First off I’m glad this thread was created because I tried to write out my daughters birth story after she was born and then got a rush of anxiety about other people reading it or leaving out something important and never finished it. So I’m keeping this for myself too 😂 I haven’t read through others’ stories yet but I will!
My daughters birth was a very positive experience and I worked really really hard to prepare, lay out exactly what I wanted, & was privileged enough to have the support to make it happen. I want so much for all people to have an empowering birth experience & I know that can mean completely different things for different people. I wanted an intervention-free birth for probably a hundred different reasons & I attribute most of my success to staying home as long as we did - although we likely should have left sliiightly earlier 😂
I didn’t allow any cervical checks until 39 weeks because I wanted to mentally prepare to go over 40 weeks, based on FTM statistics. At my 39 week check I was about 2 cm dilated and had some slight cramping. On the 4th of July I lost my mucus plug - I remember because I texted my doula and said - Happy 4th! I lost my mucus plug! The last thing on my to-do list was getting my hair done on the 5th, and I remember that night in the shower I finally figured out that rubbing coconut oil on my nipples would rub away the crusty colostrum build up, and I remember feeling so pleased like - my hair is ready, my nipples are ready 👌🏻 I remember rolling over to go to sleep at 9:30 and feeling some kind of twinge but thinking nothing of it.
My husband was sleeping in the guest room because I got up to pee so much. Around 11:30 I woke up feeling a cramp, looked at the clock and went back to sleep. This happened a few more times and I realized I was waking up about 10 minutes apart, but I kept going back to sleep. I remember thinking if I still feel like this in the morning, I could probably still drive myself to my chiropractor appointment (nope).
Around 1:00 I felt a popping sensation & felt baby move. I got up and went to the bathroom, and put a panty liner in and laid back down, for some reason it wasn’t really clicking that my water could have broken ( but it absolutely did). I kept going through panty liners and eventually was sitting on the toilet thinking I should probably wake up my husband because things were feeling intense. I walked down the hall and he sat up in bed and said “is it happening?!” And I said “I don’t know, I just feel like you should be awake.” I texted my doula and told her I had had pretty intense cramping for the last couple of hours. Pretty quickly after this I was in a super detached, inward mental state and really couldn’t focus on anything but dealing with what I was feeling. I wouldn’t necessarily describe my contractions as painful but just very intense and overtaking my whole body. I remember all I could do was count my own breaths during contractions. My husband was having trouble getting a grasp on contraction timing, and he eventually downloaded an app to time them (I remember between contractions looking at him and he had his credit card out trying to buy some app 😂) Anyway by the time we grasped this concept it seemed like my contractions were not stopping, they were just blending together. In hindsight I was likely in transition. I had so many labor positions planned but I just wanted to sit on the edge of my bed. Our doula suggested trying a warm bath but I hated it, and when I was in the tub I started feeling an intense feeling of my body pushing down at the height of each contraction. A few contractions later I realized I might be pushing. I told my husband, “tell the doula I feel like I’m pushing down” and he started texting her, and I’m like CALL HER! She was really skeptical because it’s only like 5:00 but heard me over the phone and asked if I had tried to check my cervix, which I had told her I wanted to do before going to the hospital. I washed my hands and checked and just felt something hard. She said “ok that’s probably baby’s head, I’ll meet you at the hospital”. I remember her suggesting that I change my breathing to short, shallow breaths to try not to have the baby in the car, and I wish I hadn’t done that because it was really hard to get back into deep belly breaths once we got to the hospital. I remember squatting down to have a contraction at our door, in the car (were 10 mins from the hospital) and at a bench outside the hospital. When we got there my husband had to park and some woman wheeled me upstairs in a wheelchair and put me in line to check in. I remember thinking what the hell, I’m literally pushing, but I was past the point of communicating. Eventually it became obvious and they got me right into a room. I instinctively crawled up onto the bed and then regretted it because they strapped the monitor on me and gave me a fluid IV. But I did remember that I did NOT want to push with my butt flat on the bed, so I told them no stirrups and