Now that Evie is a whole month old (!!!), I figured I should finally share her birth story! I’ll start where I left off in my 40-week pregnancy update:
On Thursday, April 28, my alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I relaxed in bed for a few minutes before getting up. I noticed some minor tightening low in my abdomen — nothing painful, but definitely noticeable. It happened again about 10 minutes later. Could these be real contractions?
I started working from home at 7 a.m., and continued to experience the tightening every 10 minutes or so. I figured these had to be contractions, so at 9 a.m. I began timing them using an app I’d downloaded.
The contractions were never perfectly regular, but the app tracked the average frequency and duration over time (for the last hour, last six hours, etc.) and they continued to be about 30 seconds long and 10 minutes apart until I stopped working at 3 p.m. Lots of Googling revealed that these contractions were consistent with early labor — the real thing! Woo-hoo!
Aaron and I figured this would be our last night as just the two of us, so we decided to go out to dinner. I showered and finished packing the hospital bag to bring with us, just in case. While I was getting ready, the (still painless) contractions increased in frequency to 7 minutes apart. By the time we left to go out to dinner at 6 p.m., they were closer to 5 minutes apart.
We got to the busy restaurant around 6:10 and waited about 15 minutes for a table. While we waited, we watched a mom with two young boys become increasingly frustrated with her kids as they played with little bouncy balls and made a ruckus in the waiting area. She asked them to give her the balls and go wash their hands in the restroom, but they blatantly defied her and kept on playing. Finally they complied, and she turned to us, looked at my giant pregnant belly, and said: “Good luck. I hate them.”
Aaron and I were horrified. Who says that about their kids, and to complete strangers, no less?? I tried to laugh it off and told her I was actually in labor at the moment, and she proceeded to give me all sorts of advice on what kind of epidural to get. I smiled and nodded politely while secretly deciding to ignore any advice from someone who trash-talks her children. (I’m sure she doesn’t actually hate her kids and just said that in a moment of extreme frustration, but Aaron and I agreed we would never say that about our child. We may not like her very much at times, but we’d never hate her.)
Anyway, we were finally seated at a table, then promptly forgotten by the restaurant staff. We ate chips and salsa and waited for 10 or 15 minutes for someone to come take our order, but no one did.
By this time, my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart, about 45 seconds long, and becoming painful. I told Aaron my order and went to use the restroom. As I walked back to our table, the contractions were painful enough that I worried we’d need to go to the hospital before we finished dinner. Aaron was in the middle of ordering, but I interrupted and said we should probably get our food to go, or just bag the whole thing completely. Since the restaurant was so busy, we decided to just leave, and the waitress felt so bad that she gave us a $30 gift certificate. Score!
I was upset about not eating dinner since I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat once I was admitted to the hospital, but the contractions were becoming too painful for me to feel very hungry anyway. As we made the short drive to the hospital, I tried to call the birth center to let them know we were coming, but I’d put the wrong number into my phone and got the voicemail for the closed OB/GYN office instead. I scrambled to find the correct phone number online and couldn’t, and got really irrationally upset. I was all like, “We’re supposed to call ahead! We can’t just show up!” Aaron assured me it would be fine, but I was beyond reason at that point and practically in tears.
We left the hospital bag in the car (in case we got sent home) and went straight to the birth center. As we walked up to the front desk, I burst into tears, still upset over not having called ahead. The staff was kind of baffled by this, and rightly so. 🙂 It was about 7:00.
A nurse weighed me, then brought me to a triage room, put a fetal monitor around my belly, and checked my cervix. I was definitely in labor, she said, but I was still only 3 centimeters dilated — the same I’d been the day before, when my doctor swept my membranes. This was frustrating to discover after a full day of contractions! She told me to go walk around the lobby for a while, then come back at 8:30 to be checked again.
Aaron and I went to the lobby, and I quickly decided I didn’t want to be talked to or touched at all. The contractions were becoming more and more painful, and any additional stimulus felt unbearable. So Aaron settled into a chair while I walked big, slow loops around the main floor of the hospital by myself, sometimes going outside when I got too hot inside. Every time a contraction hit, I sank onto the nearest chair or bench and closed my eyes to ride it out.
I’m not going to lie: This part really, really sucked, and felt like it took forever. Based on the increasing pain of the contractions, I figured I’d for sure be ready to be admitted at 8:30, but alas — it wasn’t so. I was still only 3 centimeters dilated! I couldn’t believe I could be in that much pain and not have made any progress.
The nurse gave us a few options: I could go back to the lobby and continue walking around to encourage progress, or go home and try to relax for a while. She said she could give me a shot of morphine to dull the pain of the contractions and help with the latter option. I couldn’t imagine continuing to walk around, so I opted to get the morphine and go home.
