On Saturday, October 20th at 4:37am Miles joined us and made us officially a family of three.
During pregnancy, and even before, I was fascinated by reading other people’s birth stories for their babies. I find it so interesting how different it is for every person. So, today I want to share my story. This is how Miles came into the world.
I guess you could say Miles’ birth story officially started on Thursday. That morning I entered the early stages of labor through the loss of my mucus plug and the beginning of my “bloody show.” If you don’t know what either of these are, they are pretty much as gross as they sound. In short, there’s a mucus layer that blocks the opening to your cervix and aims to protect the baby. Even though the entire thing is pretty gross, you think they could have thought of a better name for it.
Either way…it’s a discharge of mucus and blood. Some women don’t experience this before labor starts. Some experience it right before labor starts. Others experience it and labor doesn’t start for another week or more. In some cases, you can lose your mucus plug as early as 32 weeks. So, this occurrence didn’t necessarily mean Miles was coming right away, so I made sure not to get my hopes up too much.
I had my 39-week appointment the next day and figured they could check me out to see if I had started to dilate or not.
Friday morning, around 3am, I awoke to some mild contractions. They felt sort of like dull period cramps, but lasted about 15 seconds and repeated every 7-12 minutes. Again, contractions like this COULD mean labor is imminent, but it could also mean labor is still days or even weeks away. I remember laying awake feeling oddly excited about having contractions. Probably one of the only times in your life you’re excited about pain. Even though I knew these contractions and the loss of my mucus plug didn’t mean I was going into labor today, part of me felt very certain it was coming. As much as I wanted to prevent myself from getting my hopes up, I kept thinking to myself “I’m having this baby this weekend.” My entire pregnancy I kept having this slight feeling he would arrive the weekend before his due date. And, when these two things happened back-to-back, I felt like it was time.
My contractions continued on and off all day. Sometimes coming every 10 minutes and sometimes only once an hour. They were still a very dull pain like mild period cramps. I tried to go about my day as normally as possible. I worked from home, took Zoe for a walk, picked up around the house, and kept busy.
At 3:00, I left my house to go to my 39-week appointment. I mentioned my symptoms and they asked if I wanted to get checked to see if I was dilated at all, which I did. My OB confirmed I was 2 cm dilated. Once again she mentioned this meant that baby could be coming in an hour or in a week. But, she did confirm that he was in a great position and she believed I would go into labor naturally on my own without any need for intervention. That was good enough news for me! She told me to keep my 40-week appointment just in case, and to call if/when my contractions were longer than 45 seconds and less than 5 minutes apart for over an hour (or if my water broke).
I left my appointment and had two quick errands to run on the way home. We had plans to go to our neighbor’s for dinner (she promised her food had a history of inducing labor and I wasn’t about to turn down any offer that good.) My first stop was a little Italian bakery near my doctor’s office to get some Italian pastries to bring over for dinner. Right about the time I pulled into their parking lot I was hit with a pretty bad contraction. It lasted about 30 seconds. I was hit with two more while waiting in line for my pastries. I was on the phone with Michael at the time and he told me he’d prefer if I just came home instead of finishing my errands, just in case. So I did. The ride home was about 30 minutes and the contractions continued to increase in pain and frequency. Still, they were only about 30 seconds long and coming every 6-10 minutes.
By the time I got home, I knew I wasn’t going to be going next door for dinner. Even if I wasn’t going into labor that night, I sure as heck wasn’t going to try to sit through a dinner while having contractions every 6 minutes. Michael informed our neighbors who promised to bring us over a plate of the food around 6:30. For the next hour, my contractions continued and I started to time them more closely. They increased in length to about 30-40 seconds but began coming every 3 minutes. After this lasted for over an hour, I decided to call my OB. She told me it was up to me if I wanted to make my way into the hospital now or not. She indicated she figured I’d be laboring like this for a while and if I was more comfortable doing it at home, then I should. So, I decided to try to wait it out a little longer.
