Nellie’s birth story begins on January 19th, 2010. I was 2 days past my due date, and had my weekly doctor appointment. I waddled into the office, excited to see what sort of progress I had made from the week before. When my doctor checked me at 39 weeks, I was about 60% effaced and 1 1/2 cm dilated. I was confident that I would have progressed some!
When the doctor told me that afternoon that my cervix was still at 1 1/2 cm and no more effaced, I felt disappointed. It was time to talk induction. The doctors at the hospital I delivered don’t like women to go over 41 weeks. I didn’t want an induction, but I also wanted the best for my baby so we agreed to set an induction date in case Nellie didn’t come on her own. We set the date for January 25th – I would be 41w1d by then. My doctor then told me she was putting me on a monitor for 20 minutes to see if Nellie’s heartrate was okay, and if I was having any contractions. She informed me that if Nellie “didn’t pass”, we would be delivering that day.
Whoa! So she strapped me up to an external fetal heart rate monitor and a contraction monitor. I watched the numbers fluxuate; Nellie’s heartrate bouncing from a steady and strong 140 to 160s, then 170s and back to the 140s. I watched what I guessed was the contraction monitor. Occasionally, the band across my stomach would feel like it was slipping and I noticed when that was happening, the number would climb. I didn’t feel anything, so I didn’t think anything of it. When the doctor came back, she informed me that Nellie’s heartrate was fine, and that I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes. I told her I didn’t feel a thing. She let me go, telling me to call if I did begin feeling contractions or started bleeding.
I went about the rest of my day as normal. I had some lunch, and went to pick Josh up from work. We decided not to tell anyone about the induction date as we didn’t want people getting overly antsy or anxious. We simply said that we had talked about induction and were still deciding what to do.
Tuesday night, Josh and I watched American Idol in the bedroom. He fell asleep around 10, and I stayed up on the computer. I wondered to myself if I was still having contractions and wasn’t feeling them, and made a point to watch my belly. A few times I thought I noticed it tightening, but I couldn’t tell if it was contractions or Nellie moving. After poking around online for a while, I decided to go to sleep. I crawled into bed with Josh around 10:30 and drifted off very slightly for about 10 minutes. It was about that time that I started feeling uncomfortable. Not in pain, just.. Uncomfortable. At first, it felt sort of like stomach cramps like I was getting ready to have a big bowel movement. The discomfort faded away and I relaxed and waited for sleep to come. Instead of sleep, however, I had another wave of discomfort. Still not really thinking anything of it, I just waited for it to stop. I had a few more waves and I started thinking, “Hmm.” The discomfort would start in my legs; very similar to how I’d feel before my period – sort of achey. It would then switch to my lower back, and then to my lower abdomen. I lay there, still waiting for them to stop.. I didn’t think I was in labor as the waves didn’t hurt. I actually got up at one point and took some gas medicine because during my pregnancy, I’d feel crampy and pass gas and the cramps would go away. I lay in bed unable to get comfortable for a while. I don’t really remember exactly how long. I ended up getting up and waddling to the bathroom and around the apartment. I ended up waking Joshua on my way back to the bed. He asked me if I was okay, and I hesitantly told him I wasn’t sure. Concerned, he asked what was wrong and I told him about my discomfort. I said I didn’t know that it was labor because I wasn’t in pain, but we were both definitely awake then. I tried laying back down to relax, and the waves started to become not just pressure, but pain. The pain was definitely manageable, but it was still pain. I told Joshua, who looked nervous and excited in response. I went to go take a shower, trying to figure out what to do next. I was in denial about being in labor. After my shower, I shuffled back to the bedroom and Josh asked what I thought we should do. After considering for a second, I resigned to the fact that this was not normal. Nothing alarming, but not normal. I had to face the facts: I was having waves of pain that radiated from my low back to my lower abdomen. We began using an online contraction timer and discovered the waves were about 3-5 minutes apart. We called my doctor’s answering service around 1:45 AM, and she returned my call at 2 AM Wednesday morning. I told her what was going on and she said it sounded like early labor. She told me that we could go ahead to labor and delivery, or we could stay at home and wait out the contractions a bit. She said if I was still only 1 1/2 cm dilated, they’d probably send me home.
We debated on what to do for a while, and finally around 2:45 and 3:00 AM, I told Josh that we needed to go because the contractions were beginning to increase in intensity. He put on his clothes in record time, and we headed out to the hospital!
