I wrote a long account of Xavier’s birth and then I realized that (a) it might be longer than the actual experience and (b) no one cares nor needs that much detail except me and Sean. I debated actually posting anything, but since I found reading birth stories from other bloggers informative, I thought I’d post my experience.
The short version of what happened on July 31st/August 1st
I started feeling labor pains around 9:30 pm on July 31st and stayed up all night with Sean as the contractions worsened. Since contractions were coming between 3 and 6 minutes apart, we went to the hospital the next morning around 6:20 am. I was admitted to labor and delivery triage and checked. I was only 2 centimeters dilated and my cervix was very soft (they didn’t tell me what percent effaced). Shortly after, I was moved to my L&D room and labored on the birthing ball sleepily until I got the epidural at 10 am. The epidural worked like a charm. My parents arrived and I was feeling good enough to chat and nap.
The midwife came in at 2 pm. She checked me (8 cm dilated) and broke my water. Around 4 pm, I woke up from a second nap and the midwife informed me that it was time to push. Xavier Carlos came after a few practice pushes and real pushes. Sean and my mom were by my side. I was still groggy from the nap, but not enough to not be immediately enamored of Xavier and feel like this was the best dream ever. (I found out when being moved to the recovery room that I was on a pitocin drip, but didn’t know when that started.)
The long version [pictures at the end!]
On Wednesday evening, my dad came over again to help out with some lingering car issues. Although he and Sean had replaced the battery, it had stalled on me while I was out running errands. We had KFC for dinner and followed the Dodgers/Yankees game online. My dad left and Sean and I hung out. Around 9:30, I started to feel some pains that were regular. Around 10:30, Sean started timing them and tracking frequency.
As it got later, the contractions became stronger and started getting closer together. I did some writing and reading, bounced/swayed on the exercise ball, took a 1 am walk with Sean (contractions were shorter/felt closer together), and snacked on peach cobbler. Knowing I had a long day ahead of me I tried to nap, but it was too uncomfortable to lie down through contractions. I felt best when leaning forward on the ball or standing and leaning over the bed. Neither one of us slept. Sean helped me out by reminding me to breathe, applying a heat pad, massaging my lower back, checking that we had everything we needed in our pre-packed hospital bag, and timing the contractions.
Around 4 am we called labor and delivery at the hospital since the contractions had followed the 5-1-1 rule (5 minutes apart, lasting about 1 minute for 1 hour or more). The nurse told me stay at home for at least another hour. As the pain got worse, I grew more tired and vomited a little after some of the stronger contractions. We waited as bit more and left for the hospital at 6:20.
A few minutes later, we were at the hospital and I was being admitted to labor and delivery triage for monitoring. I had my blood drawn, got an IV placed for fluids, and got monitors placed to track contractions, the baby’s heartbeat, and my pulse. I disliked feeling so tied down, but was used to it from my two previous visits. Three nurses interviewed me and asked the same questions about my medical history and birth plan. I get that there was a shift change around 7 am, but was surprised that the info wasn’t noted in my chart after the first set of questions. As the contractions worsened and I had to sit in a reclining position through them, I vomited more. I was assured that I’d be able to walk around in the labor and delivery room or use my exercise ball, but only if the baby’s heartbeat was monitored. (Or something like that, it was hard to understand our nurse, Julia, sometimes due to her strong accent/speaking fast.)
Around 6:45, a nurse checked me and confirmed that I was 2 cm dilated, cervix very soft. Once it was clear labor was officially in progress, Sean called my parents to let them know what was going on.
A few nurses asked about my birth plan and pain management plans. I filled out the template provided by the hospital and reviewed it with my OB at one of the final appointments. We left it on file with the nurse in her office. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my copy and assumed the hospital had it on record. Fortunately, it was very simple. Regarding pain management, I originally wanted to go as long as possible without the epidural or other medications to see what I could handle. However, I didn’t plan on being exhausted after walking 5 miles and being up all night. I wanted the rest pain relief would offer. I was assured by the nurses that I could have the epidural soon even though I wasn’t 4-6 centimeters dilated. According to Julia, they just wanted my pain managed.
