My Birth Experience With Gio – The Perfect Day

Baby | May 16, 2014

My son, Gio, was born on December 6th, 2013 at 4.38 am

I was due on December 11, so he was 5 days early. My husband and I had gone to the doctor for my 39 week check up. Everything was normal. She checked how dilated I was and it was 1 cm. I asked her if that meant I was going to be late. I had read that for many moms who were giving birth for the first time, they went past the due date. My doctor said there was no way of telling. 1 cm was average for 39 weeks. She had had patients who weren’t dilated at all, and had given birth 2 days after. So I had no clue.

IMG_7967Gio was head down, so that was a great sign. I had explained to my doctor throughout the past 39 weeks that I wanted a natural birth. I had hired a doula (for those that don’t know, a doula is like a midwife but without the medical credentials. Someone that can basically help you through the whole birth process. Most people hire them if they are going to have a natural birth without an epidural so that they can show the mom what positions to get into to alleviate the pain and so on. They are not licensed to deliver a baby). My doctor was on board with everything. So finding out that Gio had turned and was head down was a great sign and I was feeling confident about it all.

Towards the end of my visit, I mentioned that I wanted her to check my amniotic fluid. For the past 5 days I had felt more wet than usual and I wanted to make sure nothing had ruptured. She sent me to the hospital next door so they could do some real tests in the lab. They gave me a hospital gown and laid me down on one of their beds. They took a swab and told me they would let me know within 20 mins if it was amniotic fluid or not. Meanwhile, they hooked me up so they could monitor Gio’s heart rate.

After 10 mins or so, I heard this beeping sound. Sounded scary. I looked at the screen and Gio’s heart rate had dropped. I didn’t freak out. I read every book there was on pregnancy and child birth. I also spent every day reading other women’s birth stories on baby center and I knew that it wasn’t anything to worry about. See, when you are that far along, the baby is growing and there is little room to move in there, so it’s only natural that every now and then they will bump into the umbilical cord, or even pull or sit on it. When that happens, it affects their heart rate. So I thought surely this must have been the case, because not one time in all visits I’ve had, did we see any issue with his heart rate.

birth 1The nurses came in and moved me a bit, and everything was back to normal. But because that happened, they told me now they had to monitor me for at least an hour or an hour and a half to make sure it didn’t happen again. The results came back on the amniotic fluid test and it was negative, meaning I wasn’t leaking. So that was great! I waited an hour and right when I was getting up and getting ready to remove the wires, Gio’s heart rate dropped again. Sigh…. They called my doctor in and she wanted to proceed with a C section.

See here’s the thing I have learned about hospital births in United States. They LOVE protecting themselves from any possible lawsuits whatsoever. To the point where if they see the slightest little thing that doesn’t look exactly the way they want it to, they opt for C section. And I understand to an extent, because they don’t want to take any chances. But I think when it comes to making that kind of decision, the patient’s pregnancy should really be considered. Here I was, 39 weeks pregnant, with never a problem or issue; never a drop in heart rate; passed all sorts of tests with flying colors; no signs of distress, nothing. And to put me in for a c section based on the heart rate dropping for a second I thought was a bit extreme. I, more so than anyone else, wouldn’t put my child or myself at risk. I wanted my child to be healthy more than anyone in that room. So when I heard “C-section” i said no. I told her I trusted my gut feeling and my body, and I just simply wasn’t ready to deliver him. I asked her if heart rate drops are normal this far along, and she said yes. But that she wanted to have a c section so that we wouldn’t risk at all. I asked her what kind of percentage of a risk are we talking about? She said she couldn’t give me an exact number but that it was probably less than 1 %. I told her “Then I will take my chances”.

birth 2So they reasoned with me. They told me they wanted to monitor me overnight. I agreed. I just didn’t want to be cut open earlier than necessary. If I truly felt like my son wasn’t breathing right, and that monitor was showing it dropping often, I would be the first to cut my damn self open If I had to. But I knew that wasn’t the case. Heck, if it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted my amniotic fluid checked, we wouldn’t have been there to begin with. God knows how many times his heart rate had dropped throughout my pregnancy and we knew nothing of it. And guess what, we were OK! I just had to trust my instincts.

The next morning I was scheduled for an ultrasound. I passed it again. It came back very very good. I had enough fluid, Gio was still head down, no umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and everything was ok. I was waiting to hear from my doctor to release me. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but we ended up waiting 5 hours. Then the Ultrasound lady came and said she had missed something before. And she said it would be best if I just stayed and had the baby. That sounded weird. And I expressed that to her. “How is it that 5 hours ago everything looked perfect. But as soon as I’m ready to leave you guys found something?” She said my placenta had finished doing its job and it was basically not doing anything anymore. I’m not a doctor, but I did do quite a lot of research the whole 9 months I was pregnant, and I had read that for most women, when the placenta is done, your body goes into labor. Some women’s bodies are different and perhaps maybe I was one of them, but it just didn’t feel like it. I asked her to send my doctor in.

