Sharing something this personal is a little out of my comfort zone, but I read so many birth stories when I was pregnant with my first child that if I can help or inspire another nervous or curious mother, I’m happy to do it! Warning: this is a bit lengthy. I tried to edit it down as much as I could but, it was such a special day that it’s hard to cut anything out.

So here we go!

I was at my 40 week appointment with my doctor – still barely dilated – when she brought up the option of having me induced the following week. I was really hoping to go into labor on my own, so wasn’t all that hot on the idea at first. Fast forward to my 41 week appointment, and I was near tears asking for an appointment! That final week was super rough for me, made even harder by a mid-November heat wave and my super active toddler. My amazing doctor made a call and got me an appointment for a 3am induction (YAY!)

My mom came over in the middle of the night to stay with our son, and my husband Jason and I headed to the hospital around 2:30am. It took a good hour and a half to get me checked in, into a room, all my vitals taken, an IV hooked up, and several vials of blood drawn (we are doing cord blood banking so this took longer) before we were ready for action. The nurse checked and I was still only 2 cm dilated! We started the Pitocin drip, plugged in our portable speaker, got our Spotify playlists going, and waited.

Around 8am my doctor came to check on me, and I was 4cm dilated (YES!). We decided to break my water and increase the Pitocin level to move things along even more. My doctor left and said she’d be back around lunch to check on me. I asked the nurse when I should get an epidural, and she said it was really up to me, but just to not wait SO long because I needed to be able to hold completely still for the epidural to be performed. Since the contractions still weren’t very strong I said I’d hold out a bit longer. The nurse left, and after about 20 more minutes the contractions had gone from a pain level 4 to a 7. I looked at Jason and said we needed to call the nurses NOW. They said the epidural person likely wouldn’t be there for another 30 minutes. By the time she got there, they’d gotten closer to an 8 pain level. At our hospital they make everyone leave the room, so I said goodbye to Jason, and then held onto the massage-table like contraption they use to brace you against while they insert the needle. I’m not joking, right as the woman conducting the epidural said “okay, now don’t move a muscle” I felt a gnarly contraction start rolling in. It took EVERYTHING in my power to hold completely still through that level of pain, but somehow I did it! After it was completed, they showed me what button to push if I needed more pain relief, and that it should kick in about 15 minutes later.

At this point, I had been struggling through some hardcore contractions for about 90 minutes. I wanted to pause here to say that while I never really considered giving birth naturally, after that experience I got a glimpse of how it could be done. The nurse told me how when women just relax into labor instead of fighting it, the body works best and does what it is supposed to naturally do. With that in mind, during every contraction I forced myself to relax and breathe through it instead of tensing up. I kept thinking, “there is no way out of this, so you have to just breathe and not fight it.” I actually got to a pretty good mental state this way, and through squeezing the heck out of my husband’s hand, but still opted for the drugs J

Now it’s around 10am. The nurses brought in a peanut ball, which looks sort of like an exercise ball smushed in half, and had me alternate laying on each side with it between my knees for the next hour and a half. Once the epidural kicked in, this felt like bliss. We had the Ed Sheeran Pandora station going (it’s SOO good), and I got so relaxed I started doubting I would be able to get amped up enough to push after this.

Around 11:30am the nurses came back to check on me. I said I was still feeling fine – they asked if I was starting to feel any pressure and I said no. Of course about 10 minutes after they left, I felt a BIG surge of pressure and started to get this feeling of almost needing to push. I can’t really explain it, but I knew from reading other birth stories that this could be a sign that the baby was close, especially for a second-time mom. I started panicking a little and told Jason to get the nurses back in here – I thought the baby was coming. Just at that moment my doctor walked in, and a HUGE wave of relief washed over me! She quickly checked and sure enough, I was 10 cm dilated. She had me a do a “practice push” where I just pushed a little, and she said that yep, we were ready to go!

My fear of not being able to get psyched up enough to push went away. Once you’re getting ready to push, it’s almost like the delivery room comes alive with excitement. More nurses come in the room, everyone’s getting things ready for the baby to arrive, and of course, the reality is setting in that you’re thisclose to meeting your baby!

Okay this part is kind of embarrassing but I’m going to be honest. Once everything was ready and it was time to push, I did my first push at about 75% of my total strength. With my first delivery, pushing was the worst part for me – I felt like I was pushing SO HARD my head was going to explode, so I wanted to take it a little easier this time around. Everyone was super encouraging and it seemed like we were making progress so I thought, hey alright, I’m going to keep this cruisy and operate at 75%. J  After the 3rd push, the doctor said we needed to get the baby out on the next push. I’m not exactly sure why, my husband thought her heart rate was getting a little slower, but it was enough to get me to give it 110%, and we got her out! I heard a little cry, and then the doctor brought her up and placed her on my chest.

Seeing my daughter for the first time, I felt the same out of this world feeling I did when I first met my son. It sounds weird, but I truly felt like I was meeting her for the first time – not like she had been cruising around with me for the past 9 months. I stared at her with wonder, and cried happy tears that she was finally here.