Sunday’s Birth Story

Well after about 7 weeks of silence, I feel like I’m coming out of a fog of newborn-ness. There are days that are starting to resemble a new sort of normal, and days that still feel totally new and completely overwhelming. But we’re figuring this whole baby thing out one day at a time. I took time about a week after Sunday was born to write down her whole birth story, but never published it here. I felt so traumatized by the whole process, I felt like it would be better to wait a few weeks till the shock had worn off and I had a little bit of perspective before posting this. But after reading it again, there’s nothing I would change. So here’s the long, un-edited version of how Sunday made her entrance into the world…

At 6 pm on Tuesday night the contractions started. Tanner had come down with a fever and wasn’t feeling well, and couldn’t keep any food down. So I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich. I was standing there at the stove when all the sudden I felt it. At least, I was pretty sure I had felt a contraction. I didn’t want to get too excited though because at five days overdue I was prone to thinking every little thing my body did could mean I was going into labor. I had been waking up for the past couple of weeks disappointed that I had slept through another night without being woken up by a contraction. But then, 10 minutes later the exact same thing happened…and so I started tracking how far apart these “muscle cramps” were happening. By the time Tanner and I went to bed that night they fluctuated between 7-10 minutes apart.

Again, I didn’t want to get my hopes up because I had heard with your first baby a lot of women start contractions, only to have them stop for a few days, before actually going into labor. But when Tanner and I turned off the lights, it only took about a half-hour to realize that we weren’t going to be getting any sleep that night. My midwife had said to head to the hospital when my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for one hour straight. That freaked me a little bit because everyone I’d ever talked to said they went when they were 5-7 minutes apart. But we decided to follow the midwife’s instructions. So for the entire night Tanner and I watched The Office, talked about our baby girl we were going to meet soon, and paused every 6 minutes while I held Tanner’s hand really tight and he kept track of how long the contraction lasted. Around 4 am my contractions were  5 minutes apart. We got really excited and decided to pack the car. I had our bags mostly packed but still had throw in some toiletries and extra clothes for Tanner. I brushed my teeth, put in my contacts, and (Tanner will never let me live this down) put on some make-up. He put everything in the car, and just when we were about to hit an hour of consist contractions at 5 minutes apart, they started to space out. First they were 7 minutes apart, then 9, then 13. Eventually they came back down to 7, but there they stayed…for the next 12 hours.

Being a week overdue we knew that labor could start any day. Wednesday Tanner had a group presentation in class, so he had told me he would prefer not skip class on Wednesday. I had figured if I was having contractions at that point but they were still far apart I would be fine with him leaving me for a couple of hours. However, I soon realized I really needed him and that leaving me business would not be happening. At first I was texting and answering phone calls, but soon I couldn’t do anything but think about the pain that was coming every 6 minutes. Tanner took over my phone and texted the midwife throughout the day to keep her updated. He answered my mom’s calls; because I really couldn’t talk through the pain. He brought me tylenol and helped me in any way he could think of. All the while he was still getting over his fever and sickness left over from the day before. We spent the entire day in bed just counting contractions and telling ourselves that we were going to meet our baby girl. I also cried a lot…so the makeup at 4 am just became a nice thought haha.

I was feeling so anxious about labour and not getting to the hospital in time for an epidural, the midwife finally agreed to come to our house and see how I was progressing. She came around 5 pm and told us that we were going to meet our baby girl tonight! She said she was going to go home eat dinner and get changed, and we should all meet at the hospital in an hour! I finally felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

One hour later we were in the car driving to the hospital. I was pretty sure that we drove behind the slowest cars and hit every red light, but really we got there in about 10 minutes. We found a parking spot quickly (a miracle at our hospital) and as we walked towards the elevator a nurse hit the floor number for labor and delivery. I guess it was pretty obvious why we were there…

We were led to a labor and delivery room and within minutes the nurses brought me the laughing gas. Really it must be called that because it is a joke how little it does with labor pains. It did help me regulate my breathing throughout the contractions…so I guess that was good? But when the nurse asked me a little later (who knows how long because for me time had ceased to exist) if I wanted more drugs the answer was definitely yes. Our midwife came in and gave me two options. She said if I wanted I could try the fentanyl and then the epidural, or just go straight for the epidural. At this point, I just wanted the pain to stop, but of course worried about our baby girl’s safety. I asked the midwife if it was wise to get an epidural at this point in labor. Her answer was that the earlier in labor you get an epidural, the higher the chance of needing a c-section. So I decided to go with fentanyl and wait a little bit longer to get the epidural. Little did I know that decision changed our entire night.

