Baby Boy’s due date is officially one month away, and I have been thinking back to a year and a half ago when I was in this same stage in my pregnancy with Elouise. Things looked a whole lot different but somehow they are also surprisingly similar. Thinking back made me realize that I have never actually written down Elouise’s birth story, so before I have another story to tell and things get all jumbled, I decided to share it here with you all. I spared no detail, so it’s pretty long. Maybe grab a cup of coffee and hunker down to read it during morning nap time.
The story actually starts three weeks before she made her arrival, which happened to be two weeks before her due date. I was at my regular check up with my OB and when she sat me up from the exam table I started to pass out and then didn’t fully regain my vision. For precautionary reasons I was sent to the hospital for monitoring. They hooked me up to the fetal monitors and the words the doctor said confirmed my fear throughout my entire pregnancy. “Wow that was a big contraction, did you not feel that?” I hadn’t felt it, or at least I didn’t think I did. You see, the past 9 months I feared, as I’m sure many first time mothers do, that I wouldn’t know when I was actually in labor. No person telling you “believe me you’ll know” gave me any comfort. For the next hour or so of monitoring I paid extra close attention to the screen so I could match the sensations to the readings of my contractions. The one thing I walked away with was an understanding of what one actually felt like, but didn’t have any answer about why I would have passed out of lost my vision. Although they did mention that I could have a brain tumor and that if I wanted to take the risk I could have a CT scan to check. I decided not to, but spent the next few days afraid I was dying, talk about poor bedside manner.
A few days later I noticed my contractions were getting much stronger and began to monitor them. At that time I was still just over a week away from my due date but I figured it may be time to count the minutes between these bad boys. They progressively got closer and more intense so I told my husband he should come home from work and we made our way over to the hospital. After some monitoring and an exam the conclusion was that I was having labor contractions but that my body would need to “progress” before being admitted for actual labor. So the sweet doctor swept my membranes to try to get things moving. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but this was one of the worst parts about pregnancy, labor, or delivery. Let me say that it may not be the same with every doctor, but this lady was up to her elbow in my lady business like she was scraping out the inside of a pumpkin. I still remember the look on my husband’s face. Then we went on a walk around the hospital and listened to Amy Poehler’s audio book. I proceeded to accidentally step on a lady bug during our walk which I was certain was a sign I wasn’t cut out for motherhood, but I seem to be doing alright.
After an hour we headed back up and I was still only dilated to 3cm, which didn’t cut it. I was sent home and told that I was in early labor, but that it could potentially last weeks but most likely would only be a few days. Here’s where it got tricky, my husband was working in retail management at the time so his work schedule wasn’t exactly flexible, but he did get paternity leave. We had to decide when he should start his leave, so that we didn’t leave the rest of his team in a lurch, so he went back to work as planned. On his day off later that week we were walking the mall down the street from the hospital when I was having some super intense contractions at about 4 minutes apart. We tried all the tricks to get rid of them, changing activity, position, eating, and nothing worked. So we drove down to the hospital and sat in the parking lot trying to decide if we should go in for fear of being sent home again. After about an hour of trying to decide in our car, my contractions died down so we went home.
The Due Date Means Nothing
A couple days later I was my 40 week check up, which was actually the day after my due date and I was feeling pretty darn discouraged. My midwife checked me and I was still at 3 cm, which was a slap in the face. I had officially been in early labor for over a week and my body hadn’t progressed at all. I spent the next week convinced that my body was “broken” and that the baby wasn’t coming out. Not to mention, that my husband mistakenly was taken off his schedule at work after my due date because of a misunderstanding, so he was home and we had no baby.
A week after my due date, we woke up to a big decision. The next day, I had an appointment with my OB and would have to make plans for an induction since this baby didn’t seem to be coming on her own. I have to say that I prayed for two really specific, and kind of silly, things throughout my pregnancy. I prayed that my water would break so that I would know for 100% certain that this baby was coming and that she would be born in the early evening so that I could have the nighttime to try and sleep after going through labor. I was super discouraged about that because I so badly wanted a natural labor and delivery process. So we did what any super pregnant mama would think to do, we went for a walk to get donuts.
All it Took was a Couple of Donuts
I scarfed my two donuts on the walk back to the apartment, then we immediately got back into bed and put on Netflix, duh. While Christian was rearranging something next to the bed I heard something suspicious, and exclaimed “Did you hear that gas bubble? I’ve never heard anything like that!” Of course in my head I thought “Oh my gosh my water just broke” but after all of the disappointments in the last weeks I didn’t want to get my hopes up. We laughed it off and I moved positions in bed, causing a rush of liquid to come out of my downstairs area. I froze. I had heard that women frequently peed their pants during pregnancy, but I had not been one of them. I shifted again and finally shouted that my water had broke. Christian asked if I was sure, so I stood up out of bed and the floodgates opened. We spent the next few minutes laughing as he grabbed towels to put all over the floor. I will never forget that feeling of standing together laughing knowing that we were going to meet our baby girl.
I called the hospital to let them know we were on our way as Christian tidied up the apartment and cleaned the dishes in the sink. No mama wants to come home to a dirty house, right? As we walked to the door I had another surge of fluid leak everywhere, so we grabbed more towels and waddled out to the car. The drive to the hospital was about 30 minutes, and on the way we listened to my birthing playlist as I felt the contractions coming steadily. Still, I was surprisingly calm and almost even blissful texting our closest friends and family the news.