We waited a few hours and my doctor finally came.  I told her I did not want to have a c-section and that I needed proof in order to convince me to do so. The monitor was showing a normal heart rate, ultrasound was good, so I needed something concrete to push me toward the C-section route. She negotiated with me. We decided I was going to spend another night in the hospital and if I hadn’t dilated any more, she would strip my membrane (I told her I didn’t want to take pitocin – a drug used to induce you). What a night! I went from having a complete birth plan, normal, everything ok, to having to possibly be induced. (Check out Egreis Gjergjani Birth Plan to see details). My goodness! I cried and cried and cried for hours. My poor husband and my in laws were trying to comfort me. I just couldn’t understand how things can go the other way so quickly. Now granted, I am a bit OCD and I’m a huge planner/organizer (must be the Capricorn in me). So part of me feeling that way was my fault. I have yet to learn to accept it when things just don’t go as planned. Especially when it comes to child birth. Some things you just can’t control. What your body does is not up to you at that point. So I spent the remainder of the night reasoning with myself and trying to accept whatever was coming. I finally felt relaxed.

birth 3I had hired a birth photographer, Morgan Lang, to capture my entire birth experience. I texted her when all of this was going on to keep her updated, in case I did have to go in for a sudden birth. She came to the hospital, along with my doula, and we basically  set out a plan for the next few hours. I told them to go home that night because there was no way I was going to give birth. I was only 1.5 cm dilated. I wasn’t going to get induced. So looked like it would be the next morning at the very least.

It was 11 pm when my hubby finally fell asleep. I felt so badly for him. He had been up for 2 days straight, next to me, in that hospital. I’m not a fan of hospitals in general. I hate the smell and the overall aura. Even though this was a great, great, new facility. I had a new room, with a bathtub in it, and couldn’t really ask for anything better to be honest. I couldn’t complain. My husband passed out. I was too nervous to fall asleep. Exactly 15 mins later I felt a contraction. I had experienced plenty of contractions before. None of them were painful though. This one was a bit more than usual. A few minutes after that, I felt another. Again, stronger than the previous one. And 2 minutes after I felt the third one, and this one….well, let’s just say it made me get out of bed.

I called my husband’s name. He was too passed out to hear me. So I yelled! I’ll never forget  his face and how quickly he got up when he heard me. It was funny but cute at the same time. “Call the nurse” I said. Next thing you know water is running down my legs. I thought for sure this is my water breaking. Nurse came in, checked, and said “No, just a contraction”. Then she checked if i had dilated any more, and I was at 2 cm. I texted my photographer and doula and updated them. Told them they should come to the hospital around 5 am cuz most likely I will deliver then if this keeps up.

birth 4I laid back down and at 1 am I woke up in extreme pain. I had read and heard about contractions and how painful they could be, but boy I had no idea they would be THIS bad! It was unbelievable. The kind of pain that literally makes you hold your breath and look up and wish to God for it to be over, ASAP. I felt the need to push for some reason. I knew that meant it was GO time. I was in tears. I don’t know how some women say it wasn’t painful for them. If you are one of them….my God, you are BLESSED! Cuz I don’t think I have ever felt that kind of pain before. They checked me and I was 5 cm dilated. So I had gone from 2 to 5 within 3 hours. At one point I felt like I was literally going to pass out. I grabbed my husband by his shirt and I said “Get me the epidural”. He looked at me and he goes “babe is this one of those tests…where you ask me for it but I say no, and try to help you not think about it?” I just gave him that look. “Jeremy, you don’t get me this epidural you will regret it”. He just looked at me and then yelled “NURSE!” Now that I think about it, it was funny. But at that moment, I kid you not, I was about to just fall over and pass out.

Contractions were coming in every minute. We called my doula and told her to come. My body was processing this whole thing super quickly and it wasn’t giving the contractions a chance to build up. I went from none basically, to full on transition phase. Thank God, I hadn’t missed the window to get the epidural. I was pretty close to it. But I think they felt bad not to give me one, considering how much I was crying and screaming.

