When I was pregnant I loved to read birth stories. I actually loved to read everything related to pregnancy and birth and oddly I did not read anything about having an actual baby, which was probably a mistake. Eh, live and learn.
So, it only took me 7 and a half months to feel removed enough and rested enough to tell my birth story. Some people literally write their birth story from the hospital. That’s insane. But here we are. Let’s talk about the birth! It took either three days or six hours, depending on when you start counting.
Billy and I went to my doctor on October 6, 2014 for my 38 week appointment. You’re considered full term at 37 weeks, like the baby will pretty much be fine if he comes out at that point. I had high blood pressure throughout my pregnancy (and maybe before, too, who knows!) so my doctors were concerned about letting the baby hang out inside me for too long, what with how risky it is to have high blood pressure when you’re pregnant.
Sidebar: I made some mistakes when I was pregnant. Mistakes were made. Mainly, it came on the tail of a miscarriage, I had no faith in it lasting at all, I had a hard time finding the joy of the pregnancy and I sort of drowned my worry and pessimism in food and I gained all the weight. That’s probably why it was hard. I think that’s why my hips hurt and my back hurt and I had no energy. So if I could give a gentle suggestion to anyone looking to get pregnant: try to be positive about it and try not to self-medicate with bagels, if possible. And, like, go for a long walk every day, even if you’re tired. Especially if you’re tired. This is also a note to myself for future pregnancies. Treat yourself well, you are not a garbage can. But whatever, I made the choices I made and that’s what happened and everything turned out fine, so also do whatever you want.
Anyway. My blood pressure was high and they said I could be induced pretty much at any time. I was sent to have an ultrasound to make sure the baby was big enough to live in the world. He definitely was! He was measuring at 9 pounds and change so my doctor said we could schedule the induction for any time. We scheduled it for the next day. THEN BILLY AND I FREAKED OUT.
Billy frantically nested. I ate a lot. I think I ate a lot to deal with literally everything that happened to me during my pregnancy. Whatever, choices were made! We called my mom and she got on the road. I wanted her to be in the hospital with us when I gave birth because pregnancy made me a better daughter.
The next morning, October 7th, we showed up for my first dose of Misoprostol. I used to be scared of that drug because of the internet, but it was fine and whatever to all of that stuff.
I thought I would get one, maybe two doses of Misoprostol and then labor would kick in and I’d push a baby out and we’d be done. It took six doses and it didn’t really kick off labor at all. It, like, softened my cervix a little. Those first two days of the induction involved a lot of waiting and a lot of lying on a very uncomfortable cot in triage, in small rooms with no extra chairs. I would take a tiny pill, I would lie on a cot with a fetal monitor on my belly for an hour, I would leave the hospital for three hours, then I would return to the hospital for another dose. We went home to sleep that first night and I had some contractions but then they stopped and I went to sleep. By the sixth dose on the second day, October 8th, my doctor (who was also extremely pregnant at the time, actually due before me) had had about enough. She said we should get things moving.
She gave me a horrible nightmare thing called a foley catheter, which is a little balloon that is put up in your cervix and filled with some kind of fluid and it mechanically opens your cervix. Ahhhh. Haha. I’m remembering. It was so bad, guys. Yikes. Yikes yikes yikes. It didn’t cause contractions, it just caused lots and lots of steady pain. I was pitching all over the place. I was supposed to stay in bed with the fetal monitor on, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t do it, I was all over the place. I felt like a wild animal trapped in something who decides she should gnaw her own paw off. I would have gnawed something off if it would have helped. I asked to have them pull it out and they were like “no.” It was mean.
Eventually this tiny magical nurse convinced my doctor to let me get out of bed and go sit in the shower. Billy and my mom took turns spraying me down with hot water, like an elephant getting a bath. I felt like an animal a lot during this ordeal. The hot water really helped, inexplicably. I really don’t know how it worked, I thought I might die and then a little water from a shower head makes me feel okay? How, even? But it did.
Once I felt a little more steady, it was midnight I think at this point, I went back to the bed and they gave me an antihistamine to help me sleep. I slept until 5am on October 9th when my doctor came in and said the catheter had done its job and was ready to come out. I was dilated 4 centimeters.
