Tag Archives: labor

Annabelle’s Birth Story, Part One

31 Mar

On the morning of Friday, March 27, my alarm went off at 6 am. As I rolled over to get out of bed, I felt a pop and then a bunch of warm fluid.

“Trav, you’re not going to believe what just happened,” I said.

“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” he replied, waking out of a dead sleep. (He later remarked that my statement made it sound like something bad had happened, but my tone of voice was happy.)

“My water just broke.”


“Yeah. Can you get up and get me a towel? … Now?”

As Travis got up to retrieve a towel from the hall closet, I thought, “What are the odds?” Only 10% of women have their water break before labor starts, and here I was, with my water breaking before labor started for the second time in two babies. Not only that, but I was in bed rolling over when my water broke with Emma too. I must’ve jinxed myself by saying repeatedly that I wanted labor to start spontaneously and to avoid being induced.

Continuing on with the similarities to Emma’s birth story, I was positive for Group B Strep again this time, and after my water broke, nothing much happened.  A glorious difference, however, was that my water broke at the sensible hour of 6 am instead of midnight. Also different, I was only 38 weeks and 2 days this time – last time, I was 39 weeks and 6 days (Emma was born on her due date).

Since this wasn’t my first rodeo with my water breaking and nothing happening, we took our time getting our stuff together. Travis jumped in the shower, took our recycling to the county disposal, and filled out his timecard for work. I washed the sheets from our bed, finished packing our hospital bags, took a shower myself, got Emma up and fed her breakfast, and tidied up the house a bit. We had called Travis’ parents after his shower and they were planning to be to our house by 9:30/10 to watch Emma, so we decided to just wait until they arrived to head to the hospital, though we did have a contingency plan with friends in case things started getting serious before his parents arrived.

Travis’ parents got to our house around 10 and after giving them the update on Emma and trying to put turkey decoys out in the backyard (ground was still frozen solid), Travis and I headed to Erbert’s & Gerbert’s for an early lunch. It was amazing. I had missed eating cold deli meat.

Around 11:30, we arrived at the hospital and got checked in. After testing to make sure my water had indeed broken (which it had) and checking my cervix (I was still only at 1 cm, 50% effaced), we were officially admitted and started talking about our plan for the day. I shared with our nurse, Valine, my experience in Denver since it seemed that history was repeating itself. I told her that I wasn’t opposed to Pitocin since I didn’t want to be there all day, but I also didn’t want things going gangbusters so fast like they had last time. She agreed and reassured me that I could call the shots when it came to being induced, and at what rate.

After walking around the delivery floor a couple times and bouncing on an exercise ball for a bit with no change in contractions, I told Valine that we could just go ahead and start Pitocin with my first round of antibiotics for the Group B Strep. So around 2 pm, we started antibiotics and Pitocin at a rate of 2. My contractions started getting a little more noticeable, but were still pretty worthless, so after an hour, I requested that the Pitocin be turned up. My new nurse, Jill, monitored the baby for a bit and at 3:30, increased my Pitocin to a 4.


Travis and I ate a late lunch (I only had cottage cheese and peaches, and a Jello), and then I labored in the tub for a while. The jets provided a nice counter-pressure to the contractions, which had gotten more intense with the increase in Pitocin. While I was in the tub, the doctor that was on call came and introduced herself. I hadn’t met her before, but she seemed nice. Jill also started my second bag of antibiotics.

Around 6 pm, I got out of the tub and leaned forward on the exercise ball during contractions, both standing up and kneeling on the bed. My nurse had to put the contraction and baby monitors on me about once an hour, so I had to crawl back in bed for that every so often. The contractions were getting pretty intense at that point, and I was still on the fence about whether or not to get an epidural. So I asked Jill to do a ‘flush’ of my system (which was required and would take about an hour) so that I could request an epidural if I wanted one. The flush was started at 6:30 pm.

At 7:30, Jill checked my cervix and I was between 6 and 7 cm dilated. She remarked several times that I was doing great and that it wouldn’t be long before I’d be fully dilated and could start pushing. She paged the doctor to come to the hospital. Her confidence gave me the encouragement that I needed to hold out on the epidural just a little bit longer. I told Travis, if I’m not ready to push this baby out by 8:45, I’m getting an epidural.

That was one of the longest hours of my life. The contractions were so intense and painful, and were concentrated mostly in my back (though thankfully, unlike my labor with Emma, the back pain went away between contractions) that the only way I could get through them was bounce on the exercise ball, scratch my legs (I know, weird, but it helped!), breathe deeply and moan loudly.