At 6:30 our neighbors brought over dinner just as my contractions started to get very painful. Michael and I sat down to eat something, assuming we’d be heading to the hospital at some point that evening or early tomorrow morning. Well, when I say we “sat down to eat” I mean Michael sat down to eat and I stood because when the contractions came on the most comfortable position was squatted down on the floor. So, we continued like this for about another hour. Every 2-4 minutes I’d get hit with a contraction. The contractions were much more painful now and I couldn’t walk through them or talk through them.
Off to the Hospital
Around 7:30 my OB called to check on me and I told her I was planning to leave soon to come in. Around 8:30pm we arrived at the hospital. They hooked me up to the monitors to check my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. Contractions were still coming every 2-3 minutes. My OB also came in and confirmed I was now 4 cm dilated. Again, she said I would probably be laboring for a while but they would check us into our room. Michael asked if he should go down and get our hospital bag they told him he could get it in the morning because they assumed I’d be laboring all night.
Once checked into our room my contractions increased at what felt like a very fast pace (not that I exactly knew how quickly or painful they should be). But, they continued to come every 2-3 minutes and each one of them was more painful than the last. I had a hard time imagining I could continue on like this until the morning!
My plan was always to labor as long as I could naturally but to get an epidural for delivery. I didn’t want to get the epidural earlier than I needed to because I knew it would slow down my labor and that being up on my feet and walking around would help with the labor process. I remember asking the nurse when most people got the epidural and she said around 6-8cm, which they still thought I was many hours away from. I was pretty desperate at this point for relief from the pain. The contractions were coming so quickly now I barely had a second between each one. As soon as one would taper off, another would start immediately on top of it. Michael could see them coming and going on my monitor and kept telling me that he couldn’t believe how quick they were coming right after each other. My nurse asked if I wanted to try nitrous oxide for the pain, and I decided to try it.
The nurse wheeled in the nitrous oxide gas machine and explained how to use it. Basically, you just hold the mask over your face while having a contraction and breath as normal (you can even use your Lamaze breathing in the mask.) I was PUMPED for some relief to the pain. The next contraction came and I held the mask up to my face and breathed in as I worked through the pain. Keep in mind, when the contractions are at this level of pain it’s hard to breathe in general and get a full breath. Breathing in the nitrous oxide made me feel even more short of breath through the contraction and I felt NO relief from the pain. I wasn’t expecting full relief but was hoping at least for it to take the edge off. I was so disappointed. My nurse suggested I keep trying and it might take a few times. I continued to use the mask for the next 15-20 minutes, but it never worked. I didn’t feel any pain relief and the contractions continued to get worse. And, on top of it all, the nitrous oxide made me feel like I wasn’t getting a full breath each time which almost made the contractions worse. I know nitrous oxide works for so many people, but it just didn’t do it for me.
Around 10pm I was beside myself in pain and exhaustion. It had only been about 1-1/2 hours since we checked in but my contractions came every 1-2 minutes at this point. They had reached a pain level where I could hardly breathe through them. I also began feeling a stronger and stronger pressure to push and even though the doctors and nurses were sure I wouldn’t be ready until later in the morning, I knew this baby was coming, and coming soon. I turned to Michael and spoke, probably for the first time in an hour, and just said, “I think I need the epidural…now.” He looked at me, face sort of white, and was like “yea, I think you do too.” Turns out he had gotten pretty nervous about the speed of my contractions and the level of pain it looked like I was in.
I felt a little bit like I was giving up asking for the epidural. I knew it was best to wait and here I was giving in after only an hour-and-a-half at the hospital! But I was desperate for relief at this point. Luckily, I was the only one in labor that night and the anesthesiologist was in my room within about 10 minutes of me requesting the epidural. They told me I needed to empty my bladder before they could administer it. Standing in the bathroom alone trying to sit down, pee, and pull my hospital gown back on through my contractions was almost impossible. I remember collapsing in pain over the laundry hamper and sitting crouched on the floor not sure if I’d be able to get myself back out the door myself. The pain was so bad and so constant it was hard to even think straight. Somehow I made my way back out to my room and they had me sit on the edge of the bed so they could give me the epidural. They made me sign some paperwork that could have been me signing away my soul for all I know. I probably would have done it too, if it mean pain relief. I was only able to put a “KB” on the line. It was such a pathetic attempt at a signature the next day someone from the hospital office staff had to come double check with me that it WAS my signature.
