My Birth Story (as I remember it)

by christy on January 29, 2009

On Sunday night around 7PM, January 11, I started feeling a new kind of cramp in my lower belly and a bit of tightening. Jason was going to head out to jam with the guys at a Greenpoint studio, but I had him stay back, just in case, because these cramps were so new and slightly regular. After drinking a lot of water and eating a bit, they subsided and I had Jason go out to have some fun.

Monday morning – closer to afternoon, actually – I awoke with a headache and continued to have the belly pain. A few times every hour it hit particularly hard. I got up, loaded the dishwasher and made a quesadilla. It was difficult to even sit up from the pain. I honestly thought my baby’s head was just lying very low and the pain was hitting every time it moved. So I grabbed Arrested Development, curled up in bed with my laptop and kitties and attempted to watch and put the pain out of my mind.

Jason got home around 7PM and made me some steak and corn. I tried to sit up as long as possible but curled up in bed around 9PM. Our friend Dave came by and hung out, leaving maybe an hour later. I finally realized these pains were fairly constant and began to time them. They came anywhere from two to ten minutes apart or so, lasting anywhere from 44 to 90 seconds. I thought how it really didn’t feel like labour because it wasn’t “tight” the way most women describe, all across my belly, and I didn’t see it physically changing shape. But it was quite painful, enough to curl my toes, which Jason laughed at.

I finally called the doctor at 10:30PM, not wanting to call much later just for false labour. He wasn’t convinced it was time yet, but said I could go to the hospital if I really felt like it, though they may make me walk around for a while or even send me home. Something told me I should go in, so I called Danelle, my doula. I told her I wasn’t sure if this was it, but we were going in. She said she’d be over ASAP.

Once I acknowledged that this could be it, things began to move quickly. I was sick in the bathroom, curled up in bed, and then Jason got to see me puke for the first time, lucky him!

Danelle arrived quickly and we moved to the couch and put on Planet Earth. Contractions moved to four minutes apart. At this point, time stopped moving in hours, but in contractions. Each contraction was a little harder, felt a little more painful, and I began to moan out loud. The space in between I could only think about the relief, yet dreaded the next. For a time I could watch the show, but soon didn’t care. Danelle had me stand to see if that helped. It didn’t. I sat back down, was offered the birthing ball, but could only moan “noooo”. I decided to lie in bed again, and this time Danelle helped me throw up.

Finally I decided it was time to head to the hospital, though I dreaded the trip. Danelle called a car to come in a half hour or so, but the driver had to wait another 30 minutes while Jason and Danelle loaded everything (suitcase, backpack, car seat, birthing ball, and Danelle’s doula bag) into the car, though one of them always stayed by my side. It took probably ten minutes to make my way down the three flights of stairs and outside to the car.

Amazingly the car ride was fairly fast, again because time was in contractions, not in real minutes. It was an older driver, who didn’t seem to mind my increasingly loud moans. He pulled up to NYU Medical Center’s emergency room and was very patient as Jason and Danelle unloaded everything while putting me in a wheelchair.

We were led by security to a special elevator that whisked us straight up to labour and delivery. Unfortunately, two very inconsiderate nurses hitched a ride and laughed and said “you have another eight hours of this, at least!” Had I any ability to speak or move, they would’ve had an earful or a couple nice shiners.

It was just after 1AM. They quickly led me to a triage room, changed into a gown, strapped on a fetal monitor and one for my contractions, though I was moving so much that they couldn’t get a good read, and I yelled “my baby’s fine!”, because I didn’t want to be stuck in one place. Jason had to go admit me, so Danelle took over. It was probably around then that my moans turned to yells, and not much longer until I was literally screaming at the top of my lungs. Jason returned and they checked my cervix; I was 5cm dilated and at -1 station. I didn’t even feel the pain of the IV and when the nurse first attempted to put on my ID band, I whipped my hand away to grab Jason’s.

Apparently at one point I said I didn’t want an epidural, but still the anesthesiologist was sent in. She asked if I had changed my mind. In the intense pain, all I could do was look at Jason, because I nearly cried out “yes!” but knew in my head that’s not what I wanted (I don’t think they could’ve put the needle in my spine between contractions anyhow, they were so close and I couldn’t sit still). Jason explained to her, seeing my eyes, that I didn’t want to risk a spinal headache, as I’d had one in the past and deal with chronic headaches. She still tried to get me to sign the waiver in case I changed my mind or needed an emergency c-section, to which Jason said “well, if it comes to that, can’t we sign it then?” She left.

My doctor showed up and told us it was time to move to the delivery room. I don’t know how long it took, but every several steps I had to stop, lean against Jason, and scream at the top of my lungs. I felt bad for anyone else delivering or coming in, but also didn’t care.

I fell onto the bed. The doctor checked me and I was at 9cm. I now wanted to push but he told me not to, as I had to get to 10cm and pushing now would swell my cervix and make it harder. So each contraction I grabbed a hand from each of my supporters and squeezed and screamed. I even ripped off my gown because I was too hot and honestly didn’t care anymore about anything other than making the pain end.

