Birth Story: Simon Atlas


After my OB basically guaranteeing that I'd go into labor before Christmas (based on my dilation+effacement+baby size), you can imagine how ready I was when it was almost a week post Christmas and I was still very much pregnant (I know, I shouldn't have believed her, but I did!). After my 38 week ultrasound (only the 3rd I'd ever had) they adjusted my due date from Jan. 3rd to Dec 31st. Not only was that exciting because that was 4 less days that I might not be pregnant but it would also be nice for the taxes ;).

I had an OB appointment on the 30th with Wendy a Nurse Practitioner I had never met (but really liked). She checked me and was going to strip my membranes, but there was nothing to strip. She said he was so low, I was 100% effaced, dilated to a 4 and was watching me have somewhat regular contractions right there on the table, so she thought I should go to the hospital right away.

I smiled and nodded and got myself dressed.  I didn't feel like I was anywhere near having the baby, so I had no intention of checking myself into the hospital just yet. I knew the longer you're at the hospital, the quicker (and potentially more) interventions they would try and introduce and I was aiming to go for as long as possible without interventions. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to go natural this time around, but I wanted to know how bad it got so that if I ever did want to try natural I would have some idea of what I was signing up for.

As we walked out to the car, Marcus started saying how we needed to run home and get the bag and get Poppy squared away, and then I told him that I wasn't going to the hospital. He wasn't so excited about that idea. I reminded him that I had written out a birth plan and he had agreed to support me on it and that one of the points was that I was going to labor out of the hospital for as long as I could. On the car ride home, I had to actually call and cancel the prenatal massage I had scheduled, in hopes that it would put me into labor, because I already WAS in labor!

We went back to my mom's house where my two sisters were and told them that it looked like I was in real labor and would probably have the baby pretty soon! It was exciting, but also I felt very calm. "Too calm," as Marcus would put it.

He was going crazy all day. He couldn't understand why I wasn't freaking out and why I wasn't listening to the NP's advice and going to the hospital. I told him that if this is what labor felt like, then I was just fine with having him right there in my mom's bathtub, but that what I really thought was that it must get a lot worse than this, and when it does, then I will know it's time to go!

My sisters were headed out to do some shopping at Tempe Marketplace and since I wanted to do some walking to hopefully get things going, I decided to come along. Marcus, of course joined too.

The sisters shopped, but Marcus and I just kept walking and walking. I was feeling the contractions much more and didn't feel like browsing and sharing pleasant conversations--haha. He kept asking me, "Can we go now?" "How about now?" Eventually he stopped asking, but his quiet frustration was almost worse. By that evening, the contractions seemed to spread out, which was really discouraging, but I thought, at least I'll be able to get a good nights rest...

At 3AM I woke up with STRONG contractions. I got ready while Marcus slept, because I couldn't sleep and I wanted to make sure they were real and timeable. I couldn't believe how calm I felt as I floated around the house getting things in order. It was like time was going slow and fast all at once and that I was really just watching myself from outside my body. It's hard to explain, but Marcus stayed asleep until I was ready and sure this was the real deal. I whispered that it was time for him to get ready and then we could go. He woke up in total shock--first because it was really happening and second because he couldn't believe he slept through all of it. I tried texting my sister Heidi who flew in from Utah to be with us in the room for delivery as support, but she wasn't responding, so when we took Poppy over to my mom's, I snuck down into the basement and whispered that we were heading over and that we'd text her once we got closer.

Of course, she couldn't sleep after that and ended up at the hospital not long after us.

When we got to the hospital, the contractions were much more uncomfortable. It took a little while to get checked in. They had me in a little side room to monitor and decide if they'd admit me. When they checked me, I was just a little above a 4 and they said I could go home if I wanted. I was so discouraged and shocked! Why would they send me home!? When the nurse saw my shock, she said she'd go ask the doctor. Then she came back and said I could stay, but would be put in a room they usually just use for storage because they were full. I told them I didn't mind a bit, but that I didn't want to go to my room yet, I wanted to keep walking. They said that was fine. Just then, my sister, Heidi showed up. She snapped a few pictures of us walking the hallways and then settled in our room and waited for us to come there.

After walking for sometime, I decided to go on with my plan to labor in the laboring tub they have at Banner Gateway. The nurse filled the tub and I got in my swimsuit. The room was quiet and dim, but the water was just luke-warm--not exactly the jacuzzi spa I was hoping for, but it still felt nice to be away from the medical room and with two people I loved in a calming space. At first I laid there, focusing on my breathing, but after about 45 minutes the water was cold, I was in serious pain and I couldn't tell if my uncontrollable shaking was from my dropping body temps or my nervousness, so I decided to get out and dry off.

