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“A study published in the July issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that among more than 7,800 women giving birth for the first time, those whose labor was induced were twice as likely to have a C-section delivery as those who experienced spontaneous labor.” (O’Callaghan 2010 TIME)
This blog post has been eight and a half years in the making, but I remember everything like it was yesterday!
I cannot believe it’s taken me THIS long to finally sit down and write this. I’ve been meaning to do it for-ever!
I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy reading birth stories from other moms. And I also hope that you find it somewhat encouraging if you are presented with a similar situation.
Let’s start with a little backstory to give you some context.
This is the story of GQ’s birth.
A MOTHER’S INSTINCT
Sometimes you hear people say that they knew immediately [yes, immediately] that they were pregnant. That’s what it was like with GQ.
I knew that night and told William that I ‘just had a feeling’. And he echoed the same. We just KNEW.
That was December 26th of 2008. And we celebrated the new year wondering if our hunch would play out.
One night in January we went out to eat at the Olive Garden and mused about all the crying babies. And how that could be us at the same time next year.
Next, we stopped at Target and bought a DVD of the movie Juno, a bottle of Sunny-D, and a pregnancy test.
We went home, snuggled up to watch the movie and then I took the test. I left it to marinate for 3 minutes while we held hands waiting in anticipation.
I sent him in to check it first and he showed it to me. It was positive! And we both cried!
The very first thing we did was to share the news with my mom. And then the planning began.
At that time I was only 29 and didn’t really know anything about pregnancy, childbirth, or babies. In fact, I naively assumed I would have paid time off from work to care for my new baby…ha! Crazy me!
So I quickly started shopping for cute maternity clothes, figuring out a budget and called my OBGYN to schedule an appointment. I knew nothing of midwives, doulas, natural childbirth, home birth, etc.
Back then I just assumed that you went to the hospital, stayed laying on your back in excruciating pain [for which you must have hardcore pain meds] while a doctor delivered your baby for you.
MOVING RIGHT ALONG
Around 20 weeks we found out that we were having a little boy! And my pregnancy continued to progress well for the most part.
Our doctor told us to look into taking a birth class. So we checked the ones at the hospital because, again, I did not know that I had any other options.
And they were all in the middle of the day during the week and were full. WHAT?!?!
So we had to do a ton of juggling, but finally found a condensed version that was available over a weekend. It had openings and the timing was appropriate so we booked it.
NOT THE BEST IDEA
I was clearly not thinking straight because being quite pregnant and having to sit at a desk all day for two days straight SUCKED! Such a bad idea!
PRO TIP \\ Don’t be like me – learn from my mistake! Childbirth classes are available online now – take one of them so you can take it at your own pace. Located conveniently in the comfort of your own home wearing your coziest maternity leggings!
But we did learn a lot! The labor + delivery nurse gave us a ton of awesome advice and really encouraged natural childbirth.
She explained that the fewer interventions involved, the better it was for both mama + baby. That got me thinking a little bit.
Shortly after that, during a party, my sister told me about a documentary that she had seen on Netflix called “The Business of Being Born”. I was obsessed with all things baby at that point, so I took her advice and watched it.
It was life changing! If you haven’t seen it, then you absolutely need to!
I CHANGED MY MIND
Those two experiences completely changed my mindset.
I had begun my pregnancy thinking that there was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to have a baby without an epidural. I was like “give me all the drugs…seriously. ALL.of.them!”
But I quickly changed my mind and became dead set on having an intervention-free natural birth. I mentally prepared myself, wrote up my birth plan, and focused on my goal. I was ready!
As my due date approached, things began to feel very real. I remember one day sitting on my bed looking at the bassinet and thinking about the tiny baby that would be lying there within a month. I teared up a little at the thought!
Then my due date, September 24th came & went with no sign of labor. But I wasn’t super concerned because I knew that only about 5% of babies are actually born on their due date.
VISITING THE DOCTOR
At that point, we were going to the doctor every other day to be monitored. We went in for our routine check on September 28th.
