July 17, 2019
Birth stories are beautiful and messy and this one is no different. With that said, skip this post if you’re not so into the messy!
Ryan will be ONE tomorrow! Which means I went into labor today, exactly one year ago! I wrote his birth story during middle of the night feedings in those early weeks because I never wanted to forget it and now I plan on printing it and putting it in his baby book and today I thought I’d share it.
I was never actually one who enjoyed reading birth stories because I really didn’t want to know. I didn’t even take a birth class. It was my philosophy that my body and my baby would decide how the whole thing would happen and I didn’t want to be stuck on a plan that would likely disappoint me and I also didn’t want to worry about how scary it can all be.
Having gone through it now, I love birth stories! I also wonder if having taken a class would have changed my experience at all but I don’t think it would have. So anyways, without further ado. A VERY long account of bringing Ryan into this world!
It was Tuesday and I was a day short of 38 weeks. I had been feeling especially pregnant and a little out of it with what I can only describe as extra pressure while out on errands I made up to keep myself busy because I was going a little crazy. I had been told he was really low at my 34 week appointment and I had been pretty miserable since about 32 weeks. I believe I lost my mucous plug the day before or began to because it was still happening that day. When the mucus first started I asked some mom friends how soon things started for them after that and they said 24 hours to 2 weeks so I was excited but knew it could still be awhile but I did wash my hair that day, just incase.
As I was out and feeling alllll the pressure I had the thought that I was going to have to call my husband from target when my water broke and what a story that would be. It didn’t and by that evening I was in a grouchy mood from how uncomfortable I felt. I had gone to the grocery store while I was out (an accomplishment at this point in my pregnancy) and so I cooked dinner (also an accomplishment, I quit cooking and a lot of cleaning in the third trimester), a pesto pasta salad.
After dinner Fred convinced me a swim would be good. I grumpily agreed and put my extra large self in the hot (warm) tub. I remember saying then that I didn’t know how to explain why I felt this way but, I felt like it was going to happen the next day. I don’t remember how Justin responded but I’m sure something kind even though he probably didn’t believe me. I’d been saying for awhile at this point that I felt like he was coming early even though everyone always warned me the first doesn’t come early.
Also, since he was due August 1st he was due to be a Leo and I had been calling him Ryan the Lion for most of my pregnancy. So we chatted then about how he had six more days to go to be a Leo, otherwise he would be Ryan the Crab… which is fine but just doesn’t rhyme as well. We got out of the tub, I took a shower and changed into my pjs. I was wearing ones that weren’t that comfy because I was doing laundry of the 4 things that fit.
We were lounging on the couch and I don’t remember what we were watching. Probably something I had DVR’d or some sports. It was the baseball all-star week so maybe that was on. I got up to get something sweet in the pantry. I grabbed for two chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s and then grabbed for two more because I knew I’d be back for them anyways.
With 4 peanut butter cups in my hand I heard a little pop and felt a little gush. I’d been googling signs of labor for at least a week and I was pretty sure this meant my water broke. But when I went to the bathroom it was more mucusy than it was a flood of water. I called to Fred that I thought maybe my water broke. He actually showed up in the bathroom out of nowhere and thus began the loss of any dignity I had left.
I cleaned up and took my wet shorts to the laundry. I can been seen on the nest cam footage leaving the laundry room and going upstairs bare bottomed and saying “I told you he was coming”. We both weren’t sure it was my water breaking but when I got upstairs and changed into sweats there was another, more watery gush. I decided to call the doctor even though she had told me at my appointment two weeks earlier not to call if I thought I was in labor and to just go to the hospital… I didn’t want to be a false labor girl and I wanted to ask if it was my water or not. She called back about thirty minutes later and says to just go to the hospital. Yikes!
We finished packing our bags and I lose it saying goodbye to Franklin. I know he’s confused and doesn’t like that we have bags packed. I have an overwhelming sense that I will miss him and it destroys me.
