Our Birth Story, Part 4

So, the epidural.

Getting the epidural was TOUGH, but ultimately worth it.

The process took about 20 minutes. They make you hunch over your gigantic, contracting uterus at the edge of the bed, which should be added somewhere as a form of torture. The first needle, to numb the back, was the most difficult. It stung like a MF’er and I began sobbing. In fact, I pretty much cried or screamed during the entire thing. (Note to self: Tolerance for pain is low)

After the area is numbed, they stick the BIG needle in your back. I didn’t feel the needle going in, but I definitely felt the plastic catheter snaking down the inside of my spine. It was the strangest feeling. Strange in a terrifying, painful way that made me cry even harder. (Note to self: Control over emotions is low)

In another 20 minutes or so, life was good again. The bottom half of my body became numb and tingly. I still felt a good deal of pressure when the contractions hit, but for the first time in nine hours, I could open my eyes. And they gave me a button to press if I wanted more. Hooray for that button. Now that I had the epidural, I was stuck to the bed, but didn’t care at all. I was physically and emotionally exhausted at that point — and still had nine hours of labor to go!

At this point, I was about five centimeters.

Epidural Haze

The next several hours were a blur. I was dopey and sleepy, but didn’t actually fall asleep. At some point, the contractions began slowing down (surprise, surprise), so they administered Pitocin to speed them up. The docs consider this a labor “augmentation” not an “induction,” so still W00t! I vaguely remember wearing an oxygen mask for a while since the baby’s heart rate got a bit funky.

At 5:30 p.m., they checked me again. Baby’s heart rate was great and I was at 9.5 centimeters! We would begin pushing soon! ZOMG!!!!

We posted the status, and called the parents and sibling — get to the hospital now!! Everyone rushed over. Ash came back from her birthday party. It was very exciting. And then we waited…and waited…and waited. The midwives kept saying, “soon, soon,” but nothing was happening. Finally, just before 7:30, we got the green light.

Originally, I had wanted just Charles and I in the delivery room. But the midwives said someone else would have to help hold up my other leg. Of course, I wanted it to be my mother. Then I thought about all the great support that I had received from Charles’ mother and from Ashleigh, and I thought, “I’d really like Charlie to enter the world surrounded by all these amazing women.” And what a great gift I could give them to say thank you for all their help — to witness Charlie’s birth!!

So, we rallied the troops. We all got into position. They significantly lowered the epidural (so that I could feel the baby move down the birth canal). And I started to push.

Note: At this point, our nurse said I would probably deliver the baby within the hour. Charlie’s head was pretty low already, his heart rate was good, and my body was ready to go.

Famous last words.


Pushing was HARD.


I received a lot of advice about how to push. Mostly it involved poop. But I just couldn’t “get it.”

I know I was using those muscles because I actually pooped a few times (at this point, I really didn’t care what came out of that region and who saw it). The nurses continued trying to coach me. I would push, then Charlie would move forward; I’d stop, and he’d slide right back. A big head, they said. Having trouble getting past the pelvic bone.

Supportive husband

Quick shout out to Husband Charles, who was stationed at the left leg and was such a great coach. He counted through contraction so I’d know when to start pushing and when to stop. He never stopped encouraging me. He worked his ass off.

When Charlie got low enough, they brought me a mirror so that I could see him crowning. No words can describe that sight, especially since the baby had so much dark hair!! (TMI?)

The midwife put the MD on standby, and continued to check my progress. At some point, she took the MD off standby because it looked like Charlie was progressing fine down the birth canal. Cut to an hour later and I was still pushing, and pushing, and pushing.

By this time, the majority of the epidural had worn off, so I was feeling EVERYTHING.

I did not sense time pass.  I was incredibly focused and drawn within myself since I felt so much pain. I tried to listen to the words of encouragement, but I had no idea from which direction they came from.

About 10:15 p.m. — 2 hours and 45 minutes after pushing began — the MD gave me three options: 1) keep pushing, although it didn’t look like the baby would be delivered without some help, 2) Use a vacuum to keep him in place instead of sliding backward, a method which runs the risk of easily mendable broken bones and possible nerve damage, or 3) Have a C-section.

