My Labor and Delivery Story
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day my daughter was born.
How my labor started
The first stage of labor for me started after midnight, between 12:37AM and 1:00AM on Wednesday March 21st, according to an app I use to track my activities, called LifeCyle.
Even having read the What To Expect When You’re Expecting book almost all the way through, I did not think what I was feeling were the signs of early labor. I had read that it is not uncommon to experience contractions at different points during pregnancy, as early as the second trimester. Called Braxton Hicks contractions, these contractions can make someone think they are going into labor when in fact they are not. They’re like practice contractions. The one and only time I experienced Braxton Hicks contractions during my pregnancy was on the evening of Thursday March 1st, 2018. So initially when my labor contractions started I thought it was just a normal part of the process. I didn’t want to be one of the many women who have gone to the hospital only to learn it was false labor. But as we all know now, I was in full on early labor stage.
The pain was just like period cramps and growing pains. From my lower back, all around my abdomen, even my rectum (yes, they don’t always tell you about this pain point) all the way down my legs to my toes, the pain would last a couple minutes or so, and then I’d have to rush to the bathroom for a bowel movement. Looking back, I should’ve known it was labor because diarrhea is one of the signs of early labor.
Labor at home
In intervals as wide ranging as every five minutes to every forty-five minutes, the contractions were harsh to bear, but I wanted to avoid going to the hospital right away. First, I wanted to be sure it was labor and if it was, I wanted to give my baby as much of a chance to come naturally so that when I really couldn’t bear the pain anymore I’d be so far along that induction would no longer be necessary. Since we were scheduled for induction at the hospital the following morning at 6:00AM, I was worried that if we went too soon that they’d resort to induction. And the second reason I didn’t wanted to go to the hospital right away was because I had read about women spending hours, even more than a day in the hospital in labor. My husband’s mother in fact had that experience when she went into labor. My father-in-law told us they were playing cards for hours, waiting for my husband to come out. So rather than play the waiting game in a hospital setting, I told my husband that if this was indeed labor, I wanted to get through it at home as much as possible since we’d have to be at the hospital in a few hours for our scheduled 6:00AM induction anyway. In the end we staid at home until 7:00PM before heading to the hospital, which ended up being the smartest decision.
What I did all day
Going through the first stage of labor at home allowed me to be in a familiar place where I had creature comforts and more freedom, as well as be with my husband and puppy. It was a beautiful day, sunny, high around 40F, it was nice having the option to go outside and enjoy the day without restrictions.
In the morning I took our puppy Samantha on a morning walk (because walking helps encourage labor) and ate a 9oz. pack of raspberries (my favorite fruit) for breakfast. My appetite was very low and running to the bathroom every hour or so didn’t help matters, so I couldn’t eat much. Mid-day I watched Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, the biopic that came out last fall after the summer blockbuster that was Wonder Woman, had a nice unique lunch of French toast with my husband who was working from home. In the afternoon I watched a marathon of Reba the TV show (season three) and then my parents-in-law surprised us with a call from the restaurant where we had our baby shower, Frankie’s Ristorante.
A surprise at sunset
Not feeling like cooking tonight, my husband and I ordered takeout from Joy Yee’s (our old college favorite that had opened a spot here in Tinley Park), but my parents-in-law told us not to eat any dinner yet because Angela, one of the owners of Frankie’s and the baby shower coordinator, had a special surprise for me. We were totally fine not eating right away.
It was about 6:30PM when they arrived back from their dinner with my surprise from Angela in toe: tiramisu and coffee gelato, the perfect desserts. They asked how I was doing and then another contraction came on. My husband was getting worried, the contractions were getting closer and closer together, and it pained him to see me in pain. He wanted to call our doctor, Dr. Yen, his parents agreed. The pain was getting sharper, so I relented and said “ok, let’s call Dr. Yen.” What luck we had, Dr. Yen was on-call and at the hospital already. He said the pain I was feeling in my lower back and rectum might be the baby’s head and recommended we come to the hospital. I wanted to see if the sharp pain would pass, so I put on a brave face and told Geoff I could make it till the morning. It stood to reason since I had had the pain in the middle of the night and at random times during the day. I thought maybe I could get through some waves of high pain, “we are so close to 6:00AM. I just need to hold on for another eleven hours.” I know everyone in the room felt worried about my decision, but I felt this strong assuredness that this was the right thing to do.
As Geoff’s parents walked out the front door, another contraction came about and it brought me to my knees, in tears. I told Geoff then that Dr. Yen might be right and that I wanted to go to the hospital, that this one wasn’t going away and I couldn’t take it…this one was a big one.
So we hopped into the car with the most beautiful sunset before us. I was in a lot of pain, but at the same time I was so excited. This is one of the biggest days in a person’s life, becoming a parent. I didn’t know for sure if our daughter would be born that night or the following morning, but I was so happy that the wait would soon be over. I’d be holding my daughter in my arms soon.
It wasn’t a long drive to the hospital thank goodness. The sunset was so beautiful that night, I had to capture it. Women do still die in childbirth, so there was this part of me that wanted to capture my memories in case I didn’t make it. Anything is possible, and as much as I felt this immense happiness, I was touched with a little worry, a feeling that what I was about to do was a little scary.
