After I had my first child, I fell in love with reading birth stories because each one is so unique and always make me happy-cry. Which isn’t unusual for my emotional self. I thought I would share Bailey’s birth story for those out there that also like to read birth stories, especially considering how wild her delivery was.
I had not experienced spontaneous labor before. My first born, Aurora, was induced at 41 weeks. Once contractions started with her, they got intense QUICK. I tolerated them for about an hour before opting for an epidural. Therefore, I felt like a newbie because I didn’t have much experience in this department.
The week before Bailey’s delivery, I experienced prodromal labor, or false-labor. I had contractions at two in the morning that got up to 8 minutes apart on average. The contractions were extremely inconsistent in frequency and intensity, which is the telltale sign of false-labor. They fizzled out after about 1.5 hours.
D-Day (Delivery Day!): Morning time
I had an OB appointment earlier in the day where she couldn’t reach my cervix to determine how dilated I was. I was disappointed and expected to be pregnant for another couple of weeks (since I went so overdue with my first born). I was 39 weeks and 6 days at this point. I noticed that I had more light contractions throughout the day after that appointment, roughly one or two per hour. I chalked it up to wishful thinking and that I was just being more attentive to my contractions today compared to other days.
4:30pm – And so it begins…maybe?
That evening, around 4:30 PM, I started having light contractions that were very inconsistent in frequency, but at least 1 every 10-15 minutes. I sat on my Swiss ball for hours, because it did seem to help relieve some of the pain… marginally. The contractions continued and did slowly get closer together, but were still all over the place in terms of frequency and intensity (8 min, 12 min, 13 min, 7 min, etc). I texted my cousin (who was going to watch my 2-year old) to let her know what was going on, just in case.
I was also running to the bathroom about every 20 minutes. I swore the bathroom trips would never end and told myself to accept that fact that I would probably poop in this labor, haha! (I did not with my first.) After about 4 moderately painful contractions in a row (around 8:45 PM) my husband decided that it was time to take our 2 year old to my cousin’s, which is 40 minutes round trip. I started BAWLING.
This would be the first night that my daughter and I had ever been apart and it broke my heart. She started crying when she saw me crying, which further hurt my heart so I tried to pull it together just long enough for her to make it out the door. Then I cried hard core tears. My sweet little girl was going to be spending the night alone. Not really, but that’s the way that I felt in that moment.
9:00pm – Dropping off my daughter
My contractions were averaging 6 minutes apart (still just as inconsistent) when my husband and daughter left. I was still afraid that it was false labor and that they would stop at any moment. He had been gone for not even 15 minutes before they dropped down to 2 minutes apart and were INTENSE. I remembered that I needed to call my cousin to let her know that they were on their way and cried through the call because I was in so much pain. I also tried to call the hospital but I had to wait in a queue and was not about to deal with that while screaming through contractions so I hung up. I tried desperately to find a comfortable position that might relieve some of the pain but couldn’t.
The one thing that did help was vocalizing (aka SCREAM) through the contraction. I knew that I needed to keep my jaw loose in order to not fight the contractions—which is what I did with my first labor. By screaming I was able to keep from clenching my jaw. I kneeled and leaned on the Swiss ball for a long while and then felt my uterus push (the fetal ejection reflex). As in typical laboring woman fashion: I was completely delirious and mentally denied that it even happened.
I got up and tried to finish packing the hospital bag with toiletries and gave up as soon as a contraction started to roll in. The bag never made it beyond the hall (hubby did grab it later). After laying on the living floor for a short while I decided to go try to use the bathroom and hopefully clear anything else out so that I wouldn’t poop on the table (assuming that we would get to the hospital in time). I saw that my mucus plug had dislodged and realized that this was REAL. I felt a contraction coming on and had to jump off the toilet, pants down, and endure it on the floor. After this glamorous moment, I resigned to just lay on the cool kitchen tile because I was sweating profusely. The poor dogs were no where to be seen as I screamed like banshee. Every once in awhile my uterus would hunker down and PUSH and I continued to ignore it.
Finally, hubby returned. At first he had no idea where I was since I was on the floor, poor guy. He couldn’t pick me up because he was just healing from a back injury so he had to wait out a contraction with me. I told him to grab all of the ice packs out of the freezer before we got into the car because I was burning up!
9:40pm – The drive to the hospital
I was NOT looking forward to being trapped and laboring in the car for the 30 minute drive. In the process of running to the car between contractions, my bag of waters prolapsed and I panicked. I didn’t know what it was and feared that it was the placenta, which would be fatal for the baby. I was freaked and also still focuses on just surviving through one contraction to the next. About halfway through the drive, I felt my water break and the prolapsed bag did slightly deflate, though not enough for me to confidently connect that it was the bag of waters rather than the placenta.
I realized that we still hadn’t called the hospital to give them a head’s up, so hubby called them and gave them the low down. He said that we were 5 minutes away. I was relating time to how many contractions I’d have to endure at this point, so 5 minutes felt like forever. I was fully reclined in the seat and could not see out of the window, thus I had absolutely no idea where we were or how much time had elapsed since we got in the car. Since I had no idea how far along I was, all I could think of was that I could NOT do this if it was to get anymore intense and that I really hoped that we got to the hospital in time to get an epidural!
