At 38 weeks along, I had an ob appointment with an ultrasound to check on the baby’s weight and fluid. It had been a long time getting to this point, and I was half praying she looked perfect, half praying they felt the need to induce me. I just wanted her here ASAP, but didn’t want any medical interventions like being induced, and also wanted to have everything perfectly prepared even though I had not started preparing at all. Normal pregnant lady stuff.
She was looking perfect, wiggling on the screen, measuring right on track and an estimated 6 pounds 12 ounces. I was already 3-4 centimeters. I asked my doctor to strip my membranes, which she was like “I can do that, there’s a 50/50 shot it will work but I don’t really think it’s going to do anything for you.” Jason was more than happy to hear this because I think he was still living in denial that a third person was going to exit my body and we would then have another baby to care for.
The following morning, Wednesday, I was having some spotting and discomfort, but chalked it up to my check the day before. I had my iron transfusion that day, which the nurse told me could make the baby super active, and I joked about her ninja kicking her way on out.
That night, Jason was cooking steaks on the stove, and set the smoke detectors off. I jumped up and started fanning the front door while having a mini panic attack at the thought of setting off the sprinklers in the whole apartment complex and having to face the fire department and our neighbors. Those 3 minutes felt like 3 hours, but the alarm finally shut off. I still got to eat my steak and it was actually pretty good. I went back to the bathroom to change and that’s when my water broke! The only time it’s ever broken on its own, and I’m glad it was at home.
Excitedly, I called out to Jason and he said something along the lines of “oh shit” but not in an excited way. He swears he put me in to labor by causing a “natural disaster” and despite how many times I have tried to help him understand the definition of “natural disaster”, he still maintains that he caused it. I actually think he’s kind of proud of it because it was the one useful thing he did while I was in labor (kidding, love ya nurse doula Jason).
We called my mom to come over and stay the night with the boys. I frantically packed my hospital bag aka threw whatever laundry (probably dirty) from the floor in to a bag, and tried to clean up the house while we waited.
Once my mom arrived, it was time to head in to the hospital. Jason drove while I looked up celebrity birthdays on Wikipedia. Everyone born on January 16th was a dud, but the 17th looked promising. We decided right after midnight would be a good time for her to come. I got checked in, and it was confirmed that my water broke. I was still only 3-4 cm at this point around 11pm without any real contractions.
Here is where I should tell you my goal was to have an unmedicated delivery and I had been preparing for that. I would fully recommend you commit to preparing your mind if that is a route you’re interested in! My nurse suggested I lay down and rest for a little while. The doctor was going to come back and check me at 1am and potentially start pitocin if I wasn’t progressing. Either way, she said I would need some strength. So I laid down, still not really having any consistent contractions, and put on a playlist of some gentle music that I had wanted to labor to. I brought some oils with me, and being monitored and under the care of my team, I felt comfortable to use clary sage oil which is supposed to help induce contractions. I rolled some on the insides of my ankles and tried to rest.
By midnight, I was having some stronger contractions but nothing that felt super consistent. Jason had taken the nap advice to heart and was passed out on the couch. My nurse encouraged me to get up and start trying to get more regular contractions going, so I started walking the halls while Jason slept. As I was walking, the contractions started coming stronger and harder. I decided to return to my room because I wanted a bit more privacy. I’m honestly not sure of the time but it was sometime before 1am.
I woke Jason up and asked him for help. He used some peppermint oil on my back with warm washcloths to help with contractions. I’m actually not sure how he felt about it because I would kind of just smack his hand away when I didn’t want him to do it anymore, and I would throw the washcloth at him when I wanted it hot again. I’m sure I was in full cave woman mode. I found the most comfort in standing by the bed with my head and arms resting on the bed while it was raised. At this point the contractions felt so strong. I felt like there was little relief between them. My nurse came back at 1 and decided to wait until 1:30 to check me because she wanted to be sure I was progressing.
It couldn’t have been 5 or 10 minutes later that I called out because I was feeling so much pressure with each contraction. She came in to check me and told me I was 7 cm. And in my head I thought “how the hell can I go another 3 cm??!”
Somehow I crawled on to the bed. My nurse was there, and I remember laying on my side gripping the hand rail of the bed through contractions. I’m fairly sure I ripped my gown off at one point? One more contraction and I said “I can’t do this, get her out of me.” My nurse helped me snap out of it and reminded me that when you feel like you can’t do it, that’s the time when you’re almost there. Other nurses were coming in, they were preparing me for delivery, but it just happened so fast.
Two more contractions and I had to push. My doctor wasn’t in the room (same doctor would said the membrane stripping wouldn’t work, HA!), but I just had to. I remember using some special four letter words probably like “oh f*ck” and I think I said “this f*cking hurts*. Im a classy lady, what can I say? I only remember pushing twice and I literally mean I could not stop. I remember them telling me to focus and not push but it was just an instinct to relieve the pressure. I don’t even think it was a conscious decision-my body was doing the work. First a head, and then everything else, and then immediately up to my chest. I cried and said “holy shit I can’t believe I just did that”, to which Jason agreed-he couldn’t believe it.
So on January 17 at 1:20 am, sharing a birthday with Betty White, our Cecilia made her debut.
Jason and I spent the next hour or so mostly saying back and forth “I can’t believe that just happened.” I also made him tell me repeatedly how bad ass I was and that I was the strongest woman alive (this is not exaggeration, he can attest to this, I actually remind him of it at least weekly).
All of my births were so different. And while I prepared and hoped for an unmedicated delivery, it wasn’t quite the one I imagined. I thought I would be a stoic and graceful birthing goddess, but I for sure was not. In the end, it was a beautiful surrender to what my body wanted to do. Letting labor take over and not fight against it is very freeing in its own way and it is a powerful reminder of all the work our bodies are capable of. I will never forget the total feeling of badassness I felt after this delivery. Carrying and delivering three children has tapped in to a deeper strength than I knew even existed and I am forever grateful.