I was 3 – almost 4cm dialated and 100% effaced. I mean— that was good right?!?
Meh— wrong. It meant that my body was making progress towards labor, but it really meant nothing as far as a time frame was concerned. Evidently with pregnancy, you never can be quite sure. But my doctor said she thought we were close, so we spent that Easter weekend waiting for our Easter Baby Bunny.
I texted my doula (I’ll get to that in a second) to let her know my progress. She told me to keep her updated.
So that weekend my husband and I nested… and nested… and nested.
I made more of this cookie dough for my labor and delivery nurses, we made meals for the weeks that were ahead, and I tired every trick in the book to make that baby come.
I drank raspberry leaf tea, I walked four miles a day, I did hip circles (like hula hooping without the hula hoop), I bounced on an exercise ball, I put siracha on everything I ate, I ingested more pineapple than I care to remember- and… yes… I got frisky with my husband… multiple times.
HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE VISUAL.. TMI… I know.
But nothing seemed to work.
So I went to bed that Sunday and prayed. I basically told God that I was giving up trying and that I was putting it in his hands.
Funny that I thought it was ever in my hands anyway. “Hi, I’m Emily and I am a total control freak!”
The next day was Monday… I woke up and went to work. I tied up all of my loose ends, put on my email forwarding (just in case) and got taunted by my co-workers about “where the baby was?”. ugggh.
That night… Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The next day, Tuesday, April 7th, was my due date. To say that I was disappointed that I wasn’t yet holding my sweet baby boy would be an understatement. I had no signs of labor whatsoever. I woke up and again, and went to work. It was a good day and I felt completely normal.
But that evening I didn’t feel quite right. I was exhausted… which was nothing new for my pregnancy, but I told my husband I wasn’t hungry and went to bed without eating dinner.
Looking back, that was completely out of character.
At about 7:30pm I started having only what can be described as mild menstrual cramps, low down in my abdomen. I googled signs of labor and everything said that I’d be having “waves of tightness that radiated through my abdomen.” I had nothing like that, so I tried to get back to sleep.
Around 8:30 the cramps started to get worse and the more I kept googling, the more I thought I might be actually going into labor. I didn’t want to call my doula yet in case it was just false labor, but it was enough to get me moving. I told my husband that I thought I might be in labor and that I’d need to eat dinner after all.
But first… I needed to shower.
Any of you who know me are laughing right now. I know it seems vain, but showering is my guilty pleasure. Being clean and somewhat “put together” keeps me sane. So shower is what I did. By the time I got out of the shower it was about 9:15. I started to blow dry my hair and by this time I knew, very well, that I was in the first stages of labor. I was excited, but I was in pain. Instead of having the radiating tightness that many people experience in labor, I had just varying levels of pain. My contractions would start as a dull pain (like a menstrual cramp) and grow more and more intense and then die off.
My doula had asked me to download a contraction timer app, so in the midst of doing my hair I started timing them. At this point my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and I had to stop doing my hair and makeup multiple times to breathe through them. I truly wish my husband had video taped me leaning over the sink, groaning in pain, mascara wand and straightener in hand.
So ridiculous… but I am who I am.
I put on a black maxi dress and a long taupe cardigan and met my husband in our kitchen. My sweet husband was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. He had showered, made me a dinner of eggs and toast… and was baking the cookies that I had prepared for our labor and delivery nurses. He’s a good one… a really good one. 🙂
As I ate, we decided not to call any of our family members until the morning – better to let them all get a good night’s sleep. It was such a good call looking back… little did I know, I’d be in labor a for nearly a full 24 hours longer.
I was breathing through the contractions somewhat easily at this point, and I was finally convinced that I was actually in labor. So finally I called my doula. She asked how far apart my contractions were, how I felt, and said that she’d be right over.
We were really having a baby!
