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Full moons & baby booms: The birth of Penelope Unmedicated

Full moons & baby booms: The birth of Penelope

"At my weekly OB appointment the Friday before, I was already a solid 4 to 5 centimeters dilated. With my contractions becoming more intense pressure-wise, the last thing I was looking to do was walk into the hospital with a baby on the way out. After speaking with the on-call doctor a little while later, we decided to go to the hospital just to play it safe."

Childbirth
[chahyld-burth] Noun
1. The act or instance of bringing forth a child

AKA … the scariest, craziest, most insane, beautifully wonderful adventure I have ever been on. What’s been about two months now seems like it was yesterday, but five years ago all at the same time. The moment we had been waiting nine long months for had come and gone in the blink of an eye—much how I’m sure the next 18 years will go.

I had been completely psyching myself out about childbirth—giving myself panic attacks and unnecessary anxiety. Would I be able to handle the process? Would things go smoothly? Would I have any of the complications they lectured about during the childbirth classes? The questions and over-analyzing never ceased … until it was actually happening. My mind and thoughts were blank, focusing only on getting this little human here.

It was my first Monday of maternity leave, and I had insisted on starting to check things off of my “to-do before baby comes” list. Let’s not kid ourselves—I spent the morning on the couch, drinking my coffee and watching morning talk shows. That list I mentioned could wait. After all, I had another entire week and a half to get it down before my due date.

My husband and I had been kicking around the idea of trading in his less-than-reliable sedan for a more family-friendly sports utility vehicle. You know, something that would hold all of our stuff, plus the baby’s stuff, plus the dog stuff, plus the entire family for our weekend trips to camp. After window shopping for a while we decided that this particular afternoon was a good time to travel to our dealership of choice to make the decision final. (Did I mention that this place was over an hour away from home?) Not only that, but my Braxton Hicks contractions were getting pretty intense, too. We went anyway.

As we started the venture home as proud new family-friendly vehicle owners, we entertained the idea of stopping at the hospital to get checked out. At my weekly OB appointment the Friday before, I was already a solid 4 to 5 centimeters dilated. With my contractions becoming more intense pressure-wise, the last thing I was looking to do was walk into the hospital with a baby on the way out. After speaking with the on-call doctor a little while later, we decided to go to the hospital just to play it safe.

We walked into the emergency room entrance around midnight and were promptly wheeled to the fifth floor where our labor and delivery suite awaited us. Not knowing if I would be admitted or not, we settled in the best we could for the time being. I was still measuring about 5 centimeters when the kind nurse evaluated me and suggested we see where the next hour took us and go from there. Within that hour, we were entertained not only by late night TV, but also by the countless number of nurses running up and down the hall. It was a full moon, and that maternity ward was nothing short of a madhouse. There were 10 deliveries that day—us included!

At 2:30 a.m. a nurse entered our room, stated her name and that she would be starting my IV—guys, I was being admitted. I was instantly paralyzed with fear and then began to shake in some weird uncontrollable manner. This was it. It was happening.

The next few hours were long. I had attempted to get some sleep knowing that the hours to follow would be even longer, but you can’t exactly get your beauty rest on those hospital beds, even if you have your own pillow from home. As “Good Morning, America” was coming back from a commercial break, shift change was taking place and a new nurse came in to introduce herself and see where I was at. At 6 centimeters now, the Pitocin was started and things progressed quite quickly. So quickly, that within two hours it was time to get this baby here and start pushing.

Pushing wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. The doctor on shift for my delivery was so relaxed and gave me such a sense of calmness and everything-will-be-OK-ness. As the contractions would start, so did the pushing. I had my husband on one side and a nurse on the other both doing their best to coach and encourage me to give it my all. Honestly, though, I wasn’t listening. I was in my own world, just focusing. And in between contractions we all sat and watched Dr. Oz—no one tells you about that potentially awkward break between contractions when there’s not much happening.

Two contractions and six pushes later, our worlds were totally and completely rocked by this tiny 6-pound-6-ounce little human. This little girl we had waited ever so patiently for was finally here. Nothing else happening around me mattered as my mind was blank, and my heart was bursting.

The entire thing from pregnancy to childbirth is something that is just so unreal. There really are no words to describe it. Your world changes instantly, and it’s the greatest thing there ever was. Welcome to the world, my sweet Penelope Ann.

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!