I decided to get really vulnerable and share Annie’s birth story with you.
After so many years of infertility, I never imagined that I’d have my own birth story to share, much less that I’d want to share it publicly. Sharing her birth story is right up there with sharing my before and after braces journey pictures and writing almost 1,500 words about waiting for baby #2 in terms of vulnerability.
I decided to share Annie’s birth story here because in the age of social media, I think it’s important to normalize that birth is scary, raw, painful, and emotional while also being exciting and beautiful. I also think it’s important to share birth stories without being preachy or judgmental. It’s tough enough navigating pregnancy and birth without being shamed about choices like getting an epidural or using a doula.
Due to my gestational diabetes, my ob had me scheduled for an induction at exactly 39 weeks. Being induced was not my first choice. But the peace of mind with planning for it and having that set end date was nice.
Ten days before my scheduled induction, I started having contractions around 1 a.m. I had fairly regular contractions until about noon. At that point, they stalled out a bit. I continued to have contractions all day into the evening, maybe a few an hour. I felt awful and was completely out of commission all day. Thankfully, it was the weekend. Jake was around, and my parents were able to help. I took it as easy as possible, stayed hydrated, and kept my eating very light.
My cats thought that this day in bed was the absolute best. I had at least two, if not all three, cats with me for the vast majority of the day. They were the absolute sweetest throughout my entire pregnancy, right up until we left for the hospital.
That night, around 1 a.m. again, my contractions became more regular. At some point, I started timing them. Around 4:30 a.m., I started having bloody show. By 5:30 a.m., I hadn’t quite reached three to five minutes apart for contractions. But they had been regular all night and were always less than 10 minutes apart by then.
Tommy was having trouble staying asleep that night. So Jake had laid down with him for a while and fallen asleep there. It was just as well because I was awake the whole time that I was having contractions. I was up and down every 20-30 minutes, if not more often, to go to the bathroom. Jake came back and checked on me around 5:30, at which point I was ready to call the labor and delivery floor.
After listening to my current situation, the labor and delivery staff told me to come to the hospital. Jake and I got ready and had my mom come over as soon as possible. We reached the hospital around 6:30 a.m. By this time, my contractions had reached three to five minutes apart. I had Jake pull up to the entrance and bring me up to the floor in a wheelchair.
We got checked in, and a nurse asked me a bunch of initial questions before checking my cervix. She was awesome about letting me pause in answering, so I wasn’t trying to talk through my contractions. At that point, I was 4 cm dilated, so she cleared me to move to a labor and delivery room.
After 28 hours of laboring at home with nothing but Tylenol, my hips were killing me, and I wasn’t dealing well with the increasing contractions. I opted for an epidural. The team started prepping for it immediately.
I take some of the credit for the epidural going as well as it did because I followed all of their directions and helped things move along quickly and smoothly. But I give most of the credit to the anesthesiologist who was clearly amazing. Getting the epidural didn’t hurt or take long. Everyone I worked with during the day was impressed with how relaxed I was with how much mobility I retained, especially through the morning. If you’ve had a dentist who fills cavities or takes impressions without making you feel like you’re going to die, it’s like that.
Once the epidural got going, I was able to relax. At that point, I was 5 cm. It took about nine hours for my cervix to dilate the remaining 5 cm. My ob, who wasn’t even scheduled to work that day, came in to check on me and break my water (it sort of did on its own and just needed a little help to get the rest of the way there). She was able to keep an eye on my monitors all day. Then she came back for the delivery itself.
While we were waiting for my cervix to dilate, I had all of the clear liquid diet items I could, spent some time with the peanut ball, and relaxed as much as possible. There was only one time that I was able to start feeling the contractions again. The nurse was able to boost the epidural and get things back under control right away.
I was fully dilated around 4:30 p.m. Then the nurse had me spend one more hour, half an hour on each side, with the peanut ball to further ready my cervix. By the time I needed to start pushing, I was as rested and relaxed as I could have been.
My ob came back when it was time for me to start pushing at 5:30. Due to the epidural, it made the most sense to push while lying on my back. It went well enough that I only changed how I was gripping my legs versus the table handles. I never changed positions fully. Jake held one of my legs, and the nurse held my other leg the entire time.
