My Birth Story

Here’s the story of Henry’s birth. He arrived two weeks early.

The short, edited version

After lunch on Saturday, I awoke after a nap to discover I was losing my mucuous plug. Around 5:30 PM my water broke. We got to the hospital around 6:30 and by 7 PM I was at 1.5 cm. I labored with Dave walking around and swaying on the birthing ball until around 9:45, by which point I had dilated to 4 cm. I requested the epidural at this point, and it was administered by 10:30 PM. By 11 PM I was dilated to 9 cm. By 11:30 PM I started pushing.

I pushed for about an hour and a half and I was in a lot of pain. The baby was facing sideways, not face-down, so he was very difficult to maneuver. After one and a half hours of pushing, we opted for the vacuum extraction, which unfortunately required an episiotomy. It took another hour of pushing to get him out. It hurt a whole lot. Pushing sucks.

Regardless of all that, our precious little Henry was born at 1:34 AM on Sunday morning, March 2nd. He was placed on my chest and I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Dave got to cut the cord and then went with Henry to the nursery where he got cleaned up while I recovered. We got to our hospital room around 3:30 AM and finally got to sleep around 4 AM. We began our busy day around 7 AM.

Now, here is a more detailed, more graphic version. Read at your own risk.

On Saturday morning I got up and had a pedicure at 10 AM. I only mention this because the pedi lady said that lots of women go into labor after having pedicures because there is a trigger point located in the feet which can induce labor. I laughed at her but apparently that wasn’t called for.

After some errands, Dave and I met Kerri for lunch around 12:30. We had a nice time chatting and she got to feel the baby move and a contraction. She was so excited to get to feel the baby. We don’t see each other as often as we like, so when we left, I told her the next time we saw her she might be able to meet our little man. Little did we know…

We came home around 2:30 in the afternoon and I crawled back into bed. I had been up early and didn’t sleep well so we had already planned on me taking a nap. (I am so thankful for this.) Dave woke me around 5 PM. It felt so good to sleep but we had plans with mom for dinner so I needed to get up.

I went into the bathroom and confirmed my suspicion that I was losing my mucous plug. That didn’t have me worried or concerned, however. You can lose your mucous plug hours before delivery or weeks before delivery. It is not a sign of imminent labor.

However, it was exciting so I rushed out to tell Dave about my big news. While I was talking, water started running down my legs! I had no control over it whatsoever. It was such a strange sensation. I got cleaned up and we considered whether this could be my water breaking. As we were talking, it happened again!

This was looking more and more like I was getting ready to have a baby! Surreal. I called the doctor and she told us to meet her at the hospital. We gathered up our hospital bags and headed out the door.

Once we arrived at the hospital, we were admitted into a room. I went into the bathroom and changed out of my clothes into my hospital gown, and as I was walking from the bathroom to the bed I started leaking once again. At this point it was obvious that my water had broke but the nurse confirmed it by wiping a test swab on the side of my leg, which promptly turned a dark blue. There I sat in the hospital bed, trying to absorb the fact that we were really going to have this baby, and in the next 24 hours.

It was about 6:30 PM by the time we got to the hospital. Around 7 PM I got evaluated and was still at 1.5 cm. They said that they’d let me go about 6 hours before augmenting my labor with Pitocin if I hadn’t begun to dilate. I wanted to try to go into labor naturally, so I was planning on walking around for a few hours to get the baby moving. After they cleared the baby and I as healthy, they gave us 45 minutes off the monitors where I was free to move about as I chose. Dave and I then spent about 15 minutes walking through the halls.

We decided that we had plenty of time, so Dave went home, fed the cats, got my laptop and got himself some dinner. He was back by about 8 PM. At this point my contractions were getting stronger, but I don’t think I realized it. I discussed with the nurse, Jamie, when I could get my epidural, and she said I should be in active labor, not early labor. She said I was in early labor because I could still talk through the contractions. I think I was experiencing more pain than I realized because it had built gradually.

I was feeling cold, so our next step was to try the shower. I sat in the shower and swayed on the birthing ball for about 30 minutes or more. It felt pretty soothing and definitely beat walking. I was also hungry, so I sent Dave off in search of hot chicken broth. I got out of the shower and got back into bed, where I resumed discussions about just when I should be asking for my epidural. Jamie offered to check me again, just to see if I was progressing any. I think she was trying to placate me, but lo and behold, I was already at 4 cm. It was about 9:45 PM and apparently my labor was progressing speedily. At this point, I immediately ordered the epidural!

It took about 30 minutes to get everything in place and have the anaesthestiologist to arrive. He seemed like a nice guy but to be honest, I didn’t look up when he arrived – I was in some pain and was already head downin “epidural position” so I just didn’t move. He did a wonderful job of administering the epidural. He explained everything that he was going to do, and described exactly what each step would feel like. One poke and he was done. Yay!! The medicine started dripping into the catheter and I was a happy camper. Dave and Jamie were watching the monitor, and both of them saw a contraction build, then looked at my face. I had this “wha?” expression because I was missing it! It was right around 10:30 PM by the time he was finished.

Epidural Catheter

I continued to labor with the epidural until about 11 PM. Jamie checked me again and I was at 9 cm. I was progressing very fast!

At about 11:30 PM, I started to push. Pushing sucked. Having not exercised in 9 months, I found curling up around my abdomen and bearing down with all my might while not exhaling to be pretty physically demanding. Plus, I expected this part to go quickly and was very unhappy when it did not. Jamie checked the baby and discovered that he was looking sideways, not face down the way we would have liked. Tammi, the doctor, mentioned that if we wanted to, she could help deliver the baby with the vacuum, but she suggested we keep trying without assistance first. Dave encouraged me to try to deliver on my own because he knew that would make me happiest.

