I sit here today with my heart having immeasurably grown with the birth of our son, Greyson James. He arrived into our lives on March 10th at 4:22pm after more than 15 hours of labor. To say that his delivery was long, tiring, and painful is an extreme understatement. Even with an epidural. However, I wouldn’t trade this transformative experience for anything in the world. Greyson has undeniably changed me in ways I can hardly begin to describe – it’s an emotion that doesn’t quite have a definition and I think all mothers can relate to it. I’ve found myself, overnight, having been thrust into a new role and know that this little person will forever change me, my husband, and our lives forever. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our Birth Story
March 7th seemed to have come and gone and there I sat, with my husband, at our doctors office waiting for our weekly appointment – now being two days past due. At that moment I was ready to begin what I had to in order to get labor going and I am so thankful to my doctor who kept my/and baby’s well being in mind while giving me the opportunity to augment labor, but in a natural way without inducing. At our appointment we discussed a procedure called ‘stripping of membranes,’ which is fancy for my doctor inserting his finger in my cervix and moving the membranes (prostaglandins) around, which would trigger my body to begin labor contractions. This process can take multiple tries before labor actually begins and my doctor called it when I asked him what our plan would be if nothing happened. He told me he thought I’d respond well and that the next time I’d see him was at the hospital – and that’s just what happened.
That evening around midnight I awoke to some cramping, like menstrual cramps but heavier. Before I knew it I found myself having to breathe through each cramp and that’s when I figured this was the beginning of early labor. With each passing hour the cramps felt more like contractions as they were increasing in pain and occurring more frequently. My husband was an amazing coach and partner through this whole process. He was right there with me – breathing, massaging my lower back/pelvis, and encouraging me through each contraction. Using my Baby Center app I timed each contraction and after a few hours I noticed that they were getting closer and closer together. I labored as much as I could at home – eating in between as much as I could knowing I wouldn’t get a meal until after I delivered.
After I couldn’t take much more on my own (and dreaming of that epidural) I told my husband that I wanted to go ahead and go to the hospital – that at the very worst they would send me home. It was around 4:40am that we grabbed our hospital bags (because Daddy needs one too!) and were on our way. After checking in we were directed to triage where I would give a urine sample, change into a hospital gown, and be hooked up to a fetal and contraction monitor. With me being dilated 3cm and increasing contractions, my doctor had me immediately admitted and was quickly transferred to a labor/delivery room and was once again hooked up to these monitors and got comfortable (aka as comfortable as one in labor can be).
After what felt like 30-40 minutes my doctor arrived and told me that he was going to break my water and insert my catheter, but before he does I was going to get my epidural. I swear that word was music to my ears! I had to wait just a few moments longer before the anesthesiologist arrived to begin. Even though I couldn’t wait for the pain to subside, I was very nervous about having a hollow needle being inserted into my spinal space. My nurse was amazing and I found her to be very encouraging, especially during this part of labor. She held me as I had to sit hunched over, which by the way is very uncomfortable not only for a woman who is 9 months pregnant (bending over isn’t a thing), and amidst intense contractions at the same time. He finally had it inserted, but it didn’t take. I still felt everything and when I heard him mention that there was an issue with its placement I immediately started to cry for my fear of having to deliver naturally
After my husband talked with him about what had happened he decided that he would try to insert it again and thank goodness this one was done right. My legs and feet began to slowly feel heavy and the contraction pain was lessening by the minute. Before I knew it the epidural took full effect and finally, for the first time in hours, I could relax and take a break. My doctor came back in to break my water and inserted the catheter and from there it was just a waiting game as my body took over to reach those glorious 10cm. During that time I was able to rest, my husband watched his favorite trashy daytime tv show (Maury), and my mother-in-law and close friend/mom-figure napped and read to pass the time. I was beginning to feel very hungry, but alas I was only allowed ice chips and some chicken broth to sip on.
After some time my nurse came in and told me they were going to begin me on Pitocin, which would speed up my labor. As I was laying there I noticed that I was beginning to have sensations of contractions but only on my left side. Needless to say I was beginning to become nervous (again) because as the Pitocin continued, the more I would feel these contractions as they increased in intensity. I tried changing sides to see if my positioning was the reason my epidural wasn’t working, but nothing seemed to dull the pain. Luckily, my nurse called in another anesthesiologist and he was pure magic in my eyes. He altered my epidural and all of a sudden I began to feel less and less of the pain.