After the catheter came out, they started me on Pitocin, which I had initially wanted to avoid, but was unavoidable in an induction like mine. It was actually fine! My fear was related to what happened to me when I was recovering from a surgery I had after my second miscarriage. I came out of anesthesia and was on a big dose of Pitocin and found myself in a shocking amount of pain. So I didn’t want to do that again. But also, after the foley catheter, that Pitocin pain was absolutely nothing.
The Pitocin was doing its job but could only go so far. Around 11am my doctor broke my water. Then the real labor started. My contractions got really intense and really frequent. I wanted to hold off on an epidural for awhile to see if I even really needed it (hahahahahahaha), so I asked for nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas, aka my dad’s favorite part of going to the dentist. This hospital has it for women in labor and it’s sort of a pilot program in the U.S. Apparently they use it a lot in the U.K. Why, I could not tell you. It was… not helpful.
A contraction would come and I would breath really deeply from this mask thing connected to a tank of nitrous. Then I would feel really drunk and nauseous and still in all of the pain. I almost barfed and then I said TAKE THIS THING AWAY AND GET ME AN EPIDURAL EVERYBODY PLEASE.
It felt like a long time between when I asked for the epidural and when I was free of the pain. There were two really difficult parts of this labor, the first being the foley catheter and the second being when they were inserting the epidural. I had to stay completely still, sitting up, through like a million insane contractions while they put a big needle in my spine. I didn’t feel the needle but the staying still part was really hard. I just screamed in Billy’s face and squeezed him too hard. I was literally screaming at the top of my lungs. My contractions were coming every 30 seconds and I was just screaming. Yikes!
But once the epidural was in, I felt… totally normal and perfect. I started texting my friends. I took a selfie. Everything was the best. I’ve learned some things here. The first is that I shouldn’t have eaten so much and gained so much weight during my pregnancy and the second is GET THE EPIDURAL AS SOON AS THEY WILL LET YOU. It’s magic!
After the epidural it was really fun. We joked and laughed and everything was great. Then, about an hour later, I felt like I needed to push. I had pretty much dilated to 10 centimeters in that one hour.
Here’s something real: pushing is pooping. They are the same. I guess they’re not literally physically the same, but when I felt like I had to push it felt like having to poop and when I pushed I was just trying to poop. And it worked great! And I pooped the bed and nobody cared.
All of my doctors were hilariously unavailable when I started pushing, and I think they thought it would be kind of a while of pushing so there was no need to freak out, but it was not that long and my very level-headed nurse pretty much delivered the baby by herself. She called in a backup doctor but by that point the doctor basically had time to put on her outfit and catch the baby as he came out. I pushed for 35 minutes and Evan was born at 5:35pm on October 9th. He was 20 inches long and weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces.
When he came out I was sort of in shock. I couldn’t believe there was a baby there with me. They brought him up to me and I held him and it was very nice. I don’t know how to explain it. It was sort of magic.
I was so happy after Evan was born. I was so relieved and free and proud. I ate a plate of hospital chicken parmesan and it was possibly the best meal of my life.
The time in the hospital was really special to me. It’s just a very nice thing to be totally taken care of by professionals. As soon as we got home I got the baby blues (sharp decline in hormones results in this deep, scary sadness and dread for a little while) and then after that I had normal new mom stuff where I didn’t really know what was going on for, oh, 3 and a half months. Evan was a great nurser but he did it for comfort a lot and that meant he kind of nursed constantly throughout his newborn months, which was pretty taxing for me. I watched a lot of TV. I tried to get out of the house once a day. Oh man, it’s pretty crazy remembering that time. My life is already so different.
Now Evan loves food. He eats pretty much everything we give him. Spinach, green beans, bread, peas, sweet potatoes, literally every fruit ever, eggs, zucchini, etc etc etc. He loves Daisy and Petunia. He loves bouncing with his legs and putting blades of grass in his mouth. He loves it when I sing Giants in the Sky from Into the Woods. He sleeps through the night. Our lives have evened out. I ran a 10k last weekend. I’ve almost lost the pregnancy weight. My play is opening next Friday. We have this new and different and better life now. Everything is actually the best.
Thanks for reading my birth story, you guys! It feels good to write it, therapeutic kind of. I hope it feeds your hunger for birth stories if you’re pregnant! Birth stories are the best when you’re pregnant. Almost as good as all of the food.
Oh and if you want information about that play I mentioned, here it is. Come see it, we can hang out, that would be so fun.