The initial appointment showed everything was moving along fine, all signs pointed to my body slowly getting ready for birth.
Next, we went in to have a routine NST. This is where they hook you up to the monitor to check any contractions, baby’s heart rate, and movements.
I felt like we were hooked up to the machine forever. Finally, the doctor came in and told us that baby was showing signs of distress, so they were going to send us across the street to Labor & Delivery.
My first instinct was to panic, but they told me not to worry. That they would just do a more in-depth check over there and if everything was okay they would send us home.
We asked if we could stop at a fast food place to grab lunch on the way, but they said no. It was important that we go right away.
That did not help to alleviate my concerns.
PRO TIP: That is why I always recommend that you do not go to your appointments on an empty stomach after about 35 weeks. It could be hours before you eat again. And nobody likes a hangry pregnant woman!
We quickly arrived at the hospital and were shown into Triage. They quickly hooked me up to the monitors and brought in an ultrasound machine.
After a while, they informed us that they were going to admit me for an induction because baby continued to show signs of distress.
Cue the waterworks! I bawled my eyes out! I was literally inconsolable, which is SO unlike me! But I was just a mess.
At that moment I felt as if I had failed before I’d even begun. I didn’t want ANY interventions.
From everything I had heard, it seemed that induction was the first step to a C-Section delivery which was not in my plan! And I’m a planner, so things not going according to plan is very upsetting for me.
So I was convinced that the entire dream birth that I had envisioned was now ruined. And I was doomed to fail in every parenting endeavor.
Yes, that is how super hormonal pregnant women think. I know I was completely unreasonable, but that’s just how I felt.
Luckily William was at the top of his game that day and was able to console me, reason with me, and convince me that my dream birth was still salvageable.
And that is what I want to do for you.
PRO TIP \\ If this happens to you, it does not mean that all bets are off. Just treat this as a speed bump and proceed as planned. You can still do this.
After I calmed down a little bit they took my dinner order, started getting a room ready, and I sent William [against his wishes] to go get our bags.
I also made sure to request a mobile monitor, because I’d been told they only had a couple. And I knew I wanted to move freely instead of being bound to the bed.
I was just settling into my room when William arrived with all of our bags. The nurses joked that we must be planning on moving in!
We had cases of juice, snacks, and water. We also had an essential oil diffuser, fake scented candles, and a relaxing yoga CD. So high maintenance!
Anyway, once we finally finished moving into our room I realized that I was pretty hungry. When I asked about my dinner order they did some checking and found out that I’d been forgotten. [sad face]
Eventually, they brought me cold soup and a hard roll about five hours after I’d last eaten. I was famished! And cranky.
They started the Pitocin around 9 PM that night. It started off super boring, so we just tried to get some sleep while we could.
LET’S DO THIS
Then promptly at 7 AM, as we were waking up, I felt a warm gush right when the new shift of nurses were walking in to introduce themselves. They checked and it was my water breaking!
I mark that as the official start to my labor.
At some point, my mom, my sister, and brother-in-law arrived to keep me company. Originally William didn’t want anyone else in the room, but I was adamant. And since I was the one going through the pain, I won by default!
It was so great to have them there. It was just like we were hanging out at home with the conversations, games, and movie watching for the first few hours. Then things started moving along.
William and I decided to take a walk, but we didn’t get halfway down the hallway before my legs turned to jelly and I got sick. Luckily the nurses had handed us a little bowl as we walked out of the room!
Next, we tried spending some time in the tub. That was a nice change, but the tub wasn’t very large and I had so many cords that it wasn’t a sustainable option.
Next, the nurses showed my sister some acupressure tips and William drew on what he’d learned in our prenatal class. The most helpful thing for me was sitting on the birth ball with him using counterpressure on my hips.
Afterward, he told me that his arms were about to give out, but he wouldn’t let himself stop because he could see how much pain I was enduring. That was really his shining moment!
