I’m writing this for me. If you’re interested in a long read about how I gave birth then by all means, please continue. But if not, that’s cool, because this post isn’t meant for anyone else anyways.
By week 38, my pregnancy was progressing along exactly as expected. So I was quite surprised when I had a weekly checkup on Friday with my OB-GYN and she told me that my cervix was already 4cm dilated. I hadn’t felt a single contraction or slight discomfort up to that point and I was expecting every cm of dilation to be part of the overall going into labour process. My OB-GYN said some people just have favourable cervixes that soften and open up fairly easily. She did a “stretch and sweep” to see if she could continue to encourage my cervix along. I left that appointment 4cm dilated already a little freaked out. The doctor told me that if I wanted to, I could go to the hospital right that moment to be induced, because based on the conditions of my cervix they would keep me there.
D had to wait in the car for me because of current COVID policies at the doctor’s office, so when I got in and told him the status he was pretty freaked out too. We were both feeling like this baby was just going to pop out at any minute!
We decided to go home. We both were expecting to do two more full weeks of work and I didn’t want to try and force the whole process. It’d be better if everything just progressed naturally. We went home and everything was fine, I felt the same as before. No contractions, no discomfort.
I woke up that Saturday morning around 2am feeling some cramping in my stomach. I rode it out for about 15 minutes until it passed, but I shook D awake to alert him that maybe this was it. We were both super wired and not sure what to do with ourselves. The cramping sensation went away and didn’t come back, so we figured it was okay to go back to bed, but neither of us could sleep.
We woke up around 8am and D immediately went into prep mode. He got out and did a bunch of grocery shopping and some errands to try and wrap up last minute things in case I did go into active labour. That whole weekend came and went, us on edge the whole time, but without anything eventful happening.
I went back to my OB-GYN for my 39 week checkup just a few days shy of 39 weeks. She checked my cervix again and confirmed I was 5cm dilated and 70% effaced. She did another stretch and sweep to see if that would kickstart active labour for me and we went home. We finished up the work week again and figured we’d hopefully make it to the 40 week mark without issue. If we made it to 40 weeks, we’d go to the hospital and get induced. I kept waiting for this magical mucus plug everyone talks about to come out, but I never saw it. I did start having some watery-like discharge and thought that was a bit weird, but didn’t think too much of it.
On Saturday May 23rd, D and I went for a walk after lunch because it was such a nice sunny day. As we were nearing the end of our walk I felt this sudden little gush of fluid that I couldn’t control and assumed I’d just pissed myself in the street. When we got home, I noticed again that it was a very watery substance and didn’t seem like pee at all. That was when it clicked that I was probably leaking amniotic fluid. I texted our doula for her advice and she told me I should call the Labour & Delivery line at the hospital to see what they thought. Knowing the state of my cervix, our doula felt that I might have a very fast labour once it did start actively so wanted us to be on the safe side and get to the hospital earlier than planned. D was outside and had started cutting the grass. I called the Labour & Delivery line and they said I should definitely come in.
I started rounding up our bags and packing a few last minute things we needed. D came inside for a quick glass of water, thinking he could get started on the backyard next, but I told him to get his shit together because we’re going to the hospital today and we won’t be leaving without a baby.
We got the car loaded up and drove to the hospital, we were there at 3pm. I had to go in first to be assessed and they told me if I was admitted then I could text D to come in. Another quick check of my cervix and the doctor recommended that we start the induction process. They advised that I was slowly leaking amniotic fluid and likely had a small tear high up on the amniotic sac. I was taken to a birthing room and made a quick call to D around 3:30pm to tell him he could come on in.
The nurses got me into a gown, hooked me up to their machines for monitoring, and started a low dose of oxytocin around 4:30pm to jumpstart some contractions. The doctor also broke my water. I setup my bluetooth speaker and got my carefully curated labouring playlist rocking so we’d have awesome music to help me stay relaxed. When the nurse came back to check on me around 5:30pm she confirmed that we were now 6cm dilated and 95% effaced, and I still had yet to feel a single thing! Except for the occasional gush of amniotic fluid spilling out from my broken water. We joked around that maybe I was one of those lucky “silent labourers” and that this could be a really easy process for me.
That unfortunately, was not the case. Around 6:30pm actual contractions started and I was definitely feeling them! They came on hard and fast with a BANG. My contractions were lasting one minute but with only one minute of rest before the next one would start. One on top of the other, boom boom boom, the contractions were relentless. I was managing the pain by staying on my feet swaying along to my music with some hand holding and encouragement from D, but it was getting pretty tough.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about epidurals overall. I was game for trying to labour without one, but also totally open to the possibility of having one as well if I felt it was needed. I asked the nurse what my point of no return for getting an epidural was and she told me it was at 10cm, fully dilated. With that in mind, I kept labouring and trying to manage the pain as much as I could. The next time the nurse came to check me I was 8.5cm dilated and well on my way to 9cm. To be on the safe side, I decided to ask for the epidural. We were so close to 10cm and the pain was only getting more intense, it didn’t ever seem like it would ebb. The nurse told me that the anesthesiologist was on the floor and already lined up for four other epidurals so I’d have to wait another 30-40 minutes. I just had to hope my overly ambitious cervix wouldn’t go on to 10cm before the epidural could be administered.
