birth story


I wrote the following right after getting out of the hospital. So its even less coherent than normal. You've been warned!

On Saturday morning, I developed some pretty severe abdominal cramping. I was pretty sure it wasn’t labor, but I was hoping something might come from it. I had been to the midwife’s on Wednesday and I wasn’t the slightest bit dilated or effaced at the time. My husband and I decided to go to the mall on Sunday afternoon, just to walk around. I was still feeling pretty bad, but I thought walking might get things moving again.

Monday morning was my first day of maternity leave. We had a contractor come to our house to level our kitchen cabinets. Our kitchen has been under construction for months, and I even joked with Leo that I would rather have him finish the kitchen than attend the birth. I had a feeling that whatever day the countertop installation was scheduled for would also be labor day. Getting the cabinets leveled was the last step before installation.

My innards felt even worse on Monday. At that point I hadn’t really eaten or slept in several days. I tried to pretend to not be sick around the contractor, which was quite a challenge. After he left, I called Leo and basically told him that I was going to die. He insisted I call the midwife. She told us to come in. By the time Leo got home to drive me (there was no way I was driving myself) I told him I could not handle the 30 minute trip to her office. So we went straight to the hospital.

I had been planning a birth inside the alternative birth center in the hospital. They have big beautiful tubs to labor in and I was so looking forward to that. I had a doula all lined up and we had just met several days before to go over the birth plan.

Once I got to the hospital, they sent me to the ABC. A nurse checked me and told me that I was still not the slightest bit dilated or effaced. There aren’t any doctors in the ABC, so she sent me to regular L&D to see one for the food poisoning. The doctor ran some tests on me and found out my liver enzymes were really high and my BP was also high (pre-eclampsia). So they decided to induce me.

They wanted to use Cytotec. I asked if they had anything else, like Cervidil or one of those prostaglandin gels. They said the hospital didn’t even stock anything else. When Leo asked what the big deal was, I was too sick to really answer, so I think I said something about Cytotec being linked to “exploding uteruses”. You should have seen his face!

I talked to the doctor down to just Pitocin. My midwife hadn’t shown up yet. They also put me on Magnesium Sulfate for the pre-eclampsia. I was catheterized because of that and I couldn’t get out of bed or even roll over on to my other side. At one point, there were 3 IV pumps, a catheter, oxygen and continuous fetal monitoring going on. I felt like the bionic pregnant lady. I sent my husband home to rest, as I was sure it would be a long night.

The doula called me at this point and basically convinced me that the induction would never work and that I should get a c-section. She pointed out how sick I was, how I wouldn’t be able to push after having no sleep and no food for days, etc. I asked the doctor about this and was told that I had to attempt a vaginal birth.

After about 4 hours on the Pit, my water broke. I calmly called the nurses station to let them know that either my catheter had exploded or my water broke. By that time my midwife was there. She checked me and I was already 4 cm!

They told me to call my husband back as it was all going much quicker than expected. I called home, but the line was busy. Turns out the snow storm had knocked out our phone. Just what we needed! I got a hold of his parents and they drove to our house to wake him up and get him to the hospital Thank God for in-laws!

I had an epidural at that point. They wanted to “crank up” the Pitocin and I was already confined to bed and catheterized anyhow. So I went for it. My family always has weird reactions to medical things (bad drug reactions and so forth) so I was a little freaked out by it. But I wasn’t really thrilled about the idea of laboring perfectly still on my side while they pumped me full of pitocin either.

The epidural was really no big deal. I didn’t have any issues with it and it was light enough to let me feel everything. I knew exactly when each contraction started; it just took the edge off. Really, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better epidural experience!

For completeness’ sake, I should add that the food poisoning was getting better (they gave me repeated doses on anti-diarrhea meds) but it wasn’t gone. Bed pans. And the room really stunk. Sorry, I know that’s gross. Really, DO NOT get food poisoning and then have a baby. It’s not a good combo.

I also really got into the “relaxation channel” on hospital TV. It showed nature scenes while playing different relaxing music. That helped me get through the night. Oh, and my husband showed up about an hour later, that helped too!

At about 9 am on Tuesday, I felt like I had to push. I didn’t want to alert people to this until I was sure, though, so I spent a couple of contractions doing some weird coping dance on my side. Finally, I realized that it really was show time (I hadn’t been checked since my water broke) and I called in the troops.

My midwife checked me and I was complete. She told me how to push without really moving (again, so not what I was planning). I pushed in that prone beetle position that all the women on TV use. The midwife kept telling me to “push up”. You know, because that really is quite possible from that position….

They brought me a great big mirror for the foot of the bed. Any person would hate the view from that position, but it was so helpful to me I didn’t care. I really think it made all the difference in the pushing. The midwife and nurse kept telling me that I was close, but I figured they told everyone that. Once I saw that I really was close, I let loose.

My husband, who initially didn’t even want to be in the birth room when asked 9 months ago, was the ultimate labor coach. I’m close to tears every time I think about how great and supportive and encouraging he was. And I think my labor was ickier than most, so he really did go above and beyond all expectations.

After 10 pushing attempts, I got the head out. After that contraction, I decided that I was really quite done with the whole experience and I wondered how I could go about the rest of my life with a partially birthed son between my legs. Lucky for me, no one else in the room thought that was a good idea.
So Owen was born after only 40 minutes of pushing. I had two small, internal tears. I can’t believe how well everything turned out, considering how sick I felt and how many interventions I had.

I am also so happy that I never called the doula back. What kind of labor support tells you you should just have a c-section? Thank goodness the staff and my husband were all the support I could ask for. Just wish I could get my money back.

The cord was cut by my husband (who really didn’t want to do it but was talked into it by the nurse) after it stopped pulsing. The placenta came out in one piece about 30 minutes later. Owen nursed right away and has been going at it with much gusto ever since.

I had to be on the meds for 24 hours after the birth. I wasn’t allowed to move or eat for that time. I was so, so happy when I finally got to taste something other than ice chips. They kept me for 48 hours after the birth in total. We’ve been home almost 24 hours now and things are going just fine (well, I could use some sleep but that pretty much comes with the territory).


I don’t think that things could have turned out any better for us, considering how sick I felt. The only thing that irks me from the experience is what I was told by my doula (Leo has since started calling her the "don't-a"). But I guess we’re on this planet to learn, and I will definitely not be calling her the next time around. I guess it was worth her fee to really discover what a wonderful man I married and how truly prepared he was to step up to the plate in my time of need.

Look how big those feet are!

Oh, I think the food poisoning is finally gone too. Thank goodness.

This was very far from the non-medicated birth that I had been planning, but I can't complain how things turned out.  I went from not in labor to having a baby in under 12 hours, with only 40 minutes of pushing.  And the recovery from all the meds hasn't been too bad. 


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