This is how I remember my labor and delivery, some of it feels like a blur. Thank goodness for birth photography to capture all of it while I was in the zone!
All pictures done by Sarah Maxey photography.
As my “due-date”– more like guess-date—approached, every night I would go to bed and wonder “Is tonight going to be the night?” I’d read time after time about how first time moms typically have long labors, they tend to go over their due date, they have hard labors, they push longer etc. Well, I’m here to tell you, my body didn’t read that text book or follow those statistics by any means at all.
I had researched hours upon hours for years before and during my pregnancy about labor, and birth. I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on how it was going to go and what I needed to look out for as far as labor signs. Also, Jamie—my midwife whom I loved and trusted–always told me to come to the hospital when I could no longer walk or talk through contractions. Well… my labor went a little like this…
Saturday November 7th:
I was home relaxing on the couch as usual after work. And as usual I was crampy and having Braxton hicks contractions but I noticed they were coming more frequently. When I started to time them they were every 5-7 minutes apart, not very consistent and they never grew in intensity. They didn’t hurt either, they were just uncomfortable but not so much so that I had to adjust my position, in fact, if I moved, the contraction would stop all together. Nothing hurt; I was just annoyed by them. I wouldn’t even rate them on the pain scale.
There was a brief moment there where I thought I was in labor. I debated about calling the midwife on call, but kept talking myself out of it. When you can’t walk or talk through contractions, you know what to look for. Don’t go to the hospital too soon, you might get interventions. The fear of intervention is ultimately the factor that stopped me from calling. Thankfully I didn’t because the contractions, after about three or so hours, completely stopped.
Sunday, November 8th:
Going to bed Saturday night I was sure I was going to wake up in full blown labor or wake to a wet bed. Nothing. All day Sunday: nothing. Not even one cramp. I was confused but went about my day, waiting for something to happen, waiting to feel something but I never did.
Monday, November 9th:
My morning was normal, still I felt nothing. I saw Jamie after lunch and told her about Saturday. My body was just practicing she said, and that I was getting close. I am 39 weeks at this point.
At all of my visits I declined getting checked because I knew it wouldn’t tell when I was going to go into labor, it meant nothing. It was only a snap shot in time. However, I was curious if I was dilated or effaced at all because of Saturday and I asked her to check me.
To both of our surprise, I was 90% effaced and already 4 cm dilated. I was shocked! How could I have made that much progress but not feel any pain? Remember how she always said to come in when I could no longer walk or talk through contractions? Well, she said to forget about that because I may have a faster labor since I was already dilated and effaced so much without feeling pain. My pain tolerance must be higher than I thought or I just won’t present as a typical first time mom when it came to the length of labor.
I left her office with a sense of “oh crap, I could have a baby any second” and that was an overwhelming feeling. Was I ready? I felt ready most of the time, but I had doubts about my ability to handle it once the time came.
A few hours later I noticed the same things starting to happen as Saturday. I called Jamie and spoke with her and she said if they were still coming after I saw my chiropractor to head to the hospital. They were coming every 3-4 minutes, but still nothing I couldn’t handle. Only strong cramps. They didn’t interfere with any activity I did and I could ignore them if I wanted to.
When we got to the hospital I was still the same, 90 and 4 so they had me walk around for an hour. We walked the halls of the hospital, I squatted in the halls and did labor positions. Got checked again, still 90 and 4 so we walked for another hour. I was still 90 and 4 despite having regular contractions, validated by the monitor. The only thing that happened was he went from a -2 station to a -1—which was good but I was very frustrated at this point and confused about what my body was doing.
I began to get a little worried, thinking that this was how it was going to go down, nothing would happen then the intervention snowball would begin. That’s what I didn’t want and that is what scared me the most. Thankfully they sent me home thanks to Jamie who called the hospital to check on me, because she knew my desire to go natural with no interventions. If I had stayed, I would have immediately got several things I didn’t want at all, monitoring, no eating, Pitocin…
Again, I went to bed thinking I was going to wake up in full blown labor or in a puddle of fluid. Nothing.
Tuesday, November 10th:
Not. A. Damn. Thing.
I felt cramps periodically, not in any pattern at all and only one every hour or so. We went walking, trying to get things started. We went downtown and walked through the shops to kill time and keep me on my feet. We went to a late lunch—where I ate a cheeseburger for the first time ever. I usually get chicken everywhere we go, so this was very uncharacteristic of me.
That evening we were watching a movie and I was sitting on my birthing ball and leaning on it, still trying to jump start something. Nothing… we went to bed.
