I truly enjoyed my pregnancy more than I ever expected to, but as I approached my due date I was done with the whole thing. I was so ready to meet this baby and to be able to move around with comfort and ease again. One of the famous lines Zack and I will remember from the end of my pregnancy was “I don’t want to be pregnant cute, I want to be regular cute.” I said this after I had burst in to tears about not having anything to wear and Zack telling me I was the cutest pregnant woman. Haha. It wasn’t the best mind set to be in, but I had had it. But it was all fine because I was going to deliver early, right? Like my mom? Nope!
Being a week overdue was never something I even let myself become mentally prepared for. I was certain my entire pregnancy I would be early. I got so impatient to meet our baby at the end that I tried every last pregnancy inducing myth I heard short of trekking it to Atlanta to eat the famous eggplant dish from Scalini’s. I tried spicy food, castor oil, sex, apple cider vinegar, reflexology, massages, raspberry tea, all on top of walking endlessly. I mean endlessly. None of it worked.
I was dilated at 3cm for almost two weeks before I went in to labor. The day after I found out I was dilated, September 10th, I “thought” I went in to labor. I think it was probably more wishful thinking than anything else, plus the fact that the doctors and receptionists at my practice were all certain I would be having a baby that weekend. The weekend of my due date. So I wandered over to my doctor’s office where they checked me and said I hadn’t dilated any further. The contractions I was feeling were most likely Braxton Hicks contractions. Naturally I cried as soon as the doctor walked out of the room. I was so embarrassed and disappointed. I had got myself excited that we would be meeting our baby that night and I was wrong. That weekend and the following week seriously questioned my patience level. We had my parents, my grandparents, my brother, and Zack’s mom all in town from Phoenix and everyone was here waiting for O to be born. They were all more than wonderful and did such a great job of keeping me distracted, but I couldn’t help but feel with each passing day that I was some how disappointing them. Which is ridiculous because I had zero power over when I would go in to labor. So I did my best to carry on, stay busy, and let go of any expectations of exactly when this baby would arrive. And I said I did my best, but my best wasn’t perfect and it definitely wasn’t easy.
Between the appointment where they told me I was dilated to 3cm on September 9th I had 3 more appointments with my doctor. All of which they reassured me I wouldn’t be attending cause this baby was coming. All of which I in fact did attend. On the last appointment they striped my membranes. I convinced myself that this most likely wouldn’t set me in to labor either after all the other things I had tried. My theory now is that babies come when they are ready, and any of the myths you hear just happen to be the last thing that the mother tried before her birth began on its own. So if there was going to be something that set me in to pregnancy it would be striping my membranes, but again, I don’t believe in these things so it’s just the last thing I tried before pregnancy came on. I’ve read plenty of accounts online of women who have had their membranes striped and it did nothing, even after multiple attempts. But anyway, I had my membranes stripped around 2pm on Friday the 18th. On Saturday the 19th I woke up and knew something was different. Walking around was so much more difficult and I was just super crampy. I still ventured in to the village from Brooklyn and went to lunch with our family. I was pretty much convinced that I was most likely going to be pregnant forever. This is just who I am now I thought. But as we were heading back to the train and our families air b&b I knew something was working its magic in my body. I took an uber home from their place and just rested alone for a while. Around 7pm I started feeling what I thought were contractions, but again, I didn’t want to make any quick decisions and embarrass myself again at the doctors. A ridiculous, but very real fear I had at the time. Zack came home and we started to track the contractions. When I really noticed them they were about 8 minutes apart, but became more and more inconsistent throughout the night and finally I stopped counting and tried to get some sleep. When I woke up on Sunday the 20th they almost started immediately. Inching closer and closer together and by the time it was 10am we decided we should head to the hospital.
We live two blocks from the hospital I delivered at so we decided to walk. This is something our families will love to share about our story since none of us were raised in cities, let alone New York. It was a slow and slightly painful walk, but we did it. We checked in to the hospital, but there were no rooms available. So for two hours Zack and I walked the halls of the floor I would eventually deliver on as I contracted and stayed moving to try to get the head further and further down. By about 12:30pm they checked us in to a temporary room where the nurses could examine me to check for dilation and where we could see the intensity and timing of my contractions. Dilation – STILL THE FREAKING SAME. 3cm. I couldn’t believe it. But, by then my contractions were intense. Two minutes apart, one minute long, and truly becoming painful. At this point they asked me about pain relief plans and so on.
I went in to my pregnancy knowing I wanted to get an epidural. I’m not sure if and when I have another baby if I will do it again. It’s so hard to say. I admire women who choose natural birth, home birth, or the way I chose to do mine – in a hospital with all the drugs they could give me. Giving birth is something to admire no matter how it’s done. It just needs to be right for you. For Zack and I we felt that our first baby should be delivered in what we felt was the safest environment, and for us that was the hospital. Once I let the nurses know my plan they moved me in to the room where I would eventually deliver Owen. They immediately gave me the epidural. Which was honestly a little more painful than I expected. Not so much the needle itself, but the length of the needle and having to stay still as it entered my spine, but it was worth it. I was mentally prepared that it would take 20+ minutes and it took less than 5. I squeezed Zack’s hands until they were white and it was done. Quickly my legs felt tingly and warm and I could no longer feel my contractions.
