abigail’s birth story

I can’t believe how long overdue this is. 

Funny, that’s pretty much exactly the same thing I was thinking at 41 weeks pregnant.  Ha!

I started writing this post in March.   Yeah, like 9 months ago.   I finally decided I needed to finish it because I really am forgetting the details (even though when I first wrote this I was begging someone to tell me WHEN I would forget the pains of labor!).

Brace yourself; it’s long.  (that’s what he said….booya!)

Like, really long.  But I figure it’s more for me than anyone so if you’re not into this sort of thing, come back in a few days (let’s be honest…weeks) and we’ll chat about something else! 

So here goes.  Here’s the story of my “easy birth” Erin Cherry!   (This is my girlfriend who just last week says to me, “well dude, you had an easy birth, right?”   I just looked at her and said:  “Erin.  Do not ever tell any woman that her labor was easy.”)  Sheesh.

Anyhoo…

My due date was Friday, January 27th.   A date that came and went without incident.  Not so much as a Braxton Hicks.  My OB was only comfortable with letting me go one week pas my due date, so at my last appointment she scheduled an induction for Monday, February 6.    This irritated me (like everything does when you’re 40 weeks pregnant).  Why you ask?  Because technically a week overdue would be Friday the 3rd.   And if my Dr. was soooooo worried about me going longer than 41 weeks, she should have scheduled my induction for Friday.   But my precious little OB “doesn’t work on Fridays and had a massage scheduled.” 

Priorities, right?

At least I know where she stands.   

So after I secretly rolled my eyes, I reminded myself that this was a good thing.     It gave me a few more days to let things happen on their own without having to be induced. 

Speaking of drugs…I didn’t really have a birth plan per se.   I didn’t feel strongly about how the birth should happen, mostly because I had no idea what to expect.  I just wanted a healthy mom and baby.  However, over the course of my pregnancy I did start to have some preferences.   These preferences were:

  • I’d prefer not to be induced.
  • I’d like to go without an IV.  I typically faint at the sight of needles.
  • I’d like to avoid an epidural.  This is a GIANT needle.
  • I’d like to not have a cesarean.  Knives are worse than needles.

I guess that means I was hoping for an a’la natural birth. 

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5 days past due.  Still rockin’ the heels!  My feet killed me that night. 

Ironically, exactly a week past my due date on Friday, February 3rd,  I woke up at 4 a.m. and said, “uh oh.”

I woke up with what felt like a combination of  menstrual cramps and Braxton Hicks (false labor contractions that I’d had since about week 26).   The Hubs was asleep, so I just figured I’d wait it out and see if this was the real deal.   As I sat in bed, I noticed the contractions were coming regularly and were increasingly more uncomfortable.

Over an hour later, I got out of bed to use the bathroom and nearly buckled over because of a contraction.  This time The Hubs woke up and said “what’s happening?!”  To which I replied…”um…I think I’m in labor!” 

Of course he was annoyed that I had sat there for over an hour and not woken him up.   Whoopsie.  

So immediately The Hubs grabs his phone and says “sweet!  I just downloaded an app yesterday to time your contractions.  Just tell me when one starts and one stops.”   Sounds great, right?  Except that the last (and I mean the last) thing a woman in labor wants to do is announce the coming and going of her contractions.  You’re just trying to make it through alive.  So I wasn’t really very helpful in that regard. 

He could usually tell when one was starting because I’d pause…..bend over…grab my knees and start breathing heavily.   But then dude….there was the Hubs, right beside me like a broken record:   “ok, is it over?   is it over?  are you done?” 

I was not enthused. 

At this point the contractions were uncomfortable, but bearable.  Kind of a “grit your teeth” sort of thing.   Oddly enough, the fancy little app he downloaded was saying my contractions were 3 minutes apart.   Which I thought HAD to be wrong because everything I read said “labor at home for as long as you can.  Put on a movie (really??) or do something to distract yourself.  Only go to the Hospital when your contractions are down to five minutes apart”  I’d only been laboring for an hour and a half at this point so I thought it was impossible that they were coming that fast.  Besides, according to the books I should be at the hospital by now.

So we got up and The Hubs gave me a glass of water and a granola bar and told me to walk up and down the stairs.  (what?)  But what do I know?  So I did it. 

Five minutes later I was in the bathroom puking, and the Hubs was grabbing my hospital bag.  Apparently vomiting was our cue to leave.

Side note:  something no one ever talks about is the ride to the Hospital and how absolutely awful it is!  There is NO comfortable position to sit and each and every bump makes you feel like your baby is about to come out.   This is not cool.  On top of it, February is not an ideal time to be speeding down the road….you know, snow and ice have a tendency to inhibit driving. 

