R's Birth Story (Part 2)


Read part 1.

When I left off, it was 12:30 a.m. on Monday, August, 10, and I had just been admitted to labor and delivery. From there, things get a little crazy and I'm not completely sure as far as timeline because obviously I wasn't exactly watching the clock. I'm also pretty sure I kept my eyes closed most of the time, which is funny to me now because I remember initially being all concerned that I couldn't wear my contacts or my glasses. I do have a general timeline based on some text messages Jordan was sending our parents throughout the night, so I'll include those when I have them.

When I got into the delivery room, they laid me down and hooked me up to an IV so I could get fluids. The nurse asked me if I wanted any pain medication in my IV, and I initially said no. I lasted maybe a half hour before my contractions started to really amp up, and at that point I asked the nurse for some meds. The medication did not dull any actual contraction pain, but it did help me to zone out a bit between contractions. A few times I almost fell asleep, which was awesome.

The nurses would occasionally roll me over to one side or the other to help my dilation, and let me tell you: those hospital gowns really leave nothing to the imagination when you're curled up in a ball on your side. At one point, they checked me, and the nurse said, "You're at a 5-6." I remember feeling sad that I hadn't made very much progress.

At 2:08 a.m. (according to a text Jordan sent his mom), my water broke. I specifically remember lying on my left side and hearing a distinct pop and then feeling a gush of water between my legs. I told Jordan to get the nurse because my water had broke. They checked me, and I was dilated to 6.

The next two and a half hours consisted of completely indescribable pain. There's honestly no point in even attempting to compare it to anything, because even now, less than two weeks later, the pain is fading from my memory and I find myself thinking, Surely it couldn't have been that bad, right? It sounds cliche to say you forget, but thankfully it's true or no one would have more than one child.

At 2:38 a.m., I was a 9. The nurses called me Speedy Gonzalez.  Almost the entire time, I had two nurses and a med student in the room coaching me through contractions. There was also the doctor on call (sadly, my own doctor didn't get to deliver because it was a weekend and she wasn't the one on call) and a doctor in residence who came in during the actual pushing phase. I honestly wouldn't have cared if they brought the janitor in as long as he could help get the baby out.

I screamed like in the movies. I clawed up Jordan's arm and dug my thumb nail into his palm. He said he thought I was going to snap his fingers off. At one point I was using my upper body to literally climb hand over hand up and down the railing on the side of the bed.

The nurses kept telling me not to scream. I needed to breathe through contractions, not use my energy yelling, they said. 

"I'm trying. I'm really trying," I cried. "I'm so sorry. I'm trying."
"We know," they said. "You're doing so great. You're getting so close."

After dilating from a 6 to a 9 in thirty minutes, I got stuck on 9 cm for over an hour. It was horrible, and I kept asking the doctor if I was going to die. "I think I'm dying," I said. "Do people die from this?"

I wanted so badly to be able to push, but they said the lip of my cervix was still there and they didn't want me to have a bad tear. They would roll me from side to side to help my cervix dilate that last cm while I tried so hard to breathe through contractions and not to yell. At one point they put an oxygen mask on me so the baby could get more air. I hated that thing. It made me feel claustrophobic, and a few times I ripped it off because I felt like I couldn't breathe.

I remember begging them to bring the doctor in so I could push, but they repeatedly told me it wasn't time yet.

Finally, they turned two giant spotlights on in the ceiling and put my legs up in these trough-type things. They weren't stirrups, really, because there was nothing on the end for me to push my legs against. "Okay, it's time to push," the doctor said. At last.

Here's where it might have been helpful to read some of those birthing books because I had no idea what was happening or what I should be doing. This probably sounds dumb, but I didn't realize that the "pushing" part of labor was completely different from the dilating part of labor. Thankfully, the nurses and doctors were extremely helpful in explaining what I needed to do.

In case you're like me and don't know what pushing actually means, let me explain (at least explain what I had to do). When a contraction came, instead of breathing through the contraction and resisting the urge to push, I was supposed to take a giant breath and push as hard as I could while the doctor counted slowly to 10. She said, "Push like you're taking the biggest crap of your life," which is pretty much what it felt like I was doing.

