Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Declan's Birth Story

After all the labor stories I've read, all the pregnancy forums I've stalked, and all my googling of pre-labor symptoms, nothing prepared me for the way this labor and delivery worked out. Especially not Ez's labor.

I didn't go into either of my labors with a set plan or any expectations other than delivering a healthy baby, but after my long, relatively painless labor with Ez (thank you, epidural!), this is kinda what I was imagining: I wanted to go into labor on my own (unlike with Ez), maybe feel an hour or so of contractions, show up at the hospital 3 or 4 centimeters dilated, get an epidural, then watch an entire season of Game of Thrones while I fully dilated. 

Ha. AHAHahhhaha! No. Declan was on his own schedule. Once he decided to make his entrance, he wasted no time getting here.

In case the title didn't give it away, this post may get a little long and icky, so read at your own risk.

Here's what really happened. I woke up at 4:10 am on Thursday the 25th (3 days before my due date) with my first contraction. I immediately thought "we might have a baby by this evening!" 3 minutes later another contraction. And then another and another. I downloaded a contraction timing app, and hunkered down ready to time them for the next hour, looking for that standard 5-1-1 formula the doctors always tell you to look for. (Contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting a minute each, for an hour.) Mine started at 2-3 minutes apart and felt like intense pms cramps. After about twenty minutes they had escalated way beyond cramps and I was thinking how nice an epidural would be. By this point I was either on my hands and knees moaning and rocking my hips through each contraction, or I was on the toilet where my bladder and everything else was emptying out.

 At 4:50 I woke Joe up. Shortly after the pain got so intense that I was pretty much screaming through each contraction as he ran around getting ready to leave. Around 5:00 my water burst while I was on the toilet. Like it literally exploded and managed to go everywhere. Joe could hear a huge splash from out in the hallway. Around that time he left his mom a voicemail asking her to pick Ez up from the hospital and then put Ez in the car still sleeping. He tried to usher me to the car and I remember telling him not to touch me and begging him to just wait a minute while I screamed through another contraction. He asked if he should call an ambulance because he was worried he wouldn't be able to coax me to the car. I said no and told him to hurry to the car as soon as that contraction ended. Ez was already in his car seat in the front so I could have the backseat to myself. I kneeled on the floor hunched over the backseat screaming through each contraction, which were pretty much back to back at that point. I remember making Joe stop the car a few times before we even left our street because the pain was too intense while the car was moving.

Originally my doctor wanted me to go to a hospital half an hour away (not counting LA traffic) because she can't deliver at the one closest to our house, but there was no way that was happening, so we went to the hospital 5 minutes away. Worst 5 minute drive ever. I was in the back screaming, which woke Ez and he was crying and slightly hysterical because he couldn't see me, he could just hear me in pain in the backseat. I still feel bad for how traumatizing that was for him. Hopefully he won't remember any of it. Joe tried distracting him by turning up the radio and talking about cars. 

At 5:30 Joe pulled up in front of the ER, ran inside to get me a wheelchair and then pushed the crazy screaming pregnant lady inside. It was Hollywood movie status by this point. I vaguely remember a few older people in wheelchairs waiting in the ER, and I'm sure I scared the hell out of them because I was so loud and dramatic. I didn't even have shoes on because my flip flops fell off in the car and I didn't care enough to put them back on. The only lucid thing I remember about that wheelchair ride was telling Joe he couldn't push me any further because he had go take care of Ez, who was still waiting in the car outside the ER entrance. The security guard took over and wheeled me straight to the labor and delivery room while I was writhing and screaming in pain. I climbed up on a bed and immediately there were 5 or 6 nurses in the room. I remember telling one of them not to touch me as she was trying to check how far along I was while I was having a contraction. In my head I was thinking I'd be a 4 or 5, because I'd read so many labor stories of women in excruciating pain only to be told they were just 3 centimeters dilated. Nope. In between contractions the nurse checked and I was 9 centimeters. 9! And part of me thinks she was lying and I was actually a 10, but she wanted me to wait to push till the doctor got there.

I pretty much knew right then that there would be no epidural, but that didn't stop me from begging for one in between each contraction. I hadn't even considered a natural birth, so I had no pain management plan, no positive affirmations, no coach, Joe wasn't even in the room with me. Earlier in labor I'd try to remind myself during each contraction that the pain is natural and that's how it's supposed to feel, but by the time we left for the hospital I was just cursing each contraction and willing them to stop. The thought of pushing through them without an epidural scared the crap out of me.

During each contraction I'd twist on my side and cling to the bed screaming or making dying-animal sounds, or crying that I can't do this. The nurses tried to calm me down and told me to breathe instead of screaming, but I'm pretty sure I just yelled at them to not touch me and begged for an epidural some more. One of the nurses was holding my legs together so I couldn't push, another nurse was getting the birthing mitts (in case she had to catch the baby before the on call doctor arrived), and the IV lady was trying to get me hooked up and telling me I couldn't move during my contractions. At one point Joe walked in to drop off my purse and I remember yelling at him to get Ez out of there. Having Ez see me like that was definitely the most stressful part of the day. I wish I could have controlled myself better in front of him, but those contractions had a mind of their own. I remember someone else asking me questions like my address and social security for the forms, which I somehow managed to answer in between contractions, while another nurse kept putting clipboards in front of me and showing me where to sign. What the heck I agreed to during that time I have no idea. 

