Baby S’s Birth Story

“So, you’re late term now, how do you feel about induction?” The OB asked when he walked into the examination room. I mean, I knew I was past my due date, but only by a day! I certainly was not expecting that question right away haha. I had, however, been preparing for the discussion about induction. 

Like many other mothers, I was counting down the days until my due date, the anticipation rising as it got closer and closer. What would labor be like? How painful would contractions be? What would delivery feel like? Would I end up getting an epidural? Would I need an emergency C-section? Would it be snowing the day we had to go to the hospital? When would it all start? The questions were endless.

I knew, though, that it was highly unlikely (in fact, only a 4% chance) that I would deliver on my due date, and actually more likely, as a first-time mom, that I would be late. 

This was statistically accurate, but I also had a gut feeling that it would be the case. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because my mom told me that I was late when I was born and her midwife said that it was probably all mental because she was nervous about having a baby. 

Well, I was nervous about having a baby. Nervous about the actual labor and delivery as well as taking care of him after he was born. Excited too, of course, but nervous. And it almost seemed like my mind was working against my body. Everytime I felt something change and shift, like things could be progressing, I tensed up and felt like I went in reverse. 

After learning about induction in our birth and parenting class, I was really hoping I would not have to go down that route. It didn’t sound pleasant and I wanted my body to do things naturally, but the process seemed increasingly inevitable. 

At forty weeks and one day I was not dilated, though my baby’s head had been down for a number of weeks and it felt like he was dropping lower little by little based on the pressure I was feeling. 

After talking with the doctor about the risks and benefits of giving birth within a specific timeline, we decided to go ahead and schedule an induction. It would end up being safer for the baby. I still had some time to go into labor naturally, though, and we hoped for the best case scenario. 

So, while officially on maternity leave at this point, I waited. I walked a lot, cleaned, prepped food, anything I could do to prepare for baby’s arrival that I hadn’t yet had the chance to do. 

I also spent some time researching whether or not there is actually any evidence on ways to induce labor naturally. The result? Not much. There is some benefit to eating dates to help soften the cervix, but I would have to eat a lot of them and I would have had to start weeks ago. I still ate some…just in case it helped. 

What did actually help (not in the labor department, but with nerves), was talking with friends about their experiences, and reading other women’s birth stories, especially involving inductions. Like those of Cassy Joy from Fed & Fit: here and here. I didn’t read many, though, because I didn’t want to know too much, or essentially get more nervous about things I hadn’t even thought about!

Eventually, our scheduled induction date came and it was time to go to the hospital. Hayden and I loaded the car with the hospital bags we had ready weeks ago, secured the carseat and were on our way. It was surreal driving to the hospital knowing when we’d meet our baby. Definitely not the drive we’d been expecting, but it was almost kind of nice. There was a sense of calm. 

After getting situated in our hospital room (johnny and non-slip socks on, hooked up to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, IV placed, COVID-19 test, etc.), the OB checked my cervix. At this point it was around 8:00 PM on Monday night, forty weeks and five days pregnant, and still not dilated. 

While the ride to the hospital may have been calm, I was still nervous about, well, everything, and began shaking all over. 

The plan, I was told, was to be given a balloon that would dilate my cervix to about four centimeters by Tuesday morning, begin Pitocin that would induce labor, and deliver a baby by Tuesday afternoon or evening. 

I knew the balloon would cause cramping, but I didn’t realize the night that was in store! There was definitely some cramping and severe lower back pain. I ended up getting some pain medication in the middle of night, which wasn’t pleasant. It only dulled the pain and made me feel woozy. Thankfully, it wore off fairly quickly. Needless to say, though, I did not get much sleep. 

At 9:00 AM the next morning, the doctor checked my cervix. I was at two centimeters. Half of where I was supposed to be. This was going to be a long journey.  

Nevertheless, Pitocin started at 10:00 AM, and after two hours, I had been having contractions, but hadn’t been feeling them at all. By noon, the OB discussed breaking my water, explaining that it should really get things moving and increase contractions. She broke my water and found meconium in the fluid, which meant the baby had already pooped. 

“It’s a good thing you were induced then,” she said, “this could have led to infection.” Although it was too late at that point, I felt very reassured by our decision to proceed with the induction. 

From about noon until around 6:00 PM, I had mild contractions that increased in intensity over time. Hayden and I hung out, played cards, watched TV, but eventually I couldn’t concentrate on much except the pain. At one point, I received another dose of pain medication and the woozy feeling was even worse this time around. I felt so out of it – never again! 

Getting up to walk around or use the bathroom was a process.
I tried bouncing on a ball for awhile.

After that my contractions were getting really intense and extremely painful. I didn’t know what to expect from labor, but I did expect to feel contractions in my uterus. That was not the case for me. Mine were all in my lower back and probably the worst pain I had ever felt. Keep in mind though, that I’ve never broken a bone, or up until that point experienced anything that I would consider major pain. I felt so grateful to have Hayden there, supporting and coaching me the entire time. I could not ask for a better, more patient husband.

The nurse helped me try different positions to aid my back, but nothing worked. At this point I started asking questions about epidurals. I wasn’t against getting one, just nervous about the process and side effects. 

