I have been wanting to write out my birth story for a while now, before the details start to fade away. I want to be able to tell my little girl the story how she was born, and how much she was loved.
Little Olivia Grace took her sweet time. 40 weeks of pregnancy came and went. Still no sign of my little butterfly making its way out of my cocoon. I felt huge, exhausted, and nervous as this was to be my first birth.
My doctor decided to tentatively schedule me for an induction for the morning of February 25, but he assured me that Olivia would most likely come on her own before then. In the meantime he told me to relax, get a lot of sleep, and enjoy my free-time. Yeah, ok. Easy for you to say! My husband, Jay, tried his best to distract me. We went on our 3-year anniversary date and got to enjoy a little bit of “us” time before any baby birthing signs began.
The next two weeks dragged on… I remember thinking, none of my other expecting friends delivered this late, is this normal? Is something wrong? Friends would comment, “you’re still pregnant?” and “wow, my doctor never let me go that long!” and “oh you poor thing, hang in there.” The sympathy was nice, but after a while I was just over it, being pregnant, everything.
I remember getting so many glances from strangers, just dripping with pity. “Yes, I’m huge & miserable!” I was so anxious to meet my daughter and hold her in my arms for the first time, and I was nervous about the daunting task of labor & deliver awaiting me, but the stares… they were a little ridiculous! I remember a lot of waiting, and a lot of praying that everything would go smoothly… that both Olivia and I would get through the birth safely.
The morning of my scheduled induction date came, and still no Olivia. After 42 weeks still nice and cozy in my belly, she had decided NOT to make an appearance on her own, so we left for the hospital to begin moving things along. Up until that point I was only having some gentle contractions every hour or so, but nothing major or consistent. We had stayed the night at my mom and dad’s so we could be closer to the hospital, and before we left we all prayed together for a fast, easy, and safe delivery for mommy and baby!
We went in at 7am. I still wasn’t dilating so the doctor gave me a cervical ripener to get things moving. We had to do two rounds of this… and each round took about 4 hours, but this wasn’t helping much. Unfortunately, I had to progress to at least 3 cm dilated before the doctor could break my water, which didn’t happen until around 2 or 3pm… and then things started moving along much quicker.
The last few hours flew by until around 9pm or so when we discovered I was 10cm dilated. Finally!! It was time to start pushing. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but I knew I couldn’t delay. I was thinking, “I just have to get through it – no turning back now. This baby is coming!”
This is when things got really rough. I pushed for 2 and a half hours, but Olivia was stuck and her blood pressure was dropping. The doctor suggested that she might be kind of at a crooked angle and was getting stuck at my pelvic bone, and could possibly have the cord stuck around her head. He told me this happens all the time, and babies are sometimes born with the cord still loosely around their head. We were going to keep monitoring her heartbeat, but she was probably fine.
I continued pushing for what seemed like forever, which was hands-down the hardest work I had ever done in my life. After some time, the doctor told us we would have to use suction to get Olivia out or else I would need an emergency C-section. A C-section was the last thing I wanted, but I wasn’t thrilled about the suction either, so I began to argue with the doctor. I asked him if I could keep trying to push a little longer on my own. I felt like I could keep going… but he convinced me that suction would be the safest route for me and the baby, because she was still stuck after very little progress, and I had been pushing for so long. Getting the suction in place was probably the most pain I ever felt, especially since my numbing juice had worn off. Nobody warned me how bad putting the suction in would hurt. I was crying my eyes out at this point and hyperventilating a little but I kept pushing. The oxygen mask helped a little.
Jay and my mom were both there in the room with me, encouraging me, distracting me, holding my hands, and praying really hard. Soon, they saw the top of my Olivia’s head peeking out, and I heard my mom yell, “She’s got hair!!” I was too stressed to look because of the pain to watch the progress in the mirror. I was completely focusing on breathing and pushing and had my eyes closed tight. All of a sudden the doctor told me to stop pushing. Everything went quiet for a few moments and I asked, “Is everything ok?” Those were quite possibly the longest few moments of my life as I waited for his answer.