Right after that the doctor came in and broke my water. It was one of the strangest feelings. Just a flood of warm liquid that continued to leak for a very long time and more so with each contraction. At this point I felt good. We were in the delivery room, I had the epidural and my water broken. I could actually believe the fact that I was in labor. From here things really slowed down. I’m not sure if it was the epidural or what, but as soon as it set in my contractions went from 2 minutes apart and intense to 8 and 9 minutes apart – judging by the monitor, again, I couldn’t feel them. The doctors let this go on for a bit, and Zack kept me busy by playing games with me and making me laugh. We actually had a lot of fun waiting in that room, joking around, and getting excited that in the very near future we would be meeting our baby. But hours went by and I wasn’t dilating any further and the contractions were still a decent amount of time apart so the doctors gave me Pitocin to help increase contractions and to hopefully help with dilation. It definitely worked, but the doctors had to monitor it very closely and give me oxygen because it started to make little Owen’s heartbeat slowdown as it caused him a great deal of stress. Around 10pm we were back to consistent and regular contractions. I was now dilated between 7 and 8 cm and I could feel my epidural starting to wear off. My doctor came in and turned the lights down. Told me to rest for the next hour and then if I felt ready we would start to push. The contractions continued to increase and over that hour I definitely got to a place were I was ready to push.
The pushing started off great. It didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I expected right away, but believe me it got there. I’m sure we’ve all heard that pushing out a baby is a lot like pooping, right? That’s honestly the only thing I can relate the pushing sensation to, and the only way the doctor and nurse described how to push. Hah. Surprisingly I didn’t poop through the process, although I was fully prepared for that to happen. We tried many different positions to push. We started with legs up – a nurse holding one, Zack holding the other and me holding my thighs. Then we tried having me lay on each side – same holding position. Then these handles appeared and I gripped those while laying on my back with my legs up. We rotated through these positions over and over. This is where things start to get a little foggy in my mind and the pushing comes in flashes. There was a rope that was brought out that I held on to while I pushed with my legs up and the nurse and Zack holding them. Eventually they broke down the edge of the table/bed and had to use the vacuum to get Owen’s head out. It would not move past my pubic bone and they were afraid we would have to do a cesarean section if they didn’t use it. Somewhere in this time I had an episiotomy as well. Luckily everything worked and Owen was born at 12:56am on the 21st of September. Those final moments were so scary as I pushed him out. The pushing was incredibly painful, and I will never forget the feeling of pushing his head and then his shoulders out. After that it was easy. Pushing the rest of his body out I don’t even remember feeling, and when I pushed the placenta out I only remember how easy it felt in comparison to everything else. Pretty sure I laughed as it came out. We had kept the sex of our baby a secret, but honestly were fairly certain that the baby was a boy. So when the doctors told us I can't say we were all that surprised. We were overjoyed and naturally the tears flowed, but I really think we just knew all along that it was our little Owen Drew in my belly.
Owen’s umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck in the final moments of delivery so I got to give him a quick kiss and then they immediately had to take him from me and check his breathing and vitals. While they checked him out the doctor cleaned and stitched me up. Owen was back in my arms within two minutes and he was and is healthy as can be. My birthing experience is nothing like what I imagined it would be, and was considered a complicated delivery by the hospital staff, but I couldn’t be happier with it because it’s our story. It’s the way this perfect boy entered the world and I would go through it all over again for him. That’s the part of birthing stories that I think gets confused. Of course, we would all do it over and over again for our babies, but I wanted to share my experience while it was fresh. And I wanted to keep it honest. Because our children are the best things that have ever happened to us we forget the pain, the stress, the process. I don’t want to forget that. Not because I want to be negative in anyway at all, but because it was such a life changing experience and the start of a whole new life with Owen. It makes me appreciate my body, my pregnancy, Zack and Owen that much more.
I can’t thank Zack, our doctor and the nursing staff at Methodist more. I never felt at any point that I wasn’t in the safest of hands or that our baby wasn’t closely being watched and taken care of. It was so incredible to have Zack by my side through this process. He was certain prior to me going in to labor that he would be taking the over the shoulder stance, but he was all in. He saw everything, coached me through every contraction and even cut the umbilical cord. I couldn’t be more proud of him or more thankful that he was my partner through the birth of our son. Our son who is absolutely perfect. Each morning I wake up loving both Owen and Zack a little more. I think there was a part of Zack and I both that was nervous about what it might be like to have a child and to love that child more than we love each other, but all I can say is that my love for Owen only makes my love for Zack that much stronger. We are a family now, and there is nothing better in this world.
Photography by Amy Frances.