This is my story throughout my first pregnancy, labor, and delivery experience. It is raw and it is super real—this might be considered TMI, but I know I wish I found real stories of this journey when I was researching these topics while trying to prepare myself for what was to come.
Due to the military lifestyle, my husband and I tried to time this pregnancy so he would most likely be home for the whole process. I was worried that we wouldn’t conceive quickly after being on birth control pills for several years. I got off the pill a couple months before my husband got home for deployment so my body could regulate without the pill. Every person responds differently with this stuff, but seemed to run smoothly for me. We actively tried for our baby only one week and then played the waiting game. I took my first pregnancy test a couple weeks later (the longest few days of my life). The test was negative! BUMMER. But, I was still hopeful, so I re-took the test a couple days later… Just. In. Case. The dang line was SO faint, but it read positive! We were still on pins and needles wondering if it were real or not, so of course I got the digital test that either read pregnant or not pregnant. Yep! The digital tests read, “Pregnant”.
The weeks flew by as I took the weekly bump photos. I didn’t have any morning sickness, but I did have a pretty mean sciatica phase during the entire pregnancy. I craved Sonic’s Half Sweet Tea/Half Unsweet Tea Route 44 drinks with the crushed ice in the hot and humid summer days in Tennessee— oh yeah and Spicy Chicken Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches until heartburn kicked in. Other than that, the pregnancy was smooth sailing, I was that really annoying girl who had the perfect pregnancy while others were suffering from puking their guts out and having horror stories of their bad experiences.
At the end of week 38, things got more uncomfortable and very interesting. I knew I was nearing the end of pregnancy and the beginning of Labor and Delivery. Before, I dreaded the delivery, sounds terrifying! But towards then end, it’s more like, “I can’t wait to sleep on my stomach, get this baby out of me” feeling.
At the doctor appointment a couple weeks before my due date, I found out I was 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced. My mom was thinking it’s go time soon but doc didn’t seem concerned. I went on a steroid called Dexamethasone to boost my low platelets so I wouldn’t hemmorage during delivery. We unfortunately planned and scheduled an induction a couple days before my due date so my platelets were at the peak of height. I prayed and prayed that our baby girl would come on her own, naturally, so I didn’t have to be induced. I just felt guilty and reluctant about it.
I went for my routine doctor appt a few days before my induction date and all was well. The doc only did an ultrasound, didn’t check my dilation progress. At this point my mom and dad already flew into Nashville just to stick around town in case I wanted them near. My military ID was about to expire in the next couple weeks, so I decided I would do my hair and make up the day of my appt and knock out both the appt and the renewal of my ID while I was on post. On my way home, with my shiny new ID card, I started to feel like I should have already had my hospital bag put in the car. I get home and was texting my mom seeing where about they were because I felt a nap coming on and obviously didn’t want any interruptions haha! I got into the house and grabbed an ice pack to cool down and help my fatigue, wrapped it in a paper towel and sat down on the couch. GUSH. That couldn’t be my water breaking… COULD IT?! I dropped to the floor in hope that I wouldn’t make a mess on the couch, grabbed that paper towel from the ice pack and soaked up what I could. BAM. Contractions were hitting hard and consistent. Okay, they weren’t joking around when they say that you’ll know when you have real labor contractions (and not those Braxton-Hicks ones). They hit hard! I couldn’t move, think, or breathe. But oddly I was so stoked it was finally happening! Timing them on an app, well trying to.
I called my husband at work and just said, “my water just broke” and then click. Hung up. Haha! In between contractions, I texted my parents and called the L&D to tell them I was coming in! Perfect timing, my parents arrived at the house, then my husband came in. Had the hospital bag and car seat in the car, then grabbed a plastic trash bag to line my seat (gotta keep that car clean, duh). Got through the gate on post very quickly because we had that awesome scene like in movies when the guy says to the officer, “my wife’s in LABOR!” So cool. As I was being pushed in a wheel chair up to the second floor of the hospital, I vaguely remember people looking in excitement and one person saying, “someone’s about to have a baby!”
