It’s been just about two months since our darling boy Nathaniel Stellan Gomes entered our lives and every day since has been a dream. He is truly such a sweet, calm and happy baby. We are SO lucky!
I meant to write his birth story weeks ago, but #newmomlife has kept me pretty busy!
So where to begin…
Those of you who keep up with my Instagram know that Nate was pretty comfy in my tummy! My due date of August 30th came and went and before we knew it I was nearly 41 weeks and still pregnant. Nate eventually decided to make his arrival on September 5th 2020 at 40 weeks 6 days, but omg those 6 days past my due date felt like YEARS. It was so hard not to feel anxious and discouraged. My OB offered me an induction, but I decided to decline since there wasn’t a legitimate medical reason to do it other than him just taking his sweet time.
^ snapped on our due date August 30th– little did we know Nate wouldn’t arrive for 6 more days!
I woke up the morning of Friday September 4th with light cramping and lower back pain. I’d had aches and back pain here and there throughout my pregnancy, but this time it just felt different. Like it was very consistent and I felt it in any position I moved. Since we were on major baby watch at that point, I knew that these had to be pre-labor pains.
I conveniently already had an OB appointment scheduled for that morning where I was going to be getting a non-stress test and ultrasound, so around 10AM we made our way there to find out I was almost 2cm dilated and Nate would likely be making his arrival within the next day or so. FINALLY! At that appointment I had my OB do a membrane sweep in hopes it would help speed along my progress and get labor underway. She told us that for next steps we should just go home and relax and hopefully stronger contractions would begin to happen.
One thing I never realized was that for some women the pre-labor stage is long and can span more than a day. I always had this scenario in my head that once I started feeling any type of labor pains, it would only be a 24 hour process before I’d meet my baby. I never prepared for the initial stage leading up to heading to the hospital to be long.
Over the course of the day and that evening my lower back pain and cramps gradually increased to the point of being excruciating. Pretty much the only position where I could feel any relief in my back was sitting on my big bouncy yoga ball. Throughout all of this we were timing my contractions and I was doing the deep breathing exercises that I learned from The Positive Birth Company’s labor prep course, but nearly 20+ hours passed and my contractions still had yet to get very consistent.
During this time I was texting with my postpartum doula Jayne and we realized that despite my pain, I likely still wasn’t dilated enough to go to the hospital. I continued laboring throughout the contractions and back pain, before we finally decided to head to the hospital. I think it was around 1:30AM.
^ trying to breath through contractions and back pain in the hospital triage room
Long story short: I still wasn’t dilated enough to be admitted for labor. I couldn’t believe that despite my pain, I was still just 2cm dilated. To this day I’m in disbelief that I wasn’t more dilated. The hospital gave us two options: we could stay in the hospital triage room in hopes I would progress to 4cm and they could admit me, or we could head home and come back once my contractions were stronger.
As much as it sucked having to get back in the car, we opted to go home. I knew there was no way I’d be able to relax enough or get any rest in that room. Typically the hospital would allow laboring moms to walk the halls if they weren’t dilated enough for admission, but due to Covid-19 we couldn’t leave the triage room.
So we made our way home and I spent the next six hours trying my best to labor through the pain. The goal was to try and fall asleep (at that point I’d been awake for 24 hours) but the pain was just so bad and my adrenaline was just too high. Even if I hadn’t been in such pain, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to relax enough to doze off. I was just so excited to meet my baby!
We made our way back to the hospital around 6AM because I reached a point where I was just so exhausted and in such pain that it didn’t matter whether I was at home or in the hospital triage room. By this point I had also made the decision that I was going to get the epidural.
I had always hoped I might be able to give birth unmedicated, but the lower back pain combined with being awake for over 24 hours– I knew there was absolutely no way I was going to have the energy I needed to feel confident going into labor. I thought I would be more bummed about opting for a medicated birth, but in the moment the only thing I cared about was getting rest and relief. Even looking back now I have no regrets about my decision.
You guys won’t believe this, but when I was examined again in the hospital triage room I was only 3cm dilated. Just 3cm!!! I had to be 4-5cm to be admitted for labor. I almost lost it. Thankfully the staff felt so bad for me that they ended up admitting us anyway. Knowing I’d be able to get the epidural soon was music to my ears!
From there we were escorted to our birthing suite and within 20 minutes the anesthesiologist was there ready to administer the epidural. Honestly it was not bad at all! I’m personally not that freaked out by needles and never even saw what it looked like. I was in so much pain from my contractions that the pinch of the needle felt like nothing. It was over within seconds!
One of the most common questions I’ve gotten since Nate’s birth is about the items I actually ended up using from the bag I packed for the hospital. I feel a bit silly now because I hardly used anything. Once I got the epidural (I think it was around 7:30AM) I completely passed out. Honestly the whole leading-up-to-labor portion of the hospital experience was a blur because at the start I was in so much pain and then I slept just up until it was time to push. So crazy!
My experience with the epidural was very positive. At first it freaked me out that I couldn’t feel my lower body. I kept asking Nick to massage my legs just so I could try to feel something. It was the weirdest thing! I also wasn’t too jazzed about the fact that I was basically stuck laying in bed until Nate’s arrival. I mean, you’re entirely numb. Walking anywhere, eating solid food (liquids only if you get epidural) or going to the bathroom yourself isn’t an option. They also gave me a catheter to pee (didn’t feel a thing– again totally numb.) But those aspects aside, the epidural gave me nearly instant pain relief and allowed me to relax enough to finally fall ASLEEP and regain my strength.
^ you’ll never take a deeper nap than an epidural nap LOL
When I woke up from the world’s longest epidural nap I felt so refreshed and excited. While I was asleep I’d completely progressed to nearly 10cm dilated and I didn’t feel any of it! THANK YOU epidural.
