Jack is 3 months old and it has been fun reminiscing on his birth day and looking through old photos with Yung. Gone are the blurry days of newborn fog and scrawny legs. Jack is the sweetest and smiley-est baby who has filled out and is developing all the yummy rolls. It was difficult to write his birth story because so much happened in 24 hours. The best way I could figure out how to organize it is using a rough timeline. I couldn’t decide how honest I should be about all the bodily fluids and pain, because lets face it–childbirth is messy. I wrote down the thoughts and feelings that I could remember, and decided that the minute details were not important. Overall, birthing a baby was harder than I thought it would be. I don’t quite know what I was thinking prior to this experience, but I did not think it would be so grueling, nor would I be so exhausted. Having a baby is truly a miracle, and I am thankful for having experienced it.
Are these contractions?
On Thursday, October 25, 2018, I went in for my regular 10 hour shift in the clinic. I am a pediatric nurse practitioner, and I had a full schedule of check ups and sick visits that day. I had my 39 week appointment 2 days prior and I was dilated 2 centimeters. I had started to have some spotting and was losing my mucous plug as well. My day went pretty normally. Someone mentioned during our noon meeting that they were concerned that I would not make it to work my weekend shifts. I said, “I’m sure I’ll be fine! I’m not showing any signs of labor yet!” Now looking back at it, that was kind of a lie. I was just thinking that I had not had contractions. I never had any Braxton Hicks throughout pregnancy.
5pm: I started having bladder pains that were not relieved by urinating. During the last month of pregnancy, I would have severe (I’m talking hunched over, can barely walk to the bathroom) bladder pains in the middle of the night from not going to the bathroom for several hours. After I urinated, the pain went away.
I wondered for a long time what contractions would feel like for me. After a little while, the “bladder pain” came and went a couple times, and I decided to let my boss know that I thought I might be in labor. I told Yung, and he asked if he should come pick me up. I said no, I needed to stay to finish my charting. Good thing I did, because baby was on his way. I stayed 2 hours extra and got everything done.
The night before
7pm: I had been timing what I now was pretty sure were contractions and they were very irregular. I told Yung that we needed to clean the house right away! My poor husband has to deal with a lot! We cleaned, ate dinner, finished packing our hospital bags, contacted our dog sitter, and kept timing the contractions. At this point, it was mild pain and I was able to take a shower and keep moving around the house. I don’t remember feeling nervous or excited or anything really. It was more disbelief that our baby would be here very soon. Yung asked if I thought the baby would be here over the weekend. I told him if this was the real thing, we are having this baby tomorrow!
Midnight: Got in bed to sleep. Yung calls this night his last night of good rest.
The morning of
1am: Woke up to go to the bathroom. Contractions were still fairly mild.
3am: Woke up to intense pain. It was then that I decided that I was going to get an epidural. The contractions were lasting a minute or longer and coming every few minutes. It was like a Charley horse in my lower abdomen. It was pretty much like the worse gas pain ever that kept coming and going. Now looking back at it, I should have probably gotten up to walk around or something, but I just continued to lay there, writhing in pain, with my husband snoring next to me 🙂 I was trying to get some rest, but it really wasn’t working.
5am: I finally woke Yung up and told him that I was sure I was having contractions now.
6:50 am: Our dog sitter finally texted back around 6:30am and said to bring the dogs over anytime. Yung left just in time for morning traffic (sorry, hon!) to bring our dogs all the way across town (Again, sorry! I just felt so much more comfortable having them stay with our far away dog sitter versus anywhere else) the morning his wife was in labor.
7am-8:45am: Here is where I labored at home alone. I did my best to finish packing my bag with a few extra things but I couldn’t muster up enough strength to zip it up. Finally I just sat on the couch to rest. I ended up wearing my TWU alumni shirt, nike shorts, Gap flip flops, and my 10 year old Northface jacket to the hospital. The anesthesiologist later commented on my ratty flip flops and said they looked so comfortable and what a great choice to wear to have a baby. Translation=those are the sloppiest shoes I’ve ever seen anyone wear out in public. But he was nice and tried to crack jokes with us all whilst I was contracting.