Labor surprisingly didn’t seem like it took very long – although 15 hours later it was time for me to begin pushing. I had reached a full 10cm and although I was ready to deliver my son, I became emotional and nervous about what this moment meant. My dear friend prayed over me alongside my husband and mother-in-law for calmed nerves and reminder that all is in His hands and this child to be delivered to us was in His plan. Surprisingly once I was able to begin pushing I found my inner-zone and felt as though we were progressing well in getting baby Greyson to drop. However, that was a fleeting thought as hour after hour passed and I felt as though we were no closer to him crowning than when we began. I became extremely frustrated with myself because although the epidural dulled my sensation to push, I could tell which pushes were good and which ones weren’t. Holding your breath and bearing down for 10 seconds three times during a contraction is no easy feat. After three hours of this, describing how tired I was is an understatement.
Each contraction that passed, each push I gave, I was beginning to regain sensation. What I didn’t know at the time (my husband later told me) was that my nurse was upping my Pitocin after each contraction. On one hand this helped me be able to focus my pushing, but on the other I was obviously beginning to feel EVERYTHING and that was, in fact, not in my birth plan. The pressure of this baby on my pelvis and pure exhaustion in full swing, I so badly wanted to give up. I cried, hyperventilated, and doubted how I could ever do this. In those moments I was so grateful to have my husband by my side and reminding me of how this baby will change our lives, encouraged me to keep going, and cracking a joke here and there in hopes to lighten my mood. Eventually it was time for my doctor to make his debut as baby Greyson was soon crowning.
I was equal parts relieved to see my doctor and nervous only because I knew that with our baby crowning labor would soon be over and I will finally be able to hold my baby boy, but I also knew that this was where the real work was to begin if I were going to cross the finish line in one piece. What I have always loved about my doctor is that he’s a straight shooter. No beating around the bush or sugarcoating the situation. He told me I have a large baby and that to deliver him I would need to push with every fiber of my being. That this was completely on me. No pressure, right? Now that we were so close, and with the help (and motivation of pain) of having sensation back and the urge to push, I continued to bear down with everything I had left in me.
What seemed like hours later and the use of a vacuum to assist (which kept popping off), Greyson James made his grand entrance into the world and into my arms on March 10th at 4:22 pm. He measured at 9 pounds 3 ounces and 20 1/2 inches. Giving birth to my son has forever changed me in ways that I am only still putting together in my mind. Not only am I a mother now, but my heart dwells on the outside of me – a vulnerability I felt only with my husband. Now that has changed too. My son has also changed the woman that I am. I see myself stronger than I once did with the stretch marks to prove it. Every day I am blessed to wake up ad be witness to what my husband and I created out of love. This little man will forever have my heart and I cannot wait for the adventure that still lies ahead.
Post-Pregnancy Recommendations For New Moms:
+ Schedule something just for you weeks out from your delivery date. I had scheduled my first hair color and cut since becoming pregnant and it was so nice, even 5 days after giving birth, to feel pretty and get my hair done.
+ Invest in nursing camis from Target and stick with maternity leggings. I am in LOVE with Target’s nursing camisoles because they’re comfortable and make me feel all tucked in. And hang on to those maternity leggings because they’ll be the most comfortable things to wear as you heal down there. It doesn’t put too much pressure on your belly and cotton pants keeps everything breathing.
+ Also invest in a belly band to help with your post-baby body. I ordered the Belly Bandit and I can’t wait to start using it to help give me my shape back and relieve the pressure on my abdomen when getting up and moving around (gravity will not be your friend the first few days after delivery).
+ Go for a walk every day. Yes…every day. If possible, get out of the house and do a little lap around your neighborhood using your stroller as a walker. The fresh air and sunshine will help with the emotions that you’ll feel after giving birth.
+ Stock up like a mini-hospital/pharmacy. Right when you get home have a loved one make a store run for you which includes but are not limited to: maxi pads (for when the ones you hoard from the hospital run out), stool softeners (because pooping will be a scary thought), Motrin (for the pain your lady bits will feel, especially going to the bathroom), and Preparation H wipes for cooling said lady bits.
A Side Effect I Didn’t Expect:
PUPPPs. Have you heard of it? Probably not…and that’s okay I didn’t either until I researched the huge itchy, bumpy rash that formed during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and continued to get worse after delivery. PUPPPs stands for: pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy and it is a harmless rash that just itches like crazy and spreads from your stretch marks to pretty much all over your body except for the soles of your feet and face. No one quite knows why this rash forms, but not all women will suffer from it…however, I was not spared. If you too find yourself suffering and just waiting it out like me to subside, here are a few remedies I’ve found to be helpful:
+ Lubriderm lotion I have found works more than Cortizone 10, however I still use both. Lather up all day to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated, this helps with the itching.
+ Take warm, not hot, showers. Then, lather up with Lubriderm.
+ Wear cotton and breathable clothing. I have also found long sleeves (for if your rash spreads to your arms like mine did) and leggings to be helpful in keeping me from scratching.
+ And then there’s just try to not scratch. It’s hard because there’s nothing more satisfying than itching that scratch, but we all know skin rashes get worse and take longer to heal when we scratch them.