This is probably a good time to talk about my doula. My doula’s name is Ashley Maas and she is a certified Bradley Method instructor, meaning she specializes in natural births. When we decided we were looking for a doula she was referred to me by a good friend, and looking back – I thank God for that. Knowing that she was a Bradley Method instructor, I was nervous that she might not work with us since I had decided that I wanted an epidural, but I reached out to her anyway. She got back to me immediately, and even though I wasn’t going for a natural birth she was happy to meet with Joe and I to discuss her services.
So why did Joe and I want to use a Doula? Well – lets start with that we were both nervous about the birth process and we wanted someone there that would make us feel more at ease. The OBGYN that we chose was wonderful and came highly recommended, but she had a very dry sense of humor. Just as I am who I am – she is who she is. For some, that’s great, but I was a very nervous pregnant woman, and I knew I’d be needing someone more comforting and nurturing in addition to my OBGYN — that person ended up being my doula.
I also knew that we wanted someone to be there with us offering support – the whole time. I knew that my doctor would pretty much be there for the delivery and in an emergency situation, but other than that, we’d be on our own. Joe and I wanted to know that we’d have someone there with us through the whole process, and that was part of Ashley’s services. She supports you from the beginning of labor to the end, and she does an in home visit with you the first week post partum as well.
Lastly – she also offered placenta encapsulation, which was something I very much wanted to do. Meaning… she takes your placenta, makes it into pills for you, and you take them as a supplement after giving birth. The benefits of ingesting the placenta are many – see here – and now having done it, I am a huge proponent of it. I have experienced absolutely NO baby blues or post partum depression to date.
We met Ashley for an initial consultation in our home, and I realized immediately that I liked her and wanted to hire her. She was easy to talk to, had a calming energy, and I loved her extensive knowledge about everything having to do with pregnancy and birth.
So – after we decided we wanted to work together, she held two – one on one – birth classes with Joe and I. Usually you have to take the hospital appointed classes before you give birth, but I much preferred these one on one sessions. She taught us all about the stages of labor, how you actually give birth, and she helped us develop our birth plan.
IE: she’s the $hit.
Anyhow- back to Wiliam’s birth story. I called Ashley and she said she was on her way. Once she got to the house we all settled into the living room and I had contractions, five minutes apart, for about an hour. At this point – 11:30pm – Joe was nodding off and Ashley told him he should take a “nap”. IE: Doula code for letting Dad get the best night of sleep possible to prepare for the day ahead. She’s brilliant. So Joe and Henry headed off to bed.
^^^ Ashley our doula and Henry during the first hour of my contractions.
Ashley and I continued with my contractions for hours…. seven hours to be exact. I walked… let’s be real… lunged around my home from 11:30pm to 6:30 in the morning, trying to speed up my contractions. I would not stop… I was relentless… and Ashley was there for all of it.
She massaged my lower back to help the pain, she told me what a great job I was doing, and she told me to sit down and rest when it became apparent that I needed to. The goal was to labor at home until my contractions sped up to 3 minutes apart – a sign that my labor was progressing and that the hospital would be able to admit me… but that took hours.
I’d seen youtube videos of women in labor, but I never thought in a million years that I would be “that woman.”
“That woman” that was bent over her couch, her kitchen counters, and her wet bar… groaning and moaning through every contraction. I also never thought I would be “that woman” that ended up on all fours on her couch – literally wanting to bite a throw pillow because the pain was so intense.
But I was.
Labor is no joke people.
So… by now it was 4am…. contractions were still 4-5minutes apart and I asked Ashley what the end game was. I needed a light at the end of the tunnel – a goal – something. I couldn’t take much more of this. She told me we could go to the hospital whenever I wanted to, but since my contractions weren’t speeding up, there was a chance I wasn’t dilating much and that they might send me home.
So we made a deal. I’d keep laboring at home until the nurses changed shifts in the morning, around 7:30-8am and then we’d head to the hospital. Well rested nurses who can see you through your whole labor are always a good thing!
So I pressed on … errrr lunged on, and Ashley was by my side the whole time.
Joe woke up around 6:30am and tore out of bed and into the living room. He said that when he checked his phone, he literally thought that I had the baby at home, or that we had gone to the hospital without him. We all had a good chuckle about that and Ashley promptly put him to work contacting the family members that we needed to, and making all of us breakfast. We ate quickly, and got ready to leave.