They said the whole process of giving me the epidural and it kicking in would take 20 mins. Knowing my contractions were coming in every minute, I calculated that would be 20 contractions later. That felt like the LONGEST 20 minutes I have ever experienced. But when it finally did kick in, it felt SO much better. Within 30 minutes I was 9.5 – 10 cm dilated. Ready to give birth.

birth 7It was 4.20 am. My nurse told me the lady next door was also at 10cm dilated and there was only one doctor on call. So I thought, “Great! Another obstacle”. Normally, I’m such a positive person. I always, always push myself to think of the positive things that could happen instead of the negative. But at that moment I just couldn’t do it. I felt overwhelmed. The doctor that was going to deliver my son wasn’t the one I had gone to for the past 9 months. So that was scary. Nothing about my plan had gone the way I had thought it would.  My doula that I had hired to be there, had just gotten in there, so she had missed the entire process which is when I would have needed her help the most; i got an epidural when I thought I would be the last person to get one…so just all of that was too much for me to handle. On top of that I was getting the shivers from the epidural and my whole body was just shaking uncontrollably and I remember it being VERY cold. One thing that gave me joy was that my birth photographer was there, even though I told her to come at 5 am. She said she had a feeling it would be earlier than that, and she came way before. I really wanted to film my son’s birth. It’s a memory that will last me forever. So I was thankful that I would get that at the very least.

birth 5My nurse told me to do 3 practice pushes. By the 3rd push she told me to close my legs, cuz I guess GIO was crowning already. And the doctor wasn’t even in the room. So within a minute it was “LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION”. All lights came on; a group of at least 10 nurses and the doctor were there. I had my husband on my left holding my head and hand and whispering “I love you” and my doula on my right side telling me how to breathe. I felt completely relaxed at that moment. My husband asked “Are you ready to see your son?” They grabbed my hand and let me touch his head as he was crowning. I will NEVER forget that feeling. I cried and smiled at the same time. I was shaking. It was finally feeling real. This is happening! I’m about to see my son! He’s coming.

birth 62 more pushes and he was out! Literally, just like that. It was unbelievable. I couldn’t stop crying. He latched on IMMEDIATELY. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I let him nurse on me for 2 hours. I had mentioned in my birth plan that I wanted the nurses to give me alone time with my son, and not run any tests until I’ve had him for at least 2 hours. They respected it. He was 8 lbs and 4 oz, 19.75 inches. I had them skip the eye ointment, and all shots they give at the hospital. I also didn’t let them bathe him. My husband and I did, but we waited a few more hours for that.

Around 7 am Jeremy’s parents joined us at the hospital. My family is back in Albania, so unfortunately they couldn’t be with us, but my husband kept them updated the whole time with pictures and videos.

I have to say that once I saw my son, nothing else mattered. I had been so stressed out about things not going as planned; worrying about a c section and his heart rate; not comfortable with another doctor I had never met that was going to deliver my son; all of these things in the end DO NOT MATTER. As long as your child is healthy that is ultimately all you will care about. I speak from my own experience. I truly no longer cared about the ordeal I had to go through the last two days to get to where I was right then. I gave birth to a very healthy baby boy who was absolutely gorgeous. I could live with that.

birth 6One thing I remember is that Gio barely cried. He was just so happy and calm. Must have taken after his dad, cuz my side of the family, lol….well let’s just say we are loud! It’s in our blood. He was cool with us wiping him down and bathing him, slept pretty comfortably and wasn’t crying at all those first few days/nights in the hospital. He did lose 10% of his body weight in those two days however. My milk hadn’t come in and the colostrum just wasn’t enough for him I guess. But they let me take him home as long as I agreed to take him to his pediatrician in two days.

Gio was born on a Friday morning. We decided to have him circumcised on Sunday. I wanted him to have a 2 day break before I put him through that procedure. He did very well. I personally couldn’t watch him going through it, but I had my husband hold his hand. Gio never left our sight that entire hospital stay. I don’t think I slept at all. I was too infatuated with him. I held him almost the entire time. God, I miss those moments already and he’s only 5 months old now. Everyone will tell you to hold on to these memories because they will pass quickly, and I never believed it. But here I am now reminiscing when it was not that long ago.

Whenever someone tells me they are about to give birth in the next few days, I get soooo happy for them. They are about to experience the most beautiful thing in the world. They will have the happiest day of their life, and they don’t even know it. I am happy and jealous at the same time. I absolutely loved giving birth to Gio. Nothing like it.

So as I write this, I have this beautiful face staring at me, bouncing around on his little chair. How did I get this lucky? How did I get this blessed? Whatever it is that I’ve done right in life….I am thankful. And whatever wrongs I’ve made, I’m also thankful that the man above sees past it and gifted me this miracle for me to love, cherish and have. Becoming a mother has been the most amazing thing that has happened to me. I am forever grateful. And I hope and wish every woman gets a chance to experience it some time in their life. It is ultimately the true meaning of life.

Egreis Gjergjani