Okay, so I’m weird. And like to remember what it was like to give birth. I guess because it is such an intense, exhilarating, life changing event that I feel the need to document it.
Ariana’s birth story starts 2 weeks before her due date. That’s right. 2 weeks prior to her gracing us with her beautiful presence, I started having regular contractions. At 3am.
I called my mom at 4:30am after having consistent contractions (about 10 minutes apart) for an hour and a half, thinking they would progress and that Ariana would join us in the morning. These contractions weren’t painful; they just felt like stronger, more intense Braxton Hicks contractions. But they were steady. So my mom decided to make the 5 hour drive to be here in the morning.
By the time she arrived, my contractions had slowed down to every 30 minutes or so. We decided to go have brunch with some friends, and I relaxed by getting a mani/pedi. All while still having these “stronger” Braxton Hicks contractions.
Everyday proceeded like a child waiting for Christmas morning. Was this it? Was this the day?
2 entire weeks passed by while I walked what seemed to be a thousand miles at the beach and then bounced on an exercise ball every night. I thought she wanted out soon, so everyday I was thinking by tiring myself out with these activities that supposedly prompt labor, she would come.
On Friday evening, April 17th, I was having my usual “contractions” about every 7-8 minutes apart. My midwife told me to go to the hospital if my contractions were 7 minutes apart (this being my 2nd baby). Well, with the way things had been going, I figured they would just fizzle out like usual. But I was concerned because my right ankle was swollen, and it hadn’t been before. I also had a headache the day before. I was worried my blood pressure might have risen, and that I could potentially have preeclampsia. So I called the hospital, and they recommended for me to come in to be checked just in case.
We arrived at the hospital around 1:30am. The nurse checked my blood pressure. It was fine. (As good as it can be when you think you’re about to go into actual labor). Then the midwife checked my cervix. I was 4cm dilated.
“Go walk the hallway for 2 hours, and then come back. We’ll check you again to see if you’ve progressed. If you have, we’ll check you into a room.”
2 hours of walking that late at night before potentially having to push out a baby did not sound very enticing. But we made the best of it. Lauren bought us (I mean Ruben) some Starbucks, we walked laps around the 4th floor of the building, and then would take a few breaks to rest and watch Friday Night Lights.
Finally, 3:30am arrived, and it was time for the verdict. Except the midwife didn’t enter our room until 4:30, and we were getting pretty tired by that point. I was still only “a good 4cm” dilated. But it was a new midwife and apparently a good 4cm was enough to get me officially checked into the hospital.
We spent the morning hours resting while Ariana’s heartbeat and my contractions were being monitored. The unpainful contractions were still about 6-7 minutes apart. When I wasn’t on the monitors, I would bounce on the exercise ball and watch some Netflix with Ruben. The contractions started to feel stronger (still not painful, just stronger), so I decided to take a shower. That was so relaxing that I knew I wanted to take another one when my contractions were actually painful.
By this point, it was almost noon. The midwife entered to check my cervix again. Nearly 11 hours since we had entered the hospital, and I was now at 5cm.
5 centimeters! After 11 hours I had only progressed 1 centimeter.
“I can just break your bag of waters, if you want me to,” said Carol, the midwife. (I just liked that her name was Carol. It made me even more excited to have her deliver my baby). “It will most likely speed up your labor. At this rate, who knows how long you’ll be in here.”
I was hesitant, because I really didn’t want any interventions, but I figured it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to get things going, considering that I had been in “labor” for 2 weeks now.
After my water was broken, literally the next contraction was actually painful. I thought, “Oh yeah, this is what they feel like.” Instantly the contractions were about 3 minutes apart. And painful.
“After you get the heartbeat, can I go take a shower?” I asked the nurse.
“That’s fine,” she kindly replied.
She left the room. I asked Ruben to do some counter pressure massage on my lower back for one contraction. That helped the pain a little. The next contraction came 2 minutes later, and he did the same thing. Except this time it seemed to make it hurt worse. So I managed to ask him as politely as possible to stop. I later asked him if I was rude, and he said no. Good, because I had consciously tried being nice in the midst of that pain. 🙂
I kept feeling like I needed to use the bathroom, so I unhooked myself from the monitors and went.
When I returned and tried to strap the monitor sensors around my large, watermelon belly, it made the heartbeat uneasy to find. But I couldn’t really concentrate on adjusting the straps because the contractions were now about a minute and half apart and very painful. I just stood there, by the bed, rocking side to side.
