Birth stories are such a niche audience: Mamas and Soon-to-Be Mamas.
Anyone else may be navigating way from my page, and honestly, I don’t blame you. They can be a thing of nightmares or a dream come true, and it’s always gross.
So. Deliciously. Gross.
Plus, you get a baby at the end. Which was no surprise to us, as we’d anticipated it for some time.
Let’s just get on with it.
We stayed the night before at my parents’ house, so we didn’t drive ourselves crazy sitting by ourselves at the house. I spent hours asking my mother different questions and throwing different scenarios at her, until she was probably ready to ring my neck and just scream, “IT’S GONNA BE FINE. CHILL OUT.”
Luckily, she’s a very patient woman. She’s also had six children, so I consider her a subject matter expert on childbirthing.
Finally, it was time to head to the hospital to be admitted. We had known two days prior to my due date that we would be induced, as I had dilated to one centimeter with no progression in sight. With full knowledge that I couldn’t eat once I began the process, we stopped at Chik-fil-a, ate, and made a home video for Sophye that is embarrassing, awkward, and wonderful. I think I’ll share it here soon.
We ran circles trying to find our destination (which goes to show we should have toured this wing of the hospital when it was offered to us), but once we landed, we found a very friendly and excited crew.
Quickly, I was stripped to a gown, hooked up to an I.V., and starting my cervix pills. Any woman who has been pregnant at full-term knows one common theme: no modesty, no shame, and “do what you gotta do.”
The first pill didn’t feel to make much of a difference, aside from increased lightning crotch. I had my second pill at 1:30am, 5.5 hours later, and bam. Back labor. I slept possibly one hour collectively all night. I was afraid, excited, and grateful.
Breaking my Water
At 6am, my obstetrician (OB) arrived to break my water. That hook that they use to start your engine is so horrifying to look at, and you feel literally nothing. So if you’re headed toward this, fear not. It’s nothing.
What came after wasn’t nothing, however. My laboring increased. That’s what we wanted, so it was great news. At 7am we had a shift change, so I had two new nurses. Much friendlier nurses with heaps of more personality than my overnight nurse. And my mom arrived! She would have sat with me all of the previous night, had I asked. She is a saint.
Then came the magical question: Drugs? Yes, please. The unfortunate thing here is that the medications administered intravenously made me feel high for about ten minutes, then quickly wore off and did nothing for my pain. It distracted me for about ten minutes, so that was a wonderful break.
I planned on having an epidural, because my sister said that it made everything so much easier and delivery was a breeze. The nurses let me know that once I was at three centimeters, I could begin my epidural.
I was at a three within no time, but then I was informed I needed to get through an additional bag of I.V. fluids before it could be ordered.
During this time, my husband’s parents and my dad had arrived as well. We were all getting increasingly excited.
A couple of hours later, by the time it was basically impossible to breathe through the contractions, my epidural team arrived. A woman who seemed much less than perfectly confident attempted to administer my epidural. That was equal parts terrifying and painful. With my enormous baby belly in the way, I was unable to bend as far as they needed me to, as well. After sticking me a couple of times, she leaves and says she will get someone else.
Two men with the confidence as though they invented epidurals themselves came in. I was thrilled. They had some issue administering it as well, but they got it done.
The epidural worked to dull my pain for a few minutes, but it wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t doing anything anymore. No matter how many times myself or my mother pressed the release button, relief never came. When the nurses put my catheter in, I told them that I could feel them in there. I told them my epidural wasn’t working. It was too late, so life had to go on. If I had known this was going to happen ahead of time, I’d have been an even bigger ball of nerves, so I’m glad this information came too late.
Things were moving along great, but we’d seemed to have hit a tiny wall, so I used a peanut. If you hadn’t seen a peanut before, it is a giant foam object shaped like an hourglass, and you fit it in between your legs while laying on your side, and you gyrate your hips. This is meant to open your cervix. And it totally works. It also helped to alleviate a little of the pressure on my back.
At 1:30pm, I felt tremendous pressure. A nurse came to check my progress, and I was at a seven. Within one minute, I was having my husband track her back down – I was at an eight. Five. Minutes. Later. I’m panicking for my nurses and guess what. Time to push. Whenever I’d been told I’d know what’s going on whenever everything gets moving, I wasn’t sure. Now, I’m passionate about it.
It’s a good thing it was time to push, because I was about to not have a choice. Sophye was making that choice for me.
But don’t let me leave out the fact that I had a massive breakdown emotionally and mentally right before I started pushing, because I completely did. I wanted my mommy. And I had her, thank goodness.
That feeling before I started pushing is the most intense physical pain I have ever experienced. It’s scary.
But back to my mom. She got down beside me, and I’m crying and a total mess, and she starts coaching me. She reminded me of how hard it was for my husband and I to conceive. She told me that this was the exciting part. She told me that my whole life was about to change, and for the better. I have tears in my eyes right now re-living that moment, because it was the most vulnerable I have ever been. My mother-in-law captured it for us.
Then I spread out, pushed twice, and here she was! Just kidding.
I got my legs into the stirrups, Mom on one side, Zach’s mom on the other, and Zach standing beside my head. I pushed constantly for two hours, and she was stuck. I pushed so hard. I worked so long. I was exhausted. She was behind my pubic bone, and I had no way of pushing her past that.
Everyone was so supportive still, but I was so discouraged. My OB arrived and immediately got to work assessing the situation. I pushed for a bit longer for him, and then I asked, “Can you just please get her out?” I had lost my tact. He gave me the option of continuing pushing, which could prove fruitless and end up vacuuming her out, or go ahead and using the vacuum. I chose the vacuum, because I was exhausted and Sophye was exhausted.
About ten sets of pushes later (also known as, a full lifetime), and she was born! Only two stitches, as I had a small episiotomy on the inside. The funny part of this story is that he had a hard time getting my placenta out. You may recall the description of my enormous belly. We had anticipated our baby weighing 8.5lb or higher. Sophye was 6 lbs 7.8 oz, and my placenta was bigger than her. My mom said she’d never seen one so huge.
I wonder if I’ll have those same complications the next go-around: ineffective epidural, baby stuck behind pubic bone, or giant monster placenta.
But I’ll do it all again, if the Lord blesses us with more.
If you are pregnant and have never delivered, or you’re not a mom and anticipate becoming one someday, this story may sound draining and awful. I want to be very clear on what your takeaway should be.
When it came down to it, I was no longer focused on the pain. I was focused on doing my job. It’s difficult to imagine, and I know you probably can’t right now, but although there is some pain involved, you will get in the zone and be fine.
I believe strongly that the Lord created men and women differently, and designed us very uniquely, and I celebrate that. A part of this is just how strong God created women to be and how much we are able to survive and repeatedly so. Go forward, and be fierce.
Here are some memories from her first birthday.