ended up mostly upright but on my side. I remember trying to ignore the coached pushing and go by how I felt. They had a mirror and my daughters head looked and felt like a little white bowling ball. When her head was out my Dr said, “grab your baby!” and I reached down and pulled her out. We had arrived at the hospital at probably 5:15 and she was born at 5:42. I forgot to even ask about the sex and my Dr reminded me we should check, and my husband told me it was a girl, and said “it’s Maren!” (We had decided our girl name in advance). She stayed right on my chest and found my nipple pretty quickly, but literally gave me a hickey on my nipple as soon as she latched on the first time. They gave me about an hour but my placenta had not come out, so I agreed to the routine pitocin shot which i had initially declined. My Dr was worried about bleeding and wanted to get the placenta out by manual removal. They asked if I wanted someone else to hold the baby but I said no, so I held her while my Dr had her whole hand up there massaging my placenta until it came out. Again I wouldn’t say this was painful but verrrry intense and a lot of pressure. Definitely worse than contractions. I remember my husband saying “just make sure you don’t squeeze her” to me, in regards to the baby😂 Anyway eventually it was out but came out in pieces and I didn’t get to see it. 100% want to birth that damn thing myself this time. I was too lightheaded to pee by myself after which I’ve been told is common if you tend to have lower blood pressure, so I asked for a catheter. We went home the next morning after literally zero sleep because my daughter wanted to sleep on top of me and nurse every 20 minutes which continued for at least a year 😂 My god I’m sorry that was so long!
I’m going to try my best to make this short, and it will be shorter than the original since it’s been 14 years and I’ve forgotten a lot of it, thank goodness.
On my due date with DD1, I had an ultrasound to check if she was ok and assess what we should do from there. I was measuring a few weeks ahead, and she was measuring at about 9lbs. The ultrasound tech spent a lot of time measuring her head, and wouldn’t answer any questions I had. At the time, they knew DD’s head was over the 100th percentile but didn’t tell me. The dr decided I should be induced because of DD’s overall size and my petite size. Also, I had pre-eclampsia so I was very swollen and had high blood pressure.
3 days later I started my induction at 7am, when I was hooked up to the machines, I was already having regular contractions every few minutes. I’d become used to my Braxton Hicks, and had several false alarms. I was only dilated to 1cm and my cervix was ‘long and hard’ so they inserted cervadil, which sent me into full blown labor within an hour. My contractions were really close together and very painful so they gave me some medicine to help the contractions ease up- which ended up stopping the contractions 🙄. Then they started the pitocin around 10:30 am. By 1pm my contractions were super painful, with less than a minute between. By 3pm I was having excruciating contractions, right on top of each other, and had the worst diarrhea of my life. At this point DD’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction, but still considered ok. My contractions felt like someone was stabbing me with a sword from my belly button to my pelvis. By 6pm I was pretty out of my mind with pain, there was no break between contractions, and I was losing it. I had wanted a natural childbirth with no medication of any kind. We had the nurse check how dilated I was, and I was only dilated to 2cm!!! I was not happy. That’s when I asked for the epidural, and received one at about 7:30pm. It was great, I slept for a few hours but I kept having to shift in bed because DD’s heart rate was still dropping with contractions. By 1am I was dilated to 5cm, and that is where I stopped dilation, this is also when they inserted a scalp monitor on dd. Also, my blood pressure was very high! By 5am, my epidural had stopped working on my pain, just my legs were numb. So I was back into full blown labor, in pain, and feeling like I needed to push. We talked about the possibility of a c-section, but we weren’t to that point yet. DD’s heart rate was still dropping. It was chaos. This went on until about 9:00 am, 26 hours after we had started induction.
It was around 9:00 am that several doctors and nurses rushed into my room and started messing with the machines and talking in urgent voices. One doctor came up to me and said ‘I don’t want you to panic, but your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat right now and we need to get you down the hall for an emergency c-section. We need you to roll over on your hands and knees to take pressure off of the baby.’ Someone immediately gave me a shot of medicine in my leg to stop the contractions. And I was wheeled down the hall with my naked butt in the air, while crying and telling DH to call my mom.
