My Birth Story: Sheri Reed

Cynthia Dermody

Photo by Sheri Reed

Words of advice: Write, record, tape or blog your baby's birth story as soon as he or she is born. You'll be so glad you captured every detail while fresh in your mind.

Today, Sheri Reed, mom of two and blogger for The Stir, shares the story of the birth of her second son, Leo:

2:00 a.m. My usual prego insomnia strikes again. I toss, I turn. It takes me a good two hours of reading poetry and magazines to get back to sleep.

4:00 a.m. And just when I slip under, Ed drags in from the couch where he fell asleep that night. He makes cranberry-juice-drinking noises from the fridge, bounces me around in the bed, and I EXPLODE (no, not the water yet…, just lovely little sleep-deprived, evil incarnate me…): "IT'S TAKEN ME HOURS TO GET BACK TO SLEEP. I AM IN HELL! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW COULD YOU! (and various other sweet, sweet expletives).


5:00 a.m. Finally, I run out of steam, relax a little on the couch in front of Roseanne reruns, and drift off to sleep.

6:15 a.m. I wake up to the sound of some squeaky horrible rugrat's voice on TV and curse it for waking me up again. I punch down the volume and change my position a little. Right then, I feel a "pop" and the tiniest of trickles. Of course, I don't believe it's really my water breaking. I think it's more of my very special labor hypochondria. I even spend a few moments talking to myself, saying "Well, it could be… nah, you wish. It's so not. You still have a week to go…, don't get your hopes up,… well, you asked for it, and here it is…."

So I stand from the couch, walk two feet, and out gushes a few cups of water. I call out, "Ed, um, my water just broke!" and then I hear him running around, running into walls, running to me. And what followed was a bit of a Laurel and Hardy chasing a quickly leaking water balloon skit.

I walk two more feet and GUSH. I try to cross my legs, hold it all in, and literally water pours out everywhere. I'm talking gallons of water. So much that I start to worry about not having flood insurance (and to thank God we have hardwood floors). It just keeps coming. And the whole time I am trying to stop it and E is trying to help me get to the bathroom quickly, and I am going, "Ohmygod! Ohmygod! So much friggin' water!"

6:30 a.m. We call in the team. My best friend. My mom. And my dad, who is going to stay with Clyde while the rest of us head to the hospital for the birth. Although I am not having contractions yet, Kaiser says they want me there in 30 minutes.

Clyde gets up, and I tell him Leo is going to come today. He smiles and says, "Ohhhhh, I am so excited."

I take a long, hot shower and my stomach looks three quarters the size as it was the night before. It was A LOT OF WATER. I stay in the shower a long, long time, hoping that if I never get out, then I will never have to face what's about to occur. No matter how much I want to give birth, dear God, I don't want to give birth.…

7:15 a.m. We head to the hospital and apparently one's water keeps regenerating in there because by the time we arrive, the towel I'm sitting on, the sweats and undies I'm wearing, and the towel rolled up between my legs are soaked through. I have to stop walking every few steps because it's hard for me to just walk and gush water at the same time. It just don't feel right, you know?

7:30 a.m. We check in apparently during "birthing happy hour," along with a mama carrying preemie twins, a C-section, and an induction. I have to sit on "chucks" (those blue waterproof pads they have all over the hospital) for at least 30 minutes in the maternity lobby while they have me do some paperwork and round me up a nurse and a room. I have a mild contraction once in a blue moon during that time.

8:00 a.m. I get a nurse who immediately mentions she asked for the day off and is still hoping to get it (well, that's a fine "how do you do?") and a midwife who asks me like seven billion questions while I drench through a whole lot more chucks in my hospital room. I'm drawn to the no-nonsense midwife who sadly gets off at 8:30, but not for long.

She wants to hook me up on pitocin right away. I tell her about my first bout with pitocin when I had Clyde (something like 3 cm to 9 cm in an hour or two) and how evil and intense I think it makes giving birth, and she tries to tell me it's all natural and that they can even moderate its output better than the human body. I'm thinking um, yeah, moderate schmoderate. 8:30 can't come soon enough. Get out!

8:30 a.m. So I decline to start pitocin since I am getting sporadic contractions. I'm hoping they will step up with some walking and some time since the water is really really broken this time (with Clyde, I had a water bubble, which they thought was my water breaking and it wasn't, but I was induced and had him that day anyway ...). The nurse declines to check my cervix progress since my water is already broken (infection) and says they won't check it until I decide to start pitocin or my contractions ramp up considerably.

I walk and walk and walk and walk the same hallway. My contractions get to about eight minutes apart but never stronger and never closer and then they go away again.

I Keep telling my best friend I can't believe a baby is going to come out. It all still seems impossible.

More than anything, I want to cry because I am starving my @ss off. I ate toast on the way to the hospital, but that is simply not enough food. All they will allow me to eat is clear foods like Jell-o, broth, tea, and juice. I want a cheeseburger more than life. All i can think about is breaking out of there to go get a pizza. so what if I'd have to stand in my own regenerating water puddle to eat it. I AM THAT HUNGRY!

