Well, it’s been over a year since my last post and a lot has happened! Not only did I give birth to my first baby, she just turned 1 years old! This little lady has changed our lives so much, and we are the happiest little family you will ever see. We found out that we are expecting baby #2 in January, and I wanted to take the time to remember and document my experience with Piper before I do it all again! I started this post when she was only 3 months old, when the experience was still fresh in my mind.
The rest of my pregnancy went incredibly well. I ended up gaining 25 lbs total and was relatively comfortable until the last couple of weeks. I thought I would share my birth story since there are a few things I had no clue about going into this thing. Hopefully this can shed some light on possible labor day scenarios and give some moms-to-be more info.
My due date was July 10th. During the last month of my pregnancy, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t know I was having contractions. Silly, right? All you veteran moms know that this was stupid because when you have a contraction, oh boy you can tell. They’re painful. Well, the morning of July 5th I felt a tiny cramp in my stomach and was totally convinced I was in labor. I had my scheduled OBGYN appointment that morning, so we grabbed our stuff just in case and headed to the appointment. The nurse checked me and said I was 2 cm dilated and that it sounded like I was in early labor! They sent us home and told me to keep track of my contractions, and head to the hospital when they were about a minute long, 5 minutes apart for an hour. Or something like that. So we headed home to wait it out.
First lesson: Unlike what they show in movies, you don’t rush off to the hospital the minute you feel a contraction. They want you to spend the early parts of labor at home, where you are most comfortable and you aren’t taking up space in one of the delivery rooms. The first stage of labor can last for DAYS, so you are supposed to wait until it is very intense before you jet off to the hospital.
We went home and…nothing happened. For a week. I must have psyched myself up and imagined it, or maybe the baby pinched me but all was calm and cozy in that womb for another week. This was the loooongest week of my life. After sending up the alarm that I was in early labor, every day was filled with “Are we having a baby today? Did you feel anything? Any contractions? Do we need to go to the hospital?”. This just made me more impatient and I felt like I was letting everyone down the longer I stayed pregnant. Looking back, it was silly to stress out so much, and it wasn’t even my due date yet! The 10th came and went and I did my best to relax and wait.
My next appointment was the following Friday, July 12th. I woke up at 6:45am and headed to take my hourly pee. I waddled to the toilet and felt a trickle. I sat there a second thinking maybe I just peed myself, but realized this was it! My water broke!! Second lesson: only about 14% of women actually start labor with their water breaking. For everyone else, it either happens after you’ve been having contractions or the doctor may have to rupture it for you. Crazy, right? Again, the movies really make it seem like it happens to everyone!
Well, I called the doctor to share my news and they told me since it was time for my appointment that morning anyways, to come in and get checked out there. I finished getting ready and discovered lesson 3: if and when your water does break, it’s not one gush and you’re done. Oh, no. It keeps leaking out of you. For hours. I think I read that your body keeps replenishing the fluid, so it keeps refilling like a balloon with a hole and you have an endless supply to leak out. So I got dressed and headed to the OBGYN, all the while leaking fluid like I was peeing my pants. Real classy, I know. I seriously had never heard about this, even in my childbirth class, so thought I would give you all a heads up.
