Hello friends! I’ve missed you all. I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now, but with having a newborn, it’s hard to find a free moment! As I start writing this, I’m lucky to have my mom here to give me a little bit of freedom to blog. The past 7 weeks have been an amazing whirlwind of love, learning, crying (Claire AND me) and laughter. I’m hoping to get back into a consistent blogging schedule now that things have settled down because I miss it! So here goes a monster of a post that I hope is helpful and informative for some of you who will be going through the experience soon!
Overall, I had an amazing experience and am very thankful for that. From the hospital, to the nurses, to the actual laboring – it was all better and truthfully easier (relatively) than I had expected.
Our Hospital Choice
We chose Shawnee Mission Birth Center for delivery, and I’m so glad we did. It’s a wonderful, relatively new hospital center and the staff was amazing. During our stay, it was super quiet and low key, not at all how I envisioned the maternity ward at a big hospital. They also have all babies room in with the mom unless you request otherwise. This was new to me, as I’m used to babies staying in the nursery when not with their moms based on my cousins being born. While a little overwhelming at first, I really enjoyed having Claire with us at all times. It gave us practice while still under the supervision and guidance of the maternity nurses.
1:00 PM December 5th
I had my weekly OB appointment with my doctor at which point I was only 2cm dilated and about 80% effaced. She told me this was a good place to be at 10 days before my due date and that baby could likely be coming at any point. I thought it was super unlikely given I wasn’t that dilated, so I felt pretty defeated and disappointed. At around 38 weeks, you begin to feel super uncomfortable and anxious for baby’s arrival. I couldn’t tie my shoes, bend down and sleep was becoming difficult, so I was ready to get the show on the road. My doctor and I agreed on an inducement date of either December 17th or 18th, and then she said she hoped to see me sooner. Little did we know…..
It was just a regular night for Pete and I. Dinner, watching a TV show, and then in bed by 8:30. We will typically be on our computers or reading in bed for a bit before turning out the lights, so I was reading (Crazy Rich Asians – so good!). That’s when I started to feel aches in my lower back. I was still 10 days away from my due date, and had always heard that contractions will be mostly felt in your belly. So I just figured they were normal pregnancy backaches. Then they started to get stronger and more consistent. I tried timing them, but they were coming quickly and at times I couldn’t focus. I called the OBGYN office hotline who put me in touch with the doctor on call. I explained what I was feeling, and she said it would be best if I head to the hospital just in case. I didn’t want to be one of those women who waits until the last minute, so I told Pete to quickly pack a bag. I’m someone who would rather be safe than sorry, so we grabbed our overnight bags, the diaper bag and the carseat and jumped in the car. It’s amazing how a 15 minute drive sounds quick and close until you’re in labor, lol.
After checking in with the front desk, we were directed to the birth center triage wing where I would be examined by a nurse to see if I really was in labor. While we waited for the examination, the aches and pains were getting worse and I was 95% sure they were actual contractions. It’s hard to be certain with your first baby! The nurse came into the little triage room and asked me to change into a hospital gown. I changed and used the bathroom, and that’s when I saw blood and knew it was game time. After hooking my belly up to a heart rate monitor, and examining my cervix, the nurse confirmed I was in labor and wasn’t going home. Pete and I just stared at each other – it was time! I felt a rush of fear and excitement knowing that our little girl was going to be arriving soon. It’s amazing how your body and mind just shift into “get shit done” mode when you’re in labor. They inserted the IV catheter (not fun, and took two nurses to get it), and did some other tests before we made the short walk to our labor and delivery room.
The labor and delivery room was HUGE and relatively new. I had noticed this when I took a tour of the hospital, which made me feel pretty comfortable. We got settled with all our stuff and were introduced to our labor and delivery nurse, Emmy. I truly think the nurse you are assigned directly impacts your labor experience, so I am very thankful to have had such an amazing nurse. It made my overall experience very positive, and one I will joyfully remember for the rest of my life. Emmy got me hooked up to all the machines and an IV, and we reviewed my birth plan. I told her I was planning to have an epidural, but wanted to wait until the pain got worse. You are immobile once the epidural is hooked up, so I wanted to wait as long as possible. I also told her I had requested that an actual anesthesiologist be the one to administer the epidural, and that I did not want a resident or nurse doing it (will touch on this later). She informed me that it would take around 40 minutes from the moment I say I want it to when it would be administered. So I had to keep that in mind.
The on call doctor also came in to check me out during this time. My water hadn’t broken yet but I was dilating nicely, so she did not think it was necessary to induce me and break my water. She told me to get some rest if possible and that I would likely deliver in the morning. I’m sad I didn’t get to experience labor and delivery with my doctor because she was so wonderful, but it all was great in the end.
So up until I started having contractions that night, there was a small part of me that wanted to maybe try a natural birth without pain meds. But everyone told me to wait and see what it feels like in the moment – and they sure were right. Contractions are a BITCH and hurt like hell. And I didn’t even feel the worst of them. Getting the epidural was the best decision, and really made the entire experience more pleasant and entirely pain free. However, the decision is all your own and you have to do what feels right for YOU. Never feel pressured by anyone to do something a certain way during this experience.
That being said, receiving the epidural was the most uncomfortable part of my whole experience. First, remember I mentioned earlier that I asked for a licensed anesthesiologist to administer the epidural? Well, apparently that caused some controversy since there are nurses on staff that are able to do it. The anesthesiologist who ended up coming and doing it gave me some serious attitude and made me feel like an idiot. Not fun for a first time mom in the middle of labor. Second, I am admittedly not good with needles so I knew this would be a challenge for me. Some women say they didn’t feel a thing. Maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me, but I could feel everything – from the needle going in to the catheter being inserted into my spine. It’s all over pretty quick and I had both Pete and my delivery nurse to keep me relaxed. But receiving the epidural was the worst part of this whole experience. I’d say that’s pretty good for giving birth vaginally!