Joe later told me he could hear me screaming from the lobby, which was not that close to the room I was in. If I had to describe what my contractions felt like, the closest thing I can think of is being sawed in half from the inside out. Completely different from Ez when I felt back labor.

Around 6 am the on call doctor showed up (much to the relief of the nurses, I'm sure). They put me in the stirrups, checked how dilated I was, and told me I could start pushing. I remember them trying to hold my knees back and me yelling at them to not touch me and to give me a minute (notice a theme here?) because my legs were cramping. Then my contractions slowed down slightly, and by 6:10 I was ready to start pushing. I pushed as hard as I could through the first contraction, and a small part of my brain was thinking how I couldn't do this without an epidural but then a much bigger part of my brain told me to just push as hard as I could and get this baby out so the contractions would stop. The idea of making the pain stop was hugely motivating to me, and is by far the biggest pro about not getting an epidural. I was on a mission. The next contraction I pushed hard enough to get his head out and immediately felt so much better. With the third contraction, at 6:20 am, the rest of his little body came out and he immediately started screaming. They put him on me for a few minutes before they cleaned him up and I could not stop marveling at the fact that he was actually there, in my arms. The nurse showed me his umbilical cord, which he'd somehow managed to tie into a knot, so perhaps that's why he was in such a hurry to get out?
Absolutely perfect.

The after birth was quick and painless, and the stitches sucked, but in relation to the contractions they were no big deal. It occurred to me I should probably let Joe know what had happened, and around 7, after I was cleaned up, Joe and Ez got to meet Declan. We finally discussed names, and after seeing him, we decided he was indeed a Declan (which is also the only name both Joe and I agreed on). So, at 6:20 am, after 2 hours and 10 minutes of labor, Declan Lawrence Craig made his fast and dramatic entrance into the world.

Brothers meeting for the first time. 

For Joe's sake, I'm sad he couldn't witness Declan's birth. I know he felt helpless having to wait in the lobby while I was in so much pain, but I was in my own world and there was nothing he could've done besides stand by and watch if he had been there. Plus Ez needed a lot of consoling by that point. Joe's mom never did make it down to pick Ez up since the whole thing happened so fast, so he was there for the entire thing. Declan clearly had his own agenda that day and we were all just along for the ride.

First pic of all my boys.

Since my delivery was the most exciting thing going on in the hospital that morning, or at least the loudest, all the nurses came up to me at one point or another during my stay to tell me their own labor stories. I already had a huge amount of respect for all women who go through labor, and especially long, drawn out natural labors, but now I definitely want to point out that all you moms are warriors. I didn't choose a natural labor, and I can't say I would do it again, but the mental resolve to get through it is pretty incredible. If you believe that God only gives you what you can handle, then I'm pretty sure there's a reason my labor was only two hours long. I was at my max by that point. Now that some time has passed, the whole experience is so surreal to me. It took awhile for me to register that Declan is actually here, on the outside. He got here so fast that even while I was holding him it didn't feel real.

A few random notes:

Pre-labor I remember being fascinated about whether or not any of those natural induction methods work. So, in case you're wondering, I didn't do a single thing to induce labor. No spicy foods, weird drink concoctions, citrus fruits...absolutely nada. I also didn't have my membranes swept. Doctors always tell you to walk a lot to get labor started, but instead I pretty much sat around on my couch doing nothing for the week leading up to labor. So while I can't say definitively that those methods don't work, I can say that your body will go into labor all on it's own without any outside help. After the way everything turned out, I'm a pretty firm believer that in regards to pregnancy and childbirth your body is gonna do what it wants to do and you have zero control over it.

As far as pre-labor symptoms go, I did feel some pms style cramps on and off for about a week before. There were one or two days with some fairly strong braxton hicks, but it never progressed. Also, my body was constantly cleaning itself out, if you get my drift, for about a week. Other than that, there was nothing that stood out to let me know I'd be going into labor that day, yet somehow, when I felt that first contraction, I knew it was the real deal and not braxton hicks.