After they counted to 10, I was supposed to immediately take another giant breath and push for 10 more seconds. I did four rounds of the deep breath/push for 10 seconds before the contraction ended and I could take a break. I literally thought my head was going to explode, which sounds insane now, but at the time I seriously thought my head might actually bust open.

When I finally dilated enough and was told I could start pushing, I was so relieved. I naively imagined that I would just need to push a few times and the baby would come out. That's how it looks in the movies, anyway. And the movies are always realistic.

"How long will I have to push?" I asked the nurse.
"For first babies, it could be an hour or more," she said.
All I could do was stare at her in horror.
"An hour?"
I almost called for a c-section right then and there.
"I can't do this," I said. "I can't. I'm going to die."
"No you're not," everyone replied. "You made it this far. You can do it."
Jordan squeezed my hand. "You're doing so great. I'm so proud of you. I love you."

I pushed for an hour.

I kept asking the doctor if they could see her, if I was close. I was making progress with every push, but it was slow. The problem was that she was face up instead of facedown, and instead of her head facing straight ahead, it was turned completely to the side. Later, the doctor told me that if she had been in the correct birthing position, I probably would have only had to push for 20 minutes or so.

Every time I pushed, she would come farther down the birth canal, but when I stopped pushing she would go back up. One step forward, two steps back. It was so discouraging. I don't know how long I had been pushing, but eventually I asked the doctor if there was something she could do to help me.

"I can't keep pushing only to have her go back up," I said. "You have to help me."
"We can use the vacuum," she said. "I just have to warn you that there are risks. If we pull too hard, it could cause brain hemorrhaging. We won't pull too hard," she continued. "But I have to tell you the risks."

"Fine," I said. "Just get it." I was scared, but what choice did I have? She wasn't coming, and I couldn't keep pushing like that.

After they got the vacuum, things progressed much better. The doctor pulled when I pushed, and eventually they told me they could see her head. Her heart rate was dropping some, and I knew I needed to get her out quick. "I know you've been pushing hard," the doctor said. "But I need you to give everything you've got to this next contraction. Let's have a baby."

It was around this time that I felt more than heard a commotion to my right. A nurse was kneeling down beside the bed, asking Jordan if he was okay. 

"What's going on?" I asked. "Is Jordan okay?"
"He's fine. Don't worry about it," the nurse said. "He just got lightheaded. You need to focus on pushing."

What happened, I found out later, was that Jordan got faint and sat right down on the floor and put his head between his knees. He hadn't eaten since supper at our house the night before, he'd been standing by my side for hours watching me scream in pain, and he said every time the doctor leaned back from me, she was covered up to her elbows in blood. He said he remembers thinking, "That's my wife's blood" and feeling faint. Obviously it's hard for us to labor, but it's hard on our guys too.

Meanwhile, I was told to push as hard as I had ever pushed in my life. During the first round of pushes, nothing happened. I was starting to freak out by this point about her heart rate dropping and knew I had to push her out this time. All that work and a c-section? No thanks.

Another contraction came, and I pushed. Jordan had stood up by this point. He said he would have hated himself if he missed our little girl being born. The nurses didn't count for me, and I didn't do the breathe/push thing I had been doing for the past hour. They didn't tell me to wait after the head came out to get the shoulders either; I just pushed and pushed until I heard a popping, slurping sound and felt her slide out.

It was 4:46 a.m.

"Is she okay?" I said. "Is there anything wrong with her?"
"She's perfect," they said and handed her over to me so she could lie on my chest.
"Look, Jordan," I said. "Can you believe it?"
"I know," he said. "You did it. She's beautiful."
It took a good minute or two for the cord to stop pulsing. Then Jordan cut the cord, and they let me lie there holding R while they stitched me up. They must have numbed me down there, because I remember being surprised that it wasn't hurting.

"So," I said to the doctor, "when she came out I heard a popping sound. Is that what it sounds like when a baby comes out?"
She shook her head and gave me a pitying look. "Um... no. That was the sound of your vagina ripping... Sorry."


