Gus’s Birth Story

My third pregnancy was incredibly difficult for me. At the beginning, I was sick beyond belief. From Thanksgiving to after New Year's I threw up multiple times a day and could barely get off the couch. Then, in March, the pandemic hit, everything shut down, and I found myself crying every night. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had so many physical aches and pains. My tailbone, my lower back, my hips, and an inflamed tendon in my foot that had me limping for over a month all made me feel miserable. And then there was the depression. While it wasn't nearly as bad as it was during my previous pregnancy, it was still there, draining me of energy and hope.

At all time, I had a count in my head of exactly how much longer I would be pregnant. From 33 weeks on (for some reason that was the worst week for me), I would wake up and count the number of days until my due date. I was so uncomfortable.

All this is to say, I really did not want to be pregnant anymore. From 36 weeks I hoped that I would go into labor early. I had Calvin four days before his due date and convinced myself that this baby would come even earlier. But each appointment came and went with me showing very little signs of labor, so I decided to schedule an induction. I had scheduled inductions with both of my other babies, but ended up going into labor on my own, so I had never been induced.  

The induction was set for Friday, July 24, two days before my due date. For some reason I felt guilty about being induced “early.” I know it wasn’t actually early since 37 weeks onward is considered full-term, but I still felt bad. I’ve read all the natural labor books and know all the theories about how much better it is for your body and the baby to wait until you go into labor on your own. But mentally, I couldn't take it any more, and since my doctor was on board with it, we just went ahead. 

We were supposed to call at 9 a.m. to see if there were openings on the labor floor. When I called, they said they were full and to call back at 1 p.m. My parents got to our house around 12:30, and when I called back at 1, the labor floor was still full. So it was pushed to 4.  

Brock and I were both antsy and worried that we wouldn’t get in that day. But 4:00 finally came (or, more accurately, 3:50 since I couldn't wait anymore) and when I called they said, “How soon can you get here?” We rushed over.

My mom took this right before we went to the hospital

As we were heading over I realized that I had no idea what an induction looked like. I’d always gone into labor on my own and was trying to imagine how it would be. Turns out it’s pretty boring in a great way. We checked in, went to a labor room, did some paperwork, and I got an IV. Finally, around 6 p.m., a nurse started Pitocin. They put me on a low dose and increased it periodically.

I bounced on an exercise ball and watched A League of Their Own and then The Holiday while waiting for the contractions to get stronger. Brock was reading a biography of Martin Van Buren.  I could definitely feel the contractions, but they weren’t bad at all. This continued for a while and then around 9 p.m., I started to get uncomfortable. I requested an epidural and got one thirty minutes later. I love the results of an epidural but hate the process. Curling over, being told not to move, the awful feeling of a needle going into my spine; it all makes me shudder. I always worry that I'm going to be paralyzed and after having three epidurals, I still have never seen how big the needle actually is. But thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, all went well.

Soon after the epidural was in, as I was settling in to sleep, a thought suddenly occurred to me. I realized that this birth would probably not be traumatic for me. With both of my previous births (you can read Calvin's here and a bit of James's here), I experienced trauma from the pain and uncertainty. Especially after Calvin's, I had horrible flashbacks for about two weeks after he was born, and it took me a long time to heal mentally. But this birth was so smooth and the pain was a small fraction of what I had experienced before. And I felt so grateful for the chance to get an induction and have a smooth, calm birth experience.

The hours after getting the epidural were great. The nurse set me up in the bed and gave Brock some blankets for the uncomfortable couch, then turned off the lights for us to sleep. The epidural sleep was some of the best, most restful I had my whole pregnancy. I really hoped it would take another 12 hours before the baby was ready because I just wanted to sleep forever. 

But around 12:30 a.m. the nurse came in and began fussing with the monitors because the baby’s heart rate was dropping. She had me sit up and readjusted the straps around my stomach because they kept slipping. Thirty minutes later, she came in to do the same thing, and this time told me I had to stay sitting up because the baby's heart rate kept dropping every time I laid down. I sadly bade my epidural sleep good-bye.

About every thirty minutes the nurse would come in because the baby's heart rate had dropped. She would open the door and grab her gloves to check me. After what felt like the hundredth time, I just wanted to be left alone. It turned out my water—which the nurses thought had broken around 8 p.m.—hadn't broken all the way, so a doctor came in to break it (it still makes me a little queasy to think about it). 

Around 5 or 5:30 a.m. a different nurse came in, and then another one, and then two more. At first I just thought they were just coming to observe, but by the time the fourth one was there I realized that something a bit more serious was happening. The baby's heart rate wouldn't stay steady and I still wasn't dilating enough.

A little before 6 a.m., they told me it was time to get ready for the baby to come. I was only dilated 9 cm, but they thought if I started pushing I could get to 10. Because his heart rate wouldn't stabilize, they were eager to see if they could get him out as soon as possible. As they got the leg holder things (not sure what they are called), I realized I was shaking and couldn't stop. I've heard this is a common thing near delivery, but it was the first time it happened to me and it made me nervous. 

I started pushing and just like they thought, I dilated to 10 cm. I kept pushing so hard I could feel my face turning red and I thought my eyes would pop out of my head. It's always hard not knowing what's going on down there, but they told me I was doing great, and after a few more pushes his head came out. I hadn't realized it was there, but they said "Keep going!" and then I gave a little push and I could feel the rest of his body slip out. I hadn't felt a baby come out in quite the way that he did, and it was weird to actually be able to feel his arms and shoulders. 

And there he was! My beautiful, breathtaking baby! The moment of seeing my baby for the first time—the baby I felt grow and turn and move inside me for months—is almost indescribable. The doctor held him up and I thought, "It's you! It's you!" I don't even know what this means, but I when I saw him I thought, "Oh, there you are!" He cried a little bit, which startled me, and then I took him in my arms to snuggle. 

We then had a wonderful golden hour, where Gus (although we didn't know his name at that point) just laid on my chest, looking around calmly, nursing, and snuggling. It was perfect and I was overcome with gratitude over the beauty of a healthy baby and smooth delivery.

He was amazing and perfect and has only gotten better with age. Our little Gus has completed our family and we cannot imagine life without him.


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