I pushed for about an hour and a half, pretty much through every contraction. It was extremely tiring but not painful. After an hour, my progress stalled out, and my and the baby’s numbers started to drop a little.
My ob decided to switch tactics and use a vacuum. She didn’t want me to keep pushing and not making progress and felt a little assist was all I needed to finish the delivery.
At this point, it had just been me and Jake with my ob and the same nurse I’d had since 7 a.m. Once we gave the okay for the vacuum, suddenly, we had a whole new team of people in the room with us. We were also right at the time for the nurses to switch shifts, so I had a different nurse holding my leg and counting through the contractions.
It was extremely overwhelming. I was completely exhausted and not dealing well with having so many new people in the room. But the vacuum itself ended up being so quick. All at once, just a minute or so after she’d started, my ob was lifting up Annie. They brought her right to me, and I got to have immediate skin-to-skin time with her.
Those first moments I had seeing and then holding her are some of the most emotionally charged of my entire life. I’d been holding it all together through hours of contractions and pushing. I finally let myself cry as I held her. Jake cut the cord. We got to delay cleaning Annie, giving her medications, and taking her initial measurements to maximize the skin-to-skin time. I still can’t believe that her birth really worked out that way.
Annie cried a little right after she was born. But for the most part, she was so calm. She was also so alert, eyes wide open and taking in everything that was happening. Within minutes of being born, Annie was rooting. She latched like a pro. I’m not sure that she got much, really for a few days, but it was incredible to see her motivation and ease with the process and have all of that be part of our initial bonding.
I ended up with a second-degree tear. It took a little time to get me stitched up and cleaned up. The team also applied an ice pack right away. I didn’t get Pitocin until after delivering, which didn’t mean much to me. But the whole team was impressed, so I’ll take it as a win. Thanks to the epidural, I didn’t feel any of that and got to soak in every second of my skin-to-skin time with Annie.
They did take Annie for a few minutes for her initial assessment, cleanup, medications, and measurements before we got moved to the recovery room. They also got me unhooked from the monitors and removed everything from the epidural. The team had turned off my epidural shortly after they’d finished stitching me up. But it took hours to get the feeling back in my legs. So I opted to ride in the delivery bed to the recovery room and transfer beds when I got there.
It was close to 10 p.m. by the time we got settled in our recovery room. We were both so hungry. They were able to get us some cold items they had on the floor – sandwiches, yogurt, and chips. After we ate, we settled in for the night.
We spent a day and a half in recovery before we got discharged. It was very uneventful. Besides basic vitals, the only thing they had to monitor for both of us was blood glucose because of my gestational diabetes. I enjoyed every minute of quiet time with Annie in the hospital.
The most exciting thing happening during the hospital recovery is that Tommy started kindergarten. I’ve been so nervous about the timing of him starting kindergarten and the baby coming all year. But it all worked out. Jake was able to take him to his back-to-school night and first morning at school. Then he came back to the hospital in time for my discharge, and Tommy got to meet Annie when he came home from school that first day.
My nurse/ob team for labor and delivery was so amazing. I’m so thankful that I had the same nurse for all but the last half hour of my labor and delivery, and that she was so great. She was wearing a t-shirt that said, “birthdays are my favorite,” which is about the best shirt ever for an ob nurse.
I would have been absolutely fine with the on-call ob delivering for me. But I’m blown away that my ob was monitoring me at home on her day off and came in to check on me and do the delivery. I just started seeing her when I found out that I was pregnant, but she’s been wonderful. She and the nurse I had gave me exactly the support that I needed while pushing. They were helpful and encouraging and kept my mind elsewhere in between contractions.
I feel like my birth experience was par for the course. Ultimately, I’m so glad that my ob opted for the vacuum instead of a C-section and that I got skin-to-skin time with Annie. While laboring for 28 hours at home and then spending 13 hours at the hospital in labor and delivery was long and exhausting, it wasn’t traumatic. It was also better than waiting another week and getting pumped full of Pitocin for an induction.
Now she’s here, and our hearts could not be fuller having this sweet little girl in our family. I look forward to sharing lots more about her over the coming months.