There are so many ways to look at labor and delivery. When I was pregnant, I found these stories to be helpful to prepare myself for what’s to come. However, what wasn’t helpful was reading really traumatizing stories – so my goal is to give it to you straight without scaring you.
So here’s a spoiler: I am fine, Mila is fine, and everything was okay. If you asked me an hour after giving birth if I would do it again, I would have said yes. I hope this helps ease your mind. Ok, ready? Let’s do this.
Tuesday, January 11th
9 AM – I woke up to some back pain early in the day. I thought it was because I had lifted some heavy things the day before, so chocked it up to that. I didn’t thing much of it and just found myself really tired and lethargic. Third trimester problems, ammirite?
I finished up all of my meetings for the day, had the housekeepers come by, and then Sahir came home around 5:30 PM.
Related: My Third Trimester Q+A
6 PM – I started feeling some intense period-like contractions and texted three of my mom-friends separately asking if they had felt anything similar. All three texted me back immediately and told me “yes, when they were about to go into labor” – I told Sahir, and thought oh well that’s silly. I’m still three weeks away. I was still having the pains, but they were coming and going.
I eventually changed out of Sahir’s boxers (which was truly the only comfy thing I could wear at the time since I was having so much pelvic pain already) because the pressure was too much for me.
7 PM – Sahir had planned to leave to play basketball at 7:30 and I told him that he should go and that I would call if I needed him. As the pain continued to progress, he told me even if there was a 5% chance that something was happening – he was going to stay back and he did.
8 PM – 12 AM – The pain was fleeting, but we cuddled on the couch with a heating pad behind me and another on my lower stomach. I was able to manage the pain pretty well and just thought that those period cramps were kinda intense. We put on a movie and headed to bed around midnight.
1 AM – I woke up about 30 minutes after falling asleep to intense pains, but they weren’t “tightening” pains like how they describe contractions to be.
I read online that Braxton Hicks or “practice contractions” usually go away if you drink water or walk around so I tried that. It didn’t seem to help, but I didn’t want to wake up Sahir since I figured it was nothing and lulled myself back to sleep in about 40 minutes.
3:30 AM – (mind you, I’m already getting up every two hours to pee – so being awakened randomly wasn’t alarming for me). After going to the bathroom, I felt the pain in my abdomen again and tried the water and pacing, but it wasn’t helping.
I woke Sahir up and told him that I thought I was having Braxton Hicks contractions and it was really painful for me. He said “I’m up, I’m here with you – tell me what I can do.”
Because I was having such intense pelvic pain during my third trimester, we thought that that was a factor in the pain that I was feeling now. He tried to get me to take some pressure off my stomach and get into child’s pose. (In hindsight, I should have realized when I was on all fours in the middle of the night that this was the start of me being in labor).
We decided to start timing contractions because real contractions will get closer in time to each other and last longer, while Braxton Hicks contractions won’t.
The rule of thumb is that you call the doctor when your contractions are 5-1-1. That means that the contractions are 5 minutes apart, they last for one minute each, and this entire process lasts for at least an hour.
My contractions at 3 AM were so scattered. Some were 6 minutes apart, some were 5, but they definitely weren’t a minute long. After a while, Sahir and I both fell asleep at the foot of our bed with my head normally where my feet are, and Sahir laid with me.
I awakened at about 5 AM with similar pains. The contraction monitor was still on and it had been about 80 minutes since the last contraction that we timed. This time it was a little less intense, but the pains were similar. After a while I walked around and eventually put myself back to sleep around 6 AM.
It’s important to note that we had my 37 week doctor’s appointment at 10:30 AM the next morning, so we knew that we were seeing a doctor soon which is also why we weren’t in a rush to call overnight.
8 AM – When I awoke in the morning, my pain was back to period cramp levels and we quickly got dressed and headed into the doctor’s office for my appointment.
