We’ll start with the back story: my husband, Blake, & I decided when we got pregnant that it would be fun for us to not find out the gender of our baby. My parents didn’t know my gender throughout pregnancy and I always thought this would be a fun thing to do, luckily Blake was on board. I love surprises, but in today’s world I feel like there are so few true surprises in life……so what better surprise than waiting to find out the gender of your baby, right?
Weeks leading up
August/September 2019 Blake & I were approved to be foster parents. In our area there is a great need for foster families, but much to our surprise it was months after being approved before we got our first placement call. I was standing in line to checkout at Aldi when the call came asking if we could accept a 2yr old little boy. I was 32 weeks pregnant and most people probably thought we were nuts, but we excitedly said yes!
You can read more about our first placement experience here.
Those first few days and weeks after accepting the placement were busy and stressful as we learned how to be parents to a 2yr old, figured out childcare, arranged assessments, therapies, and doctor visits, and attended court hearings. But, overall I felt great! I was in no pain, had experienced zero contractions, and my appointments were all going well. Somewhere around 35-36 weeks I caught what we treated as flu and was pretty sick! I had fever, a terrible productive cough, pleurisy, chills, body aches….all the typical flu symptoms. Thankfully my OB office immediately called me in tamiflu and within 48hrs I was feeling much better.
Day Before- 37 weeks, 5 days
We were approaching Christmas, and family gatherings had begun. On this particular day we were celebrating at Blake’s grandmother’s house. We had a nice dinner, enjoyed watching A open all his gifts, and spent time visiting. Other than the cough I had lingering from the flu, I felt great. My 36 week appointment had revealed I was 1cm dilated and partially effaced.
It was a Sunday night, so we had returned home to get A in bed and prepare for work the following day.
37 weeks, 6 days
At 2:15 AM I woke up coughing and noticed a small amount of moisture between my legs. Being that I was nearly 37 weeks pregnant it was not uncommon for me to wake a time or two through the night needing to pee, especially since I’d had this cough. I assumed I had peed a little from coughing, got up to the bathroom, & really didn’t think much of it. When I returned to bed, I changed position and noticed a small gush of fluid.
Thinking to myself that my water could’ve broke, I returned to the bathroom to investigate further. I still really wasn’t sure, having never experienced it before, and also being in no pain, I was confused and just unsure. Plus there was no more fluid coming out. I decided it was probably best to wake Blake and call my mom. As I walked/changed positions, more small amounts of fluid would come out and it was clear we had to make our way to the hospital.
Blake took a shower, my dad arrived to stay with A, and at some point before we left the house I was starting to have contractions. I began tracking them on an app, but they were pretty far apart and didn’t feel much more painful than a menstrual cramp.
I presented to the Labor and Deliver desk explaining my water had broken and was in labor. Since I was still not experiencing very strong contractions, I didn’t appear to be in any pain and honestly, I don’t think they thought I knew what I was talking about.
We were taken to a triage area where they confirmed my water had indeed broken, I was 3cm dilated, and we would be moved to a labor room to have our baby!
Once we got settled into our labor room they started my IV, got blood work drawn, did my admission questions, and started asking about my birth plan.
I didn’t really have a plan, my plan was to have a baby. I’m not saying this is the right or wrong approach, it’s just the frame of mind I had. I went into labor with an open mindset…would I get an epidural? Maybe, if I felt like I needed/wanted one. Would I labor in bed or move around….probably move around, but I wanted to feel free to do whatever felt best to me in the moment without these preconceived plans of what I was going or not going to do.
Throughout my pregnancy I knew I had a few big fears:
-having to be induced
-having to get a c-section
-getting the epidural in my back (I watched the procedure done several times during nursing school)
-being sewn up post delivery if I didn’t have an epidural (this thought probably freaked me out more than the thought of pushing the baby out without an epidural, honestly)
With all of this in mind, I decided I would labor naturally for as long as I felt like I could handle it, then if at any point I decided the pain was too much or I wanted an epidural, I would get it.