We get into the car and I am feeling like okay, maybe it’s a false alarm… try not to panic. We had music playing, we held hands. I had the sense that it was all a little too calm. We get to the valet (hospital valet is the best) and it’s all very friendly. Then at security we have laughs and I hang out and chat.
We get checked in and into triage. The nurse checks me and I’m 1cm dilated and she says she’s pretty sure my water broke. So I’m like holllly shit. Is this really happening? How come I don’t feel any pain? Should we call my dad and get him on the plane (he wanted to be there ASAP and it was a constant conversation with him… when to book his flight, how to change it, etc)? What about Franky? Do we need someone to go get him.
But then she says she wants to test it. So she takes her little sample and we wait. She comes back. Test says nope. She runs two more and they both say no. Whhhattt? I remember asking her how many people come in for false labor. She said at least 50%. Now I’m one of the 50% because since I’m not really contracting she sends us home. As we’re walking out a nurse in the hallways says something like “oh you’ll be back in a couple hours”. We have a laugh and say it was a good dry run.
We get back home sometime around 10:30. I head up to bed. Justin makes a G&T and watches the end of the all-star game downstairs. I can’t really sleep and I had started a book so I’m just reading away when Fred comes to bed and falls asleep pretty quick as per usual. The guy sleeps like he’s dead. Anyways, then it starts happening. They say you will know when it’s a contraction. Well, they aren’t kidding. I used to joke that I was playing a game before. I called it “gas or contraction”. Anyways, this wasn’t like that. This was like a superrrr intense period cramp. And then another one. And then another one. And then another one. I decided to time them with my trusty pregnancy app and I started to freak out a little. They were coming pretty quick and getting more intense. I got up and went to the bathroom when this time there was a massive gush, lots of water that was kind of green. Yikes. My water broke, I knew it this time and I was pretty sure the green meant he poo’d. I couldn’t remember exactly what that meant but I knew it meant it might be more complicated.
At this point I head downstairs with a towel between my legs and my book and my app. I haven’t woken up Justin because I really don’t want to be the false alarm girl twice in one night. I threw my laundry from earlier in the drier because I knew there were a few things I wanted in my bag if this was real. So now I’m bouncing on the exercise ball, kind of reading a book and timing the contractions.
And the contractions keep coming, like so close together and keep getting worse and closer so after about an hour of these fast and increasingly painful contractions I wake Justin up. He’s impossible to wake so I’m shaking him pretty hard and when he’s finally awake he’s out of it a bit at and he doesn’t realize that I’ve already been suffering an hour so when I tell him we have to go back to the hospital he mutters “okay, 5 more minutes.” A contraction hits then and he realizes this is for real and he’s up. Bags are back in the car. I tell him I have stuff in the drier and he’s shocked I did laundry. I’m really feeling it now, I’m getting maybe 3 minutes between each contraction and I don’t have the ability to feel sad about Frank this time. Poor guy was probably so confused.
It’s thankfully only a 10 minute drive to the hospital but I’m somewhere between drive fast but drive gentle as every bump kills. He drives with the flashers on and we pull back into the valet. This time I’m not friendly chatting with anyone. We get back to check in and I have to fill out the paperwork again. My contractions just keep getting worse and I’m feeling them intensely in my back and it’s beyond uncomfortable to sit. All I want to do is lean over. And then I get nauseated during a contraction and I puke in the waiting room trash can. A wheelchair comes for me this time and we’re back in the same triage room. I know the drill. Change into gown, pee into the cup. Well, my pee into the cup is more of my water and it’s green. Cool.
A new nurse comes in. She takes one look at that cup and says, yep your water broke and it has meconium in it (he poo’d). I still don’t remember what this means but my contractions just keep getting more uncomfortable. She checks me and I’m somewhere between 1-2 cm dilated which is underwhelming since I left the hospital that far just a couple hours ago.