At 11:40 I wake up having to pee. Typical. I felt totally normal and felt good. I peed and laid back down in bed. It was always a challenge to get myself back into a comfortable position after having to get up to go to the bathroom, once I did, I cuddled against Dyllan’s arm.
Not even one minute after getting comfortable I felt a cramp. Same stupid cramps I thought to myself, but this one got stronger and didn’t go away. It was the first one I had ever felt that made me want to move to find a more comfortable position and take a deep breath. I moved to all fours and took a really deep breath through it and grabbed Dyllan’s arm.
“Dyllan,” I said and he groaned, that’s when I felt something warm between my legs. I got up immediately and that’s when I felt the warm run down my leg. It wasn’t a lot at all, not much like I thought it would be, but enough for me to know it was my water bag. “I think my water broke,” I said from the bathroom. He got excited right away. From that moment on, it was go time. “Okay, I guess this is it,” I said.
I gave Dyllan my phone to call Jamie. It was her night at the hospital, and I knew that which made me feel good because I trusted her and I wanted her there. She knew everything I wanted. I was sitting on the toilet breathing through contractions. He let the person on the phone know my water broke and that we were coming.
“Tell them I need a tub,” I said. That was most important to me.
I put some clothes on while Dyllan called the birth photographer, my mom and my dad to tell them my water broke. All of this happened within five minutes. Then he started to run around the house putting the last few things in the car. My contractions were about every 3 minutes already and they were stronger than anything I felt on Saturday and Monday. I didn’t want to sit still or lay down; I wanted to move through them. I paced the house moaning and telling him to hurry up because they were so close together.
Outside I was pacing the driveway until he was in the car and ready because I didn’t want to sit in the car. The longer I could walk around the better I would feel. I wasn’t scared; I didn’t have time to be scared because my labor was so intense so quickly. I was just focused on breathing through the contractions.
The hospital was an hour away. This is one of the reasons why Jamie wanted me to come to the hospital sooner than we had originally agreed upon. I felt like my contractions never totally went away from the moment my water broke, there was just lingering cramping between the peaks. I could feel them grow and fade out, but they never totally faded out. There was no break.
Dyllan kept telling me to breathe and that I was doing well, I heard him, but kind of wasn’t listening. I was way too inside myself focused on what I was doing. I could sit in the car, uncomfortably of course, until we were halfway to the hospital. I felt one coming and started to squirm in my seat. “No no no no no I don’t want to do another one,” I whined. That’s when I couldn’t bear to sit anymore.
I got up and was on all fours grabbing Dyllan and moaning through them, louder now. Then I leaned the seat all the way back and held on to the head rest and grunted louder and said his name, basically as a sign that he needed to go faster. I told him to hurry and go faster several times because I was unaware at the time that he was going 100 mph. When I moved onto my hands and knees in the car, I felt Malachai’s head move extremely low. I suddenly felt like a bowling ball was placed between my legs. It felt so awkward.
“He’s coming Dyllan, I felt him move, hurry up,” I managed to say. He kept telling me to breathe and that I was doing well, but it fell on deaf ears.
He ran a red light to turn into the hospital and he parked by the doors in the parking garage. He helped me out, I felt like I was waddling big time. The doors were locked because it was the middle of the night. We had to go in through the ER which was pretty far away considering the hurry we were in. We had to stop at the security desk to get in, Dyllan took care of that while I paced the entrance groaning loudly. I think it was obvious why we were there and two nurses came out from the emergency doors.
“What’s going on?” one of them asked before she saw me.
“She’s in labor,” Dyllan said, and then she saw me.
“Oh yep, let’s get you upstairs. I delivered a baby in the parking lot last week let’s not do that again.” She pulled out a wheelchair for me which I sat down in reluctantly. Sitting was the worst position to be in. The nurse started to push me but then Dyllan took the wheelchair. She asked if he knew where to go, he said yep then he started running with me to the elevators.
Once we got to labor and delivery a nurse met us and asked who I was. Dyllan answered, I couldn’t talk, to busy concentrating and groaning. I did manage to say that I wanted a room with a tub. Clearly that was the only thing on my mind. My contractions were right on top of each other. I remember thinking this better be transition already or I’m in trouble. I wouldn’t say they were painful, just incredibly strong cramps that never stopped and extremely uncomfortable. Sitting still in that wheel chair was torture!
Once we were in the room I took my pants off and laid down over the bed where they strapped a monitor on my belly to check Malachai. One of the nurses wanted to check me but said it was ok to wait until the contraction was over to make it less uncomfortable. I appreciated that but there was no “over” to my contractions. I knew there was going to be no break for her to check me so I rolled over and let her check me. 8 cm. holy moly.
