The top photo is the very last picture I took while pregnant. My mom texted me asking if I had already had my baby without telling her and I sent that photo to her with a reply “Yes, mom. We totally had the baby in secret. Lol.” Then she joked about my old lady house shoes. The other photos are right after Petra was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin and then bundled off to the nursery. I know this sounds really vain, but I’m so glad I groomed–everywhere–and took a shower the day before Petra arrived. I would not have thought to do that while counting contractions and debating when we should go to the hospital.
When I last left off, I just got to my delivery room and met the nurse who would be taking care of me. I felt confident that things would go as I imagined them, but I wasn’t sure. I’m not an over-sharer, but I wish I would have known more about what actually takes place during delivery. That’s why I’m willing to share these things with those of you visiting this post. I will warn you, some of the content below will be pretty graphic, so if you’re squeamish, just stop here. I see you’re still reading, so let’s get on with it, shall we?
To recount, it’s about seven something in the morning and the nurse–let’s call her Nurse A–comes in, tells me to change into a hospital gown, and then lay on the bed. She straps a baby monitor to my abdomen so they can monitor Petra’s heart beat. I have no idea how far dilated I am, and that’s one of my concerns. If I’m not dilated enough, are they going to send me home? I really didn’t feel like making the drive home and back if that was the case. Nurse A informs me that Nurse B will be here shortly to check my cervix so they can assess the next series of events. Before I go on, let me say that I was planning on a natural birth with the least amount of interference as possible. I wanted to try different positions to aid in pain management and have skin-to-skin contact immediately after my baby girl was born until the umbilical cord finished pulsing. Those were pretty much my only must-haves. To put it bluntly, my worst nightmare at that point was to be strapped to the bed, pumped with drugs, and ripped in half.
Nurse B comes in looking like she’s already had a long day. I’m told it’s the end of her shift, but she was going to get things started while we waited for my doctor to show up. She says she’s going to check my cervix, and immediately goes at it. I’ve NEVER had my cervix checked before and I NEVER expected this much pain. All I’m saying is: my nurse is a lady with lady parts, so you would think she’d be more gentle feeling around down there. It felt like forever, and after her entire fist came back out, Nurse B announced to Nurse A that I was only dilated one centimeter. They directed my attention to a chart on the wall next to the bed that had the stages of cervix dilation. The first circle was about the size of a dime, and the last circle was the size of a basketball–just kidding! The final stage was the size of a newborn’s head. Nurse A paused and said, “You’re only dilated one centimeter, so when your doctor gets here, we’ll decided what to do next.” Also, it was the end of Nurse A’s shift, and she was soon replaced by Nurse C.
I had already had an appointment to see my doctor at a checkup that day, so it was funny that I ended up still seeing her, but at the birth of my child. She walks into the room with a huge smile on her face still chewing on her breakfast and says “Oh, it’s my favorite couple! How are you?” Finally, someone who’s excited about me and my special baby. Lol. She talks to Nurse A and says she’s going to double check my cervix. Oh no, here we go again. But this time, it’s only slightly uncomfortable. Thank God. Her hand comes back out covered in the bloody goop that I had been seeing whenever I went to the restroom days prior. I’m apparently dilated three centimeters at this point and she says “Your contractions are very consistent, so we’re going to get you started.” I was excited that this was actually happening, and that I didn’t have to go back home. Yes! Best news I’ve heard all day.
In the next few moments, my doctor replaces the first baby monitor with an internal one that’s supposed to be “more accurate and comfortable”. Accurate, I guess, but comfortable, not at all. It was a plastic rod that went up to my cervix, but still dangled between my legs. It would wiggle around with every contraction, and that was weird. All of a sudden, I felt a gush of liquid. She had just broken my water, but I didn’t know that. My first reaction was that I was either gushing blood, or peeing all over the bed. When you’re pregnant, you understand there’s a lot of amniotic fluid, but you really don’t understand just how much. I asked “Did I just pee?! I think I’m peeing?! Am I peeing all over the bed?!” Asking things three different ways seemed to be a trend that morning as I freaked out over every new stage of delivery. Nurse C informed me that it was just my water breaking, and she changed the absorbent pad that was underneath me. Then she left the room and we were alone for a while. With every contraction, I felt more fluid gushing out. How much was in there?! I remember thinking that this was the point of no return. I would be meeting my baby soon and it was awesome and overwhelming.
