This post is coming to you about 15 weeks later than I intended. That is partly do to the fact that when I upgraded my phone I lost my original draft of baby Baldwin’s birth story. The other reason it has taken me so long to write this is that having a newborn baby around doesn’t leave much time for writing. So, without further ado, here is how it all went down:
It all started at about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 11, 2014 – three days before my due date. Jeff and I were lounging on the bed watching some Netflix when my water broke. I had never experienced any braxton hicks throughout my pregnancy so I was shocked when my water broke without any precursory action. I expected things to progress slowly from there, but man was I wrong. Within an hour, my contractions were lasting for more than a minute and were coming every three minutes. I was in active labor. Jeff was scrambling around the house packing his hospital bag (something I had done weeks earlier) while I was trying to breath through the pain.
Let me be clear, the pain was unlike anything I have ever felt. I’d heard people describe contractions like really bad period cramps. Ha. As if. That doesn’t even begin to describe what it felt like. I was making animalistic noises I didn’t know I was capable of, was sweating profusely and the only position I could get “comfortable” in (which was really no comfort at all) was on the ground on my hands and knees.
Once our bags were packed and loaded into the car, we called the friends and family we wanted to attend the birth and then hit the road for the hospital…during rush hour. Ugh. It took us about 30 minutes in stop-and-go traffic to get there with me screaming “Oh, f@*#” and “Oh, God” the entire way. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. At the hospital they offered me a wheelchair, but the idea of being confined to a seated position sounded awful to me. Instead, I chose to walk…and collapse to the floor every time a contraction hit.
At the admission desk, I asked which one of the staff members could give me an epidural. I was trying to joke my way through the pain. No one laughed. They simply stated that they needed to check my progress before I would be admitted. It took about 20 minutes for a midwife to check me and determine that I was 4 cm dilated and completely effaced. Then, they took me to my delivery room and the nurse gave me an IV drip of Fentanyl to help with the pain until the anesthesiologist could get there. It took until about 8:15 p.m. for them to finally put the epidural in, at which point I no longer hated my life.
At 8:50 p.m. they checked my progress and could see my baby’s head. It was time to push. Jeff called everyone and told them to get to the hospital quick. Our baby boy was coming fast! Alas, after an hour (15 sets of pushes), the little guy just wouldn’t budge. The nurse decided to let me labor down for an hour, hoping baby Baldwin would work his way naturally down the birth canal. At this point, I had a full audience: Jeff (obviously), two soon-to-be-grandmas, a soon-to-be-great-uncle and two of my closest friends (Jasmine and Jen).
By 11:00 p.m. my contractions had slowed way down and they had to give me a Pitocin drip to get things going again. It was time to resume pushing. At 11:09 p.m. Jasmine, who had been massaging my arms and legs the whole time, gave me a red popsicle. It was divine. At 11:30 p.m. we announced to the room that our baby boy would be named Jude Anders Baldwin.
By midnight Jude was still a no show, which was okay because I was relieved he wouldn’t have 9/11 as his birthday. Now that it was September 12, I was seriously ready to meet the little guy. I pushed for another hour and a half before I started to fade. I simply couldn’t keep pushing. I was exhausted and was experiencing waves of nausea. My Pitocin drip had been bumped up significantly and it just felt like I was making no progress. They gave me two options: keep pushing or try with a vacuum assist. I opted for the vacuum assist.
Once the decision was made, the room was flooded with about six hospital staffers ready to help get Jude into this world. The doctor explained that I would only get three sets of pushes and if Jude didn’t come by then they would have to do an emergency c-section. Right before my last set of pushes, my mom, who is a nurse and had been so helpful during my whole labor, noticed that Jude’s heart rate dropped really low. She pointed it out to the doctor who told me it was officially go time. I remember seeing Jasmine’s face past all the hospital staffers. She looked worried and amazed and so full of love. She was crying and it touched my heart so completely. I pushed with all the energy I could muster while the doctor pulled with his vacuum…and then I heard our baby boy cry.
At that point I lost it. I didn’t expect to cry, but an overwhelming sense of relief and unbridled joy took over and the flood gates opened. Jeff cut the umbilical cord, something he hadn’t planned on doing. They placed Jude on my chest and I was simultaneously terrified and unequivocally happy. Jeff stood by my side, his eyes wet with tears. Our baby was here and he was perfection.
Photo of my pregnant belly by Jewel Photography.