((So, as with any labor and delivery story, there’s a few graphic and tmi moments in this blog, but I try to keep it as discreet as possible. Also, this is another long one haha, skip to the end if you’re just here for the tips && tricks! But I’m hoping my story can offer some guidance and/or comfort for any of you ladies about to go through this scary yet beautiful process for the first time.))
In my labor and delivery class, they had us complete an exercise during which the parents would lay out laminated cards listing what was most important to us to what was least important when it came to labor and childbirth from medicated vs. nonmedicated, to vaginal vs. cesarean, to boy vs. girl. Every few minutes, the nurse instructor would have us take out three things until we were left with one card standing–a healthy beautiful baby.
All of this was to teach us that it’s important to have a plan or vision for your first labor and delivery, but not to be disappointed if it doesn’t go to plan, as the end goal whether it’s a smooth sprint or a grueling, treacherous marathon is the same for each one: to have a healthy baby in your arms at the end of it.
🙏🏼That being said, my labor and delivery went more or less perfectly.🙏🏼
Everything went exactly the way I wanted it to–I labored alone for the first few hours, my husband met up with me after he was done work, and then it was just he and I in the delivery room, with only essential staff in and out to do routine checks and for when the big moment came. I even delivered naturally, only having used nitrous oxide intermittently to take the edge off and help calm me down a little, although surprisingly I had never felt more at peace in my adult life than when I was laboring and even birthing. I’m an anomaly, I know. 😅😝
(TL;DR–hax after the long-winded storytime)
h=”225″] Ready to pOp![/caption]
my 39 week appointment (I was 39 and 2), the receptionist explained to me that if I had my baby before my 40 week appointment not to worry about following up with them, as the hospital would let them know and they would take the appointment off for me. I had cheekily smiled and said I’d see them next week as I took my appointment card and left to run around kingdom come in search of a card and gift and to get supplies to make watermelon ice cream for a going away party I would be attending that same night, parking as far away as possible to get those steps in. I briefly entertained the idea of making a few laps around the mall, but my lightening crotch did not permit.
ad ever been. I could not wake up for the life of me. I figured this was due to all of my running around the day before, and staying at the party later than I had intended. I had some last-minute sprucing up to do for the baby, so I decided I needed to do a little yoga to get myself moving. I found a labor and birth prep yoga video and decided that at 39 weeks and 3 days gestation, I should probably start a birth prep regimen. Better late than never, I guess.
ed to throughout my pregnancy that had either had children already or knew someone who did told me to expect my son to arrive late, as “first babies are always late.” This was not something I liked hearing, being heavily pregnant in the heat of summer, but I shrugged it off as an inevitability, and seeing has how my husband was the king of being late, and how he and I were overdue first-borns as well, I mentally prepared myself for being one of those gals who would get a daily, “anything yet??” text at 40 weeks plus. 🤦🏻♀️
🧘🏻♀️ The yoga
t a little surge of energy, and was able to complete the last of my little nesting tasks. I settled onto my couch for a nap until my husband got home for his brief window of showering and redressing to tend to his business. I made him a quick breakfast sandwich as he had a few more minutes than usual, so we could catch up before we had to be ships passing in the night.
Shortly before h
n my abdomen, like a menstrual cramp. I absent-mindedly commented on this, and my husband raised an eyebrow. I shrugged it off and told him it was normal, as I’d read that intermittent period-like cramps were normal towards the end. And so he left, and I dug out the orange sherbet I had started the night before, reminded my husband to pick up some cheesecake on his way back, and netflixed and chilled with myself.
About three quar
the Bone,” I began feeling more dull “period” cramps. These were mostly annoying and went away within about 20 seconds, if I had to put a length of time to them. But as the night wore on, and I was onto “Through the Looking Glass,” they seemed to come every 15 minutes or so, and seemed to get a little more uncomfortable and painful.
It was around 10
band, asking if we was coming home soon. He called me soon after and said he was on his way, asking what kind of cheesecake I wanted. I told him to skip the cheesecake and just come home.
I could almost feel his heart skipping a beat as he paused and then said, “Oh…?” 😂 I have never been known to turn down cheesecake, unless I was in some kind of distress.
When he got home (in record time, I might add), I explained to him that I was getting the period pain I had earlier pretty regularly, and that they were lasting a significant amount of time, to the point where I started having to seethe through them. We just kind of looked at each other a moment, and he came to my side and held me to him a moment, while one of the pains came on. We looked at each other again, trying to figure out if what we thought was happening was actually happening. 👶🏼
At this point, I was
between pains, and I was feeling a little bit exhilarated (maybe I’m a bit of a masochist, but after each contraction from early labor to transition, I felt a strange high during my small moments of peace), although excitement is a common occurrence in early labor, as your long pregnancy journey is finally coming to an end.
