It was Tuesday, June 6th and I spent the morning with my sweet friend Gaby, who took a few maternity photos of me in her downtown studio. We chatted about when this baby would arrive, worked on our websites, and had lunch at The Garden Table. I came home around 1:30 and was feeling pretty tired, so I relaxed on the couch, responding to emails and getting a bit of work done.
I remember the first contraction. It happened at 2:08 PM. It didn’t hurt, but I knew what it was. Exactly 10 minutes later, I felt another one. And another 10 minutes later, it came again. I knew what was happening, but brushed it off thinking it could easily be false labor – just getting my body ready, I told myself. I decided I’d wait to mention it to James until it had been going on for at least an hour. After an hour, I shared with him what was happening, but was still feeling great and I wasn’t in pain. We cooked dinner, went on a long walk, and got some things ready around the house. We had a pretty normal evening and the longer the contractions lasted, the more excited I was getting.
Around 9 PM, they were 5 minutes apart and getting more painful. I could still talk and breathe through them, so I knew they weren’t intense enough to do anything about it at this point. By 10 PM, I found myself holding my breath, not knowing how to get through each one. They were painful at this point, but nothing TOO crazy. By 11:30, I called the doctor who suggested we come in to be checked. I tested positive for Group B Strep, so I knew the importance of having the antibiotic during labor, which of course had to be at the hospital and not at home. So, at midnight we found ourselves in triage. I was connected to the monitors and they checked dilation and effacement. I was only 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced, which is nothing! They wanted to monitor me for 2 hours and check again for any change. By now the contractions were super painful, and it took a lot of energy to get through each one. They checked again in 2 hours, and I hadn’t made any change. Talk about a let down! They decided it would be best for us to go home, get some rest, and labor where I’m the most comfortable. They instructed me to take Tylenol PM, attempt to sleep, and to come back if they continued to increase in intensity + frequency. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep at all that night. I was miserable. Ellie, our mini golden doodle, knew what was going on and snuggled my bump all night – something she doesn’t normally do. She always sleeps at our feet, but she knew. I loved the snuggles, but that was just about the only thing I enjoyed about that night. 😉 By the morning, I was ready to be back at the hospital. I labored at home for a few hours, my mom came over, and we headed back to the hospital.
Once in triage, they found I hadn’t progressed at all. I was so bummed. How in the world do you have contractions so frequently and so painful, yet you haven’t progressed? It was a few hours of monitoring, checking, walking the halls, and just focusing on getting through each contraction. Things were moving so slowly, and I was exhausted. Walking, something I had done throughout pregnancy and loved, was one of the worst things. I hated it! I was so uncomfortable and during each contraction was doubled over in the hallway feeling terribly.
I don’t remember what time it was exactly, but the doctor offered to break my water to get things to progress. I was scared of the pain of breaking the water, but I quickly agreed. I needed things to get moving. By the time they moved us to labor and delivery, connected my IV (fluids + penicillin) and waited 30 minutes to allow the antibiotic to get rolling, I was at 3cm, almost 4. Hooray for progression! Dr. M broke my water, which wasn’t painful at all actually (I mean, maybe it was, but in comparison to contractions, nothing seemed to hurt! Ha!). He had tossed around the idea of starting Pitocin as well, but seeing that I had progressed to almost a 4, we held off to see what breaking the water would do on its own.
It was before the doctor left the room after breaking my water that he asked what I’d like to do for pain management. He offered a shot that would “take the edge off” or the epidural. I couldn’t get the words “epidural” out fast enough. I knew from the get-go that I’d go the epidural route, but my goodness, I’ve never been so excited for something! Thank heavens the anesthesiologist wasn’t tied up and was in our room within 5 minutes. I had the epidural at 3:40 PM on Wednesday – almost 26 hours after contractions started at home. At this point, we told James to go ahead and leave the room. I needed a husband present for the birth and James easily passes out, so we knew it’d be best for him not to witness the epidural process. Dr. F was THE BEST, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about his personality and how he allowed me to feel completely at ease about the process. He talked me through everything, eased my nerves, and was a spirited personality in the room, which was so helpful. I had a contraction just before he started, and he allowed that to pass before beginning. The pain of the epidural wasn’t bad at all – actually a welcomed type of pain in comparison to contractions. A few minutes later it started to take effect. He told me to let him know if I felt the next contraction and that my answer should be a strong “no” – boy was he right. I remember exclaiming “No!” in a voice I’m sure nobody had heard from me in awhile. I was literally on cloud 9. That epidural was the best decision. By this time, I hadn’t slept since Monday night. I hadn’t eaten much at all since dinner Tuesday night (a few Cheerios, strawberries, and a small glass of orange juice before going back to the hospital Wednesday morning). I was absolutely exhausted. I was so worried I wouldn’t have enough strength to push and knew I needed to rest. It’s difficult resting when you have nurses in and out checking you, reconnecting IVs, turning you side to side, etc., but somehow I managed just a bit of rest in between.