The nurse came in to adjust the heartbeat monitor.
“Can I take a shower after you find the heartbeat?” I murmured. “It’s really starting to hurt.”
“Honey, I don’t know if you’re going to have time to take a shower,” she responded as she moved the sensor on my belly. “Can you please lie on the bed? I’m not getting a consistent reading.”
As much as I just wanted to stand up, I complied, knowing that we needed to make sure the baby was doing okay. So I decided to rock back and forth on my hands and knees while I was on the bed. During the middle of a strong contraction, I looked at the nurse with desperate eyes, remembering that I had told her not to let me get an epidural. She looked back at me, as if to say, “I know it hurts really bad, but you didn’t want the epidural, so I’m not going to ask if you want it.”
“I need to go to the bathroom,” I kept telling the nurse.
“No, dear, that is just the pressure from the baby.”
“No, I’m serious, I really have to use the bathroom,” I said, frantically, thinking I was about to go right there on the bed.
“Well, let me know if it feels that way even when you’re not having a contraction because you are probably getting close to having to push.”
Another contraction hit. I can’t even remember anything that was going on in the room except for hearing the nurse tell the intern nurse to get the table ready. That she knew I was laboring quickly and the baby was going to come very soon.
She rushed over to me and tried, once again, to adjust the monitor so she could check the baby’s heartbeat. “Amy, I need you to lie on your side. The heartbeat is really low, and I don’t know if it’s just yours or the baby’s.”
So in the middle of a contraction, I somehow summoned the strength to turn from my hands and knees, to my side. Thankfully, the baby’s heartrate popped up on the screen, and it was normal.
Then I said, “Umm, it still feels like I have to go to the bathroom, and I’m not having a contraction right now.”
“Okay, I’ll check you after the next contraction.”
I was concentrating on my breathing and remembered reading about making sounds as you exhaled. When I had done all of my preparation and reading for an unmedicated childbirth, I remember thinking, “I’m not going to make noises. That’s so weird.” But at that moment, I seriously didn’t care what I sounded like. And making sounds while I breathed actually helped.
After that contraction, the nurse checked my cervix. She could probably feel the baby’s head about to come out because my body was already starting to push. “Oh, you’re complete,” she said. “She’s complete! We need to get the midwife!” she yelled toward the other nurse.
Later on, the nurse told me that the midwife said, “She’s not ready; I just broke her water.” But she hardly had enough time to get her gloves on before I started pushing. I couldn’t help it; my body was just pushing that baby girl out.
After maybe 3 pushes, there she was. On April 18, 2015 at 1:03pm, beautiful Ariana Nichole was born. All 8.2 pounds and 20 ¼ inches of her. I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy when I got to hold my baby girl for the first time.
Except she was oddly quiet. And purple. The midwife got her to cough a little. And it seemed to be okay. But she still hadn’t cried. And she wasn’t gaining a normal color. So they whisked her to the warming table, while Ruben watched the nurse get her breathing by removing the fluids that were still inside of her. It had been almost exactly 1 hour from the time she broke my water until Ariana was with us. The midwife suspected that because Ariana had come down the birth canal so quickly, that she was in shock and also didn’t have enough time to be squeezed of all the fluids from her lungs. Regardless, they were able to get her breathing (and crying) just fine, and they laid her right back on my chest.
Everything had gone wonderfully, and I was so proud of myself (only through the grace and strength of God) for never receiving an epidural.
*Warning: this next part is a little gross and graphic*
However, I nearly regretted that decision after everything was done and it was time to birth the placenta. Carol, with her cute English accent, kept telling me she was trying to get the placenta to detach, so she was “massaging” my stomach. To this day I don’t understand why they call it massage…it is not comfortable nor relaxing…and it’s actually really painful. Apparently, because everything happened so quickly, my placenta would not detach, and they had to bring the doctor in to scrape it out. Yes, that’s what she did. Disgusting and painful sounding? It was. She asked if I wanted some pain meds, but I declined, thinking, “I just pushed out a baby…I think I can handle this.” I obviously did not know what was coming. I seriously think that was more painful than labor and delivery together.
Once that was done, I was finally able to relax with our precious, new baby girl. To this day, she still hardly cries. Thank You, Lord! She is an easy baby, which makes it doable to chase a 2-year-old around all day. Which, by the way, he just adores his “baby sissy.” I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family.