Why are moms so obsessed with their birth stories?
I would always roll my eyes in endearment when my mom would find any and every opportunity to repeat her birth stories. I have 6 siblings. That’s a total of 7 birth stories that she repeats every year. At this point I have them memorized, verbatim.
Well, now I can’t roll my eyes at my mother anymore, because I have become the spitting image of her. Retelling Nicola’s birth story is one of the greatest joys of my life. It sounds so silly, but I’m not kidding. It is the most traumatic, most beautiful, hardest, and most natural thing a woman will ever do. A birth changes you. It changes you forever. And I know a lot of mothers feel the same way about their birth stories.
December 8th: A Week Before My Due Date
It has been a full year since the birth of Nicola and this post is overdue. Without further fluff, let’s rewind back to December 8th. It was a week before my due date.
I go to my doctor’s appointment where she confirms that my baby is perfectly healthy. She casually taps on her keyboard and goes “so this is about the time we like to schedule your induction. Y’know *just in case* your baby doesn’t come on its due date.”
I silently stared at her in disbelief.
Let me give some background. I’m one of those hippie moms who likes to do things all-natural. I’m very well-read on childbirth (I highly recommend the book The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth). Medical staff always roll their eyes at me as I leave the room. I deserve the eye-roll. I’m a pusher. I challenge. I question.
However, it’s also completely reasonable for me to be skeptical at the medical world when the United States now has a 30% C-section rate. I personally know 3 women who have had C-sections this past year. I should not know that many women with C-sections. On top of that, practically every other birth story I hear includes a medical induction.
I’m not against intervention. There are valid reasons to perform C-sections just like there are valid reasons to be medically induced. But when they start to become *the norm* instead of the rare case, that’s when women should get worried.
If it were up to me, I would have labored at home or in a birthing center, but insurance would rather pay an entire hospital staff than a single midwife in a home. We chose the $300 hospital birth.
I don’t regret challenging my doctors, because it was my knowledge about birth and informed consent that got me my (almost) dream birth story.
Ok, back to the silence in the room after the doctor mentioned inducing me. My first thought was, “I haven’t even hit my due date and you already want to lock me down for an induction?!” I had read about the medical field pressuring women into inductions, but starting the pressure before the due date even hit?! Dang. This is shocking.
Secondly, I had to stop myself from laughing when she said, “Just in case your baby doesn’t come on its due date”. Do you know how many babies come on their due date?? With all of our perfect technology, and fancy ultrasounds and expert omniscient medical field, the doctors’ due date is only 5% accurate.
That means only 5% of babies make it on the doctors assigned due date.
Of course, I held all this in and calmly responded, “No thank you. I want to wait until my body and my baby are ready. Plus, I don’t want the pressure of a deadline for my body to perform.”
Then I got the, “But it’s so much *safer* to have you in the books in case the baby doesn’t come. What’s that date you wanted?”
I responded with the 5% statistic above.
She quietly accepted that answer.
December 15th: The Due Date Came and Went – Still no Baby.
A week went by and I reached THE DUE DATE: December 15th, 2021. Y’know, that 24-hour window that the baby must exit my womb or, apparently, the whole world will implode.
As expected, baby didn’t come.
I did lose my mucus plug though! At my doctors’ visit I was told I was 1cm dilated. What!? No way!! A whole centimeter happened and I didn’t even feel it? I jokingly announced, “WOAHHH That means I’m 1/10 of the way there. That was easy. HAHA .” No one laughed. I’m not sure why. I thought it was funny.
The (new) doctor once again mentioned that it’s typical to schedule the induction now that it’s my due date and there is no baby. I said no. He didn’t press it (thumbs up to the stand-in doctor).
December 21st: It is a Full Week Past My Due Date
Let’s fast forward one more week. The date is December 21, 2021. I’m 6 days past my due date. Pregnancy is getting tough. Any movement is exhausting. Sleep doesn’t exist. I’m peeing every 30 minutes. But am I concerned? No.
I have to say, if there’s one thing I was very proud of throughout my pregnancy, it was the faith that I put in God that He was in control. It wasn’t in the hands of the doctors and it wasn’t in my hands either. It was in His. He built my body to birth. I was made to do this. My entire pregnancy was healthy so there wasn’t any logical reason as to why things should go wrong.
