My Birth Story
Giving birth was not at all what I expected. I never took any classes to prepare for it or read any books about it. I think the most I ever did was read about it through other moms experiences on my Facebook groups. This wasn’t really to gain knowledge on how it would be though, because I know everyones experience is vastly different — I just like hearing people’s stories, especially the ones that make you feel better about the whole process. It can definitely be scary and I think I was always searching to hear people’s best case birth stories where there weren’t many complications and everything went smoothly. By the way, that’s really rare. I feel like there is always SOMETHING stressful that happens. Hearing about all the different things that can go wrong is definitely scary, but I think when you’re actually in the moment it’s much less scary then you’d think. I want to share my experience because, not unlike many, I also had some complications, but it was nothing that I wouldn’t do again just to have my perfect little guy in my arms at the end of it all.
My first experience at the hospital was actually a false alarm situation. On the Fourth of July, I noticed more “leakage” than usual and got really freaked out. “What if it was my amniotic fluid breaking?” I told my husband, Matt, what I was experiencing and we agreed that I should call the nurse line at my doctor’s office. I knew that since it was a holiday, my doctor wasn’t in, and I would be speaking to whoever was on call. The doctor on call told me that obviously they can’t assess over the phone and the best thing to do would be to come in to the hospital and check it out to be safe. So, we threw out hospital bags and carseat into the car and headed over to my hospital which is 30 minutes away. I was so nervous the whole ride!
I arrived at the labor and delivery entrance of my hospital and we found out the entire place was basically empty. The nurses on staff said we were the only patients! The nurses had me put on a hospital gown, lay down in the bed, and hooked me up to the monitors to watch the baby’s heart rate and to see contractions. I was surprised to see I was even having mild contractions because I could BARELY feel them. What I thought was just the baby positioned weird at times in my belly, were actually Braxton Hicks contractions occurring. Next, the nurse did a pH check, cervix check, and another test was sent to the lab to see if the fluids I had were “ferning”. The ferning would mean that it was in fact amniotic fluid leaking and in that case i would have had to stay at the hospital. When the tests all came back negative, we were sent home. I was still relieved we went to the hospital because I was able to show Matt where to go when the REAL thing happened and I was able to get a feel for what it would be like when I was admitted for real.
Once my mom got wind of this “false alarm” situation, she started to get really anxious or nervous. Her flight was originally set for the 10th of July, only 4 days before my actual due date. She didn’t like that I could possibly go into labor before then, and with me being 2cm dilated and 80% effaced at 38 weeks, she decided to change her flight and come out a bit earlier. She changed her flight to Friday the 5th and thank God she did!
On Monday, July 7th, while Matt was at work, my mom and I drove to my 39 week doctor’s appointment together. I was feeling totally normal and energized on this day. No pains, nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing to be expected. I did have a membrane sweep scheduled though, and we knew that this could cause me to possibly go into labor within 48 hours if it worked. So, I was glad my mom had decided to come out earlier regardless.
When I got called in for my appointment, the nurse began doing the usual with me and took my blood pressure. She took it 3 times. Had I been active outside recently? Why was my blood pressure up? She said, “I’ll give you a second to maybe settle in here and take it again.” My doctor came in and did the membrane sweep, then they took my blood pressure again. It was still really high and I NEVER had high blood pressure at any of my other appointments. My doctor proceeded to tell me about preeclampsia and how she wanted to send me over to the hospital right away to be admitted because of it. If my blood pressure was up before, it was REALLY up now. I was immediately a mix of excited and nervous.
I called Matt and told him the situation, asked him to go home and get my hospital bag, and then to meet us at the hospital. Then my mom and I drove over to the hospital (which is just the building next to my OB’s office) and checked in.
Upon checking in we found the Labor and Delivery floor to be completely opposite of what it was on the fourth of July. The doctor on call had like 3 other patients and 2 of them had emergency C-sections happen that night. Since I wasn’t as high of a priority or emergency, I was just hooked up to machines and watched for the entire first night. I was glad I was admitted though because the membrane sweep my doctor did WORKED and brought on really painful contractions throughout the entire night. So painful that they hooked me up to a fluid IV so that I was able to stay more hydrated and help with the spacing of the contractions. The IV helped them not come on SO strong SO often and even though it was really hard to sleep, I made it through the night ok with my husband by my side.
In the morning, they said it would be time to start me on Pitocin to begin my induction. Due to the baby and I being at risk, the induction was for health reasons not elective ones. If you don’t know about preeclampsia, It’s actually SO scary to read about because if your blood pressure gets bad enough it can lead to things like a stroke. So I was happy to be having the baby at 39 weeks either way!
The pitocin brings on contractions and gets you ready for birth. I was slowly dilating throughout the entire day and it was super super painful to have the contractions get stronger and stronger. My husband knows I hate it when people are like “breathe like this” and give me an example. Like the last thing I want is someone telling me how to breathe when I am writhing in pain. I just wanted medicine. My nurse started me on fentanyl and it was great and made me feel fantastic… for about an hour. Then the pain came back full force and I was like what the heck was even the point of that! It was only a little past noon and I was told I probably wouldn’t be having the baby until way later into the evening. They told me the more fentanyl I took the less it would work and that I was allowed to have more if I wanted - to which I responded, “when can I have the epidural?” The nurses responded with “That’s up to you.” I really wish they had told me that to begin with because I would have gotten it WAY SOONER. I immediately was like, “OK I am definitely ready for it then.”