By this time, thankfully, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and we felt comfortable heading to the hospital. Ashley was in her car ahead of us, cool as a cucumber, and Joe and I were in our car — to be quite honest — freaking out.
“Holy crap… We’re about to be parents!”
“OMFG we are about to meet our little dude!”
“What do you think he’ll look like?”
“Ahhh Stevie Nicks is on the radio – that has to be a good sign right?!?”
“I am so scared to push this baby out.” <<< really the first time I ever admitted it out loud or even in my own head.
We got to the hospital and as Ashley had instructed us to do – we pulled into the hospital ER parking. Joe was supposed to drop me off with Bag #1 (see here) and the cookies for the nurses, and then head to park the car.
But somehow in the midst of all the craziness, he definitely stopped thinking. The ER attendant brought me a wheel chair, Ashley ran over from the parking lot, and Joe kind of just stood there.
Realizing that he wasn’t thinking straight, Ashley took our keys and parked the car for him. Like I said… the woman is a saint.
We waited for Ashley to get back and we all headed up to Labor and Delivery together. Once we got there, they took my information, I gave the nurses the cookies, and they took us to my labor and delivery room. I was asked to change into my robe and was promptly hooked up to two monitors – one to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, and one to monitor my contractions.
The nurse in charge for the day came in to tell me how delicious the cookies were, and a couple of other nurses stopped by to thank us as well. Let me tell you all — the nurses at my hospital were wonderful, but I know those cookies paid dividends. If you’re having a baby, I fully suggest you bring something for your nurses and doctors.
So here I was — all hooked up — in between contractions — ready to have this baby.
All of a sudden I heard a clamoring in the hall… like someone running… in heels. I looked at Joe and said, “That’s my mom…I know it” and sure enough… in burst my mother.
“DID I MISS IT?” she asked — completely out of breath.
“No mom… you didn’t miss it,” I said… and God, was I frustrated.
I had Joe explain that if she was going to be in the room – she needed be a little bit more zen and a little less Soul Cycle. She got the point almost immediately, contained her excitement, and settled into her role of being my mom. Thankfully she realized she needed to be calm for the both of us.
At this point, my contractions had slowed to eight minutes apart, which we think was mainly because of the excitement of heading to the hospital… evidently adrenaline can slow your contractions. But to make matters worse, I was still only 3cm dilated. In labor terms – not good news.
I was lucky that they didn’t send me home, but thankfully my doctor asked that they keep me admitted.
I spent the next two hours walking/lunging around the labor and delivery wing trying to speed up my contractions. I swear the nurses and doctors on call thought I was insane, but, thanks to those cookies (jk) they didn’t say anything. I wanted to have an active labor and try to progress as much as I could on my own, and no one was going to stop me.
Or so I thought…
Just doing that whole contraction thing ^^^^
At about 11:00am my doctor came in to make her rounds. She walked in the room with an older man next to her, said hello, and proceeded to tell me that she wouldn’t be delivering my baby.
“WHATTT DOOO YOU MEAN YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE DELIVERING MY BABY???”
She had a funeral to go to that evening.
At that point, I had been in intense pain for 12 hours, had not slept in over 24 hours, and this wasn’t what I wanted to hear… at all.
I felt my face get hot, and literally steam erupt from my ears. In my head I was thinking,“I have a baby to push out … I’ve spent nine months with you… what the hell do you mean you’re not going to be here???”
I then internally calmed myself down and naturally – but incorrectly – assumed that one of the three doctors in her office (all of whom I had met) would be delivering my baby…. right?
All this time, that old man had been standing next to her…. silently. He looked to be wearing fishing gear… or I guess they were just street clothes that looked like fishing gear… so weird. Anyhow, I was kind of ignoring him, but then I started thinking… who the heck is this dude? Is this her dad in town for the funeral? Why is he here? What is with that creepy smile?
She then proceeded to tell me that this old man was the Doctor who would be on call that night- and he would be delivering my child. I needed a mental break… in a big way.
