So excited to share with you all, little Carter’s birth story (esp while it’s still fresh)! There are so many things that happened throughout the course of the labor and delivery process, and I want to share them all with you. Mostly, I want to ensure that you feel empowered to be your own advocate throughout the process. This is the number one thing that I cannot stress enough. This, and having a great team of Doctors that you love and trust.
Finding a Great Doctor
Our Birth Story begins by finding a great doctor. We have so many friends who don’t love their OBGYN, and after an extensive search (literally, an excel sheet with over 50 OB’s in NYC) I narrowed it down and found a practice I love, and Doctors that I trust wholeheartedly. In our experience, as you’ll see below, this matters GREATLY when you bring your little bundle of joy into the world. On a side note, we believe in this for most everything medical/wellness related. You have to build a tribe, a team of people who you trust, offer different opinions, and all have a singular goal at their forefront- YOU, your health, your wishes, and your wellbeing.
For those of you looking for an amazing NYC OBGYN, I go to 1060 OBGYN. We love Doctors Elliston, DiGrigorio, Ng, and the NP Beth. They are all amazing, detailed, thoughtful, incredibly smart, and most of all, they truly embody and meet the criteria above. We love that they listen, don’t make us feel rushed, and no question is silly or too small. The front desk team is also amazing- overall they couldn’t be better. So, highly recommend if you need an OB in NYC.
Take a Class
We took three classes at City Births which helped to prepare us. Our instructor for the childbirth class was a labor and delivery nurse, which was SUPER helpful to get the inside scoop. Highly recommend this class, and look for our instructor @letsgetdilated on social.
The Day Of: Doctor’s Visit
The Birth Story took a bit of a turn at our last Doctors visit. I was scheduled to be induced (due to Carter measuring big) on 12/16, two days past my due date on 12/14. So I was prepared for an induction, and likely longer labor. On 12/11, we went for our last visit with Beth at 1060 OBGYN and during the monitoring, my blood pressure was significantly high. This was new, and not something I experienced throughout my pregnancy. We went to the exam room, and Beth told me this could mean that upon retesting, we may need to go to the hospital for monitoring. I had Beth sweep my membranes (this is a somewhat uncomfortable procedure that may help to dilate and soften the cervix, therefore bringing on labor) for the second time in hopes we could get Baby H to come naturally.
After the sweeping, we rechecked my blood pressure and it was still high. Thankfully my hubby was with me (highly recommend making sure someone is with you at the last couple of Doctors appointments because of things like this), and we walked over to Lenox Hill Hospital around 12pm. We checked in and after changing into the hospital gear, they hooked me up to all of the monitors to check the Baby and watch my blood pressure over a few hours. While my blood pressure returned to being only slightly elevated, the baby’s heart rate dropped once. Because of these things combined, and despite thinking we were going home, we were told we were staying and going to start the induction to play it safe that evening.
Now, mind you, I was super stressed the night before this all took place. I had a stressful situation at work, a work holiday party late that night, and was exhausted. So, this to say, remove any optional stress you can the week you’re giving birth. The Doctors said the stress definitely contributed to the elevated blood pressure.
The Day Of: Making Sure You’re Prepared (as possible)
As you can imagine, I was stressed about the a variety of things and also I didn’t have my THINGS. I worked so hard on my hospital bag to ensure, if I was going to be induced and in the hospital for awhile, that I would at least be comfortable. I didn’t have the nurses baskets, which I wanted to bring to the amazing labor and delivery nurses that had started taking care of me. And most of all, my parents (including my mom who was going to be in the room with T and me) had not arrived. Luckily, my Dad/Stepmom landed around 6pm that night and T was able to run home to meet them and grab my bags. Advice here? Keep a list of things you still need to pack (T and my parents were able to gather all of my unpacked items). Also, before you have any procedures done, ask if possible, to wait until your support system is with you. I thankfully did this, because what came next was less than ideal.
The Day Of: The Induction Begins
In NYC, real-estate is valuable. Meaning, they want you to have a safe delivery, of course, but the quicker the better so that their rooms can then be occupied by someone else. I say this because the national average for a c-section is around 30%, and in NYC its 50%. I personally believe a portion of this increased rate comes from implementing multiple induction methods to speed up labor.