We get to the Hospital and they confirm that I’m actually in labor (duh).   

I’m admitted at 6:00 a.m. 

Once admitted, they give you the standard-issue hospital gown to change into.  I wasn’t thrilled about this…but decided that I’d rather mess up their garments than mine.  

The next thing they do is start asking you a bunch of questions for their records.  Really important things like, “how old are you?” and  “Do you live in a house or an apartment?” 

Seriously. 

I kinda wanted to punch this nurse in the face.    I think the Hubs could sense this because he answered all of the questions while I continued to have contractions.    It’s nearly impossible to talk or think when you’re leading up to, experiencing, or recovering from a contraction.   I just had to “get in my zone” and stay there regardless of what was going on around me. 

It’s kind of weird to be in labor.  You always see TV shows and movies of people just laboring in bed. 

Let me tell you.  It is not like that.

You’re up, walking around.  Buckling over in pain.  Puking in the garbage can.  Running to the bathroom because sitting on the toilet seems like a good idea.   You’re groaning and moaning and making noises you think must be coming from someone else and when you realize they’re coming from you….you don’t give a sh*$.

At least that’s how it was for me. 

The nurse confirmed that my contractions were coming very quickly – now down to only 1 minute of rest in between.   And when she checked my progress I was dilated to 5 cm.   Wow – halfway there already and I had just gotten to the hospital!

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that an IV wasn’t standard procedure either.  So long as I didn’t request drugs I could remain needle-free. 

Now, speaking of drugs – it got to a point about five hours into it that I wasn’t sure I could do it anymore.  I started to doubt myself, because each contraction seemed worse than the one before.  And they hurt.    I don’t even know how to explain the pain, except that it’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced.     The worst part is that you don’t know how long you’ll have to endure it…it could be 2 more hours or 10.    So at one point I looked at the Hubs and said “I don’t know if I can do this.  I think I want an epidural.” 

And do you know what my kind, loving, supportive Husband said? 

“No.”

No.  As if he’s the one going through this or has any inkling of the intensity of the pain. 

I was quite surprised by this reaction, and if another contraction wasn’t coming I probably would have given him a piece of my mind.   Just cuz that’s how pregnant Janna rolls.

So I labored for another 30 minutes or so, and brought it up again….thisreallyreallyhurtsandithinkineedanepidural!     This time he says,  “No, no.  You aren’t going to do that.  You didn’t want one and you’ll be so much happier afterwards if you don’t do it.   It’s just going to be a motherf#%&@er of a day.” 

Yep. 

He just said that.

To the woman buckled over in pain, delivering his child. 

I was completely speechless.  And if looks could kill I may have just done so that day.

I think I was dilated to 7 cm at this point, and asked to sit in the birthing tub but just my luck, it’s out of order.    So I opted for a shower instead, which felt good on my back for awhile (I was having a lot of back pain).  But really I was probably only in there for 5 minutes when I decided that “nope, this isn’t working.  I need out.  NOW.”  

Once I got back to my room (now soaking wet), the nurse started encouraging me to “push a little bit” to try and get my water to break.  

I was skeeeeered. 

I remembered hearing that contractions are like 10 times worse once your water breaks.     But I wanted to move things along, so I did what she said.   And holy shit.  My water broke in the middle of a contraction as I was standing and leaning on the bed.   I’m pretty sure I was screaming blood murder.  I’m not sure why….it just seemed like a lot of water!

The nurse said my water was slightly green, which means that the baby had pooped into the amniotic fluid.  It’s pretty common among overdue babies, but it can be dangerous if they’ve swallowed any of the water.   So all of a sudden there’s a bunch of commotion in the room as other nurses prepare for that scenario.   I tried not to think about that or any bad outcomes.  I just tried to focus on what I could do – and that was getting this baby out. 

Luckily, by the time my water broke, I was dilated far enough to start pushing.  (And thank you baby Jesus because it’s true.  Contractions are quite different after that soft cushion is gone). 

Pushing is also weird. 

It’s like everyone thinks you should know how to do it.   When really you have no clue what you’re doing.  You just follow your natural instincts I guess, and the nurses are usually pretty good and guiding you along. 

So I’m on the bed.   I’m pushing with each contraction and it dawns on me that the Dr. has yet to show up.  Eric must be thinking the same thing because he says “Will the Dr. be joining us anytime soon??”

Apparently they show up just in time to catch your baby as it comes flying out, which I thought a bit strange.  I assumed she’d be there for more of it. 

(Oh wait, that’s right.  She doesn’t work on Friday’s and had a massage scheduled). 

