Oh man, how do I even start putting my sweet boy’s birth story in writing? I guess I should start from the beginning. May 31st was Riley’s official due date. At the beginning of the month, I was totally prepared to wait patiently for Riley to make his arrival. We had so many house projects to finish up and our hospital bag was far from packed. Plus, I’d heard that first-time moms should expect that their babies will come late. But my patient mindset quickly fell apart starting with my 38-week appointment. We were still a few weeks out from his due date but my doctor checked me and said I was 1.5 cm dilated. I was so thrilled to be making progress towards his arrival. Another week passed and I had my next appointment, where I was somewhere around 2.5 cm dilated. That could only mean we were getting close to meeting him, right?
Nope. And in my experience, the worst part of pregnancy is not knowing when contractions are real labor. Throughout the month, there had been a few times when contractions started then stopped about an hour later. The Sunday before his due date I actually had contractions for a few hours, but they weren’t getting progressively closer together. I wanted that to be true labor so badly. I was afraid to even tell anyone I was having contractions because I didn’t want to get our hopes up. This was one of the things that was hardest late in pregnancy – every time it wasn’t the real thing I would be overcome by a rush of disappointment. This overwhelming feeling was something I never expected as a first-time mom, but it brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It felt like a constant tease. Each time I felt something close to a contraction, I wondered whether it would turn into that exciting moment that we would be able to go to the hospital and know our baby boy was on the way.
BUT none of those were real labor and at my 40-week appointment, I questioned how long they would let me go past my due date. Nathan was starting a brand new job on Monday, June 11th, so we decided to set a date for a scheduled induction on Thursday, June 7th. I swore to myself early on in pregnancy that no matter what Riley’s birth story was, it would be his and I had to hand that control over to God. The morning of my induction, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment that I hadn’t gone into labor overnight. I had hoped my water would break in bed or I’d wake up with contractions.
That morning we were told to call at 6:00am to see when to head over to the hospital. I got the news to be there at 6:45am (only 45 minutes later AH!), so I hopped in the shower, made a bowl of oatmeal, and we jumped in the car to get there on time. The paperwork and admission process took longer than I expected and they didn’t set up the IV and start the pitocin until around 9:45am. They checked me first and determined I was about 3cm dilated, which felt like a pretty good place to start. Once the pitocin was flowing through the IV, we started settling in. I’m not a morning person and neither is Nathan or my mom, so we passed the time by playing on our phones and reading books we brought with us. The oatmeal I had for breakfast was wearing off, so I requested something to eat. You’re not actually allowed to have food except clear liquids, so my lunch consisted of orange jell-o and saltine crackers.
Around 2pm the doctor stopped back in to check me again. This time I was 5cm dilated (hooray – the pitocin was working!). She let me know she was going to break my water to help move things along. There was a little bit of a pinch, but no big immediate changes in how I was feeling. Once she left, I decided I needed out of the hospital bed. We started the birth playlist I made on Spotify and I was feeling pretty good as I bounced along to the music on a birthing ball. I asked the nurse how long it would be before the doctor came back to check me again and was told it would be another 4-5 hours! That answer surprised me because I was hoping to have Riley in our arms before the end of the day and 4-5 hours meant we wouldn’t even check me again until 6 or 7pm. At this point my contractions were steady so my mom suggested we play a game of UNO. We chose to play with the rule that you keep drawing cards until you can play – huge mistake! I think we went through the whole deck 3 or 4 times. This game was never going to end! But the music and bouncing must have helped coax Riley out because sometime in between shuffles the contractions kicked up a notch. Nathan helped me get up and walk through the hallway, which I hoped would distract me from the increasing pain. I didn’t want an epidural because I was worried it would slow down my labor, so I was doing everything I could to keep pushing through. It wasn’t long before I realized I couldn’t handle the contractions standing up. Back to the bed I went.
At this point, things really sped up and it all felt like a whirlwind. We abandoned the never-ending UNO game because I could no longer concentrate. I got more orange jell-o and crackers to help keep my energy levels up when I started to feel shaky. The pain of the contractions was increasing drastically. Before I knew it, Nathan and my mom were at my side so I could squeeze their hands through each contraction. I began feeling a little nauseous and wondered if these snacks were a bad idea, but the peppermint oil I brought in my hospital bag was a huge lifesaver! They put a few drops of peppermint on a cool washcloth near my face and – thank the good Lord – I did not vomit during labor.
The next thing I knew, the contractions were so strong that I felt like the only option was to start pushing. Our doctor wasn’t around, so when I said this aloud, everyone immediately told me to hold tight and not to push. It didn’t feel like there was any other option to handle the contraction! I tried my best not to push as the nurse checked me. I was 9cm dilated and they quickly called the doctor over.
Once she arrived, I ended up pushing for 38 minutes. Those 38 minutes had to be the hardest 38 minutes of my life. I was freezing cold and my whole body was shaking uncontrollably. They covered me with heated blankets to try to keep me warm. Once Riley was down in the birth canal, the pain was almost unbearable. I couldn’t concentrate between contractions except to try to prepare myself for the next one to come. Pushing was taking every ounce of my energy and I wasn’t breathing deeply enough. The nurse gave me an oxygen mask to keep Riley’s oxygen levels from dropping. Nathan, my mom, our nurse, and our doctor were all so supportive in that last stretch! They kept me focused, took care of my needs, and kept the atmosphere around me calm. I couldn’t have done it without them.
At 6:08pm, Riley Kai Anderson finally arrived.
He was 7lbs 9oz and 20 inches of pure perfection.
The doctors quickly handed him over to me and it was the most unbelievable moment. He was slippery because they had wiped him only quickly as they were placing him in my arms. It felt like time stopped for a brief second when I saw him for the first time. His little fingers and toes were so tiny and I felt a huge relief knowing the biggest part of my job was done – he was here and he was healthy! I’m pretty sure our hearts melted into a couple of puddles as our eyes filled up with tears. I can’t even describe the joy and pride I felt as I looked up at Nathan. I just feel so incredibly blessed. I’m so blessed to have this man by my side raising our sweet baby boy and I’m so blessed by this tiny human and the love and laughter he’s brought into our world!!
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