Feb 4, 2017

So We Made a Baby - Gory Birth Details

We like birth stories, right?

I'll get right to it.  I complained pretty openly about the induction, so that part won't come as a surprise to anyone, but just in case you're curious and have no idea what's involved, I'll provide all the gory details!  (TMI warning, right here, right now.)

So, my last doctor's appointment was right after hitting 39 weeks.  As predicted, they wanted to do an induction even though my blood pressure numbers had gone down somewhat and I still didn't have preeclampsia.  After accepting it and being able to schedule a day, rather than being rushed off immediately to be induced, I was feeling much calmer about it and spent the day of the induction doing laundry and tidying the house.

Ryan and I even made a point to get my "final meal" (which happened to be cheesesteaks, which I had been craving and were delicious) and sit around for a little bit before driving in at 9pm.  They had told us to expect to be in the hospital overnight with the "foley bulb" while my cervix was dilated to 3cm before they'd start pitocin at 4-6am in the morning.  So we planned to have him go home, catch some sleep and then my mom and Ryan would be in in the morning when the action started.

Pah!  Silly us.  You can't plan labor things.

I was dilated a bit more than I had been (2cm vs 1cm) so Ryan decided to spend the night just in case things progressed more rapidly than expected.  And they did!

The foley bulb (which is like a balloon that they insert past your cervix and puts pressure on it to force it to open) came out after only 1-1.5 hours (details are already getting fuzzy) and they decided to start pitocin immediately!

Oh, but I'm forgetting the exciting part.  When they put the foley bulb in, it broke my water.  So we assumed the little balloon thing had popped because liquid started dribbling out.  But it didn't stop and it was absolutely ridiculous because it was rushing out through the tubes they'd inserted and absolutely soaking the bed and making a huge mess.

We had no idea what to do, so Ryan alternately tried to get a nurse back in the room and position a bedpan under me to minimize the mess, while I laughed hysterically because it felt like the 7 seas were pouring out of my body.  Every time we thought it had stopped, I'd move or laugh and it would start up again.

At this point, I started to dread the whole procedure because I thought I was going to be soaking wet for 12-24 hours.  But eventually it did stop and they dried me up (mostly) and got me some disposable hospital underwear to contain the mess.

So then - the pitocin (the drug that starts contractions), which is the part of the induction I was dreading because it meant I'd be attached to an IV the whole time.  In addition to that, I had a baby heart monitor, so getting off the bed and going to the bathroom was an ordeal, since we had to unplug things, and keep cords straight, and drag the IV pole over to the bathroom.  But it was worth it, I thought, to maintain some freedom of movement.

Contractions took a while to start up, so Ryan napped while I tried to relax (napping was obviously not happening) and after 3 or 4 hours got to the point where I had to breathe through them and I couldn't focus on anything anymore.  Ryan held my hand and tried to get me to try out stuff with the birthing ball or moving around, but eventually I just wanted to curl up in a ball and I could tell I was breathing too fast because I was getting light-headed.  We called in the cavalry (my mom) but when they told me I was only 4cm dilated, I cracked and asked for the drugs.

I think I spend maybe 15 minutes feeling guilty and the next several hours being absolutely relieved that I didn't have to do it anymore.  I even napped!

Note on the epidural: it doesn't feel great going in, but it's way better than contractions!  They started me lying on my left side and then tried to get me to shift periodically, whether to spread the drug evenly or just keep things moving for labor, I'm not 100% sure.  But I could definitely tell that whichever side was down would receive more of it, because that area would become more numb and I refused to lie flat, because I could feel it in my face and that freaked me out.  So for the most part my lower half was numb and my upper half was normal (which was good, because arms are important when your legs aren't working).

After all that fun stuff, we had another scary (for me, probably not for the nurses) bit where baby's heartbeat dropped, so they backed off on the pitocin.  This meant contractions slowed waaaay down, and I started to be afraid we'd need a c-section.  But eventually baby recovered, we re-started pitocin, and then waited for them to pick back up.

It was progressing at the expected pace (nurses said to expect 1cm per hour and that we had maybe 5 or 6 more hours to go) and then the nurse had me put a "peanut ball" (like a yoga ball, but peanut shaped) between my legs to try to help get things going.  Pretty shortly after that, I started to feel the contractions again.  This was impressive, as my left leg was almost completely dead (the rest of my lower half I still had control over, just no sensation, but my left leg would not move on its own).

