Mike took some beautiful photos of our son's first moments, and I'm excited to share them with you. Here is Daniel's birth story.
Daniel's first cry
January 9, 2011
Daniel was due on January 3rd, and he was late. On Friday, January 7th, I woke up to mild contractions. They were irregular and not too uncomfortable, and continued off and on all day Friday and Saturday. Saturday night, I got about an hour of sleep before the contractions got too intense. By 3am, they were about 4-5 minutes apart and I was whimpering from the pain. We called the doctor at 3:15am and she told us it was time to go to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital at 3:45am on Sunday, January 9th, 2011. I’d expected to be in complete agony during the car ride to the hospital, but I was calm and kept my sense of humor during that nighttime ride. Even Mike commented on how relaxed I was. The pain wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected, and I tried not to be nervous.
In triage, they connected me to the monitor and couldn’t detect any of my contractions. I was so frustrated about that! The contractions were getting more painful, especially in my lower back, and they couldn’t see a thing on the monitor. It got worse as the nurse made me lie in a painful position that hurt my back so much that I was near tears. That time was the most pain that I felt during the entire labor and delivery process. I expected it would just keep getting worse, but I didn’t know that I was already surviving the hardest part of the day.
We were in triage for at least an hour before the nurse called my doctor. I was scared that they’d send me home, saying that real labor hadn’t begun yet, even though I knew that it had. I was so relieved when the nurse came back to us and said that the doctor wanted me to stay. I was 41 weeks pregnant, three centimeters dilated, and if I said I was having contractions, she believed me. It was time for me to have a baby.
They admitted us to our own labor and delivery room around 5am. Eventually the nurses figured out that I was having back labor, which is why the monitor on my upper abdomen couldn't detect the contractions. They gave me a different kind of monitor, and sure enough, my contractions were escalating.
At 7:30am, I asked for the anesthesiologist. He arrived quickly, and was reassuring and kept me calm. I sat up and followed his directions, but I was terrified about having that needle injected into my spine. Mike sat in front of me, held my hand, and said all the right things. He was a wonderful partner throughout the day, and I especially appreciated how he kept me so calm during the epidural. The insertion of the epidural took about five minutes, and it wasn’t bad at all. I was a little worried that the epidural might go wrong, but within a few minutes, I started to feel fantastic. The anxiety was gone, and I just felt relaxed and happy, almost drunk.
I lay in that bed on my back, propped slightly on one side by pillows and blankets, for the next six hours. I enjoyed that time of rest, and didn’t even feel bored as I lay peacefully in the bed. I was completely chilled out and happy. I watched the monitor to see the intensity and frequency of my contractions increasing, but I couldn’t feel any of it. Occasionally I’d feel my stomach tightening as I contracted, but there was no pain. I could move my legs and feel people touch them – basically I could feel everything except for discomfort. Epidurals are wonders of science!
Around 1:00pm, a friendly nurses came in to chat with us for a while. All the while, unknown to me, I was in transition, which is considered one of the most difficult parts of labor. I had just spent spent transition chatting leisurely with a nurse about travel in Australia. At 1:45, the doctor checked my cervix and announced with surprise that I was at least 8cm and dilating quickly! She said it was time to push. I was shocked.
Pushing wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected, and I'm shocked to say that I actually enjoyed it. I was feeling no pain, only pressure. Mike held one of my legs and cradled my head with every push. I watched the whole process with a mirror, and I think that mirror really helped me focus and recognize successful pushes. Because I had no pain, I was alert, happy, and excited to meet the baby. Mike was calm and cheerful, despite having every reason to be squeamish instead. He was wonderful throughout the whole labor and delivery process.
At 2:13pm, after half an hour of pushing, Daniel’s head appeared. With one more push, he was entirely out. Mike and I were stunned to see him. I don’t even know if I could describe the how I felt at that moment. Happiness? Relief? Pride? Disbelief? Shock? Elation? Love at first sight? When they put the baby in my arms, I was overcome with the most intense joy I could ever imagine. I wept. He was finally here. Life doesn't get any better than this.