When Nurse C came back, she had a bag of clear liquid and informed me–didn’t ask me–that she was hooking me up to pitocin to kickstart my labor. Apparently, the color of my amniotic fluid was a deep amber color which meant that Petra had already pooped in my uterus. Way to go, kid! They wanted to get her out of there as soon as possible to make sure she wouldn’t breathe it into her lungs. Everything I watched in The Business of Being Born documentary warned me about this. First you get the pitocin, then you get an epidural–which can help the pain, but sometimes slow down the labor–and then your odds of having a C-section sky rocket. Oh no, in my head I thought “This is what Ricky Lake was warning me about, and I don’t have any choice because my baby’s in danger.” Just to be clear, they weren’t trying to scare me, but they wanted to be proactive. There’s nightmare number one.
Soon after, a catheter was hooked up by Nurse B. It took a few tries because she was at the end of her shift and I could tell her focus wasn’t there. I have no problems with her being tired, but I really wanted her to go home and get rest and I really wanted a fresh nurse. So now that I have a needle in my lady parts, I asked what I was supposed to do if I had to poop, and Nurse C told me that I wouldn’t be able to get up at this point. She reached for a bed pan and asked if I had to poop. I said “No.” and I went on to think “I don’t have to poop. I’ll never have to poop if I have to do it in a bed pan.” Good thing I had an enormous bowel movement early that morning at home while I was keeping track of my contractions with my husband. It’s amazing how your body prepares for birth because up until that point, I was pretty constipated like most women in their ninth month.
I was officially strapped to the bed and couldn’t get up for any reason, so that made me feel really anxious. There’s nightmare number two. As long as my baby was taken care of, I didn’t care what I had to do. It was time to insert the needle into my hand so the pitocin could start. Nurse B tries to prick me about three times in three different places after giving up and asking for someone else to come do it because she said I had tiny veins. Someone else comes who I haven’t met before and looks at my hand, shakes her head at all the prick marks, and precedes to insert the needle in one fell swoop. We were trucking along.
I’m already having painful contractions, but I can definitely handle them. I’m told that they are going to get much worse with the medicine because in essence it’s making the contractions more productive. I was offered an epidural any time I needed it. I didn’t want more drugs, but after those “productive” contractions started I immediately said “I want it. I want it. Get me the epidural as fast as you can.” Nurse C went to get the person who would administer it, but Jerrell had to leave the room because it was now a sterile environment. Nurse C stayed with me the whole time and even helped me breathe through the contractions and hold still because I could not stop shaking. This is a common reaction to pitocin, but it was unnerving to not be in control of your own body. Once the epidural kicked in, it felt like a warm blanket underneath my skin. I wasn’t shaking that much, but I didn’t care if I was because I was elated the pain was gone. We recorded another video at that point and I look like a high person–because I was–and I’m hooked up to like three or four different things. Also, there were machines with a chart that would show when the contractions were happening and how intense they were. They were off the charts at this point, but I didn’t feel a thing.
We are now at around nine in the morning or so. I have been up since the previous day, and I can finally get some sleep. I started to take a nap, when Nurse C came in and advised me to lie on my right side because “Babies like the right side.” It wasn’t as comfortable, but I did it anyways. After taking a short nap, I woke up and it was around eleven in the morning. I felt a flood of emotions and started crying really hard. I’d be having a baby soon, and I had no idea how long this process was going to take. This could last several hours, or even days. The most unnerving part was actually feeling trapped. I cried so hard that my increased heart rate caused the machines to start beeping and alerted the nurses that I was in distress. Nurse C runs in and she tries to calm me down and tells me we don’t want to stress the baby out, so I calm down and go back to sleep.
