It was SO hard to imagine what birthing a baby would be like. I downloaded a birth plan template from the Internet that had so many questions about what we wanted our birth experience to be like, and most of my answers were: “?!,” because I just wasn’t sure. Did I want to labor with the lights dimmed? Music on? Did I want to get the epidural immediately or wait a while? I had no clue! And either way, it felt silly trying to plan out a birth. It’s BIRTH—anything and everything could happen and there aren’t really too many things you can control.
At 36 weeks, the doctors did a cervix check and I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. “WOAH!” I was so shocked! I couldn’t believe I started progressing so early. I wasn’t having any contractions that I could feel, but obviously things were happening! And baby was LOW—I knew that because walking got difficult at the end of my pregnancy. At 38 weeks we did an ultrasound to check on the baby, and everything looked great. He was low, heartbeat was great, fluid was great, and he was an estimated 7 pounds and a few ounces. He was perfect. They also checked my cervix at this appointment and to our surprise again, I had progressed! I was 3cm and 75% effaced! Wahoo! I was thinking at this point that he might come early! Well 40 weeks came and I was still around 3cm and 80% effaced with a cozy little boy inside. The doctor recommended we go ahead and schedule an induction at 41 weeks, and MAN was I glad she made that call!
I was really scared to get induced. Everyone says that things tend to go better when everything progresses naturally. And I’m all for natural—I don’t like to take medicine, I hate needles…pretty much anything medical I avoid at all costs. I was also told that contractions hurt a lot worse when they’re brought on by medicine versus just being natural. But 41 weeks came and I still hadn’t had any real labor contractions. We walked into the hospital at 5:30am ready to go. I was a little nervous, but not as much as I thought I’d be. I wasn’t completely miserable like some people are at the end of pregnancy—I was feeling good and just ready to do what I needed to do. Tyler makes me feel like I can do anything. Having him there to support me and laugh with me was the best.
The first decision we made that day ended up being one of the best decisions we’ve ever made: right when we walked in, we asked for a doula. It was kind of random because we’d only talked about having a doula once or twice, and we had mixed feelings every time we discussed it. We had heard positive and negative things about getting a doula, but when we walked in Tyler asked me if I wanted one, and I said yes. So, we asked for one and because we had gotten there so early, we actually got one! (At the hospital we delivered at doulas are free, but limited, so it’s a first come, first served kind of thing.) Our doula’s name was Denise and she gets SO much credit for how amazing our labor and delivery experience was. I cannot say enough good about her and how much she helped us.
They set me up in a room and put an IV in my hand. (One of the worst parts! I don’t have good veins, so this is always a task. The nurse did a wonderful job though!) Then they started the pitocin to get some contractions going. It was a few hours before I actually started feeling the contractions, and even when I felt them, they didn’t hurt at all. We had friends and family come in to visit during this time, and I was happy as could be! I was nervous waiting for the pain to start, but so far, I could feel contractions and they didn’t even hurt! It was also fun getting to watch the monitors to see when each contraction was coming and ending, and the best part was having little man’s heartbeat beating in the background the whole time. Our doula helped us really relax during this time. (What would we have been doing without her?!) She suggested I nap for a while (praise for this!) so I did, and then when I woke up, we tried out a few different things to try to get labor going and to make me as comfortable as possible. My favorite thing was bouncing on a bouncy ball, but the nurses ended up coming in multiple times because we kept losing Wyatt’s heartbeat. It was really hard to find it when I sat up straight, so the bouncy-ball bouncing was short-lived. (They have to be able to monitor the baby, and if I was vertical, the monitor wouldn’t pick up his heartbeat.) The best thing about the bouncy ball was that I got to sit on something besides the awful hospital bed. No one prepared me for how UNCOMFORTABLE it would be. Believe it or not, that was seriously one of the worst parts to me about giving birth—my butt was ACHING the entire 3 days we were there and it made me miserable. Thankfully, the doula brought in a rocking chair and I got to sit in that for a while why we waited for the contractions to pick up.
The doctor had come in a few times to check on me and each time for a while she noted that I was too happy to be in labor, and that probably not much was happening yet. At around 11:30am she came back in to check my cervix (my pitocin level was at 14 at this point and I could feel the contractions every time but they still didn’t hurt) and I was at 5cm, so she went ahead and broke my water. This is when the party got started. Almost immediately I started having contractions, and these contractions HURT. I could feel them in my stomach and I could also feel them in my back. The doula got a little massage tool and helped massage my back every time a contraction came, and Tyler stood in front of me so I could hold on to him until they would pass. I waited until they broke my water to ask for the epidural. About 45 minutes of contractions and back labor later, the anesthesiologist came in to administer it and I was NERVOUS! I hate needles, I hate pain, I hate the idea of all of this. But he came in, and Tyler left (I hated that they made Tyler leave for this part, but was thankful again to have our doula, because she was able to stay and comfort me), and the doula held my hands, and he put in the epidural and it was nothing. It didn’t hurt at all. I don’t even know what all the hype is about it, because that was the easiest thing that happened to me all day. Now, I got lucky in that I didn’t have any contractions while he was putting it in. So I didn’t have any trouble being still while it was happening. I think I got lucky with that!
