It's been almost 3 months since Nova was born, so I wanted to share her birth story somewhere more for my own sake than anything else. I wrote this with more detail than I would normally give when talking about it because I am still amazed that I could do this and I don't ever want to forget a single detail of what this day was like. Beautiful, scary, maybe gross... but life-changing for sure.
On Tuesday June 2nd- our due date- I went into my doctors office for our check up. We had a sonogram which showed that baby was in position nicely and could be 7 lbs 9 oz give or take a pound. Then I had a non stress test which went just fine and showed some contractions here and there, which I had been feeling anyways for the last few days. Nothing really uncomfortable just noticeable for the first time ever. I decided I wanted my membranes swept, so we talked to a doctor about that and decided to go through with it. She checked my cervix and I was 1 cm dilated- that check hurt more than I thought it would!! Then she did the sweep and holyyyy that hurt so bad. It was like she put her hand into a huge mixing bowl and stirred it all around like crazy. So picture that- or maybe don't- but inside my cervix/uterus. The cramping and contractions began almost immediately and I was uncomfortable the whole ride home.
Contractions slowed down for the rest of the day but I was still uncomfortable. We had dinner to celebrate moms birthday so we hung out for that until it was time to snuggle in bed. I was exhausted so I was glad Julian was excited to go to bed with me haha. We lied in bed for a few hours being silly and talking, and I noticed around 9:30/10 that they were becoming regular and I had to focus on breathing and counting through them to relax. They were about 15 minutes apart at that point. I fell asleep around 11, woke up at 12:30 and noticed that they had stopped or I was able to sleep through them so I was disappointed because I was thinking they were the real deal. So I went back to sleep.
At 3:30 I woke up and had to pee, which woke Julian up. So we went together. I may have had a contraction then, and when I lied down in bed I felt something in my belly shift and then a gush of fluid came from me. I'm pretty sure I knew it was amniotic fluid and not pee or anything else that time. Immediately I started having much stronger contractions and they were already between 5 and 10 minutes apart. I sat in the shower for about 40 minutes to count them and see how I was doing and I think I had like 4 in that small amount of time. I putzed around while I waited for the doctor to call me back. When she did, she told me to head to the hospital so they could check it out. I was glad she said that because I really did "just know" (as everyone said I would) when to go.
We got the rest of our things together (in hindsight we overpacked) and got dressed. Of course our driver side window had been stuck down since Monday morning and it was so so cold out so the drive really sucked because not only was I contracting hard like every five minutes, I was so so cold I couldn't stop shivering.
We pulled up to the hospital at 5:58 and the valet came to get our car and brought us a wheelchair. I stood up from the car and completely peed and leaked fluid everywhere- all through to my pants. No one really told me how much I would leak all throughout labor haha.
We went up to L&D, got settled into a triage room and waited to be checked. It felt like forever that we sat there but they checked me and I was dilated to a 2 and water had definitely broken. So they admitted us and we went to our room! At this point it was probably like 7 and Dom went to sleep for awhile while I continued to contract.
At about noon I decided that the pain I’d been having for the past 9 hours was becoming more and more uncomfortable, so I decided to have a shot of pain medication through the port in my arm. I can’t say at what time intervals they continued to check my progress, but at some point my doctor decided I wasn’t progressing quickly enough. My nurses gave me the option of pitocin or a balloon to help dilation. I originally chose the balloon because of what I’d heard about pitocin and VBACs. My doctor thought pitocin would be better and started me on a very low dosage that ended up working pretty well. I remember crying because at that point my “unmedicated” birth had definitely been surpassed, but I was still really proud that it was only with little intervention that I made it so far. Looking back on it, I feel good about the decisions that were made because I never felt rushed or forced into making a decision, and I can’t say they didn’t help the process in a positive way.
By at least 5 or 6 pm I had become almost full dilated and Nova’s head was all the way into position. I was really in pain at that point, but my doctor and nurses said that I was too far along to receive more pain meds. It was almost time to push, and I certainly felt it.
The worst part of the whole day came next, while Nova’s head was pressing down and with every contraction came the urge to push. By this time, I wasn’t breathing through my contractions and I couldn’t manage my pain without acting like a crazy person. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t getting enough oxygen because I couldn’t feel my hands, legs or face while contractions were happening. I kept calling for nurses to check me to see if I was thinned enough to actually push, but they kept telling me that I wasn’t, and if I pushed I risked rupturing my cervix and needing surgery. So the thought of having to go through surgery after an entire day of successful laboring kept me from pushing at that point!
I think if there was any point where I was disappointed in my care, it would have been then. I couldn’t quite tell anyone what I needed but it seems like anyone could have stayed to help me breathe better or manage that amount of pain without medication. It was nice that we were pretty much laboring alone all day until that point, when I think both me and Dom would have loved some extra support. Neither of us knew what to do!
Finally the time came for me to try pushing- I think it was like 8:55 pm. I was really surprised by how difficult it was to push “right” and it definitely took a few tries to get it right. But the nurse that was to my right was so helpful in showing me how to get it right and she was full of encouragement when I actually did it right, so that was amazing.
And then, after about 30 minutes of pushing my Nova girl was born at 9:22pm.
If you’ve never had a baby come from “down there”, you won’t ever know what it’s like to feel all of your organs and insides move, or what legs and feet feel like as they move through your body like that. Crazy stuff, I tell you!
It was like someone had woken me from the dead. Energy that I hadn’t had all day filled me and gave me the strength to even open my eyes and hold my baby. I was filled with a joy that I had never felt before that undoubtedly healed the birth that I had with Julian. Of course he is who made me a mother and that relationship can never be replaced, but Nova’s birth was so empowering and amazing to me that as I finish writing this story 76 days after her birth, not a day has passed that I look at myself and my girl in awe of what we did.
We delayed cord clamping for at least a minute after she was born, while I held her and watched her take her first breaths and have a good cry. I remember asking over and over again if she sounded “normal” and healthy because I couldn’t even remember what about Julian’s cry indicated that something was wrong. She was perfect. Then her cord was clamped and cut, she was taken to be cleaned up and I’m assuming tested and measured, and my doctor finished up with me. (I needed some fixing up apparently)
I was so chatty and honestly silly while all of that was going on. My doctor, the nurses and a resident were all laughing with me at the stupid things I was saying. I vaguely remember wondering how people get their downstairs parts pierced. Guessing it seemed relevant at the time.
It's really interesting to go through the photos on my phone from that day/night because they tell the exact time they were taken, and in the first few hours of baby's life it seems like knowing the times that things occurred matter down to the very second. First photo, first time with dad, first feeding, first time sleeping, moving to post-delivery care. Getting changed into the going home outfit. It's all so important and I'm so glad I remembered to take pictures of every little thing so I would have it to look back on now, when it already seems too long ago that I first held my girl in my arms.
A few people asked me: c-section or "natural" birth? Pain, Nova was worse. Emotionally, Julian was worse. Recovery, they both SUCK. Why there isn't a 3rd option (Stork? Delivery truck?) is a mystery to me. Which would I do again? Nova's. But Julian's birth was important because I am certain that without the experience of his birth I wouldn't have advocated for and educated myself in preparation for Nova's birth. I truly think everything happens for a reason, and both of my babies are no exception.
Thanks for being born, Nova girl.