Click Here to read my post on packing your hospital bag! Mariah’s Perspective
Though it was more than unexpected and didn't go how I thought or necessarily wanted... This is his birth story and it's my positive birth story because I choose to view it that way.
Around October 29 I started having what seemed like mild contractions at night. Each night I would feel a few, but nothing I couldn’t sleep through. On November 1st I had a doctor’s appointment and everyone in the office knew I’d be having the baby soon. Dr. Fejes kept saying “I’ll see you___ unless not” or “I’m on call so have the baby any day”. I was definitely getting uncomfortable and ready. That night I got into bed (Jer was already asleep) and not even 5 minutes later there was a huge POP! It was so loud and sudden it scared me, and at the time I was slightly surprised it didn’t wake up Jer. I knew it had to be my water breaking so I got up and went straight to the bathroom. Not much water was leaking yet so I went back to the bed, woke up Jer and told him my water broke. That got him up pretty quick. I remember saying “It’s okay… I just need to check what time it is”. It was 22:40. After that, water started leaking a lot more. I was expecting to labor at home for a while and for us, or at least Jer, to get some more rest. We timed some contractions to see where we were at. Nothing consistent or too intense, but they were fairly frequent and I couldn’t sleep through them. I think Jer tried to lay back down for a bit, but it didn’t last long because I wanted some counter-pressure and needed him. I started to listen to some of my meditations (I used Christian Hypnobirthing and Bridget Taylor’s Youtube Channel). It was hard to tell what was going on so we kept timing the contractions. Some seemed to last a very long time - like 1.5 minutes or more, but still not frequent or consistent. I think we both knew we would be going to the hospital soon though. Jer started getting the car packed and making sure everything was taken care of. I mostly kept my eyes closed, bounced on the ball (or sat on the toilet), and listened to my meditations to focus on breathing and relaxing. Jer was so amazing at making sure we were good to go. I only needed to remind him to bring a pillow for himself (a few times).
Once everything was good to go we got in the car. Jer pulled up the directions and it said it would only take 9 mins. We were both amazed that it only took that long in the middle of the night. I remember Jer going through an empty red light that wouldn’t turn and kind of laughed about it. I think it was around 1:00 a.m. , but I never really knew what time it was. I kept listening to my meditations and talking with Jer. Once we got to the hospital we pulled up to the ER. They put a mask on me and got me into a wheelchair. Jer went to park the car and they said they would just take me up and guide him to me when they finished. We went up an elevator and to a desk where they asked me a few questions. I got taken into a room and the nurse, Cici, asked me more questions. I kept wondering where Jer was. She then did a COVID test (my first time ever actually getting tested for Covid). Then she gave me a gown to change into. Jer finally made it into the room and I got settled on the bed. They checked me and said I was at a 5, almost a 6, and checked to make sure my water had broken (no doubt in my mind it had though haha). I couldn't believe I was almost at a 6 and had jumped straight into labor when my water broke. The nurse put external monitors on, put in an IV just in case I needed it, and took our birth plan. I told her I would want some nitrous oxide for pain relief, so she brought that in.
The next few hours I labored on the birth ball, used a little bit of nitrous, and had Jer help me with breathing and counter pressure. The pain in my back started to get pretty painful and I knew things were getting more intense. Leaning forward on the bed from the ball seemed to be the only way to be comfortable. The nurse kept telling me to take more gas and asking if I wanted anything stronger… I kept saying no… or at least Jer did. I had my eyes closed nearly the whole time. I asked what other options I had since the back pain was starting to make me sick. I ended up getting fentanyl to hopefully make it more bearable. The nurse said it should help me get some rest since I'd been awake for so long.
About 30 mins went by and I wasn’t feeling any relief. I was still listening and breathing but was a little upset that the fentanyl wasn’t doing anything because I didn’t want the epidural - especially since I felt like I was getting pretty close with how intense it was feeling. We decided to ask if I could be checked again. I wanted to see where I was at before deciding on the epidural. Cici checked me and said, “You’re about the same, darling… about a 6”. No… no, no, no. There is no way she is right. This is way more intense… I’ve labored all night! If I haven’t progressed at all and the back pain is this strong, I’m not sure I will make it. Cici’s shift was about over and she asked a final time if I wanted the epidural. I was a little annoyed she kept asking, but I looked at Jer and kinda nodded my head. She said she would go get the paperwork. Jer came next to me and asked, “Is this Chicken in a Biscuit?”. I laughed a little and nodded, “Yes… this is Chicken in a Biscuit”. (Weeks before we came up with a “code” for me to say if I really, desperately thought I needed the epidural and didn’t think I’d regret it later, basically). Cici said to drink a lot because once I got the epidural I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink or anything… that wasn’t what I had been taught. Jer asked her if I could get a low dosage epidural and she said there was no such thing… also not what I had been taught. I kept thinking about it while they got the paperwork and everything (they said it would take about 20-30 mins which I was thankful for so I could keep thinking about it). I had been awake for 24 hours, the back pain was almost unbearable, at times I felt like pushing but knew it was too soon, and apparently… I was still at a 6. Jer assured me it would be a good idea so I could get some rest.
When the anesthesiologist came in I signed the papers. Jer asked about the eating/drinking as well as getting a low dosage. He said I could totally eat and drink, but probably stick to liquids and nothing too heavy. He also said a low dosage would be really easy and I just needed to tell him how much I wanted to feel. I told him I wanted the edge off, but still wanted to feel my legs and as much as possible. He said he would do his best. I sat on the edge of the bed and held onto Jer while they gave it. Luckily, I didn’t really feel it. At this same time, the nurses were changing shifts as well. The anesthesiologist, nurse, and Jer helped me lay on one side and then the other to distribute the epidural. Unfortunately, my left side, the side I was on first, got a lot more numb than the other side. I was able to move my right leg the whole time but had absolutely no control over the left. At least I was able to get some rest. I also got checked again at some point (we didn’t really believe the last nurse) and I was at an 8! Either the last nurse was wrong or I progressed really fast…
It seemed like my eyes were shut for only a few minutes before the nurse came back in ( I think I was actually able to sleep for about an hour). She said the baby’s heart rate kept dropping a little bit. We decided to try a few different positions to see if that would help. I wanted to try laying on my side with the peanut ball since I was getting pretty close. After a little bit his heart rate dropped again. Every time I went onto my side with the peanut ball, it dropped. She continued to keep an eye on things and it seemed like things were getting better. He just didn’t like me using the peanut ball… I’m not sure if she came and left a few times, but I remember her staying by my side watching the monitors and then calling for help. Suddenly an army of nurses came into the room. I wasn’t really awake enough to process everything going on, but it didn't seem too good. The nurse explained to us that my contractions had a weird pattern of lasting a very long time and then having a long break between (that explains why labor at home was so strange). She said the baby wasn’t handling the long contractions very well and they thought his cord was getting pinched each time since my water had broken so long before. Obviously, they wanted to avoid a c-section (I think they were ready to go for it if he needed it though) so they said they were going to insert a tube that would circulate fluid back in so his cord wouldn’t get pinched. Thank goodness I got that epidural because before I knew it there were about 5 cords going inside me. Thankfully, the fluid worked and his heart rate was back to normal. We did try the peanut ball again and he did not like it… no peanut ball for me haha. All of that happened sometime between 7:00 am and 10:20 am. I was finally able to get a little bit more rest. Since I was sitting up the epidural was starting to leave my back a little bit and I could feel more pressure, but nothing too bad.
The nurse brought in some “lunch” and Jer helped me get some broth and juice. I was also able to have a few of the snacks we brought. Pretty soon the back pain was coming back. They laid me back down to try to get the epidural back to my back. I hit the button to get a boost which helped. As time went on the back pain was getting worse and worse. I was constantly wanting to change positions to get comfortable. Our nurse was so amazing. I think she helped me change positions about 753 times. The pain started to get so bad I was throwing up. They got some little things that smelled nice to help the nausea. I threw up a few times… We tried so many positions I can hardly remember it all. I know I felt best on my left side and I even felt like pushing a little. The nurse never checked me, but she said she wouldn’t doubt that I was at a 10 and if I felt like pushing to go for it. I did… a little bit. We tried moving me onto my elbows and knees, but that hurt my back SO BAD. I went right back to my side. Eventually, she did check me to make sure, and sure enough, I was at a 10 and fully effaced. I remember the nurse telling me her shift was ending and she was meeting with the next nurse. I wanted to cry. Another nurse left and I was still there in pain. That nurse was amazing at helping me feel comfortable and I didn’t want her to leave.
The new nurse came in. Her name was Nikki (I’m pretty sure). Nikki told me I wasn’t going to like her for the next little bit. I did not like Nikki. I was lying there in pain as she told me she was observing how things were going and we needed to try a few things. I was annoyed because I thought she came in knowing nothing about my situation. She said she knew the baby was in a bad position and there were 3 positions she needed me to try to get him flipped (He was stuck, possibly turned wrong and/or had his hand by his face). We tried the first one which consisted of me in some weird position on my right side. It hurt SO bad. I remember looking ahead at Nikki and Jer and begging them to move me… but Nikki just watched. I did not like Nikki. She told me we could move onto hands and knees. “We tried that already and it hurt SO bad” I told her. She said it would be different this time. She adjusted the bed and they flipped me over. It was so painful. It was different… but still SO painful. I made Jer come stand by me and count my breaths. I felt like I was there for hours… I was. Poor Jer was standing there counting up to 7 and back down forever. Neither of us had slept or eaten much. I guess Nikki decided that was long enough and let me flip back over.
She checked and said he had moved! I wasn’t really feeling the pressure or urge to push though… Nikki said sometimes the epidural takes that feeling away. However, since I had been at a 10 for hours and he wasn’t stuck or sunny side up anymore, it was time to start pushing. We tried several positions again and Nikki coached me through the contractions. I preferred sitting up or squatting which luckily I could still do with someone supporting my left leg. Nikki kept telling me how close I was and that she could see his head. She even let Jer see his head. I remember the first time she did she told me he was definitely not blonde. Her coaching me through pushing at each contraction and telling me how good I was doing was so great and kept me going strong. I loved Nikki. She showed tough love, but it was love for sure. I think I threw up another time or two… Jer was giving me ginger ale, popsicles, and broth to keep my energy up. I also started to have a hard time breathing and Nikki got me an oxygen mask to use whenever I needed it. After trying many different positions we finally found one that was working really well! Nikki said I was progressing faster and it felt much better for me. I was surprised that it involved more laying down though. After that, Nikki made it sound like things were really moving along and she was going to try to get the doctor in. The doctor kept saying I wasn’t close enough or I needed to… blah blah blah. I don’t know, but Nikki said she knew better and they would get him in. I think an on-call doctor came in to really see how things were going before calling in Dr. Fejes. The details are a little blurry since I was in my own zone with my eyes closed. Nikki told me I needed to show them how good I was doing so the doctor would come.
After pushing for what I think was about 3 hours, Dr. Fejes came in. Nikki kept telling me that he was probably going to doubt things or change things, but not to listen to him and just keep doing what we’re doing. He watched a few contractions… he wasn’t quite as encouraging as Nikki. Something finally convinced him that we were ready - or at least had to reach the end soon. So he said, “Okay Mariah, we are going to get this baby, but I need a lot from you.” Nikki whispered to me to just keep doing what I was doing. Dr. Fejes started to instruct me to lay back and have Jer and Nikki hold my legs. I was trying to say I didn’t want to lay down… the position was working really well, but we were so close so I lied back but kept my hands and legs where I wanted them. He removed all the cords/monitors. Not long after, the doctor said that he was just a little stuck and asked to use the vacuum. He assured me that it was safe and he had done it a lot… I said okay. He talked me through the whole thing and right when he got that vacuum on he was shouting “Dad come get your son”. Luckily, Jer had my right leg… He ran over and Dr. Fejes let him take over. BOOM. Baby was born! Dr. Fejes said he didn’t do anything, the vacuum was barely placed and barely used… It was all us. Jer delivered him and then placed him on my chest. He had a huge unicorn head! He was definitely stuck for a bit. I was able to start nursing right away as well.
Born at 7:41 pm. 21 hours of intense labor.
(Post about the hospital stay coming soon!)