Let me start this post by saying a few things. First of all, this post is NOT for everyone. It has absolutely nothing to do with food. It’s extremely personal. So if you’re only here for the food, come back tomorrow. If birth stories are your thing, stay while!
I was obsessed with reading birth stories during my pregnancy and want to share mine with others who love reading them. I devoured birth story after birth story, marveling in the beauty of birth and how unique each persons story is. Whether birth took place in the hospital, a birthing center, in a tub, or at home, each story is beautiful and I felt that in some ways, the more stories I read, the more prepared for birth I would be.
In some ways this was true, as they gave me an understanding that our own birth story could take so many different paths. BUT as I found out, nothing can completely prepare you for the experience of giving birth.
So basically, I wanted to write out and share Lars’ birth story for the sake of remembering it and all of the little details, and also for the sake of other people who love reading birth stories. So here goes…it’s a long one!
Contractions started at 5:30 p.m. on my due date June 27, which was a Saturday. Since I had been hopefully thinking I would go into labor the week before, I felt like our Saturday together was a “free day” to do whatever we wanted. So we lounged around that morning, went for a long walk, then we went to the lake with some snacks and did some people watching and talked about how much our lives were about to change. Now that I look back on it, it really was the perfect last day as just the two of us.
We had plans to go check out a brewery with some friends that night (what every pregnant woman wants to do, right?!) but since contractions started about an hour before we were supposed to meet them, we figured staying home was probably the best idea.
So we camped out in our living room, me on an exercise ball, and Marc on the couch, timing contractions for a couple of hours. At this point they were definitely recognizable as real contractions, not the “practice” Braxton Hicks contractions, but they weren’t super consistent, ranging from 7 to 10 minutes apart. Around 7:00, we decided we should probably eat some dinner since we didn’t know where the night would take us so we ordered pizza. This ended up being a really good idea because I really had no interest in eating for the rest of my labor.
After eating around 8:00 and noticing contractions were getting stronger, we started using some of the techniques we learned in our birthing class. Marc was a superstar birthing partner and massaged my back, did some manual pressing of my pelvis together to relieve back pain, and made sure I was hydrated the entire time.
As contractions started ramping up, I noticed my back pain really increasing too. Even in between contractions the back pain was pretty intense, which was really tiring and gave me very little chance to recover.
Around 10:30 we decided to lay down and try to get some rest before going into the hospital. I was able to sleep 10-15 minutes at a time between each contraction, but they were really getting to the point where all I could do during each one was focus on taking long, slow breaths and either curl up into a ball or lean over the bed. It was intense.
Around 4:30 a.m. we decided it was time to head into the hospital, as contractions were somewhat consistent every 5-6 minutes, with each one lasting a minute, which was when our doctor suggested going in.
So we packed the rest of our hospital bags, said goodbye to Maddie and promised her we’d bring a baby home, hopped into the car, and headed in.
I remember on the elevator on the way up to the Maternal Assessment Center, Marc asked me “How dilated do you think you are?” Not wanting to be too optimistic, I responded “Hopefully 4 or 5” since that would mean we would be admitted, but since my contractions were pretty strong and going on for almost 12 hours, I was secretly hoping I’d be one of those people that come in 8 cm dilated and pop out their baby a couple hours later. Marc responded “I bet you’re 8 cm!” Ha. Were we in for a shock.
We got checked in, contractions kept coming, and finally our nurse Danielle was in to check. “Okay, well you’re 1 cm dilated.” Since my doctor had measured me at 1 cm almost two weeks prior to that, I was pretty bummed considering what I had been going through all night. I’m sure she could sense my disappointment. She gave us some options, none of which involved staying at the hospital, and we ended up taking a little bit of oral medication to ease some pain and headed home, just as it was getting light outside.
We got home, apologized to Maddie for coming home empty handed, and tried to get some sleep since we didn’t get much the night before. Still, the contractions were pretty intense and coming every 5-7 minutes, so I didn’t get much sleep. We ended up getting out of bed around 10:30 a.m.
At this point my mom and stepdad were in town and offered to bring us some breakfast. I really had no appetite but knew we were in this labor for the long haul so I had them pick me up a muffin and some juice, and Marc some coffee and breakfast sandwich.
