I can’t believe our little guy has been with us for several weeks now. In a way, time has flown by, but in another way, his birth seems like a lifetime ago. The memories are already slowly fading away, so I wanted to write the story down before my mom brain totally takes over and the details become less vivid. It was an amazing, emotional experience and one that I never want to forget.
I had a lot of anxiety leading up to Tristan’s birth because of everything else going on in our lives. His due date was July 22. Luke started a new job on July 23rd. We were scheduled to close on our house July 30th and move out of our apartment on July 31st. I wanted Tristan to come before Luke started work and I didn’t want the birth to interfere with house stuff, but of course, all of my attempts to put myself in to labor failed. My doctor said I would be induced on July 29th because that was exactly 41 weeks. I really panicked and told her I would not show up for my induction (I am a bad patient, do not say this to your doctor!! lol but I was truly losing my mind around this time). My blood pressure had been slightly rising at each doctors appointment those last few weeks. Due to this, my doctor said she could go ahead induce me on July 25th. I found this out on the day before (the 24th) which really sent me into panic mode. Thankfully I had my hospital bag packed for weeks, but I was so shocked that it was actually going to happen that I sat in a stupor for the rest of the day while I notified friends & family.
I work in labor and delivery, but decided to deliver at another location of my hospital which was closer to our future house because I thought we would be living there by that point, ha. Since it was the same hospital system, I assumed they did things the exact same way as where I work. It ended up being much different than I ever expected…
We arrived at the hospital bright and early, but it took awhile to do the initial paperwork and get settled. The midwife came in to talk to me and go over the plan. (The OB practice that I go has mostly midwives and some physicians. You see a mixture of both in the office and the hospital) I was 1 cm when I showed up and the plan was to do a Cytotec induction. After the first dose nothing happened, but I took the second dose a few hours later and contractions finally started! It was so exciting to know I was finally going in to labor. I could tell when I was having contractions, but they weren’t painful yet. They stayed constant every 1-3 minutes for hours. When the midwife came back to check me I was 2 cm. She asked if she could break my water which really caught me off guard so I said no. The nurse came in after and said they usually try to naturally encourage labor by breaking the water even if it is early on. To me, this seemed risky because I was not even in active labor yet (3+ cm’s). At work I’ve seen complications that arise once a patient’s water breaks. I was concerned about risk for infection if my water was broken for too long and also the risk for cord prolapse. If the baby’s head is not well applied to the cervix, the umbilical cord can come out first. This is the life line for the baby, so of course that is an emergency situation. The midwife felt confident his head was in a good position and that she was not worried about the umbilical cord coming out, so she went ahead and broke my water.
Not too long after, the contractions started to get much more painful, which is what usually happens with “dry” contractions (after your water is broken). They were still coming frequently, so I decided to go ahead and get an epidural. I think it was around 9 pm the first night when this happened. I started to get really emotional because I felt like a huge wimp. My goal was to make it to at least 3 or 4 cm before getting an epidural. I really underestimated the pain and I also hadn’t planned for my water to be broken so early on. At the peak of the contractions I was just crying and grimacing and on the verge of screaming. With each contraction I felt like I was really losing it. I had to wait awhile to actually get the epidural because they give you a fluid bolus first (2 liters of IV fluid which takes a little time to infuse). In the meantime, the pain continued to get worse. By the time the anesthesiologist arrived to do the epidural, all I remember was squeezing my nurse’s arms as hard as I could during contractions. I was trying to stay still so the anesthesiologist could insert the epidural but it was so hard! The nurse was trying to coach me and remind me to breath, but I was really losing it. Embarrassing, ugh. I have much more sympathy for my patients now!!
Once the epidural was placed, it was instant relief. I was sooo glad haha. It was late at night and I could finally get a little rest before showtime. My night shift nurse was amazing and she diligently repositioned me every hour to further promote my labor. I also had a bad habit of watching Tristan’s heart rate on the monitor, so she turned it off so I could get some sleep. My nurse’s diligence paid off and I went from 3 cm to 8 cm by 7 am the next morning!! I was feeling great without any pain and I was ecstatic that I was actually progressing! My only concern was that Tristan was at -1 station for a long time (still kind of high) and he wasn’t coming down even though I was dilating.
