Don’t joke with your coworkers about going into labor… especially if a solar eclipse is involved, because it might actually happen! I was thinking it was impossible even though I had read that a lot of babies would be born during the solar eclipse and I had been having signs of labor that whole week (I worked all week and still had no clue). I even went to the OBGYN where I found out that I most likely lost my mucus plug and was having little contractions and still did not think it was going to happen.
My doctor did not seem to think it would either because she was surprised to see me 3 days later ready to push my baby out. But lets back up this story to the beginning of my labor, which woke me up early in the morning on Saturday August 19th. The day of my daughters birth.
I woke up at 5:30 am feeling crampy. This had been the norm for me so I didn’t think much of it. Adam and I took our normal walk in the morning with Zoey and everything seemed to be fine. When we got back I started having to go to the bathroom very frequently and my cramps never really went away. I remembered thinking “I don’t even feel well enough to work out!” I was sitting on the couch when it came to me… “Could I be in labor? NOOO.” I whipped out my phone to try to time out my cramps because they had started to go off and on… and seemed to be getting stronger. They were not consistent, so I thought it was something else. Just in case, I installed the carseat (To Adam’s annoyance he had to stop working on his computer to help me tighten the straps) and packed my hospital bags. I even started to clean the floors upstairs before I started to feel too bad to continue.
Keep in mind I had not told Adam what I was feeling this entire time. I knew he was focused on completing the project on his computer and I didnt want to worry him. I called my mom and told her what was going on. She had me convinced that I was having bladder spasms (because I was peeing sooo much!) and I was worried I had an infection. I remember thinking “What if I have to go on antibiotics? Will it be ok for the baby?” My mom convinced me to go to the hospital just to get checked out and they would be able to help me no matter what. Adam found me laying in almost a fetal position in the bed and I finally told him how was I was feeling. He was surprisingly calm about it all. We then decided we should go to the hospital even if I thought I would be sent home.
In the car ride to the hospital the contractions were getting stronger. When we arrived I wanted to wait for my parents to get there, but my dad kept missing the hospital entrance and they had to keep going around and around until they finally found the parking lot. I was still trying to decide whether or not it was a good idea to go in and get checked out. I was pacing the hospital lobby thinking it was a bad idea and “Will they charge me if I go in and they don’t find anything wrong?!” I am so cheap. But I was in pain and decided to just go in. So we took the elevator to the 7th floor and they opened the doors right away for us. The nurse checked me in around 11:30am. I had a painful contraction during the check-in and the nurse says “That’s what a contraction feels like!” I still didn’t believe her.
They finally get me into a room and make me pee in a cup and change into a hospital gown. I paced the room and continued to deny the fact that I was in labor. Adam and my mom were both in denial as well until the nurse had me lay down and checked my cervix… 4cm dilated! She said “You are definitely in labor!” My mom looked shocked and Adam just looked dazed and I was in pain. I kept saying “OMG I am going to have this baby! I can’t believe it!” It was very hard to come to terms with this reality!
The delivery nurse, Briana, came (she turned out to be a nurse that I used to work with at St. Anthony’s!) and picked me up from check-in. She asked me whether I wanted to be pushed in a wheelchair or if I wanted to walk. I decided to walk, “I will be more in control of my body”, I thought. I walked all the way to the room, used the bathroom right away and felt like my body was already trying to push. Briana told me not to push because it could hurt my cervix, but the contractions were hard to control. I got into bed on hands and knees because the pain was beginning to get really bad (and I had seen some pictures of labor positions I should try). Briana then hooked me up to the monitor and had to get an IV going right away, practically strapping me into the bed… so much for moving around. By this point I was 6 cms dilated. I had told her that I wanted a natural birth, using only laughing gas if possible, but she had said if the pain was “already this bad” I should get an epidural. I just wanted rest and relief so I agreed.
I had wanted a natural birth so badly I wish I had known more about what childbirth is like. I would have known that I could make it the rest of the way without the epidural because I practically already had. I shouldn’t have had an epidural at all…
I had to wait through an entire bag of saline and for my blood work to come back for them to get the OK for the epidural, so I had to endure a lot more painful contractions. Contractions felt like a charlie horse on my stomach making me curl up into a ball each time I had them. The nurses kept trying to tell me to breathe because Adam and my mom weren’t much help to me. They were still in shock trying to believe that all of this was actually happening. I was strapped to the bed, tangled in my IV and the monitors, and in a whole lot of pain.
The contractions were coming very frequently now, almost one right after the other. By the time the anesthesiologist came I barely had any rest in between. I was thinking that once I had the epidural I might be able to sleep for a while but that was a naive thing to think. I kept having contractions while he was trying to insert the epidural, which made it difficult for him and made the process even longer and more painful. The nurse had to hold me down in order for the guy to get it right. I remember sitting at the edge of the bed with my body being shoved into a an upright fetal position all while having a very painful contraction. I suddenly yelled out “I’m peeing!” Turns out my water broke while I was sitting at the edge of the bed getting the epidural. I had to wait out a few more painful contractions after he finally inserted it and it set in. Adam waited outside during this process to make sure he wouldnt pass out! After I was feeling relief from the epidural my doctor arrived. She immediately checked my cervix, 10cm no bag, meaning I was ready to go . I had to start pushing already. I couldn’t believe it! I thought I was going to have time to take a nap.
At the beginning of pushing Soleil’s heartrate dropped. The nurse put an oxygen mask on me and I remember being really worried. My mom said that Dr. Connor was ready to suction Soleil out! But I had one good push and her heartrate went back to normal! Phew. The rest of the pushing was easy. I had no pain and I could still feel the urge to push at each contraction. I was even joking about how Soleil was ruining Adam and I’s date night (we had reservations at Rum Fish Grill). Little did I know this would be the first date night crash of many. My mom and my sister were standing cheering me on and watching the miracle of life and Adam was quietly sitting on the couch to make sure he wouldn’t fall down if he passed out. He said he watched my face the entire time.
Soleil was born at 4pm and my mom cut the cord. I delivered the placenta without even knowing it! She was 5lb 10oz and beautiful. Even when she was placed on my chest, living and breathing outside of my body, it was hard to believe what we had been through that day. The nurses kept telling me that I had a very fast labor for my first one! Soleil came early and quickly. She wanted to be a part of this crazy world. Maybe it was the eclipse after all…
Reflecting back on the birth I wish that my coaches had been more prepared (assisting me with contractions and breathing), but none of us were prepared for this. We still couldn’t even believe it after she was born! I also wish the nurse didn’t offer the epidural right away. I would have liked to out the laughing gas to take the edge off of the contractions, but she offered the epidural when I was in so much pain and made it seem like I had a long ways to go, when really I didn’t. Birth will never go the way you think it will. If you are planning a natural birth and its your first time I suggest hiring a midwife or doula. I am still very proud of myself and this story. I am stronger and more knowledgeable now! Soleil changed our lives for the better and I couldn’t ask for a better first birth story.