Shortly before 8, I was moved to the labor and delivery room. Sean went out to the car and got our bag and the birthing ball. I’d use it for the next couple of hours before it was time for the epidural. My nurse chatted with us while going about her work monitoring contractions.
The on-duty OB came in to see me and see how I was doing. Before she left, I remember her saying that they’d continue with the induction — but I wasn’t really sure what that meant and was too distracted by contractions and nausea/vomiting to bother asking.
Once I told the nurse I wanted to epidural soon, she made it happen. Around 9:45, the nurse anesthesiologist arrived and began going over the process, risks and other info I’d need to give informed consent. Once she started, she sent Sean out of the room and a second nurse anesthesiologist arrived to assist with the process. As I sat hunched over with my back exposed I got very cold and tried to stay still through the contractions. The whole process took a little over half an hour, but went by quickly. The most discomfort I felt was getting my back sterilized with something that felt scratchy. I felt the first needle to numb the area, but not the second. I felt more discomfort getting the catheter placed. They gave me oxygen which I took for a little while.
By the time my parents arrived, the epidural had kicked in and I was feeling much better. My mom — who birthed four children naturally — seemed a little surprised by my calmness. If they wouldn’t have spent more time getting ready, they would’ve at least seen me put up with a few painful contractions.
For the next few hours, I chatted with my parents and Sean, read a magazine and then napped. The nap was just what I needed. I was getting so sleepy pre-epidural that Sean worried he’d have to catch me so I wouldn’t fall off the birthing ball between contractions.
At 2, the midwife came into check my status. I was 8 cm dilated. She went ahead and broke my water. I felt nothing. She informed me that I’d start feeling more pressure in my pelvis as the baby descended further. While I didn’t feel any pressure, I did feel mild pain as the contractions got stronger.
The pain wasn’t that bad that it kept me from taking another nap. Sean napped as well. I woke up a little after 4 and Sean woke up a few minutes later.
I was still groggy when the midwife came in and told me it was time to start pushing. My mom asked my dad to leave the room and Sean came over to help hold my legs in place since I could barely move them thanks to the epidural. The midwife directed me to take a deep breath, hold it and then push hard. At the first or second push, Sean said “I see hair!”
The midwife instructed me to stop pushing as they needed to prepare the bed for delivery. All I could think was, “So soon? This is really happening this quickly?” I looked at Sean, held his hand and tried to mentally prepare myself for what would be happening very soon. My mom stood beside me and seemed just as amazed since her natural birth experiences were much different.
Once everything was ready for the midwife, she had me push. I pushed 3-4 times and he was out.
It felt like a long time before Xavier was placed on my chest, but I know it was almost immediate. I know he was crying, but all I heard was how he calmed down instantly when placed on my chest. I held him and stared down amazed, overwhelmed and in love.
In the next hour or so, a nurse helped me get Xavier to latch on for the first time. The midwife stitched me up. Xavier was weighed, measured and went through the APGAR test.
The nurses placed the baby Lo-Jack on him and explained the security measures.
My dad returned with Lori and Adrian. And I was moved to the family care center where we’d recover and bond as a family for the next two days.
I didn’t realize I had been put on a pitocin drip until I was being moved to the recovery room. I know that sped up labor, but don’t know how much. I originally wanted to avoid pitocin due to the risk of needing more medical intervention.
Lori and Adrian were waiting at the apartment. The time to push came much sooner than expected and Lori missed the birth. I originally wanted her present for that part.
I’d had two dreams pertaining to the birth or post-baby and in both the baby was a girl. Just to be sure, Sean announced, “it’s a boy” before they placed him on my chest.
I regret not being more “present” for birth. It was weird waking from a nap and birthing a baby 30 minutes later. It reminded me of a dream I had recently in which I’d given birth to a baby girl but did not recall labor nor meeting my daughter. There was definitely no skin to skin bonding immediately after delivery. I was pretty distraught over this in the dream.
Birth photo set by Sean