Justin calls my dad in Portland. It’s 3am here so midnight back home. He will have just missed the red eye. He’s asleep when he answers but I later learn he and my step mom spring into action packing bags and don’t get any sleep before their 6am flights they just booked. While Justin’s on the phone I have to ask him to step out because I’m in some real pain and their chatter isn’t helping. Then they start to move me to labor and delivery without him and I get pretty nervous. But he’s around the corner and he joins us.
We’re now in labor and delivery and I am fucking miserable. They hook me up to the contraction and heart beat monitors and it all feels so tight and constrictive. I’m sure it wasn’t but it was just the beginning of all the uncomfortable pressure.
The nurse asks if I’ll be getting an epidural and without hesitation I say yes and I want it now. She gets the IV and a bag of fluids going and tells me that it’s a slow night so hopefully the lab won’t take long and it should be 15 minutes. Okay, 15 minutes I can do. The contractions are coming quick and they just keep getting stronger. They are deep in my back. I’m not very quiet about them either. Every so often I try to find a quiet mental place to suffer and breathe through them but without much relief between each one I find myself sobbing loudly that I can’t do another one. Time is dragging on and it’s well over 15 minutes and I am pleading with the nurse, Justin, whoever will listen for the epidural. I tell the nurse that she lied about the 15 minutes as I’m being super dramatic about the pain.
I had said going into this I wasn’t set on an epidural one way or the other. If I needed one, I would, otherwise I would try without it. Well, fuck all of that. I NEEDED one. I also had said out loud at one point in my pregnancy to Justin that I had a high pain tolerance and that I thought maybe I wouldn’t need an epidural. So while he was incredibly supportive and kind during my misery, he would later tease me about my smug “high pain tolerance”.
Finally, the epidural arrives sometime around 4:30. They get me all prepped and I’m asked to hold still which is really freaking hard because the contractions just keep coming. They put me on the edge of the bed, feet dangling and Justin holds my hands. He keeps reminding me not to move as I’m sure he could see what was happening. He was beyond calm and I honestly didn’t feel a thing while they were doing the epidural. Although I was scared, I managed to use all the mental strength I had to hold still. I knew if I found a way to dig deep there would be relief on the other side. Lots of mental games in this process.
The epidural kicked in pretty quick and contractions are coming but I don’t feel them. Thank god. Bliss! Except I start shaking and am freezing. I’m not sure how much of this was the epidural or nerves or the room was cold but it was pretty rough! Justin gives me my sweatshirt I had packed to drape on top of me to keep me warm and also props me up with my comfy pillow. I try to mentally embrace the shaking rather than trying to fight it in hopes it might subside and it does a little.
It feels like it’s not long until they check me again and I’m already at 10cm around 5:30am. Everyone seems to think he will be coming pretty quick! Okay, yay! The nurse, Jordan, says it’s time to labor down. I hadn’t heard of this (I didn’t take a labor class) but basically my body will start pushing him out by itself for a bit. Cool, this works for me! I remember it was still dark outside but there was lots of lightning, which is typical for summer in Florida, but it hadn’t actually been all that stormy yet in July so it seemed significant in my mind.
Around 6 I do a few pushes to see how it progresses. I find this time surprisingly calm. The room is dark and it’s just the nurse sweetly counting to 10 and Justin holding my leg. I remember feeling like, well, pushing isn’t so bad and kind of being surprised there wasn’t a doctor yet. They said the doctor was heading in. I didn’t realize just how much the nurses do. At one point they said the Doctor was at a nearby location. We all laughed and wondered what that meant.
I keep on pushing and at some point all I can hear in my head is the song Patience by The Lumineers. This happens to be Justin’s alarm so I tell him his alarm is going off but he tells me nope, it is indeed in my head. And while I was clearly getting delirious it was honestly a really nice thing to play in my mind for awhile.
I think the doctor arrived sometime close to 7 and this is when pushing started to get intense. Everything had been moving so fast at the beginning and we all thought we may be meeting him quickly and Jordan’s shift was over at 7 and I think she was as disappointed as I was that he wasn’t here yet. She ended up staying a little later – I’m not sure if that was on purpose or not.
