** THIS IS A BIRTH STORY. THERE IS FRANK DISCUSSION ABOUT BIRTH, WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY A PRUDISH TOPIC. IF YOU THINK IT MAY OFFEND YOU, KINDLY NAVIGATE AWAY FROM THIS PAGE AND FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO READ AND WE’LL ALL HAVE A HAPPIER DAY 🙂 **
When I got pregnant with the baby we’d come to know as Colm, I was still breastfeeding Paisley, so I wasn’t able to definitively determine when my due date should be. My OB told me after discussion and a dating scan that I should plan for September 24, but I didn’t quite feel that that was the right date, based on a few other factors, and I was fairly certain I’d be having my baby closer to the middle of the month (September 17, by my rough calculations).
Once the month of September rolled around, I kind of felt like I was playing Roulette every morning: would the baby come today? Would my water embarrassingly break somewhere while I was out? When was this baby going to come?
As you may know, Josh is a church history buff (this is relevant) and one night over the summer I was flipping through his Church Cal app, hunting for feasts or festivals of saints with potentially awesome names that corresponded with our son’s likely birth month. During my search, I noted that September 16th is the commemoration for Saint Cyprian and thought that Cyprian was the most legit name ever. Josh was skeptical, so finally we agreed that if Baby Boy was born ON September 16, we’d compromise and I’d get to name him Cypress Reeve (a derivation of Cyprian that we could agree on).
Fast forward to the night of September 16:
It’s a Friday night and we order a pepperoni pizza for dinner. Josh buys me a bottle of red wine, just in case I want a glass to help things get moving baby-wise. (He thinks that my goal to give birth on a specific day is hilarious, especially considering that Paisley had to all but be forcibly removed well after her due date.)
After we put Paisley to bed, I take full advantage of the luxury of the laid-back nature that defines everything about second pregnancy, grab some wine, and start bouncing like mad on my exercise ball (praise be for exercise balls!), hoping to induce some serious contactions. It also happens the night of the Super Moon, so I have the universe on my side in my induce-labor-now endeavors.
Sure enough – and slightly to my surprise – regular contractions set in around 9:45 PM. I start timing and tell Josh that if they’re still going steady and worsening by 11:30, I’ll call my OB to see if he wants me to go in.
We take showers, I pack my bag, clean the bathroom, scrub the kitchen, change the sheets on our bed, and basically make the house spotless before go time. (I’m an underachiever.) Meanwhile, the contractions get a lot worse and are about 5-7 minutes apart.
11:30 rolls around and I call my OB, who tells me to go to L&D and get checked out. (I had had an appointment in the office earlier in the day and was already at 3 CM and 60%.) I’m still in a bit of disbelief, as I’m unfamiliar with the whole “going to the hospital because I’m in labor” protocol, thanks to my prior induction. So we scoop up a sleeping Paisley, call my parents, and head to the hospital.
We get to L&D around midnight and there are only two other moms in the entire unit, so the nurses are kind of sitting around bored and take me back to triage right away for an non-stress test. After about an hour, I get a check and haven’t progressed so I get the option to walk around for an hour or go home and come back later.
The contractions feel pretty strong and Paisley has already gone home to my parents’ house so I’m determined to just go ahead and do the baby thing tonight. We opt to walk around a bit. Everyone keeps telling me that my second baby is sure to come quicker than my first (Paisley’s labor was 12 hours), so I’m petrified that I’ll go home, progress like crazy, and end up having the baby in our bathtub.
Josh and I walk around the L&D ward until about 3 AM or so and go back for a check. I’ve progressed to 4 CM so the on-call doctor reluctantly decides to keep me. (I feel like our hospital is almost always reluctant to keep people unless the baby is actually crowning.)
They send back a nurse for my labor and she’s totally awesome. I tell her that I want a natural birth – no pitocin, no epidural, no breaking of waters… Basically if it’s an option to do anything unnatural, I don’t want it.
She’s a champ and communicates that with the on-call doctor, who looks at me like I have three heads, and says “well, I’m going to submit orders for pitocin and an epidural anyway”. Jerk.
My nurse rolls her eyes and says that she and the other nurses will help me get my natural birth regardless. (Later on, I found out that there are only a few natural births a week at this hospital, so the doctors are just prepared to give everyone interventions. Cool.)
Around 4 AM I go to a delivery room and I get my IV placed, in case I need it in an emergency. They don’t hook me up to anything and let me roam freely, with monitoring for 15 minutes once an hour-ish. Josh and my mom are with me so I’m just hanging out and talking to them, getting through the contractions, and pretty much just waiting for the baby to come.
At 5 AM my OB comes in to check me and I’m still at a 4. The contractions are still getting increasingly intense so I’m frustrated that I haven’t progressed further. Cue more walking, moaning, dealing with strong contractions every 3-5 minutes.
Most of the morning passes, with a nurse shift change at 7. At 9 AM, I’m still at a 4 with really strong contractions and everyone keeps assuring me that “once you get to a 7, that baby is just going to FLY out”.
