On August 5, 2018 at 9:03 AM, I became a Mom to our sweet baby girl, Ryleigh Gale. I still can’t believe I actually did it, I actually made it through pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby.
Today I’m sharing the most personal blog post to date, Ryleigh’s birth story. I didn’t know what to expect and nothing seemed worse than the thought of childbirth, but I have to tell you, I had such a positive labor and delivery experience. Recovery was a different story.
But I’m sharing it all. I’m not sparing many details, so if you’re worried about TMI, just click away now. Toward the end of my pregnancy, reading birth stories was one of the only things that put me at ease, so I want to share this for any of you expectant moms out there and tell you, its all gonna be alright. Reading that literally everyone had a different experience that they weren’t necessarily prepared for made me realize that what’s meant to be will be and at the end we’ll be meeting our baby.
Here we go.
If you were following me throughout the end of my pregnancy, you know that I had an induction scheduled for Thursday, August 2 (41w+1). We were told we’d get a call any time between 7pm-midnight letting us know when to come in. The minutes felt like months. Finally at 11:50pm, we figured this wasn’t happening, so we called labor and delivery (L&D). They told us there were 8 inductions ahead of us and I likely wouldn’t get a call until some time the following day or even the weekend, but we could call in the morning for an update. Well that wasn’t expected. Not only were we slightly let down when she didn’t come on her due date (I know it’s just an estimate, but we had been prepping for that date for 10 months), but here we were a week later assuming today was the definite day, just to be let down again.
We were so ready to meet her.
Friday, August 3 (41w+2).
We called in the morning, “there are still four inductions ahead of you, call us at noon.” We decided to distract ourselves and go see a movie (hadn’t done that in forever). So there I sat with my large popcorn, thinking when we left the movie, we may be told to come in! Noon rolled around, we called. “All inductions are suspended until further notice…” Excuse me, what? Further notice? I was over 41 weeks pregnant…we’ve only got 5 or so days to play with here. By this time, we were starting to get pretty frustrated. We called again at 8pm, received the same response.
Saturday, August 4 (41w+3).
I woke up and Will suggested I call L&D for the latest update. But I didn’t. The one doctor in my practice who I wasn’t the biggest fan of (because of comments he made about my weight earlier in pregnancy) was on call that day. I figured if I don’t call, they won’t call and we’ll push it to Sunday when we’d have a different doctor, what’s one more day. I was relaxing on the couch reading a book and Will was out mowing the grass when my phone rang. Even though we knew it’d be coming, those words “we’re ready for you to come in for your induction” left me speechless. It was time. A feeling of fright rushed over me. Will was in the garage, I opened the door and just looked at him. I literally couldn’t speak. Then finally, “I got the call” muttered out of my mouth. He rushed in to make me some food while I showered quickly.
There wasn’t the hustle and bustle associated with a traditional broken water, full on contraction filled car ride, just eerie silence on my end. I even started crying. I was trying to process that it was actually happening. I started psyching myself out, thinking I wasn’t ready for this. Will being the amazing husband he is, was calming me as best he could. He held my hand, told me he loved me and that I’m strong as hell and could do anything.
2:00PM: Arrived at the Hospital
We got checked into our room, it felt so big, but so small at the same time. I’ve never actually been admitted to a hospital in my adult life, so even changing into the gown and getting into the hospital bed felt strange. We had two nurses within the first two hours. They asked a lot of questions, I tried to keep my head straight. I had so much anxiety about the doctor and then he walked in. He said hello and all of that anxiety rushed away. I knew this man would likely be delivering my baby girl and I didn’t want any negative energy getting in the way of that and it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
He checked my cervix – 1/2 cm dilated….
Instead of starting off with Pitocin, they gave me Cytotec to ripen my cervix and see if that made any impact on my cervix.
At this point I still wasn’t feeling contractions, but they were seeing them on the monitor. They said at any point I could opt for the epidural, but I decided to hold off, especially since I wasn’t even feeling contractions – I thought “hey, maybe I can do this naturally!”
