If you’re like me, I’m sure the majority of the birth stories you have heard sound more like horror stories. In fact, I found that while I was pregnant, women would try to scare me with their stories, emphasizing the pain, and painting this picture of a dreaded experience where everything goes wrong. And I’m here today to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Now don’t get me wrong, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t pain involved. But the pain is minimal compared to the other positive emotions surrounding that day. A beautiful, exciting, fun day that I wouldn’t change a thing about.
We woke up in the hospital the morning of February 14th feeling nervous but also very excited and optimistic. The night before, right after my water broke, I was only 3 cm dilated with no contractions. The doctor, knowing that I wanted to labor and deliver naturally, said she’d be back in the morning to see how I progressed and we could make a plan from there. When she came at 9 am I was already halfway into my “liquid only” meal tray, having feasted on orange Jell-O and broth soup. When she checked me, it turned out I was still only 3 cm dilated. And it had now been 12 hours since my water broke. Turns out you can’t hang around with a broken bag of water and just stare at the clock. Time to make some decisions. After talking it over with Will and our nurse Lindsay (who was amazing), I decided I would let them induce me with Pitocin. I had been against Pitocin from the beginning because I knew how they can take your contractions from 0 to 60. And my chances of doing things all natural without any pain medication would be even harder on Pitocin. But with my water being broken this long, I was now at risk of getting an infection or having something serious happen that could lead to a C-section. And THAT was definitely not what I wanted. So at 9:30am I got an IV and the Pitocin was started. For the next three hours I began having mild contractions. Emily and Chris came to visit and actually laughed at how “easy” I was handling the contractions. I thought they just felt like menstrual cramps. Nothing I haven’t handled before. I even told my nurse for which she smiled but in the inside I am sure she was rolling her eyes knowing I would be singing a different tune shortly. If only I knew.
Around 12:30 Chris and Emily left and Will went downstairs to Subway to get a sandwich (of course only after ordering me yet another tray of Jell-O, broth, and Gatorade). While he was gone I got to work on setting up my Pandora station with my birthing music. (Which in hindsight was kind of silly because I never even heard the music during any of my laboring). It was during this time the contractions started to become really strong. I called Will on his cell phone and growled at him “Where are you?!” He rushed upstairs right as I was curled over on the bed in agony. I saw the look on his face as he thought “Geez how long was I gone?” But really it was just a coincidence that the contractions went from mild to severe right at the time he left the room. He stuffed as much of the sandwich in his mouth as he could and we spent the next 3 hours doing a dance of me bearing into him and Will doing everything possible to keep me from falling off the bed, the birthing ball, the toliet, or wherever I was laboring at that moment. Those three house felt like aliens ripping my organs from the inside out. No position you can get into takes away the pain. But I worked on my breathing and my visualization which helped. As I breathed I tried to picture what our baby would look like. I visualized the moment that Will asked me to marry him down at the yacht club and then I saw Will standing in our backyard playing t-ball with a little blond haired toddler. These helped distract me. But the best thing that helped me get through each contraction was the feeling of Will’s beard scratching on my cheek as he held me tight. He would try to rub my arms or scratch my back and I would yell “Don’t touch me! but bring me that beard!” My nurse Lindsay would tell me “Picture your baby. He will be here so soon” and “You are strong and brave, Priscilla.” Then Will would whisper in my ear “You can do this” and “I’m so proud to of you.” And I would shout “I’m an idiot!” “No one should have to live like this!!” “Your breath is horrible! What the hell was in that sandwich?!” We knew the doctor would be coming back at 4 o’clock to see if I had progressed. At one point I said to Will “If I’m still only 3 cm, I don’t know what I will do.” I didn’t think I could go on any further. Despite all that, I never asked for an epidural. Lindsay said at one point I did ask her to “put something in my IV” for which she responded “You don’t need anything.” But luckily when the doctor came at 4 o’clock I was 9 cm and 100% effaced! She said “I’ll come back in an hour to see if you made it to 10 cm.” AN HOUR?!? I couldn’t do it for another hour!! But I had no choice. So the contractions continued. 15 minutes went by and I started to feel the urge to go to the bathroom. I told Lindsay I needed to go and I needed to go now. She said “Do you feel the urge to push?” And I said “yeah push out a poop.” With excitement she said “That’s not poop! That’s your baby! Don’t push, let me grab the doctor. ” The doctor came in right away and checked me out, announcing that I was 10 cm! It was push time.
I pushed (and screamed and moaned like a whale) for about 25 minutes and at 5:15 PM the doctor pulled out baby Liam and placed him immediately on my chest. And just like that, Liam scooted his head towards my breast to latch on. Smart little baby knew just what to do. The doctors started to stitch me up as I did have 2 small tears. At some point I delivered the placenta but I don’t even remember doing that. I looked up at Will who was kissing my forehead and crying and thought to myself, thank God that Will was here by my side. There’s no way I could’ve done it without him. There’s no way to describe that moment when your baby is laying on your chest for the first time. Yeah there was blood everywhere, my vagina was burning like crazy, I somehow ended up naked during all of this, and there were all kinds of nurses and doctors in the room. But in that moment none of that mattered. And as that wonderful day came to an end, I knew that our lives were forever changed.