I’ve been sitting on this for a few days, debating when to actually sit down and write Cooper’s birth story. I wanted to let the memories settle a little, but also not let them fade. I’m choosing to share this experience because others choosing to share helped me, plus I believe in transparency in general.
It’s been almost a week now since he was born, and I think I’m in the perfect place now to look back and write about it. So here goes.
Anyone following my pregnancy knows Cooper was a surprise for us. We planned to have kids one day, but we had just gotten engaged two days earlier when we found out he was on his way. It was an emotional time and it took me a bit to come around to the idea of being pregnant and giving into the changes I was experiencing.
Overall, I had a pretty normal and healthy pregnancy. But around 32 weeks, an ultrasound revealed some calcium deposits on my placenta, which basically meant it was aging faster than it should have been. This can lead to complications in some cases, so my midwife had me start coming to appointments twice a week to monitor everything.
As far as the placenta issue, everything checked out week to week. We set an induction date for 39 weeks just to be safe. But around 36 weeks, my blood pressure started spiking fairly high, especially for me. We started talking about moving the induction date up, and eventually set it for 38 weeks.
But last week, at my Friday appointment, it was especially high. That, paired with Cooper being a little less active than normal, led to my midwife recommending we induce that day. To be honest, I was relieved. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the induction date and preferred to do it sooner rather than later.
The hospital started to prep a room, and told me I could run out for lunch before coming back and starting the process. I ran to Target and aimlessly wandered, buying a pair of underwear and nothing else (I never did even put that underwear on, not sure what the reasoning was for that purchase).
I had told Brandon to go to work for part of the day, since I knew it would be a lot of sitting and waiting. So I got back and checked in and told him I would keep him posted. My mom was on her way from Buffalo, but not there yet.
To start the induction process, we opted for a foley bulb rather than a pill. The foley bulb is basically a little balloon inserted on either side of the cervix and filled with water to help start dilation. I’ll be honest, the insertion of this was one of the worst parts of the entire induction and delivery for me. I was under the impression it wouldn’t hurt, but for me it did, enough to nearly pass out. (I will add I am not good at medical stuff, and this was MY personal experience, it could be great for someone else). Both my mom and Brandon eventually arrived and the night passed fairly quickly. I had small contractions and was uncomfortable, but nothing crazy. The balloon stayed in for 12 hours and when it came out, I was dilated to a 4.
Since it was 2 a.m. when the balloon came out, I was able to sleep for a few hours before starting pitocin, which is the medication that is used throughout the induction process to start contractions and ready the body.
My mom and Brandon were both there at this point, as well as my mom’s best friend/my second mom, Amy, who has been an OB nurse for 26 years. Upon finding out I was pregnant, I had decided I wanted her there. She had helped deliver my littlest two siblings and my mom swore by her ability to create a calm atmosphere.
As the day carried on, the pitocin dosage was increased. I was managing fairly well by walking and bouncing through contractions, though they were becoming more painful.
I should add that I had gone into the room with no specific birth plan because I knew I would be thrown off if it didn’t go according to plan. I wasn’t crazy about an epidural, but wasn’t completely against it.
When the contractions started becoming too much to breathe through, I tried both the nitrous oxide and IV nubain, neither of which did much for me. The nubain took the edge off a little in terms of letting me relax between contractions, but it didn’t help with the pain. The second dose of nubain really did nothing.
At this point, it was sometime before 4 p.m., I’d been at a 5.5 or 6 for hours without progressing, and the pain was becoming unbearable. I was trying to walk the halls with Amy, leaning against the wall and rocking through contractions. Eventually, I just burst into tears from the pain and from the fact that I was so heavily considering the epidural.
For some reason, I had it in my head that I wanted to tough it out, as if getting an epidural would make the experience less badass. I also am not a fan of needles and had a fear of the procedure as a whole.
At this point, Amy looked at me and said, “You’re not going to enjoy any moment of him being born if you’re in this much pain.” And that did it, honestly. I wanted to enjoy my son coming into the world, so I said, “Ok, let’s just do it.”
We got back to the room and called the anesthesiologist. I sobbed through more contractions. Eventually he got to the room and began to prep, having me sit up and lean against Brandon. The first needle felt like a sting, but was over quickly. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel a thing from there on out. The worst part of the entire experience was having a contraction as he was putting the needle in and not being able to move through it. The needle itself was a non-issue.
After the epidural kicked in, I felt like a different person. I could feel the pressure and tightness of the contractions, but none of the pain. I chatted with my mom awhile while Brandon went to take a nap.
About an hour and a half later, the midwife came in to check me and I was at a 9.5 already. I think we were all blindsided by how fast I had progressed after the epidural. About a half hour later, I began feeling the urge to push.
At 6:30 p.m., I began pushing, which honestly was an amazing experience for me. I felt like I was finally DOING something to get Cooper here versus riding out the pain. I pushed for 28 minutes, surrounded by Brandon, my mom, Amy, my midwife, Annie, and our nurse, Vynetta. The amount of support and female power (and Brandon too) in that room was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. As my mom put it, it was almost a spiritual experience.
At 6:58 p.m., my mom caught and pulled her grandson out into the world. They laid him on my chest and Brandon and I both lost it, knowing our world would never be the same. In that moment, it was all worth it and it all made sense.
Once he was here, everyone cleared out and left me and Brandon alone with him for a bit. I have never loved Brandon more than I did in that moment, and in the moments to follow this week. I can’t imagine anyone else by my side through parenthood. Every moment hasn’t been easy, but we’ve communicated and taken it on together. Fatherhood comes naturally to him.
Eventually, family members made their way in the amount of love that poured into this little boy is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It just radiates in the photos.
In terms of the people surrounding me as Cooper came into the world, it was perfect. Unfortunately my midwife, Sam, was unable to be there that weekend. But she left us in Annie’s capable hands, and I can’t imagine anyone else doing a better job than she did (apart from you, Sam!). I stayed in touch with Sam through the whole process, and she got to meet Cooper earlier this week.
While induction was never part of my ideal plan, it’s what happened and what got Cooper here safely. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change anything about the day he came into the world, not even the pain. The funny thing about the pain is that it fades. I already can’t tap into exactly how it felt, and it’s only been a week. I think it has to go that way, or women would never have more children.
We’ve spent this week settling into parenthood and a new routine, and while it’s been draining and difficult and emotional, it’s also been beyond beautiful. Every time his little blue eyes meet mine, my heart melts a little more and being a mother makes just a little more sense.