Angie’s Pregnancy Guide: THE BIRTH STORY!
October 8, 2015
If you’ve been following my pregnancy updates and noticed I haven’t posted one in a while, you can probably guess that HE FINALLY CAME! Our sweet son joined us in the world two days before his due date (what a good boy!).
So, here’s what we’ve all been waiting for (me, especially)… the birth story!
It was a pretty typical Saturday afternoon. I made some decorations for the baby’s nursery and watched my alma mater play an amazing game of football. I went to bed and laid there for hours unable to sleep, as usual, and started feeling some uncomfortable contractions, also as usual. I started scrolling through my Instagram feed to pass the time until I felt tired. I fell asleep at some point, but woke suddenly to EXTREME pain around 2AM.
Now if you recall, I spent some time in L&D in July and had regular contractions that I was told were from uterine irritability, so I was used to powerful and regular contractions. But let me tell you these contractions were nothing like those. With my daughter I was induced 2 weeks early and had an epidural, so until this point I didn’t know what real labor contractions felt like, and still wasn’t sure these were real.
I rolled around in bed a lot trying to get comfortable and eventually decided to go downstairs and try the couch. At first the contractions were so strong that I kind of just clenched my teeth and squeezed my eyes shut and grimaced through it. I started keeping track of the time between contractions on my phone and realized they were coming 5 minutes apart quite regularly. But that had happened a few times in the previous few weeks, so I still held out on the couch to see if they’d pass.
They got crazy strong. Soon, my clenched teeth turned into open-mouthed moans, and eventually just full-blown yells. I found myself squatting, bending over, laying down, and in all sorts of different positions to ease the pain. After an hour of consistently-spaced and increasingly painful contractions I woke up my husband and asked him to come downstairs with me. I told him I thought they were real contractions but to just wait with me and see. He laid on the opposite couch nervous as can be. After an hour and a half, he asked me why I wouldn’t let him take me to the hospital yet, but I just really wanted to make sure this was the real deal so we wouldn’t get sent home. I also knew we’d have to call our neighbor to come hang out until our daughter woke up, and I didn’t want to wake her up for a false alarm.
The pain became horrific. I asked my husband to inflate my exercise ball and was surprised that sitting and rolling around on that made quite a difference in my pain. But these contractions were still coming and still increasing in intensity.
Finally, around 5AM when I realized I couldn’t keep going on this way, I told my husband we could go. I started packing what wasn’t already in the hospital bag, stopping every few minutes to squeal and grimace at another painful contraction. I laid out my daughter’s church clothes and everything she’d need for the day and finally called my neighbor. She came over immediately and off we went.
There are a few different ways to get to the hospital where I was going to deliver. I wanted to take the freeway. My husband assured me that taking a road through the city would be faster. The contractions made me unable to argue much so he got his way. This is worth mentioning because this road is also notoriously very, VERY sketchy as you get closer to downtown where the hospital is. In fact I wouldn’t even get out of my car at any of the businesses along this street unless it was absolutely necessary. Here are a few of the sites along the way (via google images).
As we drove along at 5AM, the street was mostly deserted other than several homeless people, until we pulled up to a stoplight and watched as two women, one in a matching sequin bikini top and mini skirt and another in a short, tight black dress got out of the car in front of us and walked to a different car in a parking lot.
Now I tried not to pass judgment, but I’ve watched enough Law & Order to know that these women were probably not on their way to church, and most clubs had been closed for hours. I also know that the city we live in, particularly this area of town has an extremely high crime rate. My husband and I looked at each other and reminisced about what we saw on the drive to the hospital where my daughter was born: it was in Utah on a snowy afternoon, and we passed several LDS churches and temples and my husband’s university – it was a delightful drive. Contrast that with the, I’m sure very nice, working women walking in front of a backdrop of boarded up windows, hair salons, and used tire shops.
It was a drive to remember.
We arrived at the hospital and made our way to labor and delivery. It was a long walk, and not just because I had to stop every few minutes to bend over in excruciating pain and try not to scare the people passing by as I sporadically let out bear-like moans. It was also kind of a sentimental walk, as my husband and I talked about how the next time we walked down that hall and rode that elevator we would have our new son with us. We both smiled big, sappy smiles. And then I screamed at him because my uterus started punching me again.