The anesthesiologist told me he’d wait for my current contraction to end before proceeding, but seeing as my contractions were coming every 60-90 seconds, he didn’t get much time. He was only about a quarter of the way through inserting everything into place when I was hit with my next contraction. “I need you to sit completely still through this contraction,” he said. That sounded impossible. I sat slightly hunched over trying with all my might not to move while the pain of a contraction came. I could feel my body shaking but had no control over it. My nurse stood holding my hand coaching me through the contraction. Labor and delivery nurses are saints.
Once finally administered, they told me each contraction would slowly get less and less painful. After about 15 minutes, my contractions were down to a dull pain. OH THANK YOU BABY LORD JESUS, modern medicine is amazing. The relief from the pain immediately erased the guilt of jumping the bullet in getting my epidural.
My OB arrived right after the epidural to check on my progress. Lo and behold, she was a little surprised to announce I was 10 cm dilated! It suddenly made a lot of sense on why my pain had been so intense and my contractions so close together!! Had I waited maybe 15 more minutes, I wouldn’t have been able to get the epidural at all. I’m so glad I decided to go with my gut to ask for the epidural and not with their suggestion that I wouldn’t be that dilated until the morning. I went from 4cm to 10cm in under 2 hours – something that on average takes 8-12+ hours (especially for a first child). The doctor said that typically an epidural will make you have to push a little longer, but since I labored so quickly she didn’t think I’d have to push for long. It sounded like Miles would be joining us very soon!
Time to Push
They told me they wanted me to rest for about an hour and they’d come back to check on me around 11:45. The epidural didn’t slow my contractions that much, they went to about 2-3 minutes, but it did slow labor overall. After about 30 minutes the epidural had taken away pretty much all the pain and I was even able to close my eyes and take a half hour cat nap. At just about midnight, my nurse came in and said it was time to start pushing. She explained for each contraction I’d do three 10-second pushes. She had Michael grab one leg, she grabbed the other, and for about an hour we practiced pushing at each contraction.
About 1-1/2 hours into pushing, my OB came to check on my progress. So much for that quick delivery she promised me. HA! Long story short, I continued to push for over 4 hours. The epidural definitely makes pushing harder. It’s difficult to feel your contractions and to know exactly where to push. It took me the first hour just to get the hang of it. Even though I couldn’t feel the pain of contractions, I could feel a pressure and an urge to push when they came on. My OB and our nurses tried everything they could to help. At every contraction, it was like a having a cheerleading squad encouraging me on. By about hour 3, I started to get a little frustrated and A LOT exhausted. The contractions came so closely together it was hard to catch my breath in between. They kept telling me he was closer and closer, but I felt like I’d been pushing forever and making no progress. Since I was the only one in labor that night, all the floor nurses kept coming in and checking in on me. Still no baby.
Just around the 4-hour mark, I think we all started to get a little concerned. It was clear I was exhausted. I couldn’t push as well as I did at the beginning. On top of that, the length of time pushing was starting to put some stress on Miles. Multiple times they needed to give me oxygen because his levels dropped. Michael and I both started to worry that the only option was going to be a c-section if I couldn’t get him out myself. Avoiding a c-section was my biggest motivation to keep going.
Right around 4:20 the nurses and my OB all hovered around my monitors. Miles’ heart rate had dropped again and this time I guess it was a lot because they basically jumped into action to get the vacuum ready. If you don’t know what that is, it’s not nearly as intense as it sounds. It’s a small handheld suction cup. The doctor takes the cup and places it on the baby’s head and it helps to pull the baby out. It wasn’t even a choice for me at this point if they were going to use it or not, they needed to get Miles out ASAP.
It took about 10 minutes for them to get everything into place. My OB told me that the vacuum would help but most of the work would still be on me. We waited for the next contraction and I gave it my all while she gave a little pull with the suction and Miles’ head popped out! There was a short pause while she removed the cup. I heard her telling the nurses his cord was around his shoulders. Then, they gave me the final go to push again and the rest of Miles joined the world at 4:37am. They pulled him out and immediately placed him on my chest.
