RJ’s Birth Story

I was 37 weeks and 4 days the morning I went to work for the last time. It was Thursday, and after work I went to my weekly prenatal visit, and the doctor checked my progress and let me know I was 1cm dilated and 75% effaced. “If you’re still pregnant by next week, I’ll see you next Thursday.”

Little did we know what was about to go down that night…

So my husband and I order a pizza for dinner and sit down to watch our show. I took 3 bites of pizza and had to put it down because the dull back pain I’d been having since my doctor visit was getting really intense. I tried to move around and get comfortable but this pain was not going away. I wasn’t sure if it was back labor, so I did some googling (always a wise idea;) and called my mom. She said I was either having back labor or a kidney stone. I tried to wait it out, but it was getting so terrible I couldn’t even finish dinner. My husband wanted to call the doctor, but I just wanted to wait it out a little longer and see if it would go away.

My husband drew me a warm bath and I thought surely, this would calm things down. It didn’t. It got worse, and worse and worse.

We called the doctor, and explained what was going on. She said, “Why don’t you come in so we can check everything out.”

At this point I was in such terrible pain, that I was literally groaning in the bathtub. I was trying my best to tell my husband we didn’t have anything packed and if this was it, we were completely empty handed. He rushed around grabbing things and putting them all in a bag, while I laid in the bathtub borderline screaming.

Somehow my husband helped me out of the tub and into some warm clothes, and somehow we got into the car. He sped the whole way to the hospital.

By the time they wheeled me into my room and put me in the bed, I was screaming in pain. I couldn’t help it. The entire floor heard me. Immediately they put me on the monitor to check on my blood pressure and baby’s heart rate.

They started me on morphine and IV fluids. In total, I had 4 rounds of each. However, the morphine only “took the edge off” the pain, it did not eliminate it. So I was miserable all night into the morning and all day. I didn’t sleep because of the pain. Every hour that ticked by on the clock felt like an eternity. I watched the sunrise out the hospital window and watched the morning rush hour traffic steadily increase from 6-9 am. The whole time I wondered if this is what torture must feel like, and endless eternity of constant, debilitating pain, as time crawls by at the speed of a snail. It was MISERABLE.

By now it was Friday and my pain was still constant. I threw up twice because I couldn’t handle the pain.

The urologist came in to do an ultrasound (because I was pregnant they could not do the regular scan) to see if there was a kidney stone. Unfortunately the ultrasound wasn’t showing a stone, but it was showing inflammation up and down the vein that connects my kidney and something else. They mentioned hydronephosis. At this point I was so drugged and my body had been through so much that I wasn’t paying much attention to what they were saying. I just wanted to be out of my misery.

The plan, according to the urologist, was to get me to a point where my pain was manageable enough that they could discharge me and I could go home with pain pills. We began to work toward that goal.

Saturday morning came, and I appeared to be on the mend, so my husband and I were ready to finally go home, knowing we’d come back in 2 or 3 weeks to have the baby.

Before we were discharged, though, my obstetrician wanted to check my progress one more time to make sure I wasn’t in labor.

(Side note – I had been checked probably 5 or 6 times since I arrived at the hospital. Each and every time they checked me felt like someone was reaching way back into my insides and ripping my insides apart. My cervix was very far back, very high up, and tilted toward the back, not the front, so this made the process pure torture.)

They used a test strip that turns blue if your water has broken. Sure enough, it was blue. The doctor said it was slowly trickling, so it was a high leak. They couldn’t send me home with my water broken.

The urologist was still in the room and looked at my miserable, terrified face and said, “Looks like you’re going to have a kidney stone and a baby.”

And the doctor proceeds to break my water fully and then looks at my husband and I and happily says “Today’s the day!”

I just stared at both of them.

My body had been through so much excruciating pain over the last 2 days and I had been begging God to not let me go into labor. I was exhausted in every way and did not have any strength in me to have a baby. I was mentally, physically and emotionally drained in every way possible.

But I had no choice.

Also, I had spent the last 2 days and nights in bed – so I felt pretty terrible as I had not brushed my teeth, showered, washed my face or eaten anything other than a popsicle in the last 2 days. I felt kind of like a homeless person that needed desperately to be refreshed. The fact that I had thrown up and never brushed my teeth didn’t help either.

