It’s been exactly 1 month today since I gave birth to Riley (Happy 1 month birthday Riley!) and I feel like I’m already forgetting so many details of my birth story. So I knew I had to write it down before I forgot even more! I swear there’s something in our brains that makes women forget about their labor! Ha! Meaning that if women remembered all the pain they were in during labor, they would never do it again. I know I’ve already said that Kevin and I don’t want to have any more children, but after my recent labor experience, I am 1,000,000% certain that I never want to have any more children. Don’t get me wrong, carrying a baby through pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy baby is a privilege. But it’s also the absolute hardest thing and most painful thing I’ve ever done. And I’m grateful that I don’t ever have to do it again! With alll that said, was it worth it? Absolutely! I would go through all the pain 100 times over to be able to look at my little sweet Riley’s face. He is perfection in every way and I still can’t believe how quickly I fell for him, especially because I was so nervous about opening my heart to another child before I met him.
Given how exhausted I am right now, I know it’s gonna be really hard for me to write this the way I want to tell it. I know I’m going to forget details that I wish I included later, but I’m going to give it my best shot. So here’s his birth story…
As many of you know, I was scheduled to be induced at 39-weeks pregnant. Looking back, I wish I never made the decision to be induced. I think I just got so worried about Riley’s size since every doctors appointment I went to, they said he was on track to be a 10lb plus baby. My doctor was concerned about his size, but we both knew that the weight scans during office visits can be off by an entire pound. And in Riley‘s case, it absolutely was off by even more than a pound. He ended up being born at 8 lbs 11 oz which in my opinion really isn’t that big. Needless to say, we went through the induction and I can’t go back now. But I feel in my heart that we rushed Riley out into the world. I just don’t think he was ready, and as a result I had a pretty terrible labor experience. So in the end I really only blame myself. Kevin keeps telling me that I can’t blame myself and that I was just going off of all of my health care provider’s recommendations. And I’m not saying I blame them because I don’t. They were just doing their job based on their experience and I’m grateful for that. But I think in my heart, I knew he wasn’t ready to come.
But we did go through with the induction and it was scheduled for May 23rd at 2 AM. What a crazy time right?! I guess most inductions are scheduled throughout the middle of the night. And we purposefully scheduled ours at 2 AM thinking we would have him early afternoon that day (the 23rd). Boy were we wrong!
Kevin’s mom and my mom blew both flew in the day before so they could be with Molly when we had to go to the hospital that night. We got in bed around 9:30PM and I think I ended up falling asleep around 11pm. Which means I got about an hour and a half of sleep because my alarm was set for 12:30 AM so we could get up and get ready to go to the hospital. I’m actually surprised I was able to fall asleep at all. But as many of you who have experienced pregnancy know, you’re just so exhausted at the end that you’ll take all the sleep you can get! That is, if you’re able to sleep at 39 weeks pregnant.
We got to the hospital around 1:30 AM. We were admitted to a room at 2 AM. And I was finally induced by being given Pitocin at 4 AM. For the first couple hours the contractions weren’t too bad and every 30 minutes they increased my level of Pitocin. My doctor came in to check on me around 7:30 AM and at that point I was fighting through the contraction pain. She asked if I wanted an epidural and at first I turned it down. I thought to myself that I could totally handle this labor and wanted to try to see if I could do it without an epidural. I don’t even know why I necessarily thought that. I’m totally in support of women getting them and I got one with Molly and ultimately with Riley too. But I guess I just kinda wanted to test myself to see if I could do it. Well within an hour or two after my doctor left, I was screaming for the epidural. But here’s the thing, I absolutely hate needles! Even the site of a needle will bring me to tears. And in some cases, I just flat out pass out at the sight of one. So as I got the epidural Kevin held my hands and I cried into his shoulder.
At first the epidural worked pretty well. I would say from about 9 AM-ish to maybe 5 PM-ish I had some pain relief. I wasn’t completely numb. I definitely still felt the contractions and they hurt. But nothing I couldn’t handle. Then after eight hours, the epidural just stopped working. I was in sooo much pain. What’s so crazy about this is that the exact same thing happened when I gave birth to Molly. The epidural worked for about eight hours and then stopped working.