The dayshift nurse arrived and she was determined to help me deliver this baby. She also repositioned me frequently over the next few hours and I got to 9 cm. I was stuck at 9 for quite awhile, so the midwife mentioned the possibility of a c-section if things didn’t progress, but said we could try pitocin first and see if that helped things along. I was on board to try anything to get this baby out. The nurse also thought Tristan might be turned to the side and she asked if I wanted to try some “spinning baby” positions to help him turn in the right direction which would help him drop down. I agreed and even though my legs were totally numb, the nurse, midwife, and Luke literally held me up in some crazy positions for the next hour and a half. My legs were dead weight, but they had me in these yoga-like positions in hopes that Tristan would rotate. It was a lot of work for the three of them and I am sooo grateful for how they supported me (literally haha) during that time. During the last 30 minutes they had me positioned on my belly (who knew pregnant ladies could actually lay on their belly?!) and the nurse wanted Luke and I to have some alone time. Looking back, I really appreciate her clearing the room and giving us this time to just have some peace and quiet and regroup our thoughts before it was baby time. I was starting to feel a lot of pain again and Luke was so sweet and supportive during it all. I could not have done it without him.
With all of that moving around and changing positions, my numbness level dropped and I started feeling every contraction. By the end of the hour and a half, I was in excruciating pain and starting to lose it again. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and recommended getting my epidural totally re-done in case I did end up having a c-section. If it came down to it and I had to have a c-section with an epidural that wasn’t working, they would have to put me to sleep which is something I definitely wanted to avoid. So I agreed to have him replace it and he placed it just an inch or two higher in my back. I finally felt relief again!!
The pitocin was now going at full blast (even higher than any dose I’ve ever administered, yikes) as a last ditch effort. The doctor came in to check me and said that there was a tiny bit of cervix left, but I was really close to 10 cm. She was hoping she could push the cervix away during a contraction, but could not. It was getting late into the second day of my induction experience. This is WAY longer than I ever expected to be allowed/encouraged to continue laboring. The doctor really sweetly explained that I was probably not going to progress any further since it had been so long and she was recommending a c-section.
I was devastated at first. I had gone through so much. I had spent two days laboring trying to deliver this baby. I got soooo close. Literally within 0.25 cm. However, I knew Tristan was still high up. Even if I got to 10 cm, I could push for 3 hours and then still end up having a c-section at that time. I wanted the pushing experience, but at the same time I was glad that I could spare myself the energy. I was excited that I could possibly be meeting my son within an hour or two. My doctor calmed my nerves and I said let’s do it!
From that point, things happened so fast. It was not an emergency situation, but within what seemed like a few minutes, Luke was in his scrubs and they were wheeling me to the OR. Luke had to wait outside until they got me situated and then they finally let him in the operating room. I was trying hard not to think about what was going on behind the curtain since I’ve seen hundreds of c-sections and I could feel them tugging and pulling. I was so relieved when Luke came in and sat beside my head. I made him talk to me the whole time to distract me. Less than 10 minutes after that, Tristan was here! They asked Luke if he wanted to peek over the curtain. I looked at him and said, “Don’t do it!! You will pass out.” He always said he doesn’t want to know what’s going on down there, so I was really shocked when he stood up and said he wanted to see. Then they whisked Tristan over to the warmer and I couldn’t see much, I could just hear him crying and saw that he was purple. Luke was still holding my hand and making sure I was okay. I was shaking from the epidural and medications so he thought something was wrong with me. I told him to go meet our son and to let me know if he had ten fingers and toes, haha. It was so sweet watching Luke hold his little hand for the first time. Once Tristan was good to go, they put him on my chest and our eyes locked. This cute little human was inside me this entire time?? It was so crazy to finally meet him. He was not at all what I pictured and he was way tinier than I was expecting! But he was mine and it was love at first sight, just like my nurses and my mom told me would happen. My heart literally felt like it was outside of my body and I couldn’t contain the tears.
We spent the next 3 days in the hospital. Tristan had jaundice, so he had to do some phototherapy, which extended our stay a little longer than normal. I have such good memories of these three days. Luke and I got to spend so much time together just cuddling with Tristan and getting to know him. Despite the lack of sleep, it was a very sweet time. Our families got to meet him and we learned soo much during this time about breastfeeding, newborn things, and postpartum life. Luke was way more involved and interested than I ever imagined he would be and that just made my heart so happy. He truly came to life when he became a dad.
Our lives changed forever that week and things will never be the same. Before, I couldn’t imagine ever loving anyone or anything more than Luke, but my heart literally doubled in size instantaneously. We love our little guy more than words can even explain.
Photos by The Mothering Doula