Our Birth Story- First Baby!

Baby’s beautiful newborn photoshoot was done by photographer April Cunningham

They say you forget a lot about giving birth but I haven’t yet, which is a miracle coming from this mom-brain. I mean, I could tell you anything about my son’s bodily functions during the last 4 months but how old am I now? No idea.

So it is probably best if I write down the story before it gets pulled into the abyss where my age went (which is also probably for the best). When I was pregnant, I loved reading birth stories. So here is mine!

My original birth “plan”: Go in and get out of the hospital as fast as possible with no meds.

How it actually went…

Aside from a few things, my pregnancy was pretty much average by the “book”. All symptoms and milestones were met when expected, often on the exact day. Just towards the end I tested close to having gestational diabetes and I had pretty bad sciatica. I also gained about 45lbs which is higher than generally recommended but nobody worried.

I started my maternity leave the week before I was due. Looking back, I should have taken off sooner because my sciatica was so bad I could hardly walk. Bless my coworkers who watched me hobble across the store, picking up on my slack! Since I couldn’t really walk or physically do much though, that last week was PURE boredom.

I tried some of the old wives tales to kick start labor. I got down on all fours and scrubbed the carpet… I ate an entire pineapple. Nope.

Labor started right on his due date, which also happened to be my own birthday. To make it creepier, it also started around the same time I was actually born. I woke up at 1AM to some mild contractions, got SO excited, and then spent a couple hours making sure they were going to stick around. Maybe I was going to share a birthday with my son! I couldn’t and didn’t sleep. Note to future self and expecting moms: SLEEP!

My husband was actually sleeping in the living room that night since it just got uncomfortable to share a bed sometimes. Nine months pregnant and throw in some sciatica, I tossed around like our maniac cat during her 3AM crazies. So I let the poor guy sleep.

Around 6 AM I caved and finally woke him up, telling him I was in labor. My contractions were long, spaced close together, felt mild, and I only felt them in my back. Great, back labor!

A couple hours later I called my midwife to let her know what was going on and I went in around 10 AM to get checked. I was 3.5cm dilated she told me to call around 4-5PM and she’ll set me up at the hospital, because by then I should be “5-6cm dilated”.

To kill time, my husband and I decided to go get a drink and drive around for a little bit. We stopped at our usual, Dunkin’ Donuts, and I got a smoothie. The employees there practically know us and the sweet lady asked when I was due. She about died when we told her I was in labor right then!

When we got home, my contractions became much more painful but they were very irregular. We decided to wait an extra hour to call the midwife and head to the hospital. In retrospect, I should have waited even longer but I was getting antsy.

At around 7PM, I was checked, but turned out to be only 4cm dilated. That was a bummer! I hardcore walked the hallways in an attempt to move things along. It was a slow, painful hobble, but this baby was going to come out! The nurses came to know me as “the one who walked”.

My baby was not in an optimal position so I was using walking, a birthing ball, and different positions to try to encourage him to turn. He was head down, but turned to the side. His body was on my left side and he was facing my right.

The night went on and on with no sleep. At around 5-6AM I was checked and only 5cm, which was very disheartening again. I only progress one centimeter the entire night! I was also getting exhausted and was in a lot of pain by this point. I accepted a painkiller which I embarrassingly forgot the name of. They offered it in an attempt to let me sleep and I was able to sleep for a couple hours.

The rest of the day is a little more blurry since I was just so exhausted. Around 10AM I agreed to let my midwife break my water in an effort to help move things along. TMI: I was seriously amazed at the amount of fluid that came out. I’m not sure what I expected, but it was a mess! At one point I stood up and another gush soaked my socks. I took them off, but then got distracted with a contraction so they were left on the floor. My nurse didn’t realize they were soaked until she picked them up with her bare hands… I felt SO bad. Seriously, poor nurses!!!

Unfortunately the only thing accomplished by my water being broken was a huge mess. It didn’t really progress things, and it turned out my son had pooped so NICU needed to be on standby in case he inhaled it. Whoops.