Thankfully, when the anesthesiologist got to me I was holding strong at 9cm. They had me sit upright on the hospital bed with my legs over one side. D stood in front of me and needed to keep me still and calm while the doctor did his thing. D said this part was the most stressful for him. Watching a doctor probe my spine while I was suffering absolutely brutal contractions and being told to stay perfectly still or else. The doctor kept feeling around and asking where I felt things and then all of a sudden I cried out in pain because of an immediately stabbing sensation in my left hip. I told him what I felt and he said “okay that’s not the spot then” and kept feeling around. He found the right spot after that and got the epidural going.
Once I could move again the nurse had me lay down and try to relax while the drugs kicked in. That was a very chill hour. I just shut my eyes, felt the pins and needles sensation in my feet slowly spread into numbness all through my legs, and listened to my tunes. I remember looking at the clock and it was about 11pm. We started to wonder now that it was getting close to midnight if this was going to be a May 23rd or May 24th baby. The nurse said some women on the floor only pushed for 10-15 minutes and was encouraging me that I could probably be a quick pusher too. We’d just wait a bit for me to tell them when I felt any sort of pushing sensation.
Nope! Oh man, so much nope on that. The epidural worked too well I guess because I never once felt any kind of pushing sensation down below. I did feel a band of tightness every once in a while under my ribcage. When I mentioned that to the nurse she said those were my contractions now. Holy shit!
The nurse told us how it was going to go down: when I felt that tightness under my ribcage she’d lift and hold one of my legs and D would do the same with the other. I’d take a deep breath then start pushing while D slowly counted to 10. I’d do this three times in a row then take a break before the next contraction started.
D was super calm. Very quiet and serious. Exactly what I expect from him. When shit hits the fan he clamps down hard on any sort of emotion and shoves it out of the way so he can deal with the immediate issues. He was supportive too, but in his own collected way. I felt very calm as well. I was determined to just roll with whatever happened during labour and be cool, man. I did not turn into that stereotypical angry and cursing woman everyone insisted I would become. I never once screamed at D not to touch me or to go away or hate on him for “doing this to me”. That’s fine if it’s what works for other women, but for me I don’t think that’s productive at all. We both wanted this baby, I just drew the short biological straw and had to be the one to offer up my crotch as sacrifice.
Pushing lasted almost 3 hours. Around 2.5 hours it was obvious that all the pushing in the world couldn’t make this baby come out and the nurse called in the doctor. Baby was super low into the birth canal and conditions were all optimal for pushing him out, but for some reason he was really wedged in there. The doctor advised that a vacuum assisted delivery was necessary and we agreed.
Here’s a crazy detail: there was a big overhead light right above my hospital bed and the clear plastic cover over it was highly reflective. When I looked up at that light it was basically a mirror and I could see everything happening to myself on the table. I watched them bring out the vacuum and start fitting it into my vagina. When everything was setup the nurse advised we’d start the pushing process again. I bore down on every part of my body I could still feel and pushed as hard as I fucking could. I looked up at the light that was basically a mirror and started to see a dark round shape emerging from my body. Surreal. It looked so tiny and in my mind this whole time I had a bowling ball inside of me that we were trying to get out instead of a tiny little human.
With one sudden whoosh the baby’s head was out and the rest of the body followed so smoothly. I couldn’t believe the baby was out, I was speechless. D had to tell me three times that it was a boy before I even registered it. The one thing that stood out most for me is that of all the songs on my well crafted playlist, Night Moves by Bob Seger is what was playing when he finally arrived. And now when I hear that song about horny teenagers trying to get laid I cry because I think about my baby boy. Awesome. Although, I guess it is kind of cool because I did have a “black-haired beauty with big dark eyes” so it works in it’s own ridiculous way.
They took him away to do some quick tests and measurements while I delivered the afterbirth. I wound up with a second degree tear and an episiotomy, fun!
When they put him in my arms for the first time the playlist was rocking Good Times Bad Times by Led Zeppelin. Super cool.
I hugged him and cried.
We stayed in the birthing room for a while longer so they could continue to monitor Elwood. Since they had to use a vacuum on his head during delivery they wanted to make sure there wasn’t any unusual swelling or bruising. I got to give him his first bottle and we had lots of snuggles.
Around 6:30am D took a minute to get changed out of his clothes from the day before and brush his teeth. The nursing team cleared out of the room to let the three of us be alone. When D came out of the restroom it was just me and Woody. In that moment, without a million random people in and out of the room, D was hit by all the waves of emotion he’d been clamping down on all night long. We hugged each other and cried together, in complete awe that the little human we made, who we’d been dying to meet, was here now.
And now here we are, two new parents born, a mom and dad with a little baby boy. Working on an entirely new set of Night Moves. Working on mysteries without any clues.
Workin’ and practicin’,
Workin’ and practicin’ all of the night moves