This next birth story is one that is close to me, my good friend Megan and I were pregnant at the same time. Our due dates were less than a month apart and it was exciting to have a friend who was entering motherhood at the same time.
Megan's water broke before the onset of labor, which is called premature rupture of membranes (PROM). This is how we all think labor starts because of what we see in movies and on television. However, only about 8-10% of women experience their waters breaking before labor begins.
Megan's second baby is due any day now. Please send positive thoughts her way!
To be honest, I never thought too extensively or specifically about how I wanted to deliver my baby. I read a ton of articles, blogs, and books but decided that I wanted to let my body do what it needed to do without too much intervention. I guess I was sort of going to “wing it" and prayed only for a healthy baby.
Emilia was due August 8, 2015. 3 weeks earlier, my mom visited to finish preparing for the baby's arrival - we went shopping and got pedicures. Then on July 22 at 3AM, my water broke. My husband, James, and I were completely shocked - and so glad we had just packed a hospital bag only a week prior. Off to the hospital we went, all the while wondering why I didn't feel any of the pain or cramping that everyone talks about.
Turns out, that was because my water had broken without being in labor. When we arrived at the hospital, I wasn't dilated at all. Due to the risks of infection and stress to the baby when water breaks without labor, I was immediately strapped to a monitor. My visions of walking the halls and finding comfortable positions for labor were essentially over; I was stuck in a bed. After hours of waiting and a full dose of pitocin, the contractions finally came.
Emilia is my first child so I don’t have a comparison -- but from what I have read and experienced, pitocin-induced contractions are a monster of their own. They are extremely intense and come on very quickly. Unfortunately I couldn't move out of the bed to make myself comfortable, so I relied solely on breathing. James watched the monitors to tell me when the contractions were coming and going, and his hand never left mine. I lasted about 4 hours before I couldn't handle the pain any longer, and asked for an epidural.
21 hours after my water breaking, on July 23 at 12:30AM, it was finally time to push. Emilia was in the occiput posterior position, or face up. This means that the largest and hardest part of her head was in my lower back. She kept getting stuck in my pelvis. I couldn't feel the contractions coming because of my epidural, so the doctor instructed me when to push and for how long. Every minute or so, I braced behind my knees -- and with the help of the nurses and James holding my legs, I pushed. For two hours.
At 2:47 AM, Emilia was born! When James announced to the room “It’s a girl,” it was as if the world stopped. I don't remember anyone else being there in that moment except me and her. She didn’t cry for a full minute -- the longest minute of my life -- but she finally let out a tiny cry. I could breathe again. She was here! The emotion is indescribable. I was overcome with pride and excitement; I was not afraid or nervous.
Emilia was born alert with her eyes wide open. As soon as they laid her on my chest, she tried to lift her head. At the time, I thought she was trying to look at me -- but now I realize that she was ready to eat. I regret not taking all the time I needed with Emilia before allowing any visitors in. I didn’t get to attempt breastfeeding until over an hour after she was born. I learned later that the first 20 to 30 minutes after birth is the best window for the first feed -- I will not make that mistake again. Breastfeeding was a challenge to say the least. Emilia and I had problems with latching, which led to problems with weight gain. I tried exclusively pumping for awhile, every three hours around the clock. It was exhausting and emotionally draining, and my milk just never came in as fully as I needed it to. When I began formula feeding, Emilia's weight gain improved -- but an even bigger change was in my emotional well-being. I could finally stop the pressure I was putting on myself, stop shaming myself for “failing” at breastfeeding, and finally enjoy every single minute with my baby girl. My second child is due any day now and I can’t wait to see what his birth story will be.