I wake up to pain and it’s a little after noon. I can feel the baby coming down the canal and it is the most intense pain I’ve felt during this whole process. I was texting my pregnant friends at the time and one of them asked about the pain. I described it as “I feel like my butt is literally going to explode.” I understand that there will be pain in my lady parts, I understand that there will be pain in my uterus, but I didn’t understand this. I started screaming–yes like a crazy person–for someone to help me. Every time another contraction hit, I would grab my husband’s hand, squeeze it really hard and yank him from side to side. Another nurse I hadn’t met before–Nurse D–came in and asked what was wrong. I told her “The baby’s coming out. She’s coming out!!!” In my mind I imagined her head was already out in between my legs and these nurses were NOT moving fast enough. She quickly left and I didn’t see anyone for a few minutes. That few minutes felt like an hour, and I kept screaming “Help! Help me! Somebody help!” I was about to give birth to this baby by myself. Nurse C finally came in and checked my cervix and looked surprised when she told me I was ready to push.
I was informed that my doctor was with another woman down the hall who was pushing at that very moment and I could hear that woman screaming. That was not very comforting. Nurse C kept telling me not to push, but the urge was amazingly strong at this point. It was really difficult to hold off, but I did want my doctor to be there when I delivered. This was pretty bad timing, but this was the point I informed Nurse C that I didn’t want the umbilical cord cut right away. She agreed and then went on to setting things up. The nurses were busy transforming my bed and lifting up parts and moving parts I didn’t even know were there so that my legs could be up and supported. There was a lot of clatter of metal objects and this was all happening in a hurry.
Nurse C stood there by my legs and said, “Well, she’s got a lot of hair.” I asked my husband to go look. Previously, I said I didn’t want him to look down there during the delivery process, but having people come in and out of the room while your privates are on display makes any modesty a thing of the past. He agreed that Petra was indeed blessed with a full head of curly black hair. Once my doctor came in–finally!–she sat down in position and told me it was time to push. I was pushing, but it was hard to tell how hard I was pushing because my abdomen was still numb from the epidural. No baby yet. On the second push, she slid right out and they lifted up her purple, gooey body so I could see. I was amazed at…how tiny she was. “She’s so small. Why is she so small? Is she supposed to be that small?!” My doctor smiled and said she was perfectly fine. Once they lifted her higher, I noticed that the cord was…already clamped and cut. I told her I didn’t want the cord cut, but Nurse C hadn’t relayed the message. There’s nightmare number three. There was nothing I could do at this point.
My doctor said it was a good thing I came in when I did because of the meconium–baby’s poop–in the uterus. They suctioned her nose and mouth and made sure she didn’t show any signs of having poop in her lungs. All was well, and soon it was time to deliver the placenta. It slid right out and I asked to see it. It was dark, slimy, and stained green because of the meconium. Very gross, but it was still cool to see. My doctor then had to sew me up. I wasn’t aware that I tore–especially after seeing my itty bitty–but apparently she did a number on me. From front to back, I had to be sown up and it took about 10 minutes or so. It felt more like an hour. My epidural was wearing off and the pulling of the thread was very uncomfortable. Every time I told her it hurt, she kept telling me “It’s okay because you had an epidural, so you can’t feel anything.” Yes, yes I did. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, I started farting and couldn’t stop. I kept apologizing and telling her that I couldn’t stop myself, but the doctor wasn’t even fazed by it.
