Even before I ever became a mother, I loved reading birth stories. Each child’s journey into the world is so unique, particularly from the perspective of the mother. Anyway, just as I did for Caleb, here I document Nathan’s birth story, mostly for my own future reminiscing, but also for anyone else who loves reading about the joyous arrival of a child. As a disclaimer, this post is long and discusses the female anatomy with some detail, so I understand if you’d rather skip reading this post!
As I mentioned in my final pregnancy update, Nathan remained stubborn to the end. In my final week of pregnancy, I tried almost every natural labor induction technique: red raspberry leaf tea, hot sauce-laden foods, hot baths, marathon birthing ball sessions, long walks, breast pump stimulation, and mounds of pineapple. I say “almost” every technique because I couldn’t bring myself to try castor oil. That just sounds like a messy delivery.
So, we took a few last minute photos in the nursery before checking in to the hospital for our scheduled induction on Thursday, January 3rd at 9 PM.
My doctor opted to start the process that evening (as opposed to the next morning) because dilation was minimal at my last appointment, so she anticipated a long labor. I will say that induction has its perks–there was a room and friendly nurse ready and waiting for us. No need to go to triage and haphazardly sign paperwork in the midst of contractions!
After settling in, the nurse did a (rather “aggressive”) cervical check and determined that I was still only 1 centimeter dilated. Ugh. This was going to be a long night. I received the Pitocin at about 9:40 PM, and Seth and I settled in to try to get some rest. Our nurse returned every hour to check my vitals and increase the Pitocin dosage, and I was receiving lots of IV fluids, so I was constantly having to get up to go to the bathroom. The end result was that I didn’t really sleep much during this time period.
At 1:15 AM, I woke up to some mild cramping. The cramps were about 10 minutes apart and got progressively stronger. These were indeed the beginning of contractions, which I was kind of relieved to be feeling after so many weeks of over analyzing every abdominal twinge, wondering if it could be labor. At one point the nurse told me to lie on my side because Baby C’s heart rate was sub-optimal. That position was definitely the worst for painful contractions; I much preferred lying flat on my back and gripping the bedrails.
I breathed through the contractions for about two hours, all while having the Pitocin dosage increased. Finally at 3:05 AM, I asked to have another cervical check to assess whether I wanted the epidural yet. I had progressed to 4 centimeters, so I went ahead and asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived around 3:45 AM, and to be honest, the placement of the epidural was the scariest part of labor for me. At one point, I felt fluid running down my back…it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it was blood or spinal fluid.
Anyway, with the epidural in place, the contractions were far less intense, but I could still feel them to a certain degree all the way to delivery, specifically, in my back and deep in my uterus (if that makes any sense). This scared me, as I feared that I was going to feel more of this delivery than I wanted, but it was actually helpful because I knew when to push with each contraction, rather than relying on nursing staff to tell me (as was the case with Caleb).
At 4:30 AM, our nurse checked my progress again and was somewhat shocked to discover that I was fully dilated. All the sudden, our hospital room was a flurry of activity, with equipment being wheeled in and additional nurses preparing for delivery. At this point, I started to shake uncontrollably, and I can’t be sure of the reason. I’ve read that this is common in childbirth in general, but it can also be a side effect of the epidural. I was also anxious about how quickly everything progressed, that I was going to be pushing for hours (as with Caleb), and that I was going to feel a lot of pain during this delivery. Seth worked his magic and calmed me down a bit, but the shaking continued until I delivered.
The obstetrician on call at that hour (not my doctor) had estimated that she could arrive by 5 AM, so I was told to “labor down” for 30 minutes until she could arrive. This was harder than anticipated! As I mentioned, I could still feel my contractions to an extent, and I had the distinct urge to push at 4:45 AM. This baby wanted out NOW.
Finally, just after 5:00 AM, I was allowed to start pushing! Thankfully, the pushing portion of this delivery went much more smoothly and quickly than it did with Caleb. From what Seth and the nurses told me, each push was pretty productive, such that Baby C arrived in less than a half-hour. Nathan Lee Cohen came barreling into the world at 5:27 AM. The doctor handed Nathan to me immediately, and I’ve never been so happy to hold such a wet and slimy creature. Seth cut the cord, and I got some cuddle time before they took Nathan to clean him up and weigh him. The doctor stitched up my second degree tear.
Nathan wanted to feed right away, but we had to wait until his breathing normalized, about 45 minutes. Eventually, we got the chance to nurse and then settled in for a few visitors.
Nathan is now almost two weeks old, and I have all the “new mom feels” all over again. He is so perfect, and I love him more with each passing day. We are so very blessed to have this beautiful baby boy in our life.
I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a family of four!