Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Audrey's Birth Story

The night before I was induced - feeling a little giddy!

Looking back on my pregnancy, I had it pretty easy.  The worst bit for me was anxiety.  I’d had a miscarriage a few months before getting pregnant with Audrey, and was worried it would happen again.  (More about that here, as well as pregnancy pictures!)  But I imagine that all pregnant women fear that to some extent.  My doctor kept a very close eye on me and caught a thyroid condition that may have caused some problems.  I got on medication and things seemed fine.  We also had a scare when a doctor saw one of our ultrasounds and thought that Audrey might have micrognathia - an underdeveloped jaw.  We were told that there was a chance she would need a tracheotomy to breathe after she was born.  We ended up going to a perinatologist to get a second opinion, and he assured us that everything was all right.  Needless to say, I had more ultrasounds than your average pregnant lady - 7 or 8, at least!  But I cherish the images that we have of Audrey as a little fetus!  We wanted to know every possible thing about her.

Aside from all that, the pregnancy was super mild, physically!  There was a bit of nausea, but no morning sickness.  Some food aversions, but no interesting cravings.  I needed a nap every day, but I had a good amount of energy up until the end.  I gained 30 pounds exactly and although the giant belly got in my way sometimes, I enjoyed being all big and round!  At 39 weeks my cervix was already 1-2 cm dilated and 70% effaced.  I was happy that my body seemed to be cooperating and getting ready!  Audrey had dropped so low that it seriously felt like she was just going to fall out sometimes.  I saw my doctor 3 days before my due date and she decided that we were so close that if Audrey hadn’t arrived by her due date, we would induce the day after.  There was no medical reason behind it… Honestly I think it might have had more to do with the fact that it was the week of Thanksgiving and they wanted to get it over with!  But I was fine with that; it felt nice to know an exact date, and I also knew (from all of our ultrasounds) that Audrey was already well-developed and a healthy weight, so it wasn’t like we’d be forcing her out too early.

So on November 22, we went to the hospital at 5:30 in the morning to get things started.  It had been nearly impossible to sleep the night before, and I was so nervous getting ready that morning that I seriously almost threw up.  I’ve never quite felt that way before!  Although I was a little slow getting everything together, we made it to the hospital on time and I was admitted.  They had me take off all my clothes and change into a gown (I actually bought my own, because hospital gowns seem creepy and I'm a little bit of a control freak).  Then they set me up on a Pitocin drip to get my contractions started.

The nurse putting the IV in had a hard time with my veins… on the first time, she hit a wall (PAINFUL) so she tried it on my other arm.  I was feeling sorry for myself already!  (Ha!)  I had heard some bad things about Pitocin, so I was a bit nervous, but the contractions weren’t intense at all.  They got to a point where I would have to stop talking, pause, and breathe through them, but nothing very bad.  My parents had come into town the night before and spent the morning coming and going when we needed to be alone.  It was a nice day, staying in bed, chatting with family and anticipating our baby!  My nurse for the day was named Jill, and she was SO very kind and funny.  I was starving since I hadn’t eaten since the night before, but she said that I could have a popsicle for breakfast since I was doing so well.  She brought me a grape flavored one.  I’ve never been so excited about a popsicle.

Around 10 a.m., the doctor came and broke my water.  I don’t think I can quite describe that feeling, but it was VERY uncomfortable.  Umm.. Just imagine someone sticking a big plastic thing in you and then suddenly you’ve got terrible cramps and there’s a huge gush of warm liquid?  Eeeek.  From then on things were a little gross!  The nurses had to keep changing the pads under me, and whenever I would laugh or cough there was another big gush of liquid.  In fact, I have a vivid memory of Robert trying to keep things light, and mocking some of that relaxing visualization we’d learned in our birthing class.  He leaned over me and said, “you’re in a lagoon…”  Hilarious.  Gush of liquid.

So once I didn’t have that bag of waters cushioning things, the contractions started to get really intense.  I made my way through two before deciding that I wanted my epidural as soon as possible.  I can handle pain pretty well, but if there’s an easy way out I see no problem with taking it!  The only downside to the epidural is that it required getting a catheter, since you can’t get up to go to the bathroom.  Ugh.  Least favorite part of the day.  But once I had that epidural, I couldn’t feel it anyway!  There was a slight pinch when they did it, and then my legs just got very warm and heavy.  In fact, everything from my ribcage down was very warm and nice feeling.  I didn’t mind that at all!  The contractions went back to being easy.  I was doing so well that Jill let me have a cherry popsicle for lunch!  That was very encouraging, because she said the anesthesiologists would be very upset if I threw up a cherry popsicle, but she didn’t think it was likely.  I fantasized about the dinner I would eat after Audrey was born, and Robert continued to feed me ice chips.