No, I Didn’t Pee Myself
When we walked into the hospital I still remember picking up the phone by the delivery wing door and when the nurse asked how she could help me awkwardly responding “Um I think I’m in labor?”. We were welcomed in very calmly and the nurse casually got all of my information to admit me. I had a few contractions while standing at her computer but she still wasn’t buying that I was in labor. She sent me to the bathroom to check to make sure that the leakage was amniotic fluid and not urine and when I came out with the results her face changed. She sent us back to a labor room and we got settled in.
At this point my water had broken about two hours prior, and the midwife finally came in to check me and hook me up to the monitors. She shared that I was only dilated 3 cm and I about lost my freaking mind. I was so sick of hearing that number. I told her I wanted to labor naturally so she said someone would come check me in about two hours and then left us. It felt so weird at first to be just me and Christian in a dark room with a ton of medical equipment. The next two hours I spent on my yoga ball, with my birthing playlist on, in the dark. Christian tickled my back and sprayed my lavender essential oils. The next check I was at 5cm, so progress but not much.
About an hour later, my nurse had gone on lunch and a new one came to check in on me. My other nurse was nice and efficient, but she was very technical and not very warm or friendly. When this second nurse came in I was starting a contraction and what she said changed the rest of the my labor completely. She grabbed my hands and said “Oh honey your having a big contraction, take a deep breath in and relax, relax all of the muscles in your face, relax your shoulders, and all of your muscles all the way down to your toes and feel yourself melt into the floor.” She told me I was doing great and left the room. I looked at Christian and said that is what you need to do every time I have a contraction, I don’t care if you sound like a broken record, that was it, that’s what I need. So that’s what he did. Envisioning myself melting into the floor while the song You Make Me Brave played in the background talking about God’s love crashing over you in wave after wave, was what got my through labor without pain medication.
You Can Do It
It had been two hours since my midwife had come in to check on me and we were both shocked when she announced that I was dilated 8cm. She told me I was officially in the transitional labor and that this was the part where I would feel like I was going to die and that I would want to give up, but that I could do it. After that nice pep talk, I awkwardly hobbled to the bathroom with the help of Christian and my midwife because I insisted I had to pee. Then I got to the toilet and said ” No, wait I need to throw up”. I was so confused because I hadn’t thrown up in 7 years and nobody told me it was somewhat normal to do it in labor. The only thing in my system was our highly nutritious breakfast, so lets just say that I didn’t eat donuts for a while after giving birth. Before leaving, the nurse said that it would probably be a couple more hours before I was ready to push, but that if I felt like I had to to call her.
45 minutes later I insisted that I needed to push, so Christian called the nurse, somehow I was at 9cm already and almost to 10. She called in the midwife and I got ready to push. I tried using the nifty bar the pulls up on the bed and allows you to squat but didn’t last more than a second. That was not my jam. So I sat in the bed and pushed for about a 45 minute span. Halfway through the midwife said “Come here Daddy and look at this head of hair”. Christian looked at me for approval since I had passionately told him he would be staying at my head the whole delivery. Well at that point, I couldn’t have cared less, so he got a nice view of the midwife swirling Elouise’s hair while she was in the birth canal. Yuck. I am not cut out for all of that.
The midwife told me I was about to push out the head and those next two pushes were ones I will never forget. You guys, the ring of fire is very real. As I pushed I thought I heard a woman in another room scream and thought “Wow that sucks”. Then I pushed a second time and realized that it was me screaming. Those two pushes got her giant Cannon head out and the midwife told me to reach down and grab my baby. This was one of the happiest moments of my life and I still remember grabbing her and seeing her for the first time.
As I pulled her up, her umbilical cord burst and reacted like a firehose spraying blood everywhere. They quickly clamped what was left of it and calmly got her cleaned up and gave her back to me. Those moments are all a blur because I was so caught off guard at the umbilical cord situation. Even though they were not frantic, you could tell they were moving with urgency. Once they checked her blood count and cleared that she was a-ok, I asked one of the nurses how often it happens and I couldn’t believe what she said. “None of us have ever seen that before.” Thankfully they hid it will, because otherwise I would have lost my mind.
She Was Perfect
Our sweet baby girl was born March 9th, 2015 at 8:08PM 9lbs 40z and 21 inches long. We hadn’t picked a name before she was born, but had two in mind. We knew from the moment we saw her that she was our Elouise Jane. There was an hour left for visitation, which was just enough time for the handful of friends and family to come meet her. Then we settled into our recovery room and I ate the most satisfying turkey sandwich of my life. The nurses came and visited me and told me that I had a textbook birth experience and that I could teach a class.
I certainly didn’t feel that qualified, but I was so thankful that my experience was relatively peaceful. I got my answer to prayer with my water breaking and her being born at 8pm. I didn’t have any drugs and I had only gotten a 1cm tiny tear from pushing out her giant head. It really was all so calm and sweet. I am really hoping that this is how my next experience is. I know that every birth is different, sometimes night and day. So I’m staying prayerful and positive, and am going to do my best to prepare for anything.