12:00 p.m. After all that waiting, I tentatively decide pitocin is the only way I am ever going to eat again or see anything but that hospital hallway again. Also, it seems the only way to the other side of this whole birthing adventure and onto life with my new wonder boy.

But let me tell you, signing up for pitocin of my own free will (as opposed to just being told what to do) is very hard and an awful lot like getting out your big red pen full of blood and signing at the bottom of a contract from hell, which reads "Yes, I want to endure fast and intense pain. Please hook me up. I simply can't wait." But there was no way around it.

12:30 p.m. My new nurse and her student assistant hook me up to the pitocin and up the dosage every half hour. I am confined to bed for the long haul now. The contractions begin. And they get stronger. They still won't check my cervix until a) I want an epidural or b) I feel the need to push.

Lots of family is in the room at that point, which is good and distracting and allows me to laugh here and there. For awhile. Until those suckers start to really hurt. Until they close down into 3-4 minutes apart.

2:00 p.m. We have to clear the room of everyone but my team: hubby, best friend, mom. It's starting to crank. Starting to hurt. I can't be nice much longer. I have to do that "hee hee" breathing through every contraction now.

That's about when I tell the nurse I am ready for her to check my cervix so I can decide on the epidural (secretly I'm thinking I'm surely already at 7-8cm and a few more contractions and we can just about get this show on the road).

2:30 p.m. A midwife comes in to check and tells me I am at 3 cm, which is where I had been a week earlier and 70 percent effaced. I burst into tears. No progress. Hours yet to go. And intense pain ramping up by the milla-second. I say I'll wait a little longer on the epidural. A few minutes and another evil contraction later (as well as the reminder that hours of this could follow and it could take a long time for the effects to actually take hold), I say "I changed my mind. Give it to me. I want the epidural now."

I can literally feel my cervix cranking open (d@mn pitocin!). I tell my best friend after an awful contraction, "NOW I can believe a baby is going to come out."

3:00 p.m.  The God-love-him anesthesiologist inserts the epidural. He is very good. He talks me through it and is very sensitive to my oncoming contractions. And since I'm not at 9 cm and in transition, like I was when I got an epidural with Clyde, it is very bearable. And since this time IT WORKS, I am suddenly in heaven. First, the edge comes off the contractions. Then all I can feel is very clear pressure from contractions. It's lovely. Just like I always wanted….

3:30 p.m. By the time the anesthesiologist is done with the epidural and my mom and best friend are let back in the room, I start to feel a lot more downward pressure. I tell the nurse. She checks me, and I am at 6 cm. She starts frantically running around the room, bringing in carts, getting everything ready for the delivery. apparently, we are closing in fast.

I enjoy my epidural a little longer.

4:00 p.m. My pretty little epidural doesn't hold up against the evils of pitocin….

Soon enough the downward pressure is so intense and then it becomes pain again. Noises are coming out of me that I can't describe. They are not human. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die.

4:30 p.m. I start to feel the need to push and the nurse tells me to go ahead. She calls for the midwife.

I start pushing, but the pressure/pain is so unbearable. I swear it feels worse than the undrugged version with Clyde. I can't get my pushing groove on like I could with Clyde, I keep thinking I'm pushing wrong in that way that bursts all the blood vessels in one's eyes and face, and there's the most horrific sensation of the baby being half out, which, um, he is, but it's all i can feel and there is no relief from this feeling between contractions. I can't stop picturing the llama on some animal planet show I had just seen who had her babe's back two legs and butt delivered and then had to run from a predator. Awful.

I am yelling things like "I can't, I can't, I can't! Jesus! Please God! f#*@!" I can, as with Clyde's birth, once again feel the lower fire of the baby coming through and upper fire of the damn catheter. At least one time they tell me to breathe through my next contraction because part of my cervix is in the way again. I want to crush things. Next, I hear them saying that they're losing the baby's heartbeat. I hear this, but I don't comprehend. I can't. I have a baby stuck halfway through my cervix and I know it and no matter what I say or do, I have to be the one to get him out. In other words, I can't be hearing any of that unless it means I have to change what I'm doing."

5:00 p.m. Thank god for my best friend, who doesn't shame me for screaming "I can't!!! Get him out!" but instead keeps me apprised of the progress down below. "I see his hair," she says. "I can see his whole ear." My mom is holding my one leg. Ed just keeps taking off and putting on my oxygen mask in between pushes. I'm pretty sure they are dying.

5:05 p.m. Upon hearing about his ear (oh, his sweet, sweet, tiny ear), i give it my all and push him out (on probably the sixth or seventh push in all).

I open my eyes right away because I know he is here. I know my Leo, the boy I've been waiting so long for is on his way to me. The cord is around his neck and around his whole body, but I don't comprehend this at the time. That explains the heartbeat dropping. I just want my baby. They tuck him right under my hospital gown and I cry and cry and cry, saying "Ohhh, my baby, my baby, my baby…"

It's amazing how quickly the pain goes away once they're out.


Born: Sunday, October 29, 2006 5:05 p.m.

Weight: 7 lbs., 4.6 oz.

Height: 19.5 inches

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