Finally, he told me to start pushing, somewhere around 4AM. I was to stop screaming and put all my energy, which was quickly fading, into it. It took me a few times to figure out how to do it; three sets of ten within a contraction, which moved up to four sets. I glanced at the clock to see 4:15AM and figured I would have my baby by 4:30AM.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite happen. The doctor kept telling me to push, sounding more like a personal trainer, that I had to work harder. I yelled at him a few times, “I can’t!” and probably would’ve kicked him had I had energy.

The baby’s heart rate was decreasing with the contractions, so I was given oxygen, but had to rip the mask off with each one as I sucked in so hard I felt more suffocated. The room was filling up with nurses and doctors and med students, and I was told a pediatrician was being brought in to make sure the baby was OK.

The doctor continued to coach me, saying it would take only one or two more pushes and be out. He had Jason look at the top of the head, which was sitting right there. Danelle asked me if I wanted a mirror, but again, I just didn’t care at all. The doctor said it had hair, which shocked me,. He said dark hair, to which Jason quipped “that’s it, it’s not mine!”

Later Jason said the head had been sitting there for quite a while, and finally the doctor said he was going to have to intervene. My first thought was c-section, so I said “no!” But it was the vacuum he wanted to use. I did another few hard pushes. My water broke, which seemed to splash across the room. It still didn’t work, so the doctor put on his scrubs and gear, the table was folded up so my butt was by the edge, and he applied the vacuum.

I screamed at him that he was hurting me and he said “it’s not me, it’s the baby.” But my skin was hurting and he quickly numbed it up.

All of a sudden, with the next push, the head was out. I saw Jason’s excited eyes get big as the head popped out. One more push and the body was out. It happened so fast and there was immediate relief. It was a boy! But they took him to a table off to the side of the room to check him out. Jason’s face was covered with an expression I’d never seen before, just complete elation, and I couldn’t stop saying “oh my gosh, it’s my baby! I have a baby! There’s my baby!”

There was a bit more pain as I birthed the placenta. He plopped it into a container and I asked to see it. Gross but cool. The he had to stitch up my second degree tear as a med student watched.

Still, I couldn’t stop staring at my baby. I asked Jason if he still liked “Max”, and he said yes. I had Jason go look at him but he seemed wary with the doctors and nurses there and didn’t want to leave my side. It took maybe ten minutes or so while they fixed and cleaned me up, and tended to my Max. Finally, Jason got to be the first to hold him and when I was ready, the tiny little life was put in my arms.

My baby’s born. Max Ronald Powers.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

jenbaum January 29, 2009 at 11:26 pm

What an awesome story, Christy! Beautiful… and yet a little scary for those of us that are net quite there yet! :) I hope things with Max are going well for you all!!!! :) jen.

Christy January 30, 2009 at 12:47 am

Haha, I guess I should have said that I’m still really glad that I went all natural. The lady in the bed next to mine in the maternity ward kept telling friends she went “natural” but then said how her back hurt from the epidural. Liar! :)

Seriously, we believe it happened so fast (only six and a half hours from the time I realized I was in labour until the time he was born) because I went natural. Plus, he was very alert and I was feeling great right away, up and walking around within the hour with tons of energy. It sucked for a while there, but in reality it seemed faster than it was because of the way time was counted in my head.

But the most amazing thing is the adorable kid I got out of it! :)

Christina January 30, 2009 at 7:52 am

Congratultions Christy, you did awesome! I still have to write my birth story! I’ve just been waiting for a little sleep which I finally had so maybe today :) I can’t believe they were trying to talk you into the epidural, and that nurse said you had at least 8 more hours! Not cool. Anyway, congrats again and Max is awesome :)

Danielle January 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. It is truly amazing what our bodies are capable of. I’m so happy for you two and can’t waity to meet Max!
Much love-
Dani

campblsoupgrl February 2, 2009 at 3:25 am

Oh my gosh, Chrisy! Your story made me start to tear up with memories. You are so brave wanting to continue do the birth naturally after having been hurting like crazy for hours! I am proud to say I had an epidural just so I didn’t have to go through that pain but seriously, more power (no pun intended..ha!) to you for doing it without drugs. I hope you are feeling (and healing) well and I’m sure Jason is having a ball with little Max. Lucky is still 100% convinced that his name is Maximum and you’ll definitely have to let us know if that’s the case. ;D

I love looking at your pictures on Facebook of your new family so please keep ’em coming!

michelle February 7, 2009 at 7:10 pm

did you watch the documentary, the business of being born? that moved me to an incredible extent- the way hospitals try to push women into signing away their decisions and scaring them into medicine they dont need. i’m proud of you two for sticking to your guns. i’ve always had a fear of childbirth but being educated about it makes it seems like we have more ability to brace through it. anyways, well done and congrats.

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