Since yesterday Ben turned 1 month young, I thought it would be a good time to finally share his birth story. Ben’s birth story, much like Joey’s, starts about a week before he was actually born. However, that’s where similarities end. The way in which these two brothers came to the world could not be any more different!
FYI: I don’t do the whole dividing birth stories into multiple posts. It’s all in one long post. ONE LONG POST. You’ve warned ;]
So to set the scene: This past summer we got word the Army would be sending us to Germany, which is super exciting. The only wrinkle in this whole thing was that Lance would have to go to a school starting one week after my due date. So as we prepared for baby’s birth we had to make some decisions. Given that Joey was a C-Section, I was given the choice between a VBAC or a repeat C-Section. Due to this whole Army timeline, we prepared for a VBAC but scheduled a C-Section to ensure Lance would be here for the birth and spend at least some time with our new little guy.
We originally scheduled the C-Section for January 20, right at 39 weeks, to maximize the family time and time I’d have Lance to help me with recovery. However, as we got closer and closer to January 20 I entered into a panic.
The truth was a C-Section was the last thing I wanted. If the Army timeline had been different I wouldn’t even have considered a repeat C-Section and I would’ve gone VBAC all the way. So when I went in for my 39 week appointment I asked the OB to change my C-Section date. Without really consulting either Lance or myself, he changed it to January 27 which now felt a little too late but we just went with it. Me on the hopes I would go into labor early and January 27 wouldn’t even be nothing but both of our kids’ due date.
During the appointment the OB checked me, I was at 2cm dilated and 90% effaced so he offered to strip my membranes and I said “sure!“. Later that day I started feeling contractions and around 3pm they started coming regularly at 5 minutes. I got really excited, like “hey! All that c-section talk for nothing!” The contractions kept up for another 2 hours at which point I called L&D and they told me to go in to get checked. When I got there, I was at 3cm dilated and 90% effaced. Usually they might’ve taken me in, however, they were completely full that night with only 1 bed available. Since I wasn’t in full active labor yet they told me to come back in 2 hours and see where we were at.
Lance and I went to Smashburger for a late dinner and then walked around the PX until it was time to go back in. By this time my contractions were coming at 3 minutes intervals so I was really hoping things were kicking off for good. When I got there, however, I hadn’t made any progress so they told me to labor at home and go back in when labor fully kicked in. When we got home, I was too exhausted to do anything so I just went to bed and fell asleep at some point between contractions. When I woke up the next morning with zero contractions, I kind of felt like a fool over my false alarm.
Over the next few days, I lost my mucus plug and had contractions here and there but nothing consistent and they always stopped after an hour. Sunday night we went to bed after a pretty uneventful day. I was back to feeling panicky thinking about that looming C-Section date but little did I know I would NOT be making my OB appointment the next morning!
At around 12:30-12:40am I woke up from a dead sleep with a strong, but not painful, contraction and felt a gush of water that could only be my water breaking. I rushed to the bathroom to deal with the mess. I checked the time and timed my next 3 contractions – they were coming at exactly 5 minutes apart and the 3rd contraction brought on another gush of water. At this point my contractions went from uncomfortable to painful so I woke up Lance.
I swear in 8 years together I have never seen him get out of bed so fast. He told me to go wake up my mom so she could watch Joey and he started changing out of his PJs. I woke up my mom and tried changing yet again but Lance had taken my hospital bag to the car already. Problem was my only pair of clean pants was in that bag since Monday was laundry day so I had him go get it. I also told him to put a towel on the seat just in case.
Lance at this point was kind of panicky and in “we have to go, NOW” mode so he kept telling me just go get in the car but in my mind I had time. My water has just broken, contractions were still 5 minutes apart we were fine. We had time to get a towel and to grab my phone charger because of course that night of all nights I forgot to charge my damn phone. Lance just looked at me like I was crazy but told me he’d get my charger to just go get in the car.
As we drove to the hospital my contractions got closer together. I thanked the heavens Lance listened to me about the towel as a couple of contractions brought more water out. As I tried to get through the contractions Lance half joked, half serious said “I swear if I end up delivering this baby on the side of the road because you wanted your phone charger I’ll never forgive you“. Thankfully we live a short 10 minute drive from the hospital 😉
When we got to the hospital Lance pulled up to the front doors and dropped me off while he went to park. When I got to the elevators, I texted my best friend to let her know it was baby time. I knew her living in New York meant she wouldn’t get the text until she woke up the next morning but I figured I might still be in labor by then (Hah!).
When I got to the Labor & Delivery desk to check in, I saw there was one other woman waiting to go into triage ahead of me. Seeing that made me rage-y and a little scared. In the time between leaving the house and getting there my contractions had gotten closer and closer – about 2-3 minutes apart – and much, much stronger. All I wanted at that point was the epidural.
The poor Private manning the desk got me checked in and told me I could sit if I wanted but the thought of sitting down was too much at that point. So I just stood by the desk, holding on to it for dear life with each contraction. Meanwhile the other girl in the waiting room was efficiently getting through her contractions, cool as a cucumber. I swear she even had her make up and hair done whereas I don’t think I even brushed my hair before leaving the house. Thankfully by this point Lance was with me and he helping me breathe through them.
The nurse came out and called the other woman first but then immediately came back out for me to get to Triage. As we walked back there I told her “Just so you know I want an epidural. The sooner, the better“. She laughed as we walked into the triage room and told me she’d get through this part as quickly as possible. The midwife came in at that point and checked me. As she did, the first thing she said was “Oh! I see hair! Yup, you water definitely broke“. She also told me I was 7cm dilated, 90% effaced and at a -1.
