This is one of those stories I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell. Baby Harry is here. He’s healthy and beautiful, and perfect in every way. But, the process of getting him here was traumatic, exhausting, and terrifying. Both Ben and I were scarred by the experience and, as happy as I am now that Harry is here, part of me is still struggling with the birth experience.
I spent the last hour typing up what happened in detail, but I’d rather just share the synopsis here. It’s a little too raw just yet. Plus, I can’t imagine you want to read the gory details. Let’s just agree it was a terrifying experience and gloss over the rest.
Here are the highlights:
• I had no desire to go to the hospital. Ben had to put his foot down. It’s rare he issues an executive order, but this was one of those times. I’d been having semi-regular contractions for a couple hours when my water broke at about 7 a.m. on a Sunday. I called the hospital and they told me to come in, even though my contractions were irregular and I was still able to talk through them. Even with the nurse urging me to make the drive, I wasn’t convinced. I was terrified and thought everything would be fine if I just sat it out at home. Finally, Ben stepped in, told me to stop dawdling, and we got in the car. From there, the serious panic set in.
• Ben was an amazing coach. The pain was excruciating. When we got to the hospital, I was dilated to 5 cm (halfway done) and it looked like the baby was going to come very quickly. When he didn’t and the hours dragged on and the pain intensified, Ben kept me going. He was so positive and encouraging, and he helped me focus on my breathing and not give up. I really, really wanted to give up. The pain was so much worse than I anticipated. It was truly indescribable. I felt like it was giving me brain damage. But, Ben was amazing. I don’t know how he managed to keep his cool, but he did such a good job.
• The epidural was an excellent decision. My advice to anyone is to get an epidural early. Let the epidural be your friend. It was a life-changing decision. Everything got easier once I decided to get an epidural. Of course, I held out for almost 10 hours, suffering horribly the entire time. Don’t be a hero. Get an epidural. I wasn’t able to push until I had it. The pain was too horrible and I wasn’t functioning. Once I had the epidural, I was able to push like a champ.
• Harry did not want to come out. I was in labor for 16 hours. Three of that was pushing. Every one to two minutes, I’d push with everything I had. It was exhausting. I pushed and pushed and pushed, and almost no progress was made. Harry wasn’t coming and I was horribly frustrated. I was trying so hard and nothing was happening! It felt like I’d never be done. Thankfully, the doctor came with a suction cup and was able to get Harry out. My last push was the best one, and the relief of him being out was immediate. There’s no way to describe that feeling. It was pure relief.
• Things went south after the delivery. Not many people think about what happens after the baby comes out. There’s so much joy and relief, it’s mostly a blur. But, for me, my birth experience turned terrifying after the delivery. About an hour after Harry was out (and my epidural was removed), I was bleeding profusely and the doctors couldn’t stop it. I was in agony. The baby was gone, but the contractions continued and intensified. My uterus was filling with blood clots and the doctor went in four times to remove them. He was pulling clots out with his hands as I screamed in pain. It was the worst experience of my life, and it wasn’t even working. I needed emergency surgery; both Ben and I were terrified. It all turned out okay, but in those tense moments when doctors were buzzing around in a panic trying to keep me from bleeding to death, I didn’t know what to do. It was a powerless feeling and the pain was indescribable.
• Harry is totally worth it. I was in the hospital for several days and the emotional toll was intense. I needed two units of blood and it’s been several weeks before I’ve felt almost normal. I lost a lot of blood. Plus, I needed a ton of stitches. Most days, it feels like my guts might fall out if I cough or sneeze. But, it’s getting better. Thankfully, Harry makes everything seem worth it. He’s the best thing in the world.
Ben and I agree that one baby is plenty for us.We literally had the conversation on the drive home from the hospital. I don’t want to go through anything like this again. If we change our minds down the road, I’m getting a C-section. I never thought I’d say that, but I can’t go through another delivery. I’m blessed with a perfect, healthy, happy baby, but it was traumatic getting him here and I know I can’t do it again. One baby is plenty.
I’ll share more about Harry in my next post. He’s the best baby ever.