This may come as no surprise but there isn’t anything that can prepare you for childbirth. I have heard plenty of birth stories from my friends and tried to mentally prepare for what I thought would happen, but quickly learned that things don’t go as planned nor can you rely on another’s experience.
Bode was born October 20th at 10:44 p.m. My labor started the night before around 10:00 p.m. I didn’t experience any Braxton Hicks throughout my pregnancy so when my contractions started I didn’t know for sure if they were real or not. In the beginning, they felt like pretty bad period cramps and they came and went every ten minutes or so. It was hard for me to sleep through the night and by the time morning came, we definitely had figured out the contractions were real. I took a shower right away because I wanted to be fresh for the hospital. I also forced myself to eat a bowl of oatmeal. I wasn’t hungry but knew if I was going to be going to the hospital I wouldn’t be able to eat once I was admitted.
Cody and I debated on if he should go to work or not. I was still moving around pretty good in the morning so I encouraged him to go, at least for a half a day. On his way he called me about four times in the span of five minutes and decided to turn around and come home. I was glad he did. My mom stopped over that morning to check in on us and also gave me my Grandma’s rosary beads. I was so close to my Grandma and wish that she could have been here to be at the hospital with us and meet Bode.
The contractions definitely intensified throughout the morning. By 11:00 a.m. I was hunched over the couch and snuggling Magic with tears in my eyes. By 2:00 p.m. I was on my hands and knees rocking back and forth. We were told in our birthing class to wait until contractions are five minutes apart and last for one minute for a minimum of one hour. I had been timing my contractions all morning and we were there. At that point, I was ready to go to the hospital. We closed up the house, kissed Magic goodbye, and headed out.
We got to the hospital around 3:00 p.m. As soon as we got there they checked me and I was fully effaced but only 2 cm dilated. The doctor gave me the option to walk the halls for two hours and get rechecked or to go back home. I was NOT leaving that hospital! At this point, my mom, mother-in-law, and father-in-law had all arrived. My mother-in-law gave me a cross necklace that her dad had given her the day that Cody was born. It is such a special treasure to have. I began walking the halls in the maternity ward and little did I know the contractions I had at home were just the beginning of what would develop into the most intense, bizarre, and indescribable pain I have ever experienced. By the time the two hours were up, I had stripped off most of my clothes and was down to a tank top and a pair of cheap maternity leggings. When a contraction would come I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw-up or poop my pants. I literally made Cody get me a cup to throw-up in and walked in and out of the bathroom multiple times. I know this isn’t a pretty picture but it’s the truth. When I was rechecked I had dilated to 5 cm. I was admitted at 5:00 p.m.
It was in my birth plan to have an epidural. By the time it was all said and done, the epidural was started around 6:30 p.m. I felt almost immediate relief. I still felt pressure but nothing like the pain I had experienced earlier.
In our birthing class they try to prepare you for labor and tell you to bring things that will comfort and soothe you. I had preemptively prepared a scripture to recite to myself and brought tennis balls for Cody to rub on my back. I was able to recite the scripture (Be still and know that I am God.) half of the time and the other half of the time my mouth kept dropping f-bomb after f-bomb. I forgot entirely about the tennis balls. I had also wanted to wear my own pajamas and “be cute” for delivery pictures but let me tell you, once things get going you don’t give a HOOT about what you look like! It’s funny to think back on what I thought would happen vs. what really happened. I am sure I am not the only one to say that.
After the epidural was started, they said that it would probably be a few hours before I would start to push and that I should try to sleep if possible. The nurse came in and checked me at 7:30 pm and immediately called in the doctor. Bode’s head was right there. They had me push but I couldn’t feel much because of the epidural. After awhile, they decided to give me a break and let me rest. Bode’s heart rate would drop off and on depending on what position they had my lying in. Once they had me pushing again, Bode was still in distress. Cody and I both kept focusing on him and the doctor knew it. It got to the point where they turned down the monitors to stop drawing attention to it and had us make a game time decision to either have a vacuum-assisted delivery or go to c-section. We ended up deciding to have a vacuum-assisted delivery per the recommendation of the doctor. She wanted to get Bode out as soon as possible.
Cody said it was scary to see the vacuum being attached to Bode’s head–he could barely look. Luckily, it didn’t take long with the vacuum and more pushing to get him out. We found out after the fact that Bode’s right arm was up by his head which was why he was having trouble coming out on his own. He actually sleeps with his arm up by his head a lot! He must have been like that in the womb and finds comfort in it.
In between the first time I pushed and when he was actually delivered seems a little bit like a blur to me. I remember the nurses and doctor making small talk with us which was nice but I don’t think I was very responsive or paying much attention. I remember feeling Cody holding my leg and seeing his face and I remember my mom rubbing my head and the sound of her voice.
Immediately after Bode was born I waited to hear his cry and before I knew it they had him on my chest for skin-to-skin. All I could do was cry. I tried to look down and see him but he was so close to my neck it was hard to see. I remember hearing my mom and Cody saying, “He is perfect.” It was the most surreal experience of my life. It was excruciating and beautiful all at the same time. It was the worst pain of my life but I would do it 100 times over again for our baby boy.
After an hour of skin-to-skin the nurse latched him to my breast right away to feed. After feeding, they did his official stats. He was 6 lb. 1 oz. which ironically is the exact same birth weight as me! He was 19.5 inches long but did shrink a little bit over his first few days when the swelling from the vacuum went down.
The nurse helped me get cleaned up and introduced me to the squirt bottle, Witch Hazel, and ginormous pads – lol. A right of passage I suppose.
The first thing I ate after delivery was a turkey sandwich, carrots, and a cheese stick from the hospital. Beggars can’t be choosers at 12:30 a.m. after giving birth. Honestly, it was best turkey sandwich EVER considering the circumstances.
It was hard to sleep that night. The whole experience was something I waited my entire life for. In a way, I didn’t want it to end but was so glad to be able to hold our little guy in our arms and know that he had made his arrival. We had some family pop in and out of the hospital but kept visitors to a minimum. It was nice to be able to spend some family bonding time together before bringing him home.
We got discharged on the 22nd at 11:00 p.m. Cody’s parents had brought home Bode’s hospital hat and a t-shirt Cody wore to hold him so Magic could get use to his scent before we brought him home. I would recommend this to anyone who’s first baby is a fur baby.
It was so crazy to leave the hospital with a newborn! It felt so right to pull into our driveway with our little miracle baby. It was a moment we will never forget.
There is lots more to share about Bode’s first few weeks of life. I will hopefully have time to write more soon!
What surprised you most about your own labor? Leave a comment below!