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The Story of Owen: Part One, Labor and Birth

Friday night on the way home from picking up Chinese for dinner, I had my first painful contraction. Not crash my car painful, just oh, that hurts a bit painful. Then I had my second. Then nothing. Saturday I spent the day on the treadmill and running up and down stairs and going out in public, convinced that if my water was going to break it was likely to do so next to the organic pears at Trader Joe's. Nothing. Saturday afternoon though, more contractions. Again, not huge miserable baby is coming contractions, just less than friendly reminder that I have an interloper in my uterus contractions. I finally sent Chris to Target to buy a watch with a second hand. Last minute, sure, but in my heart of hearts I never really believed that I would go into labor. While he was gone, I somehow decided that my water had broken. I blame the instructor of the childbirth class I took when pregnant with Mia, who told us that the baby's head can act like a cork and basically make it hard to tell your water really had broken. She lied. After dinner, I beached myself on the couch with our new watch and learned that my so called contractions were coming every six minutes. I finally called my OB, she told me no, you aren't in labor, stupid, and we went to bed. Where I lay awake most of the night feeling like an idiot because I didn't have a single contraction after speaking to my doctor.

5:20 Sunday morning, my water broke. Boy howdy, did it ever. I ran for the bathroom, ran for towels, ran back to the bathroom, then finally threw a shoe or something at Chris's head and told him my water had broken. He said "what does this mean?" I said "Um, I think it means we are about to have a baby." And then we both panicked for a few minutes before I decided I ought to take a shower. I wasn't having any contractions, so even shaved my legs. Oooh, fancy. Hopped back in bed after that discussing with Chris when to call the OB and his parents to come stay with Mia and generally just have 10 calm minutes together to ponder what the hell was about to happen to us. Then I mentioned that if he might want to take a shower himself since he was about 30 minutes away from driving me to the hospital. He complied, I called my OB and she told me to head on in, my in-laws arrived and Chris and I went to wake Mia and tell her what was going on. By this point, I was having contractions every four minutes or so and they hurt. I felt one coming on as we were talking to Mia in her room and I tried to get up and leave so she wouldn't see that I was in pain, but walking was not possible. It was then I decided it was time to stop stalling and get to the hospital already.

We arrived at around 7:30, got a room, changed into the sexy gown, made it to the bed without leaking too much fluid on the floor (gross, let me assure you) and then sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And then I started freaking out a bit, because the contractions were now every three minutes and hurt like hell and I was convinced that the baby was going to just pop right out any second and that when the nurse came in to check my blood pressure or whatever she would find me clutching my newborn. Ha. The nurse finally came, did whatever it is they do, hooked my up to a couple of monitors for contractions and the baby's heartbeat, and then went exploring to discover that I was 1 centimeter dilated and 75% effaced. Not good.

So then we hung out for a bit, not much going on, just chillin' at the hospital. Oh, except for the pain. And that Chris kept waiting until I was in the middle of a contraction and then asking me a question about, I dunno, whether I thought we should turn the kitchen table the other way or something. I finally told him to sit down and read a book. The anesthesiologist (who turned out to be a nice guy, deflating my theory that they were all assholes) arrived at about 10:30 and gave me drugs. I had decided in advance to have the epidural early to avoid any chance of an emergency c-section requiring general anesthesia, but I was more than ready and grateful for the pain to stop at that point. It worked, it was lovely, I felt nothing at all, and I couldn't breathe. The anesthesiologist came back and lowered the dosage. It worked, it was lovely, I could feel the contractions just enough to know they were going on but not enough to hurt, and then my blood pressure jumped off a cliff and tried to take me with it. The anesthesiologist returned again, gave me more drugs, lowered the dosage again, and we were off to the races.

Except not so much. Somewhere in the midst of the anesthesiologist visits, my OB arrived and discovered that I was no more dilated than I had been. I was having strong contractions, but they were irregular, would stop and start and stop again, and she was worried I was rupturing along my earlier c-section incision instead of dilating. That scored me an internal contraction monitor and a scalp monitor thing for Owen (which wasn't necessary but the nurse couldn't keep him on the external monitor even after three helpful suggestions that she put it on the left side instead of the right, but I didn't mind much because those belts itched like crazy).