Anyways….so back to pushing.  Again, weird.  It just feels like you’re taking a giant poo.  Sorry.  But it does.   And it’s exhausting.  And HURTS. 

I remember feeling sorry for any other pregnant women getting admitted to the Labor Wing while I was pushing.  Because I.  was.  screaming.  Like big time.  And I could’ve cared less who heard.   All I wanted was to get the baby out. 

I pushed for about 40 minutes, and at the end I distinctly remember the feeling of her coming down the birth canal, pausing there for a few pushes, and then crazy burning sensation of a head and shoulders coming out followed by the slippery torso and legs.  I tell you, it was amazing. 

And immediately afterwards? 

Peace.

The pain completely gone. 

Just pure joy and excitement to finally see this little one.  And at 10:30 a.m., exactly one week past my due date and 6.5 hours after my first contraction….we got to meet her. 

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I hope you have “one motherf%#)er of a day too someday sweetie! 

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Oh man.  Those cheeks.  I could kiss them all day.

Our hospital is really into coupling practices….so they basically plop your baby on your tummy right after she is born.  They don’t clean them or anything…just let you do skin-to-skin contact for as long as you like.   It really was amazing to hold her like that so soon.  I was very thankful!

I was also thankful for the nurse who was “cleaning me up” and said ….”oh, let me just get this poo off your leg.  I think the baby pooped on you.”  I’m no idiot, nurse.  But thank you for letting me think that it was the baby for .5 seconds. 

And that my friends is the reality of childbirth.  Glorious childbirth.

Anyhoo, we spent a couple of hours in the laboring room just enjoying Abby and spending some snuggle time together.  Around 1:00 we were moved to the post-partum wing (which was brand new and super nice!) where each of our parents were waiting for us.  My sisters were there with their families and several of our friends as well.  It was so nice to introduce little Abby to everyone!  

In the end….yes I am glad that I was able to make it through without drugs.  I give the Hubs a hard time for saying no (I HAVE to after what he said), but  I know he was just doing what he thought was best and what he thought I would want.  He really was very helpful during the labor….rubbing my back….reminding me to stay low and connected to the earth (that’s my interpretation, not what he was saying!  haha). 

Every birth is different.  Every story is different.  There are no easy labors (Erin Cherry).  They are all special and unique in their own way.  And amazingly enough you do start to forget and think hmmm.  Maybe someday I can do that again.

Maybe. 

Maybe someday I’ll be up for another motherf(*#%er of a day again. 

Until then, I’m going to kiss these awesome cheeks some more.

Can you believe she is getting so big?  At 42 weeks, she is officially outside of me longer than she was inside of me.  Kind of crazy. 

42weeks_final

And for those of you wondering….yes.  My Dr. made it to her massage that day.

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7 comments

  1. why is it that in every labor/birth story I read, more often than not, the birthing tubs are out of order?!?! I really enjoyed reading this – it’s fun(?) to read how different each persons experience is. My mom likes to tell the story of her ride to the hospital during which my dad asked her if she wanted to pull over to take a picture at the exit sign off the beltway before heading to the hospital… who does that?! He also had to cook and eat a chicken pot pie and iron a shirt before they left and they were in the middle of a giant blizzard… :) Thanks for sharing Janna!

  2. Wow….I feel famous! You are right, there are no easy births! But hey, I would like to think that my comment motivated you to finally post your story! Great story, thanks for sharing!

  3. Everyone’s birth story is unique and special. Thanks for sharing Abby’s. I always enjoy hearing the journey. I remember seeing my Bean for the first time, it’s such a wonderful moment, one that I will always hold dear to my heart.

  4. At first I was frightened to read your story, simply due to the length, but than I spotted the “that is what he said” comment and grabbed a strong cup of coffee and buckled myself in for a good ride. You did not disappoint! Everyone’s journey down the childbirthing canal is exciting and different. My parting comment is that it was fun seeing Abby, along with the rest of the family, in Helena over Thanksgiving, and I know that I am not the first one to kneel down and pick up a baby, but Abby sure is cute and the good news is I thought about it! Thanks for sharing Janna, Bobbyt

  5. This is a very special story and one that Abby will love hearing. That is one of the things that I missed most being pregnant, I wish we all could have heard the stories of mom’s pregnancies and our own birth stories. So this post is a perfect way for you to remember (because it’s true, we do start to forget…how does that happen?!) and a gift for Abby later. She will love hearing about her super strong momma and how her daddy helped you that day. Very cool. Thanks for sharing!

  6. congatulations! i loved reading your story and it makes me feel good that im not the only crazy one to do natural birth. such a wonderful journey and accomplishment! good job!!

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