*Warning – this is pretty detailed. If you get grossed out easily, maybe sit this one out! I also feel like this post is more for my benefit than anyone else’s – I don’t want to forget any of it!
I don’t think there has ever been a birth that goes completely as expected. I definitely had my mind set that my story would be similar to my sister’s; granted, that’s the only experience I had been close to. Of course, it ended up being as different as it possibly could have been. Babies just have a way of making an entrance however they so chose!
Scarlett’s birth story starts a few days before her birthday. Pregnancy was never awful for me, but it definitely hit it’s hardest point on May 11th and 12th. Your body goes haywire at different points throughout, and mine threw me for a complete loop that last week. I spent most of that weekend in bed, getting out on the 13th for the sole purpose of taking maternity photos and attending a mother’s day lunch with family. Thank the Lord we decided to take maternity photos that morning, just in the nick of time!
I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions more regularly for the last week or so, but they still weren’t at the level where it hurt. My doctor’s appointment from the previous week revealed that I was 1 centimeter dilated, 80% effaced. Of course, that meant all of nothing – it could stay like that for weeks.
I was used to waking up throughout the night for the multiple bathroom breaks, but when I woke up Monday morning at 5:00, it felt a little different. I woke up from a contraction, which felt like a sharp period cramp in my back. By this point in the pregnancy, Brett was in the habit of checking on me each time I got up to make sure everything was ok. I mentioned to him that I thought this was an actual real contraction, but homeboy was just too tired to acknowledge it at that time and promptly fell right back asleep:). I went to the bathroom like normal and thought that I had just had the “bloody show.” I noticed that my underwear was wet, but I expected my water breaking to be of the bed-wetting level – meaning more than what I saw.
As I got ready for work that morning, I continued to have the sharp back pain contractions about every 45 minutes. I called my sister and my mom to just see if these really were contractions, and that led my mom to suggest that she thought my water had actually broken. Both suggested calling the doctor or labor and delivery ward at the hospital.
Because I wanted answers, I ended up calling both. After describing my morning to the nurse at the hospital, she informed me that she was pretty sure my water had actually broken (much to my surprise) and said to me, “Honey, you need to come in!” My sister had contractions for days before her labor started, so I definitely didn’t expect it to be the day. After hearing that I was supposed to head to the hospital, I had a minor freak out in my room. I told the front office and one of my best friends, who then came down to my room and had to encourage me to get going – I think I was in a state of shock. I called Brett and told him to meet me at the hospital, that there was a chance I was in labor.
We called family members to let them know what was going on, and my parents began packing should they need to drive to Boone. We arrived at the hospital around 9 and got checked in relatively quickly. I was still having contractions, just at the slow and irregular pace. I don’t think I actually accepted it was happening until I heard what doctor and midwife were on call for that day. In Boone, there are 4 obstetricians and 4 midwives, and after choosing a path (midwives for us), you rotate through all of them so that you’ll know who delivers your baby. It just so happened that the doctor on call was my gynecologist – the only doctor I had met – and the midwife on call was my favorite of the four, the one I had wanted. Something about finding out that it was the two of them made me feel like this was really it; I had a peace then.
The next little bit was surprisingly calm! Brett and I sat in the room for hours, just waiting for something to happen. They tested me and found out that my water had actually broken, and therefore I was going into labor. No leaving the hospital for me! We waited to see if my contractions would increase on their own to no avail. Around 2:00, they hooked me up to an IV and began giving me pitocin, which helps to trigger contractions. I don’t believe I was technically induced, but it’s a similar process. They kept upping my dosage to get the contractions more regular and intense, to help the dilation progress. Because of how Scarlett was positioned (facing the front), I was having “back labor,” hence why my contractions were being felt in my back. I think I’ll have nightmares about those for quite some time!
I went in knowing that I wanted an epidural – I wanted to be as mentally present after her birth as I could and heard that an epidural would help make me less exhausted from the labor process. Anddd pain relief… that was something I wanted too:). When they went to the highest level of pitocin that they could, they said it would be a good time to give me the epidural. I believe that was around 5:00. Some women say that they don’t want the epidural because of the pain to get one, but it was nothing compared to contractions to me. And y’all, the relief was pretty immediate.
After that, I could feel the presence of a contraction but could not feel the pain. The next few hours flew by, and I relaxed through them. We actually contemplated putting on a movie for the time being. Brett and I would watch the level of my contraction and see what I could feel, but most of it was just spent resting and waiting for more to happen. We were told that I would probably reach 5 centimeters by 7:00 and then increase a centimeter an hour until hitting 10. We thought Scarlett would come late into the night.
As they checked me more frequently, we found out that I reached 5 centimeters by 5:00ish. I started to feel more pressure as time went by, and when they came back to check around 7:50, we found out I was at 10 and Scarlett was trying to wiggle her way on out! By 8:04, they had 2 nurses and my midwife in there, ready for me to push.
Again, I can’t say enough about the epidural – labor did. not. hurt. It was exhausting and hard, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t painful. I pushed for all of 19 minutes, and little girl came wailing out at 8:23! To be honest, it felt more like 5 minutes than 19 – I was calmer during that time than I am on a day-to-day basis. I had a mission, and I was ready to complete it! One thing I’ll never forget is the one question I asked during labor: Does she have hair? I was a bald baby, and I didn’t want her to be bald too! She came out with her arm up by her head and her cord wrapped around her neck and a head full of hair. They immediately placed her in my arms and let Brett and I soak up that time. She was a whopping 6 pounds and 3 ounces, and 17.5 inches long.
The hours after birth were a bit slower in terms of passing. Scarlett and I enjoyed our skin-to-skin time, one of the most precious aspects of birth, and Brett was able to cut the cord. With the time alone with her and the time it took to begin nursing, we didn’t have our family in to visit until 11:50. We were determined, though, to get them in on her actual birthday! I think Brett was able to sleep a little that night, but goodness knows I wasn’t. Just too much excitement!
We decided before going in that we wanted my sister there to capture the first little bit of Scarlett’s life. I didn’t care about getting the actual birth photographed, I just wanted all the moments that followed to be savored. I knew I wouldn’t remember it clearly and I wanted to never forget it. Having her there was a great decision, but I don’t think I could have done that with anyone else! It made a huge difference that it was my sister, someone I’m completely comfortable with. She actually did get Scarlett’s birth on film, in the most tasteful and non-revealing way imaginable, and that is something I will forever cherish! I watch it almost daily. We have all our first moments together permanently captured! Many of the pictures here are stills from that video.
The next few days were about as enjoyable (and tiring) as could be in a hospital with a newborn! One thing is for sure – Brett and I had a great experience at Watauga Medical Center. There wasn’t a single nurse we didn’t love, and we felt so comfortable there. They went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed and reassured, which made the entire process so much easier.
All in all, I know we were so blessed in terms of how smoothly our labor went. Quick and relatively easy are not how you would often describe it, but we were fortunate with that! The weeks following birth have without a doubt been the most trying I’ve ever experienced, but it is such an amazing feeling to fall in love with your own little one.