9:55 – We made it to the hospital, sort of
Hubby started to turn off of the freeway and told me that we were almost there. I felt some serious pressure down and a very slight, almost imperceptible, burning sensation (ring of fire). It was the head. I told my husband. Next thing I know hubs slams the car into park, says “WE’RE HERE,” and jumped out of the car. I tried to sit up but couldn’t from the pain. I figured that the nurses and wheelchair were waiting curbside, so I just laid back and waited. Then a contraction occurred, I screamed, felt the fetal ejection reflex (because I sure as heck wasn’t!) and POP, the head was out! In the same contraction, the shoulders, hips, and ankles also slipped out. The baby came out with enough force to be pushed down the leg hole in both my underwear and leggings! I laid there in shock for a split second and then started banging on the window.
A woman peeked in and opened the door. “I just had the baby!” I said. She dropped to her knees, pulled down my pants to reveal the baby, and lifted the baby up. I repeatedly asked her if the baby was alive because I was still nervous about the prolapse. The woman kept telling me that she could see the baby breathing. I felt a small twitch from the baby’s legs and felt a HUGE internal sigh of relief. Then the woman started screaming for help and yelled at someone, “I’M A TOTAL STRANGER!” and that is when I realized that she wasn’t a nurse!
Then the nurses and my husband arrived. (My husband had to run into the building, to the second floor [nothing on the first floor but an concierge desk] via elevator and through an intercom, locked door to gather the nurses because they were not outside waiting. Yes, our hospital sucks as far as convenience. Neither of us realized how fast the baby would come, otherwise we would have done a lot of things differently up till this point!)
A nurse took the baby, and asked me for something to wrap the baby in. I grabbed my husband’s flannel jacket from the backseat and the nurse started to rub the baby. She called to someone for oxygen. I asked the nurse if the baby was alive and she responded “Yes, he’s just a little stunned.” (The Good Samaritan told them that it was a boy, which I did not know or hear) Then I noticed that my husband had come around to the driver door to get closer since it was too crowded around my door to see. I asked if it was a boy or girl. She said “Girl!” and I looked at my husband who had tears in his eyes. He gave me a kiss and told me that I did great.
The nurse cut the umbilical cord to separate us. Another nurse helped pull up my pants and get me into the wheelchair. I felt all of the remaining birth things roll down my pant legs, weird. I gave the Good Samaritan-woman the most heartfelt thank you I could muster as they carted me off. My husband gave her a thank you kiss!
10:05 – We finally made it passed the hospital doors!
The rest is pretty typical after we made it inside. We had a few familiar faces as one of the nurses was present at my induction with Aurora (my 2-year old) and the midwife there delivered Aurora! Baby girl pepped up quickly and did great for her 5 minute APGAR test (she got a 4, initially). I still had to deliver the placenta, which was causing a lot of cramping and I was tapped out at that point. I asked the midwife for something STRONG. While they were working on getting the IV line in for the pain medication, I realized that I unfortunately had not even held my baby girl or gotten a good look at her yet. She was screaming almost as much as I was while laboring and only settled once I held her. She nursed well and then dozed off. <3
The midwife delivered my placenta and I relaxed into the pain medication. Finally no more pain. Then came the good news that I didn’t even tear, that was an unexpected and pleasant surprise considering how fast she came!
After everything settled down, we were EXHAUSTED. We didn’t get moved to the recovery room until well after 2 AM. My poor hubby passed out almost immediately, I stressed him out like he never has been before. My adrenaline was still surging, so I didn’t sleep for more than about 30 minutes, about 3 hours later. Of course when I did fall asleep, the nurses woke me up to take mine and baby’s vitals.
My husband left that morning to go get Aurora and brought her to the hospital to see baby Bailey. She was in awe! She is such an amazing big sister. Aurora fell asleep lying next to me in the hospital bed, so my husband took her home for a real nap. I had to push the nurses, midwives, and doctors to release us at the 24 hour mark because not only did I want to get home to be with Aurora, but I couldn’t sleep there with the nurses constantly waking me! Thankfully, the pediatrician understood my concern and saw that Bailey was doing great and did not need to be kept any longer. Aurora and my husband came back that evening to pick Bailey and I up and get our whole, healthy family home.
My thoughts on an intervention free labor & delivery
Just for the record, right after delivery, I adamantly claimed that I never wanted to go through an unmedicated labor again. I am glad that I was able to experience it. I think many moms aspire to have an unmedicated labor and if I were at the hospital while laboring, I would have definitely asked for an epidural, where it would have been readily given. Without the option, I was forced to endure and see that I was capable of it.
There are a few items that I found EXTREMELY helpful during this swollen, exhausting time. You can check out my posts on how to support your body’s postpartum healing and some of my favorite things to help with breastfeeding. Also be sure to check out how to support hair regrowth after the dreaded postpartum hair loss period (ugh!).