I’m not sure what regular labor feels like, but back labor is no joke. It was becoming really, really painful. My poor husband spent half the day just rubbing and putting counter pressure on my back. I decided to try sterile water injections, which is where they inject a tiny amount of water into your lower back skin and it does something funky to trick your pain receptors. The injections themselves felt like a very painful wasp sting and I only got relief for about 45 minutes, which was a really short time for them. Worth a shot, but I probably won’t use those again!

At one point I was checked again and she said I was at 8cm…! I was in a ton of pain though. It was around 3PM and I was just so upset, burnt out, defeated and was downright exhausted. I caved and requested an epidural.

Funny how the one thing I didn’t want to do turned out to be the best decision the entire labor. It felt sooooooo good. The anesthesiologist made a comment about how I didn’t even flinch when he administered it. I told him it was nothing compared to what I had experienced all day! Once I got settled, my midwife checked again and… I was actually 6-7cm. She said I was so tense and tight before the epidural, it distorted how far I actually was.

She also sent up a little probe thing to measure the effectiveness of my contractions. They were strong enough to push out a baby, but they just weren’t regular enough to progress things. So the pitocin came flowing and I let it do the work. I couldn’t really sleep much because the epidural gave me the shakes, but I was able to relax and my husband, mom, and grandma who were there all got some sleep for a bit.

My baby still hadn’t changed positions this whole time and later I was instructed to try laying on my right side to see if that’d help him shift. This caused him to go into distress which was really scary. The alarms went off and everyone came rushing in. As soon as I switched positions he was fine. I moved to my right again, and again he started to go in distress. So I remained on my back.

Soon 10PM came by and talk about a c-section started to go on. My water had been broken for a long time and there was baby poop. I had to take antibiotics this whole time and I was on my 5th dose. My contractions still weren’t all that regular and last she checked, I was at 9cm. My baby’s position was bad, and he was going into distress when we attempted to help him move.

My husband and I held hands and we prayed for wisdom about what to do. Sometime after, the midwife checked me again and…I was at 10! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t feel any urge to push but it could have been because of the epidural. She told me I could start pushing. I was in a daze!

I pushed twice, then she told me to stop. There was a long pause, and then she said something along the lines of, “This is the second time in my 30 year career I’ve ever had to say this, but he isn’t going to fit”. It was a combination of my pelvis shape, the giant head he inherited, and his position.

After getting so far, it all resulted in a c-section anyway. Our answer was given to us! At that point, there was no way we were going to mess with forceps or anything. It was just time for him to come out the safest way possible for him.

Thankfully, this wasn’t an “emergency” c-section because my baby wasn’t in distress at the time. I got to be awake and my husband and mom were in the room with me. I had the shakes, I started puking, but I got to hear my baby’s first cry and everything about him was perfect. He didn’t inhale poop so no NICU, zero jaundice, perfect apgar score… oh and he was so beautiful and awake. What a pure blessing!!! He was born at 11:31 PM, the day after my birthday. Almost two!

Our very first look at each other, an intimate moment. That is my husband holding him.

There he is, 8lbs 5oz!

My poor son had a very deep “indent” on his head, you could see where he got stuck! His head was also a little swollen. It all corrected itself within the week. He also ended up having torticollis (severe crick in the neck) that we assume was due to his womb position.

The surgeon told me before he left, “You have a very… strange pelvis”. I heard a nurse in the background comment that she couldn’t believe he had just said that. He really seemed shocked though and I think he just said it out of surprise. I wish I could have asked better questions about it, but considering the last 46 hours, I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind.

I was wheeled back into our room and got some modified skin to skin with my baby and got to breastfeed him for the first time. Bliss!

Reflecting back, I am wondering if a different position would have opened up my pelvis more. Or if the sciatica was due to my pelvis or his position. I know for any future baby, I would like to see a chiropractor throughout, maybe even before!

After all this, it is nice to know that we can apply what we learned from this experience to any future babies and likely that experience won’t be so dragged out. I am told I have a 60% chance of having a VBAC, so who knows how the next one be! We sure learned a whole lot, and it especially cemented the idea that birth doesn’t always go as planned! Sometimes, it’s the complete opposite.

-Ginger H.