Jordan's and my parents had been outside in the waiting room since 3:30, so after the doctor stitched me up and turned off the spotlights and I put my legs down (they didn't stop shaking for a while), they snuck into the room to say hello. My mom was the first to come over, and I'm so glad my sister captured this precious moment.
After everyone left, it was just Jordan and I and our baby. They got Jordan some crackers and juice, and he immediately fell asleep. Baby R was swaddled up right next to my bed, and I couldn't stop peeking over the side to look at her. I grabbed my camera on the way to the bathroom and took this picture of them sleeping. (Going to the bathroom after labor is a whole other story that probably isn't blog appropriate. Or anyone appropriate, really. We'll just leave it at that.)
We slept in the room for I don't know how long. Eventually a nurse came in and asked if I felt okay enough to walk down to a new room so we could clear the labor and delivery room. It was the slowest walk of my life, but I made it, pushing R in the bassinet. We stayed in the hospital on Monday day and Monday night and were discharged on Tuesday evening at 5:00.
Our families and a few friends came to see us in the hospital, and it felt surreal that I was actually the one being visited. I couldn't believe I had just had a baby.
The overwhelming feeling of love that everyone talks about didn't come right away. Initially, I was just so happy to be done with labor. Nothing I'd ever done had been so emotionally and physically painful.

But later, when we were in the recovery room, I had gotten my DSLR out to take a few pictures of R. Babies of course don't know what faces they're making, and I was taking shot after shot of her little mouth and cheeks and eyes.

And then, I saw it.
A flash of her daddy's dimples.
It was him I saw in her sweet face, and I cried. That was the moment I knew what they meant when they said my heart would never be the same. The moment I realized it really was all worth it.

That was the moment I fell in love.
Bethany Carson said...

This is such a touching and sweet post--you had me in tears. Glad you...and Jordan...survived! And Congrats again on Baby R!

Jenn @ Optimization Actually said...

Awww...! Ditto with Bethany, I teared up at the end. The rest sounded pretty bad. Ha! Can I confess that the idea of my body tearing is way more terrifying than the idea of pain. Although that's scary, too. My friend's nurses told her not to scream, too. They said she was scaring the new mothers.

Saba said...

Well done Amanda!! It sounds soooo difficult and I don't care what anyone says!! Really well done! She's beautiful :)


Jessica Elyse @ Memoirs of a Mommy said...

Thanks for the good cry this morning Amanda. I absolutely love it and am so happy she is here. She is absolutely perfect.

shelleystirs said...

Beautifully written! Sorry about the popping sound. And the bathroom. Ouch. The bathroom is a bad, bad place for a while.
But the baby makes it all worth it.

Brandi said...

Oh those dimples!! Poor Jordan... While I wouldn't tell anyone not to read up on childbirth or nursing, sometimes there just isn't anything to prepare you for what it is really like! My first and last labors were very similar to this, stuck at 9 cms and then forever pushing. Luckily the memory fades and I had other labors without time to really think about it. Cause there's something about not knowing what it's like...and then there is something about knowing exactly what it's like...if you know what I mean!

Congrats again. I hope everything is going well at home!

Ashley said...

Reason #392 why I want to adopt... Just kidding. I actually have a heart for adoption, BUT I've talked to my fiancé about it and he's not as on board with with idea as me. SO... I now read birth stories to prepare myself because I have about 3 years to either change his mind or psyche myself up as best as possible. O_o

Anyway, the ending was absolutely beautiful. I love how you were so open and honest about everything, but that fact that you admitted that it wasn't exactly "love at first sight" was great because it's real and I think women need to say so if that's what happens to them. I have no doubt that there are women out there who've struggled with the fear that they're bad mothers because they didn't feel that intense love right away, but let's be real. It's hard to feel anything but relief when you're so exhausted...

Thank you so much for sharing. R and her dimples are adorable! :)

Kaity B. said...

You're a warrior, Mama! Reading that sounds so horrible, but several people have said that about my birth story and I feel like it wasn't that bad comparatively. You really do forget the pain of it!

Hope you're enjoying this time with Baby Bum :)

Cassie Eliya said...

WOW! So exciting to read this and congrats on birthing with no epidural!!!! I can't wait to experience all this, I will be 38 weeks on Monday so hopefully things will start happening for me soon! Crossing my fingers and praying hard....
your little one is SO CUTE, and that dimple, love it!

Miss Jewells said...