It was then that the doctor told us he was posterior (head down but face up instead of face back) and that this meant it was going to be harder to push him out because the big part of his head was what was going to need to come out first. It was also why my contractions were soooo intense in my back and why I wailed for an epidural!
So I kept on with the pushing and they were all happy with my progress. Everyone was very encouraging which was nice. I pushed and pushed and every time Justin was there holding my right leg. The nurse would tell me to relax my face and eventually Justin took over this part of the coaching. I think it was to make sure I didn’t pop a blood vessel or something.
In between pushes was nice and relaxing thanks to the epidural and I truly needed the break between each push. I would close my eyes and try to rest. I remember at one point asking Justin if he was getting tired holding my leg. To which he smartly responded “not as tired as you”. I think I realized then I didn’t actually care if he was tired and I wasn’t sure why I asked… I was pushing the baby out after all.
Him holding my leg meant that he was really up in the show. We had kind of talked about what labor would be like but never really what our preferences for how involved he would be. But here we were and it was happening and he was fully involved. It crossed my mind that he would be traumatized for life but there was no going back at this point and it was honestly hard to care too much between the pain and fluid and mess of it all!
About 7:15am the new nurse arrived and the pressure started to get reallllllll. The new nurse had a different approach. She was more hardcore. Gone were the relaxing sweet counts to 10. It was go time! Since baby was being difficult she had me turn on my side which was hard since I couldn’t feel much. So there I was, on my side. My right leg in the air. I’d grab my leg with one hand and the bed rail or Justin’s hand with the other to push. They kept telling me to pull my elbows back while I was pulling my legs and pushing. I didn’t understand how much of your entire body goes into pushing! What a workout!
I asked after awhile to go back to my back as it was making me extra tired. I think my right butt and hip were extra sore afterwards from that time with my leg in the air. I literally limped for 2.5 weeks and could hardly walk.
Back on my back I was pushing and pushing. And I started to feel defeated. Justin was great, I remember finding his eyes occasionally during a push and just holding his hand in between. The nurses were still encouraging but I was definitely tired and kept asking how much longer. They obviously couldn’t tell me exactly as it all depended on the baby and my pushing but it just felt like I wasn’t making progress and I was starting to be afraid I couldn’t do it.
At 8am the doctors switched shifts and in came Darlean. Funny story about Darlean. I had see Darlean quite a bit during my pregnancy and had always liked her. However, she was the one at 36 weeks who said not to call and just go to the hospital if I was in labor. I felt she was having a grumpy day that appointment so when they told me I would be seeing her at 38 weeks I tried to see someone else. Justin asked as we left if I had “beef with Darlean?” I didn’t, I just felt like she was grumpy that day.
So, in comes Darlean to deliver my baby. Of course, right? That 38 week appointment was actually scheduled with her that afternoon at 4pm and at some point I made a joke about how I wasn’t going to make the appointment. Anyways…
She was very nice and encouraging when she arrived and chatted with the nurses about the vacation she was just returning from. So maybe girl just really needed a vacay.
I kept pushing and pushing. I remember wondering if it was taking too long. Asking if he was okay a lot. Wondering if maybe a c section would be better. Not really wanting that. Feeling fatigued as the pressure down there just got worse and worse. I had kind of expected that with the epidural I wouldn’t feel a thing but I felt way more than I thought I would.
As his head started to crown, everything felt awful. The heart rate and contraction monitors felt too tight. I remember being surprised at how much time the nurse spent massaging and helping guide his head and just how uncomfortable all of that was because of all the pressure. I knew she was helping but ugh.
While I was feeling discouraged and all the pressure the nurses and even Justin assured me I was making progress. They told me at one point to look. When I did I could see his head and he had hair! Actually a lot of dark hair. I expected a bald baby for some reason. But seeing that did help encourage me.
Darlean came to check on me. While she was there she got a call on the walkie that another mom was ready and I could hear that mom really mom screaming. Yikes.
