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Our ultimate gift: The birth of Daniel Epidural

Our ultimate gift: The birth of Daniel

"There wasn't a sense of panic, but there was definitely a sense of urgency. My baby needed to come out as soon as possible."

Four days past my due date, December 19, 2016, my husband Anthony and I headed out for yet another appointment with my OBGYN—one I was sure I wouldn’t have to keep considering I was dilated to 3 centimeters at my previous appointment on December 5. I woke up with my usual heartburn, a craving for pancakes and other typical discomforts of being 40 plus weeks pregnant, but still no sign of contractions.

The appointment itself turned out to be more eventful than we expected. I had developed high blood pressure that required me to have a 30-minute non-stress test, followed by a trip to triage for an exam at the hospital. Ultimately, they decided I was OK to go, and I should return the next morning (and every day after) to check my blood pressure until I went into labor. Anthony and I left feeling like this pregnancy would drag on forever.

Several hours later, we were exhausted and starving. We stopped for a quick lunch and went home to take a nap. When I woke up around 5 p.m., I took a shower and put on my comfy pants. My plan for the evening was to cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie, but little did I know, the fun was about to begin.

I went downstairs to the kitchen where my mom happened to be making chorizo soup. I took one whiff of it, and my stomach flipped. Initially, I thought: OK, I’m not feeling well. I probably just need to use the bathroom. So I did, but my upset stomach pains quickly turned into recognizable contractions.

I sat down on the bathroom floor by myself for a few minutes to take it all in and mentally prepare myself for what was to come. I thought: Oh my god, I actually have to deliver my baby tonight. I couldn’t wait for him or her to come (we did not find out the sex), but I was terrified of the process.

Pretty much immediately, my contractions were coming every 5 minutes for about 20-30 seconds. After an hour, they were every 5 minutes for 45 seconds, and I was desperate for relief! Not only was I in immense pain, but I was shaking uncontrollably due to the influx of hormones and adrenaline.

Going into this, I thought I’d have no problem getting through contractions. My plan was to walk around, sit on my exercise ball—whatever it took to move things along quickly (this was wishful thinking and pretty much the exact opposite of what actually happened). I found contractions to be so painful. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything besides curl up in a ball. In between contractions, when I had a “break”, I barely managed to put my shoes on and instruct Anthony to grab a few miscellaneous items to put in my bag. Somehow, we managed to get ourselves out the door.

We arrived at the hospital around 8:30 p.m., and I was admitted around 9 p.m. I had reached 5 centimeters, and I was begging the nurses to send the anesthesiologist as soon as possible. Once I got the epidural, my pain level went from a ten to about a 3. I was able to relax and watch reality TV while I listened to the buzzes and beeps of the fetal monitor. Nothing helped with the shakes, but at least I was able to do something about those contractions!

The relief was short lived though, as my labor was progressing quickly. It wasn’t long before my heartburn flared up with a vengeance, and I started vomiting when I went through the transition. Around 1 a.m., I was at 9.5 centimeters, and it seemed like my epidural had worn off completely. It was almost time to push, and I was in a lot of pain—again.

I asked the anesthesiologist to give me another dose of epidural meds, which she agreed to, but only after warning me that I might lose all sensation and not be able to push properly (I was even more terrified of pushing than I was 6 hours ago, and I told her to go ahead with it anyway).

Shortly after 2 a.m., the nurse and the midwife sat by my side and explained that they were going to first break my water and then get me into a position to begin pushing. From this moment on, the whole experience is a blur for me. Within minutes, we learned that my amniotic fluid had meconium in it, and that my contractions had ramped up fast. They were back to back, and before I knew it, the nurse called in about eight people—all of which made it clear that I needed to push hard.

I was doing my best (or so I thought), but I didn’t have much sensation anywhere below the waist. There wasn’t a sense of panic, but there was definitely a sense of urgency. My baby needed to come out as soon as possible. After two pushes, one of the doctors asked permission to do an episiotomy (which she did and I pushed two more times). There wasn’t enough progress, and my baby was stressed.

The team announced that they were going to use a vacuum, and that I needed to push really hard. After two pulls with the vacuum, they said, “OK, if we can’t get this baby out this time, we need to prep you for surgery.” Luckily, the third time was the charm. They (quite literally) yanked my baby out and whisked him away to the table next to my bed for an exam. Everyone in the room breathed a sigh of relief. It was intense! I couldn’t believe I had a baby! And I was so relieved to be done with labor.

My next thought was: What is it??? Everyone was so concerned with getting my baby out safely that there wasn’t a grand announcement of the gender, or maybe the delivery team just assumed that we knew. Finally, one of the nurses looked over at Anthony and me and said, “Oh! It’s a boy!” I didn’t have a preference either way, but I knew Anthony (who has three sisters and is pretty much surrounded by women) was desperate for a son.

We were both thrilled to learn we had a healthy baby boy. Within minutes, I had my little babe in my arms. He was quietly looking up at me with his big brown eyes, taking everything in. And I was, too. He was the most beautiful baby boy I’d ever laid eyes on, and I was completely fascinated by him. I couldn’t believe he was finally here, and I couldn’t believe he was ours to keep.

Daniel Jeffrey Enos came into this world at 2:27 a.m. on December 20, 2016. He weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces. We love him more than words can express! He’s the greatest Christmas gift we could ask for.

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!