Once we got to the OR, the contractions had stopped thanks to the meds, and DD’s heart rate was fine. So DH was let into the room and I was given a spinal block since my epidural had worn off. The docs started the c-section around 10:00am. At this point, I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink in well over 24 hours. My nose was stuffy from crying, and my mouth was so parched it felt like I was going to choke on my tongue. DH rubbed ice cubes in my mouth but I wasn’t allowed to actually eat any.
When dd finally emerged, the silence was huge. She wasn’t crying or making any sound at all. She had inhaled a significant amount of meconium, and the nurses and doctors spent the next 10 minutes suctioning her lungs while DH silently followed and watched dd. It was probably the longest 10 minutes of my life. The relief I felt when she finally cried was astonishing, and once they had gotten her lungs cleared she was fine. She was 8lbs 12 oz, but I like to count her as almost 9lbs because she had pooped so much already! Her head was over the 100th percentile for her gestational age. She was beautiful and perfect in every way, with a full head of hair that was about 2 inches long!
In recovery, she breastfed well, and was alert. Once we got settled into a private room for rest, we both slept for about 18 hours solid. I only remember waking when nurses came to check on me and help change dressings and pads. Once we did wake, I was in a lot of pain. My scar hurt so bad, any movement, even a cough, was super painful. Getting to the toilet was like torture. But most importantly, we made it through alive. I’m very thankful for that.
I was traumatized from our first experience, and I skipped more minor things that went wrong to keep this reasonable! I had nightmares for months, and felt like I had failed because of the c-section. But looking back, I realize that without the c-section, dd and I wouldn’t be here.
I’ll post my other two stories together, they are way shorter, more pleasant, and with fewer complications because they were repeat c-sections.
DD2’s birth story is much less exciting than DD1’s. Thank goodness! Due to the many complications and close calls with DD1’s birth, I did a LOT of research to find a great practice at one of the best hospitals in the area. DD1’s hospital (UCSD) was a learning hospital, so there were a lot of doctors and nurses in training that were assessing and treating me. It led to a lot of frustration since we had so many issues. DD2 and DS were born at Overlake in Bellevue, WA.
DD2 was a repeat c-section, and I can honestly say that that there is a HUGE difference in recovery of a planned c-section vs. failed labor that led to a c-section.
It is nerve wracking giving permission to doctors to cut you open and remove your baby while you are awake. Even though a spinal block blocks all of the pain, you can still feel snapping, tugging, pulling, and many other sensations that I am not a fan of. But my RCS started with admitting, signing papers, and making sure I hadn’t eaten in well over 12 hours. They also shave the top part of your pubic hair, which is weird. The spinal block comes first, I always try to joke around with the anesthesiologist like ‘hey please don’t mess up... haha’. Either way, I find getting a spinal block pretty unpleasant. You bend forward as much as possible and stay still. They numb the outer area, and then insert this tube and inject the block which feels like someone pouring ice into your spine.
While I was getting numb, they did more prepping, laid me down on the operating table, and usually bind your hands to it. The screen went up and pretty soon they were removing previous scar tissue and cutting into my uterus. It’s fairly fast, 1-2 hours. And DD2 came out screaming! It was AMAZING to hear her scream right away and not have all of the panic that I had with DD1. Then she immediately pooped all over one of the nurses! She looked so different from DD1, it was pretty surprising. She was shorter and chubbier, at 17 in long and 8lbs 8oz. She was so perfect though.
Once I was seen up and in recovery, she ate well. I went to take off her baby hat and she had a huge lump on her head. It turned out that the dr used a suction to help get her out because she was ready to come out the good ol fashioned way. The lump on her head was a:
Cephalohematoma (CH) is a collection of blood between a baby's scalp and the skull. Damaged blood vessels release the blood, and the blood pools into a mass under the skin of the scalp. The blood vessels are often damaged during labor and delivery.
She seemed fine otherwise, but had a rough night. She got a fever and was inconsolable all night. So she spent a few hours in the NICU to do an ultrasound on her head to make sure it was just on the outer layers and not in her brain. Also to just do some general screening and observations because she was just freaking out. I gave in to giving her a bottle of formula and that made all the difference. She was just hungry and my milk hadn’t come in. Once my milk came in she was all good!