Sidenote: Hospital Bag Packing
Jess Miller is the editor of parenting website Parent.Guide.
When she and her husband were preparing to welcome their daughter, they put together a hospital bag that really helped them out when it came time to head to the hospital.
Here is their hospital bag checklist.
Checking in and getting started
Check-in was so easy. We went up to the third floor, which is the special maternity floor, and since we were on their roster for tomorrow morning, all registered, we were in a room in a minute: delivery room number six.
Settled into my hospital gown and delivery bed, my vitals checked, it was time for one of the nurses to see how dilated I was. This was the part of the process that really sent my nerves off the cliff. The exam was excruciatingly painful. It was the only point in the evening when I would cry out. I cried out, “No, please stop it! It hurts too much!” I was only 2.5 cm dilated. I petrified officially at that point. Could I really deliver this baby vaginally? Even with the epidural, was my body strong enough? I had so many doubts, so much fear, I honestly had doubts about making it out alive.
It was after 8:00PM and my husband and I had a moment alone, I began to cry. After being a trooper for so long I couldn’t hide the pain I was in and the fear I felt. I told Geoff “I don’t think I can do this.” I honestly thought that the pain would be too much, that I was not one of these women built for childbirth, even with the aide of an epidural. I was getting my wish, no induction, but be careful what you wish for they say, if I couldn’t deliver vaginally a cesarean might need to be performed, which added to my sense of terror. My husband’s positivity was sustaining me, but my own mind was my worst enemy.
A the anesthesiologist entered the room I began to worry about the epidural. It was made very clear to me that I needed to remain still for fifteen minutes or more. I tried my best not to move, but it was nurse Woodlynne from Haiti who helped me through the administering of the epidural. She helped me with my breathing, teaching me how to breathe. It’s so important having nurses like Woodlynne. They’re like having your mom there. They help you relax, they help restore your belief in yourself, and they guide you through every step of the bumpy way.
With the epidural portion of the process complete all that was left was Dr. Yen.
Dr. Yen arrived a little after 11:00PM, by which time my cervix had expanded to 9.5cm. I surprised everyone. He broke my water at 11:07PM, with nurse Kelly to his right and Woodlynne to his left, coaching me on my breathing, I closed my eyes and went into a zen like state. My rectum still hurt, the only part of my pain points that evaded suppression from the epidural, but I just continued to breathe in and out, not able to feel the progress I was making. The nurses and Dr. Yen kept saying such positive things, like “you’re doing great,” “incredible,” I honestly thought they were just trying to be encouraging, but in actuality I was delivering like a champ. By 11:22PM our little girl was out, I couldn’t believe I did it, that it was that easy. And thank goodness she decided to come when she did. There was a knot in her umbilical chord. Luckily it wasn’t too tight, but if we had waited any later we could’ve risked losing our little girl. Dr. Yen called her a miracle baby, she certainly is. The moment I saw her I couldn’t take my eyes off her. From the moment they brought her up to me to be in my arms, still attached by umbilical chord I couldn’t stop smiling. I don’t know of another time I felt so at peace and in bliss.
The whole experience is like a dream to me. With no complications, not one hitch, I feel too lucky for words. And bonus, my tummy went flat instantly right after delivery! Talk about bouncing back. Anyway, I can’t say enough nice things about Silver Cross, the nurses, and Dr. Yen. Sara, Kelly and Woodlynne, who were my nurses during delivery and our first night at the hospital, thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Your strength, compassion, guidance, and belief in me did more for me than the epidural. You truly are the reason I was able to deliver so calmly and quickly. And nurse Kelly with the red hair and glasses, who was my nurse on our first full day after delivery, you are a treasure! You made my husband, baby, and I feel so comfortable and well taken care of. My mother said usually a survey is sent to your house as an opportunity to recognize the exceptional care you received during a hospital stay, but I promise I’m going to call and make sure you all get awards or whatever the highest level of recognition a patient can give. You are a credit to your profession, literally angels on earth. And thank you Dr. Yen. Happy to say I surprised you by turning out to be one of those women who apparently is no delicate flower when it comes to childbirth. Thank you for visiting us the following day, for talking with my parents, making us all laugh, and being a kind and wonderful OBGYN all around. You made the last three months of my pregnancy so much better. And I’m sorry if I ever doubted you. You were right in wanting to schedule the induction, any later and we might have lost our precious little girl. The scheduled induction was you wanting to ensure the safety of my baby and I, but I’m so happy that she decided to come early and save us the trouble of the induction all together. Some things are meant to be it seems, and I’m so glad that you were the one to deliver my little girl into this world. This was an unforgettable experience but the people who took care of me are the reason it will stay unforgettable.
Anyway, enough of the sappy thank yous. That was my labor and delivery experience, I hope it inspires you not to be scared of having a baby. If a scaredy cat like me can do it, so can you. And with exceptional healthcare facilities like Silver Cross Hospital and DuPage Medical Group right here in the southwest suburbs, you will amaze yourself. The right care team and support system will get you through anything; they’ll help remind you how strong and capable you are.