While I was pregnant, I was obsessed with reading people’s birth stories. I guess a part of me wanted to be prepared for what was to come, and I was also just genuinely curious about how people’s experiences were all so different. Ever since Jack was born 10 days ago, I have been wanting to find time (hah!) to write down my memories about the day he was born – I’m just so scared I’m going to forget the details, and it’s something very important for me to document. That being said, if you’re not into birth stories, or if you really don’t want to know some rather personal details about me, I totally understand and encourage you to skip this post. Also, sorry in advance for literally writing the longest birth story in the history of the internet. It is what it is.
My original due date was December 14, but the week before I started getting a feeling that the baby was going to be coming sooner rather than later. I told John on Monday, December 4 that I felt like this was going to be “the week,” and I was praying I was right. I was so over being pregnant (I think every pregnant woman in their last month understands that feeling!), and I couldn’t wait to meet our baby! I tried to fill the days that week with lots of fun activities with friends (walks, nails, coffee, movies, etc), and tried to get the time to pass as quickly as possible.
On Thursday, December 7, I woke up around 1:30 AM to some very mild cramp-like contractions. I had been having contractions on and off earlier that week, so I tried not to get my hopes up and decided to try to sleep through it if I could. I figured if it was the real thing, it’d wake me up eventually – and if it wasn’t, well I might as well get some zzzz’s. They were coming about 6-8 minutes apart, but weren’t super painful so I just dozed in and out for a few hours (and also ate a bunch of leftover enchiladas around 4 AM just in case), and finally decided to wake John at 6:00 AM. He had been sleeping in the guest bedroom since I was always up and down all night with my midnight pregnancy pee breaks, and I was really grateful he’d chosen to sleep in there that night so that I wasn’t keeping him awake all night with my constant tossing & turning / contraction excitement!
Once I woke him, he got up and started to get ready for work – he was hoping to go in for at least a few hours to tie up some loose ends just in case this was the real thing, and we had both been planning for me to try to wait as long as possible before going to the hospital. As he was getting ready, though, my contractions started speeding up and getting more intense, and I asked him not to leave me alone. Sweet guy obliged, and we spent the next few hours trying to get things ready around the house, finish packing our bags, and sending out some emails (in between contractions of course!)
Sidenote: As you may or may not know, I’m a Taylor Swift fan. I’d been planning on pre-buying tickets to her concert, and got an email on Monday, December 4 saying that I was going to be able to buy them on Thursday between 4-5PM. As soon as I saw that, I thought, “I bet you anything I’m going to be in labor on Thursday!” Anyway, this is relevant later in the story so I thought I’d mention it!
By 9:00 AM, I was in a lot of pain and the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and really gaining intensity so we decided to go to the hospital. I was having pain in my hips and butt (I know, that’s so weird) and could not stand to sit or lay down, so I was kneeling over my birth ball for each rolling tide of pain. It was pretty terrible, and I was starting to get scared that they were getting so intense! We got the last of the bags packed into the car, grabbed the carseat, and headed out the door. When we got to the hospital, the contractions continued rolling about every 3 minutes, and I was having to stop for each one, crouch on the floor, lean over my suitcase and moan really loud (embarrassing but your body just kind of takes over and does what it has to do!). Everyone kept asking me if I needed a wheelchair as we walked through the parking deck, over the skybridge, through the halls and up the elevator – but again, sitting was excruciating, so I chose to just walk.
When we approached the Labor & Delivery check-in desk, another couple had just barely beat us there and the nurses asked us to wait for a few minutes. The other couple didn’t seem to be in labor, but I wasn’t having a contraction yet so we agreed. Of course right then I felt one coming on, so I walked around the corner, braced myself in my position, and felt one rip through my body. Immediately, we were rushed past the desk and into triage without even having to do paperwork – I think they were scared I was going to have that baby right then and there!
Once in triage, I was checked and was almost 5cm dilated so they decided to admit me. I honestly do not know what I would have done if they had told me to go home – I probably would have argued with them! The pain of each contraction was SO intense, and I lost all sense of decency! I was wearing a gown with my butt hanging out, moaning (and cursing oops) loudly through each contraction, and trying to hold it together.