I asked for a minute.
The doctors and nurses left the room and I cried. Ugly cried. Like big, emotional, overly dramatic – ugly cried. My doula reassured me that all would be ok – it would all work out – and everyone would be fine. At that point my original doctor and my new doctor reappeared and I was pretty much given an ultimatum. Either start on pitocin or have my water broken.
I just kind of blankly stared at her and in my head, I was like… “WTF are you talking about… WTF does that even mean?!?”
The funny thing about doctors is that they talk to you like you should know exactly what they’re talking about. But to a realtor (my husband) and to someone who works in finance (me) – she might as well have been speaking another language.
I was fuming. In my head I was thinking, “How would you like me to ask you about variable rate corporate bonds… and ask you to make a life altering decision?? How would you like that??? You … you…. doctor lady… that isn’t even going to be here to deliver my baby?!?”
Again… not my proudest moment.
So I asked for another minute.
My doula explained the pros and cons of each, and we decided to start on a little bit of pitocin. I really didn’t want to use pitocin initially, but I was exhausted. My exhaustion was probably what was slowing my contractions and… let’s be real… I wanted that epidural.
At this point, the anesthesiologist came in, thanked me for the amazing cookies he had just eaten (see they did work!) and then I held ever-so-still for my oh-so amazing epidural. The only thing that was weird about the epidural was that I couldn’t feel my right leg – at all – but I could kind of feel the left. It was such an interesting sensation, and I’ve heard it’s very common. At any rate – I stopped being able to actually feel the contractions at this point. Thank God. From there on out, I could only feel the pressure of them starting.
Happy as a clam!! ^^^
By this time it was about noon. They started me on the lowest dose of pictocin and within an hour I was dilated to 4cm. Another hour passed and I was dilated to 5cm. At this point we decided to send Ashley home for a shower and a nap. She had been up all night with me and had delivered another baby the day before – so she was in dire need of some shut-eye.
This was around 2pm. We agreed that she would come back at 5pm and hopefully by then we’d be closer to pushing. At 3:30 the nurse came in and checked me and I was dilated to 8cm.
HOLY CRAPP!!! The pitocin was working faster than we had expected, and at 4pm I was fully dilated. Joe called Ashley and she rushed back to the hospital.
By 5pm we were all ready to push.
Up until this point I had felt very strong. Everything was going well – but the second it was time to push, I had a huge rush of fear unlike anything I had ever felt.
Would my baby be ok?… Would I be ok?…. Would I be able to do it? I was terrified.
The doctor and the nurses brought in all the delivery tools and at this point – shit got real.
Like real real.
My mom was seated in a chair to the far side of the room, Joe took my left leg, my doula, Ashley, had my right leg, and my favorite nurse, Ramona, was “in the catching position” — sorry to be so graphic, but there’s really no other way to put it.
We started practicing pushing. And let’s just talk about pushing for a moment. When I thought about “pushing” up until this point, I just kind of assumed — ass out of you and me — that I’d be able to breathe during it.
Just like in the movies… Right?!?
You have to hold your breath while you push – and you can only push during your contractions. So here’s how pushing really goes – in the un-Hollywood version. You take a deep breath in at the beginning of your contraction, then you hold your breath and push for 10 seconds. And by pushing I mean… in my doctors words… pushing like you are trying to have the biggest bowel movement of your life. Then you breathe out. Then you start again… quickly… you take another deep breath in, hold your breath, and push for 10 seconds. Then you breathe out. Then you take another breath in, hold your breath and push for 10 seconds. Then you breathe out. And.. please… this is not calm, easy, yoga breathing. This is quick and fast, and it’s a total of three times per contraction.
Oh… and don’t worry – your next contraction is coming a minute later… So just get ready to do it again.
I literally felt like I was gasping for air the whole time. And I was tired – so tired. I had been in labor for almost 20 hours at this point.
So I pushed for the first hour. The doctor came in multiple times and proceeded to tell me that we weren’t getting anywhere. My baby was sunny side up and was basically stuck against my pubic bone. I had to push harder… OR ELSE.
