Ruby’s Birth Story (Part I: Labor)

“Once in a while, right in the middle of ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.”

“It is said that women in labor, leave their bodies, travel to the stars, collect the souls of their babies, and return to earth together. It was primitive, anguished, and incredible all at the same time. It was completely primal in the most beautiful and unflattering of ways. It is the most empowered and the most vulnerable that I have ever been. I feel like a war veteran of sorts…and I know one thing for sure, no matter who you are or what kind of birth you have, there is absolutely nothing like bringing a human being into this world. Being a woman, being a mother, is soul fire.” — Cosette Skaggs

Me, so done being pregnant ;)

I remember the evening like it was yesterday. Peter and I were settled in with a movie on after another week of work was laid to rest.

Hours before, we both came home so exhausted that we took a 2–3 hour nap. I set my alarm for 7ish so I could make it to Trader Joe’s in time for groceries, which I did end up accomplishing….and grocery shopping at 40 weeks pregnant 100% feels like a grand feat. But I wanted to have our freezer stocked and snacks ready for our little lady’s arrival which was scheduled for that Sunday, if I didn’t go into labor sooner.

Long story short, they had been monitoring Ruby’s head size my entire pregnancy (with a few scares to my new mama heart) and it had always measured very very low, like in the “caution” area low. Yet they never found anything wrong with her brain or skull (thank you Jesus). They did an another additional ultra sound at my 40 week appt and she was still measuring small head size wise and overall body wise, so my doctor recommended that we induce that Sunday if she didn’t come on her own by then. Say what you will, but I chose my doctor for a reason and trusted her prompting. So Sunday would be the big day unless she decided to come sooner…which she did ;)

Thinking back on that long nap we took that night — I really think that was Jesus’ loving hand saying, “Hey guys, let’s get some rest. I know you don’t know this yet, but you’re about to start laboring your sweet daughter into the world, and you’re going to want this long nap to help you through.”

It was around 10pm the night of April 7th that I started feeling something different. I felt the Braxton Hicks in the weeks leading up, but these seemed to be more rhythmic, a bit predictable, more uncomfortable. Without mentioning anything to Peter, I grabbed a note pad, sat back down to watch the movie, and began keeping track of what I thought might be my initial contractions. I didn’t want to tell Peter and get us all excited for nothing in case it wasn’t it! I still wasn’t sure if these were actually contractions. So I sat there, albeit uncomfortably, and timed away for the next little while.

The contractions were manageable, but they were definitely following a consistent pace. I told Peter about an hour into my timing that I thought the process may be beginning and he got so excited! It was such a sweet moment, but I was trying to still remain cautious all the while.

Our movie ended and we both got ready for bed. I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep great (that’s the third trimester, anyway), but I wanted to lay down and see if they went away or if they continued to get stronger and closer together.

I went to the bathroom (for the 500th time that day) before plopping my pregnant self into bed, and when I stood up a little something trickled down my leg. “EW” I thought to myself, “I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST PEED ON MYSELF.” Not being able to see much of my thighs at that point in my life, I blindly spot cleaned where it felt like the liquid went, and made my way to bed.

I think I actually fell asleep for about 20–30 minutes before waking up to painful feelings in my lower abdomen and needing to pee. I rolled out of bed, hobbled to the bathroom, and did my business. Then when I stood up, liiiiqqquuiiiiddddd.

Then it hit me — is this my water breaking?! I walked to the kitchen and more kept coming out — something that I could not control. My pants were quite wet so I changed, then got Peter up to share the excitement and process what we should do next. By this time, it was around 1am, and we decided to call the after hours labor/delivery number to see what they recommended we do. I asked to speak to the on call doctor, and after going through the consistency of my contractions and the fact that my water had broken, she said that I should come on in.

We were giddy with anticipation and couldn’t stop smiling. Our hospital bags had been packed for a few weeks, so we just added in those last minute items and were on our way! At this wee hour in the morning, I made the first call to my mother in law, who was going to meet us there to be a part of my labor. What a fun call to make! And then followed a small list of a few others to let them know we were on our way to the hospital as well.

We arrived at the hospital around 2am, April 8th. Peter dropped me off at the spot we were told to go in during our childbirth class, and I waited for him as he parked the car. While I was standing there waiting for him it was like the floodgates opened and a huge gush of water soaked my pants and went to the floor. I tried to walk away from the area where other people were and it. just. kept. coming. Thankfully I had on black yoga pants so I’m sure no one could see a thing, but I did not know what to do with myself.

A few minutes later, Peter joined me and we made our way up to labor and delivery. Since they knew we were coming, they met us at the front desk and walked us to our room. I remember walking into that room, looking around and thinking, “Wow. This is the room where we will meet our daughter. This is the bed where she will make her entrance into the world. This is a sacred, holy space.”

I changed my clothes and got rested on the bed as our first of many nurses got us situated. We confirmed that my water had definitely broken, and she hooked me up to the monitor to time my contractions. I can’t remember exactly how far apart they were, but we still had some work to do ;)

I spent the next few hours slowly walking up and down the hall, did a little bit of stairs, spent time on the birthing ball (which was AWESOME. Definitely use that if you can!), and did a lot of swaying and walking as we waited for my contractions to progress and my body to dilate more.

Around 5:15am the doctor arrived to check me out and I was only at 1 cm — soooo disappointing after feeling like I had been doing so much to get my labor to progress naturally. After this news, I continued to walk, use the birthing ball, rest, and lean over the bed. 11:45am rolled around and they checked me again and I still was not progressing well. My body was having a difficult time getting into a rhythm of contractions. They kept doubling up one right after another (owww) instead of being one-rest-another-rest, etc.

Since my water had broken many hours before, and my labor was not progressing after being there for so long, they started me on the lovely pitocin drip. At this point I had to stay in the bed and labor there. They upped the pitocin every 30 minutes, I believe, making the contractions more intense and closer together. It was around 1pm that I felt so exhausted and super uncomfortable that I asked for some nitris oxide to take the edge off the pain. It basically came in the form of an oxygen mask and I would breathe it in during a contraction and it was supposed to take the “edge” off the height of the contraction. In my opinion, it didn’t really take any pain away, but maybe a teeny bit of the discomfort.

At 1:45pm I was 3cm dilated (woo hoo progress!) but knew I still had a long way to go and the pain was getting too much to handle so I asked for that epidural! I received the epidural around 3pm and it was an absolute DREAM. No regrets. So glad I did it. The pain of contractions was way worse than the sting of the epidural and I was still able to move my legs around so it wasn’t super strong, which I liked. I literally took a nap while they kept upping the pitocin every 30 minutes and had a few family members come visit while I had that big stinkin’ peanut between my legs.

5:30pm rolled around and when they checked me I was 6cm and 80% effaced. At 7:50pm I was 10cm and dilation was complete. I could FEEL the pressure down there. I was ready to push.

The doctor and nurse told me that my body responded well to the epidural since I was able to feel when to push and move my legs some. I took this as a great sign initially and was glad that I could tell when to push. However, I didn’t feel that way after a while because little did I know that I would be pushing for the next 2 1/2 hours and FEEL IT for a good chunk of those hours. It ended up being a lot more painful than what I was expecting with the epidural…

I’m going to pause here for now and will continue with Part II: The Delivery soon!