We finally decided on an induction. I hate making huge decisions and I was so nervous to make this one. Our doctor said that my body and the baby were ready, but I still flipped back and forth about it so many times. It really helped me to see how excited Björn was to meet her and it finally just started to feel like the right decision.
Honestly, this was extent of my birth plan: Make it past 2cm before getting an epidural, watch old 3o Rock episodes, get my baby out safely, and just don’t die.
We spent Easter Sunday going to church and brunch with my family. I was terrified, but that was such a great comforting way to spend the day. I always pictured frantically rushing to the hospital to give birth, so calmly packing up and getting in the car to be there at a scheduled time was pretty overwhelming. We checked in to our hospital room a little after 5:30pm on Sunday, April 1st. In an nervous/excited daze, we talked about how we’d get to meet our daughter within the next 24 hours.
Sunday, 6pm: I was already dilated 1-2cm when they started Cervadil. It’s basically a chemical tampon that I had to have in for 12 hours, and I had to stay in bed for the first 2 hours. We ordered room service and Björn pulled a chair up next to my bed and it felt like we were just having dinner in a weird hotel room.
I was dreading having to get an IV. I hate needles and skin pain. But once the IV was in, I felt like I got to check off one more thing on the list that got me closer to having my baby in my arms. Each scary thing I got past helped me feel brave. The nurses hooked me up to monitors to monitor my contractions and the baby’s heart rate. I really liked listening to it.
8-11ish pm: I don’t think Cervadil is supposed to hurt, but my skin is super sensitive. It started out just a little bit uncomfortable and got worse throughout the night. It felt like the chemical was burning my skin. We tried to fall asleep. I started counting down the hours until I could have the Cervadil taken out. Every time we’d start to doze off, our squirmy little baby would wiggle around in my belly and move away from where the monitors were and the heart rate alarm would go off. The nurse kept laughing and said she’d never seen a baby move so much.
Monday, 1-5ish am: 3-4cm dilated. My contractions picked up and started to hurt more which made me excited that we might get to meet our baby sometime in the morning. I spent the next few hours on the ball and walking around the room. I remember telling Björn that I wished it was either just the pain from the contractions or just the pain from the cervadil, and that both together were really wearing me out and starting to frustrate me.
6-9am: I got the Cervadil out at 6am. Stoked. I don’t usually like taking baths but I had been looking forward to being able to get in the bath tub all night long. Sitting in the hot water felt SO good. It relaxed my back and hips and made the baby feel lighter. The nurse told me that since the baby’s head wasn’t facing the best direction for birth that I needed to stay in positions that would give her the most space to turn over. So I sat in the half splits trying to encourage the baby to come down and rotate. I did my best to breathe through the contractions. I leaned over the edge of the tub and held Björn’s hand while he slept on the bathroom floor with a towel over him as a blanket. When I noticed that sunlight had started to pour in our room, and I rubbed my belly and told our baby “happy birthday”. I remember wanting to soak in that moment and hold on to it forever.
The nurses came in a few times to check on the baby with a portable handheld monitor. I’d have to kneel or stand up out of the water for a couple minutes while they listened to her heart. Contractions out of the water were so much more painful.
9am: Still only 4cm. I was pretty bummed, I thought I had for sure made it farther than that. The doctor broke my water, that felt so so weird. They said the fluid was clear and I was so relieved. For some reason, one of my biggest worries was that she’d poop on herself inside me and that she’d have to be taken away to the nursery and we wouldn’t be able to cuddle for a while after she was born. But the fluid was clear, so no poop! I got so excited to snuggle my baby. Almost instantly, my contractions got even more intense. Her butt, the nurse said, was what pressing into my chest and it felt like her little heels were going to collapse my lungs. I waddled back to the tub as fast as I could. I had been planning to wait a while longer for the epidural, but after only about 20 or 30 minutes I had Björn go ask for an epidural ASAP.
The epidural terrified me. Just the thought of a needle going into my back and a tube being in my spine for hours made me almost pass out. But each contraction sucked the air out of my lungs and it was getting so hard to breathe. I’m in awe of the women who make it through without an epidural.
The anesthesiologist was so nice! She had kids, and all my nurses that day had kids. I felt so comforted by everyone helping me that was a mom, it gave them a whole new level of credibility and they shared little stories or tips from their childbirth experiences with me. I was so scared of wincing in pain from the needle going in or that a contraction would throw me out of my position and I’d end up with horrible side effects. So I sat on the edge of the bed and buried my head in Björn’s chest and prayed as hard as I could and closed my eyes and tried to just totally shut down my body until it was over.