The rest of the morning and afternoon involved more contractions and laboring, and other techniques from our birthing class. We went for a couple of walks around the block, took a long hot bath which was one of the few things that relieved my back pain, and listened to music. I went through phases of feeling like wanting to move around versus wanting to lay still. I thought that deep squatting would be something I would turn to during labor, but honestly it sounded like the worst thing possible during a contraction, so I didn’t really do much squatting. Instead, leaning over onto our bed on my feet or knees or swaying back and forth felt better to me.
As the day went on, things were still getting more intense, and about 12 hours after returning home, we headed back into the hospital. At this point it was around 6:00 on Sunday night, so we were at the 24 hour mark of labor. This time we told Maddie we would DEFINITELY be bringing her home a baby and were even sure enough that we brought our hospital bags into the hospital for our assessment.
We went through signing all of the documents again, which was much more difficult at this point than the last due to how much pain I was in, and got our room. Our new nurse came in, checked me, and we were told apologetically “You’re still 1 cm.”
No. Freaking. Way. I wanted to start crying at this point because I was over 24 hours into labor and even if I had wanted an epidural (I was hoping not to) I still couldn’t have one. Instead of crying I started to say a four letter word starting with a F, but since I’m not much of a swearer I didn’t finish saying it. The nurse responded “It’s okay, you can say it. This sucks.”
This time I was given the same options with one new one, which was to be admitted to a room overnight with a shot of morphine to give my body a rest. The nurse told me that if I was her sister, she would tell me going home would be my best bet. So, home we went.
Right away when we got home Marc got a super hot bath ready for me, where I stayed for the next two hours. After calling my doctor and discussing options, Marc and I decided we should go back to the hospital and get the morphine for at least a little bit of relief and see where the rest of the night took us.
So around 9:30 p.m. we packed up our bags, AGAIN, and headed into the hospital for some relief.
I got the meds and while it did a great job of taking away the back pain I was experiencing between contractions, I was still very aware and feeling most of each contraction, sleeping for only 5-10 minutes at a time.
Then around 12:30 a.m. I woke up to what felt like my water breaking. I got myself up to the bathroom and was so relieved when I realized that yes, my water had in fact broke. I wanted to cry I was so happy.
We called the nurse who came in to check my cervix and had more good news: I was a “good” 4 cm dilated. I’m pretty sure I did start crying at this point. Happy, happy tears.
While I had hoped to get through labor without any interventions and pain medications, I knew at this point I was going to need an epidural. My body had already gone through 30+ hours of contractions and hardly any sleep. I was physically and mentally exhausted. So we talked to our nurse about getting an epidural and I was 100% sure this was what was right for me.
I ended up getting the epidural around 3:00 a.m. along with a Pitocin drip to help contractions along. The epidural gave me a ton of relief and I was able to rest for a couple of hours.
Around 9:30 a.m. I started feeling the urge to push, which is a really strange feeling to describe. One of my fears around getting an epidural was that I wouldn’t be able to feel what my body wanted me to do. While this was somewhat true, as I wasn’t feeling my contractions, I still felt the sensation of needing to push when a contraction would come.
The nurse gave me another 45 minutes to get to the point where I HAD to push and all of a sudden, we were in the pushing phase.
Luckily my doctor arrived about 15 minutes into the pushing and I was so happy to have her there. Not too far into it, they also announced they could see his head and Marc whispered to me, “he has dark hair like you!” I couldn’t believe we were so close to meeting our son.
I’m not sure what I expected the pushing to be like but it was definitely a lot more challenging, physically draining, and painful than I thought it would be. Multiple times I broke down saying “I cant do this” (not sure what I thought my options were…) but Marc and my doctor were so supportive, encouraging, and helped me figure out what I was supposed to be doing.
After a little over an hour of pushing I gave three last huge pushes and Lars Leonard was born at 11:35 a.m. He started crying and they immediately put him on my chest. It was such a surreal feeling to see his face, his little hands, his toes, and his belly, and to have him on the outside of me. Marc and I were just overwhelmed by the love we felt for him already.
During our initial bonding time I also delivered the placenta (not bad at all compared to what I had just done) and got stitched up. After that we spent an hour just as a family of three before Marc went out to the waiting room to get our families.
We spent that night in the hospital and went home the following afternoon after getting all of the okay’s from the doctors. And that’s it! The last (almost) two weeks have been absolutely amazing and exhausting at the same time. It’s simply the best.