We told the nurse and she asked if I wanted more of the drug.  I was leaning towards yes (because 5 more hours?  That's too many hours of hurting), but she checked my cervix first and then said, "Oh!  Baby's ready!"

We startled to full alertness, not expecting this so suddenly or soon, woke Ryan up and then waited for the nurses to decide if we should start pushing without the doctor.  The doctor eventually showed up (probably 5 minutes later but it felt like forever), got me positioned correctly (one person holds each leg up in the air), and told me how to push, and then we started!

Note: epidural - you can push and, in my case, I could still feel it.  It was just much, much milder than it might have been had I actually succeeded in going natural.  Pushing - you're not supposed to use your legs, which is hard because you instinctively want to use your strongest muscles.

So I pulled back on my legs, tried really hard to relax them at the same time as straining with those other muscles that I don't have a good name for.  They told us we were doing a great job and to expect maybe an hour to an hour and a half of pushing.

We got him out in 30 minutes!

More TMI here, but I think it really helped when I figured out which muscles to use.  Because at first it really does feel like pooping (full disclosure, I pooped a bit.  I was so exhausted I didn't even care), but then I started trying to use the kegel muscles and that's when everyone started getting excited and saying, "We can see his head!"  "Keep going!"

It still felt like an eternity, but there was something exciting about the end.  Ryan and my mom were counting along with the nurses (they want you to take a big breath, hold it and push for 10 seconds, and then take another breath and start over until the contraction ends) and it was kind of like that feeling of finishing a race.  A race you haven't trained properly for and are wheezing and staggering and not sure if you're going to make it but you see the finish line.

The last couple pushes burned (yup, tearing - it happens), and then I felt the weirdest squiggly sensation as that round, hard shape I'd been trying to push out turned into a bunch of waving limbs and cords and squishy stuff.  I told Ryan it was like birthing spaghetti.

I looked down and saw the squally, cone-headed, purple little alien baby we'd been working so hard to get out and felt all kinds of weird emotions.  "That's him!"  "Thank god that's over."  "He looks like an alien!"

Ryan says he got choked up and perhaps I did, too.  My brain wasn't the clearest at the point.  They wiped the baby off and plopped him on my chest and we stared in awe at this little thing we had made.

After that there was some stitching, lots of baby weighing (8lb 6oz), measuring (22in), cord cutting (which Ryan did and was gross), and crying.  I can't even imagine how confusing it must to be to be a newborn and be feeling so many physical sensations all at the same time.

The hospital stay kind of sucked, because while we learned a ton from the people there and it was good time to adjust to things like, "How do I hold this tiny, little fragile thing???" it also meant getting woken up at least every 1-2 hours, if not by the baby, then by the nurses doing stuff.  We got no sleep until we got home.

Now we're a week in and we're starting to get more comfortable with handling the baby and figuring out what he needs when he cries (Ryan is a master of soothing - I cheat and just give him a breast) and how to minimize nipple pain (3 days of scabs and blisters - it was bad).

He's awesome, and perfect, and beautiful and even when I'm crying late at night because I'm exhausted and he's fussing, I'm still totally in love with this little being.  Ryan is also awesome, and I'm incredibly grateful to have chosen a partner who wants to be involved and take on a fair share of caring for an infant.

Here's a snapshot of the first week.

Heart = melting.

I have a couple of other things I want to talk about, namely all the shyeet that's going on with our wise and beloved dictator, and the struggle between wanting to curl up with my baby and ignore the world vs still wanting to do my part for the resistance!  Also work.  I did a very teeny, miniscule amount and it feels good, but the idea of going back to my previous workload feels so overwhelming.  I was unprepared for how long it takes to breastfeed.

But that will have to wait for another day.  In the meantime, keep at it friends!  I'm so proud of so many of you for staying active and vocal and taking part in the Women's Movement, and various protests.  Make history.

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design


  1. Wow that was an exciting birth story!! Glad it happened fairly quickly in some ways for you! And that it all went well. Hope you are healing okay!! Breastfeeding is something that I feel no one is ever necessarily prepared for - it used to take me forever to feed both my girls but it does get much easier and they get more efficient!! So happy for all of you and loved reading about his birth!


    - I had to laugh reading your description of the water breaking. It probably sounds gross to people who haven't BTDT, but I know exactly what you mean and it's so weird.

    -Not sure how long after birth that pic is, but you look amazing. Just so you know.

    -Stay in your baby bubble. It's fine. It sucks out here, but we're on watch.