A few differences between my medicated labor with Ez and this natural one: 
  • Several people have called this labor easier than Ez's just because it was faster. In reality, I would rate Ez's labor as much easier. Although I was in the hospital a lot longer, the pain of Declan's birth was unreal to me, and it was much more chaotic and stressful, especially since Ez had to witness a lot of it.
  • With Ez, Joe and the nurses kept telling me that his head was right there, but I couldn't feel it at all because of the epidural, which probably had a lot to do with why it took so long (2 hours) to push Ez out. With Declan, I could actually feel him being pushed out, so I didn't need as much guidance from the nurses, I just had to listen to my body. 
  • One nice thing about this labor is that I didn't puff up from being on an IV for days like I did with Ez. This time they barely had a chance to get an IV in before Declan was born, and they only left it in for a few hours.
  • With Ez all the blood vessels in my eyes burst after pushing for two hours. This time I pretty much looked like my normal (6 months pregnant) self right after.
  • Ez and I both went right to sleep after he was born, and I'm not sure if that had to do with the epidural, or how long it took to push him out, or the fact that he was born at 3 am. Declan and I were both pretty alert right afterward. I only slept maybe an hour or two in a 40 hour period and I felt fine. 
  • This recovery has been easier. With Ez I had an episiotomy and this time I tore so both times I needed stitches, but walking and sitting felt much more painful after Ez than this time. In fact, we left the hospital after just a day instead of two like we did with Ez. 
  • This isn't related to the actual labor, but one difference of having a second child vs. first is that Declan and I spent the night in the hospital by ourselves, since Joe was at home with Ez. While I'm a little sad for Joe that he didn't get as much early bonding time with Declan as he did with Ez, it was nice to have Declan all to myself for a little bit. 

Despite the loud, dramatic, speediness of his birth, Declan is actually a super laid back, mellow baby. He loves his pacifier, white noise, being rocked, sleeping on our chests, and, of course, mama's milk. He's a total sweetheart, and we're all completely in love (even Ez - most of the time). I know all mamas say this, but it really is true that I would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat for him. 

If you made it this far, thanks for following along on this super long and detailed post! 


  1. Movie status is right! I cannot even imagine delivering natural so hats off to you, it is incredible a woman's body can endure that! I think it is so amazing how you immediately feel happy and forgot about the pain and labor as soon as your child enters the world and you look so happy in the pictures! I am sure Ez will forget about the whole experience in the car especially having something exciting like a new baby bro! Congrats and Declan is precious!

  2. Wow! Crazy! I know SIL's 2nd happened so fast that she didn't have time for an epi (which she planned and wanted). I didn't want one the first time, but was on bed rest so I couldn't move when I had them. It happened pretty quick the first time (minus the waiting time of being induced) and he came out in about 15 minutes. So, hopefully next time will be just as fast!

  3. I love birth stories!! Isn't it amazing how our bodies just know what to do?! Do you feel more connected to joe after this birth since he had to make so many decisions & really take charge of everything while you were in labor? Oh & you only felt like you couldn't handle any more contractions bc you were likely in transition girlfriend!! When you start thinking you can't do it, that's when you are almost there!!! :) beautiful!

  4. You are one brave and strong mama! And what a cutie!

  5. Beautiful! Birthing stories are just those kind of stories, if you have had a child you GET it. If not, it's just an unrelatable tale. Big props to you momma!

  6. Awww! Such a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing :D

  7. Wow your birth story definitely sounds straight out of a movie! Congratulations though, Declan is gorgeous! I loved reading this though as I'm in the "do I want children or not because I'm TERRIFIED of labour" stage, but reading real life stories helps me a lot!

  8. Congrats. I just love reading birth stories. It sounds like you did an amazing job mama!

  9. Wow! Talk about intense!! I can't believe how fast he wanted to come out into the world!

  10. This is amazing. YOU are amazing! What a gorgeous baby! Congrats again, mama! Quite an accomplishment!

  11. What was a story
    Congrats from one Joni to another one

  12. KUDOS to you mama! What a story.
    I said it already but I love Declan's name :) and Ez's pictures with his baby brother are the sweetest!


  13. Oh he's a cute!!!! Congrats!!! I love reading birth stories, even though I'm not a mom yet and haven't thought of what I would do, I like reading everyone's experiences! ♥

  14. oh man - I laughed, I cried! I do love reading these birth stories. I've been excited to read it since I saw you posted it, just had to wait until I had a few seconds to rub together first. And, that is like my worst fear when I was pregnant. That it would just happen so fast and I wouldn't have time to even get to the hospital. And no epidural? dear Lord. I think you are right though, your body is just going to do what it needs to do when it wants to do it. Not much you can do to change that other than medical intervention. Nice about it being easier after this birth too.
    Congrats again =)

  15. Nina I love Declan's birth story! You truly had a labor of love lol. We went all natural with Logan and I remember pushing was the best part because you felt like you at least had a little control. I'm so happy for you guys and can't wait to meet the newest member of out family!!!

  16. Wow! What a fast and intense labor & delivery!! I love birth stories. :) I had Mason semi-natural. My anesthesiologist gave me a very low dose of medication in my epidural because I wanted to be able to feel a little bit. Then it wore off hours before I was ready to push and Mason was already too low down that the medicine wouldn't have time to work. Congrats on your new little man and becoming a family of 4!!

  17. oh my goodness, you and I had the EXACT same birth for our second kid, almost down to the timing too! Crazy, I feel EXACTLY the same way. In hind sight I wish I didn't scream as much, but NOTHING can prepare you for that, if you aren't expecting it...I thought epidural all the way, no questions...hehe. I am still slightly traumatized by the whole experience :)