During this whole ti
as experiencing false labor, as there was “no way” that I could be having my son so soon. That, and the pains seemed to be spacing farther apart for a while. My husband and I reviewed our birth plan anyway, and tried to go to sleep.
💤 I was able to slee
I woke up with breath-stealing abdominal pains. I grabbed the edge of our bed and breathed sharply through my nose and out of my mouth. My husband woke up and put his hand on my stomach, which I pushed away reflexively. As the pain passed, I sagged back into the bed, and told him I was okay. He put his arm around me and told me everything was okay, and he fell back asleep. I lay awake, staring at my phone, making a mental note of what time was on the clock. ⏳
💩 It should be noted
of diarrhea and loose stools throughout the night, so I wondered if these pains had to do with something I had eaten. After one of these bouts, I found myself searching, “period pain 39 weeks” and I had come across some threads of women asking what it meant to be having period pains at 39 weeks, and kept seeing posts saying, “Get ready! Baby is coming!” and also mentioning that they had been having diarrhea and loose stools, as apparently that’s the body’s way of trying to clear the system before the impending birth.
That was when it hit m
happening. I put my hand on my belly and thought to my bump, “Is it weird that I’m kind of gonna miss you in here?”
I decided to just pas
ted getting closer together playing candy crush in bed, and breathing as quietly as possible so as not to wake my husband. After a while, I got out of bed and paced the living room, making note of how far apart and how long each contraction was. Around 7am, my husband came out of our room asking what I was doing in the living room.
“Maybe you shouldn’t g
him wearily. He agreed with me, as did my father-in-law and our brother-in-law, who he texted to tell them they would have to carry on without him.
My in-laws began text
ers, and my husband and I huddled together, his hand in mine to comfort me, me inadvertently bending his fingers back as I braced myself through each contraction then on.
⌛️Once they began t
5 minutes apart for a minute at a time, I called my OB GYN, as was instructed to me at my last appointment. He said to give it a while since it was my first baby and I likely wouldn’t be that far along, and call him when I was 3 minutes apart, and advised me it could still take some time to get to that point.
One short and yet long
back, as my contractions were coming every 3 minutes and getting stronger, to the point where I couldn’t communicate through them anymore. I could almost hear the doctor’s eyes roll over the phone, another first timer jumping the gun, he was probably thinking, but he told my husband he’d let our hospital know we were on our way. And so we made the 10 minute ride to the hospital to meet our son.
My husband parked in the first available space that was in reasonably close enough proximity to the entrance. He gathered our bags, and I leaned into the trunk as another contraction passed. We walked as quickly as we could to get inside (yes I walked–I insisted. I told you, I’m an anomaly). The kind woman at the front desk got me a wheelchair and whisked us up to the third floor and I was admitted into delivery.
🌆Our room was so serene
dating medical equipment, with a large row of windows overlooking the metropolitan horizon of our tiny city. I gazed out the window, breathing through the pain that seemed to keep coming just as fast as I was able to catch my breath.
Shortly after we were checked our room, a kindly older nurse introduced herself and got me prepared, attaching the baby vital and contraction monitor to my stomach, and getting me settled. She gently told me that this being my first baby, I likely wouldn’t be too far dilated, and not to be discouraged if I was here for a while, and assured me that they would do their best to keep me comfortable and myself and my baby safe and healthy. Then we went back and forth as she began asking me the standard intake questions.
Mere moments into this i
y husband’s arm and breathe through another wave of pain. She asked to feel my belly during the contraction and eyed the screen. When I looked back at her and said, “Sorry, you were saying?” the nurse looked at me, dumbfounded, and remarked, “That was impressive, you must have some really bad periods…” 🤕
At this point, I had not asked for an epidural, but mentioned I’d be open to trying nitrous oxide, as that was part of my birth plan. Apparently my contractions were strong enough that most mothers would be asking for “the good stuff” by now. My goal was to deliver naturally, but I wasn’t going to turn down an epidural if necessary. But for the most part, up until this part of labor, the contractions felt like most period cramps I’d experienced, and I figured if I’d made it this far, like Moana, there was “No telling how far I’ll go,” but I’d give it a try.