On the way to the office I had 2 contractions! Hooray! They just felt like period cramps, and weren’t very strong, but it was finally obvious to me what a contraction felt like. I got to the office and they confirmed my water had indeed broken (duh) and sent me off to St Joseph’s Child Birth Center. Since I hadn’t had any more contractions and was feeling pretty good, we stopped and grabbed a bagel on the way. We got admitted to our room at about 9:30a. and then it was time to get my contractions started again. They encouraged us to walk around the halls to get things going. Well, we walked and waited and sat and waited for 5 HOURS. Not a cramp or anything (besides the flow of amniotic fluid still leaking out…). The doctor came in and said we could keep waiting, but we might as well get labor started and have this baby today. Once your water breaks, they want the baby out in 24 hours, so we decided to go ahead and get the drugs to start labor. This was the part that really scared me. The Pitocin they give you to start contractions can make them alot more intense and I had read it could cause other issues, so I was nervous, but we decided we should go ahead and start the process. Boy, that stuff works. They gave me an iv and the contractions went from 0 to about a 2 pretty quick. Then it wasn’t progressing enough, so they gave me more and it went from that 2 to a level 10 on the pain scale reallllly quickly. I have heard that the contractions from natural labor might not be as bad, and that since they gradually increase in intensity you can ease yourself into dealing with the excruciating pain. I can’t speak from experience but going from 0-10 so quickly was something I was totally unprepared for. I threw up the lunch I had enjoyed during my wait,( Lesson 4– don’t eat! Listen to the nurses, they know what they’re talking about!) and was getting miserable pretty quickly. My husband and I decided to start trying some of the comfort techniques we learned in our childbirth class. I rolled onto my hands and knees and hoped it would help. Nope. My favorite technique from class was when he would grab my hips and squeeze them together, giving me support and great counter pressure. One touch and I had to tell him to stop touching me immediately. It felt horrible and kind of made me want to punch him. All our plans and preparation went out the window, so I rolled back onto my back, held his hand and toughed it out for as long as I could. Lesson 5– have a birth plan, prepare as much as possible, but also stay open-minded and be ready to roll with the punches. Anything can happen, and as stressful as it can be, everyone wants what’s best for you and the baby so just try to hold it together and think of that adorable baby you will have in your arms!
Finally, a few hours later, I decided to shyly ask if someone could check to see how far along I was and if maybe possibly it would be ok to start thinking about getting that little ol’ epidural.My plan was to hold out as long as I could so that getting the meds wouldn’t slow down labor or cause any other issues. I was kind of nervous and a little ashamed to ask for it, but was proud of myself for toughing it out so long and was ready for some relief.The nurse checked me, and I was about 6 cm at that point, and next in line for the epidural! Hallelujah! Once the epidural was in, I was a new woman! I have heard that it can completely numb you from the waist down which is frightening, and makes it so you can’t move. My experience was much more comfortable I could feel every contraction, it was just dulled to a level 4 or so to make it manageable. I could move my legs and just felt more relaxed, but not trapped or paralyzed. All was well for a couple more hours until I started to feel the pain creeping back up. Apparently, the medicine from the epidural “pooled” on one side of my body and stopped working on the other. I had to move to my side and let it make its way over to take effect again. Tip: Don’t eat when you’re in labor. They tell you that, but I was so relaxed and didn’t think their could be anything wrong with snacking on some gummy worms! As soon as the pain came back, I was puking again and let me tell you, the gummy worms were one of the grossest things to puke up ever. Even worse than the hospital clam chowder I had for lunch. You’re welcome for that.
Once the epidural started working again, I started to feel a lot of pressure in my lower stomach. “I feel like I have to poop, I think I’m ready to push.” The nurse doubted it, but checked and sure enough I was about 10cm and ready to go! They assured me that it would still be some time, to save my energy since I would likely be pushing for hours. With my family gathered around, I braced myself and started to push. This is where it got really fun. I swear to God after a few tries I turned to everyone and said “You guys, I am having so much fun right now! This is awesome! We could have 10 kids, this is great!” I could feel my progress and the contractions, but no pain, so it really was kinda fun. We would all count together when a contraction would build, they would hold my legs and I would push until the nurse told me to stop. After about 30 minutes I could really feel how far down the baby was and told the nurse “If I keep pushing, the baby is going to come out.” Of course she didn’t believe me, but she looked and sure enough (duh) I was right! I actually had to stop pushing and wait for the Doctor. Even when he got in there, I had to really try to slow down and hold her in to prevent tearing myself to bits. I remember everyone telling me they could see her head, and she had a curl of thick hair right on top. It sounded so sweet at the time. When the time came to give it my all and push her out (only 45 minutes of pushing, booyah), my husband got to be the one to reach down and pull her out.
It was the most amazing experience of my life. I have heard so many stories and everyone has a different experience, some good and some not so good. I was lucky to have an easy pregnancy and the best birth experience I could imagine. If I could have the same experience every time, 10 kids wouldn’t be so bad!