At 7 PM, things were slowing down a bit, so they decided to start Pitocin at the lowest level to see what happened. I used the peanut ball for a bit, laying side to side, but baby wasn’t loving it and his heart rate kept dropping. Eventually we had to nix the peanut ball, which I know helps so many people progress because it really allows your pelvis to open. G wasn’t having it, so that only lasted about 30 minutes before I was back to lying in bed normally.
By 8 PM, I was 5 cm dilated. They figured I’d progress at about 1 cm per hour and would be 10 by 1 AM. They said at that point they may let me labor down a bit before pushing and to probably expect a baby around 3 AM Thursday morning. Yikes! This process went so quickly for me, which is weird because it seems as though I’d feel the opposite. I know for my mom and James it was a LONG day without much to do, but they were troopers and were so supportive.
They let me rest and told me to let them know if I felt a lot of pressure, as that would probably mean I was 10 cm. I remember first feeling tons of pressure, but it didn’t hurt and I needed a bit more rest, so I just kind of kept quiet for a bit. 😉 At 11:30, they checked me and I was fully dilated, and he had labored down quite a bit. It was go-time! We were thinking it’d be much longer (they had estimated I’d be 10 cm at 1 AM), so our photographer and friend, Sami, wasn’t even there yet! We called her, they called the doctor who was on call, and they prepped everything they needed for delivery. By 11:45, everyone and everything was ready to go.
I did a few practice pushes, just to figure out how to do it and then it was time to delivery this baby! After 1 round of pushing, they could see the head and I remember my mom telling me “Well, I can tell you this baby isn’t bald!” The entire pregnancy I swore the baby would have no hair, so I was so surprised to know this little one had hair! They asked if I wanted a mirror and while I had anticipated not wanting one, I decided that for a few minutes, I’d like one. I was excited to see the head and it really did help me to understand how to push better. After 2 rounds of pushing, I asked them to move their mirror, as I wasn’t interested in watching as things progressed. 😉 We were listening to Jon Foreman, I had a friend photographing, a mom supporting and watching, a husband holding my leg and breathing with me, and a wonderful nurse and doctor. The room was pretty calm and lighthearted. I remember the pressure I felt between contractions being awful! It was the most unique feeling and I just wanted to keep pushing. I wasn’t interested in waiting for the next contraction, but had to of course. While they had prepared us that pushing for first time moms usually takes 2 hours +, I was SO surprised when they said baby was coming in the next couple of pushes. I pushed for 20 minutes. He was born at 12:10 AM on June 8th with the cord around his neck (loosely), and I remember them holding him up saying “What is it?!” and it was clear as day he was a boy! He cried immediately and it was just the sweetest sound. I took the biggest sigh of relief the moment he was born, and they laid him on my chest immediately for skin to skin. It was simply the best. Something there are no words to describe. I’m beyond thankful for the images I have of these moments – they take me right back there emotionally and for that I’m so glad.
I snuggled him, we were all in awe, and the doctor and nurse worked to finish up what needed to be done with me. He looked just like James and was already making some of his same facial expressions a few moments after he was born. This distracted me a bit from the final work they were doing on me, as the epidural had worn off. 😉
We were a family of 4 in an instant (Ellie counts!) and were definitely in a state of pure bliss. It was a crazy long labor with a super quick delivery. We were up all night with nurses in the room, checks for me and the baby, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t sleep a wink. Things never go according to plan, but boy was it 100% worth it. It’s our story and it’s perfectly written for our sweet Graham. We love our Little Graham Guy!
6 pounds 13 ounces
21 inches long
12:10 AM on June 8, 2017
All images taken by my dear friend, Sami, of Sami Renee Photography.