For a while, my husband a
ween the hospital bed and the rocking chair they had available. The nitrous oxide I’d asked to try came, and I breathed into the odd facemask, feeling like the Pyro from Team Fortress, through every other contraction. It helped to take the edge off and keep me calm, as I mentioned before, but only having had one hour of sleep, it also made me even sleepier, so I started nodding off, getting about 30 second naps between contractions. Gotta get it while you can, right? 😴
About an hour or a little
th the doctor, who after introducing himself, reached into me to measure how far into this roller coaster I was in. I waited with bated breath, wondering if he was going to tell me I wasn’t even far enough to be there, praying not to be sent home. I wondered if I was doing so “well,” as I’d been told because I wasn’t far enough along to be admitted after all. I looked at my husband anxiously, his eyes darting between the doctor to me.
After a moment or two of h
tor said, “About 6 or 7 centimeters.” My eyes widened. The Nurse squeezed my shoulder. “That’s impressive!” she cheered (I was very impressive to her, apparently, God love her). After withdrawing his fingers, the doctor mentioned that we could be having the baby within the next few hours!! 😱😱😱
🛁At this point, I thought I w
they had available, pretend I was at a spa. My husband poured water on my belly during each contraction, as per the nurse’s instruction, which calmed me a little, but did very little to get rid of the pain. I was still breathing through each contraction, and continuing to fall asleep between them. After 15 minutes in the tub, I began to feel a pressure in my backside, as the nurse said I would. We mentioned this to the nurse when she came back to check on me, and she said that I could start “bearing down” during these contractions to get my son to descend lower. This felt a little awkward to me, but I followed her instructions, grunting lowly through each pain, pushing slightly to encourage my little one to get one step closer to making his grand entrance.
After another 20 minutes, I decided I needed to go back to the bed. The nurse commented on how surprised she was that my water hadn’t broken, as by the sounds of things, I should have been making good progress in making my son descend. I shrugged and made my way back to the bed, and went on to business as usual, inhaling strength through my nose and exhaling pain through my mouth, and constricting my husband’s hand.
About another hour or so passe
urse shift change, from the kindly older nurse to a sweet, mellow younger nurse. My new nurse also remarked on how impressive it was that I had gotten to this point and was admitted at around 6-7 cm without asking for an epidural. I smiled weakly and replied, “I’m doing my best.” And that would be my mantra for the rest of the night and beyond. 💪🏼
Not very long into her shift at all, my lower back started hurting. Badly. Like someone was punching me with a burning hot lead glove along with each contraction. I had my husband push against my knees each time this happened, which was helpful for the first several of these contractions, but quickly stopped working. My new nurse told me to try getting on my hands and knees to take pressure off of my back. A little while into this new position, breathing stopped working, and I let out a low, loud yowl like a dying cat. I heard the nurse whisper that she’d go let the doctor know what was going on, and I whimpered, “my back hurts so bad…”
The doctor came back and decided
remember looking at my husband during this process, his eyes wide with fear, and feeling a flood of warm fluid burst from between my legs. “So gross…” I whispered. The doctor left to tend to another, higher risk delivery as I lay there in a wet bed smelling strangely of artificial honey (weird description and tmi, I know, but it’s the best way I can describe it).
It was just my husband and I for a while, and he started grumbling that the doctor wasn’t back yet, and my contractions and back pain were getting worse and seemingly impossibly closer. I briefly wondered if I should get the epidural just for the back pain as the nurse came back and said that we could try pushing. I mentioned that I wanted to try squatting, as I had read that would help let gravity make the process easier. She gave me a device to sit in and hang onto while I pushed per her capable instructions. She told me I was doing great.
After about an hour of this, the doctor came back and instructed me to get on my back and hold my legs back. I casually mentioned the epidural, and the doctor said that we were just at the point where it could make pushing longer. I opted to power through and get it over with, to bring my baby into the world that much sooner. ⏱
Pushing on my back was aggravatin
ly (definitely not pleasant, though) but aggravating. I didn’t feel as…”open,” as it were, on my back, so I could feel all of the pressure concentrated to my most vulnerable area. Not that I couldn’t beforehand, but I definitely could feel a difference while I had gravity on my side. ⬇️
I knew based on what I had read and what we had learned in class that I had to push as though I were taking a dump, but apparently I was not doing that right. For the first several pushes, I kept getting feedback to push into my butt. I kept apologizing, apparently, and the nurse said, “Just think about meeting him…and seeing all this hair!” 😍
💞After another frustrating and disc
empt at evicting my son from his cozy little rent-free dwelling, my husband lovingly touched my face and turned it to look at him. I know he said something encouraging, though for the life of me I can’t remember what it was amidst the haze of the instruction from the doctor, nurse, and listening to the intermittent monitoring of our baby’s vitals. But I do remember is his eyes, so wide with wonder and fear, glistening with emotion. The love behind his eyes, knowing that he couldn’t wait to meet his son and see me out of pain, was enough to give me the strength to get that baby out of his little amniotic sanctuary and into the real world.