At 8:10 pm, Jill checked my cervix again. I was at 8 cm. She could feel a little bag of waters that hadn’t completely broken so she asked if I wanted the doctor to come break it. Yes, please. So Dr. Rice came and did that.

Things didn’t progress quite as quickly as Jill expected but by 8:50, I was at 9 cm. A few more contractions and I started feeling pressure to push. The doctor came in and started getting dressed for delivery as a contraction came and I needed to push NOW.

I had heard the pain during pushing described as ‘the ring of fire’ so I honestly thought that if I could just get dilated to 10 cm without an epidural, I’d be home free. Ha. So not true. Whoever thought ‘ring of fire’ was an accurate description of pushing a baby out without pain meds is a liar or a man.

At 9 pm, I started pushing and immediately realized that this was going to be the hardest part. In addition to having painful contractions still, I now had to push a baby out too. And can I just say, there is no way to describe that kind of pain other than it feels like you’re taking the biggest poop in the world and it’s tearing your insides out with it? While I was relaxing after the first contraction of pushing (and screaming), I said, “Oh my god, that feels SO WEIRD. It feels like I’m taking the biggest poop ever.” The doctor, 2 nurses and Travis all laughed.

The next contraction was where it got serious. The pain was so amazing and different than anything I’d ever felt before that I got scared and started freaking out. I tried to straighten my legs instead of leaving them bent. I tried to get off the bed. I tried to feel if the baby was coming out so the doctor had to ask the nurses and Travis to hold me down. “Kathy, you need to push. We’re going to have a baby right now,” they kept saying. “I can’t! I can’t!” I screamed. “Yes, you can. You need to push.” In my dazed state, I finally relented and pushed through the pain – I honestly did not think I had it anywhere in me to keep going but somehow, I did. With lots of screaming I might add.

FINALLY, the baby was out. I laid my head back and for the next 10 minutes, even after they said it was a girl and put Annabelle on my chest, I just laid there saying, “Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.” The placenta took a little encouraging to come out (consisting mostly of painful pushing on my tummy) but it finally did, and I could breathe. I did it.

And it was a girl! I honestly did not think Annabelle would be a girl, but lo and behold, she was. After the initial shock of birth wore off, I told Travis I was hungry and wanted to eat the pizza I had ordered earlier. I also requested my phone for some reason, and played a round of Trivia Crack. Travis laughs about it now, saying my brain was fried for a while after that experience.

Annabelle and I did skin to skin for about an hour and a half after she was born. She nursed a little bit, but she honestly wasn’t all that interested in breastfeeding until she was about 24 hours old. After those first 90 minutes, I got up to use the bathroom and Annabelle got weighed, her first bath and her Hep B vaccine.  She was 7 lbs 15 oz and 20.5 inches long.

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By about 11 pm, the commotion had died down and we were left alone to sleep. My night nurse Megan came and checked on me once but left quickly when I said I was fine. Around 2 am, I called her in to ask if my bed went any lower (it didn’t), and if I could get a snack and more pain meds. Annabelle slept like a champ that night. I woke her up a few times to nurse, which she didn’t do, and put her back down in her bassinet. Unfortunately, after falling asleep for about an hour and a half right around 11, I was wired for the rest of the night. I couldn’t turn my brain off. So I had a hard time getting back to sleep, but I eventually did here and there.

Read Part Two.

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 2

12 Apr

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1

Because Lauren suspected that Emma was facing the wrong way, she brought the peanut ball for me to put between my legs, in hopes that lying on my side with my legs spread would encourage Emma to turn. I laid on my right side for about an hour and then the doctor came in, broke my bulging bag of waters (which I couldn’t feel because of the blessedly effective epidural!) and said I was at about 9 cm. Lauren helped me switch to my left side, and let Travis and I rest for another hour. I couldn’t sleep, knowing that the pushing stage was right around the corner, but it was nice to just lay there for a while.

About 15 minutes before Lauren returned, I started feeling the contractions again – though they weren’t painful at all, I could just feel the tightening like Braxton Hicks. I also started feeling downward pressure during each contraction, which I hoped meant that the time for pushing was close. By that point, it was also after midnight, which meant Emma would be born on her due date!

When Lauren returned to check my cervix, Emma had descended into the birth canal and was right there. Lauren had me do a practice push, mentioned that she thought Emma had turned, then went to get the doctor and all the supplies for delivery. It was finally time! She brought a big mirror that I could look into to see Emma come out, which was very cool.