Almost immediately after she gave me the shot, I threw up violently all over the floor several times. Hello again, chips and salsa! I guess it was a good thing I hadn’t eaten dinner after all. That was the only time I ever threw up during my entire pregnancy.
We live about 5 minutes away from the hospital, so going home wasn’t a huge deal. I felt sleepy from the morphine, so I don’t really remember the drive. Aaron got me settled in bed, then made himself some food since we’d missed dinner. I wasn’t hungry at all.
I don’t know how much time passed, but it felt like it was only 10 minutes or so before the contractions became excruciatingly painful. The nurse had said the morphine wouldn’t really help once I was in active labor, and that’s when we should go back to the hospital. I was determined not to get sent home again, though, and wanted to ride it out at home for a good amount of time to make sure of that.
The morphine allowed me to relax in a dreamy, half-asleep state in between contractions, but every time one hit, it felt so horrible. I don’t know how to describe the pain other than it was way, way worse than I had ever imagined. I hugged my body pillow in between contractions, then dealt with them by getting on all fours and burying my face into the bed with my backside still up in the air. It didn’t help the pain much, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time.
Aaron came up to check on me and immediately suggested we go back to the hospital after he saw how much pain I was in. I think it was about 10:30 p.m. at that point. Somehow I made my way down to the car, then firmly closed my eyes for the ride back to the hospital — even looking at things hurt.
We had to go in the emergency room entrance since the main hospital entrance was closed, and I sat in a wheelchair while we waited for someone from the birth center to come and escort us up there. I still had my eyes closed and was miserably squirming around in the chair with every horrible contraction.
Finally, someone came and wheeled me straight to a labor room. I was 6 centimeters dilated and they said I could get an epidural right away — HURRAY!!!!! I was like yasssssss, give it to me nowwwwww!
I had always pictured laboring in a hospital room for hours on end, bouncing on a birthing ball, laboring in the tub, etc. But NOPE, I went straight to the drugs.
I think it was about 11:00 by the time we got settled into the room, and Aaron says I got the epidural around 11:30. This part is really fuzzy in my memory since I still had my eyes closed and was in so much pain. I think Aaron finally texted our family and friends at this point to let them know we were in the hospital, but pretty much everyone was asleep. We hadn’t wanted to alert people earlier in case it was a false alarm.
Here are some pre-epidural photos. NOT LOVING LIFE.
I hear a lot of women say they’re afraid to get an epidural because of the giant needle used to administer it, but I had no anxiety about it and sure as hell didn’t care about any sort of pain I might have compared to the pain of the contractions. I had a dream epidural experience and only felt a few minor needle pricks from the initial numbing injections in my lower back. Aaron said the procedure was gnarly looking, but I didn’t feel a thing.
GIVE ME THE GOOD STUFF, DOC.
I wanted to kiss that guy, or possibly name our kid after him. The epidural is the greatest invention of all time.
Once it kicked it, I was able to smile and relax! Just as no words can describe the pain of the contractions, no words can describe the relief I felt. I was pleasantly numb from about the waist down, but I could still partially feel and move my legs. Most importantly, I felt zero pain.
If you have given birth without drugs, I salute you. That shit is crazy.
Our doctor was on call that night, so she popped in and it was so nice to see a familiar face. She told us to get some rest, and we tried our best to sleep. My breathing felt really shallow for some reason and I kept worrying that I’d drift off to sleep and stop breathing completely, so I tossed and turned and I’m not sure how much sleep I really got. But I must have gotten some because it seemed like just minutes went by before the doctor woke us up around 1:00 a.m. to check me.
I was 8 centimeters dilated, and she said my water was so close to breaking that she could easily break it and deliver our baby before her shift was over at 7:30. I told her to go for it! This was pretty uneventful, since I couldn’t feel it. Someone cleaned it up, and we went back to sleep.
The next thing we knew, our doctor woke us up around 2:00 a.m. and said, “You’re 10 centimeters! Do you want to start pushing and have this baby?”
I had that weird feeling you get when you’ve woken up from a nap in the middle of the day and don’t quite know where you are or what time it is, and I was sort of confused and shocked that it was already time to do this thing! Wasn’t there more, like, laboring I was supposed to do? All I did was sleep!
Because my doctor had phrased it as a question, I turned to Aaron and was like, “Should we do this now?” as if it were actually a decision to make. Duh, of course we do this now!
I began pushing at 2:18 a.m. We had not taken any birthing classes, so I had no idea what to do, but there were plenty of people to instruct me. A few nurses watched the monitor to let me know when a contraction was coming, and then when they said go, I took a deep breath, held it, and pushed for 10 seconds, then repeated that twice more (so three sets of pushing for 10 seconds per contraction).
