Like many mamas-to-be, I was very anxious about when I was going to deliver and how the whole experience would play out. It’s interesting because I felt like, for the most part, I cruised through my pregnancy. I never researched hiring a doula or read books about preparing for the big day. I took an online course, read from The Motherly Guide To Becoming Mama, packed my hospital bag…and that was about it. Thankfully, my amazing community of family and mama friends shared some great advice for the big day. Although a lot of their advice didn’t register immediately, now that I’ve given birth I can look back on their words with a lot more clarity and understanding. Keep reading for Colette’s birth story and everything I wish I knew before and after giving birth!
Colette’s Pre-Birth Story
On December 16th, I woke up around 6:30AM unable to get comfortable. I decided I was going to try propping my back against the wall of our bed, something that had become my morning routine. Immediately, I sat up and went straight to the bathroom. Something felt different and I had a life changing thought, “maybe my water broke”.
False Alarm? Or the Real Thing?
I shared the news with my husband but, since we had heard so many stories of false alarms, he was skeptical. I quickly called my OB practice and left a message for the doctor on-call. After telling him I thought my water broke he said, “Ok, take a shower and head on over to the hospital. We will be waiting”. (Note: if you call your doctor thinking you’re in labor, they’ll pretty much tell you to come in whether they think you are or not).
My best friend and sister-in-law recommended that I eat something before leaving the house because I may not be able to eat again until after the baby has been delivered. I quickly woke up my mom and she made me breakfast. Another thing to note: if you can, eat before you go to the hospital. After about an hour and a half, my husband and I were en route to the hospital.
Arrival & Hospital Check-In
After arrival, we checked in and were placed in a private room. This was quite the luxury since some hospitals make you wait in triage and I’ve heard that can be brutal. I had been told that in some NYC hospitals you don’t even get a private delivery room unless you reserve one in advance! Being in Connecticut and not having the stress of a shared room was certainly a relief. We were introduced to our medical team and they explained they were going to do a test to see if my water had actually broken. The doctor did a vaginal test swab and instantly told me that I was right, Colette’s birth story had officially begun.
We waited around as things progressed with the nurse and doctor coming in periodically to see how I was feeling. I was lucky that the hospital allowed two people in the room since my mother was waiting to join us when the time was right.
Colette’s Birth Story
Now for the painful part of my birth story…I waited seven hours to get the epidural. Why I waited so long, I have no idea. I should have gotten it way sooner because the pain from the contractions was unbearable. Like one of the nurses said “you do not get a prize for waiting to get one.”Once I received the epidural and began the Pitocin, things started to move a lot quicker.
If you’ve never given birth, you need to be dilated about 10 centimeters before they can begin the delivery process. Unfortunately, doctors don’t like to keep checking how far along you are because it can lead to an infection. Basically, it’s a lot of waiting around. I believe the doctor only checked three times during the whole process. For someone who loves constant updates, this was frustrating to say the least.
Time to Push!
At around 7:00PM, I was officially 10 centimeters dilated and ready to begin pushing! Shockingly, no one had prepared me for the amount of time this can take. I was definitely not prepared for the exhaustion of delivery. In total, I pushed for two and a half hours. I was sooooo tired. The doctor kept saying that I was making progress, but it did not feel that way AT ALL. I was told to hold my legs and push for intervals of 10 seconds. There were moments when I was so tired I could have taken a nap…literally. There were so many times that I wanted to give up, but clearly that wasn’t an option.
Towards the end, I remember telling the nurse that I could not push anymore. I was crying and so nervous. The sentiment was echoed by my mom and husband. Once the doctor came in, I told her that I just couldn’t do it anymore, I needed help. She explained that I needed to push for the full 10 seconds to make significant progress. This was something I kept trying to do, but was not always successful at. She didn’t want to give me a C-section because I had come too far.
Vacuum Extraction and an Episiotomy
I knew I didn’t want a C-section. Thankfully, there are other ways to help push the baby out, such as a vacuum extraction. There are risks associated with these techniques, but I knew I needed the help…so Dr. Chanel asked for the vacuum. The doctor relented and, with the help of an episiotomy, the baby’s head was out. After three last big, strong pushes, our little angel was born. The pediatric nurses quickly took her and checked her weight, length, heart rate, and more. They wrapped her in a tight swaddle and gave her to me to hold for the first time.
Colette’s Post-Birth Story
It’s irrelevant whether you deliver vaginally or by c-section, they are both painful to your body. I have not met a woman who has told me that their delivery was pain free. We just forget about the pain because the reward of meeting your baby for the first time is so worth it! I had second degree tears, which is not considered too bad, but oh was it painful.