The next few hours went by in a daze – I was put on antibiotics for strep B, I was given more fluids, and asked if I had a birth plan. Thankfully I did not have a birth plan, so nothing had to fly out the window. I did have a few things I knew I wanted to avoid if possible, though – epidurals, induction methods, episiotomy, being confined to a bed for labor, and assisted delivery (forceps or vacuum).

Yet the pain was more than I could take. The decision to have an epidural was the best decision I’ve ever made. Once it kicked in, I felt the first relief I’d had in over 2 days. The numbing sensation was so good that I was actually able to relax and take a little nap.

Had I not been through such exhausting torture beforehand, I may have been able to birth without an epidural. But that is not my story and I am so, so thankful for modern medicine. I really felt like I would have died. I know I wouldn’t have been able to make it through without it.

I ate a popsicle after my nap while waiting for labor to progress. But I wasn’t progressing as fast as they would have liked, so Pitocin it was. They had to do Pitocin twice, because things had to speed up. I also had to have a catheter inserted because of all the IVs and being numb from the epidural.

Because of all the meds and IVs I was hooked up to, and the fact that I was numb from the waist down thanks to the epidural, I would have to deliver lying flat on my back. I wasn’t going to be able to move around (to get in more comfortable positions) during labor like I’d hoped.

Finally the nurse said it was time to push.

The epidural started to wear off a little and I started feeling everything again. I pushed for an hour and each time felt like I was going to die. I threw up again because of the pain. Lying flat on my back having to throw up was scary because I thought I’d choke and die. Thankfully I had enough strength to lean over the side of the bed just in time.

The nurses would look down and smile and nod as if to say “It’s working, she’s coming, keep pushing” each time I would push. They told me she had a lot of hair. They asked if I wanted to feel her head, which I did – it was hard to believe she was that close to being out. They kept bringing cold washcloths and putting them on my forehead and the back of my neck.

All these things helped, yet every time I felt the next contraction, my mental state declined. I would think to myself, “This has to be the last push.” With every single push I became more and more helpless thinking that it would never end. I wanted to ask how much longer this was going to take, but they told me before I could ask.

I was told that the pushing was going to take a longer time because my darling baby was having trouble getting around my pelvic bone.

I told my husband I couldn’t do it anymore and wasn’t going to make it. That was when the doctor looked me in the eye and said “Hannah, I know you can push this baby out. But we can assist if you want. It’s up to you.”

I immediately screamed “I want help!”

My doctor brought in his tools and gave me the cut (episiotomy) so he could use forceps to help get my baby out. Six more pushes and I felt her slide out. I was surprised it was that fast. My doctor said it saved me an hour of pushing.

They placed her in my arms as I laid back in complete exhaustion and the doctor stitched me up. I’m sad now that I don’t recall her very first moments of life, can’t remember if she was crying, can’t remember looking at her face, because my eyes were closed and I felt so drained, like my body was shutting down. I vaguely remember hearing the shuffle of nurses and the doctor having my husband cut the cord and all the bustle of things they do after a baby is born.

It was a 3-day ordeal and a 5-day hospital stay. After they moved me to my recovery room, I remember asking my husband which room I gave birth in, because I never ever wanted to see that room again. I didn’t want to go in it, look at it, or even walk past it. I felt so traumatized by my entire experience. To the point where I told my husband I didn’t think I want any more kids.

But I am so, so happy she’s here, and it’s over, and I made it through, and she’s healthy, and even though it was a very traumatic birth, God was with me the whole time, and I was so well taken care of by the entire birthing center staff and my husband.

It’s not about me, it was all about my little girl coming into the world. I try to forget the trauma and remember it as her birthday, and celebrate it in my mind as the happiest day, the day that my suffering ended and gave me the most precious joy.

The hardest experience of my life physically, mentally and emotionally – gave me my absolute greatest treasure and joy and I would do it all again for her.

To anyone pregnant reading this: My birth story included everything I hoped to avoid, but I don’t even care. It doesn’t matter one bit. It was so much worse than I imagined it would be, but it’s OK now because she’s here. Seriously, don’t obsess over details and birth plans because in the moment all that will matter to you is seeing your precious tiny baby and holding them in your arms. I pray you don’t have a traumatic experience, but if you do, you will make it to the other side, and your bundle will be worth every second of suffering.