Pregnancy Week 41: Atlas’ Birth Story


If you’re here for the food, you may want to skip this post. However, I’ve got a delicious salad recipe on deck for my next share! Check my Instagram for a preview 😉

Atlas just passed the one month mark! The fact that I can get my head above water long enough to craft this post is some sort of personal victory for me.

I had mentioned in my previous pregnancy post that Atlas was born on my birthday, July 17th. I was definitely trying to deliver him on July 13th, Harrison Ford’s birthday, which is arguably the coolest birthday a kid could have. Alas, it was not to be. Instead he shares a birthday with his mother. Which means my birthday will henceforth be hijacked by my firstborn. I guess I won’t mind too much since I never like being the center of attention.

Even though he was born on Sunday the 17th, my labor story starts at 8 am on Friday the 15th. Yeah… good times. (Don’t worry, it won’t take that long to read.)

Friday, July 15

8 am – Midwife Appointment. I was 5 days past my “due date”. The midwife checked my dilation and I was only at 1 cm. She offered to sweep my membranes to help encourage labor to begin, so we did that and went home.

4 pm – After feeling mildly crampy all day after the appointment, I began to notice the cramps begin to fall into a rhythm while my husband and I were watching a movie. I started watching the clock whenever I felt them start and they seemed to be coming in waves every 10-15 mins.

7:30 pm – We took the dog for a walk and near the end the contractions began to become pretty uncomfortable. Not enough to immobilize me but I definitely didn’t want to be out walking around.

8/8:30 pm – Once home from the walk, we began to clean up the house and my husband began to pack a bag for the hospital.

9 pm – The contractions were coming on faster so I decided to start timing them. They went from 7-8 mins apart to 2-4 mins apart. I was beginning to need to stop moving and breathe through them rather than move around getting things done. We called the midwife to alert them to my labor and the fact that they had been consistent for over an hour. They said to continue laboring at home as long as I could.

10:30 pm – My neighbor, a labor and delivery nurse, came over to check my dilation again so I could decide if I should get over to the birth center soon or if I were a long way off… Well, I was 2 cm. Not very impressive given how quickly my labor had come on. I continued to breathe through the contractions and as midnight got closer, so did my contractions. I became very miserable very quickly. No position was helping, no rubbing or pressing from the nurse or my husband was lessening the pain. I definitely ended up on all fours most of the time. It was really difficult to stand through them. The contractions were so intense that I ended up vomiting a couple of times and could not keep anything down, even water.

Saturday, July 16

12 am – I became worried about the lack of rest I was getting between contractions and my inability to hydrate so we decided to go to the hospital to see what they thought.

12:30 am – Checked into labor and delivery for triage before they could send us to the Birth Center. They checked my and Atlas’ vitals and discovered that his heart rate was too low to allow me up to the birth center. They admitted me to labor and delivery so that they could rehydrate me and monitor his heart rate. In between every contraction, I would shiver/shake really violently (apparently a side effect of all the hormones coursing through my body). I was so tense that I couldn’t relax and regain strength in between each contraction which would come every 2-3 minutes and last a minute or so each. They checked me and found I was at 3 cm.

Soon I was moved to an actual room and told my husband that I didn’t think I would make it through another 7 cm with the amount of pain I was experiencing. I could barely talk or think. I inquired about pain management and they gave me two options: narcotics or an epidural.

I don’t look kindly upon narcotics since I knew they would be passed to Atlas and knowing I have a history of not tolerating them particularly well.

2 am – In the end, I opted for an epidural. Once it kicked in, I could finally regulate my breathing and mentally return to the room. I could even feel my legs and put some weight on them. Unfortunately, I had to remain in the bed since I was hooked up to so many machines.

3 am – A couple of volunteer doulas showed up since my own was not going to arrive until 9 am. Couldn’t really sleep at all, just kind of laid there until someone needed to take vitals.

7 am – A new midwife came onto my service and suggested breaking my water to see if that would help progress my labor further. I was only around 5 cm at this point.

9 am – My lifelong friend showed up as my doula which was great because she’s also a labor and delivery nurse. She was such an incredible support and knowledgable person to have with me. This whole time, my contractions were not patterning normally. They weren’t particularly strong and were coupling, which explains why I felt I couldn’t get any rest between them before the epidural. They were literally coming two at a time.

later that day – Since I was still hovering around 5-6 cm, my midwife suggested to begin a little dose of Pitocin to help regulate the pattern of my contractions. They wanted them to stop coupling and gain strength to move Atlas farther down the birth canal. With the doulas help, we were also trying lots of different positions to get Atlas to descend. Before starting Pitocin, I opted to have my contractions more accurately measured internally to make sure I wasn’t taking Pitocin unnecessarily.

early evening – Began administering the pitocin.

Sunday, July 17

12 am – I finally progressed to 8 – 9 cm and began to get really nauseous again (an indication of transition, aka BABY IS COMING SOON). The new midwife on duty said we could start trying to push (I was a little beholden to the clock at this point because they had broken my water early the previous morning so it was getting close to the time when they get concerned about infection and baby distress).

1 am – I got to rest after pushing for a while.

2 am – Begin pushing again. Over the course of the next 3 hours, I got into every possible position I could manage in the bed. I had so many monitors and cords all over my body, it was quite a production to turn myself this way and that (definitely an endorsement for an unencumbered natural birth). Much of the time, I labored with my husband, doula, and labor and delivery nurse. The midwife came in a couple of times to help and check my progress. During this time, they put up a mirror so I could see his head showing during pushes. This was honestly more discouraging than helpful. I was working so freaking hard and all the mirror showed me was that his head would sink back into my body when I wasn’t pushing. So I stopped looking at that a tried to focus on getting him out.

5 am – The midwife came in and calmly informed me that we really needed to get him out at this point. (I didn’t learn until afterwards that I was about 10 mins away from being wheeled in for a caesarean). I was so tired but so determined to get him out on my own and avoid surgery. So I kept pushing as hard as I could. They started giving me oxygen (because my heart rate was dropping) and as soon as I saw the midwife change into her “catching” clothes i felt a surge of energy knowing that she was confident that he was now coming out. She helped stretch me out around his head and finally at…

5:56 am Atlas was born! He actually came out with his hand next to his head which was probably part of the reason he wasn’t coming so quickly. In a way, I am thankful for the long, hard work because I didn’t end up tearing at all (hallelujah). I cried my eyes out even though they were dry and swollen from 5 hours of pushing. He was put on my chest immediately. We delayed cord clamping and my husband got to cut the cord once it was done pulsating. It was pretty incredible to have finally finished that journey AND to get all those machines off of me!

Well, there you go. The birth story. Such a wild ride, but honestly… motherhood is wilder!

Thanks for following my pregnancy journey!



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dianne Spinelli says:

    Amazing story Nikki. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Megan says:

    Wow! Such a real and helpful story/timeline! I’m so thankful you both are happy and healthy!!!

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