Interestingly enough though, I could still feel things after I got the epidural. The hard labor contractions I was having before I couldn’t feel anymore, but I could still feel so. much. pressure in my lower pelvic area. I could feel when they put the catheter in, I could pick up my legs and wiggle my toes, and then later when I started pushing, I could feel Wyatt kicking me at the top of my stomach. It was very strange! Earlier in the day, the doula had mentioned that I should take another nap once I got the epidural in so I could get some rest before having to push, but there was no way that was happening. I could still feel when every contraction came and I was shaking from the pain.
About 5 hours later at 4:30pm, they told me I could start pushing. I was RELIEVED! It felt better to push than to just sit there through each contraction. It took me a few pushes to get the hang of the way they wanted me to do it—breathe in a deep breath, then hold it, pull my legs back towards my head, and PUSH. I kept wanting to breathe out at first, but they wanted me to hold my breathe for 10 seconds when I pushed and it was hard to get the hang of! But I had a lot of practice. About 30 minutes into pushing, Tyler, and the doula, and the nurses were saying, “we see hair! He has a lot of hair! He’s almost here. That was a great push. Do it just like that again! You’re doing great!” This went on for an HOUR. An hour of them telling me, “He’s almost out!” An hour and a half into pushing and I finally started to give up. How much longer did I have to push?! What was taking so long? Is he ok? What happens if he doesn’t come out? How long will they let me do this before they intervene? I had so many fears, I was covered in sweat, exhaustion was an understatement, and the pain was severe. I was pouty, then tears came, and eventually some screaming. For an hour and a half, I did great—I was calm and focused. But that last 30 minutes or so, I was doing anything and everything I could to muster up the strength to get him out and get it all over with.
Eventually the doctor asked us if we wanted to use a suction cup to help get the baby out. I’m not sure why, but somehow I summoned the courage to say, “No, I’ll try pushing a few more times.” Tyler said he couldn’t believe I said that because he knew how exhausted and miserable I was. But something about the doctor’s demeanor made me not want to do it. A few pushes later and the doctor could tell how done I was, so she said to me, “We don’t normally like to do this, but I can do a little cut to help him come out. He’s almost here, he’s just having trouble getting through the opening. I think if we cut you open a little he’ll come right out. You’re probably going to tear anyway.” Immediately I said YES! Get him out! She made a little cut (I could feel it), and he came out during the next set of pushes. Y’ALL. The relief in that moment was indescribable. When I saw her wiggling the baby out of me I had the biggest rush of relief. THANK YOU, JESUS. It was over! And then all of a sudden, a beautiful baby boy was placed on my chest and my life was forever changed. I looked at the doula, and she motioned for me to look at Tyler and he was crying his eyes out. It will forever be one of the sweetest moments of my entire life.
When Wyatt came out, the doctor said, “Woah!! He’s big!! He’s got to be around 9 pounds 5 ounces…” But our big guy weighed in at 10 pounds 3 ounces and he was the talk of the whole hospital. I had nurses coming into our room bowing down to me and talking about how crazy it was that I pushed him out. He was the biggest baby our doctor had ever delivered vaginally. Go us! Haha. I still can’t believe I did it, and that I have the cutest, most perfect little baby to share this life with. I love him more than I ever thought I would.
THINGS I LEARNED
• EVERYONE’S experience is so, so different. Be very careful about what you read about child birth and what people tell you, because your experience will be way different from mine and from everyone else’s. I remember reading a blog post from a girl who talked about how much she bled after delivery and how much it hurt to pee, and it honestly traumatized me. But my experience was nothing like what she described. A lot of people also told me to brace myself for the first time I had a bowel movement after delivery, so I was VERY anxious about that, but that ended up not being a big deal either (kind of like the epidural everyone makes a big deal about). Just remember everyone is different, and don’t be scared of what hasn’t happened yet! You’ll handle it just fine no matter what!
• The epidural is not a big deal at all. There’s nothing to be scared of, and this is coming from a girl who HATES NEEDLES (The IV sucks though).
• Hospital beds are very, very uncomfortable. Very. It sucked. My butt was still sore weeks after we came home.
• No one told me how SORE my arms would be. The next day they hurt really bad from pulling on my legs during labor, and then they were still sore a week after I delivered from holding the baby! My arm muscles killed me for a while!
• Everyone always talks about how much sleep you’ll lose and prays your baby will be a sleeper. Well, no one warned me we might have a baby who sleeps too good. It was a BATTLE in the beginning to get him awake to eat. That isn’t something I was prepared for and felt so weird to be waking him up and constantly aggravating him to stay awake so he could eat. But don’t get me wrong—I’m glad he’s a good sleepy baby and I hope it lasts forever. (: