Well, it’s been over a month and the hormones are erasing my memory of labor, but I wanted to write down what I remember of Kira’s birth! I had a couple of weeks of pre-labor starting from about week 35, and I honestly thought labor would start a lot faster because I was 1 cm dilated at week 36 and my doctor told me that it was likely I would deliver before my due date. So the next couple of weeks were pretty frustrating since I would wake up with strong (not painful) contractions, only to have them disappear around 9 AM. I finally decided not to think about them and just assume that I would go past my due date, as most first time moms do (I even scheduled doctor’s appointments up to week 42!).
On the morning of February 11th, my contractions felt a little different – they were slightly stronger and seemed to be occurring at slightly regular intervals (maybe about 5 an hour)? I decided to telework and began sending emails to my boss and team to finish out a couple of things in case labor was really starting. Around 2 PM, the contractions were definitely getting stronger and occurring every 10 minutes or so apart, so I began keeping track of the intervals and emailed Mike to let him know that we might be going to the hospital that evening. He hurried home, but I told him I wasn’t in any hurry since I wasn’t in pain. We ordered Halal Guys and watched some TV, but the contractions were definitely getting stronger. I began getting up for each contraction so I could push against the wall and started breathing exercises to work through the discomfort. I think around 8 PM, I got into the bath, by which time contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart. After some time in the bath, Mike told me that we needed to get to the hospital because I was clearly in pain. I reluctantly agreed, got dressed and we drove to the hospital.
We went to the Labor and Delivery unit, and the doctor checked me in triage, and said I was around 4 cm and would be delivering a baby soon! Around 11 or midnight, we were brought to our room and I changed into the hospital gown. I was checked by another doctor a few hours later, who let us know that I was still only around 5-6 cm, and I realized I still had a while to go. My initial birth plan was for a natural delivery without drugs, but I seriously began to reconsider because the contractions were so close together and I was in some pain. But we decided to call our doula around 5 AM, and her arrival was a gamechanger.
As soon as Kim arrived, she first observed how I was working through the contractions, encouraged me by telling me I was doing a great job, and asked if I wanted to try different positions to help the labor along. We made it through a couple of hours with my legs rotated off the bed, on all fours, and finally I went into the shower, which felt AWESOME. She helped me manage my pain by encouraging me to stick with my breathing patterns, using techniques like rubbing a scarf on my body, and helped the time pass by varying the positions I labored in. The doctor came in one more time and asked I wanted to be checked, and I said no because I thought I would find it too discouraging if I hadn’t dilated more. Before I knew it, the morning had come and the doctor wanted to check how I was doing. To my surprise, she announced that I was fully dilated and could start pushing!
I immediately felt the urge to push, and even before they had all the equipment in place to monitor me and the baby, I asked my doula to tilt the bed up so I could lean on the back and push. With the first push, I felt my water break. The doctor was a little concerned that there might be meconium in the water, but a pediatrician was consulted and they decided that wasn’t the case. I was excited at the thought that I might meet my baby soon, but what followed was the longest 5+ hours of my life. One nurse stood by my side the whole time; Nurse Patty counted me down from 10 for the next 5 hours and encouraged me to PUSH with all my strength. It took me a few hours to figure out exactly how hard to push, and I kept asking the doctor whether I was making any progress. She said I was, but the baby’s station (how low she was) wasn’t changing that much. My mom also arrived around the time I started to push, and she held my hand and prayed throughout the rest of the ordeal.
After about 3 hours, I could tell there was a nervous atmosphere in the room, and my doula told me afterwards that she was surprised the doctor didn’t encourage me to get a C-section at that point. But the doctor told me that because mine and the baby’s vitals were fine and I was continuing to make an effort, she wanted to honor my birth plan to have a vaginal delivery. Around hour 4 (I think?) the doctor asked if I would be open to trying the vacuum to help maneuver the baby’s head out, and I emphatically agreed (anything to speed things along at that point). I continued to push for another hour or so, and the doctor wiggled her head with each push to improve her position. In the last 30 minutes, I knew we were close because a bunch of people entered the room (the baby’s team) and shouted encouragement at me, letting me know I was so close. I mustered up all my strength to push, and we started pushing 4 times during each set of contractions instead of 3. Finally, they told me she was crowning and I reached down and felt her head. That was all the encouragement I needed, and with the next two pushes, she was out!
I remembered that I wanted delayed cord clamping and asked if that was an option, but the doctor firmly said no (they were concerned about how long she had been stuck in the birth canal), which I was fine with. They took her over to the warming station and began cleaning her up, and we heard her cry for the first time. After she was cleaned up, they put her on my chest right away, and I saw my baby for the first time.
The rest of the day is a blur – I think she started rooting for food right away, so I fed her while we waited to go to the postnatal room. I remember feeling so tired, but excited because she was finally here! The anesthesiologist also stopped by to see if I needed his services, but he realized I had already had the baby, congratulated me and left. Despite having gone for over 18 hours with no food, I didn’t really feel hungry until that evening. My mom went home to start cooking, and I told Mike to go home and get some rest since the foldout bed in the room was very small.
I didn’t get much sleep at the hospital that night because she was in the room with me most of the time and I kept getting up to check on her. Even when she went to the nursery for a few hours, I couldn’t sleep because my body was still keyed up. She nursed well, and the nurses encouraged me to stay one more day to get a little more rest. I didn’t sleep well that second night either, but it was a good decision to stay because the nurses showed us how to change her diaper, give her a bath, and the lactation consultant made sure she was eating well. We also got her hearing checked, got newborn pictures taken, and I got a massage :) I loved everything about the hospital stay except the lack of food available at night – starting the second day, I was starving all the time. Thankfully, some friends visited the second day and brought a lot of snacks <3
Mike spent the second night at home as well, but rushed back to spend time with our baby. It gave me all the feels to see him bonding with his daughter.
We were finally discharged the afternoon of February 14th (valentine’s day – I just realized that!). I guess that’s why there are hearts hanging up, lol.
Welcome to the world, baby Kira! It was a long and difficult labor, but I would do it all over again and endure even more, knowing that at the end of it, I get to meet you.