While we waited for the doctor, I pushed with a few more contractions and could see Emma’s head and hair. The doctor arrived, I pushed with two more contractions, and there Emma was! Seeing her come out was hands down the Coolest. Thing. Ever. I was finally seeing the little being that had been in my belly for 9 months! Once she was out, they placed her on my chest for skin to skin. She was covered in vernix and beautiful – I couldn’t believe that this was my daughter.

While the nurses wiped Emma off on my chest, the doctor delivered the placenta and began stitching me up – I had a second degree tear. I could feel the tugging of her sewing but it wasn’t painful at all.

After a while, the nurses took Emma to weigh her and do their tests just across the room.

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Lauren cleaned me up and then my parents arrived.

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IMG_4381 (Large) They didn’t stay long – only about 10 minutes – because it was about 2 am and we still had to move to the recovery room.

After my parents left, Lauren and the other nurse helped me to the bathroom, which was interesting because I couldn’t stand – my legs just buckled underneath me. Meanwhile, Travis packed up all of our stuff and I was put in a wheelchair for moving to the recovery room. Emma was placed on my chest for skin to skin while we made the journey up a floor, because her temperature was a little too low.

Even though my labor went nothing like I had wanted – my water broke but didn’t start active labor, I had to get Pitocin and an epidural, Emma was facing the wrong way – I am very satisfied with the experience.  I am glad that I experienced the real pain of labor but do not for an instant regret my decision to get an epidural. I know that I held out as long as I possibly could, and it made the pushing stage short and easy. I also am thrilled that I was able to avoid a c-section.

Coming up: Our stay in the hospital…

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1

11 Apr

I finished my last day of work on Friday. Like any other lazy Friday night, Travis and I ate leftovers for dinner, watched TV and I went to bed around 9:30. At 12:30 am, I was rolling over in bed when I felt a huge gush of warm water. It felt very surreal as it dawned on me that my water had broken. We were going to have a baby sooner than later! Luckily, I had put puppy pads and a garbage bag on the bed under the sheets so our mattress didn’t get wet at all, and my amniotic fluid was clear so our sheets were fine after a wash.

I called to Travis from bed, told him my water had just broken and asked him to grab me a towel, since I knew from reading copious amounts of birth stories that what had gushed out of me was by no means all of it. He grabbed me a towel and I raced to the bathroom holding it in place. I immediately called my doctor’s office and the on-call doctor said I didn’t need to rush in right away since it was the middle of the night and I wasn’t contracting yet – I could wait until things started to happen.

I knew it would be a good idea to get some more sleep while things were still comfortable, but adrenaline had kicked in and my mind wouldn’t stop reeling. So I sat on the couch and read, made some no-bake energy bites, slept an hour, read some more. My contractions were pretty irregular in intensity and timing – some were semi-painful, others felt just like Braxton Hicks. Some were 6 minutes apart, others were 15.

Finally, at 7 am, I decided it had been long enough so I called the doctor again and asked him if I should wait until things were more regular, or come in then. He said to come in. Travis and I leisurely loaded up our stuff, made a stop at Walgreen’s, and got to the hospital around 8 am.

They had our room all ready and got us checked in quickly. The amazing thing about the hospital we gave birth at is that the labor and delivery wing is SO quiet and relaxed. It’s pretty much the opposite you would expect for a place where so much action happens. But it was very nice.

We got all the paperwork squared away, then the nurse checked to make sure my water really had broken, which it was. She also checked my cervix and I was only 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I was a little bummed that it was still so early but it wasn’t that surprising.

Since I had tested positive for Group B Strep, they got my first IV dose of penicillin going. I would get a dose every 4 hours until baby was born. The medicine is so concentrated that it burns a little going in – made my arm feel really heavy and achy. But the nurses were able to adjust the drip rate so that the discomfort was minimal.

IMG_4362 (Large)Getting my first dose of penicillin

My first nurse, Shelley, was great. She was very respectful of my desire to avoid Pitocin and any pain medication, and instead, labor naturally and out of bed as much as possible. After my first penicillin dose was done, they capped off my IV. Travis and I walked some laps around the labor and delivery floor, watched a movie while I sat on the birthing ball, and did a crossword. My contractions were coming more regularly – about every 5-6 minutes. They were also getting more intense, but I could still talk and walk through them. I talked to the doctor and he recommended starting to think about augmenting labor, since at the rate things were going, it could end up being a very long day.