I loved reading this. I can relate to so much of your story. Eyes closed? I honestly don't think I opened my eyes more than 20 total minutes (never consecutively) the 8 hours I was in active labor. And forgetting the pain? The day I delivered I was not afraid to tell everyone that it was the hardest thing I've ever experienced and wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, and yet 2 weeks later, I was sure it couldnn't have been that bad and I could do it again. Oh but that sweet relief of their little body on your chest, and seeing glimpses of mommy and daddy in their little features & personality. All worth it. Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!

Andrea H. said...

Thank you so much for sharing R's birth story. I loved hearing your honest viewpoint of the whole experience. And, along with everyone else, I was tearing up at the end! Lovely story!! Beautiful family!! And...regarding Jordan getting faint...my brother (also named Jordan) straight up fainted..like fall to the ground with your full weight fainted...when he was doing a rotation in the labor and delivery ward during his time in nursing school. He woke up on a gurney in the ER super confused! We always wondered if the mom-to-be noticed...I can only imagine the distraction it caused since he is no feather weight!! Miraculously, he made it through the birth of his two little ones with no issue! Glad your Jordan knew to steady himself so that he didn't miss too much! :)

Brittany said...

Seriously, welling up over here. She's absolutely beautiful and I can't get over the dimple. It's so sweet how Jordan was affected by all of it! I would probably pass out, too...Congratulations again! Can't wait to watch her grow via your blog! :)

Nicole said...

So beautiful, thank you for sharing! Totally tearing up at my work desk this morning lol.

Unknown said...

So I know you said that you wanted to feel the child coming out, feel empowered, etc. Would you do it again? Do you think the pain was worth it? Just curious. i always wonder if I'd be the crunchy, competitive momma or the one that's like, GIMME THE DRUGS!

Ali said...

Aww! She is just too cute for words. It is such a relief once they are out and you are done with labor. Although I will say that it was worth it, I definitely do not want to repeat it. This is my feeling 4 years later, so I doubt it will change! For me anyway. Obviously lots of people feel much differently. Good job mama!

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

well this post didn't make me cry AT ALL.
seriously. this sounds terrifying and amazing. and painful. i had no idea about the pushing, so thanks for explaining.

Erin said...

You are incredible! Absolutely adorable lil baby! Thanks for sharing your story!

Amy @ A Desert Girl said...

I'm sitting here trying to hold the tears back because I'm always an ugly crier. What a beautiful little girl you have and you and Jordan did an incredible job bringing her into this world. <3 Congrats again, friend.

Unknown said...


I should not have read this post at work because I went from trying to stifle my laughter (read choke-snorting because that's what happens when I try to stop the sound) to crying to laughing again in my cubicle. Wonderful post.

And you, lady! So strong and incredible! And little R is so precious! Congratulations!

Susannah said...

Oh my word! I'm seriously crying over here!!!! You're awesome! She's precious! And birth stories are my favorite!!!

Caroline @ In Due Time said...

Super mom! WOW!!! Thankful Jesus wipes away all of our trauma and like you said the memory is slowly going away. Whew! You did it! Seriously. Amazing, I can't even imagine. Beautiful post and I love that sweet dimple of hers xoxo

Unknown said...

You did AMAZING! Thank you for sharing about the pushing- I keep asking and no one gives me details! Can you share how the two days were? I want to hear EVERYTHING! :)

Sara Oss said...

That's a cute little baby burrito you've got there; dinosaur wrapper included. Mazel tov to you both!!

Laura Morgan said...

If I'm crying it's because of allergies. ALLERGIES. And your awesome story!
1. It's SO crazy how the memory of the pain fades.
2. I laughed at the popping and slurping. I didn't tear as much as you, and that sounds horrific. But I definitely remember the slurping sounds. Also crazy. How many stitches did you get? Do I want to know? Probably not. Ouch.
3. Going to the bathroom—yes, ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. I for one wish that had been discussed more openly on the blogosphere because I had nooo idea what I was in for. Just peeing was this huge process for a week or two after delivery because I was scared to not use the peri bottle or wipe with regular paper, etc. And then I had some other special bathroom problems that I'll happily share with you later. ;)
4. Dads work so hard too! I can't imagine watching my spouse go through something so painful when I could do so little to help. I almost think that would be worse than just being the one in pain.
5. I probably had lots of other thoughts too, but I had to go shush a baby in the middle of writing this and I lost my train of thought and I also need to fix a snack. Anyway, wonderful work and wonderful story. Thanks for sharing! I love birth stories probably more than hospital bag stuff.

