I’ve always loved reading other people’s birth stories and experiences, but at the end of the day, everyone is different and every story has its own twists and turns. Its own struggles and beauty. Here is mine <3
Fair warning, this is definitely the longest and most intense/personal post I’ve ever written. I knew I wanted to write this for myself, to remember the beautiful battle that was bringing Kinsley into the world, but I asked and you guys said you really wanted to read it too, so here you go.
It all started on Wednesday, the 20th of September. I began having pretty consistent contractions that would come and go throughout the day. They were getting closer together but didn’t seem to be increasing in intensity. I had a feeling that we would be meeting our sweet Kinsley in the near future, but since she was our first, I wasn’t sure how things would play out. I woke up Thursday, and the contractions kept coming, but it was the same story as the day before – consistency without an increase in intensity. Both our doctor and birth class instructor had told us to go by the “511 rule” – wait for the contractions to be 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each for at least 1 hour before coming in.
Being a first time mom and knowing that I wanted an epidural, I really didn’t want to wait too long before heading to the hospital, but I also didn’t want to jump the gun and go in too early, only to be turned away (which I had heard happens frequently), so I waited. Thursday (my due date) afternoon things really started to pick up, and I started timing my contractions on an app I downloaded (super helpful btw). Alex and I went to meet the final pediatrician on our list (last minute much?), and I was having contractions the whole time. We went to grab dinner to-go and then head home ( I got a salad, this will come into play later… lol). My contractions got more intense, but were a bit random in length, ranging anywhere from 5 minutes apart to 13 minutes apart, so I continued to wait. That night, the contractions kept me up all night, and I barely slept a wink.
A few times during the night, the contractions got painful enough to where I really had to start breathing through them and woke Alex up. He was amazing all night, helping me, and making sure I was ok, but there was one time in particular that we joke about. I may have shared this on my IG stories or Snapchat before, but Alex is a heavy sleeper – and I mean HEAVY. When he is really out, I have to literally shake him to wake him up. The contractions had gotten pretty bad, I woke up him, asked if he would rub my back (which he had been doing that night after dinner to help keep me comfortable), he said yes, and then literally passed back out within seconds. I didn’t have the heart to wake him back up lol!
I got up around midnight, and felt what I thought might be my water breaking. I felt watery, but it wasn’t a huge amount like I had seen in the movies, so I went back to bed. At about 3 AM, it happened again, so I called the on-call doctor, and they told me it could be time to go ahead and come in, just to be safe. I woke Alex up, and he wanted to shower. I didn’t think we were in much of a rush, so I said go for it. We packed our car up with our hospital bags, said bye to Berklee and Chase, and headed out around 5 AM. We made it to the hospital at 6 AM, and went up to the labor and delivery room. When we got there, the lady at the desk called back to triage and said “I have one more for you”, which I knew couldn’t be a good sign haha. I knew they were busy, but didn’t know how busy until they checked us into triage. We waited to see if we would be admitted into labor and delivery. They checked my cervix, and I was only dilated to 3 cm, but they confirmed that my water had broken, so I was there to stay. I instantly started to regret my choice of salad from the night before lol…
Around 7 AM, they finally came in to start my IV – which btw, hurt a little worse than expected (just keeping it real), but since the hospital was so busy, they didn’t admit us into my labor and delivery room until about 9 AM…so I sat, with contractions and no epidural for about 3 hours.
We finally got into our room. Since my water had broken at midnight (apparently the risk of infection is higher the longer you wait) they wanted to start me on pitocin to move things along, but wanted to make sure that they gave me my epidural before things got really intense. The anesthesiologist finally came in to give me my epidural. I was actually pretty nervous for it, since I had never had one before. She gave me the ep, and pretty much right away I started to get hypertensive and felt super light-headed, so they gave me some oxygen. I tried to take deep breaths and relax myself because Kinsley’s heart rate would start to go a little crazy too. All I could think about was her, and praying she was ok. Once the anesthesiologist gave me the ep, it didn’t take too long for the lower half of my body to go numb. If you’ve never had one before, it’s a pretty crazy feeling. I didn’t like the feeling of not being able to really move my legs much (one was more numb than the other), but I also didn’t like the contractions haha, so I figured it was the lesser of two evils.
As soon as we got my blood pressure regulated, I started to itch like crazy, everywhere. I just remember wanting to crawl out of my skin, because I couldn’t get it to stop. My Mom and Alex were both in the room, and they each had an arm and were lightly running their nails down my arms and hands to try and distract me with a different sensation. The hardest parts about the itching was – 1. I didn’t know it could happen, so I wasn’t mentally prepared for my body to react that way. 2. Since I was numb, I was trying so hard not to itch my legs (even though they itched like crazy) because I didn’t want to scratch myself, since I knew I couldn’t really feel what I was doing. After a while, the itching finally subsided, and I got little relief.
Then, they started up with the pitocin to try and move things along. They kept me on pitocin, increasing the dosage slightly every so often. They came back to check me that afternoon, and I was only 4 cm dilated. I remember being so frustrated and disheartened that after an entire day I had barely made any progress and was nowhere near where I needed to be.