We tried pushing while reclined on my back as well as on my side but the little guy was not turning. As the first hour of pushing progressed and the pain intensified, the epidural also began to lose its effectiveness on the pain. After one hour of pushing, I was starting to lose it. I was crying in between each contraction and I was having difficulty maintaining my strength while pushing. If I tried to rest during the contraction, rather than push, it hurt worse than the pushing did. The contractions came very quickly, with little rest in between.

Finally I couldn’t take it any more. I stopped trying to push. I laid on my side with my face up against Dave, holding onto his hand, and I started seriously concentrating on breathing through the pain. I breathed through several strong contractions calmly, and was able to get what felt like a good 7 minutes of rest, though how long it actually lasted I have no idea. It turns out that Jamie had upped my epidural, which is what allowed me to rest. By this point I had stopped opening my eyes and looking around. I was overstimulated, you might say. I just grabbed on to Dave’s hand when I needed anything.

With this rest, I started pushing again. The pushing didn’t seem to be accomplishing anything. I’d push him down the birth canal and he’d slip back up it at the end of the contraction. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t push the entire duration of the contraction. My reflux was so bad that every time I came up for breath after a contraction, I belched uncomfortably. I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable the reflux was – nobody told me about that one. And the damn blood pressure cuff was driving me crazy. It would inflate itself in the middle of a contraction, and the pressure on my arm was so strong I couldn’t keep hold of my leg. I directed all of my hostility towards the blood pressure cuff. I pushed for another 30 minutes until I cried “uncle.”

I told the doctor to get the baby out! She would use the vacuum to maneuver his head under my pubic bone, but she said I would still have to do the work and push him out. I was not excited about that part but all I could think about was getting him out. She told me that she would have to perform an episiotomy in order to use the vacuum. It sounded like his head wouldn’t fit otherwise. Again, I was not excited about the episiotomy or the vacuum, but I had single-minded focus on getting the baby out and it didn’t really seem like we could turn back at this point.

Once we okay’d the vacuum procedure, things seemed to go pretty quickly. Tammi performed the episiotomy and there was lots of pressure and they kept telling me to breathe and push and not let up. I gave it every ounce I had every time they asked, except for the times where I just fell back exhausted in the middle of a contraction. I can’t believe the pressure and pain involved. I can’t even remember the pain at this point. But unbelievable pressure. They had all gathered around the end of the bed and there was this cresendo of “Push-push-push-push-push, don’t stop, almost there!!!” and then I heard Dave gasp. The baby was out! It felt unbelievably good to push the baby out once his head had come through.

The doctor placed the baby on my chest and I looked at him unbelieving. He was all there, 10 fingers, 10 toes, a head full of brown hair – he looked perfect. And he had just come out of me! I couldn’t believe it. Dave looked down at him with tears in his eyes but I was so tired, so out of it, I just stared at him unbelieving. The doctor worked the blood out of his cord and gave Dave the scissors to cut the cord, which he did just fine.

Then I delivered the placenta and that felt really good, too. Unfortunately, I had to get my stitches then. All I wanted to do was to close my legs and rest. I got to see the baby again after he got his APGAR (he scored an 8 at 1 minute and a 9 at 5 minutes) at the warmer, and then he and Dave went down to the nursery to get his first bath and I got monitored to make sure I had no problems in recovery.

Here is Henry, minutes after being born.

Just born

I’ve only know the little guy for six days but I think it was all worth it.

  1. Ally’s avatar

    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Miriam’s avatar

    Aw yay! It’s nice to hear the unpleasant side of birth as well as the awesome!

  3. Kelli’s avatar

    Jeni,
    You look fabulous for someone to have gone through what you just did!!! Pushing definitely sucks. The Pressure is unbelievable and hard to describe. I never felt so drained in my life. The stiches hurt too, and I kept yelling at the doctors that the medicine that they give you to numb the area were not working! But it is worth it and I will say again that Henry is precious. You will be an awesome mommy…and Cristin will be an awesome auntie.

  4. Cristin’s avatar

    That was amazing. Thanks for documenting and sharing. Way to go, Jeni!

  5. Monica’s avatar

    That is a wonderful picture. Seriously, you look really good for a girl that just gave birth minutes before!

  6. lurker’s avatar

    Oh, Jeni. I feel your pain. My first was all tangled up in his umbilical cord and I would push him out and he would slide back up as soon as the contraction was finished. I started pushing at 12:00 (And it was a fast labor up until that point!), he was born at 5:30. He is now seven and I still remember those as the most torturous 5 hours of my life.

    The recovery will take awhile. It’s not the traditional 6 weeks when you’ve had that kind of pelvic floor trauma. Be patient. Take care of yourself. And enjoy your baby boy.

  7. Shannon’s avatar

    That is wonderful. Make sure you save a copy for Henry to read later 🙂

  8. Jennifer from Cincinnati’s avatar

    Great Job Jenni…I know becoming a mother was like being in a daze, but the result of all your hardwork is awesome. I can’t share in your pain basically my son shot out in under 5 hrs. but I practiced HYPNObirthing breathing & visualization to deliver lil Guinness…I wasnt’ sure it would work but I meditated on the delivery I wanted and low & be hold I was blessed with it…not that there wasn’t pain bc it is LABOR…but it was managable. I too use a ball, but the bitchy nurse in L&D didn’t let me in the shower!
    My family tells me I will forget the pain, but I too had stitches from 2nd degree tear, and MAN I can’t forget that pain at all.
    You are a trooper, and your lil man is super.
    Great Job to you & your husband.