To the room to robe-up, use the bathroom and get settled in my very large storage/delivery room. I met some of the nurses, gave them copies of my birth plan and settled in to get checked. At this point I was between a 7 and an 8. Things were getting pretty terrible, but I wanted to wait a little longer. I had grown up with absolutely terrible menstrual pains (read here), some GYNs speculate that I have endometriosis, and my entire pregnancy I was wondering if labor would be anything like that pain.

Well, it was--pretty much exactly like that, which was partly terrible, because it's probably the worst pain I've ever experience, but it was partly comforting, because it was something I had experienced, and survived. Although, usually with the generous help of my best girl, Midol!

(I should clarify that the contractions felt like terrible period cramps, the extreme pressure in your nether regions, were much more stressful and unfamiliar...)

I had told Marcus that I would go without the epidural as long as I wasn't passing out or throwing up (two things that happen to me during my worst periods). I didn't want that to be my memory of delivering my baby. After an hour or so, the nurse checked me and I was at a 9. They kept asking me if I was ready for the epidural (even though my birth plan mentioned several times, that I would ask if I needed it, and I didn't want to be offered, but what can you do?).

A few minutes after being checked I started shaking bad and throwing up and that's when I knew it was time. My anesthesiologist, Buck, was right out in the hall, ready and waiting. He works with Marcus regularly and Marcus was glad I got him because he knows he's good. I leaned over, trying not to shake too bad. He said I was super easy and it was done in a jiffy. Before getting it, I told him to do the lowest possible dose and he agreed. Within 5 minutes of getting it, I was professing my love for him. And within 10 minutes I was fast asleep. I think I slept for around an hour. I could still feel my contractions when i woke up and the nurse kept asking if I wanted to up my dose and I kept telling her I liked that I could feel them--the edge was taken way off, but I still knew what was going on. I could also feel when I flexed my stomach muscles and could move my feet and legs. I was so happy and wouldn't let the nurse come near the button that upped my dose--it was like she didn't believe me that I wanted to feel something!

Another nurse came in and checked me and told me it was time to start "practice pushing" they broke my water and I did my first practice push. One or two of those and the doc on call was there telling me it was for reals now. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed and everyone kept telling me how awesome I was pushing and I knew I was doing awesome because I could feel all the muscles I was engaging, but where the heck was my baby!? The contractions were right on top of each other, I had literally no time to take a breath between pushes and I thought the veins on my head were truly going to burst (and so did Marcus). Again and again and again, they kept telling me to keep going, keep pushing. I was so so tired, but I refused to show it because I was so scared the doc was going to say I was too tired and would have to go in for a C-Section. That was my worst nightmare, that and an episiotomy...

After about 45 minutes of hard back to back pushing, the doc said I was doing everything right, but the baby wasn't coming down. I was too tiny and he was wedged behind a muscle that wasn't budging. She said she needed to do an episiotomy. She then proceeded to tell us how dumb we were for thinking a tear would heal better than a cut. I had done a lot of research on the subject and except in the rare case you're going to tear all the way up, then a natural tear always heals better than a clean cut. I was so mad at how she was belittling us. I told her we'd keep trying, but eventually she said she needed to do it and I was too tired to fight it and she promised that as soon as she did, he'd pop right out! I begrudgingly consented, hanging on the promise of him popping right out... He did not. I kept pushing and he was still stuck. Then I tore and tore some more and finally she said the hair was out. It was a lot of hair and it was dark. Then I felt the pressure of him coming the rest of the way and then he was on my chest and it was glorious.

He was swollen and pink and healthy and fat and he was adorable. I proudly proclaimed, "We did it, we beat the odds, we had a cute newborn!" And everyone laughed and agreed. Marcus cut the cord once it stopped pulsing and we cried and cried as we looked at our wide awake, super aware little baby boy...Simon.

After they weighed him (7 lbs 12.5 oz) and got his foot prints, we tried nursing and he took right to it. I was so tired and so happy. He was the sweetest little person and I COULD NOT BELIEVE it was all real. Besides the fact that I pretty much hated the on-call doctor and swore if I ever ran into her on the street, I'd punch her in the face. I absolutely loved my labor and delivery. I've never felt so loved and adored by Marcus and I've never felt so strong and triumphant and I've never loved anything so much in all my life. It was truly glorious. I look forward to nothing about pregnancy. I can candidly say that I hated everything about it other than watching him move inside me. But I look forward to everything about labor and delivery. It was so hard and so tiring and so exhausting and so painful, but it was so empowering and I loved it so much.

Recovery was a whole other story that I will share some other time. But all I can say, is that it's worth it.

Pinky, pinky promise.


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