We got to the hospital around 3:30, and went up to the L&D triage. The nurse hooked me up to some monitors and checked my cervix. To my immense surprise, I was 3 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced! She was really surprised as well, telling me that “I had certainly been busy” down there. She headed off to call my doctor to see if we’d be staying, or if we were going to be discharged and sent home. A few minutes later, she came back in announcing we “had our golden ticket” and were staying!! She asked me what sort of birth I was wanting, and I told her I wanted to attempt it drug-free. She nodded and told me she’d gone epidural-free with both her kids, but wanted to let me know of another option. She said there were a few IV medications they used to “take the edge off” the contractions and that she recommended them. She let me know that if I decided to take them and then delivered within two hours of having the medication, the baby would have to be taken to be observed to make sure she didn’t have any breathing problems as a result of that medication. She kept stressing that it was a good pain management option and that it really mellowed her out during her delivery so she was able to rest between contractions. I kept an open mind, and we followed her to our room!
My contractions were getting stronger but were still manageable at this point. Once we got admitted I was put in the bed, given an IV, and hooked up to the monitors. The reality finally hit us: our little girl was going to be born!!!! We were really here!
It was around 4 AM when we finally got settled in our room. We decided to start making phone calls around 6 AM letting everyone know what was going on. I was checked again around 6 AM, and to my absolute shock I was already 6 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. I had gone from 3 to 6 cm in about 3 hours. Crazy!
The doctor broke my water at some point. I don’t really remember when. I think it was around 9 AM or so. I didn’t want her to, but she convinced us to go ahead and have it done.. There was some meconium in the fluid, so my doctor let me know that we would have to have the special nursery staff there at her birth just as a precaution in case she swallowed some of the meconium. I was scared about the breaking my water hurting but I didn’t even feel it. It wasn’t the huge, dramatic rush of water that I’d always pictured. It was more like a slow leak; like I was peeing myself every so often. My timeline gets a little fuzzy around this point. The hospital bed was making me ridiculously uncomfortable, and my nurse offered me a birthing ball. I was still working through my contractions at this point so I said sure, bring it on. She brought in the ball and I got on it. The pressure was immediately better, but the pain was still there. I worked through some contractions on the ball.. This is when I remember the pain getting really bad. I hobbled back into bed so they could check my vitals. I asked for an IV pain medication and got Stadol.. Maybe around 9 AM. The Stadol did not stop the contractions nor make them any less painful; it just made it to where I didn’t give a shit.
After the Stadol.
Right around that time was shift change, and our nurse Gina came on. She asked how I was doing and I told her I was super thanks to the Stadol. I was a bit loopy. She asked if she could get me anything, and then inquired to what sort of dietary restrictions I was on. I told her that they informed me I wasn’t allowed anything besides water/ice until after the baby was born. She scowled and said she was going to get me a popsicle and asked what flavor I wanted. I told her cherry and when she brought it you’d have thought Jesus Christ had appeared in the middle of a Southern Baptist revival from the way I praised her. I texted a bunch of people and let them know all about my popsicle. I remember the nurses commenting on how surprised they were how well I was handling the pain and how nicely things were progressing.
Around 10 AM, I stalled at 7 centimeters. They told me that they were going to start Pitocin and right around the same time, my Stadol wore off. The pain came back and I knew that Pit was notorious for creating hard, fast contractions. I asked for more Stadol, and they injected my IV with Phenegran which is an anti-nausea medication, and also helped “revive” the Stadol so to speak. I got scared at the thought of getting to the Point of No Return, and asked for an epidural also. Around 10:30 the anesthesiologist came in and administered my Epi. He was a really nice man who talked to me through the whole thing. They made me lean on Josh so I wouldn’t move. It was around that time I began to shake violently. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or what, but I would go into these shaking fits like I was freezing – only I wasn’t. I managed to not shake while he was administering the Epi, and the relief from the pain of my contractions was instantaneous. I kept having shaking fits. Now that I was doped up on Stadol and had my Epidural I was able to rest a little. I kept falling asleep for 15 minutes at a time for the next few hours. Things are very hazy, as the medicine clouded me a lot and I was in and out of sleep. I remember flopping my hand down and hitting something warm – my leg. I couldn’t feel the sensation on my leg, only the warmth of my skin on my hand. It was so bizarre. And when my doctor would come in to check me, I could see her pulling my legs around and moving them but couldn’t feel it.
At some point they gave me a catheder which I didn’t feel. I remember being mildly fascinated at the thought that I didn’t have to worry about peeing and that the urine would just magically be whisked away from my bladder. Again, a little loopy from the meds.
