Remembering my labor and Beckett’s delivery feels like waking up from a dream, the kind that makes you want to fall back asleep so you can get back to dream land.
During my pregnancy, I researched a LOT about labor and delivery, and had a checklist of things I absolutely did and did not want for Beck’s birth. I also daydreamed a lot about his birth. Let me tell you, it didn’t go down at ALL the way I hoped. But I wouldn’t go back and change any of it, because this is our story, and it’s beautiful because it’s how my beautiful baby boy entered the world.
So, here it is.
*Disclaimer: when a woman is in labor, time stands absolutely still. I’ve had to have people remind me of a lot of things and clarify events and time frames. I think most of this is accurate 😏
*Disclaimer, part 2: when I was pregnant, my favorite birth stories to read were the really detailed ones. So I’m going to make this as detailed as possible… I don’t want to leave anything out!
*Disclaimer, part 3: if words like “mucus plug” makes you queasy, you may want to stop here.
Tuesday evening, at around 11 pm, I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend Dani, and the story she told me about how her amniotic fluid leaked with one of her pregnancies. I was group b strep +, and one of my biggest concerns was getting to the hospital in time for 2 rounds of antibiotics to protect Beckett. I thought I was just being paranoid, but what if I was leaking fluid too? So my sweet husband got out of bed and took me to the hospital to get checked. We brought the hospital bag that I had just finished packing that day, just on the off chance that we’d have to stay. I fully expected to go back home that night, and that I would remain pregnant for another 2 weeks at least. But still, better safe than sorry.
At the hospital, I was not dilated at all, and the 20 minute amniotic fluid test came back negative. The nurse was going over my discharge papers with me, when she got called out of the room. A few minutes later, my midwife came in and told me that after the 20 minute test was over, the nurses just happened to keep the test out, and a very faint pink line showed up. I’m pretty sure none of them had ever seen that happen before. So my midwife did another test, did find a pooling of fluid (which would point to a leak) and put the fluid under a microscope to find that it was, in fact, amniotic fluid. Because I was GBS+, we needed to go ahead and get me on penicillin and induce.
At this point, it was 4 am, so Luke and I took a 3 hour nap, and in the morning we got the ball rolling. First, they inserted a little balloon filled with water into my cervix to help dilate me. It stayed in for 12 hours, while I slept and ate and listened to Beckett’s heart beat and had my vitals taken.
After 12 hours, the ballon had done its job and I was dilated to 4 cm. At some point, (see? Time frames are very blurry) my midwife (a different one this time… I had 4 total, since I was in the hospital so long) checked my dilation, and my water spontaneously broke while she was checking me. It felt like a POP that didn’t hurt, followed by a gush. I kept laughing, and the water gushed with each laugh. I lost my mucus plug, which I had been watching for diligently for weeks. The midwife shared my fascination by it. Luke, not so much. Then, the midwife said “I feel his hair!” Which shocked Luke and me, because we fully expected to have a bald, blonde baby like Beck’s Longino boy cousins.
After my water broke, and with the help of Cytotec, labor contractions started. I breathed through them for as long as I could, and sat on the birthing ball (which I loved. Totally recommend. They made the contractions much easier to bear!), until I felt like I wouldn’t be able to bear them for much longer, and asked for an epidural.
Let me tell you something: people should be able to pay for epidurals. We should have epidural parties. Sure, the numbing shot hurt, but never have I felt so wonderfully warm and fuzzy as when that epidural kicked in. And mine was a walking epidural, so I could move around and feel my legs, I just couldn’t feel pain. It was beautiful.
Beckett is a picky boy. He knows what he likes and doesn’t like, and he’s not afraid to tell you. He started this practice during my labor. If I lay on my right side, or on my back, or sat up, or used the peanut ball, his heart rate would dip down. The only position he liked was on my left side. So, on my left side I stayed until I reached 10 cm and it was time to push.
Oh, pushing. It is impossible to describe what pushing is really like, or how difficult it is. I pushed on my back. I pushed on my sides. I held onto a sheet and tried to pull my nurse onto the bed. I pushed on my hands and knees. I used stirrups, and handles, and pushed until I thought my eyes would pop out of my head. There is a specific way to push, and a specific spot in your body to push toward, and until you find it and push with all of your strength, nothing will happen.
I pushed for 4.5 hours, and took 2 30 minute breaks. At the end, my midwife said she thought we needed to turn down the epidural so I could feel it more. I said, I can feel it just fine! I don’t know if she listened or not. Ha. But there does come a time when the pressure is so intense, that to NOT push would be torture. By the end, I had my eyes closed and was sobbing after each contraction. Eventually, I had 2 midwives in there. (when did the second one come in? I have no idea.) The midwife who had just gotten there said “Kelsey, I think if I give you a tiny snip, he’s going to come right out.”
And I said, “will I feel the snip?” Hahahaha. Why in the world did I even care? I have no idea what her answer was, because I realized it didn’t matter, and said “just do it!” (The answer is no. I didn’t feel the stupid snip.)
On the next contraction, I was sobbing, eyes closed, feeling like there was no way I could possibly continue doing this, when the midwife said “Look! Get your baby, Kelsey!”
I opened my eyes, and I could see Beckett, halfway out. I reached forward, grabbed him, and put him on my chest.
Let me tell you, there is no better feeling in the world. All the pressure was relieved, my warm, wiggly baby was on my chest, and my husband was looking at him adoringly, his eyes filled with tears. Guys, it’s the best. I could live in that moment forever.
When I saw his face for the first time, I was shocked by his cuteness. His full lips and bright eyes and head full of hair were better than anything my dreams had invented. I still haven’t gotten used to his beauty, and I probably never will.
While we were lying there, I learned that the reason I had to push so long was that Beckett came out sunny side up. My pelvis, I learned later, is small, and my pubic bone juts down into the birth canal. It was like a speed bump that Beckett kept getting halfway over, then sliding back. At any other hospital, and with anyone else delivering him, I would have had a c-section. I am forever thankful to those midwives for allowing me to push, and not giving up on us!
Luke was the best partner and helper I could have asked for. He brought me food and a constant flow of ice chips. His hands were there for me to squeeze through the pain, and he was a constant encourager through the hours of pushing, reminding me that I was strong and that I could do it. He watched Beckett’s heart rate on the monitor constantly, and told me when my contractions were halfway over (while I still felt them). I am so thankful for my sweet husband.
Beckett was born at 8:04 am Thursday morning, after about 32 hours in the hospital. I wasn’t afraid of labor, and I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I would do it again and again to bring Beckett home. We love our baby boy more than we could have even imagined!