Once they got us to a room, I was begging for an epidural. I’d wanted to wait as long as possible for one, but I was getting to my breaking point, and everyone knew it. The nurse started a bag of IV fluids and took my blood, and assured me that I’d be able to get an epidural as soon as the lab work came back. It ended up being almost TWO hours of hardcore labor as we waited for that lab work, and I honestly have no idea why it took that long – I was so focused on trying to make it through each contraction that I was almost living in another land. John was of course amazing throughout everything. He encouraged me through each contraction, saying exactly the right things and helped squeeze my hips to help relieve the pressure that was taking over my body.
FINALLY the anesthesiologist came in. He asked me to sit on the bed, and of course I was terrified since sitting was still so incredibly painful. The two hours I’d been in the hospital had been spent with me either crouched on the floor over a birth ball, or me leaning over a desk in the corner – but he assured me that he’d do the procedure quickly so I obliged. Once the epidural was in, it was like instant magic as my contractions got less and less intense. I was SO grateful and happy because I was actually in a fantastic mood and so excited to be having this baby, and was finally able to relax and enjoy the experience! Once I was settled in bed, our amazing doctor came in, broke my water and rechecked me – I was 7cm and SO happy to finally have some relief! Our parents arrived soon afterwards, and the room was abuzz with excitement for little baby Mallory!
Sidenote: John started unpacking a few things from our bags to help make our stay a little better, and pulled out the sweetest surprise for me – a tiny Christmas tree for our room! He had stashed away some of our favorite ornaments, bought lights, and snuck it into his bag so we could have it set up in our hospital room (for the record, I’m a Christmas-lover, so this was 100% the best surprise in the entire world!). We hung up some lights around the windows as I labored, and it meant the world to me that he’d done something so thoughtful to help me feel more comfortable. He’s the best guy, and I don’t know what I did to deserve someone so thoughtful and loving! We ended up setting up the tree in our postpartum room and it gave the most heavenly glow during the night that acted as the perfect nightlight for me to get to see my baby sleeping next to me.
Anyway, back to the labor. By this point, it was about 2:30/3:00 PM and I decided I should probably try to nap since it’d already been a long day and it was about to get a lot longer! Our doctor and nursers were all saying they thought the baby would be born between 7:00-9:00 PM, so we told our families they could leave and we would keep them updated, and John & his mom left the room to grab a snack so I could catch a few minutes of zzzz’s. As soon as they left, though, my epidural medication ran out so a nurse had to come in to refill it. As she was working on that, I mentioned to her that I was having a lot of pressure down there, and asked if there was anything that could be done to relieve it. I thought my catheter may have been a little messed up, so she readjusted it and decided to go ahead and check me again while she was down there – and low & behold I was 9.5cm! To say I was shocked was an understatement, and I was suddenly shaking with adrenaline as I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that the moment we’d been dreaming about was so close. I immediately called John, who rushed back to our room, and also contacted our photographer (who I’d been assuring all day that she shouldn’t come yet since it was surely going to take hours before any action happened). Once John got back into the room, we had a few minutes where no one was with us, and he held my hand, looked at me, and said, “this is the last time it’ll just be you & me.” It was such a sweet moment for us, and by the time the nurse came back in, I was ready.
The nurse started having me do “practice pushes” around 4:00 PM – which is hilarious if you remember that that is exactly the time my Taylor Swift tickets were going on sale! Luckily, we were able to get them purchased without too much hassle, but I do love that we were all actively trying to buy them in between pushes! So typical! John held my leg and hand, and coached me through each contraction, and our photographer Anja (who did an incredible job, obviously, and who I adore!!) was so supportive. I couldn’t have asked for a better team!
Even though I had the epidural, I was still feeling pain as I was pushing, and I now truly understand that they call it labor for a reason – it is HARD work! Every time I felt a contraction coming I would hold my breath, close my eyes, and push with every ounce of my being. It was incredibly painful, but I was also determined and ready for it to be over so we could meet our baby! The nurse decided to call the doctor around 4:30 PM, and that’s when I knew it was game time. We were really about to have our baby – this was actually happening. Our doctor arrived quickly and the room was suddenly buzzing with energy as everyone got in position and encouraged me forward. Through every contraction, John held my hand and was the perfect partner to have by my side.