Case in point- I was told the nurses were first going to insert a Foley Balloon prior to beginning the Pitocin (medication to cause contractions to help you dilate and have labor begin). The Foley Balloon, for those that don’t know of it, is a two pronged balloon that is placed in your uterus and vagina. The balloons are then inflated with water to cause pressure on the cervix from each side, thus, causing you to dilate. The goal of the balloon is to get you to 4cm dilated, after which, it comes out. I’ve heard the Foley Balloon is painful, but it was legit one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. Thank GOODNESS T was there with me, because I was a MESS. I felt nauseas, my stomach was in tremendous pain, and I was in tears. I knew something was not right, and we called the nurses in to review.
The Day Of: The (Big) Scare
Things were not getting better with the balloon- my pain and nausea were increasing. Before I knew it, I had a team of 10+ Doctors/Nurses rushing into the room. The Doctor on call from our practice was quickly behind them, and before I knew it I had a large shot stuck in my leg (later to find out this was to stop the contractions), oxygen over my mouth, and heard the chaos of voices all around me.
Our Doctor took quick control, again why you need a great team of OB’s that you trust, insisting that everyone not speak so she could run the show and figure out what was happening. Basically, Carter’s heart rate had dropped drastically. They needed to stop the contractions to bring his heart rate back, or needed to prep the OR for an emergency c-section. Before I knew it, Dr. DiGrigorio, went in, broke my water, and quickly removed the balloon (and yes, the water gushed all over the bed).
I was in full panic, I never thought this would happen, in this way, as we often do. I didn’t have a birth plan, per se, but I knew I wanted a vaginal delivery, and I definitely wanted to be awake to see and hold my baby. With an emergency c-section, you are fully put under, so I was saddened that the experience I thought I would have in seeing my baby for the first time and holding him in my arms would not happen. But I tried to breathe, I knew if I elevated my blood pressure, his heart rate would drop further, and into the OR I would go. I practiced box breathing (4 counts in, 4 counts out, around a box again and again) and after moving positions, Dr. DiGrigorio was able to stabilize his heart rate.
They told me that I had experienced something called “Deceling”, meaning deceleration of the baby’s heart rate. The balloon helped me to dialate, but the reality is, my water just needed to be broken. Finally, the babys heart rate stabilized after my water broke and after the nurses put me in a few different positions (side laying, etc).
The Next Steps + Epidural
Once things were stable, Dr. DiGrigorio came in and let me know that if this happens again, we would need to do a c-section for the safety of the baby. And this said, advised on getting the Epidural ASAP. I was only 1cm dilated, and in my plan, I was waiting until AT LEAST 4-5cm (then again, my plan also started with my water breaking and laboring at home for as long as possible, and that was well out the window at this point). If I did not get the Epidural now, and another “Decel” happened, I would have to be intubated (totally put under), as there would not be enough time to administer the Epidural. So with this, I agreed to the Epidural, wanting most of all to be awake for my baby’s birth.
The Epidural was actually GREAT. Quick, painless, and smooth, though I did not look at the needle. The anesthesiologist was spot on, and I just felt the rush of cold from the medicine going in. This is totally my personal preference, but I was thrilled to have the Epidural given my current situation (I knew I was being induced, and I knew I was going to be given Pitocin).
After the Epidural, around 9pm the team started my Pitocin. My OBGYN Practice goes light in terms of administering and increasing levels of Pitocin, which was something I loved. They went up to 6 and by 8 in the morning I was 6cm dilated and told I would have a baby before lunchtime!
The Labor + Delivery
Let me preface this section by saying that I LOVED my labor and delivery nurse, Anna (we’re both big fans of SLT, loved to travel, etc. so our connection alone made me SUPER calm). She made me feel incredibly comfortable, and gave me the real deal on what was about to go down. I asked her what it would feel like and how I would know it was time, and she gave it to me straight “it will feel like you are about to poo the baby out” and when you feel that, call us, and we’ll be ready. The table was set up (thank goodness, because the actual pushing was about 3 minutes long), and throughout the morning I felt my contractions, but they were FAR less painful than the Folly Balloon (I’m sure the Epidural helped). When I felt that feeling, I called Anna. She felt for the baby and said he was v close to making an entrance, she could literally feel him. Dr. Ng rushed in and said we were ready to go.