We had spent the previous few hours answering more questions from nurses, watching a show, and trying to nap. They actually allowed me to have dinner since I wasn’t on the pitocin yet. Will got me an avocado roll from the nearby Whole Foods. Doc came in shortly before 9PM to check progression. A whopping 1/2 cm more. We were now 1cm dilated. They started the pitocin drip to get things moving.
I felt a little bit of discomfort over the next few hours, but still nothing excruciating.
Sunday, August 5 (41W+4).
12:45AM Breaking my Water
Doc came in to check yet again. We were now at 3.5cm dilated and he decided it was time to break my water. Can we talk about the most uncomfortable situation. When I say fluid was gushing, I mean GUSHING for a good 30 minutes. The bed was soaked. I would get up to go to the bathroom and I gushed ALL OVER the floor. Poor Will. He was such a good sport. He changed the pad on the hospital bed at least 10 times, he helped me to the bathroom, wiped up my excessive body fluids off the floor and got me back into bed over and over for an hour.
You know those super cute comfy slippers I brought to the hospital, yep, soaked in body fluids…
I can’t imagine if my water actually broke in public. Maybe it came on stronger because the doctor broke it himself, but if this happened anywhere other than a hospital, I’d be mortified.
I couldn’t keep getting up to go to the bathroom, it was disgusting and uncomfortable. So in my attempt to no longer have to get up, I finally asked for the good stuff….
I wasn’t even experiencing pain at this point, it was more that I really wanted that catheter so I didn’t have to unplug myself and leak all over the place every 10 minutes to go to the bathroom. I was 5cm dilated, which I felt pretty good about. Things were progressing. Getting the epidural was more pain than I had experienced via contractions. It took them 30 minutes and the last 10 minutes were shit. I remember they had to keep telling me to breathe. Once it was complete, my left leg was completely numb, while I felt everything on my right side. They tried to adjust it a few times, but it kind of stayed that way. And at this point, I just wanted everyone to stop touching me and close my eyes.
2:50AM Dropping Heart Rate
We had managed to get some sleep up until this point. And then the nurse came in after monitoring me from outside my room saying my heart rate had dropped to 37 and that they needed to give me medication to counteract that because it could affect the baby. 37?? Could I even be alive with a heart rate at 37?? My heart rate had never gone below 60! They didn’t seem too concerned after they gave me meds, so they gave me a peanut ball to put between my legs to help the baby descend and told me to get some rest.
3:45AM 7CM Dilated.
& ready to be done.
6:00AM Fully Dilated.
Holy shit, it was really time. Although it had been close to 15 hours at this point, it still felt like it flew by. I didn’t even have time to play the two birthing playlists I made (one for pushing and one for calming) because it was so far from my mind. The nurse told us we were going to start pushing before the doctor came in. I had a nurse holding one leg and Will holding the other. They told me to push for 10 seconds, three times in a row. It didn’t hurt, thank you epidural. The doc came in on the second round and said we needed to stop because the baby was getting distressed and we needed to give her more time to descend. Back to sleep I went.
8:00AM More Pushing
Doc had told us he was off at 8AM, but that he planned on staying to deliver our baby and I never thought I’d be so happy to hear HIM say those words. I didn’t want to have to explain what was going on to a brand new doctor so late in the game. I appreciated this more than anything. We started pushing again. Then baby’s heart rate started to decline. This is when things got a little worrisome. Doc brought up using an extraction vacuum (and the associated risks such as bleeding in the brain) because the baby was sideways and needed to descend further. He also brought up potentially needing to perform an emergency c-section. It was hard not to think the worst between the risks of the vacuum (which couldn’t be used longer than 10 minutes) and an emergency c-section. He suggested we take another break to allow her to come down on her own one more time.
8:45AM The Final Push
Doc came back in and said this is the last time we would try pushing before we would need to actually entertain an emergency c-section. They brought in the NICU team, just incase things went south. I pushed three times. Nothing. At 9:00 exactly, the doctor said he was going to start the vacuum. I pushed another three times. I was ready for my break this time because I was exhausted.