At first I felt like I was pushing more with my face, since I couldn’t feel anything below and didn’t know how to direct my energy down there, but they told me to push like I was pooping, and to try to “poop up” toward the ceiling. Ummm, OK? I tried my best to do that, and they said yes, that was great!
No wonder it’s common for women to actually poop during labor! (For the record, I didn’t.)
The nurses did such a great job of encouraging me through each pushing session, and I was able to relax completely between contractions. Sometimes I’d go several minutes between contractions and almost fall asleep because I was so relaxed! I felt no pain the entire time, and it seemed to fly by.
Aaron was also very encouraging, but since I wasn’t in pain, I didn’t need to squeeze his hand or anything like I’d imagined I would. His main job was to give me sips from my cup of water every now and then. Plus, he took great photos — especially of the baby actually coming out! He stayed up by my left shoulder and didn’t get any super-graphic images, but I think it’s better to keep those ones private anyway.
I pushed for an hour and a half before Evelyn June Pass made her grand entrance at 3:50 a.m. I was fully alert and watched in awe as the doctor pulled her body out. When she was midway out, Aaron snapped a priceless photo of me looking back at him with tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face.
I felt such an incredible mix of joy, love, and disbelief as the doctor placed Evie on my chest and a nurse wiped her down. She let out a big, healthy cry right away.
She was a vibrant purple color with dark hair and a funny cone-shaped head. 🙂
Her skin gradually became pink as I looked down and tried to see her sweet face. I kept asking Aaron, “What does she look like?? Is she cute?”
Of course she was — the cutest in the world. 🙂
She gives a good stink eye. That’s my girl!
I did tear during the delivery, so my doctor quickly stitched me up, and I delivered the placenta without much effort. Aaron cut the umbilical cord and Evie stayed on my chest for quite a while before being weighed and measured. She was 9 pounds even…
…and 20.5 inches long.
We had trouble getting her to latch on my breast to eat, so a nurse showed me how to hand-express colostrum (the earliest form of milk) into a little cup while Aaron danced around the room with his daughter. Someone had tears in his eyes. 🙂
We stayed in the labor room feeding and getting to know her until around 7 a.m., when we moved to our recovery room. We were so exhausted, but so happy.
Look at that chubby little face!
Our parents — who basically woke up to the news that she had been born — all came and visited that day.
Evie was very sleepy and continued to have trouble latching. She wasn’t getting enough colostrum to stabilize her blood sugar, so I wound up using a hospital breast pump in order to feed her. We also supplemented with formula after the colostrum alone wasn’t enough.
The blood-sugar issue was stressful, as a nurse kept pricking Evie’s heel every few hours to test it, and even after she drank a good amount of formula (after refusing the bottle at first), her blood sugar was still low and nobody could figure out why. It finally leveled out the next day, and we were able to leave the hospital late Saturday night.
Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has said they also had some feeding-related issue with their baby after birth, so just know you are not alone if this happens to you! I had assumed breastfeeding would be natural and easy, but it definitely takes some practice.
We fed Evie a combination of formula and pumped breastmilk for several days after coming home from the hospital, as attempting to breastfeed was way too stressful for both of us at first. With the help of a nipple shield, we gradually transitioned to breastfeeding when I’m with her, and Aaron feeding her pumped breastmilk when I’m sleeping or away from her. We also bring a bottle of breastmilk when we’re out and about, as I’m not super comfortable with breastfeeding in public yet and it’s faster and easier to feed her with a bottle.
We feel so lucky that aside from a few bumps with feeding, Evie is perfectly healthy and a pretty easy baby. I’m also so grateful to have had a relatively fast, pain-free (after the glorious epidural), and positive birth experience! I think it helped me to go in with no expectations, as I wasn’t stressed about sticking to a specific birth plan or having things go perfectly — they just went the way they went. After getting so upset about not calling the hospital ahead of time, I can only imagine how awful I would have felt if I’d had a detailed birth plan and then things went awry!
Our hospital has photographers on hand to do newborn photo shoots, but because of all the blood-sugar drama, we didn’t get a chance to do one with Evie. When we got home, I was sad we’d missed the opportunity, so we called the hospital and were able to go back and do a quick shoot when she was four days old. I’m so glad we did!
It’s 2 a.m. as I finish writing this and Evie is snoozing on my chest. She’s almost five weeks old and so much bigger than she was in these photos! I can’t believe how quickly time is passing; I’m savoring every moment with her.
When I was pregnant, it was impossible to imagine what life would be like as a mom, but I sure did try. I’m happy to report that it’s immeasurably better in every way. ❤