Similarly, it took a long time to sign the stupid paperwork because writing when your uterus is trying to squish a (spoiler alert!) 8+ pound baby out of your vagina isn’t exactly easy. The nurse came promptly, fortunately, and brought me into a triage room. She asked what I was doing there.
I had been having contractions for hours. And they hurt. REALLY bad. I’m no wimp, either. I’ve had my gallstones and had my gallbladder removed; I’d recovered from a previous pregnancy (which is arguably more painful than labor itself). I know pain. This pain was much MUCH worse than anything I’d ever felt. And this nurse who asked me why I was there – she knew why I was there. And I was not exactly patient with her, or anyone from that point forward, who didn’t seem to appreciate what I was going through.
I should also add that this is about the time I adopted a mantra to get me through the contractions. I heard that can be a good technique for coping with the pain. I decided to go with a word uncommon to my regular vocabulary but that felt appropriate for the occasion. And it was a four-letter word that started with an “F.” But after yelling that and feeling guilty, I changed it to a four-letter word that started with an “S.” Sorry, mom.
So I told that nurse who felt it necessary to ask what I was doing there despite my yelling the F word at her that I happened to be there because I was 9-months pregnant, if she couldn’t tell, and I thought MAYBE I was in labor. She said they’d hook me up to the monitors and see what was going on. I said fine but I need some pain meds. She said “okay, but I can only give you Tylenol, would that help take the edge off?”
I looked at her like this.
This is my “Are you effing kidding me?” face. I also like to call it the “calm before the storm.”
Was she serious? Was I being punked? (Is that even a thing anymore?) Was she brand-new? Had she even ever seen a woman in labor before?
I told her fine whatever and she left. And she didn’t come back with the pain meds for an hour and a half, mind you.
Meanwhile, the resident doctor came in and asked to check my cervix. I agreed and seriously broke down into ugly sobs when she said I wasn’t dilated. Like, at all. I said too bad, I’m still in labor. She said they’d monitor me for a few hours and see if it progressed, but she didn’t think it would because it usually takes a while for the cervix to start dilating when it hasn’t dilated at all.
Those were the longest 2 hours of my LIFE. Every contraction left me in the biggest tears I’d ever cried. I cried and cried and sobbed and swore as loud as I could, hoping a doctor would hear me and come in and say “here, have all the drugs you want, and let’s go get this baby out right now!” But nobody came. After a particularly painful contraction I broke down to my husband and told him I couldn’t do this anymore, the pain was just so bad I was going to die. I couldn’t move, breathe, or do anything from the pain. The only relief was knowing that it would pass and I’d get in a breath before the next one.
FINALLY a new doctor came in and, before she checked my progress, started telling me I was probably experiencing “latent labor” and that a hot shower, warm bath, etc. would give me some relief. I started bawling again. I told her I couldn’t go home because what was I supposed to do all day? I would scare my poor toddler to death with my screams and crying. I wouldn’t be able to move, eat, or do anything. She said they’d check me and see where I was at. I was devastated until she said, “you’re dilated to a 4, you’re staying!”
I started cry-laughing. Cryphing, I guess you could say. I thanked her over and over again and she laughed and said that I was so funny and made her day. I didn’t see what was funny but she was an amazingly sweet and nice doctor and I was the happiest I’d ever been. I called my mom to let her know and then the nurse brought in more paperwork. I signed it in between contractions with a much better attitude than before.
I was on the fence about an epidural up to this point but once I was told I was staying I was begging for one. The anesthesiologist came in and, again, had to talk to me in fragments as the contractions were coming stronger and closer together than before. He told me as long as I could sit still at the edge of the bed he could administer the epidural. At this point the nurse said they’d better hurry and get me into a delivery room so I wouldn’t miss my chance at an epidural.
The labor and delivery room was GORGEOUS!
I sat on my exercise ball for a bit while waiting for the doctor to come in. I was so happy and giddy despite the pain. Relief was coming! The epidural was amazing – way better than my first. I didn’t feel tweaked-out or weird at all. I was always slightly able to wiggle my toes and move my legs, and could BARELY feel the contractions but the pain was gone. Hallelujah!
