Feb 20, 2021

My Birth Story

It's been a while since I last wrote - 1.5 months, in fact.

As tends to happen after being pregnant for eons, I finally went into labor! My contractions began at exactly 41 weeks pregnant. 

Labor and delivery story
From the day after I gave birth!

It was actually 3am on the very night that I was originally scheduled for an induction, just five hours after the induction would have begun! I'm so glad that my husband encouraged me to listen to my gut and give my body a little more time to begin things naturally. 

I'd had an acupressure massage advertised to help induce labor 16 hours before light contractions woke me up, so perhaps that did it or perhaps it was just my time. 

I was able to labor at home for a good while. From 3am until about 7 or 8am when my husband woke up I just labored in bed next to him. I couldn't really sleep, but I wasn't in too much pain and was able to still lie there and rest, as well as get excited about the big adventure ahead of us. 

When he woke up I told him that I was in labor (finally) but that I wanted to go about the day as normally as possible for as long as I could. I figured that would help me with endurance for labor, since first time moms tend to take a while. 

I read, wrote, did a load of laundry, cooked, had lunch, and chatted on WhatsApp with my mom. Around 1pm the contractions were strong enough that I couldn't just ignore them, so I finally engaged my husband to help. 

I think he'd been more anxious all morning than me! He'd taken a few work calls, but had basically paced around the living room waiting for something to happen and looking at me with panic every time that I walked into his sightline. It was pretty amusing!

After hours of that, he was pretty relieved when I finally said that I needed his help and we were getting into the more serious part of labor. I think having something to do made him feel calmer!

We hung out on the couch and he did counterpressure compressions on my lower back whenever a contraction struck. We developed a pretty efficient system - when I felt a contraction coming on, I'd slide off of the couch and drop onto all fours. Then he'd jump up and press on my lower back. I don't know the physiology of why counterpressure is so good, but it took my pain down by a factor of five and made contractions totally manageable!

We watched the last few episodes of season 2 of Big Little Lies. Then we started Inside Out. Inside Out is my favorite movie and it was so, so perfect to watch as contractions started really amping up.

I'd wanted to labor at home for as long as possible, but our doula was 1.5 hours away in Long Island when I started feeling rectal pressure. Since that could be an indication that it would be time to push soon, she counseled us that we needed to go to the hospital ASAP. 

My contractions had also really amped up in intensity and frequency, so that I could no longer talk through them and they were coming every two to three minutes. We called the hospital and they agreed with my doula, advising me to head over right away. 

But we were only a third of the way through Inside Out, if that! Sadly, we never got to watch the rest of it. 

My husband gathered our things up quickly, put them on a trolley to bring downstairs, hailed an Uber, and off we went!

We're only about five to ten minutes by car from the hospital, depending on traffic, but it felt much longer than that since the car limited my mobility and my husband's ability to effectively relieve the pain of my contractions via counterpressure.

When we arrived at the hospital they waved us through security really quickly, not making us stand in line. It was about 6:30 or 7 the evening at this point and super clear to see that I was in labor! 

Unfortunately things got a little less ideal from there. Shift change for the delivery nurses was 7:30pm, so they were about to meet for their huddle as we arrived. My husband and I were separated when I went into triage, due to covid, and I ended up being back there alone for about 45 minutes, due to the shift change huddle. 

Handling contractions without my husband was so hard! It was particularly difficult because I had to stay lying on my back in order for the heart rate monitor for the baby to read clearly and consistently. That was a huge bummer because lying on my back made the pain way, way worse than when I could stand, lean over, sway, or be on all fours. I tried to find a more comfortable position several times, but every time a nurse would hurry over to chide me. 

When they finally checked me, it turned out that I wasn't close to pushing yet. I wasn't anywhere near dilated enough, just about 4cm, and the rectal pressure was just because the baby was already very low, 0 station. 

I was offered the option to head home for a little longer, since we lived so close, but decided against it. I didn't want to deal with schlepping our stuff back and forth while in labor and didn't want to have to get back in a car either. At that point in labor, I just wanted to stay where I was. 

Unfortunately, that meant that even after my husband rejoined me I wasn't allowed to use any of the pain management strategies we'd prepared, since I had to stay lying on my back so they could monitor me. Boo! Long story short, without any natural pain management strategies, and nothing my doula could do for me while I was stuck on my back either, I ended up requesting an epidural.

Simple, right? I'd get an IV of fluids, then the epidural, and then I'd be blissfully pain free. False!

The first epidural failed and the pain kept getting worse and worse. The anaesthesiologist came right back in when it was apparent that the epidural wasn't doing anything for me. He removed the first epidural and started a whole new one. Meanwhile, I was in such terrible pain that I was crying out, moaning, and just plain crying at points. Still, I sat super still. I was afraid that if I moved they'd mess up and I'd be saddled with lasting damage to my spinal cord, or even just a multiday spinal headache (no bueno).

I was able to sit still through intense pain - it turned out I had been going through transition as they were placing the epidural - and finally started getting some relief! It wasn't 100% effective, I still felt pain, but it brought the pain down to manageable levels. 

Had I known I'd have already gone through transition and be ready to push by the time I'd get any pain relief, I probably would have stuck to just not getting the epidural. 

That said, I don't regret it. It's also possible that getting to/having to sit for so long while they placed the epidural sped things up and made me get to and go through transition. Labor had somewhat stalled since arriving at the hospital, which I think is because I was forced to stay lying down, and sitting up put gravity on my side.

Anyway, back to the story - they did a quick check of my dilation and were surprised to see that I was already fully dilated, 10cm, and completely effaced. It was time to push! 

A nurse ran to get my obstetrician and then she came running in the room, ordered a few more nurses to get me in positions and before I knew it my legs were up in the air and I was being coached through pushing.

Real Postpartum
A few hours after giving birth - I was wiped out!

I pushed for 1.5 hours, which felt like just ten or fifteen minutes, and then our daughter's beautiful cry rang out and they pulled her out, red and squirming and wet, and placed her on my chest. She immediately crawled over to my breast and started nursing, while my husband and I just gaped at her in bewilderment. 

I kept saying something like "she's a human" or "she's real" over and over again. I just couldn't believe it! I'd been pregnant for what felt like ages, almost the entire duration of the pandemic, but that the movements in my bump and this baby on my chest were one and the same was still a little surreal to wrap my head around.

Our daughter was born just after midnight at 41+1 weeks of gestation. Just like that, we had become parents! It was insane. 

How's your 2021 going so far?


  1. Congratulations on your little one! You are strong and brave! Thanks for sharing your experience!


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