It hit me, OMG I am about to have our baby!!! I didn’t even get to go have my mani/pedi, ugh. While still in horrid, unimaginable pain, I had some excitement inside that I couldn’t share due to the fact it would require breath to speak out loud. Which I could just not do.
My prayers were answered, since my water broke naturally without being induced, I was clearly admitted into L&D without that whole being sent home because your contractions are too far apart thing that some girls have to hear. They ask a series of questions I don’t even remember before stripping down to enter the delivery room.
Unexpected things happen at this point in the whole process. Both my parents were in the delivery room along with my husband of course. You see like a hundred different nurses come in and out of the room. You have your favorites, and you love them, and you want to send them Christmas cards, then they disappear and you have a new person. But you just have to roll with it. I luckily got an epidural, which you have to sit very still for and they make it sound really scary, so that was cool. But in reality it was the LEAST of my worries. I don’t recall feeling any of that needle injection. THE HEAVENS OPENED. I’m on cloud nine with this thing. I give some very extravagant applause to those women who have babies naturally. Contractions are totally not cool. At this point, I’m snapping pics with my husband and giving thumbs up and napping and feeling so good about this!
No. Wrong. Uh-uh. I get checked, the dilation process took a bit to get to push time. When push time came I wanted to die. My husband is there holding one of my legs THE ENTIRE TIME mind you. Everyone is saying, “push, push, push harder, good job, almost there, push, push, you’ve got this” blah blah blah. If I heard the word, “push” ONE more time… I swear. I will cut you.
After 3.5 long hours of p-u-s-h-i-n-g, it was time for some assistance. My lovely doctor whom is my ultimate favorite ever— suggested we try the vacuum assist. We agreed to try it with no hesitation after learning about it and the scary, weird forceps spoon things in a delivery class we attended prior. POP! The baby has too much hair, so it kept popping off! Once again, if I heard that vacuum pop off one more time… I swear. I will cut you, doc. POP! Didn’t work! So the next suggestion, was of course those scary, weird forceps spoon things. Ugh, I would do anything at this point to get this baby girl out of me! It was better than an emergency C-section in my opinion, so we agreed. I don’t even know how long they tried those for, but the forceps did the trick!
Baby girl came out! I felt a huge relief on my body and heart and soul. She’s here! She’s safe! She’s healthy! She’s perfect! I was drained. This is where the bad stuff happens, for me anyways. They scraped out the placenta, and all the other gross stuff. I lost about 800mL of blood (about 2 pints), I had a 4th degree laceration (a tear from one hole to the other if ya know what I mean), too many stitches to count, and I swear I got a bruised tailbone from pushing. My whole body was swollen and felt like it was going to just pop! But the good thing was that I was now on the road to recovery. After the most awesome sight of my husband, now AKA daddy, holding our sweet baby girl skin to skin… my heart was so completely full! I let him do the first honors of holding her, and wiping her down for her first “bath” while I got stitched up.
Seriously, I wish we had the Go-Pro strapped to my husband and rolling the whole time. I so wish I had that whole 14 hours on video because it’s like the wedding day (how you can’t remember any details about it because of all the activity).
More unexpected things after that side of the process:
Breastfeeding was challenging even after reading all about it and feeling so confident. My baby wasn’t latching very well. Bummer. I kept trying and trying and trying. She did well using the nipple shield. I was not giving up, I did NOT want to use formula. I’ve got this! Lactation nurses kept coming in to help me with techniques and all that stuff. She latched here and there enough to be satisfied for a bit.
