We got our first lesson in parenting before baby G was even born. Expect the unexpected. I was 38 weeks pregnant and having some trouble maintaining my blood pressure. It started with my regular weekly visit to my midwife who sent me to the hospital for a NST. After lying down and relaxing, my blood pressure came back to normal and G was happy as a clam. I was sent home and told to take it easy and see my provider if I got dizzy or had any headaches. I stayed home the next day, rested and felt better. A few days later at work one of the nurses asked if she could check my blood pressure (I found out later she didn’t think I looked too good) and it came back high. I called my midwife who had me come in to see her. There was no protein in my urine and I was feeling OK but was put on bed rest for the rest of the day and had to go back the following day for a re-check. Something in the back of my mind told me that the end was near so DH stayed home from work that day and came with me. Sure enough, they sent me to the hospital for another NST. DH decided that we should be on the safe side and stop at home to pick up our bags first.

On our way to the hospital, nervous that this was the big day, we stopped to satisfy my third trimester craving - a blueberry muffin. We chatted about how soon we might get to see our baby and how crazy that was. We valeted our car and made our second trip up to labor and delivery triage to be monitored.

After a few hours of monitoring we got the news that we wouldn’t be going home. My BP wasn’t coming down, my amniotic fluid was low and the baby was having some heart decelerations due to rolling onto his cord coupled with the low fluid. We were admitted into Labor & Delivery and given a gigantic room. Seriously, it was HUGE. We settled in and waited to be induced. I was 2cm dilated (thank you red raspberry leaf tea!) so the team decided to start my induction that night, Thursday, at 7pm by inserting a Cook Balloon. It was at that point I was really happy that I had taken and practiced mindful relaxation birth preparation. The Cook Balloon is no joke!

Overnight and most of the day Friday was a waiting game. I had prepared myself for non-medicated, intervention free birth so I was careful in my decisions. Pitocin was added to the mix. It was turned up a little too high for my liking so I asked them to turn it back down and give my body a chance to work with the Pitocin. Despite being hooked up to a million monitors I kept walking and standing and just moving around in general.

I even finished up the little sweater I was knitting for the baby!

Despite the fact that we had added Pitocin, I was still going for as natural as possible. On Saturday morning at 11:00 am the midwife suggested that we break my water. I was a little hesitant at first but we talked over the options and I agreed to move forward. My water was broken, we had our lavender spray and my meditation music was playing in the background. Even though we were in a hospital room it was relaxing and quiet. I felt calm and confident. Shortly thereafter labor got real. With the help of DH I mindfully worked through my contractions and had faith in the knowledge that my body was made to birth this baby.

Hospital policy is that you need to be continuously monitored for an induced labor. G was an active baby and I was an active laborer so the two of those things were not jiving with the monitoring belts they typically have you wear. It was at this point it was suggested we do an internal monitor. I’ll be honest, from the start I did not want to have internal monitoring. I didn’t like the look or thought of the monitor being in my sweet baby’s scalp. As soon as they told me I would have more range of motion, I was in.

The next few hours I labored mostly on the birthing ball and for the most part in silence. I’m not really sure why I was so quiet – it just felt right.

At one point I realized that my amniotic fluid was a funky color. I called in the nurse who confirmed that it was meconium and we would have to have (another) small change in our birth plan. When G was born there would be a NICU team in the room and instead of being put on my chest, he would immediately be suctioned and given the once over. While I was sad we were not going to have that skin to skin immediately, I knew that whatever was best for the baby was what needed to happen.

As the afternoon went on, the contractions were getting to the point where they were about 70 seconds long and only a 20 second break in between. I was starting to not be able to pull myself together and relax into each contraction. At about 3pm I looked at DH and asked if he would be disappointed if I got an epidural – I can remember the exact look on his face, it was so kind and gentle and loving when he said ‘of course not.’ I was 6cm when they checked me and I was comfortable that an epidural would not slow my labor at that point.

Once I had the epidural I was actually able to take a nap! The next few hours are quite blurry. They had given me some nubain which I hated. It made me feel so out of it. I think the scariest part was when all of a sudden the entire nursing team came running into the room and was asking me to turn over and then put the oxygen mask on me. The baby’s heart rate had dropped suddenly, most likely from rolling onto his cord in a waterless environment. Thankfully with a position change and oxygen everything came back to normal but it was really sickening feeling. I just tried to think about the joy of meeting our sweet little baby.

At 9pm I was complete! The nurse came in to talk to us about starting to push.

I had a fever, most likely from my water being broken about 10 hours earlier, and it was time we moved things along. The nurse asked DH to stand on one side while she stood on the other. The whole pushing experience was so much different than I thought it would be. The lights in the room were kept dim, our music was still playing, DH was an amazing support and the nurse we had, Shelby, was narrating for me telling me that my pushing was productive and that G had plenty of room. I could feel a contraction coming on and it felt so good to push through it. I loved the feeling I got when I was pushing correctly – it was so empowering! After 2 hours of pushing (it seemed like 30 minutes) the doctor came in to see us. She was calm and very reassuring when she said that my fever was getting too high and this baby needed to be born. There was a quiet urgency in her voice and although she didn’t say it, I knew I was on borrowed time birthing this baby. The doctor explained to us that because we needed him out she was going to use the vacuum. I was scared about the baby and about tearing but she assured me that this was the best option for everyone. On the next push she put the vacuum on his head and within 2 pushes he was born. I have never in my life felt so strong. The entire room was cheering this baby into the world.

The first view I had of him he was screaming at the top of his lungs and all of his limbs were out straight! For the first time my entire labor I cried. I cried so hard and I was so relieved that he sounded so healthy and alert! DH took some awesome first pictures of our little guy and he wasn’t far away from me so I still got to see him while he was being wiped off and suctioned. Despite being 15 days early, having meconium in his amniotic fluid and me being induced he didn’t need any additional care!

I didn’t know until much later that I was having some bleeding issues. The nurse had to work pretty hard to get my uterus to clamp which really felt more awful than labor. The doctor was amazing about stitching me and I barely felt a thing. I remember asking her how bad it was and she said very nonchalantly, not too bad, only one 2nd degree tear. I didn’t ask any more questions about that. I honestly really didn’t want to know.

Just before they handed me my sweet little babe the doctor came over to me and said that I should be very proud of myself. Apparently, G was posterior and many first time mom’s have a hard time vaginally delivering posterior babies! He was born right occiput posterior – the same position he was in for most of my pregnancy! It completely explains why it looked like he had plenty of room but had such a hard time making it under my pubic bone; he was looking off to the side!

At two weeks early our little boy came screaming into the world at 7lbs, 13 ounces and 20 inches long! It was long (3 days!) and hard and even though virtually none of our birth ‘plan’ went like we thought it would, we were blessed with an amazing tiny human who makes us love deeper every single day.