As the next contraction came across the monitor, she told me to push and counted down from 10. I did this two more times (there was no time for a break in between- he was ready to make his debut), and at 10:39am on December 12th, 2019 Carter Thomas Haughton came into this world. He was 7lb 13oz and 21.5″ long and the most precious angel. It’s a crazy emotional experience, at least that’s how T described it, and I totally agree. I’ve never felt so much love for something, in a literal instant. We had gotten to know each other (or at least I felt that way, in my dreams) over the past 10 months and to actually hold him in my arms was the most magical experience.
Now, to answer a few questions- First, I did not feel the “ring of fire”. For me, the labor was thankfully incredibly easy. I attribute much of this to being active (I was at hot yoga and SLT the week I gave birth, it made me feel SO much better throughout my pregnancy) and working to strengthen my pelvic floor. The birthing of the placenta was easy, I didn’t feel it, I was so in love with the little angel on my chest that I didn’t even notice. Skin to skin was very important to me, as was delayed chord clamping. I had them bring me the baby right away, and used this labor + delivery dress that works for skin to skin, all of the monitors, etc. and highly recommend. Carter’s chord was wrapped around his neck TWICE- 1/3rd of babies have their chord wrapped and the Doctors took care of it right away. He also had what is called a miracle knot in his umbilical chord. It’s a literal knot like you would tie in a shoe lace and that could have contributed to his heart rate dropping. We feel so lucky this did not cause more harm. It is pretty uncommon occurring in around 1/2000 babies.
After delivery, we were wheeled down to recovery at Lenox Hill where we were given a shared room. We placed our name on the list for a private room upon arrival to the hospital, which I highly recommend (we chose the newer floor first, main floor second). Let me say, these rooms are the price of The Four Seasons, but if you have a big family or are expecting lots of visitors, it’s worth it.
My body felt ok following the delivery and after the epidural wore off. I was able to eat (and starving- I did not have lunch the day before, prior to going into the hospital, because we did not think we were going to stay). We ordered food, and tried to sleep. I was super tired that first night. I remember the nurse talking to me and I was literally falling asleep as she spoke (to which I was super apologetic!). It was super helpful to have my hubby there to listen and take notes, because I was out of commission at the end of the night.
The hospital staff showed me how to take care of everything “down there”, and let me know what to expect over the next couple of days. I was in some pain, but the ice packs were a SAVIOR (take as many as you can!). We’ll do a full post on postpartum recovery items I couldn’t live with out at home, but again, take what you can from the hospital so you are off to a good start! ALSO- get the belly band wrap! This made me feel so much better- it’s weird not having a baby where one once was for 10 months and this holds it all in.
Some questions on if we had them take the baby to the nursery. Yes, we did. I know everyone seems to have a strong POV on this, but for us, it was the right choice. They brought him back every 2 hours to feed and snuggle, and we were able to get some sleep in between. Newborns are LOUD. Someone told us this once, but I had no idea what they meant until we had our little guy. So do what is best for you, but either way, do not feel bad if you need to get some rest. Sleep impacts EVERYTHING- and especially as you are adjusting to motherhood, breastfeeding, your changed body, and healing from labor and delivery, it is incredibly important.
People say that you will never have a love like the love you have for your child, and I agree. It is the most different, complete, unconditional love. I think I most feel love mixed with fierce loyalty and responsibility, and overwhelmed and excited by the opportunities that lie ahead for our little one. T and I filled out a book- letters to our baby and I am so glad we have this. To tell him about us before him, and share our anticipation and excitement for his arrival. To give him advice that will hopefully one day help him achieve all of his dreams. When we saw him for the first time, I saw a love in my Husband that was so strong, we both were truly amazed at the little life we created- it’s the best feeling in the world. As we looked into our baby’s eyes for the first time, we saw hope, dreams, and the huge opportunity for him ahead. T and I always say- our goal in life is to dream together and chase/accomplish those dreams, but most of all, live the biggest, fullest, and happiest life possible. And I can’t wait for us to do this with Carter, everyday, for the rest of our lives.
ALSO- check out two of my favorite pregnancy posts! Our hospital bag must haves and our pregnancy journey! Going to also do a full post on the tips and tricks on trying to get pregnant if that would help you guys!