At this point the nurse asked if I wanted to take my bra off for skin to skin with the baby and I said yes but it was hard to get off and I was worried she would pull the epidural out. She assured me and very kindly helped get it over my head.
Finally finally finally I had a push and could feel some progress for the first time. This was really empowering! The nurses started calling for Darlean and seemed a little panicked when they couldn’t get her right away. She finally arrived and asked Justin if he wanted to catch the baby. He said okay and she said “good, you helped put him in, you can help get him out.” I guess by this point he had seen everything already so I think he was just nervous about holding the baby. He had literally never held a baby at this point and now he was going to catch him.
They had him wash his hands and put on gloves and they told him to keep his hands together so he didn’t touch anything but he immediately wiped his hands on his pants out of nerves so they made him clean up again. I remember hearing all of this and being aware but I was pretty focused.
I just remember having my eyes closed a lot. Trying to mentally dig deep and take time to rest. I knew there was a lot of excitement happening in the room but I wasn’t fully aware because I was so in my own mind. After a few more pushes, Darlean told me that I was going to give big pushes but to listen for her to tell me to stop pushing. She told me it would be hard to do but it was important. It was go time. I could feel him moving ever-so-sightly on these pushes which was very motivating. And then before I knew it, I was pushing and I could definitely feel movement and it was definitely hard to hear because I was extremely mentally focused on pushing but Darlean told me to stop pushing and the next thing I knew I could hear him screaming and Justin was laying him on me. It was all kind of a blur. There he was. After nine longggg months, 6 hours of labor and 2.5 hard-fought hours of pushing, there he was!! He was born at 9:08am.
I started crying immediately, sobbing actually. I felt so much relief. Relief to be done pushing, relief that he was here safe, relief I had done it, relief he was healthy. He cried a lot. He had healthy lungs. And a quivering bottom lip that was so cute. They had told me that if he didn’t cry right away they would take him to the warming area instead of immediate skin to skin because of the meconium (poo inside me) and because of my blood type there could have been a complication (I don’t really remember the details on either of these) but he screamed and I’m so so glad we got that immediate time together. I remember his tiny little eyes looking up at me and it seemed to me that we already knew each other. I also remember feeling as if “just like that” he was here. Pregnancy is so long and labor and delivery is so hard but one final push and then he was there!
They handed Justin scissors to cut the cord but this was something we had talked about and I knew he didn’t love the idea of cutting the cord so I spoke up for him. He probably would have done it if I hadn’t but for some reason that freaked him out. More than catching him, obviously!
The nurse quickly told Justin to get the camera and I’m glad she did. Fred captured those first few minutes. And she took one of all of us.
Darlean told me I’d feel more pressure as I delivered the placenta and I was pretty bummed about that. But, I didn’t actually feel a thing! Thank god. Except when she pushed on my uterus afterwards. This was the first of many times that was done and I hated it, every time. She said I didn’t tear but considered a small stitch inside which she told me at 6 weeks I didn’t end up having. I asked if I pooed and I was told no. They maybe lied but it doesn’t matter, it’s a kind lie because that felt like a small win at the time.
Ryan and I sat together for almost an hour while things happened around us. There were a lot of people in the room I realized then. So many women congratulating us and telling me I did a good job. I kept saying thank you but also wondering, where did you come from? Who are you? Haha
They gave Ryan the vitamin k and eventually wiped him down. I remember him seeming like he was hungry with some head bops so I kind of made an attempt to feed him but it was unsuccessful. They ended up taking him after an hour or so to weigh him in the room. I told Justin to go with him and when they came back dad and Ryan had some swaddled snuggles.
The nurse asked if I could feel my legs as the epidural was wearing off and I could so she wheeled me into the bathroom to pee. I was terrified but managed. She helped spray me and dress me in the mesh undies with the ice pack pads. After that we were loaded up into a wheelchair and the little burrito was handed back to me. The nurse wheeled us to recovery and on our way in had us push the new baby button that played a little lullaby in the hall of the recovery wing. It was super cheesy but I actually enjoyed it. And it was fun during recovery to hear it for the other new mamas on their way.