But now, it was time to wait. With my screaming and swearing over with, my husband and I both fell asleep for an hour or two (I think) and got some rest since we’d both been up basically the entire night. After a while the doctor came back in and told me that my contractions had slowed down and breaking my water might be a good idea to help things continue progressing. I agreed and she did it. Then she left and apparently every other room was full and all the other women had their babies at the same time, practically, so I was relieved my contractions had slowed down so the doctors wouldn’t be rushed with me.
After a while they came back in and checked my cervix again, which was at a 9! I was so close to having a baby! I told my husband to get the camera out and ready because I wanted to capture those first moments and reactions of the new baby.
The sweet little doctor who is my new best friend because she told me I didn’t have to go home helped me deliver our son, as well as another OBGYN and the nurse. I pushed for a little over an hour and finally my sweet son was born, weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces and 20 inches long, at 4:21PM. (Yes, I know the clock says 4:20 but I guess the doctor rounded up because she’s immature).
The amazing hospital where I delivered is very baby-and-mother-focused. They immediately put my son onto my chest, before his cord was even cut, and let us bond. No words describe that feeling. I’ve never felt so close to heaven than holding someone who just came from the other side moments before. He was perfect – I was so in love. Even though he was still slimy and purple, he was the most beautiful little angel I’d ever seen. I was so caught up in him that I didn’t notice the doctors still focused on something “down there” until they started aggressively pushing on my abdomen. When I looked up worriedly at them, the main doctor told me not to worry and they had everything under control. She said something about a piece of the placenta staying attached to the uterus after the rest had been delivered. I didn’t really listen or care. I wouldn’t have noticed a circus going on around me with how consumed I was in that precious baby boy.
After a while, everyone left except my husband. We got a whole hour alone to spend with our new son. We took that time to finally decide on his name – Max. After that hour I tried to nurse him and he had no problem going for it. He’s a champ. We called our parents and told them the news, and then I realized how STARVING I was. My husband agreed to run down to Wendy’s and get me some food.
It wasn’t even 5 minutes after he left that I started blacking out. I immediately called the nurse and she came in immediately. I signaled for her to take the baby and the second he left my arms I started vomiting severely. She called in the doctors who hooked me up to an IV and started working “down there” again. My blood pressure was really low and dropping – I had lost and was losing a lot of blood. My uterus was soft, which is bad after delivery I guess. This was all related of the piece of placenta that hadn’t been delivered I was told. I was given 2 bags of Pitocin to get my uterus to contract down and blood tests were done to determine whether I’d need a blood transfusion. Meanwhile my husband came back holding my fries and frosty to a room full of doctors and me completely out of it.
Finally the doctors finished whatever they were doing and left again but I still felt horrible. I tried sipping on some Pepsi and nibbling on saltines. I could hear my phone ringing, which it had been doing for a while, and realized my parents and sister had been trying to call. I called my mom back but felt so fuzzy and out of it I couldn’t carry on the conversation. After a while the nurse came back in and worriedly told me I looked really pale and my blood pressure was still low. She told me they were still waiting for the blood tests to come back and I’d be moved to recovery soon if those came back alright. It was dark now and I was dying to see my daughter, I missed her so much! That was the longest I’d ever been away from her, and I really realized during that time that she really is my best friend, even though she’s only 2. I even wished she was there when I was in labor, her presence just makes everything better and puts me at ease. But I realize that probably would have been traumatic for her. Nevertheless, I felt incomplete without her there.
My blood pressure finally stabilized and I was able to keep my food down. The blood tests came back good so I didn’t need a blood transfusion. I was extremely weak and tired (duh), but all was finally well. It was close to 9PM and we were finally being moved to recovery, and our daughter could come see us!
We were finally all together and enjoying our new baby. Although we had to deal with his jaundice from his ABO incompatibility issues for a few weeks, we both recovered well and it felt so good when we finally got to go home. Recovery went a lot smoother this time around, as well. The first few days are always rough, but I was surprised that one week after he was born I was feeling almost completely healed up. My sweet mother arrived the day after we got home from the hospital and life was suddenly so much better and brighter that it had ever been.
It’s amazing how I thought I felt so complete and couldn’t be happier with the life I had until Max came. Then suddenly my heart grew twice it’s size but was quickly stolen yet again by a tiny angel that I somehow already loved my whole life. It feels like a huge gap that we didn’t even know existed has been filled by our sweet Max, and once again life feels complete and as if it couldn’t get any better.
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