It all started when I went in Thursday night (5/5/22) to be induced at Children’s Hospital. (well, actually it started 39 weeks earlier, but whatever). No one thought I would make it to term due to Addy’s growth restriction and my perinatal depression. I was incredibly desperate to be done with being pregnant around 30 weeks, so it’s a miracle I survived all the way to 39 weeks! But against all the odds, we made it to 39 weeks! They had stripped my membranes earlier in the week but I was only dilated to a 1.5, so around 10pm they started me on a cervix softener. Kyle and I tried to sleep that night knowing the next day would be long and crazy, but the nurses kept coming in to check on things so we didn’t get much sleep. I had very sporadic, weak contractions most of the night. At around 6am they started me on Pitocin to hopefully help strengthen my contractions. A little while later they encouraged me to get up and walk around a bit since once I got my epidural I wouldn’t be able to. We tried walking around the ward for a bit, but they quickly had me lay back down because Baby’s heart rate was falling during each of my contractions. They decreased the Pitocin to hopefully help with that. Waiting was sooooo boring. We played a dice game to pass the time, and eventually pulled out both of our computers and played a computer game together.
Around 1:30 my doctor came and checked on me and I was still at like a 2. She wanted to break my water to hopefully ramp things up, but I had been told to get my epidural before I let them break my water so I asked for that first. We were able to grab the anesthesiologist right before she went in for a C-section and I’m SO glad we did. The actual experience of getting the epidural went smoothly, but after a bit I realized that my epidural was lopsided. My left half was SUPER numb, but my right half was barely tingling. I could still feel almost the full force of each contraction on my right side. They had me lay on my right side to get the anesthetic to flow more to my right half, and I was able to nap for about an hour.
They woke me up around 3pm to check my progress (still at a 2) then broke my water, and I went back to sleep. Then they woke me up again at 4pm to lay on my left side because Baby’s heart rate was still struggling a bit. I was upset about it because it would move the anesthetic away from my right side that wasn’t numb, but they insisted it was important for Baby so I reluctantly agreed. At that point, i was pretty awake and realized the contractions were coming fast and they were coming HARD. I could feel pretty much the entire force of the contraction on my right side, and it was unbearable. I think the nurses just didn’t believe that I was in as much pain as I truly was, because they just kept telling me to push through it rather than getting the anesthesiologist like I asked so she could increase my epidural. The nurse kept patting my knee each time she passed or talked to me and I wanted to SCREAM at her because any touch just made the pain 100 times worse.
Eventually, after I had been crying and practically screaming during my contractions for like half an hour, the nurse decided to just check and see how far I had progressed. She said “oh my goodness you’re at a 6!” which meant I had already transitioned into active labor. (See, Nurse, i wasn’t just being a wimp!!) She finally got the anesthesiologist and the doc adjusted my epidural for active labor. (Unfortunately, it didn’t truly kick in until I was halfway through pushing).
Kyle was trying to help me through the contractions, but he was also slightly distracted by texting updates to my mom. I finally got so fed up that he was ON HIS PHONE WHILE I WAS IN LABOR (I had no clue what he was doing on his phone, I assumed Instagram or something) that I yelled “Whoever you’re talking to can go to H*** because I am in freaking labor! Get off the phone!!!” After that he paid total and complete attention to me, but wasn’t sure how to help. Kyle was trying so hard to be validating and encouraging during the height of each contraction and even tried to have me do breathing exercises but I finally told him “I just need you to distract me! Tell me something super random and trivial or something.” He said “okay, tell me a knock knock joke.” I said “no! YOU’RE supposed to distract ME. YOU tell me a joke!” This started us telling jokes back and forth between contractions and the nurses quietly laughing each time they walked by. Kyle also distracted me by coming up with ridiculous names for a hypothetical second dog like Dragon, Dopey (after the 7 dwarves), Kitty, and bunch of other ridiculous names.
At this point (around 5 ish) they checked me again and I was at a full 10. I’d gone from a 6 to 10 in less than an hour. Everyone started running around prepping things and tracking down my doctor. Other people started filing into my room, and my nurse told me “okay if you feel the need to push or feel like your body is bearing down on its own, you need to tell me immediately”. I had no clue what that meant! What the heck does “the need to push” feel like?!? I’ve never had a baby before!
