As one of the first gals in my groups of friends to give birth, I get asked all the time what labor and delivery were really like. It really is such a mystery until you see it or go through it. Here’s my birth story with #myswirlgirl!
Labor & Delivery Part 1 of 5: And…Action!
The first day of week 40, I had contractions that went away once I moved around. I went to my doctor’s office the next day, and she said I was 4 cm (out of 10) dilated, 90% effaced (out of 100%), and that baby would likely be here in 24 hours!!! 24 hours passed. One day turned into 3. Do you know what it feels like thinking baby could be here at any point for days on end? Hot. Mess. Express. We finally decided to un-pause our lives and go out for date night.
I was walking to bed when the first contraction hit me, hard. Not this gentle ‘early labor’ contraction I’d heard happens. It was a full-on “holy crap-hands against the wall-gritted teeth-eyes squeezed shut” kind of contraction. I looked at my husband when the contraction was over, and his face was a vivid mixture of excitement, empathy, and anticipation. He timed my contractions because my doctor told us to come to the hospital once they were ~511 (maximum of 5 minutes apart, one minute long, for one full hour). The next contraction hit just 6 minutes later.
I rushed to the shower because I’d heard those help with contractions while he ran around, changing sheets on beds, putting the dogs away, getting our hospital bags, clocking each contraction I had. “CONTRACTION,” I yelled with my hands against the shower wall (shower helped!). I knew IN MY SOUL that these were the real deal, and sure enough, hubby shouted: “That was just 5 minutes apart!” 30 minutes later, the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and lasting a full minute.
I looked at him in disbelief and said, “I think we need to head to the hospital.” She was coming tonight, and she was coming fast.
Labor & Delivery Part 2 of 5: Dad Jokes + Doulas
At the hospital, I was about to get out of the car when another contraction hit. I was at the peak of my contraction, breathing deeply through the pain when a strong smell hit my nostrils. He farted. I’ve never in my life been so amused and so in pain at the same time. “Why do I always fart at pivotal life moments?!” is a quote I’ll never forget.
Once in the triage room, the nurse explained the schedule for the night and also said she would check me to see if I was in actual labor or not. I looked at her like…sis I’m in labor. Sure enough, I was 6cm verging on 7 (10 = start pushing), so she checked me in and then asked me if and when I wanted an epidural. They couldn’t give it to me until they had the baby’s heartbeat monitored for 20 minutes, so we did that first. Laying down while getting her heartbeat and having contractions was ROUGH.
I remember, twice, hubby tried to make jokes, and through clenched teeth, I said, “Leave. This. Room.” And “Please. Shut. Up.” Not my best moments :D.
After administering my epidural, they moved me to my large labor room (thank you, Lord, for the little blessings!), and our doula (shout out Lydia!) arrived too.
A doula provides emotional & physical support during pregnancy and childbirth. Lydia asked my nurses the questions I might’ve been nervous to, had so many pain-relieving tactics up her sleeves, and helped hubby help me. Love you Lydia!
After the medicine kicked in, my doctor manually broke my water because it was still intact (only 15% of women have their water break before labor), and now, all we could do was wait until 10cm and 100% effacement. I asked how long that could be and my nurse gave me a range of 2-24 hours. Welp.
Labor & Delivery Part 3 of 5: Push It Real Good.
Two hours later, it was time to start pushing. I had no idea what pushing meant. All I knew is that it meant being one step closer to #myswirlgirl. Hubby texted our friends & family, and got the music going. Lydia prayed over us and positioned everyone around me where I wanted them (she and hubby held my legs). Hubby and I looked at each other like…here we go!
Pushing feels a lot like sit-ups. Really long sit-ups. I pushed a few times before a nurse suggested I use a mirror. I’m the kind of person that faints when I donate blood, yet, I said…yes. Was it the endorphins? I’ll never know.
Once they put that mirror in front of me, I saw her hair, and suddenly my pushes morphed from “I get to see my baby tonight” to “I NEED to see my baby NOW.” I remember telling my doctor I’d prefer not to tear down there yonder and she looked at the other doctors in the room (we had four by the end of my delivery…more on that later) and was like, “oh honey…you’re going to tear.” I pushed that (lolz) to the side and kept pushing.
It was pure encouragement, excitement, and love in that room. It felt like we were all delivering #myswirlgirl together because, in a sense, we were. Everyone had a role to play.
With each push, the volume in the room increased until finally, they said I was just one push away. Everyone counted “ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR…” and she was out.
Labor & Delivery Part 4 of 5: First Look.
Pure joy, adrenaline, and relief overwhelmed us. She was out in OUR world, I could hear her. When we saw her, we lost it. Just completely lost it. And we didn’t even cry on our wedding day haha.
After hubby cut the cord, they placed her on my chest for initial mother-child comfort contact. That first look into her eyes is sealed in my soul y’all. While the doctors stitched me up, we held her, just thanking God over and over.
Hubby later told me she had the cord wrapped around her neck, but the doctors expertly removed it. He also said a doctor told him they thought I was going to need an emergency C-section since her head was facing the wrong way and tilted, exposing the largest surface area of her head. I didn’t end up needing that surgery. I just had a tear that’s been taking its time to heal.
I’m so thankful for a partner who labored alongside me. He saw it allll and couldn’t have been more involved. We had a few minutes holding each other as a family of three, but soon enough she needed to be fed, we changed rooms, family swept in, and the 48-hour countdown till we could leave the hospital began.
Labor & Delivery Part 5 of 5: First 48 Hours.
Nobody really told me what happens right after giving birth. It’s like when the Disney movie ends, and you wonder, what’s next?
Shock. Did I just birth a human? Realization. I am never responsible for just me ever again. Action. It’s time for her first feed. Lolll to hubby feeding me while I feed #myswirlgirl. I want to shower, but I have to be so careful with even taking a step. We both need a diaper change. Ahh, I appreciate this body. Oh, that’s a lot of blood. I’m scared to hold her. She’s hungry again. These baby snuggles after feeds are amazing. People I love are coming to see the baby, but I kinda want to be alone.
So many thoughts yet, so filled with JOY.
My belly is lighter but still pretty large. Those Princess Kate right-out-of-the-hospital photos aren’t exactly what happens to me. Wow, I am impressed with my body. Ah. It hurts to sit or sleep because of the stitches. Where’s that waffle cushion?! Wait, she’s hungry. I look at my chest. Am I blistering? She looks up at me. Oh my gosh…look at those trusting, beautiful eyes! PTL for stool softeners, comfy pj’s, and that he’s done all the diaper changes.
So many feelings yet, so utterly THANKFUL.
Ah, her birth certificate. This is exciting. Please don’t mess up her name! I can’t believe we are naming a human. I’m so thirsty. Time to go home? How do I do the car seat? Is it too tight? How many layers should she wear? How do I swaddle? The roads are quiet. We are quiet. We pick up @p_terrys to go. Parked in our driveway, we 3 sit in silence for a few minutes. He picks up my hand, cold from my milkshake, and looks at me with an exhausted and happy smile.
So many unknowns yet, overcome with PEACE.