    -Yes, BFing is so hard. Feed your kid however you want, and remember that a happy healthy mama is ultimately what leads to the best care for your kid :) It's about you and what feels right.

  3. Congratulations!! He looks so precious! As someone who has never given birth I appreciated all the details and am glad things went smoothly for you! You look amazing and I'd definitely stay in your baby bubble as long as possible :)

  4. He is adorable!! (My best friend gave birth to her son on Friday and was induced at midnight on Thursday so I feel like I'm in a constant state of birth stories!) Your story cracked me up at times, lol. I'm so glad everything went well and you and baby are healthy and happy!

  5. Congratulations again!!! And thank you for being so honest and reinforcing my thinking that I can totally wait to have a baby, because gross. (Kidding, I kid.) Proud of and happy for you! He is absolutely precious, and I'll say it again, girl you look AMAZING after giving birth... like, I look worse right now and it's noon on a Monday and I have birthed no babies.

  6. Congratulations, Jenn! He is so very handsome! While I never given birth, birthing spaghetti somehow seems exactly right. I also know that if I ever did have a baby, I would be give me all the drugs. :D I'm so glad everything went overall well and Mommy and baby are healthy and at home.

  7. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I love how honest you were. I wondered if you'd mention pooping because I don't think I've ever read a birthing story that mentions it, but apparently a huge percentage of women do (I've also heard that pretty often nurses will lie and say they didn't so they don't feel embarrassed, so some women might think they didn't even if they did).

    Also (forgive me if you mentioned it in a previous post that I either missed or totally and completely forgot, but) what is his name?!

  8. I don't even know what to say. First of all, you're "we made this" caption on IG had me equally laughing hysterically and awwww-ing! So excited for you both! I have to say this is the first birth story I've read start to finish and it wasn't bad. Even the TMI parts weren't TMI. Kudos to you! haha can't wait to meet him! Let us know when you're up for company and we'll figure it out!

  9. He is so handsome!!! Congrats!!!! The epidural is just the greatest thing ever, right???? I was so relieved after mine and it things were so much better. Well until the pitocin for us caused Zoe's heartbeat to drop too much and then an emergency c-section ensued. But still, would recommend to anyone! And reading that statement where you are up crying because you are so exhausted but you still love the little bugger? Yes!!! Gosh, that seems like just yesterday for me but it was several blurred weeks ago. I am here to tell you it gets better and when you sleep for more than a few hours the first time you are going to feel like a new person and the first few weeks will all be a blur and you will be wondering when you want another one. Even though the end of that first week I was wondering why anyone would want a second hahahaha.

  10. He's gorgeous!I think pitocin is the devil. I had it with my first and the contractions were so hard I couldn't catch my breath. The epidural was a miracle though. With the second I refused Pitocin I just couldn't stand the thought of dealing with that again. Oddly enough her labor was shorter, less painful and I had her before they got the epidural to me. I have a funny so tired I couldn't see straight story I love to tell my oldest. We had been home for not even a week and I was sleep deprived. It was the middle of the night and I was trying to change her diaper without turning on the lights, so basically by the nightlight. I could tell her face was wet and I didn't know why, it made me cry. My husband turned on the lights and my breast milk had come in and was spraying her in the face.

    1. and about the resistance, I feel like i need to take the star wars emperial symbol off my car and replace it with the rebel alliance emblem in American flag print.

  11. this is the best birth story i've ever read. 'birthing spaghetti' hahahaha
    congrats to you both! he is precious.

  12. Love your story! It's so real and so you! Congrats on your little guy! He is perfect!

  13. Congrats!! I had a really similar experience with the water breaking when they put the foley balloon in. I asked them seriously if my bed was heated cause I didn't know what was happening. I'm so glad everybody came out healthy!! Hope you guys are doing well or at least surviving.

  14. I learned more int his post than anything I've read on the internet or heard from friends. I LOVE that picture. 1 because he's not covered in goo (THANK YOU!) and 2 you are absolutely GLOWING! And I so appreciate you mentioning that he looked like an alien because that's how I feel about all newborns, and bet very confused when people say "s/he looks just like you!" No, s/he looks like an alien, but I'm sure s/he'll look better in a few days lol. And I agree with Michael, even the "gory" parts weren't TMI. (I'm only surprised there was no pooping story!) He's perfect. Congratulations mama!


Talk to me! I'm friendly. I won't bite.

P.S. If you use Blogger and you want to get email replies to your comments, use your blogger profile instead of Google+ and make sure the box is checked next to "show my email address."