Shortly after I woke up, I began feeling incredibly nauseated. I knew right away this meant that I had entered the transition phase of active labor. This is the point in labor when your body progresses from 7cm-10cm aka gearing up for PUSH TIME. Looking back, I’m so glad that I took an educational birth course that explained all the phases of labor because instead of feeling freaked or scared by my nausea– I actually felt excited and happy because I knew it was completely normal. I ended up throwing up in a pee tray that Nick quickly grabbed– hubby for the win!
My transition phase went by in the blink of an eye. I feel like within minutes after throwing up, our care team of nurses and my OB were scurrying in and prepping me to push. It all went by so fast and I honestly thought I’d be more self-conscious and embarrassed about having a whole lotta people being able to see me in such a vulnerable position, but it’s true that you completely leave your dignity at the door when you go to give birth. I literally could not have cared less who or how many people were there in the room. I was just so excited to get the ball rolling and meet my baby!
Our labor and delivery nurses were absolute angels. They coached and cheered me on the entire time letting me know when to take a big breath and counting down all of my pushes. Their positivity just radiated around the room. I remember feeling so empowered. All my fear of hospital intervention and something going “wrong” during delivery completely went out the window in those moments. From the start I knew everything was going to be OK and that as long as I stayed relaxed and followed their coaching instructions– Nate would soon be in my arms.
So where was Nick in all of this? Our nurses had him get right in the action! He held my left leg the entire time I was pushing and was my biggest motivator. His sweet nurturing side really came out. I couldn’t have done it without him and I’m so proud that he didn’t get squeamish! That was his one fear– that he wasn’t going to be able to handle seeing any blood or anything crazy, but he was right down there with our OB and literally saw it all. Honestly he was such a pro! He also cut Nate’s cord!
So pushing was kinda strange! It wasn’t really “pushing” per se because I couldn’t feel my lower body. I knew something was going on down there, but it honestly just felt like pressure. I would describe pushing more as a deep lower ab crunch–at least that’s how it felt to me and what I tried my best to do when our nurses told me to push. The act of pushing reminded me a lot of an ab exercise that you would do in a reformer-style pilates class. I never felt pain once!
OK so this may be gross to bring up, but I feel like this is a huge fear that so many women have about giving birth: POOPING. I honestly wasn’t that concerned about it happening and never even thought about it in the moment (literally it will be the last thing on your mind) but I remember asking Nick afterwards and yes, I did a little! He said there was a teeny bit at one point, but there were so many other fluids and stuff happening that it wasn’t like a noticeable thing. Also the nurses are SO quick to clean and wipe away anything like that. These women have SEEN IT ALL and it’s not something that should be a big deal or on your mind leading up to birth. Sorry for the TMI!!!
A note on masks! The only time I wore a mask in the hospital was when we first arrived and walked up to the labor & delivery floor. I don’t remember when I took it off, but it must have been at some point pre-epidural in the triage room when we were checking in. I was very grateful that over the course of the next two days no one ever pointed it out or asked me to put it back on. Nick removed his mask once we checked into our birthing suite and wore it anytime he had to leave the room. The staff thankfully did not require him to wear it while I was pushing. Being able to see his expressions and smile during that time meant everything to me.
I feel like the push phase of labor ended as quickly as it started! In just over an hour Nate was in my arms. It was so surreal. I just couldn’t believe that this sweet pink smushy baby was mine and that he was so big and HEALTHY. You may recall that we had a pregnancy scare and that there was no way for us to know if any of the concerns from Nate’s ultrasounds would affect him at birth. We are so grateful that God blessed us with a perfectly healthy and robust 8lb 10oz baby boy!
The entire golden hour (the first hour after birth) I was in baby heaven so I don’t remember many specifics other than that Nate latched and nursed within a few minutes after they put him on my chest. LOL lil man came out hungryyyyyy. I think I also told Nate that I was so proud of him and that “we did it!” Nick cried!
During this time my OB got me all squared away “down there.” Again, didn’t feel a thing! I was thrilled when she told all I had were a few small cosmetic tears not worthy of being assigned any level of degree. PS I plan on expanding on the things I did to help prevent tearing in a follow up post later this week.
These last few weeks have been such a happy blur and I absolutely love being Nate’s mom! I’ll admit that I was a little worried that I wouldn’t have a “motherly” instinct and that caring for Nate wouldn’t come naturally to me. I literally could count on one hand how many times in my life I’d held a baby, so the anxiety leading up to Nate’s birth was real. But I have to tell you– the second they put him in my arms that all went away! I just felt such an overwhelming love and was on such a high from labor that all the worries disappeared. I just felt like Nate and I “clicked” instantly. There was no way that we wouldn’t figure it out 🙂
Nate was born at 9:15PM so we spent that night and the following day in the hospital just the three of us. Honestly I was really grateful for the hospital’s Covid-19 policy of no visitors. It allowed us to really bond as a family and for Nick and I to soak up all the love with our boy. Looking back I definitely would not have had the energy to introduce our new baby to family or friends during those first 48 hours. We were so exhausted and just trying to learn as much as we could from the nurses about how to care for this new tiny human.
Speaking of a tiny human… I can’t believe how small Nate is in these photos! I feel like he’s grown so much in just seven weeks–it’s crazy! Some of his newborn clothing is even staring to get tight. It’s true that the days are long but the weeks are short! I wish I could pause time and keep him little forever. This new phase of life has been a dream so far and I wouldn’t change a thing about Nate’s birth (well, maybe I could’ve done without that back labor…) or these first few weeks of parenthood. He is just the most precious little boy and I feel so blessed to be his mama!