These past 21 days have been absolutely incredible. A roller coaster of hormone-induced emotions, but overall, these three weeks have been the most amazing of my entire life. Nothing could have prepared us for the love we would feel for our daughter. It has been a steep learning curve, filled with laughs, tears and sleep deprivation; but every time I look at her, my heart skips a beat. I still can’t believe that she has arrived and is ours. Today I’m thrilled to share with you Katie’s birth story, which was when we quickly realized that she is the guiding light in our lives and doesn’t always follow the plan. She surprised us by coming so quickly that I ended up giving birth without an epidural.
My plan is to share Katie’s birth story in two parts – one that highlights the birth in a very top line manner and another which will include all the details so I will have it for future reference and be able to answer many of the questions I’ve received from readers and friends. So, typed over the course of three naps and while wearing a milk-stained nursing tank, here is the first, very top line birth story.
On June 19th, after another borderline blood pressure reading at my 40-week checkup, my OB-GYN recommended induction since our daughter was full-term and induction would avoid any further risks to mom or baby due to blood pressure. The plan was to be induced at 10:30 pm, twelve hours later, at NYU. I spent the next twelve hours, running around like a crazy person. I made a to-do list during the cab ride home that included crazy things like deep clean the house, cook dinner, call to have the oven fixed, draft a blog post, send a few work emails and then double check our hospital bags. Yes, if you can tell, I was clearly a bundle of nerves but had no interest in focusing on the induction. Instead, I distracted myself with my to-do list.
Things didn’t start to feel real for either of us until we sat down in the cab, surrounded by our hospital bags. At that moment, we held hands and spent the twenty-minute ride reflecting on everything that had transpired over the past nine months. Once we arrived at the hospital we spent 10:30-3:30 in the labor and delivery triage area since there were no labor rooms available.
At 11 PM a Foley Bulb was inserted to induce labor. It was less painful and awkward than I expected. In fact, the IV they administered was far more painful. For the next four hours, I started to feel pressure and mild contractions.
While Bo slept in the chair next to me, I passed the time reading a book. At 3:30 they were able to move us into a birthing room, where I proceeded to vomit two times as soon as we arrived. At 3:45 I started to have lower back pain and found it difficult to get comfortable. Around 4 the Foley was removed as I had reached 4 centimeters.
The doctor said that nurses would check on me every 15-30 minutes to see my progress. At 5:30, when turning over to greet a nurse, my water broke. It felt exactly as people described – warm gushing, clear fluid that covered the bed sheets. At 6 AM I was still only 5 centimeters dilated, and chose to continue going through labor without the epdiural or other medication when asked whether I wanted the epidural at this point. I declined, saying I’d wait a bit longer since I wanted to feel as much of the process as possible. I didn’t feel that I’d been feeling true labor yet since I hadn’t been “that uncomfortable.”
At 8 AM I truly started to go through the motions of labor. The contractions started to grow more intense, leading me to tears, but they were still not regular enough or long enough.
The nurses helped me try different positions, sitting on a chair, sitting on the birthing ball, walking around the room, squatting. Nothing helped except lying on my left side. Bo was a huge help, putting a heating pad on my back to relieve some pain and then simultaneously putting ice and washcloths on my forehead to cool me. I was having horrible sweats which were followed moments later by chills.
At 9:30 I finally reached the point of pain which caused me to ask the nurse to get my doctor and request an epidural. Based on the last check I was still only 5.5 centimeters dilated, progressing slowly and couldn’t handle hours of this pain. The nurse informed me that unfortunately, the anesthesia team had two other epidurals to administer in front of me which meant it’d be an hour until they could get to my room. The nurses turned the Pitocin down to calm my contractions and provide me with a brief relief while we waited for the epidural. At 9:56 I began screaming to the nurses, that I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I’d read enough birthing blogs, books and articles to know that this is a key sign that the baby is progressing. Within seconds my OB was in the room with a team of nurses. After quickly checking my dilation and effacement levels, she informed me and Bo that I’d progressed quicker than anyone expected and was now less than 30 minutes from child birth if I chose to progress without medication or an epidural.
An epidural-free birth is nothing that Bo nor I expected or even discussed when we thought about labor. Our only plan was for me to labor until I reached my pain threshold and then request an epidural. Hearing the words “medication free birth” scared me for a moment but then also provided me with a boost of energy that I needed. I trust my OB and knew that if she said 30 minutes she meant 30 minutes. We agreed to continue and 26 minutes later, Katherine Elizabeth Diamond was born.
In fact, she came so quickly, that when my parents called at 10:59 to tell us they were their 11:10 AM rescheduled flight, which had been delayed and cancelled the previous day, was getting ready to take off, I was able to tell them, with tears running down my face, that they were grandparents and I had their granddaughter on my chest.