DS was scheduled for an RCS two days before my due date. But I went into labor with him the day/night before. I was running errands the day before because I knew I’d be stuck for a while once I had surgery. I started getting really intense contractions every 20 minutes while out at the stores. I had to stop and couldn’t talk or walk through them. But I also knew I wouldn’t dilate, because I just don’t dilate well. I didn’t really tell anyone because I wanted to sleep in my bed and they were far enough apart that I was not worried. By the time I went to bed that night, they were about 15 minutes apart, but definitely painful and real. I have loads of Braxton Hicks, and these were not them. I woke up around 4am with contractions around 10 minutes apart, but I wanted my doctor so I was going to wait until my RCS appointment that morning! Stubborn? Yes.
I woke DD’s up around 7:00 to get ready for school and by this time contractions were about 7 minutes apart. They got on their school bus at 8:15, then I went to wake dh. I woke him up and told him I was in labor and we should probably go to the hospital a little earlier than planned. Idk if he didn’t hear me or didn’t understand or what, but he was super calm. He showered and then said ‘I’ve got to send a couple of work emails’. So I’m sitting on the steps with contractions now every 5 minutes apart while he spent about 30 minutes sending emails. He came out of the office and asked what was wrong.... um, I’m in labor for real!!! Then he finally grasped that I was in labor... like I said...
So I called the hospital, let them know I was coming in a couple of hours early because I was in labor. When I answered all of their labor questions, they were pretty pissed that I didn’t come in earlier. But I was on a schedule! My kids going to school was their babysitter for the day until my step dad picked them up later that afternoon.
On the way to the hospital, there was a ton of traffic and my contractions went to every 3 minutes and I had to do the breath exercises to get through them. They were a squeezing pressure feeling (not like the stabbing ones induction gave me). When I finally got there, I was 2 hours early for my RCS and my doctor was not there yet. The panicked nurses checked me, thinking I was going to be dilated. But I was not at all dilated! Not even 1cm! (Which turned out to be a problem later). So they let me hang out in labor while I waited for my doctor. I didn’t want anyone else.
I was hooked up to all the machines, including a heart rate monitor for DS. Well, guess what started happening? His heart rate started dropping with each contraction. At first, I was ok with it, it wasn’t too much. But within 30 minutes, it was dropping more and more with the more intense contractions that were about every 2 minutes. I started having flashbacks of DD1’s labor, and of almost losing her. So I decided to just take the on call doctor for my c-section.
Everything went just like with DD2, and as soon as DS came out he pooped on the doctor that I didn’t want to do my c-section! It was a hilarious. DS was 23in long, 8lbs 8oz just like DD2. He ate like a champ, and the nurses were all surprised that I had milk already. But I’d never stopped lactating after DD2, so they were ready!
But, not everything was peaches and cream. A couple of hours after my surgery, my regular Ob finally arrived and checked me. She didn’t say it, but I could tell by the look on her face that the other dr didn’t do a good job on my incision. She was really upset. Then my uterus wasn’t going down like it should, it was growing again. And it turns out that I was so not dilated that nothing could come out of my uterus. It was blocked. So she warned me that they were going to do something very painful to help. She gave me some serious pain meds, brought in two nurses and started a procedure. Two nurses were putting all of their weight and rolling down on my uterus while my ob had her hand up my vag to try and open my cervix. It was excruciating. DH was holding my hand, but he looked scared. It ended up working, but it was a solid 20 minutes of this procedure.
My 3rd incision wasn’t healed enough to take the staples out before I went home. So my ob gave me the option of staying another day or two in the hospital or going home and making an appointment for a few days down the road to have my staples removed. I chose to go home. Mistake! The office couldn’t fit me in with my Ob, so I took another. By the time I got in 4 days later to have my staples removed, my incision was infected and I was in so much pain. My Ob saw me sitting in the waiting room and immediately took me in to take care of me. Oh, and I had mastitis too. I was a hot mess. So please ladies, take good care of yourself and if something feels off, go get it checked out!!