I didn’t plan on publicly sharing Camryn’s birth story. I’m a very private and modest person and I feel like giving birth is a very intimate experience. For years, I researched labor and listened to other women tell their birth stories. People also felt compelled to tell me scary birth stories while I was pregnant. Not helpful, by the way. I tried to convince myself that birth wouldn’t be terrible, but the fear was crippling. It was to the point that I told myself I would be perfectly fine not having kids. That being said, I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world that was freaked out about labor and delivery. My hope is that Camryn’s birth story will be encouraging to someone. If I can get through it, anyone can.
There are a few things you should know about me before you read our story. I’m a planner and the thought of going past my due date gave me anxiety. The thought of my water breaking in a public setting was equally terrifying. To ease my mind, I asked my doctor if we could be induced.
Normally, I would obsessively plan out all the details for such a big event. However, there are so many variables and possible outcomes for births. There’s no way I could plan anything other than the induction date. I went into the hospital with zero expectations (other than having a baby) and complete trust in whatever my doctor suggested. She is the expert after all.
I knew that being induced meant that I could be in the first phase of labor for hours. They started trying to induce at 6pm the night before she was born. My cervix was completely closed. Every four hours, they gave me a pill that was supposed to help open it. My doctor came in the next morning around 8:00 am to break my water and I had not dilated much – as in less than 1 cm. She said she would be surprised if we had a baby before 5pm. It was going to be a long day.
Shortly after breaking my water, they started the pitocin. Contractions would get stronger soon. I know there are women that choose to have completely natural and unmedicated births. I’m not one of those people. I’m allergic to pain and I choose the medication every time. Aside from the responsibility of raising a child, the pain of labor and the endless possible complications kept me from ever wanting to get pregnant. If it weren’t for the epidural, I wouldn’t have even considered having a child.
My nurse explained that if I wanted an epidural, I should let her know before I think I’ll need it. The anesthesiologists could be in surgery or with another patient and it might take a while for them to get to me. I hadn’t felt any pain yet, but I wanted to make sure my preferred anesthesiologist was the one to administer the epidural. I asked the nurse to send him in as soon as he was available.
The epidural was different than I expected. In all my internet searches, I had read countless horror stories about how painful it was and how miserable it was not being able to move around. I could still move my legs right after I got the epidural. I mistakenly thought it would stay that way the rest of the day. My legs slowly started getting numb. Totally fine. I could handle this. The moment I couldn’t wiggle my toes, I panicked. I felt trapped. The anxiety was overwhelming. My sweet mother rubbed stress relief lotion on my feet for at least an hour. It helped calm me down, but I couldn’t stand the numbness. It was noon and I still wasn’t dilated. I begged the nurses to put me to sleep. Thankfully, I was also feeling nauseous from not being able to eat and they gave me medicine for the nausea that would also knock me out. I never thought I would be thankful for nausea, but here I am.
Failure to progress. That’s the term for it. I didn’t even know that was something that could happen with an induction. Failure has never been an option for me. I am highly motivated and hard-wired to succeed no matter what it takes, but this was out of my control.
Late into the afternoon, I had finally dilated 1 cm. My doctor said the baby was trying to push down on my cervix and her head was starting to swell. She said I could wait to see if I dilated more or I could have a C-section. It was my choice. At this point, I had been pumped full of fluids for over 20 hours. I wasn’t progressing. I told her I didn’t care what we did. That I didn’t have to have the birth experience. In fact, I often joked with Weston that I didn’t have to be present for the birth. I said they could just put me to sleep and give me the baby when I woke up.
We decided to move forward with the C-section. It felt like time was moving faster now. The end was in sight.
There was one problem. Aly was there to photograph Camryn’s birth, but photographers are not allowed in the room during C-sections. They did, however, say that Weston could bring a camera in there. Aly and I gave him the quickest photography lesson we could. I changed the settings on my camera. Weston was now responsible for getting photos that would make his photographer wife proud to share. No pressure.
My nurse and anesthesiologist whisked me into the operating room. I glanced at the clock on the wall. 5:28 pm. They set up the curtain and made me as comfortable as possible. I was shivering, so they set up a heater to blow under my gown.
Moments later, they brought Weston in. He had my camera around his neck and I asked him to take a picture so I could see what settings he needed to change. Thankfully, we only had to change the shutter speed. It was an easy fix and I could quickly tell him what dial to change on the camera.
I could feel tugging and pressure in my lower abdomen, but I couldn’t feel pain. They had started the procedure. Even though I had plenty of drugs in my system, I clearly remember this conversation.
“Is she out yet?”
She was, which prompted me to say, “she isn’t crying.”
The doctor said, “Don’t worry, she will.”
Seconds later, I heard her cry.
Then I asked, “When can I eat?” (Haha! For context, I had not eaten since 7:00 pm the night before. 23 hours with no food!)
I asked the doctor what time she was born. 5:44 pm. The entire C-section was over so fast!
The nurse brought Camryn to our side of the curtain for what felt like a split second. After they cleaned her up a little, Weston brought Camryn over to me. He lifted up her cap to show me her head full of hair. One of the nurses was taking pictures of us with my camera. I asked Weston if he showed her the back button focus. He had! I was hopeful that our pictures would be decent and they turned out great!
I don’t remember feeling any emotions when I saw Camryn for the first time. Weston says I cried when he brought her to me. He would know for sure. Either way, the flood of emotions didn’t hit me until two days later when Weston and I were alone in our hospital room. I’m not sure if it’s because all the drugs had worn off or because we had finally shared Camryn’s name.
After the doctor finished stitching me up, she came to my side of the curtain to congratulate me. She also said that I made a good call to move forward with the C-section. The baby was face up, which meant I would have had a C-section even if I had fully dilated. I’m thankful we avoided another 7 or more hours of labor and we got to meet our girl sooner!
Even though I wasn’t looking forward to labor, I was absolutely looking forward to all the sweet hospital photos. My ambitious self assumed that since I was going into the hospital the night before to be induced, I would have a baby before lunch the next day. I had imagined a hospital room with large windows and natural light filling every corner. Instead, Camryn was born in the evening and our hospital room had one window with a dark screen to block the light. I also didn’t feel like taking pictures right after the C-section. Thankfully, Aly got all the pictures I wanted and more. Here are a few of my favorites:
I hope you enjoyed reading about Camryn’s birth story! Weston and I are blessed to have this sweet little girl in our lives!