The Birth Story (with enough detail for those interested but not so much you’ll be scarred for life)

Lyra Clare was born at 5:29pm on Thanksgiving Day.

I started timing my contractions around 10:30am and noted they were 30ish seconds long every 3 minutes. We called the hospital around 11:00 and since I was 4cm dilated on Tuesday, they told us to go ahead and come in.

We got to the hospital around 11:30 and by this point the contractions hurt. Two hours earlier I had wondered if they were contractions, an hour earlier they were pretty uncomfortable, but now they sucked. We got into the labor and delivery room, answered 97 questions, monitored the babe’s heart rate, and learned a few ways to alleviate pain during the contractions. I was about 5.5cm dilated at this point.

While Pearl (also known as the greatest labor and delivery nurse of all time) checked on some other patients, David and I discussed an epidural. I paced the room, knees bent and rocking side to side during contractions while we talked. We made no plans going into the delivery because a) things never go according to plan and b) I had no strong feelings about a “birth plan” and was more interested in getting to that point and making a decision based on what was actually happening. My biggest concern about an epidural was losing feeling. I wasn’t convinced that not feeling the pain would be worth not feeling other things like my legs, the baby moving, progress in the labor, etc… Pearl alleviated those fears by telling us that the epidural would really only affect pain level. I might lose some feeling in my legs but the way epidurals were done now you were still very much able to feel the baby and the progression of the labor.

At around 1:30 the doctor came in to deliver the epidural. Conveniently enough (sarcasm here), I had at least one major contraction while he was inserting the needle to deliver the epidural. I had to push my lower back outward toward the doctor while he stuck the needle into what felt like my spine and I wasn’t supposed to move. Ow. But we got through it. With the epidural I was immediately able to rest in bed instead of pacing around the room.

At my next check the babe’s heart rate was still awesome, I was feeling little to no pain during contractions, and I was about 7cm dilated. The on-call doctor came in to see how I was doing and we began to plan our next move. She decided to go ahead and break my water so that I didn’t lose any of the progress I’d made. An hour or so later I was 8cm dilated and received some Picotin (another thing to continue the progression of labor). When I reached 9.5cm we started talking about about pushing. Pearl went over the last stage of labor, how it would play out, and at 4:30 we were ready to go.

Now you haven’t heard a lot about David at this point, but he was sitting in a chair at the head of bed talking to me, helping me drink water, and being incredibly supportive. When I started pushing, he stayed close by and counted for me whenever Pearl was distracted. Pushing was crazy, nothing like I expected, and luckily for us, did not last very long. At 5:29 Lyra was born. She started crying immediately and David cut the umbilical cord.

My parents arrived at the hospital at about 5:15 and we’re able to come in and see us shortly after the birth. I got to hold Lyra immediately and through some of the first couple tests. Then they taught David how to give her a sponge bath, dressed and swaddled her, and we were on our way to our new room.

No matter how many stories you read or hear, how much research you do or don’t do, I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for childbirth. It was an incredible experience. David, as an observer (and as one who hates to see me in pain or upset) can’t imagine why you would willingly do it more than once. I, on the other hand, can’t tell you it was fun, but know that I would do it a thousand times if I needed to.

It is absolutely terrifying knowing you are responsible for a human being. I’m not sure how I’ll ever sleep again. But she is perfect and wonderful. I cannot wait to watch her change and grow in the next few days, weeks, months, and years. It’s worth wondering if you’re doing everything wrong. It’s worth wondering if you will ever sleep again. It’s worth everything.