I wanted to share Ellie’s birth story before I completely forget. I’ve already blacked out some of it – which I’ve heard is nature’s way of getting you to be ok with doing it all over again.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. My blood pressure was moderately high (it had never been high before or earlier in my pregnancy), I had protein in my urine, and my leg/foot swelling was pretty severe. As much as this condition was frustrating/uncomfortable and can lead to serious complications…I thankfully wasn’t in a lot of pain. I ended up working the last three weeks of my pregnancy from home to keep my blood pressure down. There was a point when this bummed me out a lot but… 1) I was lucky to have the flexibility to work from home and 2) I needed to let go of the unrealistic expectation of working up until my due date like other women I know. It just wasn’t in the cards for me.
Because of the preeclampsia I was closely monitored towards the end and they typically induce you around the 37 week mark vs. let you go with it for too long. My doc had me induced at 38 weeks and a couple days. We both felt better knowing I had passed the 37 week mark which is considered full term these days.
I went into Beth Israel on a Wednesday night. I was given cervidil around 11pm. Then it was a waiting game and the nurses came by periodically to check on me. I was given 2 doses. At 3am Thursday morning my water broke. I was wide awake and remember feeling a weird pop and a rush of fluid. Nick was sound asleep. It was then that I realized my husband can fall sound asleep anywhere at the drop of a dime. I paged the nurses and they came right in.
I had this impression that things would speed up after this point. Not really! My cervix took a few more hours to totally efface. During this time, I was having bad cramping and opted for a narcotic (I think it was fentanyl) to help with the pain. I was too early for the epidural and the medicine they gave me didn’t take away the pain it just made me feel woozy – but I was able to calm down a bit and nod off. Up until then I was just sitting up watching the clock and wanting to punch Nick for snoring.
Once I started dilating they moved us to a delivery room. At this point, I was progressing pretty well. I honestly can’t remember exact timing but once I hit 2 centimeters, I asked for the epidural. It was honestly the unknown of “will this pain get worse??” that convinced me I needed the epidural right then. I was nervous getting the epidural would hurt but it wasn’t that bad at all. I was nervous it would totally numb me, but I could still feel my toes which I was happy about and it completely took away the severe cramping that is contractions.
It wasn’t until Thu night that it was actually time to push. Since you are able to administer the epidural dosing to yourself (although they regulate it to a button press every 20 mins or so) I was fully numb below the waist except for my toes. In hindsight I wish I didn’t let myself get that numb as I couldn’t feel if my pushing was actually “working”/focused on the right area! The nurses kept telling me to push like I was trying to poop. I had a ridiculous fear of pooping while pushing. It was honestly distracting because I kept thinking I pooped myself in front of everyone. In hindsight, this was a complete waste of energy. Don’t do what I did and preoccupy your mind with a silly worry like this. Just remember, the nurses have seen it all!
I had also told the nurses that Nick was going to hold a leg while pushing but he’d stay up near my shoulders. Also, in hindsight, this is hilarious because I didn’t want him to see “everything” and believe me when I say he saw IT ALL by the end of this production. There was no way around it. Just let it go. Any and all modesty goes out the window when you’re trying to get that baby out!
So there I was pushing for hours and every so often a doctor or resident would come by to check if Ellie was progressing. At first things were looking good. Then, boom, she was right at the birth canal. I kept pushing for hours and she did not budge. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. At one point, the doctor wanted me to push ‘one more hour’ and I asked for a short break because I felt so weak. I cried a bit because I was feeling discouraged.
It was around 1am Friday morning that I was totally zapped. There was talk of forceps or the vacuum – both of which freaked me out. I started to feel really frustrated because she literally wasn’t moving, and I felt like all my effort was useless. I asked to speak to the doctor and told myself to stay calm and avoid getting testy. I looked at the doctor and just asked her – based on her professional opinion, what should I do? She’s not moving. If she were moving, if even a tiny bit, I’d keep pushing, but this was getting to be too much. This is when she finally looked at me and said a c-section was my best option. That’s all I needed to hear. Ellie’s head was sideways, and she wasn’t coming out the natural way.
They needed to prep the OR and during this time both Nick and I passed out cold. I woke up around 2am being wheeled into the OR. I was delirious. For those who’ve been in an OR, it’s a freaky place. So bright and white!
They lay you out on the table and have your arms spread at your sides. Thankfully, they don’t strap them down because I would have lost it. Nick wasn’t in the room yet and because I was so tired and anxious – I started to feel really panicked. I had a moment or two where I thought I was going to have a panic attack but tried my best to control my breathing. The anesthesiologist administered the medicine through my epidural line and I was freaked out I’d lose total feeling in my lower body. Don’t get me wrong, you want to be numb for this surgery! The whole idea of being cut open on table while awake is unnerving. But I was glad that I could still feel my toes after the meds set in. And finally, Nick entered the room and I told myself “if anything went wrong he could carry me out.” Ha!
It felt like the actual c-section was pretty long. Ellie was stuck down there, and Nick said it was kind of crazy how my body rocked back and forth while they tried to dislodge her. I just laid there shaking and teeth chattering profusely. Apparently, this is a common side effect though.
Finally, she was out. At 2:53am on Friday, June 8th – almost 24 hours from the time my water broke, we heard a loud screech. It was such a relief to hear that sound. I remember thinking she sounded like a cat. They had Nick stand up to see her. And lucky him he also got to see my insides on the table (gross!) because they hadn’t put me back together yet. Like I said earlier, by the end of this he saw EVERYTHING.
They had Nick get up and go over to the station where they clean her up, weigh her, and cut the umbilical cord. It was weird to know she was “here” but I had to wait what felt like at least 5-10 minutes to actually meet/see her. I wasn’t all starry-eyed waiting for her. I was still shaking and wanted to just get the hell out of the OR. When they finally brought her over – I couldn’t believe how small and cute she was! And thank god – healthy.
Once they put me back together and transferred me to a gurney – the nurse held her out and asked if I wanted to hold her. I started to feel sick and the last thing I wanted was to hold her and get sick. So, there I was – barfing up a storm while everyone stood around me. I was finally able to hold her in the recovery area. All was right in the world and she was truly the most beautiful little thing I’d ever seen.
My recovery experience at Beth Israel was really positive. I know how lucky we are to have a healthy baby despite a somewhat tricky labor and delivery. I am grateful that I gave birth at BI.
What also helped was I didn’t go in with a strict birth plan. I had filled out this questionnaire (designed by Earth Mama Organics) that gave me a good sense of some considerations but I had decided long ago there was no use to go in with a plan because like many things, I knew I wouldn’t have control over this situation. I was somewhat upset I ended up with a c-section, but it wasn’t as bad because I went in telling myself “you just don’t know what will happen” and in the back of my mind a c-section was always a possibility. Especially because I was induced. The probability of a c section is higher when you are induced.
My advice would be – let go of any master plans or big expectations. Also, no two birth experiences are the same so don’t get too caught up on other people’s stories. It was really only so helpful to read / hear other people’s stories. Some people freaked me out while others made it seem so easy.
And that’s Ellie’s birth story. I can’t believe it’s been 7 week since then. If you have any questions – ask me in the message section. I’m happy to share more content on this/related topics! fitness during pregnancy? c-section recovery? what to pack in your hospital bag? you name it!