In my case, the most logical thing to do was not to worry and to trust in God’s process.
I actually have a video that I took that morning where I interview myself and Greg. Greg says that being, “six days late is not a good first impression” and jokingly blurts that the baby better come today OR ELSE.
My response is, and I quote, “I’m feeling pretty patient. The baby is going to come tomorrow. ☺”
This is the third and final doctors visit of the story.
The doctor is a wee bit frantic that I’m a whole week past my due date (Meanwhile I’m sitting like a fat calm potato on her table).
She checks the baby’s heart, weight, and fluid levels. Everything looked perfectly normal. She verbally confirmed that my baby was healthy. But then rolls over to her computer and says, “But, you are a whole week past your due date. We need to schedule your induction now. Right now. I have an opening tomorrow.”
I knew this was coming. I delivered my rehearsed response: “I’m sure that you are well aware that the average delivery for a first-time mother is 9 days past her due date. I’m only 7 days post-due date. According to the statistics, I haven’t even reached the average yet. As long as the baby is still safe and healthy, I have no interest in being induced.”
Some bickering ensued. It finally ended with me giving a ridiculous induction date of 2 weeks past my due date. LOL. She glared at me, begrudgingly scheduled the absurd date, and ordered me a nonstress test. This is a test that monitors the baby’s heartrate for 20 minutes to confirm it wasn’t in distress.
The results were rather surprising. The baby was completely healthy (praise God), but, in that 20 minutes, the graph recorded contractions. Contractions!? She asked if I was feeling any of them. I didn’t think I did. I assumed it was the baby stretching in the womb. They didn’t cause me any pain, but it also didn’t feel like a kick. They quite literally felt like the baby stretching its little limbs.
The positive stress-test results put the doctor at ease and she sent me home.
I got back to Greg and excitedly told him the whole story: EEKKKKK the baby might be coming!!!! But I didn’t want to get my hopes too high. I didn’t mention the contractions to anyone else besides Greg, just in case they were Braxton Hicks and I still had a few days of pregnancy to go.
They weren’t Braxton Hicks.
At 9:32 That Evening, I Felt The Contractions
At 8:30 PM we sat down on our couch with dinner and started watching Bridesmaids. We never finished it because at 9:32 I paused the movie and said to Greg, “Ok, I wanted to wait until it happened a couple times….. I’m definitely having contractions.”
AHHHHHHHH it’s happening! We were so excited.
But still, my main priority was to have a stress-free labor. My picture-perfect labor would be one with no interventions and, preferably, no medication. One of the best ways to make that happen is to labor peacefully at home as long as possible.
So, little old me starts to calmly breathe through my contractions as I pack my hospital bag. I specifically remember Greg immediately leaving for the store to get my grocery list items. I had a list of foods I was planning on sneaking into the hospital for me to eat in case the labor was long and I needed energy. A girl has got to eat.
I argued, “We’re only thirty minutes into labor. You don’t have to leave. You have plenty of time to wait before things get serious.”
Thank God that Greg is responsible and didn’t wait.
It’s been about an hour since my contractions started and WOW are they getting intense. But I still don’t track any. I figure, I’m only an hour in. It would be pointless to try to count the contractions and predict the birth so early on. I’m laying on my bed breathing through them and reciting my affirmations.
Two hours in I start bleeding. This isn’t a light pink spotting. This is blood. I googled it and read that blood during early labor means something is wrong and you need to get to a hospital.
This isn’t what I wanted.
I wasn’t worried about my baby. We just did the stress test and he was 100% safe. I was worried about myself. Maybe I am bleeding somewhere I’m not supposed to. I made the safe and smart decision to go to the hospital. I have no regrets.
After Beginning to Bleed Only 2 Hours into Labor, I Decided We Needed to Go to the Hospital
Greg was in the car and I was alone in the kitchen now moo-ing through my contractions. If you don’t know what “moo-ing” is, go look it up. Pretty much, the contractions are so strong that you want to scream, but instead you calmly “moo”. It’s a silly name. But it keeps you calm and in control.
The thoughts going through my head are: Wow. This is hard. This is painful. And I’m only in early labor…I better toughen the hell up because if this is only EARLY labor, active labor is going to be ten times harder.