It was finally over and I got to hold my precious baby. They put her on my chest and she was already wide-eyed and alert. I got to hold her for about thirty minutes or so before they took her to the nursery for her shots, bath, bloodwork, and vision and hearing tests. I thought I’d be a pile of tears when she was wheeled away, but I was so tired, I could use the break. They wheeled me to the maternity ward and I had a room to myself with an extra bed so Jerrell could stay with me and sleep overnight. Fortunately the hospital wasn’t crowded, so I had the room to myself the entire time. It was about three hours before they brought Petra to us and went over the results of her tests. She was all good, no issues whatsoever. She slept most of the time, but did wake up crying once in a while needing to be held and/or fed.
I planned to breastfeed, but I didn’t expect her to immediately root–or search–for my nipple and latch on during our initial skin-to-skin. It’s amazing how God designed things to work. This was a very fortunate case because some babies do take a while to learn to latch. This was a good sign of things to come. During my three day stay in the hospital I did have a problem getting her to latch on again because my milk hadn’t come in yet, and she was getting frustrated from trying. A lactation consultant came in to see how breastfeeding was going, and I told her I had nothing to give my baby. She asked to check and started squeezing my boob REALLY hard. Again, a lady with lady parts doesn’t know that this is really painful? Even after hearing me say “Ouch. Ouch that hurts. That really hurts.” She said she could feel it in there, but it wasn’t coming out yet. We tried a hot compress and getting Petra to latch again, but baby girl would cry hysterically every time. The nurses in the maternity ward told me that sometimes pitocin will delay milk coming in. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it was true for me. We did supplement a few times, but my milk finally came in the day I left the hospital, and fortunately I haven’t had to supplement since. The lactation consultant showed me a trick of putting this sugar water stuff on my nipples to entice Petra to latch on and it worked. We had to use that trick for a day or two after going home, but she finally got it down on her own without the trickery. Breastfeeding is quite journey, but that’s a whole other topic.
When my doctor told me she wanted me to stay in the hospital for three days because of my stitches, I was definitely disappointed. I just wanted to go home and be with my baby. It was hard to get any sleep because nurses were checking my blood pressure, drawing blood, administering pain meds, taking Petra to the nursery, bringing our meals, and changing my bed pads around the clock. There were a lot of questions we had and helpful tips that we received, so I’m glad we stayed that long. The recovery from being stitched up was the most painful part of the entire process, but the nurses who cared after me were amazingly sweet and helped a ton. Even going to the bathroom for the first time, I had the assistance of someone and I never felt weird about them seeing certain body parts, I just kinda felt bad they had to see it. They never seemed to mind, it was the type of thing they saw all the time.
We witnessed the 4th of July from our hospital room, and had family visit, but it was pretty low-key otherwise. Since I could hardly move, my husband was Petra’s primary caretaker. I knew he’d be a natural as a daddy, but this was beyond what I expected. I slept in the bed with her–which I wasn’t supposed to do–sometimes in order for any of us to get sleep. It was dreamy having my baby bundled in bed. She was all mine, and I got to have her warmth next to me. I was finally blessed with this gift I’ve wanted for so long, and I could hardly believe it was happening.
The only requirement for my departure was a clean bill of health for both of us, and I had to tell them I pooped–which I did with the help of some milk of magnesia. There was a long check-out process where we filled out information for her social security card and birth certificate, and learned a lot about care for me and baby after going home. It was surreal to be putting her in her carseat, putting her in the car, and heading home. It was also about 100 degrees that day, so cheers to having a summer baby. It’s such a blur of a process, and I’m so glad we did record everything because there are so many details I didn’t remember until I saw the footage later. It took me about a month to actually watch it because I was afraid of what I’d see. As if I wasn’t there in person. Haha. The best advice I could give anyone about to give birth is to be open to the process. You can have the perfect scenario in your head, but as long as you have a healthy baby and a healthy mommy in the end, that’s all that matters. I was very frustrated by everything out of my control, but it’s really small potatoes in the long run. Thank you for joining in on my experience. I hope you were entertained/informed/helped by it.
So, that’s that for now. Be blessed and take time to make your dreams into your reality.