10:30 AM – I got to the office and the nurse asked me how my night was. I told her, “man, I had a really weird night” and briefly explained my night. She just said “hmm… well your blood pressure is elevated and with that story – it sounds like early labor. Let’s get you to a doctor.” The doctor told me she would check me and see what’s going on.
This next part is critical to the rest of the story.
11:30 AM – The doctor needed to check if I was dilated to see if I was in labor. She proceeded to do a cervical check on me and guys, this was SO painful. I don’t want to scare anyone, but this was one of the most painful things I experienced – and also extremely uncomfortable. I’ve had pap smears and it was nothing like this.
After a few minutes of grueling discomfort where I screamed like I was being tortured, she told me I was 1 cm dilated.
You can be dilated for a centimeter for weeks so that means little to nothing. The doctor decided to put me on a contraction monitor to see if I was having contractions as the next step.
We waited for another 30 minutes and then were sent into the contraction monitor room. At that time I was having intense period cramps, but nothing like the night before. The doctor originally sent me in there for 20 minutes, but continued to tack on an additional ten minutes just to get additional data.
The tech kept coming in and got increasingly sketchy, reading the report and telling us she was going to keep the door cracked & bringing me water.
I started out okay, but as time went on the cramps got more intense, and after the half hour I was over it and ready to just go home.
After what seemed like an eternity, the nurse technician came in and told us that the doctor wanted to see us. The doctor told us that I was indeed having contractions and they were about six minutes apart. Whoa.
So I had two options: 1) go to the hospital and get another cervical exam to see if I had dialated more (from 1 cm to 2 cm) meaning that labor was progressing and I would be admitted (remember the rule is 5-1-1, contractions have to be 5 minutes apart) OR I could go home and see how things progress and call the office later.
What do you think I chose? There was no way in hell I was getting another cervical check, so I told Sahir we’re going home and we left the doctor.
12:30 PM – Now that I knew what contractions felt like (those intense cramps counted!) we were told to continue monitoring contractions throughout the day. This is the app we used.
As soon as we left, my contractions started back up. We drove for about an hour to get home, stopping for food for Sahir (he got CAVA) and boba for me – I wasn’t in the mood for anything too heavy. From 12:45 – 1:45 PM my contractions started getting closer together, nearly 4 minutes apart, but some were over a minute long and some were shorter.
Sahir insisted that we needed to turn around and go to the hospital, but I wasn’t having it. Told him to take me straight home. Seriously you guys, I can’t stress how much that first cervical exam hurt.
1:45 PM – We got home, and almost immediately my contractions slowed down. I sat on the couch, watched and episode of Sex and the City and put my feet up drinking my boba. I felt some immediate relief, like this wasn’t meant to happen now and that I would be more ready when it would.
My mom was rushing to get to me and I told her not to. Things had slowed down and contractions were 15+ minutes apart. I thought if anything, we would have another night like last night and then I would have to call the doctor and go to the hospital.
3:45 PM – Sahir’s mom stopped by the house on her way back from an appointment in the city. She was sitting with me for a while and we told Sahir to go shower since he rushed this morning. As soon as he left, my contractions started to get closer together. About 3-4 minutes apart and lasting over a minute long each.
4:15 PM – I moved over to the exercise ball and started bouncing just to relieve some pressure, and that’s when things ramped up even further.
Within 10 minutes, I texted Sahir “SOS” because contractions were now 2-3 minutes apart and lasting close to 2 minutes each. Sahir runs out to the living room fresh out of the shower, he didn’t even put a shirt on and said “what’s wrong?!” His mom looks him dead in the face and says, “you need to call the doctor… NOW!”
4:45 PM – At this point I’m panicked because it’s 4:45 and I’m worried about rush hour trying to get into the city. My mom walks through the door and I tell her we’re going to the hospital. Her and my mother in law start to help us gather a few remaining things – luckily my hospital bag was already packed and in the car with the car seat installed.
