Saturday, August 24, 2013

Birth Story: Labor & Delivery

Last posed picture in front of the hospital. 40 weeks + 1 day. 

It's been about 2.5 weeks since Noah was born, and this post has been sitting in the 'drafts' folder waiting to be worked on for almost as long as that. Between everything that has been going on since then, it has seemed impossible to find time or motivation to update this blog.

Sorry, Noah!

If you missed the first post, click here to get caught up.

Birth Story Continued

So, I really was finished with the whole idea of being pregnant. It's not fun being pregnant in the summer, but thank goodness for air conditioning/ice cream/fans/cold showers/ice water. On August 5, the day before the due date, I had my last pre-natal check up. My doctor told me that I might be going to the hospital that day or the next, because of how things were progressing. But just in case, we set up an appointment to induce labor at the hospital on August 7. I was starting to feel more anxious about the baby's arrival date, since our plane tickets were already bought and we need to get his passport and visa before leaving!

For the next two days, I tried everything in my power to start labor--not that I hadn't been trying before then, I was just going a little more hardcore. Like three-or-four-walks-a-day kind of hard core.

But alas, the contractions I had been feeling off and on since the previous weekend were not advancing into active labor. I had such mixed feelings about going to the hospital on Wednesday. I really wanted for things to progress naturally and when my body was fully ready to give birth. But I also felt stressed about getting back to China on time. I felt like Adam was under pressure to be back at a certain point, and although he gets two weeks of paternity leave---it's not easy missing the beginning of a school year.

I literally dragged my feet to the hospital. Adam said I didn't have to go, and tried his best to be a supportive husband.

Once we were at the hospital, I felt 100x better about forcing myself through those doors. I was having contractions before arriving, and had dilated even more since my last pre-natal appointment. So I justified the induction by saying that I would have probably been at the hospital later that day anyway.

Once I was given pitocin, contractions really started to intensify. Then the waiting began. We watched a lot of Food Network, which made me pretty hungry.

I felt like a science project with all these tubes attached to my body. I think there ended up being 7 by the end of the day. Not exactly "natural", and I'm sure some people's idea of a very unattractive labor and delivery. I had tested positive for Strep B, so one of those IV's is for antibiotics. I also asked for an epidural eventually....which lead to more tubes.

After four-ish hours, my doctor decided to break my water bag. That's when I decided I had endured enough contractions over the last five days and deserved an epidural. They barely got that hooked up in time, before it would have been too late. By that point, I was shaking uncontrollably. "Oh crap, I remember this. Thank goodness for drugs".

Another few hours went by and I felt like it was time to push the baby out. I was just about to call for a nurse to let her know that it was time to deliver my baby when she walked in on her own. She called my doctor, who was just about to deliver another by via c-section. She was already dressed for surgery, but she came to check on my quickly. She said, "let's see if you're ready, push on your next contraction". I followed her directions, and she announced, "Yep, the baby is coming!"

I prepared myself for an arduous, painful, grueling process of squeezing a human out of my body. I checked the clock and prepared myself for all sorts of complications.

A few nurses rushed in to help prep the room.
During the whirlwind of activity, I pushed twice more and Noah was born!

I was in shock that he was born so quickly. I didn't have to push too long with Willow (45 minutes), but this was WAYYYY easier the second time around. When they plopped Noah on my chest, I was elated and giddy, and definitely-definitely-definitely in shock that he was already born. 

He was screaming loudly as soon as they cleared his mouth. The nurses and doctor were all exclaiming about how good he sounded and how cute he looked. My first thoughts were to check the size of his hands and feet, and to see if I thought his eyes were upside down....which had been my initial reaction after seeing Willow for the first time.

Maybe it's because Willow is 2 years old and so big now---but I thought his hands and feet were so small. I also thought his eyes looked upside down.

My doctor asked what his name was.
I remember sharing a look with Adam--it was slightly panicked-- "we don't know!"
She laughed and said that she would ask again the next day.

Adam was great during the actual delivery. Although I had to remind him, yet again, to grab the camera and take some pictures for me.

I remember the nurses talking about how much they loved his cry.

Once again, there was a small tear that needed to be repaired. Is that too much information? While my doctor was fixing me up, we talked about China and raising kids there. Never mind the fact that she was stitching up a very sore area--we might as well have been gabbing over lattes.

I don't remember getting to hold Willow much after her birth. This time, they let me hold Noah for nearly two hours before they came to pester me about using the toilet and moving rooms. We got to cuddle and bond, and I discovered that he is a great nurser. Unlike Willow who needed lots of help for the first few weeks of her life, Noah knew what to do instantly.

If our circumstances were different, it would have been nice to go the 'natural' route. To forego drugs, maybe try a birthing center or a water birth. It must be nice not to have to schedule your child's actual birth date. I could really beat myself up about this, and berate myself for not being the kind of mom that could push out a baby without the assistance of modern medicine.

But, I'm not really into beating myself up about it. I am just glad that the labor and delivery went well. It could have been a lot worse, a lot longer, a lot harder, and much more complicated. I was so thankful, and praising God for the safe arrival of our son.

In the end, it didn't really matter that I had so many tubes sprouting out of my body, or that I had caved to an epidural yet again. I was just so happy to hold my baby (and to not be pregnant anymore).

When this picture was taken, I was already thinking how different it was to have a son compared to having a daughter. I'll write more about that later.


  1. THANK GOODNESS FOR DRUGS! It's ok, Julie. I'm curious to hear how you think having a son is different than having a daughter. When people ask me about having a boy, my answer is that it doesn't seem any different besides having to work a little harder to change his diaper. I love Noah and am so glad he's here! What a beautiful blessing he is! Thank you for bringing him into the world!

  2. Way to go, Julie! No guilt needed. Giving birth isn't easy no matter how it happens. The epidural route is definitely for me! Glad you'll be back in China soon so I can hear the first-hand account. Our birthing plan is hopefully going to look a lot like this! -M'Lynn