I packed my hospital bag with the assumption that I’d be having a natural birth. Perineal healing sprays and pads, vitamin E oil, basically any kind of product that screamed “my vagina was just torn open!!” That was seemingly my first mistake. Because what I didn’t know is that I’d end the labor process with a c-section delivery. This is the story of Tuesday, May 26th, 2020: the day my baby girl came into the world.
The Start of Active Labor: Phase One
The truth about being a first time mom is reading hundreds and hundreds of articles and books, attending classes, and even speaking to other moms will never fully prepare you for what’s going to happen when you go into labor. Every mom is different. There’s no one set way to have a baby. So when my water broke around midnight on Tuesday morning, I spent a good half hour googling “What is it like when your water breaks?” instead of heading to the hospital. Side note: I needed to go to the hospital right away because I tested positive for Group B Strep. In other words, they wanted to start me on antibiotics immediately. Back to the story…
I truthfully had no idea whether or not my water had broken or if I’d finally lost control of my crazy pregnancy bladder. This resulted in me doing the only thing I could think of: call my sister. Unfortunately, her waters were broken at the hospital after she’d already started labor…so I couldn’t really get much insight. And what really convinced me my water had broken was when the contractions came in full-fledged within 15-20 minutes of this time.
The only thing I knew now is that it was time to go. So I sped through a mental check list: get SO up, call the OB, double-check the hospital bag, and get to the hospital. So at 1am, I finally called my OB/GYN’s overnight emergency line to let them know my water broke. But I’ll spare the boring details of a grueling car drive in which we took the wrong exit and get right to the goods.
Labor: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
Once we checked into the hospital and got taken to our room (a simple task that took entirely too long if you ask me…) the laboring process really took off. I’m not sure at what hour everything really took off, all I know is that my contractions went from mild to severe very quickly. There was no buildup. It just jumped straight from period cramps to being hit in the uterus with a lightning bolt.
Honestly, 3am to 6am are a bit of a blur and I don’t remember much. SO did the best he could to take care of me: getting my ice to chew on, wiping me down with cool cloths, holding my hand. But truthfully, I went through a point where I became very irritable. He kept reminding me that I didn’t have to hold out. That it was okay if I wanted to get an epidural. Mostly, I’d wanted one but have always been too stubborn to admit when I’m weaker than I expected to be.
I Give In
I have a newfound appreciation for all moms now. Labor is hard. And not quite what I expected. I don’t think I actually expected for it to be as grueling as it was. Nevertheless, I finally asked for an epidural around 6am.
I wish I could give some insight as to what it feels like to get the epidural. Some women describe getting it as a horrible pain, while others describe it as a bee sting. I, however, did not feel a single thing. I think I was so busy thinking about the contractions that I missed the feeling altogether. And by the time the anesthesiologist was done, I didn’t even know he had started. Not to mention, he managed to get it on the first try with me laying on my side. 10/10 would ask for him again!
Even better – I didn’t feel a thing very shortly after that. Almost instantly even. Many people told me I’d still feel the pressure – but nope. I was so numb from the waist down that I ended up taking a small nap. Until the nurses interrupted, of course…
Here’s What They Call “Practice Pushing.”
They said I could start pushing around 11am, Tuesday morning. By this point, I was overly exhausted – having been awake for almost 28 hours besides a small nap. But everything looked good. 10cm dilated and ready to get the baby into position – I started pushing.
Here’s what they tell you when you’re practice pushing:
- Wait for a contraction.
- Take a deep breath and tuck your chin to your chest.
- Push as if you have to poop – relax your thighs. (No, seriously!!)
Those are the three things I did over and over again. Wait for a contraction. Take a deep breath and bear down. My advice to you is this: push deep, not hard. It probably doesn’t make sense now, but it will.
Anyway, I worked on this for 5 hours. That’s right, I pushed from 11am until almost 4pm. But apparently, my body was working against me.
The Final Decision
Around 4pm, everyone knew I was exhausted. Realistically, I had two options. They could try to put me on Pitocin drip or I could have a cesarean section. Both options I didn’t want – but I chose what I knew I could handle.
When you go into labor, your body has a naturally occurring hormone called ocytocin. It’s what creates the contractions and makes then long and strong. Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin – and is used to start contractions, speed up labor, or shorten time between contractions.
I’ve heard a lot of terrible things about Pitocin, so my safe option was to have a c-section.
I’ve always had a problem with the types of surgeries where you can feel the pressure and not the pain. I don’t mean to scare you when I say that I felt everything down there. Pressure-wise, not pain-wise. The thing is, I was super numb. I couldn’t feel my legs or my toes. But I could feel them taking my baby out of my body.
I’ll never be able to truly describe that feeling.
And at 4:55pm on Tuesday, May 26th, 2020, Ariella Rose was born via c-section. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through – mentally, physically, emotionally. But I am so in love with my baby girl and excited for what’s to come.