We get a couple of towels in case my water breaks and they pack us some additional snacks – because, you know, moms.
Related: What I’m Packing In My Hospital Bag
For some reason, they decide to ride with us to the hospital. They won’t be allowed to come with us inside, but wanted to be there for moral support. They took an Uber back home, it was sweet.
5:15 PM – They freaking make me fill out paperwork while I’m contracting even though I’ve already pre registered at the hospital. Argh.
24 hours have passed since my labor officially “started”
5:30 PM – They take us into triage which is basically where they decide if they will admit you to the hospital or send you home. The process was to change into a hospital gown and they will strap you to the contraction monitor and do another cervical exam to see if labor is progressing.
At this point, I’m in the worst pain thus far. It was the first time that I started having these convulsive shakes where my entire body would start tremoring. I couldn’t even speak because my mouth would be shuddering.
My body has having these intense shivers and I was freezing cold. This continued on and off through labor, but this was the first time that it happened. [The doctors and nurses (later) told us that this was probably a combination of adrenaline, fear, and actually being cold.]
Through my clamoring, this was the first and only time that I cried during labor. I knew that they would admit me because my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart (I mean, where am I going to go?) but, I was scared of the cervical exam to come.
My contractions were intense and painful and I was squeezing the life out of Sahir’s hand. He held me close and did his best to keep me calm – and covered with blankets. At one point my arms were around his neck and he was holding me up while I was curved over in pain – putting all of my weight and pressure on him.
Finally, when she checked me (it wasn’t as bad) I was two centimeters which means labor had progressed and, of course, they admitted me.
7:00 PM – The nurse told me that before I get the epidural I should walk around and eat before I was bed ridden. They brought me snacks while Sahir set up the room with the diffuser, little light, and essential oils.
Related: What I took to the hospital with me
8:00 PM – I got started on the IV before my epidural, they had to run the entire fluids though my body before I could get it.
8:30 PM – Epidural time.
No one tells you about how painful the epidural is, just how much relief it gives. It wasn’t even the size of the needle for me – it was the entire process. I thought it would be quick but took about 15 minutes from prep to when it’s over. You have to be in this deep cat position which is tough because you know, baby in your belly.
They described it as a bee sting and then hitting my funny bone. I’ve never been stung by a bee, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that. It felt like venom went though my body and then literally my entire lower body had a massive spasm.
At one point I accident dug my nails into the nurse who was holding me along with Sahir – he profusely apologized to her, oops.
But it worked.
9:00 PM – Doctor came and broke my water, 3 CM dialated.
10:00 PM – Started to doze off to sleep while still taking contractions. This was super surprising to me, because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to sleep at all. From 10 PM till about 3 AM I slept on and off. I would wake up with convulsive shaking and pain, but then would somehow fall back asleep for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. My charts still showed that I was having intense contractions, but things had stalled a bit.
1:00 AM – Still 3 CM. At this point my labor had stalled and I was stuck at 3 CM for the last 4 hours. They jump started me on a low dose of pitocin – which makes your body contract and give you artificial contractions. I asked for the doctor, but no one came.
3:00 AM – I woke up to some intense pains and told the nurse that I thought my epidural was wearing off, she said she would check me again and let me know. They do this thing where they blow cold air onto different parts of your body to gauge how much feeling you have. I had more feeling than before, but the big shock was that I was now 100% effaced and my 8 CM dialated. Whoa.
I was in a lot of pain and was hoping to get closer and closer to 10 to start pushing. I asked for the doctor again and we tried to distract me by watching a few episodes of The Mindy Project on my iPad, but it wasn’t very helpful.
My neck was already hurting before labor and this aggravated that injury, so I had a little heating pad bear on my neck and was just layered in blankets to help with the shaking.
They told me they could give me more of the epidural, but wanted to be careful so that I could still feel when it was time to push. I thought it over for a while, but was ultimately in so much pain and I didn’t know how long pushing would last that I opted to get the epidural boost.
