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Worth the waiting: The birth of Maxwell Birth Stories

Worth the waiting: The birth of Maxwell

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am so impatient. It really is one of my worst qualities. I cannot wait patiently for anything. So, after my due date, I just wanted to be induced. I was so ready. The idea of not knowing when or if my water would ever break was killing me....

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am so impatient. It really is one of my worst qualities. I cannot wait patiently for anything.

So, after my due date, I just wanted to be induced. I was so ready. The idea of not knowing when or if my water would ever break was killing me. I needed to know exactly when we’d be getting this show on the road.

My doctor was amazing. Seriously. The best. He understood I just wanted to do this and push this kid out. So on Thursday, the afternoon of my due date—which happened to be right before Fourth of July weekend—he told me to call him Monday morning if I hadn’t gone into labor on my own yet. All weekend I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. Frequent Braxton Hicks contractions … but that’s it. And those weren’t doing anything to dilate me anyway.

I was too excited at the thought of having our baby join us so soon that I couldn’t sleep Sunday night. I called as soon as the office opened Monday morning, expecting an answer right away, but I was told by a nurse that they’d have to call me back as soon as they spoke to the doctor. I sat by the phone for hours, and they finally called me back at noon. Those four hours of waiting felt like forever, but hearing my favorite nurse say, “Do you want to have a baby today?” was exactly what I was waiting for. I told her I needed to talk to my sleeping husband, who worked 12+ hours the day before, and then I’d call her back.

Ethan was half asleep and didn’t seem the least bit excited when I told him I could get induced in two hours. He just kept saying we could do whatever I wanted. Well, OK, if you’re going to give me that option … we’re going in and having a baby in two hours!

maxwell1I speed cleaned the entire house one last time and made sure everything was ready to go in our hospital bag. And then off we went to the hospital.

(But not without a stop at DQ first for a basket of chicken strips and fries. I had no idea when I was going to eat again, and I was not about to go in there hungry!)

We got checked in and got our room all set up. I changed into my hospital gown. We were so ready.

(I was exhausted from not having slept the night before. Looking back on it, it was a terrible idea, but what can ya do? Next time, I’ll definitely be sure to enjoy the last little bit before the baby arrives and get any sleep I can.)

I wasn’t even dilated 1 centimeter—so, not even the size of a Cheerio. I had been that way for the past four weeks, which was super frustrating at the time. So, we started Cervidil to help “ripen my cervix.” (I know, it sounds so gross. But this is a birth story.) I had to let that stuff sit and work its magic for 12 hours. I was so bored. I watched bad TV and ate some more. I got to catch up on my sleep just a little bit, but that can be hard with your doctor and nurse frequently stopping by.

By the time 3 a.m. rolled around, the nurse came in and checked everything out. We were finally ready to start Pitocin and get some contractions going. I was beyond excited—but at the same time terrified because I knew this was when the real pain would start.

It started out like my typical period cramps. They were easily manageable, and I was coping just fine. It really wasn’t a big deal at all.

Then they started getting a little bit worse and I thought to myself, Oh, OK. This kind of hurts now. But I was still doing OK.

I tried to swallow my pride and hold off on any medication for as long as I could, particularly the epidural. However, after a few more hours I told the nurse I needed something for the pain—anything at this point to help me relax.

(Side note: While pregnant, I swore I would never get induced and use Pitocin. I swore up and down. Seriously. And I totally get why people told me to avoid it now—your contractions come hard, and they come on freaking fast.)

She put some drugs in my IV and said I was about to feel really good. (She wasn’t kidding; the drugs were amazing and made me feel like I had a giant margarita.) She said I’d fall asleep, and sure enough, in what felt like 10 seconds, I was out. I think I was asleep for maybe an hour, I’m not sure. Whenever it started to wear off, I thought I was on the brink of death. I thought, Yes, this is childbirth, but this much pain can certainly not be normal.

maxwell2Ethan was fast asleep in the chair beside my bed. I managed to roll over through a contraction and ask him to get a trash can because I was going to throw up from the pain. Luckily, I hadn’t eaten in so long that nothing came up—although dry heaving is just as tiring for your body, especially when you already feel like your energy level is insanely low.

I kept going. Contractions constantly came and felt like they took forever to pass. Each one took my breath away, and I had to force myself to breathe and make sure I was still getting enough oxygen.

Finally, I knew I’d had enough. I asked for the epidural and thankfully, they got it to me within five minutes. I’m not a fan of needles, especially one that goes in your spine, but when you’re in that much pain you suddenly don’t care where it’s going. (I salute all the women who give birth without any medication. You’re all amazing.)

Sometime after the epidural, my nurse went to check my cervix and said that my mucus plug came out. I’d been waiting and waiting for any indication, aside from contractions, that things were progressing. She said the doctor would be in shortly to break my water and then things would really get going. (After talking to some friends who had been induced and had their doctor break their water without already having an epidural, I am unbelievably thankful I had gotten the epidural beforehand.)