OR ELSE WHAT???
Well I would find that out in hour two. So I kept pushing – and nothing. After more disapproving looks from the doctor, I really had no idea what was going on. Ashley and Joe reassured me that everything was ok and that I was doing great… but I wasn’t so sure. The doctor would come in and whisper to the nurses. I was sure that something was wrong with the baby. I wanted to cry, but despite all my fears, I tried to remain calm.
I just kept pushing. Over and over and over again.
Then hour three started, and we had some decisions to make. The doctor explained that my baby wasn’t progressing down the birth canal and we had to figure out how to make that happen. My pushing was pretty much – sorry to be so graphic – just tearing me internally, and not making any real progress. So my options were: A.) forceps (which my doctor specialized in)… B.) the vacuum (yes, they vacuum out your baby), or C.) an episiotomy (you can google that).
I decided to go with C.) the episiotomy. I decided I would rather be cut than have anything happen to my baby.
The anesthesiologist came back in at this point. He proceeded to tell me that he had gone back for cookie #3 and wanted to make sure I didn’t need anything before he went into back to back C-Sections. Those cookies were magic I tell you!!! He gave me some local anesthesia in addition to upping my epidural a smidge… and minutes later we were back in action. My doctor gave me the episiotomy… and we started to make progress.
Then they brought the forceps in… just in case.
Let’s talk about forceps — they’re mother effing huge. Like two feet long… huge. I mean that might be entirely in my head, but all I know is the second I saw those… I freaked out.
I think it was a mixture of exhaustion and fear… but whatever it was… I got so cold, started sweating, and uncontrollable nausea hit my whole body. I had Joe grab for the “barf bags” and I proceeded to heave and throw up, not one, not two, but three times.
Now you might think that vomiting is the last thing you want to have happen to you during labor – but at this point, in my situation, it was a blessing in disguise. Due to the force of my vomiting – his head came out.
The vomiting started at around 8:10pm and at 8:25 my perfect baby boy was delivered. His cry made everything right in the world again.
The moment he was placed on my chest – was the most amazing moment of my whole life. I remember thinking our wedding day was the best day of my life… hahahaaha… our wedding didn’t even come close to this. The second I laid eyes on him, I realized my life would never be the same. From that second on – I didn’t care about anything else. He was perfect.
We immediately had skin to skin time and he just laid there while the doctors and nurses “put me back together”.
In between sobs – I said to Joe, “He’s so beautiful!” and Joe just looked at me with worry in his eyes and said, “Have you seen his head?” To all you first time mothers out there – this is for you! Because he had been stuck in the birth canal for so long, he had a pretty serious cone head. Thankfully that is what baby heads are meant to do and our doctor reassured us it would look normal in a couple of days, and it does. His head is now absolutely perfect!
Back to the story – Joe and I were crying, my mom was crying, and Ashley looked relieved that we had done it. We had our delayed cord clamping, Ashley helped me figure out the basics of breastfeeding, and a couple minutes later they weighed him. Everyone in the room took turns guessing how much he would weigh, and most of the guesses were in the 7lbs range. Imagine everyone’s surprise when our little chunker weighed in at 8lbs 9oz. Thank God because I just love fat, healthy babies!!
As soon as all the suturing was done, my dad came in – and I’ve never been happier in my whole life. I had my whole family around me – in person and via the phone, my perfect son was in my arms – healthy as could be, and finally it was all over – pregnancy, labor, all of it.
You always hear mothers say, “You’ll understand it when you’re a mom.” I’ve always found that to be kind of off-putting and condescending, but finally… I get it. I’ve never loved anything so much in my life. I’ve never loved being something so much in my life as I love being a mom. This sweet, little angel has changed my life in so many ways, and I thank God every day that he made me William’s mother. I can’t explain it in any articulate way, other than to say that I will never be the same, and for that I am forever grateful.
So that is how I became a mother.
In closing, I want to say happy early Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, I am so excited to celebrate amongst you this year.