A few hours after the epidural, maybe around 2:30-3:00 my toes began feeling tingly. I was worried; thinking that it’d wear off and I’d feel the entire pushing process. They kept losing Nellie’s heart rate on the external monitor, so they attempted to attach one to her scalp. Four times. It took them four times because she had so much hair. I remember right around 3:00 I began feeling ridiculously uncomfortable. I felt like I had a bowling ball in my vagina (and, essentially, I kind of did) and it was like I could feel the pressure of all the things hanging out of me (the catheder, the heart monitor, etc). I swear I could feel her head wiggling around down there. I think it was around 3:45 that they announced that I was 10 centimeters, and about ready to begin pushing. My doctor was there for the first 2-3 pushes to help get her down a little. They began commenting how she was face-up, and that was going to make it harder to her to be delivered. They kept rolling me from side to side to try and get her face down. I was so, so uncomfortable and even though I wasn’t really feeling pain the pressure was overwhelming. I wanted to push.
My nurse Gina let me know around 4, I think, that the baby’s head was at zero station and we were going to do some pushing to see how the baby was coming down. She asked me if I wanted a mirror and I said sure. They brought me one, and she asked if Josh wanted to watch. He re-positioned himself to get a better view. I pushed once, then twice, and Nellie went from zero station to crowning. Nurse Gina grabbed my hand, shoved it down between my legs and yelled, “FEEL HOW MUCH HAIR SHE HAS!”
All I felt was a slimy, greasy hairball between my legs.
Then things got a little crazy. My baby was crowning and my doctor wasn’t there. Gina grabbed the phone and called for Dr. Few NOW. A few minutes passed and no Dr. Few. She got back on the phone and repeated herself. She needed the doctor NOW. There were other nurses and some students in the room at the time, and everyone started to lose their cool and panic. They just kept saying, “We need help, we need help!”
Dr. Few came flying into the room and Gina told her that she was crowning, and that I had been pushing and “the baby didn’t like it”. I was scared. I asked if everything was okay. The nurses were still fluttering about in a tizzy but my doctor looked right at me and said, “She’s fine. She’s still face up, so we need to use the vacuum assist.”
They slapped an oxygen mask on me. Gina grabbed my right knee, and Joshua grabbed my left. They told me how to push; grab both my knees, chin down, back arched and rounded.. Deep breath, bear down, push! With the epidural in place, I wasn’t quite sure if I was pushing right or not but both my doctor and nurses assured me I was. I remember feeling like there was no humanly way possible that this was going to work. I kept on bearing down and pushing; unable to tell if I was doing anything productive or not. Josh kept looking down and saying, “Oh my God! Honey! I can see her head!” and random exclamations like that. They had shoved the mirror out of the way in the doctor’s hurry to arrive so I could no longer see what was happening. I was breathing and pushing, breathing and pushing. I remember I was pushing so hard I would start grunting and making noise. Gina got in my face and said, “Don’t you make noise! Save your air! You push that baby out! PUSH!”
It was like I had my very own cheering section. I felt no pain; only pressure. I had a catheder, an external heart monitor, a vacuum and a baby’s head in my vagina and all I felt was pressure.
After about 15 minutes of “PUSH! PUSH! COME ON! PUSH!” – at 4:15 PM my daughter was finally released from me and was born into this world. I felt an instant relief from the pressure. I looked at my husband, who had tears streaming down his face. When the doctor held up my daughter for me to see I started to sob. I kept asking if she was okay. I watched as they took my baby over to the area where they checked her over, suctioned her out, and did what people do after babies are born. Josh remained by my side for a few minutes until a nurse grabbed him, took our camera and said, “Get over there, daddy.” Josh looked at me and I told him to go to her. I watched from my bed as they worked on cleaning our baby up. The doctor went to work stitching up my tear (2nd degree) and I hardly noticed. I felt some tugging sensations but no pain. One of the nurses came over to me quietly and said, “Daddy has tears streaming down his face.”
After what felt like forever, they finally brought my daughter to me wrapped up like a burrito. I held her, still dazed from the drugs and from the entire surrealistic nature of what had just happened. I don’t remember what I said to her, if I said anything. Josh came to my side, and we touched heads and looked at the baby we had made. Our daughter… Our Nellie Rose.
3 weeks later, I’m sitting here with my child sleeping on my chest. The overwhelming emotions of being a new mother have stabilized a little bit, and the shock of sleep deprivation and a drastic change in my routine have worn off. All that’s left is an overwhelming amount of love and pride. Being a mother is truly the most amazing experience of my life. This child is the most important thing in the universe. She can do no wrong. I will never stop loving her, and there is nothing she could ever do in her life to make my love go away. This is unconditional love; this is a love that penetrates to my marrow. The excitement, the pain, the lack of sleep don’t matter. When this baby looks into my eyes and smiles, the world goes away and it’s just me and her. These are the moments I will cherish forever.