So tried my hardest to deal with the contraction pain from about 5 PM until 10 PM, and after another five hours of extremely painful contractions with no pain relief, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was shaking and convulsing and sobbing to my husband. By 10 PM I had been in labor for 18/19 hours and I felt completely defeated. I kept saying to Kevin, through my tears, that we had made a mistake by being induced. He kept telling me not to do that to myself and that we did what we thought was right. But at that point, I just felt like I was being punished.
Over the course of the day/night, a few different anesthesiologists had been to our room to figure out why I wasn’t getting any pain relief. They were also giving me boosters of pain medication that would work for about 30 minutes here and there and then stop working again.
At around 9:30/10, the head of anesthesiology at Cedars Sinai was called to our room. The head honcho! This guy knew what he was talking about. So we were so grateful for getting a chance to chat with him about what was going on with me. We asked him what the chances were of me getting two epidurals during two different labors and then both failing after eight hours. He basically said the odds were astronomical. One in a bazillion. Is that even a number? He told us that my only option for pain relief would be to take out the current epidural and re-insert a new one. Needless to say, I was terrified! I think at that point was when I cried the hardest! I was so exhausted physically and emotionally and the thought of going through that process again was so scary to me. So after some back-and-forth with Kevin, he finally convinced me that I needed help with the pain and he would be there holding my hand every step of the way.
Oh wait, let me backtrack for a minute. There are so many details of the story that it’s hard to get them all in. Even after writing this novel I know I’m leaving out a bunch of stuff! But before meeting with the anesthesiologist, about six hours before, my doctor broke my water to help accelerate the labor process. But the weird thing was that when she broke my water, not that much amniotic fluid came out. And as you guys might remember, I was diagnosed with Polyhydramnios which is a condition that means I have excess amniotic fluid. So basically Niagara Falls should’ve been coming out of me. Ha! When I asked my doctor why it didn’t seem like that much fluid, she said that the babies head basically acted like a cork and kept all of it from coming out. And that it would slowly come out as my labor progressed.
The reason I’m telling that story is because when I went ahead and decided to get the second epidural, I had to sit up in the bed, hunched over so my spine was arched like a cat. When I did this something about the position of my body released Niagara Falls! All of my amniotic fluid gushed out. I think this is what jump-started my labor. Because from when I was induced at 4 AM up until that point at 10 PM I had only dilated 5 cm. But from 10 PM to 12:57 AM I dilated from 5 cm to 10 cm! So really, deciding to get that second epidural and going into that position was the best decision I could’ve made! And, I’m happy to say that the epidural totally worked and those 2 hours were the only pain free part of my entire labor. And hey I’ll take it! I actually slept a little after the epidural!
The nurse told me to call her when I started feeling intense pressure on my pelvis and I remember waking up around midnight feeling that pressure. I didn’t want to call the nurse in to get checked because I felt like I had called her into the room to be checked so many times throughout the day that I didn’t want to “cry wolf” again. So I waited until about 12:20 because the pressure was getting more intense, and sure enough when they checked me I was not only 10 cm dilated but the baby was basically about to fall out!
So at that point my doctor was called back to the hospital and we called our good friend and photographer Ashley to rush over to take birth photos for us. Both the doctor and Ashley arrived just in time and after only two contractions and a few pushes, baby Riley was born! So the actual birth/pushing was actually the very best part of the entire labor process! It was so easy compared to Molly, where I pushed for 2 1/2 hours before she was born.
And speaking of Ashley, I really want to give her a huge shout out and thank her for being there for us. Since I got induced at 2 AM, we kept telling her that we would most likely need her at the hospital that afternoon. So she was basically on call for us all day long. And when we called her at midnight and woke her up, she rushed right over to the hospital to capture this incredible moment for us!
As you can see from these photos, when I first saw a Riley I broke down in tears (again! I cried a lot in that hospital room). I think it was for a plethora of reasons. I was so emotionally and physically exhausted that I was just happy it was over. But I also couldn’t believe how much I loved him the second I saw him. In fact, I’m crying right now even writing this. It was just such an intense and magical moment that I never want to forget. And having these photos to remember it is truly special.
I won’t get too much into the details, but the afterbirth experience was almost as bad as the labor itself. Because I was hemorrhaging blood, they gave me even more Pitocin for 10 hours after the birth and I was in excruciating pain for much of that time. But I don’t wanna focus on that right now. I want to focus on the little miracle that came into the world that day.
Riley, you are more perfect than we could have hoped for…