I spent the next couple of hours lying on my side visualizing my cervix dilating and Owen moving his little head closer and closer to the world. I know, I know, go ahead and laugh. So not my thing, but I did it on the theory that it couldn't hurt. Other than visits from the nurse and a conversation with Chris about how Austin and Tasha are the B-list Backyardigans, that's how I spent the rest of my time in labor. They started me on Pitocin at around 12:30, trying to get me to have contractions that actually did something, rather than just lying there taking up bed space, and even with the epidural those contractions hurt like crazy. But they still were not regular. They upped the dose, more pain, no more gain.

I finally agreed to let my parents come visit at around 2:00. They arrived the same time as the nurse, who lowered the Pitocin dose and told me they were concerned that my "resting tone" was too high. Apparently the pressure in your uterus is supposed to go up when you have a contraction and back down when it is over, and mine wasn't going back down far enough. They flipped me around from one side to another, finally turned off the Pitocin entirely, and that resting tone just kept getting higher and higher. Then the nurse told me that Owen was showing signs that are usually associated with having his head squeezed in the birth canal, which would have been good if his head had been anywhere close to the birth canal, but it wasn't. My OB came in at 2:30, told me I was only 2 centimeters and 80% effaced and basically said well (brisk clap), that was fun, we'll have you in the OR in 30 minutes.

After 9 hours of waiting and waiting, that felt like about 30 minutes, the next hour was insanely busy and seemed to take a week. The anesthesiologist came back to up the epidural, the rolled me down the hall to the freezing cold OR, I spent 20 minutes or so lying half naked staring at a blue drape while random people did who knew what to my exposed, numb and paralyzed lower half, and then Chris came in wearing his sexy blue scrubs and the party got started. I was talking a little bit to the anesthesiologist, staring at that blue drape, wondering at how bad the music selection was, and feeling a little poking and prodding near my right hip when I finally decided to ask if they had started yet. The anesthesiologist said yes, my baby would be out in about two minutes. And then he was, or so they told me and I had no reason to doubt them. I couldn't see anything but that blue drape, so I just stared at it saying "cry baby, cry" and he did. And I did. And Chris did.

I could see him on the warming table, covered in goo with his hand flung up over his head. Chris got to go over and be with him, and finally brought him wrapped and hatted over to me. Unlike my surgery with Mia, my arms weren't strapped to the operating table for reasons unknown and unknowable, and I was able to touch Owen, then I was able to hold him. And I have no problems whatsoever with Mia's birth, but I didn't hold her for hours and holding Owen right away made a huge difference to me. It made the next two hours of recovery and being wheeled to my room and demanding in ever-shriller tones that they bring me my infant far easier to bear. Chris introduced him to his grandparents while I was having my internal organs made internal once again (and fighting the good fight against the vomit while they did it), they watched him get his bath and dressed and whatever else they do to defenseless newborns, and then he was in my arms again. A bigger version of his sister, but looking strikingly like a boy to me, rather than just a nebulous newborn.

And I was stunned by him. And I still am.

Owen Gregory, born 2/10/08 at 3:26 PM, 9 lbs. 3 oz,. 21.5 inches.

Tune in next time for Part Two, the After birth. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Comments (51)

Congrats Beth! Reading your story made me flashback to my daughter's c-section about 7 years ago. OUCH! I'm so glad you got to hold Owen (love the name!) right away. They put me out cold for my c-section, because I was convinced I could feel pain so I started hitting whoever was closest to me. When I woke up in the recovery room I was shaking so badly that I couldn't hold my daughter, which crushed me. I wanted to be the first to hold her (aside from the medical staff), and my mom and SIL had already had that joy! So, YAY! for you!

Also, those photos of Mia from yesterday? Too. cute! She is insanely beautiful! You and Chris are in for a world of trouble with the boys throwing themselves at her!

Thanks for sharing! And he is absolutely gorgeous! (And WOW, what a hearty guy...over 9 pounds! GO YOU!)

Congratulations, he is adorable!

You sound like you were much more calm during your contractions than I was...I was actually begging for a c-section at one point because they wouldn't give me an epidural at that point. The midwives laughed it off. Contractions. Hurt.

And Tasha and Austin are totally B-list Backyardigans. They don't get to take part in any of the fun adventures. My nephews completely agree.

Oh I'm so happy you got to hold him right away. That is one of my biggest annoyances with D's birth - that they took her and bathed her and did whatever else to her and I didn't get to see her from closer than 10 feet away for almost an hour.