Anna said...

This is the first birth story I read and having Parker and I'm just sitting here nodding along. Feeling like you're going to die? Yep. Worst pain ever but getting over it sooner than you thought? Yep. Good thing pregnancy gets so uncomfortable towards the end or no one would ever want to actually get the baby out.

I can't imagine how stressful that must have been having her heart rate drop. And her face being in a weird position to make it harder? Let's hope that's the worst of her difficult streak add it's easy from here on out.

Good for you for toughing it out! But next time... An epidural?

P.S. She's gorgeous and I love the name.

Courtney said...


youre amazing.

Sorry about your vagina. Good news is it'll be back to its normal self soon :p

Kiki said...

You did it!!! And you lived to share the story, too. :) Congrats once again on sweet little R. Those last few paragraphs were THE sweetest words filled with love that I've read in a long time.

EB said...

Great post. Thank you so much for your honesty about the birthing process! Even though it isn't all puppies and rainbows, you have a beautiful new family to celebrate. So happy all three of you are healthy! :)

Michelle said...

I was SO INTO this story. Probably the most well-written birth story ever. I am so happy for you, so proud of you, so impressed. You are fierce. You have a truly gorgeous baby. I relate so much to this...begging to push (I will never forget that indescribable pressure), pushing for an hour and wanting to die, the baby constantly going right back up, all the blood, not feeling immediate bursts of love and fireworks, etc. I think I just relived G's birth a little bit.

Unknown said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us! xxx

Erika from America said...

Wow, this birth story is some REALNESS. Definitely don't think I'm ready yet for the reality that is giving birth! But yay for your baby coming safely and falling in love with her!! Yay Baby R!

Rach said...

This convinces me that I will need an epidural. That pain sounds unbelievably horrible. You are incredible. Seriously. I'm so glad she arrived safely and that you guys all made it out okay (even Jordan). :)

Sarah @ Sometimes Photojenik said...

This. was. intense. And all I can say is you rock mama! Thanks for sharing the details of this story- it was inspiring and terrifying all at the same time.

Erika @ All Things E said...

This was absolutely RIVETING. You're such a great writer! Every time I read one of these I think about how cool it will be for R to read when she's older (probably like, in her 20's - prior to that she may be skeeved out). Major HIGH FIVES to you for being such a warrior mama! Loved loved loved this.

Rebecca Jo said...

Bless your heart. Reading you ask if you were going to die made me tear up a bit
& Jordan almost passing out - now THIS is a movie that should be made.
Can't you see why they say some women who do home births stand up - gravity pulling the baby down so they don't go back up? ... makes sense.
BUT YOU DID IT! You are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You can do anything!!!!

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

Pregnancy hormones have me crying over here. This is beautiful. And absolutely terrifying. But mostly beautiful.

Sarah @ Sweet Miles said...

I just can't even handle this. I loved all of your honesty and details! And I definitely teared up in the end, thanks for that!!! We're about 8 weeks away from our own birth, so your story was incredibly helpful!! I'm so glad you finally got her out, you are so strong and of course it was all worth it!

Paige @ Reasons to Come Home said...

That last part brings tears to my eyes! And the first part makes me never want to have kids. Ha! Super impressed you did it without an epidural! Would you do it again without one?

That dimple is just precious, by the way!

Hayley! said...

You are a rockstar!! What a beautiful story and an adorable little girl! She's so beautiful!

Betsy said...

oh my goodness moms are heroes.

<3 <3 <3

Lindsay said...

What an amazing journey! I love how open and honest you are about the reality of the situation. Congrats on your beautiful new baby! Sounds like you handled the whole pregnancy and birth thing like a champ, so I'm excited to see you take on the challenge of raising a baby!
Love the photos you managed to capture!

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

Awww! This is so sweet! I just got teary eyed. Your birth story had me on edge like no other! You rock! Seriously, you are amazing! Congrats! She is just precious!