And then there were three - A Birth Story


[Liam at a week old]

I've thought long and hard about what to share in a public forum with regards to the arrival of our little peanut.  I've written draft after draft and deleted each one thinking that maybe no one cares or that it's TMI.  But I realized that shared experiences are part of this whole thing (and I have a captive audience).  So without further ado, here's our birthing story.

Let me be very clear - when I started down this rabbit hole that was pregnancy and is motherhood, I didn't have many expectations.  I tried to just roll with the punches and ride the wave.  This is definitely against who I am as a Type A planner.  I had been well advised early on that planning during pregnancy is an exercise in futility; if it makes you feel better, you can try, but ultimately, it's going to be what it's going to be and if straying from your plan is going to stress you out more, then don't do it.  For that reason, my birthing plan looked like this:
  1. Go to hospital
  2. Get an epidural
  3. Have baby
Any intermediate steps that needed to occur between these three to ensure a happy, healthy baby, I was ready for and on board.

As many of you know, Liam was late.  I had to schedule an induction for February 9th; something that I was not looking forward to going through based on the numerous horror stories women like to share.  On Monday, February 6th, I was waddling around the office (yes, I worked up until he was born) having some back pains and not giving it much thought at all.  I had had back pain throughout pregnancy and especially during the third trimester, so I simply strapped a heating pad to my back (Thank you ThermaCare!) and went on my merry way.  By that evening, it was glaringly obvious that these were not my normal back pains, but that I was in back labor.  Throughout the night, I timed my contractions which were consistent, but not close enough together.  I called the doctor who informed me that I was indeed in pre-labor which could last anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days (awesome).  

Tuesday morning, Hubs went into the office to grab some things to work on at home so he could sit with me and I called my parents to inform them that they should get on the good foot and get here.  And just like that my contractions practically stopped.  They went from every 10ish minutes apart to up to 45 minutes apart.  Stellar.  So Hubs and I sat together, chatted, got some favors for his office put together and just hung out.  One gems that came out of us just hanging out was in response to me commenting on how uncomfortable contractions were, Hubs looked at me and simply said, "Babe, if they felt good, they'd be called orgasms." (He's a comedian, I tell you.) My contractions started to pick back up and after another discussion with the doctor, I was told that I was still not ready to come in.  Her exact words were, "I can tell that you are not ready to come in because you are still pleasant to speak to." My parents arrived at 5:30 pm and went to get take out for us.  I knew that when I could even think about eating the Chickfila milk shake they brought back for me that it was time to go to the hospital.

According to Hubs, like a ninja I appeared beside him downstairs and simply said, 'You need to take me to the hospital'.  No rush, no fuss - just simply "Take me NOW".  We arrived at Duke University Hospital at 9:30 pm and were quickly taken up to the Labor & Delivery Ward Triage during a full moon.  Many people believe that there is no correlation between a full moon and women going into labor...well that night, the Duke University Labor & Delivery ward would have proved them wrong.  (We later learned that they were so full there were women who had to give birth in their triage rooms.) Finally at 11:30 pm, I was informed that I would be admitted and I would be moved into the very last available Labor & Delivery room in the hospital.  Unfortunately there was someone in it who was still in labor and we'd be moved as soon as possible.  And I would not be able to receive an epidural until they moved me and we'd just have to wait in the triage room.  So from 9:30 pm to 1:30 am I hung out in the maternity triage room, powering through contractions, wondering how women did this without drugs.  (To those strong, amazing women out there - I bow at your feet).  During this time, Hubs told me that I said the word 'epidural' no less than 100 times and he also had to confiscate my call button for fear that I would make enemies of the nurses.  (True story.  I just didn't want them to forget about me...and know that I wanted an epidural.)  Another great thing that occurred during my time in the triage room was Hubs full comprehension of the necessity of a push present.  He was always on board, but he looked at me towards the end of our stay in the triage room and said, "After seeing this, I have no idea why men don't buy their wives push presents." and we weren't even into the main event yet!