I JUST CAN’T ANYMORE
And then it happened. That moment when I felt like I just can’t do this. I’m done. I’m just going to have to stay pregnant forever because there is no way I can go on.
I felt like we’d tried everything and nothing was working. It was all just too much.
Then the nurses came in to check my progress after they’d left me alone for a long time. And I was dilated to 8 centimeters!!
I knew that was a good sign. That meant that I was in transition, the most difficult [and shortest] stage of labor. And I only had 2 centimeters left to go!
It was such a relief to hear that. It was like I found my second wind and renewed resolve.
THE GOOD PART: THE BIRTH
A huge team of people began to converge on my room. I remember the team trying to reach the on-call doctor from my OB’s office, but not having any luck. They were all super annoyed about that.
After a while, they told me that I would likely feel the urge to push soon but to try to hold back if possible. At the time I readily agreed.
That is until I actually felt what the urge to push felt like. And let me tell you – there is no stopping the pushing!
Your body just does it, like pure instinct. In fact, I’ve read that your body could deliver your baby automatically if you were in a coma. Isn’t that crazy?
Anyway, it became apparent that the on-call doctor wasn’t going to make it in time despite the urgent pleading of the medical team. So the resident OB introduced herself and took over.
Then it was time to push. William held one of my legs, a nurse held the other, and my sister stood at my shoulder videotaping.
I don’t remember how many times I pushed, but I do know it was approximately 20 minutes. Then they brought over a big mirror so I could see him crowning and they told me to reach down and touch his head. It was absolutely surreal.
And then one final push and they caught him and placed him on my chest. They cleaned him up and William cut the cord. I remember telling him how much I loved him over and over again as we all cried tears of joy.
That was at 4:20 PM. All told, I was in labor for about 9.5 hours and about 20 minutes of that was pushing.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GQ
He cried right away and was super healthy. His 5 minute APGAR score was a 9, which is great. And he seemed to nurse well from the get-go, but at the time I didn’t really know what I was looking for.
I remember them telling me that I would need to push to deliver the placenta and then they were going to stitch me up. That was all kind of hazy because I was so completely enthralled by this tiny new human that was mine.
Much of the rest is fuzzy too. But I remember ordering my first meal, which was chicken fingers with fries and a chocolate cupcake.
And we celebrated with some champagne that we snuck into the hospital.
We took tons of photos and then everyone left because we were all exhausted.
OUR FIRST NIGHT
That first night was crazy. He kept making weird gurgly coughing noises, so we had to call the nurses in like three different times.
They told us that it was likely just some residual fluid in his lungs that didn’t get expelled during delivery. So they just suctioned him and said he was fine. It was super scary for us though.
And learning how to nurse was super hard. I had to strategically place all of these pillows and hold him in a certain way and pay attention to all these tiny details to get the latch just right.
So stressful! That’s why I recommend that you take a lactation course if you can!
We ended up staying the hospital for another day and a half after delivery, which seemed like a long time to me. And when they finally discharged us we were so ready to go home to enjoy our new little bundle.
AND THEN IT WAS FALL
I remember thinking how crazy it was that it was like summer when we went in and the switch had flipped to fall on the day we left.
William drove like 5 mph to Target for us to buy the laundry list of supplies that we had been told we would need.
PRO TIP \\ I recommend that you stock up beforehand so you don’t have to do this supply run when you are exhausted and in pain with a newborn.
Then we finally made it home to cross the threshold as a family of 3! And the rest is still playing out in the beautiful boy who first called me mama!
I really, truly hope that you have the perfect birth. But if things don’t go as planned, please don’t despair. You can still work with whatever is thrown your way. You’re a mama now, that’s what we’re experts at!
If you need a comprehensive and convenient birth or lactation course, I highly recommend these two:
O’Callaghan, Tiffany. “Too Many C-Sections: Docs Rethink Induced Labor.” Time, Time Inc., 2 Aug. 2010, content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2007754,00.html.
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