8:45am: When Yung came home, I told him it was time. My water hadn’t broken, but my pain had intensified. It was time to go to the hospital!! We had taken a tour ahead of time, so we knew exactly which parking garage to go to and which entrance to take. We headed straight to the admissions desk in labor and delivery and got checked in. It was not dramatic like it is in the movies. No one came running up to greet us with a wheelchair (I would have liked one though). We sat in the waiting room for longer than I would have liked to wait for the charge nurse to come and triage me. I was 6cm dilated and the nurse said that was a ticket to stay! It was baby time! Unfortunately, my doctor was not on call that day, but we were happy with the physician that delivered Jack. She was kind, but also aggressive. I didn’t truly understand how high risk OB can be until this experience.
Epidural + rest
10am: We got settled into our room and I got an IV, labs drawn, and my fluids started. My epidural came shortly afterwards. I didn’t feel scared or nervous. Nor did I feel defeat. During my entire pregnancy I told myself that I was just going to see how badly it hurt, and then decide if I was going to get an epidural or not. It really wasn’t a question at this point. We didn’t ask for intermittent monitoring. I didn’t ask for the exercise ball. We didn’t do laps up and down the hall way. All of the relaxation positions we learned in class pretty much went out the door. I knew it would be extremely hard to continue with the contractions through my water breaking and complete dilation without help.
They used some type of numbing device that I was not familiar with both for my IV and epidural, but it stung a good amount. After my epidural, my pain went away, but my general feeling of being uncomfortable did not. I was afraid the epidural was going to come out, even though it was very secure. I felt huge, my lower extremities were so swollen, and I wasn’t allowed to sit up. I had to sit in a reclined position. The epidural made me nauseous and cold. It made my legs feel like rubber. Being the stubborn person that I am, I refused Zofran and also later refused any bolused pain meds. I told everyone, no thank you…I’ll just throw up instead…and I did..several times.
12:30pm: I encouraged Yung to go get some lunch, which he did reluctantly, and I continued to nap in my darkened room. He ended up eating with a father who was expecting twins that day.
2pm: I started to feel a very intense pressure in my butt. Basically, it felt like a bowling ball was going to come out of my bottom. It came and went, and I just sat there frozen for a little while trying to figure out what it was. I finally decided to call the nurse and ask her, and she confirmed that it was the baby. When I was turned on my left side, the pressure lessened significantly. Sometime around then, the doctor came to check my progress, and broke my water accidentally.
3pm: I had made it to 10 centimeters! I was told that the baby’s head was still sitting very high, so I was going to hang out and allow my body to “labor down.” This was not a term that I had heard of, but it basically meant I was going to hang out and let the baby continue to descend down the birth canal on his own. I was also informed that my doctor had 2 other patients ahead of me that were delivering, so I was third in line.
5pm: The nurse told me that we were going to start pushing. Basically, she would tell me when I was having a contraction, and then I would push for about 10 seconds (I think?) and rest. After a little while, I asked her if anything was happening or if I was really doing anything. She said I was basically taking a few steps forward and one step back. The baby’s head was coming out a little, and then going back in. When the doctor came in, we did more of the same, and finally, it was decided that my epidural was going to be turned off so I could feel my contractions and be able to push more effectively. This in turn made me feel pain, which was not pleasant because it gradually started intensifying, but I think it did make me push harder. They asked if I wanted a mirror, and I said okay??! I definitely never thought my private area would be up for everyone to see, but it did help me see my progress (which was SLOW). I honestly thought the baby would never come out. It seemed like I was making such little progress. They finally had Yung get behind me to help me push. Finally, they took away the mirror, put my feet up in stirrups, and the doctor took a seat and put on her gown. No one said anything, and I wasn’t thinking clearly, but looking back at it, this meant the baby was coming!
6:36pm: After an hour and a half of pushing, Jack Weston Tsai made his debut in the world. I felt an immediate feeling of relief and it also felt like a GIANT wet slug had come out of me. I don’t remember feeling the “ring of fire” because I’m thinking I still had some medicine on board. I did, however, feeling all the stitching afterwards. It is really hilarious to hear Yung’s recount of the birth and what his initial reaction was. He says the baby looked like he was vacuum sealed and was all scrunched up.
Jack was immediately plopped on my chest and was screaming at the top of his lungs. It was truly surreal, and his cone head really scared me. I know they go away, but my first thoughts were “you feel really warm and wet” and “your head…” and then “you’re perfect.” Yung cut the cord and I got to do skin to skin. I never want to forget those sweet moments when I became a mom and Yung became a dad. We love our Jack Weston so much and are grateful we were chosen to be his parents.