I leave the apartment, and have to stop at least twice in our short little hallway to moan through yet *another* contraction (We’re going to call it ‘moaning’ instead of moo-ing). How many contractions am I having?
I’ll tell you. I only had one opportunity to track the contractions and that was in the car to the hospital. It was an 8 minute drive and in that 8 minutes I had *at least* 4 contractions. That is fast. That is really fast. That is like, ok get ready for baby to pop out any minute now.
I’ll never forget first walking into the hospital. I’m calmly moaning in front of the reception counter. I’m not panicked and screeching at people. The woman behind the counter blandly looks at me and then turns to Greg and mumbles, “Does she have a mask?”
You have to be kidding me. I’m respectfully keeping my human instinct to scream in agony while my body is being split in two and you are asking about a mask?
Welcome to pandemic labor!
The sweetest nurse ever comes out to wheel me into a room. She is so precious and calm. Everyone is moving very peacefully with no rush in the world. I’m assuming everyone is thinking: How cute. First time mom is coming in only 2 hours into contractions. I’m sure she has many hours to come before things get serious.
She tried to sway me, but I repeated my ‘no’.
Ladies, as long as you haven’t accepted any medication, you can say no to literally anything. It is your body. No one is allowed to do anything without your consent. Feel confident in both your yes and your no.
The doctor slowly walks in and asks me what I want for the pain and I explain that I just wish to labor naturally.
She says that sounds great, checks me, and her eyes widen as she proclaims, “You’re 8cm dilated.”
Suddenly, everyone had a hop to their step.
I hear that number and I go, “Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok. This is happening.”
It’s a good thing I said no to an epidural because there was no way I could even get one with how far I had progressed!
Remember all that blood that I saw in my apartment? It was completely normal because I wasn’t in early labor, like I thought. I was actually in *active* labor at that point and in active labor it’s normal for blood vessels to pop.
By the Time I Reached the Hospital, Only 2.5 Hours After Contractions Started, I Was Already 8cm Dilated!
It’s so crazy how when you’re in labor you get so laser focused. I’m not going to lie, I felt an initial sense of panic hearing I was already 8cm. That was way too fast for me. I’m not ready. But I quickly shoved that fear aside and focused on getting to work.
This is happening. I can’t stop it.
There’s no turning back now.
I can only help.
I can only help my baby get out.
Let’s do this.
Meanwhile, Greg is panicked because the car still isn’t parked! He asks the doctor if he has time to park it. She takes a long pause and finally says, “You better hurry.”
Greg was in plenty of time for the birth, don’t worry.
At 12:30AM, My Water Broke, I Reached 10cm Dilated, and I Started Pushing
During one of my intense contractions my water broke. It felt like an explosion. I’m not exaggerating. I could have sworn other people must have heard or seen it. They didn’t. Greg said he didn’t notice anything till I shouted, “My water broke!”
At this point, I am 10cm dilated and start pushing.
If you’ve ever had children, you will know that this is one of the best parts. The first part of pushing feels SO good. Every time you push that baby a tiny bit further down it relieves pain.
I distinctly remember the point where I could feel his head coming down my birth canal. Whenever I would read about labor I would always think, “But how do you know what is what? How do you know it’s your water that is breaking? How do you know where the baby is?”
Now I knew. There was no question to it. That was the head! And, surprisingly enough, I didn’t get an overwhelming wave of doom when I realized the size of a baby’s head. I actively thought to myself, “That’s it? Ok. It’s not a walk in the park, but that head feels like it’s 100% doable.” I was pleasantly surprised with how reasonable the head circumference felt. Later on, I found out that his head circumference measured average, which is a reason why it was such a non-complicated birth for such a large baby.
I ended up pushing for longer than expected. It was around 40 minutes. I think the main reason was because I wasn’t in a position that let gravity help. I was on all fours, parallel to the ground.
My position really got bad when it was time for the baby to be born. I started feeling the classic ring of fire. Ouch. Although it hurt, I knew what I was doing. I was well-read. I was prepared. I knew that the pain was nothing to fear. My baby was so close to arriving! Hence, I sucked it up and pushed through the pain (quite literally). Everything got really intense and painful. The contractions overtook me. If someone had told me, “Hold it in! Greg still isn’t here!” I would have responded, “Tough luck!!” My body had a plan of its own.