The anesthesiologist came in and numbed my back for the epidural needle. If you’ve ever had a mole removed, it feels exactly like that. Part of your back goes numb and you can’t feel a thing, except for maybe a little pressure. I honestly had no idea he even put a needle in me or how big it was. Everyone’s always talking about how freaked out they are about the size of the needle but it’s not like I asked to see it so I don’t even know how big it was. Then, They hooked me up to an IV alongside the Pitocin one. This line was for my epidural medicine. I was allowed to press the button 10 times an hour if the medicine wasn’t working. I barely pressed the button (maybe 5 times before actual labor) because I felt like the nurse I had was giving me looks every time I thought I needed more. She was convinced I didn’t need much apparently. She obviously didn’t know how low my pain tolerance was. About 30 minutes after the epidural I was feeling myself again. Numb from the waist down but definitely painless. Oddly I could still feel the stronger contractions but they were way more manageable.
At 5PM my nurse came in to check my dilation again. To my surprise she looked at me right after checking and said, Ok get ready to push! I was 10cm! It happened faster than we all expected. I was REALLY nervous at this point. Adrenaline coursed through me and I needed some calming down. I looked at my husband and asked him to maybe put on some music. He settled on a Deathcab For Cutie playlist and it was a nice distraction while our nurse went to go get the other nurses. It actually played the entire birth and I think at some point I forgot it was even playing because of how much was going on.
When the pushing started, I did my best to do what everyone had said and tried not to use my face muscles but more so my abdomen muscles. It felt like the most intense ab workout of my entire life. I was SO dehydrated that I had my husband feed me like 2-3 ice chips between every contraction & 3 pushes. I pushed for 3 excruciating hours but looking back it feels more like I only pushed for maybe 20-30 minutes. The time flew by. Towards the end it was hot as hell and I was tired as could be. The only things motivating me to keep going were good cheerleading skills by my nurses and husband shouting “Almost there! Good push! You can do it!” etc etc. I don’t know why that worked for me but it did. That and the ice chips between contractions. They were like a little treat to keep me going. PS contractions at this stage feel like they say, a wave. They build and build until they peak then they come back down again. It’s really wild. Also yes, you can feel the contractions (or I could) a little bit but they weren’t too painful and it felt better to push during them than to not push so I would have rather been doing that then taking rests when given the option. It was weird how I could feel the contractions but not the area where the baby was coming out at all. There was literally no pain there because of the epidural, just pressure.
Right before the end of the third hour, all the pushing was basically his head going back and forth but trying to come out. Eventually, I got him over that speed bump or point of no return and my doctor said “OK STOP PUSHING!” I just remember SO much happening at once at this point. All of the sudden there were like 6 nurses in the room alongside my doctor. I yelled to my husband who was in a daze “GET YOUR PHONE OUT, TAKE A PICTURE, TAKE A PICTURE!” I didn’t want to miss the first moment my baby came out. I wanted to have that documented. On my last 3 pushes, Phoenix came out at 8:01PM, 6.7LBS, and 19 inches. I looked over at my husband who had tears in his eyes. Our little baby was so beautiful! Even with his cone head from birth and blood all over him haha (The cone head fixed it self like the very next day). To our surprise, when Matt went to go cut his umbilical cord, the nurses were all shocked because he had a knot in it. They told us how rare this was and how lucky we are that he is ok because of this. It can definitely be fatal or cause complications in babies. In this moment Matt and I realized how Phoenix truly lived up to the meaning of his name, “to rise from ashes.” He is our little miracle baby.
Right after Phoenix was born my doctor informed me she had to stitch me up because I had a 3rd degree tear (eek that’s pretty bad but I’ll talk about this healing process in another post). They also let me know that the baby and I both had a fever during birth/due to birth. We had to be watched and monitored very closely because of it. Due to that and the preeclampsia, we weren’t allowed to go home until THURSDAY NIGHT at around 6pm. So we spent basically 4 days in the hospital. I was SO ready to go home after all of this! But it was all 100% worth it. I’d do it all again for him.
It’s 10 days later and I still feel the same as the moment I saw him. My heart is BURSTING with love. A kind of love I have never before experienced in my life and one that I didn’t know existed. I could stare at his face all day, my heart breaks when he is sad, I just want to hold him and be near him at all times, I check on him while he’s sleeping, I get jealous when someone else has been holding him for a long time (LOL but that probably comes with detachment issues since he has been inside me for all this time before now), and all i want to do is give him the best life ever. I can’t believe my husband and I made him from scratch. His perfect little button nose, his dark blue (for now) eyes, his dirty blonde hair, his tiny fingers and toes. UGH I just love him so much. ANWAYS, so that is my birth story! And the start of what I hope will be the most beautiful life experience for Phoenix <3