At 1:30 am, by the grace of God, the previous woman who birthed her child, and the hospital cleaning staff, I was wheeled into my own birthing suite and an anesthesiologist was called.  By 2:15 am, I had my epidural (no it didn't hurt, and the result was blissful) and I was ready to sleep.  I wasn't very far along in my progress so they started a picotin drip and left me to labor (on my side because when I was on my back, peanut's heart rate wasn't showing enough variation).  I woke up in the morning to a weird pain in my left side.  Apparently due to the fact that I was laying on one side, my epidural was only fully working on one side.  It wasn't exactly painful, just uncomfortable.  So again, the anesthesiologist on call was paged and in walked someone who soon became my husband's favorite person (HFP)...a man in a New York Giants scrub cap.  While fixing my epidural, our conversation went a little like this...

Hubs:  So stoked about the Giants Super Bowl win!
HFP: Yeah, I know! You don't get a lot of Giants fans in these parts!
<insert about 5 minutes of football chat here while I sat in the bed hoping one of them would realize why they were all here>
Me: Yeah, yeah yeah...so how much drug is in this IV? How long will it last?
HFP: Ma'am there's more drug in the hospital.... 
Me: I figured as much, but what if I run out during labor and we have to wait for you to get more?!
HFP: The drip releases x amount every 7 minutes and you can give yourself an extra bit every 8 minutes so I don't know what the math is on that but you won't run out..
Me: I'm not assured of that at this moment....

With my epidural fixed, I labored on, hung out with my parents & in-laws who had now made it into town, and napped in between blood pressure & doctor checks.  By 4:30 pm, I was informed that I was ready to push so the commenced almost 3 and a half hours of pushing.  Ultimately what took so long was that even with the picotin drip, my contractions were never consistent; I'd go a couple a few minutes apart and then I'd have to wait up to 10 minutes for the next.  Surprisingly, it didn't feel like 3 and a half hours.  I was exhausted by the end of it all, but so happy that my labor didn't end in a C-Section or the use of forceps or a vacuum (yes, they still use both of these devices!).  And no, my epidural didn't run out. I guess the anesthesiologist knew what he was talking about afterall.

Some interesting things I learned after the fact:

We got a visit from HFP after the delivery to check on me and he informed us that my epidural was considered a failure because they were never able to numb me above my belly button.  Honestly, my contractions weren't radiating that high and I never felt any pain so I don't consider it a failed epidural, but whatever floats their boat.  

For all intents and purposes, I was induced.  The use of picotin might as well have been an induction.  I guess in all actuality, they should have sent me home when I first arrived at the hospital, but because I was past due, had an induction scheduled for later that week and was in 'active' labor, they admitted me.  I also think they were concerned that I might camp out at the hospital if they did not admit me. 

Recovery from labor & delivery is no joke.  Give yourself time and relax.  It's a very difficult first couple of weeks due to the adjustment to baby, schedule, and then recovery on top of that.  Cut yourself some slack and get some help around the house.  

Would I do it again? 

In a heartbeat (and a few years)......

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  1. This was great Chelsea. Thanks for sharing. Love to Scott and baby Liam.

  2. Thanks for sharing the story - I love reading other peoples! And too funny about the inconsistent contractions through the end, I had that too! The nurses had no idea I was at a 10 because my contractions were that of someone at a 4 or less.

    Liam is adorable, so glad he got here safely :)

  3. Being my always so never-had-kids-myself: what is a push present exactly? ;)

    1. A push present is something that a parent gives a new mother for having a child. It was a relatively new concept to me as well! You can read all about my push present here: http://www.hautechildinthecity.com/2011/10/pretty-shiny-sparkly.html

    2. Oh! Thanks for the explanation!

  4. awww so sweet! you wrote it so well i could totally picture all of the funny and intense moments. thank you for sharing!


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