Before we dive into the story, we just want to say that we know not everyone gets to have this day, and if they do, it may not look how they wanted it to… we don’t take for granted the fact that we are able to look back on Sam’s delivery process with joy and laughter, and our hearts sincerely go out to the people who find themselves in a different place than us. Secondly, we also know we’re not the first people to ever have a baby, and we’re not sharing this as some sort of revelation to the world of what having a baby looks like for everyone. Instead, we hope it’s either informative or maybe brings you a chuckle, or ideally, both!
If today’s Anna could talk to 40-weeks-pregnant Anna, she would tell her, “it’s all going to be ok.”
Hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it?
Everyone, even my doctor, told me I would go early — I thought I would, too — so we started to align our expectations accordingly. When his due date came and went, I was all out of sorts.
I had already been experiencing the standard amount of birth-accompanying anxiety, combined with the readiness to move on to this new chapter of life, mixed with the excitement to meet my son. Adding to that the weight of misplaced expectations made for a mental grind. (So many people, including a few of my sisters, have had to wait even longer than I did, and to that I say: you are warriors.)
Because (thankfully) I was healthy, and the baby was healthy, my doctor and I agreed that we would wait until 41 weeks for an induction (in hopes that he would come on his own before then). My plan leading up to our birth was to have no interventions and no medication from start to finish. Thinking about being induced scared me, because I had heard horror stories about Pitocin contractions and, without any pain medication, it felt like an undertaking I hadn’t prepared for. I really had to work through this birth potentially looking different than what I had visualized and imagined for months.
Days went by, and we tried EVERYTHING to induce labor, but Sam was as cozy as can be. The morning of my induction came with no true signs of labor so we headed to the hospital at 6:00 am. Nathan and I both had come to grips with our new plan, and were bound and determined to course correct and make the best out of this situation.
N: With Anna aiming to go through labor with no medication, my role was “Support Person Number 1”. Not passing out was the baseline, being educated on the process and coping techniques was very much the expectation. Week 41 was all about gratitude for us: Sam was healthy, Anna was healthy, and we had a good plan of action ahead. Despite moments of anxiety, being grateful helped us make our final days as DINKs a littler sweeter.
We checked in, got to our room, and met our nurse. Her name? Sam. It felt like a sign of good things to come. We had a view of the city from our room and watched the sunrise over the buildings on the MOST beautiful sunny day.
I had been dilated 3 cm for a couple of weeks at that point and was still at a 3 when I got to the hospital. I was started on a very low dose of Pitocin at around 10:00am and started to feel contractions at 11:00 am. They were very sporadic and not noticeable at that point.
Around that time, Nathan and I were cuddling, laughing, chatting, and dancing — we wanted this time to feel as special and intimate as it is. Savvy even came by with Banks and waved at us from the sidewalk, things were mild!
By 12:30 they had bumped up my Pitocin and decided to break my water, because his head was in a good position. Rather than give me even more Pitocin, my doctor wanted to see if my body could take it from there… and oh my, my body took it from there!
No more than 10 minutes later, it was game time. Contractions had picked up, and they say to ignore them until you can no longer ignore them… I could no longer ignore them. My doula was on the way to the hospital and we were in active labor.
There had been a shift change earlier that morning, and we were gifted with a new nurse, Danielle, who could not have been more perfect for this birth. My doctor was also not there that day, but we were so thankful for the doctor we did end up working with. (Funny enough, from the second we met her, she reminded us of Megan from Father of the Bride 2 — i don’t know what it was, but she had a calming and confident presence about her). It felt like everything was as it should be.
She came in and said she had a feeling I was going to start “flying” because of how quickly and intensely these contractions were coming, so they brought my Pitocin back down.
At 2:00 pm, I was 6 cm and 90% effaced… then things got intense. My contractions were 30 seconds apart and a minute long when my doula arrived. You don’t really know how you’re going to handle this type of pain because there’s not much it can be compared to. I had heard unmedicated birth is 85% mental so I thought we would have candles lit, my perfectly curated playlist on the speaker we packed and dim lights. But when I was on the toilet telling my doula I thought I was going to — and I quote — “sh*t this baby out of my f***ing ass” (sorry Mom), I learned that ambience was very low on my priority list. We never even played any music.
N: I like to pride myself on being calm and focused during intense circumstances… I was tracking the process meticulously, keeping our doula’s updated with very detailed notes, but as soon as things escalated as quickly as they did here, all of my preparation went out the window. I had remembered one counterpressure coping technique from our reading, and we leaned heavily on that. Otherwise, Support Person #1 was just trying to tread water ‘til back-up arrived.
At 2:50 pm, I was feeling an insane amount of pressure. The contractions were coming so fast but I thought there was NO WAY I was ready to push…in my head it was going to take a lot longer to get to that point.
The doctor came in to check me and I had gone from 6cm to 10cm in about 45 minutes — it was time to push! Pushing was actually such a relief for me, and it felt really good to do something with the contractions I had been working with the last couple of hours.
I pushed in a few different positions before finding one that worked, but about 45 minutes into pushing his *massive* head was not moving the way we needed it to. His heart rate started to drop, and my doctor said we may have to do an episiotomy — I asked her for one more shot.
They got me into a slightly different position, his heart rate went back up, and with a room of seven people screaming at me…he was born! This might me TMI but…we are there, right? He crowned for 17 MINUTES. So long that the hospital team dubbed me “The Crowning Queen”.
N: This was the most insane 17 minutes of my life. It was like something out of a sports movie. Anna was a rockstar, and when the doctor mentioned an episiotomy and Anna asked for one more chance to push will forever live in my brain — what a moment! Beyond that, there were some hilarious bits of casual conversation about Stanley tumblers, botox, and potential trips planned for later this year — it’s hard to capture just how funny it was to go from everyone yelling during Anna’s attempts to push, to the casual and light conversations happening in between contractions. Side note: don’t lock your knees or hold your breath when someone else is pushing. I narrowly avoided passing out by keeping those two things in mind.
I couldn’t believe he was here! He weighed in at 8 pounds 7 ounces and was so, so perfect. We headed home the next day and settled into this new life!
I couldn’t have hand picked a better team of doctors and nurses than the ones we had. Is it weird to feel like I have a deep, emotional connection to these people? We were all hugging afterwards, because it was just such a crazy experience. I’ve always had the utmost respect for what they do but even more so now.
We hired the team over at Uptown Doulas, and that was the best decision we made. They were so phenomenal from the moment we hired them and having that support from the start of my pregnancy through postpartum was unmatched. I’m so thankful for our story and that I had the opportunity to experience birth in this way. It was a beautiful reminder that God’s plan is better than my own and that women (however they bring babies into the world) and what their bodies can do are truly a miraculous and beautiful thing.
Thank you for reading and sharing in this with us!
Anna, Nathan, & Sam
*This post originally appeared in our Friday Newsletter, which you can sign up for here.