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Oh hold: The birth of Helena Rose Epidural

Oh hold: The birth of Helena Rose

"When I woke up the nurses told me it was time to do some practice pushing, which I found out actually means real pushing."

I was walking around dilated 3 centimeters and having contractions five minutes apart for days, but I wasn’t progressing so the doctors kept sending me home or telling me it wasn’t time.

On December 20, the contractions were getting much worse, so I talked my husband into going in yet again to be checked. I was there for three hours … and still nothing. Just hours of squats and being stuck at 4 centimeters. My OB had stripped my membranes twice that week, but my little girl was stubborn! She just wanted to continue to kick my right ribs out of place. So, once again the doctors sent me home because they said I wasn’t “in enough pain” and I wasn’t progressing.

On the way out of the building the pain got much worse, but my husband talked me into going home. He had to put me in the car because I couldn’t lift myself. When we got home I tried to take a bath to calm myself (yeah, right). Unfortunately, I started shaking violently, and I got scared. I called my mom and sister and told them it was time, I wasn’t going to leave that hospital until my baby was there! Come hell or high water, it was time. I was sick of being pregnant. I had hyperemesis gravidarum (severe nausea and vomiting), and I had been sick the entire time. I wanted out; I wanted my prize! My body however had other plans.

Although my contractions were two minutes apart, severely painful, and I was shaking so much I could have given Shakira a run for her money, my body wasn’t having it. I was still at 4 centimeters and wasn’t progressing. I really wanted to go all natural, but the doctor on call warned me that my body was stuck because my muscles were seizing (also why I was shaking) and in order to dilate I would need something to relax me—and without anything, it’s likely that the shaking would return. He asked me what kind of birth I wanted and how I wanted to remember it. And I knew I needed to change my plan to have the birth I wanted, that going all natural or not wasn’t the end all be all. Having a healthy baby and being healthy myself were my two goals. I wanted to enjoy my daughter’s birth.

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I didn’t even feel the epidural, and about 20 minutes after getting it the shaking started to slow. After an hour the shaking had completely subsided, and I slept for five hours! When I woke up the nurses told me it was time to do some practice pushing, which I found out actually means real pushing (but without the doctor because they don’t have enough doctors to sit around while you push for however long it might take).

I pushed for an hour until my daughter was crowning. During that time there was a shift change, but my original labor nurses didn’t want to leave until I gave birth so they joined the new labor nurses. They went to get the doctor as the baby was crowning, but even with the epidural it was excruciating. (I found out later that my daughter broke my pelvis because she was crowning for so long while we waited.)

IMG_3409The doctor came in with the head nurse and started to wash her hands. At this point the room contained my mother, sister, husband, two original nurses, two new nurses, the head nurse and the doctor. Honestly, the Pope could have been in my room, and I wouldn’t have known or cared because my eyes were closed! I could quite literally feel the stretching, and it took everything not to scream. Now I don’t remember this, but I’m told I did yell “I have to push!” And then I pushed her head out. The whole room started screaming and clapping. I took two quick breaths and pushed out her little body.

I opened my eyes when they placed her on my body, and there she was looking up at me blinking. What I didn’t know was that when she came out—because my eyes were closed—the doctor was still across the room and had to run to catch my baby! My husband told me he looked at me after her head came out, and when he turned back the doctor was squatting in front of me holding our daughter by her neck with one hand! I’m glad I didn’t see that!

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!