After like two minutes, though, I felt something that could maybe(?) be my body beating down so I yelled for the nurse. She calmly sat next to me and said “okay we’re going to practice pushing now”. How the heck do you “practice” pushing? I asked her if I was supposed to actually use my muscles while “practicing”, she said “of course” and looked at me like i was daft! So i wasn’t actually practicing, I was supposed to actively push. 😂
At this point a bunch of other people had piled into my room. We had like 10 people in the room – the NICU team, my nurse, another nurse, and my OB’s assistant. Most of them were just standing around, chatting, waiting for the baby while I’m splayed out for all the see. I’m usually pretty modest and self conscious about being naked in front of others, so it was really surprising to me that I couldn’t have cared less about all those women having a front row seat to see my hooha. Probably because they were all women and I didn’t have the energy or brain capacity to give it more than a passing thought. After I’d been pushing for a few minutes, I realized my doc still wasn’t there. I asked “Dr. Schechtman IS still coming, right?” All I could think about was my mom’s experience giving birth to my brother where Dad had to catch the baby without gloves because none of the nurses or doctors were ready.
Dr. Schechtman walked in and checked my progress and could feel Baby’s head! They prepped their instruments while Kyle and my nurse kept having me push. Kyle would slowly count to 10 while I held my breath and pushed like I was trying to poop the baby out. We’d do that 3 times in a row during each contraction. At one point a nurse or tech or someone asked “How are you doing Mama?” And I was like, is that a rhetorical question?! How do you think I’m doing?! At one point near the end, I was struggling to hold my breath and make it through all 3 pushes and I told Kyle to count faster dang it! Dr Schechtman laughed but told Kyle no 😂 The epidural increase FINALLY kicked it at this point so I told them I needed someone else to tell me when to push because I couldn’t feel the contractions anymore. My nurse (Tina) started telling me when to push and I told her that even though I loved her, I truly hated her in that moment. She laughed and promised she still loved me. At one point I threatened Kyle that I was gonna stab him in the eye with a fork, and then threatened the room at large right afterwards. I can’t remember the specific reason why, though.
Finally, FINALLY, after 45 minutes of pushing, her head came out! I was all geared up to keep pushing for another hour because everyone had told me getting the shoulders out was the hardest part. Someone in the room said “okay, now just the shoulders and you’ll be done!” But after just one more push, Dr Schechtman reached into my vaginal canal to reposition Baby a bit, and Baby slide right out! I was so focused on pushing and gearing up for the next push, I didn’t even notice! Someone said “we have a baby!” And I said “wait really?!” Dr. Schechtman laughed and said “yes really!” They immediately handed her to me to hold while waiting to cut the cord. I was super out of it and barely even remember holding her for those few minutes. They let Kyle cut the cord, then handed her to the NICU team. Then my doc focused on delivering the placenta.
The NICU team was there because they were worried about how Baby’s heart rate was dropping during contractions. Her APGAR score was 8/9 at one minute and a 9/9 at five minutes, so she didn’t need to go to the NICU! They weighed her to be 6 lbs 3oz and measured her at almost 18 inches long. Kyle and I had both guessed how big she would be ahead of time. I had guessed 6lbs and Kyle had guessed 7lbs. So I won!
They handed her back to me and I was a little more alert at that point. I got to snuggle her for 45 minutes while they delivered the placenta and stitched me up. They asked me if I wanted to see the placenta and I adamantly refused. I hadn’t realized I had torn, and my doctor and Kyle were trying to be sly about it. Dr. Schechtman was purposely trying to be very calm and not freak me out, but she told me I had three 3rd degree tears. One up either side of my vagina and one external tear up through my labia. She and her assistant spent 45 minutes stitching me up. The whole time, I got to do skin to skin with Addy. It surprised me how much I enjoyed cuddling with her. I’ve never really enjoyed holding infants before, I’m not a baby person at all, so I was really worried I wouldn’t feel the instant connection everyone says you feel with your own baby. But I did! That precious little baby was MINE and I DID want her!
Adalyn Lee Welburn | Birth Story | Detroit Newborn Session
June 29, 2023