I kept dilating, and they finally told me that I could start pushing around 2:15. (I think!  My mind’s gone a little fuzzy on the exact times.)  Wooo.. Pushing.  For those who haven’t done it, it’s exactly the sort of pushing you do when you go to the bathroom.  So, at the beginning of each contraction I would take a deep breath, hold it and then count to 10 while pushing as hard as I could.  At first it seemed like I was making great progress, and from what the nurses said I thought it wouldn’t take too long.  I think they were just trying to be encouraging.

I pushed in a few different ways.  Oh the indecency of birth!  I had my legs up on stirrups and Robert would push one leg back while a nurse pushed the other one back, and I pushed as hard as I could.  Sometimes I held onto the bed rails and pulled.  After a while they decided to try the “towel trick” where one of the nurses held one end of a towel and I pulled the other while pushing.  I pushed for an hour and a half.  Occasionally they would put an oxygen mask on me to help with my breathing.  FINALLY, they said they could see her head.  Robert and I had always talked about how he wasn’t allowed to look (because I thought he’d never be able to think of me the same way!  Hahaha) but he watched the whole thing.  How could he not?  He was holding one of my legs back.  The pushing was so intense.  It didn’t hurt so much, it was just a great strain and I began to feel sore.  In fact, I was sore all over from pushing and pulling so hard with my arms on various things.  It was a mini-marathon.  I was aware of some crazy grunting noises that I was making between taking big breaths and pushing… I remember almost laughing about it., but I couldn’t spare the air.

I had been pushing for quite a while when the doctor told me I was beginning to tear and asked if it was okay to do a little episiotomy.  In the heat of the moment I said okay, and then I felt a little snip.  I heard it too, which was the horrific part.  I believe that was right before Audrey’s head finally came out.  And then everyone in the room (Robert, the doctor, and 4 nurses) was practically yelling and encouraging me to push again, and suddenly she was out completely.  Audrey was born at 3:47 p.m. on 11/22/11.  Cool birthday, right?

Feeling proud of myself for pushing out a baby!

She was huge!  8 pounds, 10 ounces and 21.5 inches long.  I was so glad to be done pushing.  They put her on my chest immediately, this big, warm, wet baby.  It’s such a surreal feeling to suddenly hold in your arms the little person you’ve been carrying inside your body for so long.  I wasn’t aware of anything that went on down below after that.  I was busy looking at my baby.  But I think they had me push a little more to deliver the placenta (we didn’t look at that old thing!), and I know they stitched me up a bit.  The old saying that as soon as you hold your baby in your arms you forget all the pain is pretty much true!  For a while you seriously don’t even think about it.

It was such a relief to be done with the birth and to have my baby with me, beautiful and healthy.  I am so incredibly grateful for how well it all went.  The nurses told me I was great at having babies and I should definitely do it again.  HA.  We’ll see!  It definitely was not as bad as I imagined, but I was fortunate enough not to have any complications.  There are so very many things that can go wrong.  It’s a wonder any of us make it into this world!

That first night at the hospital was a really good one.  Robert and I practically stayed up all night, watching Audrey for signs of hunger, trying to get the hang of breastfeeding, and even changing her first diaper together at 4 in the morning.  So cute!  Of course, the next day the exhaustion hit me and it would take months to recover… but that’s another story for another time.

Heading home on Thanksgiving day!

It’s taken me 4 months to write this all out.  Audrey’s birth was a good experience, but I had quite a hard time adjusting to life with a new baby.  Things are finally feeling normal, and I can look back on this as something good instead of something that caused a very hard time in my life!  I’m so happy with my sweet little one now that it’s fun to go back and remember how she got here.


  1. I have never seen anyone look so good after just having a baby! High five for you, beautiful mama! It's definitely important to write it all down and I'm sure Audrey will love being able to hear about her birth when she's older. Thank you for sharing your lovely birth story!

  2. I agree with Tara. Seriously, lady. Making the rest of us look like shrews over here!

    Thank you for sharing this! I love to read about the different experiences we women have bringing new lives into the world. And I can remember being really sore after my first labor, too. Comparing it to a marathon is such a great analogy. And I totally cringed at "snip." Yowch! I tore a little with my first and second, but luckily number three did not come out with his hand on his head. He is polite like that.

  3. I have to cast a third vote for most lovely looking post-birth mama! Amazing especially since you had pitocin which made my face swell up like a blimp. She's a gorgeous (and huge!) baby. So amazing to hear different stories. There's several similarities between our stories.

    Since Wyatt is almost exactly one year older than Audrey I can tell you that you are in for an awesome spring/ summer. It's so amazing to watch them get much more personality and get more time outside. So much more fun than those first few months!

    1. I was a little "amazing" crazed in this comment... but babies are so... well... amazing!! :)

  4. I remember when Rob first posted the picture of with Audrey after she was born, and I was like, "DAAAAAAMMNNNNN, girl looks GOOD for just having a baby!" But it sounds like you did a great job, and I am definitely less afraid of having a baby now. Haha.

    I am SOOO excited that I get to see you guys and meet her next month!


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