It was March 5, 2018—my due date. I’m pretty sure I had been complaining for most of the day that our baby boy hadn’t come out yet. Somehow I got it in my head that he was going to be early. I even ended up at our local birth center at the 36-week mark thinking my water had broken. Turns out, it was actually urine and I had peed my pants a little bit and not realized it. So that was a fun visit.
Truth be told, I was MISERABLE for the last few weeks of my second pregnancy. Around 35 weeks, I came down with what can only be described as the plague, and subsequently popped a rib out from coughing so hard. So even though I wanted so badly to be done with the pregnancy, I was also dreading labor with a bad rib. Luckily, Ellis decided to stay put for another few weeks, which gave me time to heal.
The evening I went into labor, my husband, Chad, and I were reading our daughter, Isla, a story before bed around 7:30. It was the last special memory we would make as a family of three. All of a sudden, I felt an indescribable pain shoot around my midsection. I let Chad know that we should call my mom since she was going to come stay with Isla while we went to the hospital if this was, in fact, really “it.”
I waddled down the stairs to get my phone and all at once felt my water break and my mucus plug come out. I went to the bathroom just to be sure—definitely not urine this time.
My mom was on her way, but I felt we needed to get to the hospital ASAP so we called a neighbor who came to stay with Isla until my mom arrived, and off we went to deliver the newest Peyton.
I had a couple incredibly painful contractions during the car ride, and by the time we arrived at the birthing center, they had me skip triage and go straight to a labor room. “You’re definitely in labor,” one of the nurses had said, “no doubt about that.”
I gave birth to our daughter at the same birthing center and I remember moving around a lot. I went from the bed to the bath and back again several times. This time was different. I gripped the bedrail and thought, “I’m just going to hang on and endure this until he comes out!”
I had tested positive for Group B Strep when I was around 37 weeks pregnant and was told I’d need antibiotics during labor. My initial thought was that I would refuse the antibiotics as I’m not a fan of using them unless they are absolutely necessary. And the last thing I wanted was to mess with the gut health of our brand new baby since the antibiotics would reach him as well.
I did some research on Group B Strep and the articles I read were nothing less than terrifying. The concern of infection was less for me and more for our new baby. If he was to contract an infection, some of the possible complications could be pneumonia, meningitis or sepsis (a blood infection). Though rare, these complications could be very serious, even fatal. I was horrified at the thought that this bacteria—one that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of men and women—was harmless to me but could hurt our baby so badly. I knew I had to get the antibiotics. I hated the decision. I didn’t want an IV during labor. I didn’t want antibiotics in me or our baby.
My doctor told me that in an ideal world, there would be time for two doses of antibiotics, which, I was told, would mean I’d need to be in labor for at least 4-6 hours. As soon as we arrived at the birthing center, I went from hating the idea of an IV to telling whoever was in front of me that I was Group B Strep positive and needed an IV stat in hopes that I would get those two doses. Well, that didn’t end up happening. There was only time for one dose, but thankfully, nothing was passed on, and our baby is healthy.
The really interesting thing about Group B Strep is that it can be found intermittently in the same person. For example, I tested negative when I was pregnant with my daughter. I may have even tested negative if they had done the test on a different day during my pregnancy with my son. It’s that unreliable and unpredictable. In hindsight, I’m happy with my decision to get the antibiotics, but boy did it mess with my head. The articles and forums I perused terrified me, the doctors didn’t say much in the way of comforting my fears, and in an instant, my hope for an intervention-free birth was gone. Still, I’m grateful this was the only intervention I would endure.
The nurses are amazing at our local birthing center, Sutter Maternity—one of whom was my mother-in-law, which maybe not everyone would love, but it was truly a comfort to have a familiar face as a nurse. Our main nurse was a sweet, lovely woman who goes to our gym, so we were lucky to be surrounded by two familiar faces and lots of friendly ones.
I moved around from one side to another, laid on my back, tried all fours. Nothing felt good except holding onto that bedrail. I felt much more in control of my body the second time around. I took a huge breath with every contraction—and I swear this decreased the pain by about 40 percent. It felt like it was taking so much energy to take that breath every time, but the pain relief was worth it.
After a couple hours of contractions, I felt the urge to push. I never felt that urge with my daughter and I welcomed it with open arms this time. “Yay, it’s almost over!” I thought. Our nurse called the doctor in to check my cervix, and when she did she said, “Hm, you’re not quite ready.” As soon as she left, I told our nurse I was going to push and she said, “You do what you gotta do.” So I did.
With the first big push, I literally felt my baby moving downward in my body. It was the weirdest sensation. Before I knew it, he was crowning and I was about to meet him!
I felt his head start to emerge but with one big inhale I breathed him back in. I was so scared to tear while I was pushing him out. This went on for a few more minutes: he’d come out a little, and I’d breathe him back in a little. My voice was shaky with each inhale. Finally, I gave one final push and he came flying out. No joke, it was fast. It was 10:22 p.m. Labor lasted just under three hours. It was incredibly intense and superbly painful, but oh so worth it. The feeling I had when they put him on my chest is absolutely indescribable. I was altogether happy, relieved, excited, exhausted, scared, and euphoric.
The hours that followed were peaceful and serene. I looked forward to my daughter visiting the next day, and the rest of my family meeting Ellis Grey Peyton.
I am beyond grateful for the rock-star birth-support team I had with me. Chad knew exactly what I needed when I needed it, whether it was counterpressure on my hips, a sip of water, or just to be left alone. The nurses encouraged me to listen to my body even when conventional medical advice was to the contrary, and my friends and family were waiting in the wings with congratulatory messages and so much love.
After my second—and hopefully last—time giving birth, my respect for the birth process grew exponentially. Even now, nine months removed, I am in awe of what my body did when I look at our kids everyday. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to carry and give life, and also for all of you who continue to share your birth experiences with me. It is a circle of life and love that I intend to keep growing.