I wonder if they were worried you were rupturing your scar why they gave you pitocin since everything iread seems to link contraction inducing drugs lead to uterine rupture?!

LOVE the name, first of all. Not remembering if I told you that. And not that you care, but it's nice to hear.

I adore birth stories. Seriously, I just love them. Owen's was eventful! Geez. 10 hours of labor AND a c-section? You'll be reminding him of THAT for years to come. Also? I will be stalking your blog for Part II.

Oh. Beth. Ouch.

Understatement of the Year? Probably, but it's all I can come up with.

What a great birth story! Congratulations.

You did it! Not SO bad, eh? And it's weird, I can still remember the feeling when they first put T on my stomach. It's incomparable.

Super happy everything went well. Welcome Owen!

Thank you for sharing your story with us... I am having C-Section at the end of June or early July and even though I have had multiple surgeries on that very area... the c-section thing scared the be-jesus out of me... your story seemed to ease the anxiety a bit... again, thanks!!

See Mr Lady cry. Cry, mr Lady, cry.

My first three c-sections, I didn't get to hold the baby until I was back in my room---hours later. But my most recent, they brought me the baby in Recovery very shortly after I got there. I heard from a friend that a maternity nurse told her there have been a whole bunch of changes in maternity ward policies just in the last two years.


That is eerily like my oldest's birth story. Except they broke my water and I didn't get to hold him for ages as he needed oxygen. But still, very similar. (and he weighed 9lbs, 7oz.) All hail big babies!

WOW. I am all sappy and emotional right now. Sound almost word for word my birthing story with my first. I can totally relate to your story and your childbirth rollercoaster. I am so glad they let you hold Owen so immediately after that experience. They wouldn't let me hold my baby for hours...both times. Reading this makes me want to have a third...still crying.

Great recap, almost felt like I was there!

I have to disagree about Tasha though - she plays a very important role on the Backyardigans - that of the know-it-all who gets shown up and learns a very valuable lesson from it. How can you call someone who is an Egyptian princess, a mermaid, an expert on the frozen north, and a ski-patroller a B-list character? (Ok, you've convinced me my daughter watches too many episodes of Backyardigans.) But you're spot-on with Austin.

"I just stared at it saying "cry baby, cry" and he did. And I did. And Chris did."


Aw, this is awesome. Congratulations, again!

*sniff, sniff* Beautiful.

My story sounds VERY similar...hard labor with pitocin with zero result and then a c-section. My son was born 6/10 at 6:26 AM 10lbs 3oz. 21 1/2 in.
Bless your heart, and Congrats! Boys are a whole different ballgame.

Yeah! Welcome to being a mom of 2 and being a mom to a boy - both wonderful and joyous things, when you can get a chance to slow down and appreciate them. Enjoy him!

Oh my he is almost ready for football! What a big boy he is!!!
That was a wonderful recounting you gave us, Beth! I knew eventually you would tell us all about it (and I have secretly been dying here, waiting) so thank you for setting some time aside to write it all down.
Congratulations to the Cactus-Fish family!!

Aww! You made me cry today. In a good way. :)

Wow, that's a story to tell, for sure. Your cervix must be good at music or art or something, because it's sure not into physical activity.

Congrats on a healthy kid.

I wasn't even there - it wasn't even the whole birth story (according to you), and I'm still at my desk, crying like a goober.

You could've at least told we emotional saps that a Kleenex was highly recommended. (Perhaps that was the fine print that I ignored. Woops.)

Ah Beth, that is a good story. OR is a scary place...I fainted during my last c-section. Each anesthesiologist I've had was extremely kind, fortunately. The last one arrived at my pre-op bedside as I was putting on the pretty white tights with a back pack on, having cycled to work. He looked like he was about...26. He told me my back muscles were so strong (?) that it was a work out to get the needle in. Let's not discuss the internal organ aspect of the c-section but be glad that nothing was damaged and we (I mean both of us, not you in a royal way) are all back together and in one piece. I'm so happy for you to think of you back home with your beautiful baby and really appreciate hearing the story of your labor and delivery. That boy is is Mia.

I keep meaning to comment to tell you congratulations and how gorgeous your new son is. Hope you're healing and getting as much rest as possible.

Wow.. That's all a bit scary! I am so happy that everyone came out healthy and that you got to experience the whole water-breaking moment, going into labor and some of the things you hoped for. I know it was ultimately pretty rough, but still kinda sorta cool?!