I heard everyone say ONE MORE PUSH!
I thought what! No! I need the break!
Then I heard Will say “Come on baby, her head is out” (I’m crying as I write this).
I pushed with everything I had. And then at 9:03AM, 18 hours later, I heard OUR BABY crying. They immediately put her on my chest and I was in shock. Shocked at what I had just done. Shocked at how much I already loved this tiny human. All I remember is they said she just kept pooping on my stomach and they kept trying to clean it and I wasn’t even fazed. She was perfect. I knew at that moment I would literally have done anything in this world to get her here. I watched Will cut the umbilical cord and fell in love all over again.
As I’m holding our baby, the doctor is simultaneously telling me I had a deep second degree tear and that he was stitching me up. I totally forgot until Will asked about my placenta and when would I need to push that out. To our surprise, it was already out, I have no idea when that happened. I’ll spare you that photo :0
My parents had been waiting at the hospital since 6AM when we learned I was fully dilated, so Will went and got them right away to meet their first grandchild!
This was when we finally revealed her name.
Our first date was at a place called Ryleigh’s in Baltimore, so while we liked this name, it definitely had extra sentiment with that detail. My Great Grandfather’s name was Galen and my Grandmother’s middle name is Gale.
It was time for Ryleigh to get some tests and for me to try and go to the bathroom. I tried for 15 minutes and couldn’t pee. Due to the epidural, my bladder wasn’t accepting signals from my brain to go, so they needed to do a quick in and out catheter to empty my bladder. Then they moved us to recovery. I was holding my baby, taking her in what felt like the real world, even though it was just to another floor. I felt like my whole world was in my arms. I held her so tight and went between staring at her and staring at Will as they rolled me to my recovery room.
My parents went out and got us lunch (FINALLY GOT MY ITALIAN SUB) and it felt like the best thing I’d ever eaten. 15 hours without food and everything my body had gone through, I honestly would’ve devoured anything.
Since I was still feeling my epidural, the nurse had to insert a real catheter for the time being. I didn’t feel a thing because I was still numb.
I tried breastfeeding for the first time. HA. That was funny. And painful. I didn’t know what I was doing. She didn’t know what she was doing. The nurses didn’t seem to be too concerned since they knew she was tired and expected she’d just fall asleep.
Shortly after, my parents left, the nurses left. And then it was just Will and I with OUR BABY. It still felt insane to say. She was perfect and she was OURS. I really can’t express or put into words what this feeling of ultimate love is. I was always worried I wouldn’t feel anything when she was born. I wasn’t sure I’d have that maternal feeling. Well, I an assure you, that feeling and so much more rushed over me that day.
We made it through our first night with Ryleigh. As my epidural started to wear off, I started to feel the pain of recovery. I couldn’t get up to see our baby (who was a foot away from me in our room) because I was in so much pain. The next morning, they tried to see if I could go to the bathroom on my own and I failed again. So they needed to remove and insert another catheter.
HOLY HELL I HAVE NEVER FELT PAIN LIKE THIS IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. There were three nurses who had to hold me down because I legit wasn’t allowing them to touch me. I was so swollen and sore down below and the first two nurses poked too many times in the wrong places. Will even said he’s never heard me make the noises I made during those 20ish minutes of hell. When someone asks me about the pain of childbirth, I will always say the recovery was 10x the pain that childbirth ever was.
Recovery got better as the hours went on. By day two we were packing up to make our trek home with our little one. Everything had changed and we couldn’t be happier or more in love.
Ryleigh Gale, you’re the best thing we’ve ever done. While we can’t wait to watch you grow up, we don’t want you to grow too fast. You’ve changed our hearts and lives for the better, and our love for you is unlike anything we’ve ever known. Welcome to the world and thank you for expanding our family, baby girl.
If you have any questions about labor and delivery, please leave them in the comments below!