5:00 AM – 9 CM – So many shakes.
6:00 AM – 10 CM – it’s go time.[Note about hospital schedules. Nurses change shift at 7 AM & doctors change shifts at 8 AM. This is not a fun time to be pushing.]
6:30 AM – We were pushing in different ways, but not making much progress. It was tough because you are just working through these contractions without much positive reinforcement. You don’t know how close you are to the end and if you’re getting any closer.
Not at all like the movies when everyone starts coming in with 3 nurses and a doctor yelling at you to push. Nope – It was just me, Sahir and a nurse in the room.
7:00 AM – Still pushing. Nurse shift change.
The next nurse who came in was a lot more strict and had me pushing in really difficult positions. My hands were turning red from doing a tug of war with her and a bedsheet to get me to push deeper.
My nails were cutting into my skin and I had to take breaks, she was tough but she was what I needed at the time. Asked to see a doctor again, but again – nothing.
We were told a doctor wouldn’t come in until she was crowning without me pushing.
We started to see the top of Mila’s head about an an hour and a half into pushing, but it wasn’t sticking around. Since it was just us, she would say “oh my, I see the head!” and turn to Sahir and asked “wanna see?” – I said – no!
I gave him strict instructions to stay near my head, to which… he did not listen. He was curious and said this is something he wanted to experience. Fine, do you.
I’m not sure how, but I was holding these bars under the bed and Sahir was holding my back, and both of my legs helping me curl over to push.
8:15 AM – We started to get close and the nurse that was with us left to start gathering people. They saw meconium so needed to call NICU because it could be a hazard to the baby. When the nurse left the room to call the doctor and NICU team, she told me to “stop pushing”.
When you’re literally having contractions every minute, lasting for a minute, this is not easy to do. It was so much more painful to not push, but the nurse left and it was just me and Sahir. I wasn’t sure why she left!?
He did his best to keep me calm, but I really didn’t know how close I was to the end which made it so much more difficult. All I knew was that it was after 8 so the doctors were changing shift.
8:20 AM – The room starts filling up with NICU nurses, extra people for the baby, but the doctor is no where to be found. From the corner of my eye, I see and hear these nurses talking and overhear them saying they “can’t find the doctor and she isn’t answering her phone” – uh what.
I hear a nurse say, “well can we wait?”, she then walks over to me and glances over and says “nope.” — guys I’m literally crowning and am crippling in pain.
I exchange glances with Sahir who just keeps telling me it’s okay and to continue to breath through the contractions (again, I’m still supposed to be holding my pushes). I can’t stress how hard it is to not push through this excruciating pain. Contractions are every minute, on the minute, lasting for a minute – so there are no breaks.
So they decide to page the hospital’s on call backup doctor. Moments later, someone rushes in and says that they found the doctor, she’s changing and will be in soon.
That’s when I yell from the side of the bed and say “how far is the changing room!?” Clearly I’ve hit my patience cap. The nurse responds saying just two minutes, and she was right, in two minutes the new shift doctor walks in WITH the previous shift doctor (she was here the whole time?! Why did no one check on me!?) and then she starts to sit in front of me.
8:40 AM – She’s asking for some of her tools and trying to get situated while I resume pushing. I can’t describe what those 15 minutes were like while all of this went down. Finally I do one set of pushes, and then another, and then I hear the doctor say, “if you can do another we can get her out.” – I didn’t even realize we were this close.
Of course, I try – no avail.
One more push round, she says “okay this time, we can get her out”
Sahir closes his wrap around my body and curls me into a ball, I push – nothing.
Doctor says “one more time – she’s sunny side up!”
Note: Sunny side up refers to when the baby is face up vs. being face down. This results in a much more painful labor experience, higher chance of C-section, longer labor and recovery.
I push again – nothing
The doctor says, “keep going – one more and we will get her out”
I push again – and just hear the room make noise and a baby crying fills the room.
