely bearable and I was still smiling while talking with Kyle and the nurses. Kyle and I went for a short walk in the hall but I felt uncomfortable walking around in my hospital gown so we went back to the room and I walked around in there. An hour later the nurse checked me again and I was already up to 7 cm so she called the doctor in. The doctor asked if I wanted her to break my water and I said yes because I knew that would speed up labor; I wanted to have this baby! She broke my water and I felt a warm relief. I was initially afraid it would hurt but it actually felt good. About one minute later I felt the worst contraction so far, and then shortly after that another painful contraction. I knew breaking my water would speed things up but I forgot that it meant the pain would be more intense as well. After only a few minutes I was crying and I could barely breathe through the pain. I felt like I couldn’t move. The nurse knew I was hurting and asked if I wanted an epidural. I told her no and continued believing I could do it on my own. About an hour later she checked me again and I was only up to 8 cm. I wanted to be 10 cm so badly! Again, the nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural. This time I looked at Kyle sort of wanting reassurance. He said, “Hailey, you can do this.” I was both relieved and disappointed because I knew I could do it but I desperately wanted the pain to go away. I looked back at the nurse and told her no, I didn’t need one.
The next few hours were a bit of a blur. I had only had one hour of sleep from the night before and I was truly exhausted. I remember thinking time was moving so slow. I kept watching the clock, counting how many hours I had been in labor. I kept thinking, okay, it’s already been like 11 hours so maybe it won’t be too much longer. The nurse checked me at 9 cm and this was when I was about to lose it. I threw up at one point because the pain was so strong. Kyle was offering me water and putting a wet washcloth on my forehead. I kept asking the nurse to check me again and she kept saying, “15 more minutes and then I’ll check you.” So 15 minutes would pass, she would check me again and I was still only 9 cm. I think she said “15 more minutes” about 4 times before I was finally 10 cm. I was so relieved when she said I could finally start pushing.
The nurse told me to push when I was feeling a contraction coming on and to hold the push for 10 seconds. We counted together as I pushed and I barely made it to 10 seconds each time. At one point, she said she could see a little hair on the baby’s head. She asked Kyle if he wanted to look. He didn’t want to at first but ended up looking. He later told me that he couldn’t really see anything. I felt our baby’s head with my hand, something I never thought I would do but it made me want him to make his grand entrance even more. I pushed again and again for 45 minutes and I was moving the baby but I just didn’t feel like I was making enough progress so we decided to switch it up. The nurse recommended using a “squatting bar.” I was up for anything at this point. It’s basically a bar that attaches to the top of the bed and when you have a contraction, you hop up into a squatting pose, lean over the bar and push. It works with gravity but it also adds more pressure so you typically tear worse; I didn’t care. It’s funny really, I remember watching videos of women giving birth in some strange positions and saying to myself, “I’ll never do that! I’m definitely delivering him on my back.” When you’re in labor, every idea you originally had flies out the window. Both the pain and the thrill of childbirth takes over and you do whatever you have to do to not only feel comfortable, but to deliver that baby quickly. During this entire process, Kyle kept telling me that I could do it. I would look at him and cry, but his kind eyes helped me get through the pain. I definitely couldn’t have done it without him by my side.
I remember saying over and over again over the next few hours: “I can’t do this,” “Get it out of me,” and “Please God, please God, please God.” I never thought I would be “that woman” who literally screamed during childbirth….let me tell you, I screamed and yelled and cried with panic. It’s hard to even believe it was me in that room. Lack of sleep didn’t help my anxiety. I only had maybe a minute in between contractions but I was so exhausted that I actually fell asleep for a few seconds in between a few of them. My body could not stop shaking and I was sweating profusely. The midwife told me that I was doing great and that the baby was really close to coming out. Those words gave me an adrenaline rush and I told myself I was getting this baby out with the next set of pushing. I felt a contraction coming on, hopped up and leaned over that bar, and pushed as hard as I could. After 6 breaths and 6 pushes (yes I counted), I felt a pop and the midwife said his head was out. She looked surprised, like she didn’t expect me to get him out so quickly. Another strong push and the rest of his body was out. I immediately felt relief. Overall, I pushed for an hour and a half. It’s amazing how you can be in so much pain but the second that baby comes out, you don’t feel any pain at all. I laid back down and looked at my son. I said, “He’s actually really cute!” The nurse and midwife laughed. I always thought babies were kind of ugly when they are born but our baby was beautiful. I wept and kissed Kyle; our little guy was here! The nurse said she couldn’t believe I delivered him completely natural. She said that not many women nowadays give birth without any drugs, fluids, or oxygen whatsoever. I was honestly proud of myself. Next was the placenta. I was surprised that it took me a few pushes to deliver it because I had heard that it typically came out pretty easily. Once I delivered the placenta, they told me to take off my gown while they cleared our son’s throat and nose. Kyle cut the umbilical cord and they handed Andrew to me. We sat there, skin on skin, while the doctor stitched me up. We cuddled for almost an hour like that; It was wonderful! Kyle and I took some pictures and just stared at this little person in my arms. He was amazing. After an hour the nurse gave Andrew a bath and weighed him. That 19 ½ inch, 7 pound 2 ounce boy instantly filled my heart with more love than I even knew what to do with. Bringing him into the world was the hardest but the greatest experience of my life and I am so blessed to be his mom.