Birth with an Unplanned Epidural:  The Birth Story of Henry 

My birth story begins on my husband Ryan’s and my 30th birthday (yes, we share the same birthday). I woke up feeling normal, and doubting that the baby would come anytime soon, as I was not due for another 3 days, and I was convinced this baby was going to come at around 41 weeks. I worked out that morning, and then worked from home most of the day. Around 3 pm, still feeling completely normal, I went to the bathroom and noticed that it seemed like I was “leaking” slowly. I told Ryan and we called the doctor and she said to just hang around and monitor to see if I still continue to leak. I was confused because I always imagined, if my water broke, that it would be a huge gush of water all over the floor. I decided to just rest on the couch, but was still convinced labor would not start and I wouldn’t be having the baby soon, as I felt no contractions, and still felt completely fine.

After cancelling our birthday dinner reservations, we were watching a movie, and I noticed slight cramping starting to begin. This was around 7pm, four hours after my water initially started leaking. My doctor knew that my wishes were for a “natural” birth, with no epidural if possible, so she told me to labor at home until my contractions were 1 minute long, two to three minutes apart. As the night went on, the contractions got worse. Ryan and I were very prepared from Sue’s class with different positions he could help me with; I also had some essential oils ready to go for him to massage on me. Well, let’s just say that when I was in the midst of labor, I wanted Ryan nowhere near me during contractions, as I just needed to breathe and walk around our condo and focus on my own.

I labored at home for 10 hours, and decided to head in to the hospital at 5am when I felt the contractions were two mins apart. I was fully convinced that I was probably around 7cm dilated because I was sure I could feel the baby’s head dropping very low, close to coming out. As we drove to the hospital, I was scared but also feeling good about my labor almost being over, given I got through the tough contractions for 10 hours.

In triage, I was devastated and felt defeated when they told me I was 3 cm dilated, and that it usually takes about an hour per cm. I wanted to cry. I thought - “how am I going to get through 7 more hours and also have energy to push out this baby?” I found myself getting anxiety and feeling very nervous and completely exhausted all at the same time. I started shaking. Ryan and I decided that I should get the epidural, because the main thing I continued to talk about was how much I wished I could just rest. Once the epidural was administered and took effect, I immediately felt calmer and stopped shaking. I was finally able to rest, which felt amazing, as I had been awake for the past 26 hours at this point.

The progression of my labor slowed, which is common with epidural. The hours passed by, with major updates. I wasn’t sad about that though, as my parents were en route from Cleveland, and I wanted them to get to the hospital before I started pushing. Finally, at around 5pm (11 hours after getting to the hospital), I was told I was ready to push. This was honestly the part I had feared the most, not only during labor but throughout my entire pregnancy as well. I was so scared, but that fear quickly diminished from all the support I received from the amazing nurses, Ryan, and my mom. They were cheering me on during the entire 2 hours that I pushed. Surprisingly, the two hours flew by. The next thing I know, the doctor tells me to stop pushing, and out comes a baby boy. I was completely shocked! During labor, I was convinced the baby was a girl.

Over a year later and I still remember my immediate feelings once the baby was out - relief, love, happiness, exhaustion, and even some sadness. Once my son, Henry, was finally on my chest and I was able to look at his beautiful face for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed with pure adoration for this tiny baby. I knew that the hard work of labor was more than worth it.

Although I didn’t get to follow through with all of my “birth wishes” (there were other things that had to change during labor/delivery/post delivery as well), I didn’t care. I did what I had to do to ensure both my son and I were healthy. Ever since my experience, I have had a newfound appreciation for what the woman’s body can do. It truly is amazing!