Bucket List Item #1: Give Birth
February 23, 2022
Can you believe I started with the absolute biggest and most life-changing task on this list? Since each subsequent blog post will be narrating the details of the specific tasks on the list in the order that I cross them off, here is my “birth story” and the first major event I accomplished before turning 30…
(P.S. If you are a bit confused, please go back and read this series’ introduction post: 30 Things To Do Before I Turn 30.)
Just 11 days after my 29th birthday and after finalizing the “30 Things To Do Before Turning 30” list, my water broke and kick-started labor of my first baby. To be fair, I was nine months pregnant when I made the list and this particular item had pretty good odds of being my inaugural check mark. ;)
We found out we were expecting our first child the week after we got home from our honeymoon. Our due date was March 4th, 2022. We opted for the early genetic testing to find out if we would be having a son or a daughter at just 12 weeks. It’s a girl! I immediately went shopping that day for something cute and girlie to hang in her closet. Over the next several months, we turned one of our guest rooms into a nursery, read up on pregnancy books, ordered all the baby gear and supplies, attended baby care and birth courses, and enjoyed our newlywed stage before becoming a family of three.
I could easily jot down every last pregnancy and birth detail, but this would quickly turn into a short novella so I’ll skip right to the action and try to be concise! Throughout the third trimester of my pregnancy, I of course speculated when our baby would actually make her debut. Statistically speaking, first babies often pass their due date. However the date 2-22-2022 just sounded like such a fun birthday, and I secretly did hope she would arrive 10 days early for this numerically-impressive birth date.
Leading up to my due date, I tried a handful of old wives’ tales to help progress labor – I ate 3 medjool dates every day, drank 2 glasses of red raspberry leaf tea, walked at least 10,000 steps, and enjoyed fresh pineapple for dessert. I’d say they all carried some validity because on the night of Tuesday, 2-22-2022, with absolutely no other signs of labor, my water broke while I was at home at 10:30pm! Zeb happened to be home (my husband is a pilot, and if you don’t already know about aviation crew schedules, this was a miracle. I will blog more about this lifestyle and schedule in the future.) I called the hospital, letting them know I suspected my water had broken and they told us to come in and get checked out.
We put my hospital bags in the car and arrived at our hospital at 11:00pm. We headed up to Labor and Delivery and they walked us into a triage room where they hooked my belly up to two monitors to measure any contractions (which I hadn’t felt at all) and the baby’s heartbeat. I WAS IN LABOR! Not very far along though. My cervical check revealed that I was only 1 centimeter dilated. We would be admitted and taken to our own room until the baby was born! OMG I cannot believe it’s here and happening, the moment I have obsessed over and dreamed about for 9 months!
Our birthing suite was so spacious. We weren’t able to do a hospital tour beforehand due to the Covid-19 guidelines, so we didn’t know what to expect. The room was large with a couch/bed for Zeb and recliner, a bathroom with a giant tub, and the empty little bassinet that our daughter would be lying in soon. I still didn’t feel any contractions, but the monitor was showing that they were happening, although sporadically. By this point, we still hadn’t told my parents or anyone where we were. We knew based on lack of pain and contractions that it would be hours before anything exciting started to happen. Once I finally got into my hospital gown around 3am, we decided to FaceTime my parents and let them know that their granddaughter was on her way.
They were so surprised to wake up to a call from me in a hospital room. I told my mom that she could go back to sleep afterwards, we wouldn’t need her there for many more hours. Of course she couldn’t go back to sleep so she got up a showered and got herself ready but she didn’t come join us until 9am. Zeb tried to sleep some on the couch but I was much too excited for the day to come. It was past midnight so it was no longer 2-22-2022 but it was going to be my DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY <3
The monitors showed that I was having contractions, though they were virtually painless. I honestly don’t even remember what those early contractions felt like. At 6am, the nurse checked my dilation and said I had progressed to 4 centimeters which was great news considering everything had been painless up until this point. The nursing staff said I could continue eating up until I decided to get an epidural. Since it had been over 12 hours since my dinner, we ordered room service breakfast. I ate pineapple and blueberries and some coffee but was too anxious to eat anything else.