I dunno why I still want to call him Wally, when I know his name is Owen, but he's a good lookin' kiddo! Congratulations again!

You rock. Totally. And Owen is gorgeous. Can't wait for part 2.

You and Chris sure make beautiful babies! Congratulations, Mama. Your comment about the vomit made me remember my 4 C-sections. Every time they gave me the nausea medication, I would throw it back up about 20 seconds later. Good stuff!

Darn hormones - your story has me blubbering. Congrats!

I am so sad I didn't know about this blog before. Owen is an AWESOME name. I have three girls, so I won't steal it. But I do so love it.

Congrats to you, Chris and Mia. Siblings rock.

Wow. Aren't you proud of what you've done? It's amazing what we, women, can do. You rock.

so glad you were able to hold him right after he was born. he's beautiful and mia looks proud in yesterday's pictures. congratulations to you on your healthy family.

You are so fortunate not to have had general anesthetic. I had an emergancy-C with Shecky and no early epidural. EVERYONE saw him before I did. That just crushed me! (Our labor stories are remarkably similar otherwise.)

I'm so glad Owen arrived safely and you are in good shape as well. Congrats to all 4 of you.

and I cried too :)

i wonder if he had his hand over his face the whole time? that can be a problem.

Beth, that story made me tear up too. So glad Owen is here and he is gorgeous. You and Mia and Chris remain as gorgeous as ever as well. ;)

Congrats again.. so wonderful. As you, I was hoping for a VBAC also, but ended up with a repeat C/S. Mine ended up planned, since my OB gave me a "deadline" for which she would safely let me try it - and I think it's just 2nd c/s that suck rotten eggs. I hated mine with a passion. Try and remember to rest (hahaha).. Owen is beautiful!

Wow! What a story, can't wait for Part 2!
Owen is gorgeous, and Mia, she is going to be a heartbreaker when she is older. You have been blessed a lovely pair of children.

Not having had the traditional birth (and not having any regrets about that either), there's something about a c-section story that makes me want to bawl. It seems much more dramatic I guess. Especially now that mine seems so far off in the distance.

Oooh. The can't breathe thing. Yeah. Remember that perfectly. So not cool.

Glad you got some cuddle time before the recovery room. Makes the sleeping it off easier. :)

Oh, he is so so precious. As is his story.
Your not wanting Mia to see you in pain - my heart just aches at that.
And then this: "I just stared at it saying "cry baby, cry" and he did. And I did. And Chris did."
Oh my. Chills up and down my spine.

Just lovely.

I'm not crying. There's just something in my eye.

Wow, that's some birth story - your son clearly knows the value of a dramatic entrance!

2/10 is my b-day and I was born via emergency c-section (although many, many moons ago), so I'd just like to welcome Owen to the club! A little Aquarian - very nice!

By the way, when I was reading this post I alternated between abject terror at the thought of ever giving birth and just being super-impressed that you were such a trooper! You absolutely are a rock star.

Congratulations, Beth! The pictures of the kids are beautiful. You brought back a lot of what I experienced and felt during my labor and c-section. Enjoy your larger family!

That was a great story. Had me at the edge of my seat. I'm so glad it all turned out great. Makes me look forward to my own impending delivery in July. As scary and painful as it all is.

Oh, *snff sniff*. So happy for you guys! I love how you tell a story , Beth. This particular bit-----"when the nurse came in to check my blood pressure or whatever she would find me clutching my newborn. "---had me laughing spittle on my screen. Much love to you all!

Thanks so much for sharing! A wonderful story -- aside from the pain of course. And yes, isn't dripping 'water' down your legs a lovely feeling?

Woo, good story. I always wonder how people remember all the details to blog about later. Thanks for sharing with us.

Isn't it funny how fast time goes while you are in labor but how slow while you are waiting for that damned OR? My 16 hours of labor felt like 5 seconds. When they told me I'd been pushing for 4 hours I was all, "Whaaaaa?" But the single, solitary hour between the decision for the c-section and the beginning of the slice and dice was 13 years, I swear.

And for the record, my anesthesiologist was a complete asshole. So as a profession they are not out of the woods.

What a fantastic story. :)

I love birth stories. Congrats again!

That is TOOO funny about you visualizing your uterus opening... I did the exact same thing during my delivery and it was also, SOOOO not my thing. I definitely don't buy into the whole mind over matter thing. But let me tell you... I think with Rylee it worked!

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