After getting to come home 3 days after being admitted to L&D, it was time to get used to this tiny little human. Continuing to try to get her to latch, it was frustrating each time she cried bc she couldn’t. It was frustrating feeling like I was failing. I ended up pumping to at least keep up the dreamy amount of colostrum and breast milk. It was like striking gold with the large supply I had! I envisioned my freezer stocked full of milk with the amount I was producing. So the pumping was working very well for the first couple weeks. My mother stayed and my dad flew back home. During this week, I had fevers, so my mom and husband insisted on taking me to the ER, I ended up getting mastitis (an infection in the breast). My milk supply took a beating so I took Moringa and Fenugreek herbal supplements to boost my production again. I was still trying to pump and pump, but no luck. I was still very tired and could barely move from my stitches and swelling of my legs. But, I kept pressing on. I couldn’t fail! After all my hard work and remedies, I could not get enough milk to feed my baby. I had to give her formula. I hated myself. But what a dumb thing of me to feel, she’s thriving and is her most healthy self, and that is ALL that matters. So forget the sad feelings about pathetic failure, my baby is doing great with formula!
My mom and mother-in-law left, and our little family started our first week alone.
My husband’s two week paternity leave now came to an end and I was home for the very first time alone with our sweet baby girl. I was in so much chest pain, I was sleeping on the couch each night so I could stay sitting upright, which was the least painful way to be. I ended up going to the ER again (good thing this place was like a fancy hotel, it was the nicest ER ever). Pneumonia. What?! How do I have pneumonia after mastitis, seriously annoying. I’m trying to learn how to be a new mom here, can I catch a fever less break please? Okay, antibiotics for the win again. Mom finally goes home and we are on the road to recovery again. A week later I was still having chest pains and sleeping on the couch with unbearably sharp pains STILL. What the heck dude, it hurts to breathe. So one night I hesitantly tell my husband I might wanna go into to the ER (after I refused to when he suggested it days ago)… oops, okay maybe you’re right hubby. I was scared I was going to straight up suffocate it hurt so bad. My poor husband was being such a trooper, taking care of both his girl while dog tired. We are sitting in the ER while he’s feeding the baby, falling asleep in the most uncomfortable chair ever. He had a 24 hour shift that next morning, so he was not stoked about this situation. The doc ordered a CT scan and asks me if I would be okay with being hospitalized if needed. I said, “uhh, not ideal, I ain’t got time for this!” But obviously would if needed. Results came back, I had multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Otherwise known as blood clots in the lungs. I sure enough was admitted to the ICU on post. My frantic mother got on the next flight out to help.
*Side note, she’s like the best super mom in the whole world and I hope to one day be half as awesome as she is.
My grandparents were already on their road trip to come meet their brand new first great grandchild. Luckily the timing was perfect because little did we know, my husband was about to need all hands on deck to help with the baby. I was transferred to Vanderbilt ICU the next day via ambulance. I was in Vanderbilt for a week and away from my baby girl the whole time. Total suck fest.
My blood clots most likely formed in my feet and was said to be caused by postpartum clotting. Blood clots are common after birth, but these were a little more dramatic. I had several very large clots that travelled through my heart into my lungs without killing me. No wonder I felt like I was going to suffocate. I am thankful, so very thankful for surviving. I have to give myself a blood thinner shot called Lovenox twice a day for 3-6 months to break down the clots. I’m nearing the end of month 3 now and will be scheduling another CT scan to see the clots and their progress.
I will most likely do a C-Section because of my laceration, and blood loss. Unfortunately I’ll also have to do the Lovenox shot during and after pregnancy for a total of 12 months minimum— to prevent the possibility of pulmonary embolism issues next time.
It has been a crazy journey that I never could have even imagined since the day I found out I was pregnant. I would not have expected or even known to research some of the things that happened. The complete raw story is to share in hopes that I can help encourage anyone who might end up having a story similar to mine. I cried A LOT. And I felt like a failure before my baby even turned 4 weeks old. Not the easiest or best start to motherhood, but I believe it made me stronger, more thankful, and more inspired. This event changed my life and makes me so glad to be ALIVE!
If your made it all the way to the end of my short novel (oops), thank you for reading. I appreciate everyone who said a prayer or kept me in their thoughts, believe me it helped. This was a very hard thing for me to go through, especially living on the other side of the country from my friends and family.
Always remember everyone has a story, so continue to be encouraging because you never know their whole story.
I leave you with this:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 | “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”