At 10:30am, I had officially been in labor for 12 hours. Because my amniotic sac was ruptured, it was important that the baby be delivered by 10:30pm because of the risk of infection. My doctor visited and said she was not seeing my body progress like she wanted to and I would need to do some proactive measures to kick start more intense contractions, otherwise we would need to use my IV to administer Pitocin. I wanted to try to avoid the medicine so I requested to do some position changes and squats/step-ups for 3 hours and then reevaluate. We did the “Miles Circuit” twice. It includes a hands and elbows position for 30 minutes which is tough because the blood rushes to my head. Then I move into a side lying position for 30 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of activity which I did squats and stair step ups. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then repeated the whole thing again.
Honestly at this point, my contractions had nearly stopped. I had stopped feeling them and agreed that we needed to do something that would keep labor going because I wanted to avoid going into a c-section if we ran out of time. To kill time, my mom and Zeb grabbed lunch together in the hospital cafeteria and played some cards together. We couldn’t find anything on TV to watch and no one felt like reading their books. We just wanted to get this delivery going and meet our baby girl!
At 3:15pm, the nurse hooked my IV up to the synthetic oxytocin and said she would start out at the lowest possible dose and continue to increase it every 15 minutes. She said to get ready; contractions with Pitocin were 10-20 times stronger than natural contractions. I felt ready because so far it hadn’t been a struggle at all. The baby’s heart rate had looked strong the whole day and my amniotic fluid was still clear which were all great signs that the baby was not in distress.
The contractions were definitely noticeable by 3:45. I felt them in my hip/groin area and I described them like Charlie horses in your hips. At 4pm, I asked Zeb to use my contraction tracker app to time them and figure out when I should request my epidural. I wanted to get through some contractions without the epidural because I was told it could slow things down again. But I also was told that it could be a full hour between the time I requested the epidural and the time it started to take effect so I shouldn’t wait until I was in excruciating pain. At 4:00pm, the contractions were occurring every 2 minutes and 30 seconds, lasting for 45 seconds each. They were like clockwork. They hurt so bad and I tried to find the best position to get through them. I tried first laying in bed and gripping the side rails and that worked a while. I tried standing over the bed and that was not comfortable. The position that worked the best was kneeling on the ground over a birthing ball while my mom and the nurse stroked my back and Zeb counted down the timer for me. At 4:30, it was too much and I was moaning loudly in pain through each one, trying to blow out and focus on my inhales and exhales to get through each 45 second interval. I tried to come up with something positive each time to think about and distract me from the painful feeling. I tried thinking of shopping in Target with a Starbucks coffee. I tried thinking about being at the Sandals Grenada beach and pool. I tried thinking about feeling athletic again after I gave birth and was working out again. I tried thinking about a spring day at the Sunny Slope wineries. I thought about what it would be like to meet and hold my baby girl. None of these thoughts brought me relief.
I asked for the epidural at 4:30, but was told I needed to finish a full saline bag through my IV first which took another 30 minutes. I was moaning in intense pain, gripping Zeb and squeezing my eyes shut. I knew this was getting me closer to my daughter. I was a little nervous about the epidural and hated having to sit through the potential side effects and complications because I already made my mind up to get it. I could not imagine going through the entire pushing process with even more pain than I was experiencing already.
