Sam’s birth story
Sam was due on July 13, 2013 and arrived 11 days later, July 24.
I started having contractions on the evening of Monday, June 24. When I went into the doctor the next morning, I was at 70% and 2cm, which was more than I had ever progressed with Ellie until her induction. I continued having contractions on and off, and the next week, I was at 3cm. My doctor said there was no way I’d make it to my due date at this rate. We were just hoping to hold off until after July 4, so Ryan could finish out his holiday work schedule!
I spent the evening of July 5 timing contractions – I was having pretty mild contractions at regular intervals, about every 2-3 minutes, and lasting for 30-45 seconds. I called Dr. Gould and she said she expected it was early labor and to call her when we got to the hospital. But after two hours, they stopped. The next night, I had some more intense contractions, but they weren’t regular and again stopped before I went to bed.
My next appointment was on July 9, and I was hoping and expecting to be further along after another week of contractions. But I was still at 3cm, which is where I stayed until my due date…and well beyond. I wanted to trust my body to go into labor naturally when Sam was ready to be born, so we avoided any interventions or inductions. We did try a ton of old wives’ tales and natural ways of stimulating labor, but nothing worked. I continued having intermittent contractions, nearly every day, but wasn’t making significant progress. Ryan kept assuring me that all this “practice” could mean a fast and easy labor, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
The first few days after my due date were wonderful “bonus” days we got to spend as a family of three, taking lots of walks, swimming, and playing together. Ryan and I had a date night at the Muny seeing an amazing production of Les Miserables. Those bonus days were beautiful and I cherish them! But they were also emotional, as I went between feeling like my body was broken and didn’t know how to go into labor, and feeling confident that Sam would come when and how he was ready.
On July 22, after a great non-stress test that showed he was quite happy and healthy, we stripped my membranes to try to get things going. I had progressed to 4cm, but was still at 70%. I had a lot of cramping and a couple contractions, but no labor. At this point, I was getting more convinced we were going to end up inducing again. I had spent two weeks trying every method I could find to start labor, and I had barely even progressed! We scheduled an induction for Wednesday, July 24. We initially were leaning toward Pitocin again, but Dr. Gould suggested breaking my water instead, and promised we wouldn’t be on a 24-hour timeline. If I didn’t start labor after 18 or 24 hours, they would monitor me for signs of infection and start Pitocin.
We arrived at St. Clare at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, after eating breakfast on our deck on an absolutely beautiful July day with Ellie and our parents. They all came to see our room and wish us luck, and then let us get checked in and settled.
The floor doctor broke my water at 11:30 a.m. and said I was at 90%, 4cm, and -2 station. I started having contractions at 12:30. I was due for monitoring at 1:30, and while I had initially said I didn’t want to be checked every hour, I was curious if the contractions had gotten anything going or if they were unproductive like they had been at home. The nurse even asked first if I would be disappointed if I were still at 4 or 5cm, and I honestly said no. That wasn’t an issue, however, because I was already at 6cm. This was hugely encouraging, and the contractions weren’t even that bad yet – I was breathing through them and not wanting to talk, but I definitely wouldn’t have come to the hospital yet had I been at home.
Over the next 20 minutes, the contractions started getting much more intense, and Ryan asked if he should have the nurse come check me. I said no, but then started getting hot flashes and mild nausea with each contraction, and I thought I might be in transition, around 7cm. I told Ryan to go ahead and call the nurse. She came in at 2 p.m., just 30 minutes after my last check, and I was at 8cm! She called Dr. Gould and told her to head our way.
In the next 30 minutes, I started having very intense contractions. I was on the monitor for about 15 minutes, sitting on the birthing ball and leaning back into Ryan with each contraction. I started feeling like pushing was going to be soon, and a lot of my pain came from trying to stay tense and not push. I got on the bed and they set up the squatting bar, which I was moving around with trying to relieve some pain. Dr. Gould arrived around 2:30 p.m., and said I wasn’t quite at 10cm but if I needed to push, I could and she would help. I tried pushing in a number of positions but nothing was feeling quite right. Dr. Gould said his head was turned just a bit and asked me to get on my side to help rotate it.
I had been looking forward to pushing, because with Ellie, it was a huge relief and my body took over. This time was quite different! I wasn’t feeling the strong pushes coming naturally like I did with her, but my body was clearly trying to get him out. The nurse was helping talk me through long pushes and trying to help me orient my body so I could push effectively and help him out. It was SO much more painful than with Ellie! After about 10 minutes, I pushed hard and long at the end of a contraction and could tell his head was close but not out. The contraction was over but I instinctually knew I needed to keep pushing, so I bore down again (Ryan told me later that his head was partially out, but not far enough out yet to let his shoulders come out too). Another contraction started almost right after that, and I pushed one more time and felt his head slide out.
He was born at 2:54 p.m., fewer than 3.5 hours after my water was broken and 2.5 hours after labor started! Had we been at home in labor, I don’t think I would have asked to go to the hospital until I was at 8cm, and that was less than an hour from when he was born. My doctor certainly wouldn’t have made it, and we may not have either. So apparently God knew what he was doing by not answering that prayer!
I held him right away while the nurse stimulated him to get him crying. He felt so much bigger than Ellie had! He was so warm and had beautiful brown hair and looked a lot like his daddy. He snuggled right in and nursed just for a minute while they let his cord stop pulsing, collected the cord blood and clamped his cord for Ryan to cut. I handed him over to Ryan to hold and bring him over for his measurements and screenings while I delivered the placenta and got sewn up.
Sam was 8 lb., 14 oz., 21.5” long and had a head circumference of 14.75”.
After all of that, I started to get out of bed so they could change the sheets, but as soon as I sat up, I felt really dizzy and lightheaded. I stayed in bed while they changed the sheets and felt better, but as soon as I started to nurse Sam again the feeling returned. I handed him off to Ryan, laid my bed down and said I thought I was going to pass out. Ryan said I blacked out for maybe 10 or 15 seconds, my blood pressure had dropped to 70/30 and they started a bag of IV fluids. I started feeling better right away, but every time I would sit up or tilt my head forward too far trying to nurse I would get dizzy again. I ended up not getting out of bed until 12:40 a.m., after sleeping for an hour or so. We joked that we had to add some excitement since labor was so relatively uneventful and quick.
About an hour after Sam was born, Ryan went to the waiting room to bring Ellie in. She immediately was looking for Sam and when I went to say hi to her and give her attention (as we had been told to do to help her transition), she pretty much ignored me and asked “Where baby Sam?” Ryan showed her how I was holding him and I said, “This is your baby brother!” She said, “I know. Grandpa Bob and Grandpa Bruce showed me a picture on the phone.” She wanted to hug him and kiss him and touch every part of his little body, and was asking about his toes and umbilical cord. She “helped” give him a bath, swaddle him and get him warmed up in the warmer, then got to hold him with Ryan. It was the most beautiful thing to see her as a big sister.
He is such a joy already, and it immediately felt like he’s part of our family.