I love a good birth story! Before having James I absolutely loved reading/listening to/ watching birth stories wherever I could find them. Almost a year and a half later, I’m sharing mine here so I don’t ever forget it!
How it started
My pregnancy with James was pretty uneventful, healthy, no complications at all. So I was pretty shocked when I woke up on Easter morning at 34 weeks pregnant and my water broke all over the bathroom floor…
Ryan was already down stairs watching the news, and I called to him that I thought something was wrong and we should go to the hospital. Ok, ok, I say “called” but in reality I probably screamed like a psychopath that my water broke.
He didn’t fully believe me until he came upstairs and witnessed the gushing himself. At that point he started rushing around to get a bag packed for himself while I stayed near the toilet trying to minimize the mess.
I wasn’t feeling any pain or contractions at this point so every now and then I’d second guess myself, but the gushes kept coming and I knew something was happening.
The ride to the hospital
From the car I called the hospital to give them a heads up I was on my way and fill them in on the gushing situation. I didn’t want to worry my family yet incase this wasn’t the real deal, so I didn’t text anyone except for Ryan’s cousins wife who had delivered at my hospital a few weeks prior. I asked her what entrance to use and told her what was happening, she gave me the rundown on how to get into the hospital but reassured me that I probably wasn’t in labor. She hadn’t witnessed the gushing so I can’t blame her.
On the ride to the hospital I was starting to feel some pain in my hips and pelvis. This pain has been occurring on and off for about 24 hours at this point, but I didn’t think they were contractions because I expected contractions to feel like a really bad period cramp.
The ride to the hospital was exciting and scary all at them same time. I was excited at the thought of meeting my baby but also scared that it was too early for him to be born. I knew the complications that could come with a premature birth and really didn’t want to have him. I was hoping they’d be able to give me something to stop labor at least for a few weeks to give James longer to grow.
You’re 4 cm dilated!
Once we got to the hospital and explained what happened the triage nurse had me change and checked me.
Before she did, she explained that she would swab for fluid and test it to confirm that my water had actually broken.
Once she checked me, she surprising said “You’re 4 cm dilated! You’re having this baby today!”
That’s when the tears came. I was so scared. I asked her if there was any way they could stop the labor to prevent him from being born prematurely. She explained that once you’re 34 weeks along they don’t do anything to stop labor as the risks of stopping your labor outweigh the risks of preterm birth. She did try to reassure me that she’s seen so many 34 week babies do just fine, but let me know there would be an automatic NICU stay due to his gestational age. I believe that changes as 35 weeks gestation and they then go by weight, but due to the fact he was 6 weeks early he was going to go to the NICU no matter what.
Thank God For Gerry
In triage the nurse got me hooked up to a wireless monitor and started an IV to get me pumped full of fluids. I told her I DEFINITELY wanted an epidural, I am a total wimp when it comes to pain and there is NO WAY I was going to do this unmedicated.
Then she passed me off to my L&D nurse, Gerry, who wheeled me down the hall into our room. Gerry was a saint. I’m not kidding when I say that if it wasn’t for Gerry I think I would have PTSD from my birth experience. She was SO helpful and kind.
Once we got settled into our room she brought us both some breakfast and gave me my steroid shot. Ouch. That shot was NO joke. To this day definitely the most painful injection I’ve ever gotten.
I told Gerry I definitely wanted an epidural. She was really supportive and told me she would call the anesthesiologist as soon as I wanted but warned me that an epidural could slow my labor down. I was already on the clock because they don’t want you to go more than 24 hours in labor with ruptured water, so she suggested I walk around the room for a bit to see if I could get things moving before we got the epidural in place.
I wasn’t in any pain at all yet, even though she was pointing out my contractions on the monitor I barely felt anything, just that same mild hip pain I had been feeling for days. So I thought it would be best to wait until things really kicked up before getting the meds.
I walked around the room several times too excited to do anything else. I facetimed some friends to let them know I was in labor and finally texted our families to fill them in. The fluids were working their magic because I was in the bathroom peeing what felt like every 5 minutes.
All of a sudden, probably within an hour, things went from 0-100 in an instant. I began feeling really intense pressure and thought I had to go to the bathroom. #2. I started feeling contractions big time in my abdomen and lower back. I pressed the call button for Gerry, I NEEDED that epidural now. She came in right away and let me know she called for anesthesia to come up, she saw my contractions on the monitor and confirmed they were completely back to back. I had little to no rest between them at this point.
Finally the anesthesiologist arrived and they asked Ryan to wait in the hallway. Probably a good thing because the poor guys was looking a little green at this point. The anesthesiologist had a very very long list of questions for me before she would begin the procedure. I could barely answer through contractions and let Gerry know I thought I was going to throw up.
The anesthesiologist, who I’m not kidding looked like a 12 year old girl, numbed by back and began to try to place the catheter in my spine to administer the medication. I kept feeling a zapping feeling going down my left leg and let her know. She removed the catheter and replaced it to see if she could get it in the right spot- no luck. She called for another anesthesiologist because she was having a hard time.
At this point I started dry heaving and telling Gerry I was going to poop on the bed. Gerry asked the anesthesiologist to step aside and she checked me.
“You’re Having A Baby Now”
I thought I was going to die when Gerry looked up at me and said “Frankie, you’re having a baby NOW”. Shit got real. Gerry called over the intercom for a doctor to come to the room and within a few minutes I was surrounded by doctors and nurses. Someone let Ryan back in and told him he could either stand in the bathroom door or sit on the couch. He told me he chose the bathroom because the couch was “too close to the business end” of things. I don’t blame him.
By now I was literally screaming in agony. I distinctly remember screaming “somebody help me!” Miraculously my body took over and knew exactly what to do because I wasn’t exactly in the head space to figure it out. With every contraction I pushed with all my might.
One nurse suggested they call for the NICU team but another reminded her it was my first delivery and would probably take a while. That was all the motivation I needed and he was out in the next few minutes, thankfully they did call the NICU team and they made it just in time.
Bitter Sweet Meeting
They put baby James up on my chest long enough to take a picture with Ryan’s phone before taking him to the NICU. I’m so thankful for Gerry because I heard her advocating for me to get more skin to skin time, but the pediatrician overruled her and said she had to get back upstairs.
This is the hard part of the story for me. The really traumatic part wasn’t the physical pain of giving birth, it was the mental anguish of holding my sweet boy for just a second before they took him away. It was laying in the room all alone, just me and Gerry, while Ryan followed James to the NICU. To this day I wonder if I had had more time with James in that golden hour if I would have ended up having such a hard time breast feeding, if I would have felt so disconnected from him in the beginning, if I would have ended up with such bad PPD.
At the end of the day, I know the doctors did what they needed to do. It’s just unfortunate that James and I didn’t have that opportunity to bond and be together for the first 8 hours of his life until I was allowed to go see him in the NICU.
Getting Ready To Go Again
I’m not scared of labor going into this the second time around. Was it painful- holy crap, yes, but the pain doesn’t last forever. If you asked me right after I had James I would have told you I’m asking for the epidural right away next time. But now as I’m over half way through this second pregnancy I’m not so sure what I plan on doing. I think I’ll wait and see how I feel and make the decisions as I need to.
I think that’s something only the perspective of having been through it before can give you, that peace of mind that it’s really out of your control and you’ll do what you need to do when the time comes.
Luckily, I was only in intense pain for probably an hour tops. This next time could be totally different so don’t be surprised if I’m back on here in 5 months to let you know how great my epidural felt!
Do you have a birth story to share? I’d love to hear it!!!
If you want to share your birth story here or on my Podcast (How To Be A Good Mom) let me know in the comments!