It was about 12:30 am now. In the next half hour I went from 8 cm to complete. I wanted to be on all fours but I didn’t have the strength to hold myself up so I told Dyllan to sit on the bed so I could lean on him.
I rarely talked, but when I did it was either about the tub or asking where Jamie was. I was afraid she wouldn’t make it in time, and that’s honestly the only thing that scared me. She knew what I wanted and I trusted her with everything, I didn’t want someone else to deliver him.
In all the chaos I heard a nurse say I needed to sign consent forms, I said ok. And I needed an IV catheter just in case. Trying to sit still for her to put that in during transition was very difficult. Thank God she was quick and got it in no problem. When I moved I noticed she hooked me up to fluids because I had a long line follow me when I moved. It was in my birth plan that I didn’t want that, someone must have told her because she took it off before I could say something.
I put all my weight on Dyllan and rocked in circles moaning and groaning. I was exhausted already and my contractions never stopped, no break and I started to doubt myself. I started to cry and said I couldn’t do it but he told me I could. I suddenly felt an intense amount of pressure down below that made me feel like I had to poop. “I feel like I have to poop,” I said and involuntarily my body pushed a little bit.
“Well no more tub,” I heard a nurse say. At that point, I didn’t even want to move to get into the tub so I didn’t care.
I felt someone stick their hands inside me to check me again. That bothered me because I didn’t know it was going to happen. If she said she was going to do it, I didn’t hear her. That is my only complaint about my entire experience, so I can’t get too hung up on it.
I heard Jamie now which made me feel relieved, and a nurse began to fill her in. “She came in at an 8 and now she’s complete and said she feels like she has to poop.” I’m not sure how long Jamie had been there because I had my head buried in Dyllan’s shoulder concentrating.
“Kaylin, do you want to push on all fours?” Jamie asked me.
“I don’t know,” I breathed. I didn’t know anything at that point.
Everything is such a blur, it went so fast. I rolled to my back and pushed some. It felt good to push. Once I started the pushing phase, I actually had a legitimate break between contractions. Thank God, but that’s when I realized just how exhausted I was.
I was pushing a little bit while they were still setting up. I could hear the rustling of plastic and that’s when they asked me to lift up to slide it under me. Good thing they did because with the next contraction all the rest of my water came pouring out. What an odd feeling that was. It was SO MUCH fluid!
Dyllan was holding my leg on one side and a nurse was on the other side. I pushed a few times before I heard Jamie say to one of the nurses to get a sheet because he was getting stuck on a bone. What she had me do was grab the sheet and pull against the nurse. I rested my leg that Dyllan wasn’t holding on Jamie’s forearm while I pulled on the sheet. It actually helped. When I pushed I heard Jamie and the nurses praise me which made me feel good. Also, it let me know I was doing it right—therefore making progress.
A few times during my rest between contractions I would say, “I just want to go to sleep.” I’d never felt so physically exhausted before.
I wanted to hold onto something but they had put the bar on the bed down so I ended up just grabbing the air. “Do you want to hold my hand?” the nurse asked me.
“Yea,” I breathed.
“Okay, I wasn’t sure if that’s what you were wanting.” So I held her hand until I felt the next contraction coming.
“Ok, ok, ok, ok,” I said and grabbed the sheet and pushed. Jamie would touch me and give me a reference point to focus my pushing. That helped me. She could also feel my toes curl on her arm and she told me to relax them and when I did that I felt my push was more successful. I was actually comfortable pushing on my back because after I’d finish pushing I just flopped back to rest until the next one. I was too exhausted to push on all fours anyway.
I could tell Malachai was getting lower because the pressure I felt was getting more intense. I pushed without a contraction once just because I was trying to get him out, it felt weird feeling him be stuck there not moving. Jamie asked if I was having a contraction and I said I didn’t think so. “Wait for a contraction it’ll be easier.”
Every other contraction I had was stronger than the other, therefore one being more progressive than the other. He was getting close because Jamie asked if I wanted a mirror. I said no, I didn’t even have the energy to open my eyes. They were closed pretty much the whole time I was in labor. Plus, during pushing I definitely would not have them open to look so instead I asked if I could feel his head.
I reached down and felt his head just a little, it was just sitting there. Honestly, when I felt his head, I thought there would be more out than that because of what I was feeling during pushing. But I was close if I could feel him. Dyllan told me later that his head would poke out while I pushed then suck back in when I stopped.
Not just with labor but with a lot of things in life I picture myself being done to get through it. I just kept picturing him out of me instead of focusing on everything else.