12:00 AM December 6th
After receiving the epidural, it started working right away and the pain from my contractions started to ease. Emmy helped me shift and get comfortable in the bed, and inserted the urinary catheter (since you can’t get up to pee!). At this point I was able to get some rest and close my eyes for a bit. Emmy came in every so often to check on both me and the baby and said that if my water didn’t break by the morning, they would help it along.
After resting for a while pain free, I was ready for the big event and Claire’s arrival. Emmy came in and said that since I was fully dilated, they wouldn’t use medicine to break my water, but they would instead use a long hook to puncture the amniotic sac. Say what now?!!? She actually described it as like a crochet hook and I nearly passed out. But she said I wouldn’t feel a thing and that this was better in the end. The crochet hook wielding nurse came in shortly after and broke my water. Apparently there was a huge gush and the bed was soaked, commentary from both the nurses and Pete. I couldn’t feel or see a thing. Thankfully, the hospital bed is lined with doggie wee wee pads (no joke), so they just get replaced. All I knew was that things were going to be happening soon!
This is where my memory starts to get fuzzy on timing. After they broke my water they called the on call doctor back for my delivery and started to get things prepared. It’s amazing how fast and methodical things operate, like a well oiled machine. And ladies, prepare for all modesty and privacy to go out the window because the bed is cranked up almost to eye level and you’re in stirrups with a nurse on one side and your husband/partner on the other. Most surprising part? You won’t care one bit and will be ready to go. NICU nurses were called to our room in advance since Claire had her first bowel movement while in utero (which was seen after they broke my water), and the doctor had a couple of nurses on her team. It was like a small race car pit crew in the room and there I was on the bed. Once they were all set up and ready, the doctor told me to pull my legs back and push as hard as I could. Push, recover, push, recover, push, recover. Then rest till the next contraction. At one point the doctor and nurses told me to stop pushing because she was coming out too fast and they had to set up!
With the epidural, I couldn’t feel anything but pressure, so it was hard to know if I was pushing correctly or not. The doctor and Pete just kept encouraging me and telling me she was making her way down, but I really couldn’t feel anything. It’s a weird feeling, but definitely better than the alternative.
After 28 minutes of pushing, Claire Antonia Mundo was born weighing in at 7lbs. 8oz. and measuring 21 inches long. And just like that, the 9 months of waiting was over and she was here. That moment was/is the best and most magical of my life. As soon as she was out, Pete and I just burst into tears and were so thankful and happy. It’s truly hard to put into words the emotions in that exact moment. Excitement, relief, amazement, exhaustion. But the overwhelming feeling is…love. Love for this little stranger who you’ve never met and know nothing about. Love for this little wrinkly, screaming human. Love that you’ve never felt before in your life and you automatically want to protect them from everything. It’s the best feeling ever.
The doctor cut her cord and placed her on my chest for skin to skin. Pete and I were just amazed and in love. She already looked like family members and was just so adorable! We were only able to do skin to skin for a couple of minutes because then the NICU nurses took her to check her out. Since she had her first bowel movement in utero, and because she came out of the birth canal so quickly, they had to aspirate her using a long tube to get amniotic fluid out of her lungs. I was super nervous that this was happening, but was confident that the nurses knew what they were doing. While this was happening, the doctor delivered my placenta (I didn’t even realize it came out). She also quickly stitched me up because I tore a bit.
Pete snapped some pictures of Claire and started texting our family sharing the news. Everything happened pretty quickly, and then there we were, alone as a new family of three.
After 2 hours in the labor and delivery room, we were then moved to the recovery room where we would spend the rest of our visit. The room was a great size, and there was a futon for Pete to sleep on which was perfect. Our parents booked flights when they knew I was in labor, so my parents arrived the evening Claire was born and my in-laws arrived the next morning. We are so thankful to all of them for making the trip so quickly as it made the whole experience even more special.
In terms of physical recovery, I was not prepared for the soreness and bleeding that came. After the epidural wore off, I started feeling the pain and it was serious. I could barely walk/sit down comfortably right after and there was a lot of blood….a lot. Sorry if that’s TMI, but if it was me, I would want to know! But it apparently was all normal and to be expected for a vaginal delivery. I just wasn’t expecting it. I’m lucky to have had a relatively easy and quick recovery, so I don’t have many complaints. The pain eased I’d say a week after, although the bleeding lasted longer.
In the end, I would go through it all 100 more times for this little girl. She is the best gift I have ever received and is the best thing I have ever done. Pete and I, along with our families, are already so in love with her and are so thankful for this blessing. We are so excited to watch her grow, learn and change (she’s already grown so much as I write this!) and are loving every minute. Since that day, every time we drive by the hospital, I only have positive, happy thoughts of my entire experience. Is it crazy that I kind of wish I could repeat those three days?
Well, that was a whopper of a post, but I hope it was helpful to some of you! I read a bunch of birth stories by my favorite bloggers while pregnant, and it really helped ease my anxiety and understand what to expect. So I hope to have done this for at least one of my readers!
Next up, I want to share an update on Claire’s first couple of months and my breastfeeding journey. So stay tuned! Thanks to all of you for reading and supporting this special space of mine. I’ve really missed blogging and sharing, so it feels good to be back. I would love to hear from any of you with questions, comments, etc., so please don’t hesitate to comment, email or DM me on Instagram!