It turned out Olivia’s hand was coming out next to her face, which is called dual-presentation. This was why she had been so stuck for those two and a half hours with such little progress! There just wasn’t quite enough room for her to move down the birth canal properly. I had to stop pushing and basically wait as the doctor did an emergency episiotomy. That was not fun… Definitely not what I wanted, but I would have torn even worse pushing out her head and the hand together like that. After he finished cutting me to make more room, I worked through the last batch of pushes and got Olivia’s head all the way out. Then the rest of her body came out easily. At 11:51PM on February 25th, Olivia Grace was born, after 16 hours of labor.
Within seconds, the doctor plopped Olivia’s tiny little body in my arms. I was still in shock and crying, and it took me a few minutes to calm down, but I remember feeling such a wave of overwhelming relief. I had made it through the hardest experience of my life, and now I was holding this little person in my arms that I had been waiting to meet for 9+ months, and had been praying about for years. So there she was, crying just a little, but then she looked up at me with those little blue eyes. I kept telling her through my own tears, “I love you baby… are you okay? It’s okay, baby…” over and over. She stopped crying right away when she heard my voice. I cried some more. I am sure some of my tears where from being in shock after the trauma I had just been through, but I know some of it was relief to finally have her in my arms, safe and sound.
The doctor started to stitch up the episiotomy at this point, and there were more tears on my part through that process as well because the epidural was long gone by that point. He kept telling me just to keep my eyes on Olivia and keep talking to her. I think that was why he rushed to put her on me, to distract me from what he was doing.
The funny thing is I didn’t instantly feel a love-bond to Olivia when they first handed her to me, like I expected. I took my first look at her, but I was still in shock, and it took me a while to compose myself and relax. The first emotion was really just plain and simple relief that it was all over… but as I kept holding her and looking at her face I started to get to know her and fall in love with her, just shortly after. I think there was just a bit of a delay because of my mental state from the delivery.
I remember Olivia looked really grey for the first hour or so from the stress of delivery, like many babies do. She weighed exactly 7 pounds and measured 18 ½ inches long. She had a cone-head from the suction, but she was beautiful and she was perfect. I remember being surprised at how alert and calm she was within minutes of being born as she looked right at me. It was like she recognized me or something… just amazing! It was astonishing to me how God had knitted this little person together in my womb for nine months, and knowing that Jay and my love for each other had a part in bringing her to this earth.
Looking back, I would say a lot of my pregnancy and early labor was relatively easy. It was hard going but surprisingly not as hard as I imagined it would be until that last 2 and a half hours. The epidural definitely helped! I would have loved to be able to do it without any drugs, but in the end I had nothing to prove, no one’s hero to be, I just had to get me and my baby through it any way I could.
Now the delivery itself was really rough, MUCH worse than I imagined. I don’t think there was anything anyone could have said to really prepare me for what I went through. The best way I can describe it is, a huge juxtaposition between major trauma and my biggest joy. My situation was not a typical delivery. It was miserable in many ways but somehow God gave me this superhuman courage, strength, and endurance to push my baby girl out. I don’t know how else I was able to go on pushing through for so long. I am so grateful that He kept us both safe, and we did not have to have a c-section. I got to hold her in my arms right away, and that meant the world to me. I don’t know if I have ever felt as close to God as I did during my delivery.
I could not have done it without my wonderful husband or my mom. They were there with me through the whole process. They were an awesome team, got me anything I needed, helped me in and out of bed, encouraged me. I was so lucky to have them. I also took comfort in knowing my dad and brothers, and my mother and father-in-law were in the lobby, pacing and praying for us the whole time. I was definitely not alone.
If you have a minute, check out Carly’s blog over at Creating-Mom.com. She recently posted a great blog about her birth experience and recovering from her own birthing challenges. Check it out and give her some love!