With each push I felt him putting more pressure and soon I felt the ring of fire. That is one thing during labor I would say I felt pain, but I only felt it during the push, if I stopped, the pain went away too, but I had to push through it to get him out.
I pushed really hard and out came his head. When I felt it come out there was so much relief of pressure that I laid back down on the bed. There are no words to describe the relief I felt when his head came out, but his shoulders were still in. “Push just one more time,” Jamie told me excitedly, so I did it with the little bit of energy I had left and his shoulders were out. The amount of physical relief I felt when the biggest parts of his body were out is indescribable.
It was always the plan to have Dyllan deliver Malachai and hand him to me. At this point when all the pressure was gone and I felt so relieved, I opened my eyes and looked down. That’s when I saw Dyllan with his big hands wrapped around his little body slowly pulling him out of me. Immediately I reached down to grab him too, he was so warm and small, yet big when you think about where he just made his exit…
I started crying when Dyllan put him on my chest, not a bawl-like cry like I thought I would, but I cried. Malachai didn’t come out wailing like you see in the movies, he was whimpering quietly. I thought that was an issue but they told me he was okay, just working the fluid out of his lungs.
Dyllan leaned down and told me, “You birthed without fear and I’m so proud of you.” I was so proud of myself! I felt so high after, even though I was exhausted, emotionally I was as high as a kite. I couldn’t wait to tell the world I had a baby in two and a half hours with no drugs at all—especially because people were so quick to tell me I’d want pain relief when the time came. Not one time did I think of wanting the epidural. Was I uncomfortable? Were there aspects of it that hurt? Of course, but I was so set on doing it naturally that’s just what I had in my mind and that was just the way it was going to be.
When I looked at him all I could think about was I did it. My hand laid over his little body and the other under his butt; he was so warm and wet. He even had a little vernix on him which made me happy, I liked cheesy babies. He cried for a few minutes then started to relax on me.
A nurse put a blanket and a hat on him while he was on my chest and checked him over while he was still on me. I started shaking a few minutes later, not because I was cold though. Jamie said it was because my body had just done a lot of work. The nurse put a warm blanket over us and it felt nice.
Jamie let me know I had a tear that she was going to repair but it wasn’t bad. I was numb from the lidocaine so I didn’t feel much of it. I had kind of forgotten all about delivering the placenta until I felt a contraction. I breathed through it and waited for another one. I asked Jamie if it was almost out and she said if I pushed a little bit it would come out. Next contraction I pushed with it and it came out. That was an odd feeling and it was bigger than I thought it was going to be, it was thick.
In my birth plan I wanted him to stay connected to his placenta and I got just that. They wrapped it in a towel and put it next to me.
Jamie said she was going to push on my belly and to just breathe through it. It was painful when she was pushing on me; I clinched my teeth together and breathed until she was done. With each push on my stomach a lot of big clots and blood came out, it made me feel really gross, and there was a lot of it. Must have been a normal amount though, I never got light headed and didn’t need a transfusion; it was just a lot—more than I was expecting.
I got to breast feed him for the first time while he was still connected to his placenta. This is his first latch. I just couldn’t believe he was here, it felt so surreal. It was hard for me to comprehend that it was over, he was here and I got everything I wanted. Every woman deserves that.
After skin to skin I was ready to get up and clean myself up. Before I got up I had my birth photographer take a picture of him still attached to his placenta. After that, they took him to a little warmer and Dyllan cut the cord. They weighed him and measured him too. Eight pounds six-point-two ounces and 20 inches long.
It was also very important to me that Dyllan got skin to skin too.
When I got up to go to the bathroom the first thing I noticed was how strange my belly felt. It was so floppy and deflated! I kept poking it because it was so weird feeling. In the bathroom I saw the tub. It was only filled up half way, kind of funny. I do wish I was able to get in it, but I still wouldn’t change anything about my experience.
I tried to go pee because I felt like I had to, but I couldn’t go. That turned out to be an issue, eventually I went, 13 hours later! After I cleaned myself up I went out to the main room to watch him get his first bath then he was placed in a little bassinet for us to be transferred to our room.
Once we were in the room where we were going to be staying for the rest of the stay, I was full of adrenaline. I knew I was going to regret not going to sleep before my dad and Jennifer got there, but I was too awake.
It was nice to be in the room with just Dyllan and Malachai to have some time to ourselves before visitors. We’d talked about having kids for years, and it was a struggle to get to this point, but he was finally here, we were finally a family of three. And my birth experience was perfect. My labor and delivery was perfect. And Malachai was perfect.