I’m sitting down to write this and I still can’t believe today marks an entire MONTH since we became parents. (technically it’s been 4 weeks even though she was born on the 21st and that is next week…still a month right? Help me out here.)
I’ve gotten so many questions about my birth experience that I decided to write about it. FIRST, a disclaimer to anyone who is reading this that is expecting as a first time mom – everyone’s experience is SO different so don’t be discouraged. You’re going to do great. 😉
Now, on to my story…
Everyone says it – the last month of pregnancy is THE. longest. month ever. There is this huge, life changing thing that is *going* to happen soon, but you have no idea when or exactly how. It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words. Crazy anticipation, but also a complete unknown.
I was blessed with a fairly easy pregnancy. I wasn’t super sick in the first trimester, felt great during the second and early third, and never had a lot of Braxton hicks or round ligament pain etc.. At about 38 weeks I had a lot of back pain appear out of nowhere (my theory is that as she dropped, she decided to sit on a nerve too.)
In my mind, since she *could* be born at 38 weeks, she totally would. My mom had 7 kids at 38 weeks (it didn’t matter that we were all induced) – that was totally going to happen to me too.
Spoiler : it did not.
I went in for my doctors appt at 38 weeks: nothing happening.
I went in for my doctors appt at 39 weeks: nothing happening.
Every morning when Matthew left for work, I kissed him goodbye and said “maybe today”.
I went in for my doctors appt at 40 weeks: nothing. happening. So we decided to schedule an induction for Monday, which was 3 days later.
Matthew and I spent the weekend doing things to pass the time and enjoy our last weekend as just “us”. We went to the movies, to Barnes & Noble, spent hours playing Ticket to Ride, and went to lunch where I drank multiple cups of bubble tea. (I had a craving, okay?)
Monday morning finally rolled around. I didn’t sleep much the night before – I was eagerly awaiting my 6am alarm so I could call the hospital and see when we could arrive. We got to the hospital and got checked in around 7:30am on Monday morning, March 18th – I was 40 weeks and 4 days.
last official bump pic before we left. vvv
happy selfie on the way to the hospital before we knew what we were getting into 😂
Alright, bare with me because here come the medical terms.
The first thing that they did after asking me the 137 questions they ask when they admit you to the hospital and set my IV (ouch), was to start me on Misoprostol aka Miso to help my cervix to soften. (mine had not softened, or “effaced” at ALL). I took another dose every 4 hours and it caused a lot of contractions, though nothing painful yet.
By Tuesday morning and almost 24 hours taking miso, my cervix had begun to efface, but was nowhere close to where it needed to be, and I was only dilated about half a centimeter. So they decided they would try to help my cervix dilate by inserting a foley balloon catheter. (basically, a catheter with a little balloon on the end. you probably could’ve figure that one out.. ) The midwife came in to do the deed, but apparently my cervix is high and tipped at a funny angle, so after 20 minutes of FIGHTING to get the catheter in (and both of us just about to say forget it), she finally got it in. They blew the little balloon up, and the idea was that it would stretch my cervix and in 6-12 hours it would just fall out.
For the next 12 hours I tried not to think about the fact that I had this thing stuck up inside me that was quite uncomfortable. My mom came to visit. We walked the halls (only to realize that walking + the catheter made me bleed on the floor. Sorry, just being real.) So back to bed it was. At about 10pm they came in to *hopefully* pull the catheter out and find that I was dilated to at least 3 centimeters. Instead, they came in to find I had not dilated at ALL and they had to deflate the balloon to take the catheter out. Then, the midwife told me to get on my hands and knees in my bed for an hour. After getting situated in this position, I put my head in my pillow and cried. One of the hardest parts of this experience was the constant struggle with discouragement, because nothing was happening. We’d already been there two days. People were coming in and having their babies within hours. It was my turn, darnit.
Tuesday night, they started me on a slow Pitocin drip, and gave me a shot of morphine to help me sleep through the contractions.
Below is a slightly less happy selfie from Wednesday morning. I was exhausted and Matt was hyped up on hospital coffee 😂
Shortly after the above was taken, ^ the midwife came in to check me again. I was only dilated to about 2 centimeters and only about 50% effaced. BUT, I was dilated enough that they were able to break my waters. Thennnn things started to get intense. Within an hour, I was having really intense and painful contractions, and within 3 hours of having my water broken, I was getting an epidural. (which was amazing for about 3 hours) A few hours after getting my epidural (and a lovely catnap), I realized that I was starting to have pain again on my right side…within 45 minutes it was bad. The anesthesiologist came back up and decided the epidural must have slipped out, so he took it out and gave me a second one. (which was also amazing…for about 4 hours.) Late that evening, the pain started to come back on my right side again. I should also mention that during this time, they were consistently increasing my Pitocin drip to help strengthen and regulate my contractions.
Wednesday, at about 9 pm, I was finally dilated to 6 cm. (4 cm in 12 hours -yay for progress) At this point, my temperature had spiked, as well as her heart rate, so they started quickly pumping me full of fluid. The anesthesiologist visited twice more over the next few hours to push extra meds into my epidural, since it continued to wear off as time passed. Which was great, except that the epidural also made me CRAZY itchy. To distract me from that, my husband (who did SO much to encourage and support me the whole time) – sat at the end of my bed for several hours and scratched my leg to distract me, and help me close my eyes and rest.
Fast forward through lots of scratching and trying not to mess with all the monitors that were attached to me…at 1am I was 9 cm dilated. Then, Thursday morning at 2am, it was time to start pushing. (finally!)
The next few hours were kind of a blur. I was so tired that I was falling asleep in between every push (yes, that’s a thing.) Matthew was spoon feeding me ice chips to help my slight nausea and finally I asked for apple juice to try to wake me up a little bit. They had turned off my Pitocin drip at this point, which actually took my contractions from every 2 minutes, to every 5-7. Apparently nothing was going to happen quickly.
I kept watching the clock…3am, 4am, 5am, 6am…I told myself she HAD to be here by 7am. I couldn’t keep going much longer. (no lie, at the very end, I laid there wondering how I could get out of this situation without actually pushing her out. haaaa) My epidural ran out about 20 minutes before she finally was born, but no one told me so I just kept going without it. I had the BEST team of nurses, midwife, doctor + husband literally CHEERING me on, and FINALLY at 7:03 am, on Thursday, March 21st – SHE WAS BORN!!!
They say all the pain fades away as soon as they’re born….that’s not *entirely* true. 🤣 I wasn’t too happy about them pushing on my tender belly afterwards, and stitching me up down there where I had torn in the process. BUT – all the pain IS a faded memory now and I know we’ll have another baby one day (despite thinking in the hospital that I was *never* doing that again).
Zoë Caroline was 8 lbs and 6 oz, and 20 1/2 inches long. She was (and still is) perfect. I don’t know how it’s already been a month, but we really can’t imagine life without her. She’s the reason for the dark circles under our eyes, but also the reason we smile SO much throughout the day. (and the reason I have almost 4k pictures on my phone….) The first month postpartum has been an adventure, to say the least. But that’s a topic for another post. I’m going to end this one with a list of things I learned through this experience.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” – Psalm 139:13-16
“Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.” – Psalm 127:3
So there you go. My birth story, with all the details I can remember at the moment. One of the greatest, hardest, most intense but amazing experiences of my life. I’m learning to give myself grace, give my husband grace, and love, care for, and start training our daughter in the way she should go. (even if right now that just looks like getting her to sleep at night and wake up during the day. 😂)
Oh, and also, not to feel bad if I have to order a pizza for the third time this week. 😉
More on motherhood later…