I had a feeling all along that I’d go into labor earlier rather than later, so when my doctor told me how much progress I’d made at 37 weeks (3cm, 70% effaced), I definitely didn’t think we’d make it to 40 weeks. Add in a night of intense (but irregular) contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart during the 37th week, and I was sure she’d arrive before Labor Day. And then Labor Day came and went...and so did the first week of September...and then the second.
At my 39 week appointment, we talked about induction - something I was very adamantly against leading up to this point. I had even listed that in my birth plan, to avoid induction if at all possible. But at 39+ weeks, my perspective changed a lot...I was uncomfortable and just ready to get the show on the road! My husband had hoped all along that Blair would be born on his birthday, so when we were given the opportunity to choose her birthday, we decided to go for September 16th so they would share a birthday. At this point, I was still hoping I’d go into labor naturally before the 16th, but at least we had a plan in the event that didn’t happen.
That last week before we hit 40 weeks felt so strange - we knew that our lives would be changing within a specific number of days instead of just not knowing when it would happen. We finished up last-minute errands and cleaned up the house and tried to enjoy the last few days of just the two (or three, including Paige!) of us. It definitely felt weird ‘knowing’ that we’d meet our baby girl by the 16th after 9 months of waiting!
My last day of work was Friday, September 12th, and things started to feel a little more real at that point. My due date was Sunday, September 14th, and despite my hope that she’d arrive on her due date, she did not - so I finally accepted that an induction was going to happen. I spent the 15th trying to rest and make sure I’d packed everything and make sure the nursery was ready to go. I went to bed that night filled with a mix of emotions, from excitement to uncertainty and plenty of things in between.
We woke up at 5am on the 16th and headed to the hospital for a 6am induction time. It felt super weird to just walk into the Women’s Center at the hospital, not rushing in with labor pains, like I pictured happening. Instead, it was very casual and we got checked into our room and watched the sunrise as we waited for the nurses to come in and start setting up my IVs and Pitocin. We didn’t end up getting started until after 8am, so I had plenty of time to get anxious about everything that was about to happen! When the nurse came in and put in my IV in my arm, I got super light-headed and almost passed out - a little ammonia and some apple juice later, my blood pressure finally came back up to normal. I think it was just nerves and adrenaline that got the best of me, because needles and blood usually don’t bother me at all!
After I started to feel better, my doctor started the Pitocin and broke my water - another thing I was so sure would happen naturally, when I was out in public or somewhere super embarrassing. Let’s just say, glad that wasn’t the case...as it felt like never-ending gushing afterwards (TMI). Unfortunately, when my water broke, my doctor noticed a bit of meconium...which I was told might prevent skin-to-skin immediately after birth since they would have to suction her lungs and maybe give her oxygen. I had hoped all along to not have to worry about this, but it’s actually a really common scenario when babies are past their due date. I tried really hard not to worry about it and focus on labor instead.
Three hours after starting the Pitocin, the contractions showing up on the monitor were so small that I hardly felt anything. My nurse suggested squatting on an exercise ball to get things going, so I did that and finally started to feel some real (and consistent) contractions! Unfortunately, Blair didn’t seem to like that and her heart rate was not staying consistent when I was bouncing on the ball, so we stopped that and instead I started walking the hallways of the labor and delivery unit. They increased my Pitocin ever so slightly and I made about a dozen trips around the hallways before I started feeling super uncomfortable. Every time a contraction hit, I could barely keep walking, so we finally decided to head back to the room. Once I sat down on the bed, I started to think maybe it was time for the epidural - after all, I didn’t want to wait until the pain was unbearable and then have to wait for the anesthesiologist to come in. When the nurse checked me at this point, I was already 5cm dilated, so I’d made it that far without any pain medicine - good enough for me! They told me to ask for the epidural as soon as I thought I needed it because I had to get through 45 minutes of fluids before I’d be able to get it. I’m pretty sure the ‘fluids’ are just a way to buy the anesthesiologist some time in case they’re working with someone else at the time. Toward the end of the 45 minutes, I was starting to feel serious pain and begged Michael to go ask how much longer until the anesthesiologist arrived. They said there were 5 people in front of me and I got super anxious - but it was less than 10 minutes before my new favorite person ever arrived(!). He did a fantastic job and I barely felt any discomfort from the needle, and within a few minutes, started to feel sweet relief. I knew going into this that I wanted the epidural, and I’m so glad I got one! It was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the experience - I honestly felt pretty amazing and could hardly believe when my doctor came in shortly after and said I was 9cm dilated and would be pushing within 30 minutes! I suddenly felt really unprepared, as I expected it to take a lot longer to make that much progress.
As we got closer to active labor, I started to feel a little discomfort again, but nothing like before the epidural. At this point, it was almost time to push, and my doctor came in and we did a few ‘practice’ pushes. She said to give it a few more minutes, and she went to check on a few other patients. Around 3:30, I started to feel major pressure, and knew that it was time. Michael went out and found my doctor and the entourage of nurses, and it was ‘go time’! Labor was nothing like I’d read about, but it was a fascinating experience nonetheless. My nurses were coaching me through the pushing - 3 pushes and then a break in between - and I’d never felt so exhausted in my life. Luckily, I pushed for less than half an hour before Blair made her appearance at 4:00pm on the dot! Michael was able to cut the cord, but then they immediately took her to suction her lungs, so I had to forego skin-to-skin. They brought her over to me to hold her before they took her to the nursery, but it made me incredibly sad that I didn’t get the one-on-one time right after birth. It was honestly so strange sitting in the room after she was born, with a newly flat stomach and no baby in my arms - while it wasn’t the experience I’d hoped for, I’m just glad she was doing well.
We were discharged from the hospital that evening and got home around 8pm. She cried when we walked in the front door, and we realized she needed a diaper change - that was the very first diaper we had to change on our own and I’m pretty sure we both felt helpless and unprepared! That first night at home was intimidating and I don’t think I slept for longer than 30 minutes at a time - but it’s amazing how two short weeks later, we feel so much more at ease and navigating parenthood feels (slightly) less overwhelming! It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s been so much more amazing than I thought it would be. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly I recovered from childbirth - I honestly didn’t even feel like my body had been through 9 months of pregnancy and then labor just days after her delivery. It also feels amazing to be back in my regular clothes, just in time for Fall! We went for our first family walk 4 days after she was born, and I feel like I could go for a run at this point - which is crazy! This entire experience was so much different than I expected it to be, but in the best of ways. It’s hard to believe that I’m no longer pregnant and that we have a two week old baby at home!