As a pregnant teacher due at the end of June, I was desperate for the school year to be over. There were four days left of school and only one week until my due date, but when I got out of bed that Monday morning … I was immediately exhausted! I pushed myself to get into the shower and got partly dressed before I gave up and crawled back into bed—I just couldn’t do it. I emailed work to let them know that, while there was no baby yet, I wouldn’t be in that day.
I called my mom to make lunch plans for later that day and then I quickly fell back asleep, for more than two glorious hours. It was the best sleep I’d had in a long time—I believe it was my body preparing for the big job it was about to encounter. When I woke up, I made myself as presentable as I could manage and had a nice lunch with my mom.
We decided to get pedicures because I had some time to kill before my appointment at the hospital. Due to elevated liver enzymes (which had caused my hands and feet to itch like crazy all night for a few weeks in the beginning of my third trimester), I had to go to labor and delivery once a week for a non-stress test. On this particular day, I went in and got checked fairly quickly. Everything was fine, so I headed home and called Ryan (my husband) and my mother, like I did every week, to let them know that we passed the non-stress test and that everything was good.
I was still on the phone with my mom when I got home, and we kept chatting while I changed into a nightgown and got back into bed; I was still exhausted! I had been home for about five minutes (and back in bed for about one) when I felt a pop.
I felt a little warmth after that but not wetness, and thought: This must be my mucus plug! When I got up to check, water started pouring out from between my legs! I started saying, “Oh my god! Oh my god!” When my mother asked what was wrong, I replied, “My water just broke. I have to call Ryan!” I called him immediately, and then the doctor. The doctor told me to go straight to the hospital and not to wait for Ryan to come home. I had my bags packed and ready to go, so I got everything together and drove myself to the hospital—luckily, I wasn’t having contractions yet. I met my husband in the parking garage, and we walked into the hospital together, ready for our lives to change!
We checked in, and the staff confirmed that it was amniotic fluid that I was leaking. I still had another bag of water that hadn’t broken yet, so the doctor broke it with a little device that looked like a crochet hook. I wasn’t having contractions yet, so we were told to wait and see what happened overnight … and that they would give me Pitocin to get things moving if I wasn’t dilating by the next morning. We were prepared to be waiting a while, so a close friend and my mom came to the hospital to keep us company and to help us pass the time.
We were all hanging out and chatting when, all of a sudden, the contractions started—I went from no contractions to having one every couple of minutes. At first, I was just a little uncomfortable and was still able to participate in the conversation going on around me … but the contractions quickly became more intense, to the point where I couldn’t focus on anything else while they were happening.
My husband began to monitor them and would let me know when one was coming, when it was peaking and when it was just about over. After a couple hours, I asked for an epidural (which I was planning on getting from the start … it was just a matter of when). The nurse convinced me to try to hold out for one more hour, which I agreed to as long as I could get up and walk around. After my mom and friend left for the night, the nurse let me get out of bed to go for a walk … but I never made it out of the room. Even walking around inside my room intensified the pain, and I could barely make it a few steps without having to stop to breathe through a contraction. I made it 30 minutes before insisting on an epidural, which I got around 1 a.m.
The epidural made everything feel better instantly! It was amazing! It was definitely a strange feeling to not have control over the lower part of my body, but I immediately relaxed and felt a million times better. But shortly after, I started itching like crazy. It made me a little nervous because of the liver issues I’d had earlier in my pregnancy (and the itching that I had associated with that), but my nurse assured me that everything was fine and that an epidural can cause itching. She told me to relax and get some sleep. Easier said than done—my mind was racing! I was a ball of anxiety, but also full of excitement for what was about to happen!
At about 4:30 a.m., I started violently shaking. My whole body was trembling and my teeth were chattering—it felt like shivering when you are really cold, but I wasn’t cold at all … and I couldn’t control it. I called the nurse, and she explained that the shaking was my body’s way of getting the adrenaline out. My body was going through a very intense stage of labor and, even though I wasn’t feeling it because of the epidural, it was affecting my body in a very strong way. She predicted it would be time for me to push soon and she checked my cervix—I was 9 centimeters dilated!