HELL NO, I thought. I have labored way too long for a C-section. But I also knew that I had no more energy to keep pushing. The risks for the vacuum seemed low. Let’s go with that option.

As soon as I said yes, the room went into overdrive. Nurses began paging people over the loudspeaker. About a dozen additional nurses and doctors suddenly converged in our birthing sweet. There was movement, and shuffling, and flurry, and LOTS of people were studying my vagina.

The next several moments were both a blur and crystal clear. When the midwife said, “Ready? PUSH,” I bared down as much as I possibly could and closed my eyes. I vaguely recall someone saying, “You’re doing it, you’re doing it.” I was focused on one thing: straining every muscle in my body. My mother said the doctor’s two hands were completely inside my body holding the head. ZOMG. Mostly I remember lots of pressure and lots of pain.

And suddenly, he slid out.


Those first few moments were amazing.

First moments

When he was born, I didn’t feel a great release of pressure like I expected — it was more like a change in pressure since my body still felt like it was on fire. I recall that lots of people were crying. One nurse exclaimed, “Look at those cheeks!” Then I heard Charlie cry.

I glanced down…and felt so overwhelmed that I went numb. In shock. Completely speechless.

Did that really just happen?

There he was…..My baby. My son. The one I had been waiting for my whole life.

I looked at his face, his squirmy arms, his jet-black hair.

Daddy's first look

Is this really my baby?

But he looks nothing like Charles!

There was some confusion over who would cut the umbilical cord. Originally, we wanted to keep Charlie attached to it as long as it was pulsing so that he could soak up as much cord blood as possible. But because of the long and vacuum-assisted labor, they needed to take him right away. Doc offered it to Charles, who said no. Then she offered it to one of the grandmothers, and I finally just screamed, “CUT IT!!”

Charlie was whisked away to the Peds and NICU people who were standing by. Charles left to be with him, along with the grandmothers.  Ashleigh stood by my side, cleaned up my sweat-soaked face, and kept telling me what an awesome job I’d done. I love you Ash!

The doctors looked over Charlie, and gave him a clean bill of health. As they brought him to me, I noticed his cone-shaped head (yay, birth canal!) and a mark where the vacuum was used.

They placed him in my arms………


Hello, my boy

That moment.





Hello, Charlie. I’m your mama.


Our new family

Ashleigh proved her awesomeness once again and shooed herself and both grandmothers out of the room immediately. I know they didn’t like that very much, but I had requested it as a condition of letting them witness the birth. I really wanted time to bond as a family.

Charles and I spent an hour crying over Charlie, studying his features, touching his face, crying some more.

We got so much time because Charlie had done some serious damage to my body. On his way out, I received a third-degree perineal tear, which means that my underside ripped from front to back. They bumped the epidural back up, but the epidural can’t reach the “back” area, so I felt every single stick going in and out of my skin. And there must have been 300 stitches.

It was a weird experience holding Charlie in my arms, being so focused on him, while screaming my head off because of the pain. Actually, I think there’s a picture of that somewhere.

On top of that, my uterus wouldn’t stop bleeding because I had been contracting and pushing for so many hours. After she took the placenta out, the doctor literally shoved some kind of cloth into my uterus and scraped out the insides to make sure no pieces had broken off. I also received some sort of shot to coagulate the blood.


Finally, the torture ended, and the two Charles and I were left with just one nurse. We ate a sandwich (it had been more than a day since I’d eaten anything) and drank a fountain of water. The nurses weighed Charlie: a chunky 8 lbs, 10 oz, 20 inches.

At some point, the nurse helped Charlie and I breastfeed for the first time. I had done a TON of research about breastfeeding, but nothing prepared me for how ….foreign….that experience was.

Soon Charlie snoozed off, and we got wheeled to our recovery room (a private room, W00t!!!). It was about 1:30 a.m. Charles got settled on the cot, and I got settled into stare in awe at my baby boy.

We did it!

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2 Responses to Our Birth Story, Part 4

  1. Pingback: 8-Week Appointment | Hour 23

  2. Pingback: Letters to Charlie: On Your Second Birthday | Hour 23

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