Photos in this post may be considered graphic in nature. View at your own risk. N’s Birth Story – Part I can be found here.
Once we made it to the hospital, we let them know the info we received during our morning visit and that we were just there for some pain medicine. The nurse insisted on checking me before she handed any over. The triage room and all but one labor and delivery room were full. Luckily, we snuck into the last room which, come to think of it, may have been more of a closest. I was frustrated with having to change into a gown again and be hooked up to a monitor when I felt like nothing had progressed.
The nurse was friendly, encouraging and efficient. Within 10 minutes I was on the bed ready to be checked. “You are dilated to 4 cm and 100% effaced. I will go get the paperwork.” What? Only five hours after we left the hospital, they were admitting me. I cannot tell you how exciting this was. We knew our baby was really coming and we felt safer being at the medical center than at home. We signed the papers and checked yes for an epidural.
Dr. S, my doctor, visited and checked us in the late afternoon. After she checked us and around the time I was dilated to 5 cm, I received my epidural. My contractions were literally off the charts (which I imagine is normal) prior to my epidural and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to hold still for the anesthesiologist and that it would be incredibly painful. Turns out, maybe because it didn’t compare to the contractions or my memory has blocked it, I remember barely feeling anything. Shortly after, Dr. S came back to break my water with the stick thingy. But as she was checking me, it broke on it’s own (so thankful for avoiding long, pointy stick up lady parts!).
Unfortunately, Dr. S wasn’t on call that night. For months, I had begged and begged her to stay with me even if she wasn’t on call. I even tried to bribe her with chocolate. At the time, she had a two year old and was five months pregnant. She promised me she would be there if she could. After she checked on us, we heard her make a call to her son in the hallway. She said something to him like, “Mommy loves you and Grandma will put you to bed. I will be there when you wake up.” I will never forget that call. This pulled at my heart because I felt so blessed to have such a wonderful and devoted doctor but I felt bad for taking her away from her own baby. In a few hours, I would learn instantly how hard a moment like this could be.
At this point we invited our moms to participate. When I say participate, I mean participate. Throughout the labor and delivery, they got water, they supported us, they stroked my hair, they cheered us on, they held my legs (Seano wanted to be by my head, and I don’t blame him and appreciated it). They were in one word…AMAZING! While I know that no matter how N’s birth happened, it would still be the most incredible experience of my life, they made it even better. There was so much energy in the room, and after 20 hours of labor, it truly helped to get me through.
Our dads also came in for a brief visit but then went and ate pie. I love this detail, because this is so typical of our dads. Even when their kids are having a baby, they still eat pie. We giggled and smiled and hugged and sat in the genuine happiness of knowing a new family member was on his or her way. Oh, did I mention that we chose to wait until our baby was born to find out the gender? I have always thought this is the biggest surprise we could ever get and I knew I wanted to experience at least one pregnancy and delivery this way.
From the time I got my epidural until around 8:30 p.m., I was able to enjoy labor and cherish the thought of the baby I knew so well but didn’t know at all. About 8:30 pm, our baby flipped sunny side up. I felt the pain through the epidural. I have no idea how or why, but this was far beyond any contractions I experienced. It made me sick and I started aggressively vomiting. Our nurse called in the doctor. She tried to manually flip N and he wouldn’t budge. My mom whispered comforting things to me and stroked my hair. Funny, how even at age 30 when you are laboring a baby, your mom can bring comfort to a situation. What a special blessing mommies are! Dr. S put me in a specific position. I only remember bits of it, but I think I was laying on my left side with my left leg curled up and my right leg extended (my legs may have been opposite). She said we needed to give the baby some time and then we would know what our next step would be.
Within 15 minutes of getting into this position, the pain started to dissipate and I was able to relax and calm down. N flipped back on his own. When Dr. S came back to check on me I was dialated to a nine. Within a half hour of N flipping back, I was pushing. I pushed for more than an hour with our nurse working and stretching my lady parts in preparation for Baby N’s final journey. Our moms held my legs and Seano stayed by my head holding my hand and encouraging me. While pushing for a lengthy period was very tiring, I was able to feel the pressure to push through the epidural.
About an hour after I started pushing, our nurse went and got Dr. S. By the mirror on the ceiling, we watched our little man being born. Seano was telling me, focus, focus because I would literally lose my breath every time his little head appeared! I was holding my baby boy at 11: 56 pm on the same day I started to feel labor contractions (please note, just over 20 hours after I felt my first contraction, not 2 days like I had originally been told!). I wish I could describe the first moment I saw and touched him. Besides breathtaking, I have no words. Instantly, I felt a new kind of love that I have never experienced.
In the end, I felt little pain during the pushing process until N’s shoulders were pulled out. Unfortunately, I tore pretty badly. Maybe it was the epidural, maybe it was a 9 lb, 2 oz, 22 ½ inch baby making a journey through me. Either way, in my experience, the epidural let me truly enjoy this experience. I believe I am able to remember so many details during and after Baby N’s birth because of the epidural. I was sore and uncomfortable for more than the normal six weeks and even ended up needing physical therapy (I will talk more about the details of this later…when I get the courage).
We spent the remainder of the night Baby N was born and one more in the hospital. Our families came to visit and spend time with us. After we took Baby N home, lots of friends came to visit and brought gifts and food. Those first few weeks learning about and getting to know my son will always be so, so special to me.
Even with all of the pain and discomfort, I will do this as many times as I think I can still love and support a child. That moment and the moments that keep happening, and this new love we get to experience, are SO, SO worth it.