As Jack was born, I felt everything down there. It was excruciatingly painful, and during my last contraction, I pushed six long, difficult pushes as hard as I could – with eyes squeezed tightly shut – and begged them to make it end, for someone to help me get the baby out. Finally, finally, finally, Jack was born, and as I heard John exclaim “it’s a boy!” to the room, they laid my son on my chest. The warmth and weight of his little body felt like pure heaven against my skin. My eyes were still tightly shut from the pain of the birth so I don’t remember what he looked like as they put him on top of me, but I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling of his body on top of my chest. It’s something I dreamed about throughout my whole pregnancy, and I couldn’t believe he was finally here! And a boy! I knew it!
John and I stared at him while they delivered my placenta and stitched me up, and soon enough I was nursing him, which was the craziest thing. Afterwards, I gave him to John, and almost cried tears of joy watching the love of my life holding our little man. Just seeing him holding our baby so tenderly was the sweetest sight. It’s unexplainable the happiness you feel.
Okay. Let’s stop there and just say that things are about to get a LITTLE more TMI, so seriously stop reading now if you’re grossed out about talking about using the bathroom, blood, fainting, etc. Haha! I am honestly writing a lot of this for my own memory, and just want to share my experience.
Back to the labor room. After John, Jack and I had had our special family time together, the nurses came back in to start all the necessary steps to get the show on the road – measuring him (21 inches long), weighing him (8 lbs, 15.4 oz), and making sure I was also doing well. Sometime around here, I asked to go use the bathroom – John was with the baby learning to change a diaper, and nothing was really going on with me. The nurse loaded me up on a standing wheelchair, and joked with me about how I better not pass out because she didn’t want to have to do any paperwork on me. I assured her I would NOT be passing out, and she got me to the restroom in one piece. While I was in there, she noticed that I was bleeding more than I should be at that point, so when I was done she loaded me back up and and we started going towards the bed. Around that time, I started getting SO lightheaded, and she instructed me to put my nose in the air. I did, but suddenly felt very faint – I was doing everything I could do to NOT pass out! She quickly dropped me onto the bed, swung the bed back so I was laying down, and got my legs in the air. It was a crazy feeling as the noises in the room started getting further & further away, and I have to admit I was actually really scared! Luckily I did NOT faint and I was able to sit up a few minutes later. The next issue was the bleeding they’d noticed. She examined me and decided I might still need some stitches, so they called the doctor to come back up and see me again (I have to admit, I was not happy about this, since I’d just gone through giving birth and being stitched up once – and feeling everything during both processes. The doctor ended up determining that I needed a couple more stitches and after that I was perfectly fine).
Meanwhile, our families had been anxiously waiting in the waiting room for literally hours. I felt really bad that everything took so long, and was so excited when John was finally given the okay to go get them to bring them in! We hadn’t known whether the baby was a boy or a girl during the entire pregnancy, and at this point no one knew the outcome except us (although everyone was guessing boy, including me & John)! As our families walked into the room, I held Jack in my arms while John introduced him to our parents and sisters – it was seriously such a highlight of my life thus far. Seeing their faces light up, with tears in their eyes…..it just filled me to the brim with joy! It really is special seeing people you love love your baby.
I know this was such a long post, but I feel like I skipped over so much – and that there’s so much to tell that’s happened since then! Jack has so far been the most perfect baby, and he’s sleeping and eating great. John and I are so thankful to have been given this precious gift, and we are both smitten with our little love bug. Being a parent has already been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to watch Jack grow into the little person he is meant to become. Thank you all for your well-wishes & prayers, it has meant the world to us to have so much love and support!
HUGE thanks to Anja from Lela & Lyla for coming to the hospital to photograph this incredibly special day. The images you captured for us and our family are now treasured heirlooms, and I can’t imagine not having them. We love you and I am so happy you were there for Jack’s birth!