I’m also watching the clock, because by the time we get past 9:45, my labor will be officially longer than Paisley’s was.
9:45 comes and goes.
Somewhere in there, I decide I need a mantra for getting through the contractions; I settle on “f*** it”. Everyone thinks that’s a hoot, except for my mom. (Sorry, Mom!) Clearly, I’d passed the pleasant “dewy maternal goddess in the early stages of labor” phase.
At noon, my OB is more than a little frustrated with my lack of progression and threatens to send me home because “labor means that the cervix is expanding and you’re getting ready to have a baby; if your cervix isn’t opening, you’re not in labor”. Good thing he’s not within kicking distance.
At this point, I’m pretty exhausted from 14 hours of active labor, my consistent contractions at 8-9 on the pain scale, and losing a whole night’s sleep, so I ask him to break my waters to hopefully get things moving. We also take some more approaches to help things along, the details of which, I’ll spare you.
After my water breaks, things get even more intense. Hurrah.
My nurse goes quickly to take a lunch break before the pushing comes and another nurse – who I’m assured is very nice – comes in. Unfortunately for her, I enter transition at this point and bite her head off for smelling like onions. (Because labor apparently makes me a super bitch.) But really, they should think about what someone smells like when they come into a room with a women in transition. Just saying.
A little before 1 PM, I’m fully dilated and ready to push. I’m also so exhausted and completely out of energy that I literally feel like I’m going to die. But ok, this baby’s supposed to fly out of me, right? Let’s push!
I push and push and push and push and nothing happens. My OB leaves for an indefinite period of time, so I know that the birth is no where near imminent. I’m out of my mind at this point: hallucinating between contractions and shouting my head off during pushing. I mean, seriously, the entire town must be able to hear me.
I’m also shaking uncontrollably and vomiting. Mostly I’m aware of being tired and thirsty beyond reason (stupid ice chips). I’m also getting really, really frustrated because time just keeps passing and I just kept pushing.
My OB comes back in and I literally shout at him to pull the baby out. I don’t care where he is, just reach in there and get him. Of course, that’s not actually possible, so I keep on pushing.
I push for 2 hours total and finally, FINALLY the head is close enough that my OB comes in to deliver, they pull the end of the bed off, and get all the nurses in for the actual delivery.
I’m so weak at this point that I’m shouting at Josh to take his shirt off so he can do skin to skin because I’m fairly certain I’m going to completely pass out once the baby comes. Meanwhile, he’s sobbing his head off because he thinks I’m actually going to die or something otherwise horrible is going to happen, but he gets ready like I ask, just in case.
Finally the moment comes and Colm starts to crown. After that everything happens in a matter of seconds and the baby is here! (I’ll spare you the details on the exact moments of birth.)
(Also, I may have shouted “this natural birth thing is complete bullshit” AS my child was entering the world. A shining moment.)
As soon as Colm comes out (2:55 PM), I have a giant burst of energy and grab him right away. He’s so perfect! He latches instantly and eats for 3 hours, even though we’re both super dirty and covered in who-knows-what.
Once he’s done with skin to skin, they take him for his tests, etc. and I hop out of bed like I’ve not just had the most horrendous physical experience of my life. I don’t have any birth-related issues and realize that recovery is seriously going to be a dream, compared to what I experienced after having Paisley. (It was, by the way!)
Later that night, Josh and I are admiring and inspecting all of Colm’s adorable little baby-ness when I notice that his head is completely folded over in the back – kind of like a rolled down chip bag – and covered in bruises and cuts. I freak out a tad and grab a nurse right away. She’s a bit puzzled and we ask my OB about it the next day.
It turns out that Colm’s rolled up head indicates that he never rotated properly during his descent because he was at 39 weeks gestational age and for some reason he never had time to make the full move for proper presentation (there’s a science-y name for it that I unfortunately forget). Basically what that means is that he was coming diagonally down, which is why it took two hours of pushing to get him earthside.
This wasn’t obvious until he came out and we discovered his gnarly head (which I’m happy to report has made a full recovery). I’m really thankful that they let me keep pushing and get through it on my own, since neither Colm nor I were in any real danger. Many doctors would have probably sent me for a c-section at some point throughout the ordeal and I credit my awesome birth team for getting me through the contractions and pushing without quitting (even though I desperately wanted to).
I didn’t manage to get Colm here in time to get my name, although I do love his given name very much! But I did manage to have my baby on the exact day I thought I would, which is kind of mindblowing and awesome. He’s defintiely the perfect addition to our little family!
Will I go the natural birth route again? I don’t know.
Now that we’re nearly three months out, I defintiely consider it the single most empowering experience of my entire life. But there are some parts of it that could definitely contend for designation as the worst experience of my entire life. Ultimately, I made the decision to go for natural birth to heal from the kind of crappy birth I had with Paisley, where my birth plan was basically thrown out the window. I had to know that I could do it on my own, with minimal intervention.
Thankfully, I got what I wanted and I feel completely restored. And I’ve got plenty of time to adjust to my two lovely kiddos before we plan to go through this again!