caleb’s birth story (re-post)

Today my little boy Caleb turns FIVE. Have I really been a parent for that long? In honor of the occasion, I am re-posting his birth story here, as it was lost when I closed down the old blog. This is a milestone I want to be sure to have documented 🙂

Just as a disclaimer, I should warn you that there might be more information (read: graphic detail) than you care to know in the story below. The purpose of this post is largely for my own benefit; I’d like to be able to remember this life-changing experience for many years to come. So if you’re squeamish, this may be a post you’d rather skip!

Sunday December 13th

~10:30 PM After spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out how to spend a Pottery Barn gift card (for the record, I ended up buying a Boppy cover), I decided to climb into bed a bit later than usual. Just as I pulled the sheets over my body, I felt some dull aching in my lower back. I tossed and turned for a few minutes before turning to Seth and announcing that my back hurt. He rubbed my back a bit, and we tried to go to sleep.

~11:30 PM I was still awake at this point, and the aching had migrated to my lower abdomen. To be honest, it felt exactly like gastrointestinal (read: diarrhea) cramps. I had eaten some chili at my parents’ house that night, so I presumed that was the cause. However, after several failed “attempts” in the bathroom, I started to think that maybe the cause of this pain was something else.

Monday, December 14th

~12:00 AM By midnight, the pain had started coming in waves, and Seth convinced me that we should start tracking these surges of pain, just in case they were contractions. Even this early on, the contractions were averaging 3-5 minutes apart. I started Googling “poop cramps vs. contractions.” The results were unclear.

~1:00 AM Although I was in a bit of a daze at this point, I remembered something my mom told me about her labor experiences: she had said she took a shower to dull the pain of the contractions. Desperate for a little relief, I got in the shower, all the while alerting Seth of the start and stop of each contraction. The shower really did make me feel a bit better.

~2:00 AM I tried to get some sleep after showering, but the mild respite from the pain wore off quickly. With a little coaxing from Seth, I decided that regardless of whether this was labor or something else, I needed to go to a hospital, pronto. Seth called the nurse who was on-call and explained the series of events. She told us to come on in.

~2:30 AM I grabbed my camera and hospital bag, gave my dogs a hug, and hopped in the car. On the way to the hospital, Seth and I each called our parents to alert them of the situation. I tried not to cry on the phone with my mom. I was pretty scared. For better or worse, for the past nine months I hadn’t really considered the potential pain and fear I’d experience in labor. There was no turning back now!

~2:45 AM We arrived at the hospital, and a nurse took us to a room to set up a fetal heart rate monitor and do a cervical check. Sure enough, I was already 3 centimeters dilated. The nurse said something along the lines of, “Yes, you’re in early labor. You’re not going home tonight.”

~3:00 AM The nurse wheeled me into my birth suite and hooked me up to the IV. She asked if I would like my epidural, or if I wanted to wait a bit more. I opted for the latter.

~4:00 AM The anesthesiologist stopped by to see if I was ready for my epidural, and I enthusiastically agreed. I was 6 centimeters dilated by then, so I was more than ready for some pain relief.

~4:30 AM The epidural had taken full effect, and I’m pretty sure my parents stopped by the suite around this time. I started to feel really faint, my blood pressure plummeted, and started having tunnel vision, like I was going to faint…but I was already lying down. I ended up getting two doses of ephedrine and the oxygen mask to rectify the situation. Seth looked a little panicky.

~6:00 AM My contractions slowed down quite a bit, which was OK by me–I had hoped that my doctor would be around to deliver the baby, and I knew she came in to work at around 7 AM. The on-call obstetrician came in to break my water but really wasn’t able to do so. It’s still a mystery as to why; I don’t remember my water breaking at any point before getting to the hospital. [2020 edit: this happened with both of my laboring experiences.]

~7:30 AM My obstetrician stopped by to say hello. I was about 9 centimeters dilated, so she was certain it wouldn’t be long until I could start pushing.

~9:00 AM Our nurse checked me again, and I was 10 centimeters dilated. She got the go-ahead from my doctor, and we started pushing. This is the part of the labor + delivery experience that was the most surprising for me. My mom and sister had both indicated that they had had to push just a few times before the baby was out. I was not so lucky. The next two hours consisted of some crazy acrobatics to get this kid out of me. The nurse had me try three different means of pushing: one in which I held the backs of my legs, one in which I held on to some handlebars on the bed, and one in which I literally played tug-of-war with the nurse using a towel. I must have tried each method ten times over the course of an hour. Not gonna lie, it was exhausting.

~10:00 AM Our nurse started to get concerned that we weren’t making any progress. She called several of her colleagues to check Caleb’s position. Apparently, with each push, the top of his head would inch out a bit…and then regress back into the birth canal. The consensus was that I have a strangely shaped pelvis that was inhibiting his arrival. I started to get nervous that an emergency C-section was on the horizon.

~10:45 AM Fortunately, Caleb eventually decided to cooperate. My doctor arrived for the home stretch. As exhausted as I was, I had a few good pushes left in me.

~10:55 AM Caleb came screaming into this world. Seth got to cut the umbilical cord (which the nurses described as a “nice, juicy one”–ugh!), and I got to hold my beautiful baby boy, covered as he was in goop. I sobbed tears of joy.

~11:00 AM While I was stitched up, Caleb was cleaned up; Seth also got some quality time with his newborn. Later on, my sisters dropped by to meet their new nephew!

Caleb is now two weeks old. As cliché as it might sound, I’ve been surprised by how quickly I fell in love with this tiny creature. I still regularly just gaze at him in the middle of the night and marvel at what a little miracle he is. My heart is so full of love for him and for Seth. My cup runneth over.

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