I did feel better after talking with her, but at about 7:00 PM it almost didn’t matter. My contractions were so painful, I couldn’t imagine continuing like that for much longer, let alone multiple hours. I didn’t know how long labor would be, but I knew it could be awhile! 

By 8:00 PM I was able to get an epidural and, oh my goodness, at that moment it felt like it was the best decision I had ever made in my entire life! It was almost immediate relief and I was finally able to relax. 

I eventually became hungry, and had to subsist on popsicles and broth – clear liquids only with an epidural. I hadn’t had a popsicle in a long time, so I welcomed this treat despite wanting something with more substance. 

At 11:00 PM, the OB checked my cervix. Surely after all that pain and time I would be closer to ten centimeters?!

“Three centimeters,” she said. “But, you’re 80% effaced, which is really uncommon.” Essentially, she explained that with 80% effacement if I was fully dilated I would be ready to push at that moment. 

Then she got serious. She told us to mentally prepare for a C-section. About eighteen hours after my water broke, the baby would need to come out or it would put us at risk of infection. If I wasn’t fully dilated by about 6:00 AM the next morning, a C-section would be the next course of action. 

Oof.  I might experience the two childbirth interventions (induction and c-section) I was hoping wouldn’t be necessary.

The OB remarked how calm we were about the news. And it’s true. Although I didn’t want a C-section, I had mentally prepared for birth not going according to plan – so I never made one. 

My plan was as follows: go to the hospital when necessary and have a baby. That’s it. I wanted to keep myself and my baby safe and I knew the doctors and nurses caring for me would help me make those decisions – whatever the case may be. 

I think hearing other birth stories in the past that didn’t go as planned, as well as going through my miscarriage (in which my body did not progress naturally on it’s own, and generally the whole experience wasn’t according to my plan), had also prepared me for a birth that didn’t go as planned. 

As a dietitian, I often blame a lot on stress. Because it truly does affect the body in so many ways. Sugar cravings? Could be stress. Not losing weight? Could be stress. High blood pressure? Stress. The list goes on. 

I asked the OB if my lack of dilation progression could be related to stress and nerves. “Oh for sure,” she said. In fact, she was happy I’d gotten the epidural, hoping it would help me relax and dilate. 

So, once she left me and Hayden to continue resting until morning, we talked. I voiced all of my nerves about delivery and caring for a child – most things we had discussed already, but now felt more real since he was almost here, and that upped my anxiety. And then I prayed. I prayed that I would dilate and give birth vaginally to a healthy baby boy. I trusted God with our situation and that everything would work out according to His plan, which I reminded myself was always the best plan – even if it wasn’t what I wanted. And I practiced visualization. I pictured my cervix opening and myself giving birth. And I mentally told my body to relax and let this happen – messages from the brain to the body are very powerful! 

Around 2:00 or 3:00 AM, the epidural began wearing off and I eventually had to ask for a bolus. Before which, the nurse checked my cervix. I was hopeful that this time I’d be further along. 

“Four centimeters.” She said. Fortunately, it meant I could get a bolus for pain. Unfortunately, it meant I hadn’t made much progress.

This time, as I fell into a deep sleep, I further reassured myself that, whatever the outcome in the morning, it would be okay.

At 6:20 AM Wednesday morning, the OB had returned to check my cervix once again and determine whether or not I would be having a C-section straight away or trying for a vaginal delivery. 

“You’re never going to believe this,” she said, “but, you’re fully dilated!” 

“What?!” It truly felt like a miracle. We were so thankful – and relieved. 

“Yeah, this is awesome! You’re ready to push! Not quite yet though. I want you to feel something.” The epidural was still in effect and I had to wait until it began wearing off. It would help me feel my contractions and know when to push. 

Around 8:00 AM I was ready. The nurses came in and I started pushing. Luckily, the epidural was still in enough effect that I could sense my contractions, but wasn’t in any pain. Not what I anticipated delivery would be like, but I certainly wasn’t complaining! (In hindsight, though, I think feeling more may have helped prevent as much tearing, since I did end up with a third degree partial tear.)

Soon, the nurse began to see the baby’s head and called Hayden over to watch. “Wait, I want to see! Hayden, take a picture!” He looked appalled that I would ask such a thing. 

“We can bring you in a mirror,” the nurse suggested. I was able to watch the crown of my baby’s head juuust barely start to enter the world. It was really cool, but also made it feel like I would be in labor for hours as it didn’t seem like much progress had been made. Eventually though, I stopped watching because I began involuntarily closing my eyes with every push.

I had always imagined I’d be crushing Hayden’s hand during this time, but instead I was holding onto hospital bed handles. He was right by my side though, and awesome at keeping me well-hydrated. I started shaking again, too, but this time it was due to hormones instead of nerves. 

I continued pushing for a little while, and then all of a sudden they called in the doctor. He and the nurses coached me through a few more pushes and before I knew it, I had a beautiful (crying) baby boy in my arms!

A process that began Monday evening ended Wednesday morning with only an hour of pushing. It was definitely not the experience I expected (though I guess I didn’t really know what to expect anyway), but I am so incredibly grateful for a healthy baby, whom we love so much – no matter how he got here. 

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