The anesthesiologist came into my room at 5pm and had me sit up on the side of the bed. My mom had to leave the room. Zeb stood in front of me, and I draped my arms up over his shoulders. When I contraction came, I squeezed him like I was giving him a shoulder massage. It was difficult to sit up and sit still in that position for the anesthesiologist when I was having contractions every 2 minutes. The first pokes were the numbing medication and they made me jolt upright. It felt strange when the epidural process started because it mostly felt like deep pressure in my low back but it wasn’t super painful. The contractions were way worse. I felt him tape up the catheter to my back, and he said that it would take about 20 minutes for the medication to start to work. I laid back down in bed and waited but I honestly felt like the relief came much sooner. My next few contractions were painful but not as bad as they had been. Within 20 minutes, I was laying on my back without pain. My mom came back in the room and we waited for progress. I spent another 30 minutes lying on my left side without any pain or feeling of contractions at all. This was a very sweet break. The nurse had me turn over to my right side. Soon, I started to feel some pain with each contraction again. I could definitely tell when I was having a contraction by a building pressure. I let the nurse know, and she checked my dilation. I was at 7 centimeters.
The pressure which each contraction increased and before long I was moaning through each one again. Zeb stood next to my bed and I gripped him through each one. I told the nurse I was feeling extreme pressure and wanted to be checked by the doctor. But Dr. Kasper was rounding on all the patients at 7:30 and would come to see me after. I was sure I was ready to push because I was moaning and breathing heavily through every contraction and the intense amount of pressure never eased up.
The doctor didn’t come in until 8:45, but confirmed I was at 10 centimeters dilated and we could get ready to push. The nurses came in and got the room ready for delivery. Then we started some practice pushes around 9:20. Zeb stood next to me and my mom stood behind me. Zeb was my counter. In the beginning with the nurse, the pushes were hard but not terrible. At 9:50, Dr. Kasper came in and I asked for an increase in my epidural dose because I was feeling everything. Dr. Kasper used hot compresses, oil and massage. The pushes were still much harder than I expected with an epidural. Even after I finished a set of pushes and was waiting for the next contraction, my whole pelvis felt insane pressure and I was moaning and yelling “Ow” throughout the whole delivery process. My mom and Zeb had found a spotify playlist that was ‘Labor and Delivery’ themed, so Zeb was in charge of changing songs and bringing sips of water and putting a cool wet wash cloth on my head and neck. He was a great and present support partner through the whole day. He was attentive and cheered me on. I was also glad to have my mom there, telling me how great I was doing and making me feel soothed through the pain, nausea and nervousness. She had my camera and got what shots she could since we were told we were not allowed to film during the actual birth.
At 10:35, the doctor told me not to stop pushing, to keep going until she was out. I didn’t stop yelling “ow ow ow oh my god ow” the whole time. Then she was coming towards me and being placed on my chest. I continued to moan in pain, shake, and also cry happy tears that my tiny baby was here and breathing on my chest. They rubbed her down and she didn’t seem in any hurry to cry or clear her lungs. She let out some coughs and seemed generally content while the doctors scrubbed her down.
I was so relieved to have a healthy baby girl here with us. We got great skin-to-skin time immediately, delaying her weight check for about an hour. Zeb also got skin-to-skin time while her eyes were open and she actively looked around. We couldn’t believe how much hair she had and that it was brown. We thought she would either be bald or have blonde peach fuzz. Where did this little head of hair come from?!
Her name is Brynnley :) She was 7lb 11oz.
My mom got to hold her as well, before she headed home around midnight. Even though I was so excited to meet and hold her, I was also extremely tired from being awake 36 hours and so much labor. I wanted sleep but Brynnley was wide awake. Not fussy, just alert. We finally got her swaddled in her own bassinet between Zeb and I around 2am. She woke to feed and get some vitals from the nurses around 3:30am. I changed her diaper for the first time, just pee. We got woken up for more vital signs at 5:30am. She wasn’t hungry but she did sleep on my chest for an hour while Zeb was fast asleep. At 6:30am, I felt to tired to continue holding her so I woke Zeb up and passed her off.
It has been 19 days now since we brought our sweet little babe home and our worlds have been changed forever. I can’t wait to continue chronicling our new life as a family of three throughout this “30 Before 30” series. :)