As the nurse and I were finishing this “plan” conversation, another nurse brought in a couple bags to hook up to my IV. When I asked what they were hooking me up to, I was very surprised that they intended to start me on pitocin. For what reason I wondered and also asked…..after all I had presented in active labor on my own, was still having contractions, and hadn’t been there long enough for anyone to determine that I wasn’t making any progress. The nurse explained that this pitocin was part of the on call doctor’s standing orders and would “help keep things moving along” and that the IV fluids would be needed in the event that I decided to get an epidural.
I refused the pitocin and after questioning the IV fluids further, I refused those too. Their protocol was that I had to have 1 liter (1bag) of fluids prior to initiating an epidural. Being a nurse myself, I knew that could be infused rather quickly if I changed my mind about the epidural. I didn’t want to be hooked to anything that wasn’t necessary so I could move around easier. I had also read studies suggesting that IV fluids administered to mom during labor, falsely inflated baby’s birth weight and therefore would make it appear in the days after birth that the baby had lost more weight than he/she really did.
Important note: do your own research, be your own advocate, know that you don’t have to do everything a physician orders, you can exercise your right to refuse. Just make sure you’re doing so with a good knowledge base, and if there are things you know you DON’T want, you may want to discuss that with your physician prior to going into labor.
Over the next few hours I continued to progress on my own. I walked in the hallway, bounced on a yoga ball (I brought my own from home, similar to this one), and walked around my room. Standing or moving helped me feel more comfortable then laying in the bed.
Around 7cm the pain during contractions was getting pretty intense, and I knew that since my contractions were still 2-4mins apart and I was getting a break between them, that things could (and probably would) get even more intense. I kept thinking that if I knew the pain wouldn’t get worse, I would be fine without the epidural. But, if it got more intense or the contractions got closer together then I would probably want/wish that I had gotten it.
So I got it, and I was terrified. No family is allowed to stay in the room with you while they initiate the epidural (it’s a sterile procedure) and that freaked me out even more. I tried to hold it together until Blake & my mom left the room, I didn’t want them to worry, but mom told me later she could tell I was panicked. As soon as they left and my nurse positioned me on the table for us to start, I had tears in my eyes, she noticed and said “you’re scared aren’t you honey?” I shook my head yes and tears started streaming down my face. She was so sweet and comforted me through the entire process (you have to remain very still during the procedure). I have no idea now who my anesthesiologist was, but he did a great job, it wasn’t painful, & I was so relieved when he was finished!
Once we were done the nurse placed my foley (required once you’ve received an epidural since you can’t feel from the waist down & wouldn’t know if you needed to urinate), and then Blake & my mom were allowed to return to the room. My nurse encouraged me to try to nap/rest while I could.
Best I remember about 2ish hours after getting my epidural I was completely dilated and ready to push (they removed my foley prior to us starting to push). Trying to push, when you can’t really feel anything, is much harder than the movies/tv make it look LOL. My nurse brought over a mirror so I could see what my body was doing, this might sound weird, might not be for some people, but I thought it was super helpful! In less than an hour my baby was here and SHE’S A GIRL!
They immediately placed Kenley on my chest for us to meet while they delivered my placenta. Once they were ready to stitch me up, they took Kenley over to the warmer to weigh, measure, and get her banded for identification. It wasn’t long before they brought her back to me and we got to do our skin to skin time for the next hour or so. She was a real champ and breastfed for a few minuets during our skin to skin time.
Waiting to find out the gender was so much fun & I personally think made labor more bearable and exciting! We had several family members anxiously waiting in the waiting room to meet our baby and also know if the baby was a boy or girl! We decided that we’d let them find out when they came in the room to meet the baby instead of telling them via text from the delivery room. They may not have loved having to wait another hour, but we loved getting to see their reactions in person!
Kenley 6lb 5oz born at 1:15pm making my labor 11hrs long
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