With my husband at my side, and everyone I loved via text lending me their energy, I was finally able to focus all of my power where it needed to be, and could feel myself stretching to make room for my baby’s big head. When I stopped to catch my breath, and refocus my eyes, I could see a group of people standing to the side, watching me. I didn’t have time to question what they were doing there, I had to get down to business to defeat the Huns (how many Didney references can I make? I need to Let it Go…).
After another 20 minutes of pushing,
my gosh, look!” I had been staring out the window and at the ceiling for the most part until now, so I thought there might have been something wrong, but I looked down and saw my son half hanging out of me, looking like a dolphin launching out of the ocean, with a head of thick, black hair. Looking at a small human being coming out of me was the most bizarre thing I had ever seen. I could see my husband staring out of my peripheral. This whole time he had been screaming with me, cheering me on, lending me his spirit energy to get this baby out of me.
It was about this pint that the doctor had instructed me to stop pushing and to start breathing like I was blowing out candles–my son’s umbilical cord had wrapped once around his neck, and it needed to be cut. I panted desperately, defying my body’s overwhelming desire to finish what it had started, waiting for the doctor to free my baby’s airway so that I could get him out. Finally once my baby was safe, he gave me the go ahead to continue.
After one more push, the doctor plopped my little slimy, purple baby onto my chest. I stared at him a moment as I caught my breath. I could hear the room coo in unison.
Neither I nor my baby cried right when he was born. Instead we just looked at each other. He blinked a few times and looked right in the eyes, his little, dark blue eyes searching mine, trying to make sense of what he had just been through, make sense of who I was, who this new being was that he had only known from the inside for so long.
I caught my breath, which had been taken away both from the physical feat I had just accomplished and from the miraculous sight of my newborn and smiled. All I could say for the longest time was, “Hi, baby…”
The nurses had been rubbing his back down with a towel this whole time (I hadn’t noticed a second nurse had come to assist). “Cry baby, cry,” they had been saying.
I looked at them, “Is he okay?” I as
“Yes, he’s great!” they assured me. And after a few more seconds of rubbing, I heard my son’s voice for the first time as he cried out, and I pulled him awkwardly into my chest, trying to figure out how to hold him. My husband leaned over, tears in his eyes, and kissed me and thanked me.
On August 12th 2017 at 9:26pm, my world changed for the better, and I truly fell in love at first sight. To this day, I still can’t get over the amazing thing that had happened to me. I look at him and still can’t believe I made him, and brought him into this world. I had been so afraid of motherhood, but my birth experience has brought to light to me how much strength I really have, and how much I am capable of.
Of course, every labor and birth is different, and I might not have the same luck next time, but regardless, I will always look back on this experience feeling empowered. Whenever I feel discouraged, I just need to remember that if I could do all that, I can do anything.
Labor and Birth Hax
Before LaborKegels Kegels Kegels! After I had my son, I ended up having a second-degree tear perineal tear, which is more or less normal. However, some moms can get tore up from the floor up if they have a weak pelvic floor game. I did a lot of kegels towards the end of the third trimester, along with squatting every time I had to pick something up from the floor (which is pretty much the only way to do such a task while balancing a medicine ball in your midsection, anyhow), and I feel this helped prevent me from tearing even worse, along with pushing until my son crowned while squatting.
- Date Yourself! I had serendipitously stumbled across a study done on eating dates in late pregnancy and how it can actually help make labor easier. The study mentioned eating six dates a day from 36 weeks gestation on can actually help labor come on spontaneously (I heard that induction sucks balls), help avoid the need for Pitocin (which I heard sucks balls), and even help bring about a shorter first phase of labor (mine was pretty short, all things considered–about 18 hours if I had to put a time to it). I can’t say for sure if my choking down these nasty fruits every day for 4 or so weeks was what did the trick, but I’m not totally unconvinced. If nothing else, dates are high in fiber which do wonders for pregnancy constipation, and in folate, potassium, and magnesium, so incorporating them into your diet certainly can’t hurt!
