In this series we share birth stories of all kinds from mothers around the globe — with the hope that they inspire, educate and inform expecting mothers. Interested in sharing your birth story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more birth stories here.
On my due date (February 5th) I felt huge but happy, and since my last few doctor’s appointments showed no progression, we scheduled an induction for February 12th and I had a feeling we had at least a few more days before the baby made any moves. So that day I relaxed, went for some walks and got a manicure (I went with OPI’s It’s a Girl, thinking the name was very appropriate). The women at the nail salon almost fell off their chairs when I told them it was my due date, but I assured them I wouldn’t be going into labor in their salon!
That night, as Tom and I were eating dinner I felt some tummy cramps. I had a blissfully easy pregnancy so my instinct was that something was up, but they were really mild and went away fairly quickly. I slept as soundly as you can when you have a watermelon-size bump protruding from the front of your body, and woke up around 5am with more cramps. They were mild and dull, and happening every 10 minutes or so. Tom was awake with me, so he grabbed a notebook and pen and started timing everything.
At this point, I wasn’t in pain. The contractions were starting to last a little bit longer and come more frequently, but the pain was totally manageable. And coming from me, that’s really saying something because I can’t handle pain AT ALL. (In childbirth class they do a ‘pain test’ where they have you hold an ice cube in your palm for 60 seconds to see if you can tolerate it. I was the worst in the class and could only last a few seconds. Sigh.)
At about 7am we called my parents and told them we thought labor had started. I had heard so much about false labor so warned them that could be the case, but they got their things together, hopped in the car and drove up to the city. We also alerted my sister Nicki who lives in the city, and she ended up leaving work early to come over as well. Tom and I ordered breakfast from Sarabeth’s, watched the Today Show and timed contractions. It was so, so exciting but also felt very normal.
Once my parents arrived in the early afternoon, contractions started to get much more painful. Like really intense cramps that forced me to bend over or clutch my belly and really focus to get through them.
Since I am terrible with pain, and I really had no way of knowing how things were actually progressing (contractions were lasting about a minute but the pace at which they were coming was totally all over the place) we decided to head to the hospital. At that point it was about 4pm, and we had over 60 blocks to go in a taxi so I wanted to get a move on before rush hour traffic really started. My mom, Tom and I piled into the back of a cab and my dad, Nicki and Reese waited in the apartment. I remember debating which shoes to wear and my mom looked at me like I was nuts. ‘Who cares what shoes you wear!? You’re in labor!’ ‘It’s New York City! Everyone cares!!’ was my reply. Ha! In the end, I went with Nike sneakers, mainly since they were the only shoes that 1. fit on my swollen feet and 2. were appropriate enough for the freezing cold temperatures.
It was such a sunny day and the cab ride to the hospital was actually kind of fun. I had the window open as the fresh, chilly air really helped, and the driver was going as fast as he could (my mom had told him I was in labor) which was very sweet, and appreciated!
When we arrived at the hospital (Mount Sinai, on 98th Street & 5th Avenue), the nurse examined me and told me I was 2 cm dilated. (As I said above, very bad with handling pain.) Typically they would send someone home as that’s not very far along at all, but luckily they had a few open rooms and they let me stay. After some waiting around we got into the labor & delivery room and our nurse came in. She was the loveliest Irish woman and I don’t know what I would have done without her. She was so sweet and calm and chatty and wonderful. I knew I wanted an epidural, but my blood pressure had spiked because I was so nervous, and they can’t administer one when you have high blood pressure. At that point I was shaking, partially from the pain but more from the nerves, and I had such a hard time calming myself down. Our nurse somehow got me to relax enough that my blood pressure went down and the shaking subsided. Time for the drugs!!
I got the epidural at around 7pm. The anesthesiologist who administered it was brilliant – it was quick and painless, and kicked in fast. He explained that there is a button on the bedside that allows me to get more medicine every 15 minutes by clicking it. At that point, I didn’t want to touch it, since my plan was to have as low a dose of pain medicine as possible so I wouldn’t be too out of it.
The next few hours were great. I wasn’t feeling any pain, Tom brought me jell-o and apple juice and then climbed into the bed with me and we watched TV while my mom slept on the fold out chair. At around midnight, I started to feel a lot of pain, so the doctor came in to check me out. Unfortunately my doctor wasn’t on call, but we had one of the other doctor’s from the practice (there were three and I had met and had appointments with all of them) and she was wonderful. She let me know that the baby was face up instead of face down (the preferred position for delivery). Because of this, the baby’s back was against my back and I was experiencing back labor. It was so intense and painful. The anesthesiologist came back and upped the amount of medicine I was receiving but nothing helped in alleviating the pain on the left side of my back with each contraction.
It was agonizing and I clutched the hospital bed and repeatedly cried, ‘ow ow ow ow ow’ each time a contraction hit. Because of the pain, I was tensing up with each contraction instead of relaxing and letting them do their job – moving the baby down the birth canal. So, I was dilating like normal, but the baby wasn’t moving down. Not ideal.
At that point, the doctor told me that I had to start letting my body and contractions do their job, otherwise I was going to need to get a c-section. I was scared and I cried and told her it was so painful, and she basically whipped me into shape, saying she knew it was painful but I had to do it unless I wanted to go into the OR. I really wanted to avoid a c-section if I could, so I told her I could do this. Then they moved me to my side and elevated my leg onto some sort of wooden pedestal, which was meant to help turn the baby. They also upped my drugs again, which provided slight relief but only very temporarily. At that point, my mom was at my bedside pressing the ‘more drugs please’ button every 15 minutes on the dot and Tom was holding my hands.
The next several hours are a major blur of being in agony but trying to relax through the contractions, getting continuously pumped with more medicine and the doctor coming in to check on me. At around 7am, I had dilated 10cm and the baby had turned! SUCCESS! I was feeling majorly proud of myself which gave me the motivation I needed to start pushing. No one tells you that it takes a good hour for them to prep the room for delivery, so there was a lot of waiting around before the pushing began, but I was feeling so relieved that it was almost over, and excited to do my best to get this baby out.
I will spare you the details of what the doctor does with each contraction once the pushing starts, but I will say that this process is oddly satisfying because you push through a contraction, so it’s a really natural feeling plus it helps the pain. At that point, I had been in labor for about 28 hours and was so ready for it to be over. I stayed as focused as I possibly could and within about 45 minutes, Georgie was out! I was flooded with relief once I heard her cry and knew that she was healthy, and will never forget the feeling when they placed her on my chest. I hadn’t even seen her face yet, but I was rubbing her back which was the softest, most wonderful thing I had ever felt. Our sweet Georgina Rose was born on February 7th, 2015 at 9:37 am. She weighed a whopping 8 lbs. and was 19 & 3/4 inches long.
Tom and I felt so much happiness and once we saw her gorgeous little face we couldn’t stop staring. It’s a crazy feeling to go from not being a parent to being a parent in a split second. All of a sudden, you have a child! She’s right there, in the world with you! It’s surreal and it’s magical, and we are so lucky to be Georgie’s parents. We adore her.
Katherine pens the blog The Sugar Cain — follow her adventures in parenting here.