*WARNING: There are 2 photos of Evan’s birth at the bottom of this post that may be considered graphic in nature. If this bothers you, do not read or scroll down.*
Everyone has a birth story. This is Evan’s.
I drove to the OB, 38 weeks and some-odd days pregnant. I felt like the baby was going to fall out, but having had to be induced with my first son, I wasn’t sure that my body really knew how to go into labor. In the office, I looked my doctor in the eye and asked him flat-out about induction and their policy on it. I explained about my difficulties in recovery from giving birth to my first son, who weighed in at almost 9 pounds. He didn’t hesitate. He said that the baby was full term and that he would induce me on Monday at 6am if I didn’t go into labor before then. I left the office dilated to 3cm.
Of course he will, that’s what I’d asked him for. But still. The air drained from the room and suddenly all my body parts seemed to weigh double. A baby. On Monday. Deep breath: “OK”.
I took those last few days to completely clean my house, finish all the little “to do’s” that remained on my list and get mentally prepared for the task at hand. At least, as mentally prepared as one can get for this.
I woke up early Monday morning and, grasping at the last strings of control in my life, I showered, straightened my hair and put on makeup. Jeff laughed, “Getting ready for your closeup?”
We drive in the mostly dark morning in silence, with nothing but a smile between us, as if to say “Well, here we go.” I grab my bags when Jeff drops me at the front door and I walk up to Labor and Delivery like I’m checking into a hotel. My doctor had forgotten to tell them that he had scheduled me for induction, but that didn’t seem to slow things much or keep me from landing the corner room with all the windows. Everyone called it “the nice room”. I walk in the room and my stomach flips over as I look around. This is where it’s all going to happen. Before I walk out of this room, there will be a baby and I will bring it into this world. I try to convince myself to be brave.
Paperwork is signed and we settled into our room. A nurse comes to get an IV started. Another nurse, Kristen, who will be the one to stay with me throughout the birth, comes in and checks my cervix. I am still dilated to a 3, the baby is high and my cervix is still at about half thickness.
Around 9:00, Kristen starts the pitocin. About 30 second later my first contraction hits. They continue at about 3 minutes apart for a while. They weren’t too painful and I tell them that I will be fine without any medication just yet. The doctor comes in and checks me shortly after and pronounces me to be at 4 cm. He says that he will be coming back around 11:00 to check again. Kristen uppes the pitocin and the contractions quicken to 2 minutes apart and are getting more powerful. At 11:00, I am a 5 and he tells me that he’ll be coming back to break my water as soon as I have my epidural. I am still managing the pain at this point, but I imagine that I would not like to feel the breaking of my water, so I agree for the epidural to be started. Kristen says she’ll come in and empty my bladder after they are done with the epidural and water-breaking fun.
I’m pretty much a pain wimp. But, then again, who really LIKES to feel pain? I had difficulty with my first epidural (with my first son) not really fully taking until just before I began to push with my first son. When Kim, the anesthesiologist nurse comes in, we talk about this. She communicates it to the really tall guy with the plateful of needles and other tools. They talk about how to make it better. To me, all blah blah blah. I’m thinking that they should just do it. He does. Getting an epidural is a scary thought, but the actual happening is completely not a big deal. To me, the scariest part is that it makes me shake. Kim tells this happens a good bit with these meds. It feels like a combination of being a little cold and having an adrenaline rush.
The doctor comes back and breaks my water at around 1:30. Good Lord, the sheer amount of gushing liquid is so odd. I think that I’m glad this didn’t happen while I was sitting on my couch or walking through a store. Gross.
The shaking stops, the pain of contractions is non-exsistent, though I can watch them happen back-to-back on the monitor. I fall asleep and Kristen does not come back to empty my bladder right away. I don’t know how long I sleep, but I think it’s around 2:30 when she comes back in. Kristen runs a catheter in to empty my bladder and I immediately notice that I can feel what she’s doing. And it hurts. When I pull away and say “OUCH!”, she looks surprised. I shouldn’t be feeling it. But I am. She finishes quickly, checks and finds that I’m dilated to 7cm and leaves. I start to feel more within minutes. It’s an intense downward pressure, similar to something scraping against by entire backside. The feeling is taking my breath away. I look at the monitor and I can see that as soon as one contraction ends, another begins. And at the tip of the contraction peak, I hurt. Bad. My finger goes quickly to the NURSE!!!! button on the bed.
Kristen is back and I tell her that I am in a lot of pain. She calls Kim, who comes quickly and ups my medication. By this time, I can’t contain screams when the pain hits. I’m jerking my head from side to side and I can’t breathe or talk through it. She’s asking me questions about where it hurts and my “pain level” and I’m not answering her. Her questions are pissing me off. Earlier she’d joked that a 10 would be right up there with having your leg chewed off by a shark. So, I manage to get out a “10” through clenched teeth. I’m grabbing for hands and bed rails at this point. Kim and Kristen are talking, speculating that what I am feeling is the baby’s head quickly coming down. Kristen checks me and with wide eyes says that I am “fully dilated and my cervix is completely gone”. It’s time to push.
The doctor is called. People are running down the hallway, wheeling things into my room. Kim gives me a shot of something that you get right before pushing, but I hear her say that it’s not going to have time to take effect. They are putting on hats, turning on lights, taking my bed apart. There are suddenly a lot of people in my room. My only thought is that whatever is about to happen, I am going to feel. Sure, people feel their babies being born all the time – by choice. But this wasn’t mine and I was scared. I’m laying on my back. My legs are in the air. I never understood what it meant when someone said they felt like they needed to push, but at that moment, I understood.
The nurse holds my hand. My husband is on the other side. I hear “on the next contraction you’re going to push”. Seconds later, I’m pushing and the nurse is counting to 10 and I can FEEL the baby move slightly, but it doesn’t make the pain go away. I’m screaming. I don’t even think about how loud I am or whether it might be bothering anyone. I hear things like “focus”, “get mad at the pain”, “push where you feel the pain”. I alternate with a push and then stopping. In 5 pushes, Evan comes out. When his head is out, I feel instant relief. The doctor clears his mouth and he cries. The sound is beautiful. That sound means life. The tears are flowing and I feel like I was mumbling something like “Oh my goodness”. Jeff is saying our son’s name and “Mandi, look at him” I watch the doctor pull Evan completely out and cut the umbilical cord.
The doctor lays Evan on my lap. Every part of me is shaking from the adrenaline and the medications. But I am holding my son and he looks so perfect. One of the nurses takes him from me to clean him up and get his measurements. I hear 7 pounds, 12 ounces from across the room. 20 and 1/2 inches long. Time of birth is 3:03. Later that evening, Kim tells me that he was born only about 20 minutes after she walked into the room. I never would have guessed that. Time really lost meaning and seemed to slow so that I saw each second tick by, so I experienced it fully. Kristen told me that my bladder was so full that it was keeping Evan’s head from dropping down. When she emptied it, he moved right into position for birth.
Ironically, when it was over, I was sort of glad that I got to feel Evan being born. This is our last child and my last chance for that experience. And, though I wouldn’t have chosen it, it definitely fell into the category of amazing.
One thing is for sure, giving birth is one of the most difficult things that anyone ever does, but it is also the most miraculous.