By 6 a.m., I was ready to push! The nurse gave me some quick pointers and then we got started. My doctor came in shortly after that and everything was going great! They told me they could see the head (the nurse said she saw lots of hair!) and that it wouldn’t be too much longer … and then my contractions stopped. We waited a bit, but they weren’t starting up again. So my doctor put me on Pitocin to get things going and had me lie down and wait for about 30-45 minutes. They also shut my epidural off, so I was extremely worried that my numbness would wear off before the baby came!
When it was time to start pushing again, the hospital suddenly lost power! We later found out it was because a squirrel had been chewing on the power lines outside. The hospital had a back up generator, so it really didn’t affect much (except some of the medical machines in the room were beeping). The hospital did lose air conditioning though—on a hot day in June! The nurses kept asking me if I was hot, but I was actually pretty comfortable … and very thankful for the ice chips that my husband was providing! My doctor, on the other hand, was extremely hot—the nurses in the delivery room were pouring ice down her back as I was pushing!
I pushed for about 45 minutes, and we were getting close! The doctors and nurses would tell me when to push, and I would pull up my thighs and head/chest as they pushed my feet; it was kind of like making a “c” shape with my body. My husband was really helpful during this part—he would have one hand on my back and one on my foot and, when the doctor said to, he would push with all his strength! The nurses kept asking him if he needed help on his side, but he always said no. He even found himself holding his breath during the pushes right along with me! When the pushes were over, he’d go get the ice chips—I never even needed to ask.
Throughout the pushing, the doctors and nurses were counting—I needed to push while they counted down from 10, and the goal was three pushes per contraction. It wasn’t easy (and I didn’t always make it to one before I had to stop pushing), but I was consistently able to manage the three pushes in some fashion. Then my doctor started to increase the pushes, asking for “one more” after the standard three. Sometimes she would say “one more” multiple times! At one point I said I couldn’t do it anymore, but everyone in the room immediately replied, “Yes, you can!” I had a lot of support!
Finally, I was able to reach down and feel the top of the baby’s head! A few people in the room were commenting on the size of the baby, and I heard, “He’s big!” a few times as we were getting close. My doctor warned me that she may need to give me an episiotomy. At that point, I didn’t care; I told her to do what she needed to do. I was just thankful the epidural hadn’t worn off yet!
All of a sudden, it felt like chaos in the room. I didn’t know what was happening, but the nurses started scurrying around. I heard them saying to call neonatal, and a whole bunch of people came into the room. My doctor was completely focused on me (and I on her), and I was able to block out everything else going on in the room. I keep pushing, even harder now, and suddenly I felt this huge amount of pressure being lifted off of me and the baby was being placed on my chest. I knew that if something was wrong with the baby they wouldn’t have let me hold him at that moment, but I just kept asking, “Is he OK? Is he OK?” I was staring at him in awe—it felt like a dream.
Thankfully, he was fine. Because of his size, his shoulder got stuck in the birth canal—something called “shoulder dystocia,” which can potentially be very serious. Fortunately, he was able to get himself unstuck very quickly and without any damage. We are very thankful for our amazing team of doctors and nurses.
After the birth, my doctor had to spend quite a bit of time stitching me back together—there was considerable tearing, due to the baby’s large size. I was so focused on watching the baby as he got weighed, measured and cleaned off that I barely even noticed. Then I completely fell in love during our skin-to-skin contact. I was feeling very thankful that my epidural still hadn’t worn off!
Logan Joseph, our precious baby, was born on June 23 at 8:40 a.m., weighing a whopping 10 pounds, 4 ounces and measuring 21 3/4 inches long. He is worth every itch, push and stitch!
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