- You Better Work, Bih! Get those steps in! Being active will help build your stamina, and you’re going to need a lot of it when push comes to shove (pun not intended…okay maybe a little). Plus, the more you move once early labor starts, it will help get the baby into position easier and quicker than just bed-laboring will. I revisited some of the moves from the video I linked earlier while I was laboring at home and I personally feel they were pretty helpful in easing pain and getting my son into position. Here are some links with tips on Laboring Positions, Back Labor (I wish I had thought to try some of these…Counter Pressure helped me with my back labor for a while, though), and Birthing Positions that might be helpful. These all coming from my more “crunchy” side of Scrunchy lol but if at first you don’t succeed, epidural if in need! Whatever helps you get to the finish line is fine!
- Mass Text! Start a draft of your labor announcement in your phone’s notes and have your baby daddy/labor coach start a group of everyone you want in the know so you can spread the word when the time is right. If there’s someone else you want in the room with you, maybe have a code-word you can text them or set up a special ringtone if possible so they can get to you at a moment’s notice and as discreet as possible if you’re trying to keep it to just an audience of a select few.
- Let me take a Selfie! Take some fun labor pics! It might help your mood and help you deal with the pain a little better. I wish I had taken some labor photos of myself and my husband, I feel like they could have been fun memories. It also would have been a fun way to pass time at home and at the hospital. #inlabor #babytime #blessed
- Hair Done, Nails Done, Everything Did! While you’re still able to stand, do your hair and makeup, or have your bff, sister, or mom do it, so you can feel your fiercest in the delivery room. Some people might think it’s vain, but honestly, whatever makes you feel confident! Your makeup and hair will get messed up in the heat of battle, I promise you, but if you have your birth coach keep a few makeup remover wipes on hand, you can quickly wipe away any smudges and be photo-confident (you’d be photo-ready either way, you amazing miracle-maker, you! But I know how it is) for your first family photo. #igavebirthlikethis
- Chapstick is Everything! Apply chapstick like it’s your job! All that breathing and screaming will dry your lips out. I had the worst case of yuck-mouth and rip-lips from all of my panting, and a simple tube of chapstick would have helped me feel so much less self conscious. Some moist towelettes would also have come in handy to help wipe the corners of my mouth, which were developing crud from, again, all of the breathing dry hospital air. I recommend having your birth team keep a few of these on standby
- Food and Water! You most likely won’t want to, but definitely eat something to give yourself strength for labor! You might throw it up, as some women get nauseous from pain or from the physical strain of pushing, but not eating won’t do you any favors. Try eating something light and healthy like some fruit to keep your energy up. Also, d r i n k w a t e r because you will get a dry mouth as I had mentioned before, and you’ll be sweating and losing a lot of fluid. Have your birth team bring some water bottles with straws so they can help you take a few sips between contratctions, or go the classic ice chips route. Anything to get your fluids!
- Follow your Doctor’s and Nurse’s Lead! Hopefully you get the boss team that I did! People who are kind, professional, reassuring, non-judgemental, cool-and-collected, and know what they’re doing. If you get a team you can trust, follow their lead, and let your birth team coach you through every step of the way. Don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions, and speak up if you need something!
- Use your Voice! That being said, if you feel something is wrong, don’t hesitate to let your medical team know! Even if they dismiss it, if your han-solo inkling (I got a bad feeling about this), let them know! They are there for you. They may be doctors, but mama knows best, so if you want them to do something or look into something, make sure they do it! This has saved mamas before. Sure, it could be nothing, and ideally it would be, but always, always, always air on the side of caution
- Bust your Give-A-Damn! There’s no way around it–childbirth is messy business. Don’t be fooled by those picture-perfect Facebook and Instagram birth announcements with glowed-up instamodel mamas looking like glowing queens with their pink little bundles–that’s the magic of filters and makeup. What I mean is, don’t feel self-conscious about the way you look or sound when you’re contracting and/or pushing or at any point in your labor and birth. If you need to yell for any reason, yell! If you need to get into a certain awkward position, do it! I promise you, your medical team will not care! They’ve literally heard and seen it all (my nurse told me she’s been bitten before…yikes)! And if you’re worried about what someone in your birth team will think of you…maybe you should consider their position, because you’re going to be going through something dramatic, so if you need to be extra, you do you! Anything that will help the process be a little easier on you.
God bless you if you read that whole thing. I hope that my labor and delivery story helped give you some encouragement if you’re preparing for your own labor and delivery journey. Remember, you got this!
Some Momhood hax, DIY’s, and more coming your way! Tune in next time for my Post-Partum Story. “You don’t know the power of the dark side…“