At 1:20AM on December 22nd, My Baby Was Born!
This was my least favorite part of my labor. It was the one time in the whole night where I felt completely out of control.
Everything was happening so quickly. Everyone told me to hurry up and get on my back. I never wanted to birth on my back. It’s the ultimate worst position to birth. Your hips are tight and in a closed position. I also wanted to not push during this last part because it increases tearing. But everything felt too chaotic to be picky.
I swear I screamed bloody murder. Greg said no such thing happened. All he heard were “triumphant viking-esque war groans”. I think he’s lying.
The head came (ouch). Then one more contraction and the shoulders (ouch). Naturally, with the shoulders comes the whole baby sliding out.
“You did it, Angel!! You did it!!”, shouted Greg who is crying at this point.
I love him.
I’m in disarray and confusion from everything that’s happening.
This beautiful baby gets laid on my chest and I’m in complete shock. I can’t believe what just happened. It’s over? That (my baby) was inside of me?! I have a baby?! This perfect human being is mine??
“It’s a boy.” I hear from Greg.
Ah, my little boy. Exactly what I (secretly) wanted.
My little Nicola Gregory.
In 4 hours, I went from extremely pregnant to holding a baby in my arms.
The nurses proclaim, “Woah, he’s a big one.” I was confused. He never felt big. But then they weighed him and he came in at a whopping 9lbs 2oz.
I had 4 different medical personnel come to my room, post-delivery astonished by my birth story. They all questioned:
“You’re the one who birthed a 9 pound baby? Vaginally?????”
I laughed the first two times it was asked.
‘Well how else is the baby supposed to get out?’, I comically thought.
But then I realized what they were implying. Had they known the baby was that big, he would have either been induced or C-sectioned.
Imagine what that would have looked like.
Imagine inducing him on his due date like my doctor initially wanted… an entire week before my body was ready.
I have no doubt in my mind I would have labored for *at least* twice the time of my actual labor. Who knows, perhaps labor would have taken so long that the induction would have led to an emergency C-section (like it very often does).
But, instead, I was patient and had a freakishly efficient 4-hour labor.
I never imagined a fast labor in a million years. My mother’s first labor was 11 hours. I had an aunt who labored for 4 hours, but I assumed I would never inherit her genes.
A fast labor isn’t a walk in the park. It’s extremely…what’s the right word…intense. It is crazy. It is traumatic. It is very traumatic. I had PTSD for about nine months after giving birth. It’s a lot for your body to do in such little time. While I would have preferred more time to let my body more peacefully “open”, I’m not going to complain.
God Is Good.
My birth was awesome.
My nurses were awesome.
My baby was awesome.
Greg was awesome.
Above all else, God was awesome.
Firstly, I uncontrollably whispered, “God is good.” I don’t know from where it came. I had never practiced it in my labor affirmations. But I knew God was good.
This leads me to my second compulsive proclomation: “God only gives me good things.”
While my body was literally being split in two, it couldn’t possibly be a bad thing. Because God only gives me good things.
The final phrase that I repeated was to Greg.
“I love you.”
The fact that I wasn’t swearing left and right was a miracle. I was certain I would be the laboring mother screaming at my husband in agony.
But that never happened. The only reason that explains it is grace. It is the constant grace that God pours into the sacrament of marriage and the grace that he showers on the miracle of new life being labored into this world.
God is good.
Once you’ve had your baby, you can check out the rest of our family travel blog (winky face). We took Nicola on his first flight at 2 months old and have been traveling with him almost monthly ever sense! We have tons of tips to share and we hope to inspire you to make memories with your new family as well.
I know I mentioned it before, but I highly recommend The Bradley Method if you’re interested in educating yourself about labor. Also, be sure to follow @madeforthisbirth on instagram. Their page was such an inspiration in the days leading up to labor. God Bless you in your pregnancy, labor, and delivery! He is good and will provide!
Goodbye for now and stay present 🙂
Are there any other precipitous labor moms out there? If so share, comment below! Or even better, share your birth story no matter what! As you know, I love reading them.