We did it. I did it.
We opted to delays cord cutting for over a minute, but because NICU was in the room they only allowed 30 seconds and in what felt like a second, they handed Sahir the scissors and he cut her cord. They immediately put her on me to regulate her body temperature.
That’s when she looked up at me for the first time and reached her hand out and grabbed for my chest. That’s when I saw it – she has my eyes.
Before I could even say it, Sahir says “wow, she has your eyes.”
While Mila is on me for the first time I have to deliver the placenta (which is kinda a scam because you can’t move, scream, or do anything since this fresh baby is on you) after a few minutes, NICU took the baby and checked her – luckily everything was okay and they returned her to me.
She looked so tiny.
We asked the nurse to take a picture – highly recommend. It’s a raw, unfiltered, and unperfect picture that holds that moment in time.
Around this time, would be when the doctor would stitch you up. My doctor told me that even though Mila was face up, my bleeding was starting to stop on it’s own and I may not need stitches at all. She rarely saw this, but thank goodness.
My hospital prioritized “the golden hour” which is the first hour after the baby is born and needs skin to skin with the mom. After that hour they would take her to wipe her down, weigh her, etc. She was tiny indeed, but tall! She takes after her daddy.
Once people started leaving the room, we FaceTimed our families. We had completely ghosted on them for the last few hours. Sahir was giving updates every 30 minutes until about 7 AM and safe to say everyone was spooked.
Everyone was thrilled and we got to share her name for the first time, Mila Molu.
That is the end of my delivery story, but my hospital stay lasted three days past this. Because of my extensive pushing time, the fact that she was sunny side up and a 40 hour labor contributed to a really difficult recovery.
I’m not sure when the ball was dropped, whether it was the hospital’s policy to not call the doctor in until a certain point, the nurse on staff who didn’t check in with a doctor after I requested one, or my practice (I did bring this up to them and they said they weren’t sure why no one checked on me). Either way, the ball was dropped and my body and recovery took a toll on me. I’m not sure that the result would have ended up being any different, since I’m glad I didn’t have a C-section and wouldn’t have opted for one – but I should have been checked on between the hours of 1 AM to 8:20 AM.
Again, I want to reiterate that I’m fine and everything worked out okay – so this is not to scare anyone.
To put it gently, I felt like my body had been hit by a truck. Aside from hemorrhaging blood, which is expected, I couldn’t sit or stand on my own. Sahir had to physically lift me onto my feet because I wasn’t able to move without being in severe pain. The nurses insisted that I shouldn’t be in this much pain, especially for someone who had a vaginal birth without stitches.
These comments didn’t help and made me a lot more worried that something had gone aray.
I ended up being prescribed a “safe” narcotic because of the debilitating pain. I didn’t expect recovery to feel like this. My doctor’s practice prescribed it but the nurses reluctantly gave it to me. One even walked in with a pamphet about the dangers of narcotics in new moms.
I felt so frustrated – I obviously didn’t want to take anything extra, but I couldn’t walk or sit up on my own. Something wasn’t right.
By the second day, Sahir forced me to go for a walk before I was allowed to put a cute outfit on her. That was all the motivation I needed.
I took her in the little hospital bassinet and spent 12 minutes trying to hobble from one side of the hospital hallway to the other. It was 10 feet long.
Those 3 days in the hospital truly showed me what an amazing partner I have in my husband. When the nurses weren’t particularly helpful, my husband was there for me. He made me stretch my legs, made me padsicles (it was super fun explaining what “wings” are to him, changed my clothes and even gave me a bath. I bled all over him, and he didn’t even flinch.
Caring for a baby was one thing, but when you aren’t capable of taking care of yourself it’s really tough. I’m grateful for him.
We were discharged on the third day and my mom and sister met us at our house. Bringing Mila home was filled with so many emotions. We were scared, excited, nervous, and most of all – just grateful.
I was okay, she was okay, and we were all going to be okay.