The doctor came in to break my water and then told me to relax and nap as much as possible to let my body get ready to run this marathon. I gladly took his advice because I was beyond exhausted. But a few hours later, I woke up completely unprepared for what they were about to say.

I had a nurse standing by my bed just watching the paper roll out of the monitor that was tracking Max’s heart rate and my doctor sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed doing the same. He could tell I was a little startled to wake up and see them both standing right there, so he slowly explained what was going on. I’d been stuck at 4 centimeters dilated for quite some time, Max wasn’t fully engaging into the birth canal on his own, and each time I contracted his heart rate dropped significantly. He gave me the option to either wait it out, and possibly cause more stress for Max, or slowly prepare for a cesarean. Ethan and I looked at each other, and it was pretty obvious we were both thinking the same thing. My doctor insisted it wouldn’t be an emergency right this second, but it could easily turn into a bad situation. There just wasn’t any way to know how it would turn out.

I won’t lie—I kept wondering how I got to this point. Everyone told me to not even research cesareans or worry about having one because I was “so young and healthy” and “there’s no way you’ll need one.” Wrong.

We both agreed it would be best for Max if we went forward with the C-section. The doctor said he would get everything set up, and they would let us know when the time came. Every time I got asked if I was OK, I fought back the tears while saying, “Yeah.” I was trying to convince myself I was fine and not extremely terrified of what was about to happen. I was about to be sliced open on a table, while being awake and having my son taken out of my body. On the outside, I know I looked scared. On the inside, I was full on panicking. I signed all of the necessary paperwork, took whatever medication the nurse handed me, and we made our way to the room.

maxwell3It’s weird. As you’re on your way down the hall, being wheeled along, it’s like everyone knows you’re about to have a C-section. They all look at you with this “that poor girl” look. But then again, maybe it’s because I looked like I was about to crap my pants out of fear. Who knows?

The nurses, doctor, anesthesiologist—they were all so amazing. I’m sure they’re so used to new moms (like me) coming in there filled with worry, and they did their best to lift my spirits. Everyone kept asking how excited I was to finally meet my baby, if we knew what we were having or if we had waited to find out until the birth, what names we picked, etc. It kept me thinking about something other than the surgery, and I really appreciated that. Ethan finally entered the room in scrubs, and I was so happy to see him. As soon as he was there, I was ready for it all to happen.

Just a few minutes later, I felt a little bit of pressure, and Max was lifted up above the curtain for us to see. Without a doubt, newborn babies look like little aliens, but it’s still so special when you see what you’ve created inside your body over the past 10 months. They held him up to my face and I didn’t even know what to do. I remember the doctor made a comment about his full head of hair and how he was so long he’ll probably be a basketball player. I was in total shock of what just happened. I just looked at him in awe. I couldn’t believe what I just did for our son. Max was born at 6:11 p.m. on a very hot, thunderstorm-filled evening in early July. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 21 3/4 inches long.

Ethan went with Max to be cleaned off, weighed and covered up. I made sure he knew not to let them give him an ounce of formula, as I was dead set on breastfeeding. While I was being closed up the doctor explained why we had to do a C-section and, ultimately, why it was so good we decided to do it. Max’s head was completely crooked, resulting in his body being angled to the side and him not being able to fully descend down into my pelvis. (Looking back, this makes so much sense because in the end of my pregnancy I only felt his body pushed up against the right side of my belly.) His cord was also wrapped around his belly and constricting against him with each contraction, which explains the drop in heart rate. I felt so relieved that we decided to go with the cesarean. Had the cord not been removed from his torso, we could have had a very different ending.

maxwell4I was then whisked off to recovery. On the way down, I got to peek inside the nursery and hold Max for the first time. It was incredible.

While sitting in recovery, I was all alone. They kept checking my legs to see if I was regaining any feeling after the epidural. I was so frustrated because I just wanted to go up to see Max and breastfeed him. I had read about how important the first hour after birth was to help establish a good breastfeeding relationship, and I was so worried I’d hurt our chances at breastfeeding before we could even give it a try. After awhile, I got so impatient and started to lie about the feeling in my legs coming back. I just wanted to get out of there and up to my little guy.

After an hour or so, we were on our way back up to the maternity ward. I could barely contain my excitement. I’m so glad that Ethan was with Max while I couldn’t be there. He said from the moment they took him out and were cleaning him off, he was trying to find where to eat. As soon as I got into my room, the nurse asked if I wanted to try breastfeeding, and I was so excited. I had been waiting for this moment. Little Max latched on like a pro and drifted off to sleep. My heart was so full.

Now, almost one year later, it still is.

Max is the sweetest little boy and I am so lucky to be his mom. (And for those wondering, we’re still breastfeeding!) His smile warms my heart and makes every little bit of pain I went through during pregnancy and birth completely worth it. He is my world.

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!