Then they wheeled me back to the birthing room, got blood for some tests, and got my IV started. As they were doing that the OB on duty came in and introduced himself. He also asked me if I was sure I wanted “to do this thing cold turkey” and I was confused as all gets out until I realized he thought I wanted to go all natural. At this point I half laughed, half screamed at him that “no no, I definitely want an epidural. No cold turkey business for me. If he wanted he could give me the epidural right that second“. And the nurse told him “oh no, she was asking for the epidural as we were walking to triage!” Turns out the other girl that came in at the same time wanted an all natural birth and the doctor got us mixed up. I told him to bring her to me, that I’d talk some sense into her lol.
Once all of that was done it was a waiting game to get my epidural. The contractions were only getting stronger and harder to get through but nothing could happen until that dang IV bag was empty. I was holding onto Lance’s hands for dear life and he kept reminding me to breathe through my contractions. At one point the nurse put a sleeve on the IV bag to make it go faster and then walked out to get the anesthesiologist so she’d be there, ready to go, the second the IV bag was empty.
While she was gone the contractions got to be almost on top of each and all I could was the pain and pressure. So much pressure. I told Lance at one point I should’ve just had the C-Section that last Friday because the pain I was feeling at the point was honestly too much.
Then the pain and pressure got worse and I finally understood what women mean when they say they had an urge to push in their birth stories.
Everything from this point forward is a huge blur and a lot of parts are just missing from my memory because all I remember is the pain and my body urging me to push.
Lance called the nurse and when she checked, I was at 10cm, 100% effaced and ready to go. I got on my side in the fetal position and kept a tight hold on Lance’s hands. At some point the room filled with people – my nurse Jen on my right, the nurse that checked me in, Stefanie, on my left, the midwife, Margaret, the pediatric team, and the anesthesiologist. I was still at this point begging for an epidural but the anesthesiologist said “I’m sorry, I can’t. You’re ready to go, it’s too late.” At this point my eyes flew open and I just said “No. No no no no. Do not make me do this without an epidural. Please no” and she replied “I’m sorry there’s nothing I can do for you at this point“. I looked at Lance and told him “Do not let them do this to me“. My nurse Jen, said to me “it’s not us, your baby is ready, there’s nothing we can do except get your baby out” and I said to her “please no, please don’t make me do this“.
And I realize this sounds dramatic. But here’s the thing – unmedicated childbirth has always been one of my biggest fears in life. I don’t do pain. I just don’t. The thought of going through childbirth without medication gives me anxiety in my best days. But there I was about to face head on one of my biggest fears as my body and baby were ready.
They then got me on my back and positioned the bed so I was at the best angle to do this thing. I kept holding onto Lance’s hands as the nurses talked me through pushing with the contractions but in all the pain I wasn’t pushing hard enough – it was a battle between “if I don’t push, maybe they’ll give me the epidural” and knowing I just had to push and get through this. They kept telling me to pull my legs up and put my hands behind my tights to essentially pull my legs up as I pushed (kind of like squatting but in my back..?) but the last thing I wanted to do was to let go of Lance’s hands – at that point, as cheesy as this sounds, they had become my anchor in all the pain. His hands were the only thing I was sure of at that point aside from the pain.
But after some contractions and zero progress, Lance just kind of pushed my hands on my tights for me and the nurses held them there and told me to pull and push. At some point Lance told me they were putting an oxygen mask on me and I panicked – when they did this during labor with Joey I got really nauseous and that’s the last thing I needed but they just put it on me. My nurse told me my baby needed the extra oxygen and to make sure I was breathing in between pushing. At this point the midwife talked to me and said “you need to push. Your baby needs you to push, otherwise the doctor will need to use a vacuum to get him out“. In all my pushing but not pushing, the baby’s heart rate had begun to drop and they could see the top of his head was turning blue. And that was the turning point for me… I did not want them to use a vacuum or forcepts so I just gave into the labor completely.
My focus became my nurse Jen as she counted to ten for each push, then said “big breath! And push! 1, 2, 3…“. Her voice and the pain was all I knew for the next few moments and I pushed and screamed and took a big breath and pushed and screamed.
Then at 2:50am, exactly 62 minutes after sending that text message to my best friend, and roughly 2 hours after my water broke, Benjamin Ray entered this world mad as hell and letting everyone know just how big his lungs are.
Because of all the pain I just leaned back and kept my eyes close. So while I felt Ben being born, I did not see him be born. I heard when the midwife asked Lance if he wanted to cut the cord and in some place in my mind I thought “I should watch this” but I was exhausted so I just laid there glad it was all mostly over.
While the placenta came and the midwife got started stitching some bits up (keeping it real, yo), they weighted and measured Ben. That’s when we learned he was exactly double Joey’s weight at 8 lb 6 oz and measured 21 inches. They asked if I wanted to hold him and gave him to me but I started shaking pretty bad from all the adrenaline and shock so I told Lance to take him instead while the midwife finished up.
While Lance held Ben, I noticed both my nurse and midwife kept looking at him and smiling to themselves. Then they said to me “Your husband. He’s so excited! It’s so cute“. I looked over at Lance and he was doing what looked to me normal father stuff, cooing and talking and counting fingers but at the same time my heart filled with so much love in that moment because – shameless brag – I have a pretty damn awesome husband and he truly is the best dad ever.
All in all Ben’s birth couldn’t have been anymore different from Joey’s. I’m so glad we switch the C-Section dates and gave my body time to go into labor on its own because I truly wanted to have a vaginal birth. The recovery is night and day compared to a C-Section! And some strange internet-peer-pressured part of me wanted to know I was able to do this. That being said, if (and that’s a VERY BIG IF) we decide to have a third kid, I’ll be camping out at the hospital from my 38th week onward because I do NOT want to have a completely natural birth again. Epidural all the way, baby!