I can’t explain the mix and rush of emotions that hit you at this point. Part relief that labor is over and your baby is safely in this world. Part utter and complete love and gratitude and joy. Part pure exhaustion. For a good 15 minutes, I laid there with Miles on my chest just crying. All around me the nurses were doing their thing, delivering the placenta (which required none of my work), sewing me up (yep, I had a perineal tear), etc. But to me, for those first 15 minutes, there was nobody else in that room but Michael, Miles and I.
Michael cut the cord and they took Miles away from me for about 2 minutes to weigh and measure him and then gave them right back to me. The first hour of Miles’ life was almost purely skin-to-skin time with me and it was pure magic.
Everyone tells you that once your baby is in your arms you forget the pain and struggles of labor. It’s hard to believe that that’s possible, but it’s honestly true. Once that baby is in your arms it’s almost as if you never lived through the pain at all.
Your Questions Answered
A lot of you asked me questions about labor/delivery on my Instagram, here are some of the most common ones:
What actually sent you into labor?
If you follow along on my IG Stories, you might know I was playing a fun “will it put me into labor” game. I was just sharing funny things I was doing like “taking Austin to the vet” and putting up polls on if it would send me into labor. I wasn’t actually in labor when I started the game, and I don’t know if any of these things actually put me INTO labor.
Part of me wonders if my doctor inspecting me at my 39-week appointment just pushed me over the edge since my contractions increased about 30 minutes after that appointment. But it’s hard to know if that really did it or it was just time. I had been staying active and walking every day. My guess is that helped.
How did recovery go? What’s the hardest part of postpartum?
Recovery was very different than I thought. I remember being kind of worried to look at myself in the mirror afterward because I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. Everything is very swollen. I also did have a perineal tear so I was also stitched up. I didn’t have an episiotomy during delivery, my tear happened naturally. I sort of assumed this tear would happen since I know it’s very common but was a little unprepared for the recovery afterward. It’s not just painful but it also makes it really uncomfortable to get in and out of bed or a chair. In that first week when you want and need to get up to care for your baby, it’s a struggle.
My best suggestion is to use ALL the treatments they give you while in the hospital because they help A LOT. Use ALL the witch hazel pads, take advantage of the sitz bath (multiple times if you can), and do your best to sleep and sit on your side. Oh, and take as many of those mesh undies they give you at the hospital home. I lived in them the first week. I felt the most relief by one week and would say I was mostly healed around 2 weeks.
What’s the first thing you ate after delivery?
Well, the first thing I ate was oatmeal and fruit. But the first craving food I had was sushi. I missed sushi sooo much, it’s really the only thing I craved that I couldn’t have during pregnancy. I made my mom bring me some to the hospital the day after Miles was born and it was ah-mazing.
What were you worried about most before giving birth?
I wasn’t really worried about birth, but I was a little anxious about the unknown. Not knowing what exactly to expect or what it’d be like. Not knowing how to know when it was “time.” So, I didn’t fear the pain or any parts of the experience, but I was anxious about the unkown aspects.
What does it actually feel like/how painful is it really?
This is different for everyone. But, I can tell you it’s honestly pretty painful, or at least it was for me. Because my contractions were so close together and because my labor came on so quickly, it was pretty intense. I don’t want to sugar coat it, it certainly was the most painful and severe thing I’ve experienced. That being said, if you’re asking because you fear the pain of delivery all I can say is don’t… your body and mind are amazing and their instincts and abilities are outstanding. You’re able to withstand more than you give yourself credit for.
I’ve heard the first poop is rough…how was it?
LOL this question made me giggle because I also heard about this. I was actually just as nervous about this as I was about delivery because of what I had heard about it, haha! Listen, poop is kinda a bit of a TMI subject for me but I’ll just say it really wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating it’d be. They give you stool softeners in the hospital I just made sure to eat really healthy my first few days to help the process.
What was in your hospital bag? Anything you wished you packed that you didn’t?
I shared what I packed in my hospital bag in a recent post. I plan to write a post sharing what we used in the bag, what we didn’t, and what I wished I had shortly. Stay tuned.
If you’d like to hear more posts related to labor, delivery or postpartum life, just let me know in the comments below!