Once I delivered, I was placed in another room with my little family. Although the room and bathroom was well-stocked with anything I might need post-birth, I remember feeling very lost. I was so tired and emotional and I had no idea what to do. Eventually a nurse came in to help and explain everything, but it could have been handled better. Our room was not the nicest either. It was tiny and had the smallest window so I didn’t even bother trying to get professional pictures with Colette. I just couldn’t wait to get out of there. During my stay, I had sushi and a Jersey Mike’s sub, two meals I was looking forward to for the 9+ months. Ate both standing because the room was so uncomfortable.
The Simple Things are Not So Simple
When I got home I realized how much pain I was in. We have a tall bed in our bedroom so getting in and out of bed was always a challenge. Bending down to grab things also hurt. I made the silly mistake of wearing leggings the day after. You get the point. Things that used to be simple were suddenly anything but. I remember crying at the pediatrician’s office the first time we went in for a checkup. That was both embarrassing and funny. I cried a lot during the first month. Our healthcare system does a great job of caring for our little ones, but it’s not so great when it comes to caring for moms. In my opinion, going in for a check-up at six weeks is not enough. Additional check-ins would be invaluable while we’re recovering.
What I Wish I Knew Before And After Giving Birth
I still can’t believe I went through this experience. Everything felt so surreal. I waiting and delivered in the same room and it was very calming. How you feel, physically and mentally, after delivering is definitely NOT a walk in the park. The whole thing is not at all like the movies. I wish I would have known a few things in order to mentally and physically prepare for the birth and what came next. Below are tips I want to share with you to make your birth story and postpartum journey a little easier.
Wear Cozy Socks
I’m not sure about all hospitals, but mine didn’t provide socks. I recommend bringing your own thick socks with grips if the hospital permits.
Make a Music Playlist
I was so uncomfortable from not getting the epidural sooner that I had no energy to watch TV. Looking back, a nice playlist could have been helpful throughout the process, even if it was just instrumental.
Exercise to Prep Your Body for Delivery
I will admit I was not very active during my pregnancy. Looking back, I wish I knew how important certain workouts are to help the pushing process. Here are a few I found that could be helpful: workout 1, workout 2, and workout 3.
Don’t Overpack Your Hospital Bag
I filled my hospital bag with way more than I needed. The things I did end up using were the following: a robe and maternity/breastfeeding bra for after delivery (to feel like a human again), a long cell phone charger and battery pack, my makeup, face wash and body wash, going home outfit, slippers, flip flops for the shower, toothbrush, contact lenses, and a baby bag with all of Colette’s essentials.
Depending on when you deliver and start on medication, you may not be able to eat at the hospital. My husband packed chips, granola bars, and little birthday cakes to celebrate Colette’s birth story.
Bring Your Breast Pump (If You’ll be Breastfeeding)
Most hospitals have a lactation consultant, so make sure to take advantage of this. If you bring your breast pump, the consultant can help you figure out how to use it. The one I used is called Spectra! I pumped for a little over a month and now Colette is 100% formula.
Yes, Episotimies Are Still Performed And Can Be Helpful
Episotimies are still performed. I was horrified when I learned I got one, but my doctor explained sometimes it’s better to control the opening vs. naturally tearing down there. Although I had read so many horror stories about episiotomies, I trusted that I was in good hands with my doctor. I also had a second degree tear, which is not that bad. I know moms who have gotten higher degree tears without an episiotomy.
Products to Make Your Birth Story a Little Easier
- Frida mom products for postpartum are amazing. I’d gotten a few things from them, but sadly forgot to pack them for the birth. I highly recommend you check them out!
- I didn’t like the hospital’s mesh disposable underwear. These seem to be a much more comfortable option.
- This little tool, the Frida Mom Upside Down Peri Bottle, came in handy. It helped me when I used the bathroom and shower during the days after when I was still healing. The design is different than what my hospital gave me and is 10000% times better.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Make sure to have pajamas and comfy clothes ready for when you get home from the hospital. I bought postpartum underwear, which came in handy: these and these. If you are breastfeeding, make sure to have the right bras. And if you plan to pump, make sure to invest in a pumping bra.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
I know some of us are not fortunate enough to have help, and my heart goes out to you. As mothers, we have to do so much, and I cannot image what it’s like to go through this alone. If you do have the option to get help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, a partner, or a hired nurse, it’s okay to ask for help. Something as simple as having someone available to watch your baby while you take a quick shower or go to the pharmacy makes the biggest difference during this time.
If you are an expecting mom or a new mom, remember you can do this! We are resilient and you will get the strength to delivery and take care of your baby no matter the circumstances. Just remember to also take care of yourself. I know it’s much easier said than done but it’s so important. If you have any questions about this post please do not hesitate to reach out via email firstname.lastname@example.org or instagram @coco.on.fifth. For more motherhood content check out my other posts here.
Note: This post is based on my personal experience, for any medical advice please consult your doctor as I am not a medical professional.
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