IMG_4365 (Large)With our dolphin back massager – great for the first part of labor

Around noon, I got my second dose of penicillin and had my cervix checked again, so I could make a decision about augmenting labor. I had made no progress – still just 2 cm, 80%. So I agreed to have them start me on Pitocin. I had really hoped to avoid it, knowing it would make labor harder, but at that point, it had been 12 hours since my water broke, and my body was doing pretty much nothing on its own.

They got the Pitocin going around 1:30, starting at a dose of 2 (what that means specifically, I don’t know). They increased the dose by 2 every 30 minutes. Not long after, my contractions started getting serious – they were coming every 2-3 minutes and the intensity was building. I had started off being able to do abdominal breathing through contractions. Then I had to start moaning a little on the exhale to help keep control.

I was sitting in the glider next to the bed and my back starting to really hurt with each contraction, so I had Travis apply counter-pressure during each contraction, which helped, but was tough for him to do. With the nurse’s help, we rearranged the bed into a chair and that made it a lot easier for Travis to reach my back.

By 5:30, the Pitocin was up to a dose of 8, contractions were coming on top of each other every 1-2 minutes, and the back labor was excruciating. Every contraction, I thought “I can’t do this anymore. I am in so much pain.” Travis was great at encouraging me to keep with it, reminding me that each contraction was bringing us closer to Emma.

Since I had read that contractions can be that close together during transition, I hoped that maybe I was making quite a bit of progress, which would explain why things were so intense. But when they checked my cervix, I was only at 5 cm. Four hours of horrible pain and I had only changed 3 cm! I wanted to cry and despair. If things kept going at that rate, I had hours of labor ahead of me.

Finally, I caved and accepted some pain medication – Fentynal – through my IV, and they also dialed my Pitocin back to a 2. The pain meds made me really dizzy and relaxed, but did absolutely nothing for the pain in my back, which was there even when I wasn’t having a contraction, and was agonizing during one. Moreover, I had to lay down on my back during the hour that the pain meds were ‘working’, which made things even worse – Emma’s heel jammed up into my ribs on each contraction, which just compounded the pain.

By 7 pm, I was starting to lose it. Even laboring standing up was horrible. The pain was so unbelievable that I started seriously contemplating getting an epidural, even though I had really wanted to avoid one. I just didn’t see how I could make it several more hours at the rate I was going, with the pain that I was in. And I was so tired by that point that I could no longer relax during each contraction – I tensed up, writhing in pain, moaning as loud as I possibly could, even though I knew that tensing up was hindering my uterus from doing its thing.

My nurse Shelley introduced my night nurse, Lauren. Lauren was awesome. She was so supportive and helpful. Shelley explained to Lauren that I was contemplating an epidural. I asked for my cervix to be checked again, and I was only 6 cm dilated. Lauren also noticed that I had a bulging bag of water – amniotic fluid that had collected above my cervix, preventing the baby from bearing down as much as she should. Lauren explained that I could have the doctor break it in hopes that things would speed up, but it would probably make things more intense. I couldn’t imagine more intense. She also explained that my back labor was so bad most likely because Emma was facing ‘sunny side up’ – which I knew could make the pushing stage even more painful, and possibly end up requiring a c-section. For all of those reasons, I decided that an epidural was my best option for survival so I finally caved and asked for one.

The anesthesiologist arrived 15 minutes later. The time he spent getting set up and the epidural put in were the longest 10 minutes of my life. The epidural didn’t hurt much more than getting a shot. I was lucky in that it didn’t make me itchy, but unlucky in the fact that the epidural didn’t work. I could still feel and move my legs, and my back labor was still just as intense as ever. It did work enough for me to be able to lie down comfortably and rest in between contractions, but each contraction was still ridiculously painful.

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Thank God for Lauren and the anesthesiologist, who refused to give up on helping me get relief. They suggested higher doses, additional meds, which I accepted reluctantly – worried about the effects on Emma of all the drugs – but none of which worked for the back labor. Finally, after about 45 minutes and learning that I was still only dilated 8 cm, the anesthesiologist suggested that he adjust the epidural tubing to see if that would help, and if it didn’t, he would replace the epidural. I agreed, skeptical that it would work but I was at my wits end. At that point, I had been laboring on Pitocin for over 8 hours.

The adjustment took about 10 minutes and involved a very painful process of ripping tape off my back, but once he got it all situated again, it was only about 20 minutes later that I started feeling real relief. Thirty minutes later, I was pain free.

To be continued…