I started to feel the contractions in my back, like I had before the epidural. I remember telling Alex that I could feel them, and after a little while they got worse and I started to get worried. I told our nurse at the time (we had been assigned to about 4-5 nurses by this point) and she kind of blew me off and said it was probably fine. The contractions persisted and so did I (lol), so finally there was a shift change and the new anesthesiologist came in to check things out. Sure enough, my epidural had somehow become unplugged. I’m not going to lie, at this point, I was full-on pissed. I had been telling the nurse for more than 2 hours that I could feel my contractions and meanwhile my epidural was unplugged?! I tried to remain as nice and calm as I could. The anesthesiologist plugged it back in and wanted to give me a shot of some kind of booster to help speed things back up. Alex reminded her to give me a smaller dose since we were worried my body would react similarly to the first time. By this point, I had the shakes – bad. I also didn’t know this could happen during labor, but apparently it’s pretty common? They tried to have me turn onto my side, since I had been on my back for so long, but anytime I turned to either side or leaned back, Kinsley’s heart rate would drop. Honestly, that was the scariest part of the whole thing. Everyone kept telling me to just sleep and nap when I could, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her heart rate monitor. I was watching her heart rate like a hawk, and I certainly couldn’t sleep, no matter how much I probably needed to.
Since they had to restart my epidural, they also decided to shut off the pitocin and restart that too. This time, they increased the dosage at a slower pace, and it took a while to work back up to the dosage the doctor wanted me at. They came back around 12 AM, and I had progressed to 6cm. It was progress, but still not where we needed to be. They weren’t checking me too often, because they didn’t want to risk infection since my water had broken over 24 hours ago. The doctor came in and said that if by about 6 AM, I hadn’t progressed enough that they would have to do a c-section. I had been fine up until this moment, and then I just broke down. I cried for a few minutes, and then finally pulled it together and came to the conclusion that whatever we need to do to get Kinsley out safe was what I wanted. Alex was so strong and calming the entire time, just telling me that everything would be ok no matter what they had to do.
They kept trying to have me turn on my side to see if I would progress better/faster that way, but every time I did, Kinsley’s heart rate would drop again. So, I stayed on my back and just prayed things would progress – quickly.
Around 1:30 AM, I was 8cm and finally had some glimmer of hope that we could really do this without a c-section.
The doctor came in around 3 AM to see if I was fully dilated, and essentially told us that it was our last chance at trying to have her naturally. If I hadn’t progressed, it would be time for a c-section. I could have wrapped my head around either, but it was the c-section after a full day of labor that really upset me. Our doctor checked and thank the Lord, I was at 10 cm! It was time to start pushing, and although I was completely exhausted, I was so ready to meet our baby girl. I knew I was ready to give it every last ounce of energy I had to give. Alex was right there, holding my hand, and being the leader I so needed him to be in that moment.
I needed something to wake me up, because at that point I was not only tired but so hungry (dang salad!), so I told Alex to turn on some tunes and we jammed out to Backstreet Boys while I started to push. My parents had gone home to get some rest, so I had Alex call them back and let them know it was go-time. All of a sudden, I felt like a little girl who wanted her mommy, so we invited my Mom to come in too. I always thought that I would feel self-conscious in that moment (the pushing moment lol) but honestly, all modesty went OUT THE DOOR and that was the LAST thing on my mind. I just knew I needed to give pushing everything I had and get my baby girl out safe and sound.
I pushed for 3 hours. 3 pushes every time. The first push I felt like I could conquer the world, the second was still good and by the third, I could feel all of the energy being drained from my body, but I was still giving it absolutely everything I had. Pushing past the shaking arms, dry mouth and exhausted body, I had to get her out. The music and realization that she would be here any time now gave me an instant surge of energy.
The playlist continued and we jammed out for 3 hours, giving it everything I had with each contraction. The doctor came in, and realized we weren’t progressing much between each series of pushing (someone was a little too comfortable in her home!). She suggested we use some sort of assistance so we decided to allow the use of the vacuum, which is essentially a suction cup they put on the baby’s head to help pull her out. This seemed like the safest option, because we had been pushing for a very long time. Shortly after that, she was out. 24 hours after being admitted. Through the tears and laughs, prayers and everything in between, our sweet baby girl was born and she was perfect.
Oh, and much to our surprise, she was Alex’s twin!! We all secretly thought that my genes would dominate, but she came out with blonde lashes/brows and blue eyes! Near the end of pushing the nurse asked what color my hair was naturally and said…”I think she’s blonde!” LOL.
It’s funny how what seems impossible in the moment instantly melted away when I saw her sweet face. Even after 24 hours of labor, I would do it all over again a thousand times, to bring our girl into the world.
A big shout out to Alex … I thought I loved him as much as one person could, until that day. The whole experience brought us closer than I ever thought possible. He was my rock, my supporter, and I couldn’t have done it without him by my side. Halfway through he even surprised me with noise canceling headphones and a movie to pass the time. Now, THAT is a keeper. #DadSkills
To all my moms out there – you are warriors!
To all my soon-to-be moms or hope-to-be-moms – you got this. Whether your pregnancy/delivery is easy or hard, it will be so WORTH IT!
A special thank you to my friend, Shalyn Nelson for the AMAZING photos!
One of my favorite pictures from the day Kinsley was born