I felt my legs go numb and the pain of the next contraction was less breathtaking. I always had feeling in my feet and I was so thankful for that, it helped keep me from freaking out that I had lost my legs or something. Once I was tucked back in bed after the epidural I felt so calm and relaxed and was so excited to finally get to take a nap.
12-1ish pm: I slept with a peanut ball between my legs to give the baby room to keep moving down. We were woken up after quickly progressing to 10cm. It took us a few minutes to process what was happening, but all of a sudden it was time to start pushing.
2-5:24pm: I first started pushing with the nurse. I was pushing so hard I was sure the baby was going to be born before the doctor got there. I got to see her head and cute tufts of black hair in the mirror, I was so excited, I had waited so long to see her that just seeing any small part of her made me so happy. Björn texted our families that she was almost here and that we could see she had long black hair.
The epidural gave me relief when I was exhausted and dulled the pain of contractions but it didn’t take away the pain from the “ring of fire” or the burning of the baby’s head coming out. I don’t know what you’re supposed to feel with an epidural or what’s normal, but after about an hour or two of pushing, my skin down there hurt so badly that I started to dread having to push with each contraction. My contractions had slowed way down, about 5 minutes between each one, that it was taking so long for me to make much more progress. After about 3 hours and 15 minutes of pushing, we decided to use the vacuum. When the vacuum didn’t work, I started to panic. I wanted my baby in my arms so badly, to finally get to see her and kiss her. Before I could really process what was happening, the next step was forceps. For a split second I felt guilty that I was putting my baby through this. I cleared my head and made myself fully focus on pushing as hard as could.
With the last couple of pushes I started to feel like I was being thrown through light speed, I couldn’t really see anything. The nurses were shouting “Look! Look!” as her head started to come the rest of the way out and I remember responding “I can’t!” I had always planned on watching and I wish I could have, but the pain and the whole experience was so intense I couldn’t fully process it and I couldn’t really see anything clearly.
And then all of a sudden, I heard her scream and then felt her on my belly. Everything instantly felt so peaceful. The second I felt her on my skin I knew everything was ok and I wasn’t worried about anything. I knew it was her! Maybe only moms will know what I mean, like of course it was her, she literally just came out of me, but just by feeling her against my skin, I knew it was my baby that I had waited so long to meet. Feeling her on my skin pulled me in to the moment and out of light speed. I could see things clearly again and I looked down and saw the most beautiful slimy blue skinned baby. I couldn’t stop saying “Hi, Josie!” and “I love you!”. I looked up at Björn and he was pale with a weird blank look on his face that I had never seen before, and my first thought was that after all this, he didn’t like her. So I asked him if he liked her. I don’t remember what he said but I think it was yes. He told me later that he was in shock from having seen literally everything and was so freaked out and worried if she was ok. He told me that the forceps slipped off of her head and clanked together and that blood was dripping off. (It was just my blood, she was totally fine.) I spent the next minute or so soaking her in, in complete awe and bliss.
The nurses said that her oxygen level was too low so they took her to the baby warmer that was right next to my hospital bed and put an oxygen mask on her. Then I started getting stitched up, and I was glad that the nurses had Josie, I don’t think I could have handled holding her through that kind of pain. I couldn’t even let go of Björn’s hand for him to get his phone to take pictures, so a nurse grabbed it and took a few quick pictures of Josie. Since I still felt everything on my skin down there, the doctor stopped and used local anesthetic shots before finishing the stitches. OH MAN, that was the the best pain relief ever, if I could get those shots every day for the first few weeks postpartum I totally would.
We can’t thank the doctors and nurses at the Vail Hospital enough.
The first couple of nights I had a hard time falling asleep without her in my belly. I hadn’t realized it, but I had gotten so used to feeling her moving around in my belly and it helped me fall asleep at night. I decided to use that habit as a time to just thank God and thank my body for bringing her to us safely.
I’ve struggled with my body image my whole life, but I’ve never felt more beautiful than I have in the first three weeks since having a baby. Everything feels perfect. I thought that as soon as she was out I’d want to hurry and “fix” my body and get it back to how it was as fast as I could. My entire mentality has changed. Now I lay with my hands on my mushy belly and feel so overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s so weird. I’m so shocked I feel this way. When I was pregnant I’d look at postpartum Instagram accounts or accounts of fitness mom bloggers and look at how long it took their bodies to get back to normal. I even thought about how I could cover up all of my mirrors for the first several weeks after having a baby so that I didn’t get depressed when I saw my reflection. It’s crazy how different I feel.
I still can’t believe she’s real. Our precious Josie is finally here and Björn and I are so in love with her.