So we settle in and I think the recovery nurse has me pee again which I thought I did. And then we finally settle down to order breakfast. At some point they come to check me and I think they decide I should use the bathroom again. I haven’t eaten yet and when I stand I’m a little dizzy. And then when I use the bathroom this time there is SO much blood. And thennnnn, I pass out. On the toilet.
When I come-to there are what feels like 10 nurses standing around me, a lot of commotion and that ammonia smell won’t leave my nose from the smelling salts they used to wake me up. Justin looks pretty concerned and he later told me that the smelling salts didn’t work right away and for a flash second he was worried he’d be a single dad. I remember them yelling my name a lot. It turns out I wasn’t emptying my bladder enough or fast enough and it was pushing on my uterus and not letting it contract and start to shrink and that meant the bleeding wasn’t stopping. I was hemorrhaging.
Because of this I was given a catheter for 24 hours. I thought this would really suck and while it wasn’t great, I hardly noticed and it was pretty convenient to not think about peeing.
I remember being really hungry after they got me back into bed and Justin just handing me sausage and bacon to eat with my hands while the nurses were fussing about me.
Once that was all settled down the lactation consultant came to help us. She taught me what to do and off to the feeding races we were.
That evening my dad and step mom arrived from Oregon. Once they got our call they didn’t sleep and started making arrangements to get to Florida as fast as possible. No one thought labor would be so quick so they were a little bummed not to be there right away but actually it worked out since I needed some extra attention. Justin’s dad also arrived. He had been to the house earlier to check on Franky who was very confused about why we left in the middle of the night. We checked on him on the nest cam a couple times and it was so sad.
The first night Ryan slept a fair amount but was up often to feed. I don’t remember how much I slept. Some but not much and so many people come to your room and wake you up when you do sleep.
The next morning when my catheter was out I stood up to help with a diaper change and I picked Ryan up out of his bassinet and lifted him up to kiss his cheek. And it was in this moment that I felt a warm, glowing, wave of love. I was overwhelmed with how much I could love someone I just met. They say this happens to moms at some point. Whether it’s right away or for other moms later and it’s hard to comprehend what it feels like. But it’s indescribable. I felt like my like had a purpose like never before.
Because of the bathroom stunt I pulled they had me stay the second night. The lactation consultant and the nurse warned us that this would be a bad night. They said the first night babies are kind of in shock and don’t really realize what happened. The second night they do and they are not happy about it. This was very true. Every 45-60 minutes it seemed like he would scream to eat. And he would eat for 20-45 minutes at a time. So that’s like 15-20 minuets of break in between. The nurse had told me early on in the night that if I needed an hour to sleep to call and she could take him to nursery. She also told me she would be taking him for tests at 5:30am.
At first I refused her offer to take him but by 2am, I was desperate. And so was Justin. Let’s just say this night was parent initiation and one of us handled it better than the other. Oh, and it was me who handled it better… Anyways, it got to the point that I was afraid that the noise of my hospital bed going up and down each time would wake the baby that I stopped putting it down and instead would curl up at the end of it for the 10 minutes of sleep in between wails. I finally broke down and called for the nurse but didn’t explicitly say take him because I was feeling guilty so she just said yeah, another mom is in the same boat. Ahh!! So I muscled on. Finally at 3:30 I called her again and asked if she would take him to the nursery for his tests early. I could mentally get myself to 5am. She came and got him about 4 and although I felt a little guilty she was a sight for sore eyes and didn’t bring him back until 6. That was the best two hours and I woke up feeling so much better.
The next afternoon we finally got to go home. After some rigamarole, we were finally wheeled outside! It was extremely bright after being inside for 2.5 days and it’s hot as can be. It’s July in Florida after-all. We click Ryan’s carseat into the base and I ask if we did it right and the nurse says yes. So just like that we’re off. On our own. As parents. I felt super anxious in the car but when we got home it kind of all just faded. And real life as a family of 4 (Franklin included) began!