They hooked me up and gave me the fentanyl. I can’t say it helped with the contractions, but at this point my back was really hurting in between contractions, and it at least made it possible for me to relax in between contractions. Finally, seeing I was in a lot of pain Tanner asked the nurse if it was possible to get the epidural now. The nurse told him that I was dialated to a 10 and that I was past the worst part and didn’t need an epidural now. Let’s just say I was not happy about that answer- I can’t remember if I got angry or cried, maybe a little of both. You’d have to ask Tanner. We are both so new at this we didn’t know better, so we just took the nurse’s word for it. Looking back I probably should have demanded the epidural, but she told me I was going to start pushing now and that we were going to meet our baby in the next half hour.

At some point during all this I started feeling the need to push. The nurses attached a bar on the bed. For some contractions I squatted and held onto the bar, for some I had my feet up and pushed against it the old fashion way. But for all of it I screamed. Tanner told me at one point that it was ok for me to swear. I told him honestly I couldn’t even think of words during the contractions, I just needed to scream. He later told me the only word I really used was “ow”. Looking back that feels so childish- I’m giving birth and the most creative thing I can say is “ow” haha. Ah well…

After a while of pushing I could tell something was wrong. Our baby girl wasn’t moving down the way the midwife expected her to. She would make progress when I was pushing, but then she would kind of pull back whenever I stopped pushing. The nervous looks between the nurses and my midwife seemed to say I wasn’t pushing hard enough- but I was feeling exhausted and was giving my all with every push. The monitor started to show that the baby’s heart rate was dropping during contractions as well. It always came back up in between pushes- but the drop during contractions didn’t bode as a good sign. And then the meconium came. At this point they knew that they had to get the baby out quick.  They paged the obstetrician and the respiratory team. Suddenly it went from just the midwife and a nurse, to what felt like a whole crowd of people in our room. A few minutes later a sleepy doctor came in, took one look at me and said the baby wasn’t far down enough, we had to do a c-section.

I was devastated. Not because I don’t believe in c-sections or anything…just I had gone so long and through so much pain without an epidural (at this point all the other drugs had worn off as well) AND now they were going to numb me and send me into surgery. I know that seems short-sighted- but at this point I wasn’t thinking about recovery time or anything else- I just was thinking about getting that baby out of me. The doctor and Tanner went and changed into scrubs, and just as the doctor walked back in I had a big contraction. The midwife told me if I pushed really hard maybe I could avoid a c-section. So I pushed with everything I had. The doctor asked the nurses to hand him the vacuum and said maybe he could get this baby out.

After 30.5 hours of labor, 1.5 hours of pushing, one episiotomy, a vacuum delivery, and the biggest push of my life and our little girl was born. I honestly don’t remember feeling her come out- I just felt a contraction end, looked down, and was shocked to see our baby! They had Tanner cut the cord quickly and whisked her over to the table with the respiratory team to clear her lungs. A few seconds later and we heard her little cry. It was so beautiful. The doctor finished stitching me up, the nurses cleaned our little girl up, and about 10 minutes after her birth, they laid her on my chest. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and all I remember is Tanner’s voice saying “she is so beautiful”.

The rest of the night was kind of blur. I remember the midwife explaining to me that Sunday had been face-up (which explained the back pain) and her cord was wrapped all around her body. The cord had acted like a bungee cord and pulled her back up in between contractions. This explained why labor hadn’t progressed like it should have. I remember the nurses congratulating me for avoiding a c-section. Honestly, I didn’t feel like it was something to be congratulated on- I had just pushed when my body had given me no other choice. Somehow all the people in our room disappeared, the room was cleaned up, our little girl was wrapped in a blanket, and I was in the shower. I just stood in the shower forever shaking from the cold or the pain I’m not really sure, but it felt so good to be under the hot water. I came out and the room was dark, the bed had been made up, and Tanner was standing there with our little girl. The nurses helped me nurse her before we laid her down in the little bed, and Tanner fell asleep in a chair in the corner. We both startled awake about 5 minutes later when she made the tiniest cry in her sleep. When we realized she was fine and still asleep, and after what felt like longest, craziest day of our lives, we all fell asleep, finally a family of three.

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