A Letter to My Son: Your (Very Detailed) Birth Story

Photo by Amanda Dumouchelle

Dear Otto,

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to write down your birth story. I have told it countless times, with help from your dad on the sequence of events, yet somehow have taken 7 months to put pen to paper. I think that there’s a small part of me was ashamed of how your birth went down because it wasn’t at all what I had planned. Though, from what I hear, birth never goes according to plan. But despite knowing this and trying to be flexible, your controlling mother was still a bit disappointed that things were not at all as I expected.

For a little context, here are some notable things about the end of my pregnancy --

I was fifty pounds heavier. I did not sleep due to excruciating hip pain. You moved a TON and it was amazing. We watched a lot of Michigan basketball. I had a charming little thing called pubic symphysis. It basically felt like a knife was splitting my pubic bone in half every time I moved.

Here’s what I was hoping --

I would go into labor right before my “due” date of February 5. I would labor at home for literally as long as possible to avoid any medical interventions. Our fabulous doula would come to the house and help me navigate contractions in the comfort of our own space. When I was pretty far along, we’d go to the hospital and I’d walk everywhere (no wheelchairs!) so that I wouldn’t slow my progress. I would deny any IV, epidural, blah blah blah and just let you come out in your own sweet time. I was very committed to all of these things and was convinced there was no other way for me to give birth.

Here’s how things actually happened --

By February 16th I had lost all hope that you were coming on your own. I had an induction scheduled for the morning of the 19th when I would be 42 weeks pregnant and they wouldn’t let you cook any longer. Very few stories I read about inductions were positive. I mostly heard about longer and more painful labors, greater likelihood of C-section, etc. So I was not thrilled. In order to distract me from feeling sorry for myself (and distract me from the 1000 texts I would receive a day from friends asking if I was still pregnant) we decided to order a pizza and get egg rolls (my two favorite food groups) and play some board games.

As we finished up dinner around 7pm I stood up to go to the kitchen and set my plate in the sink and I had a funny feeling. Then all of a sudden it felt like a balloon popped inside of me and water gushed all down my leg. Luckily, I was standing on the wood floor. I stood there for a moment then looked at your Dad and told him what had happened. I knew I hadn’t peed my pants, so there was really only one other option. My water had broken. Apparently it’s extremely rare for a woman’s water to break at the start of her labor, so I didn’t expect things to begin this way! I called the midwife’s office and they told us we could stay home for up to 12 hours before coming in to the hospital.

Contractions started pretty quickly but weren’t very intense and were extremely irregular. After a couple of hours they became more uncomfortable, but were manageable. I laid in bed and tried to get some rest (because that’s what they tell you to do), but as it turns out it’s really hard to fall asleep when you are having contractions. Your dad played soothing music and rubbed my back as I worked through them. At some point I decided I wanted to go in the bathtub, which felt great. Your dad was timing my contractions and they were frequent but very irregular and not getting much longer. They are supposed to get longer and stronger as time goes by and closer together.

While I was in the tub I was having a lot of contractions and they were getting a lot more painful, but they were still very irregular. I had heard that you were supposed to have relief between your contractions, but that was not my experience at all. While it was definitely less painful when I wasn’t contracting, I had pain in my back all of the time that made it very hard to focus. Your dad was texting with our doula, Diana, who was giving helpful advice and planning to meet us later that night once her husband came home from work.

Around 1am I decided that I was too uncertain about my progress and felt like they were close enough together that I was concerned I shouldn’t still be at home, so we went to the hospital. Since it was the middle of the night, it didn’t take long to get to St. Joe’s, but it was NOT a fun ride. I had tons of contractions and it is not super comfortable in the car with all of your winter gear on!

When we got to the hospital I went into triage pretty quickly. I was having frequent contractions (every few minutes) and they were extremely painful and weren’t relenting. I figured I must be pretty far along at that point due to the intensity. The midwife checked me after I was hooked up to all of the monitors and I was only at 2cm. Meaning I hadn’t progressed at all since my membrane sweep a few days prior (you don’t want to know what that is).  I was devastated.

Apparently the hospital was packed that night so I was in triage for a couple of hours instead of in a more comfortable birthing room. Our birth photographer and Diana showed up shortly after I was admitted and were very helpful. Diana put pressure on my head and back and was encouraging to me when I was in the thick of it. They also took care of your dad by getting him water and making sure he was doing well as I was squeezing his hand to death. They asked me if I wanted a tub room and I said yes, but it still had to be cleaned. They said it would be soon, about 20 minutes, but took another hour! By then I was miserable. I wasn’t feeling any break between contractions, I was consistently in a ton of pain. I could barely talk, which for me is saying something.

 Diana from Southeast Michigan Doulas is the BEST. I can’t imagine Otto’s birth without her.

Diana from Southeast Michigan Doulas is the BEST. I can’t imagine Otto’s birth without her.

When the room was finally ready they told me I should go to the bathroom first then asked me if I wanted to walk or use a wheelchair. I said walk, because I wasn’t slowing this labor down! But, it took me about 4 contractions to get to the toilet which was about 10 feet away, and several contractions while peeing. So by the time that was all done I decided there was no way I was making it anywhere quickly if I was walking. Or let’s be honest, make it anywhere at all. So I got in the wheelchair and was taken out into the bright hallway. The hospital seemed quiet, even though apparently it was crowded. And as it turned out, the birthing rooms were SO FAR from triage! I swear I was wheeled a mile. I was grateful I got a ride.

 My amazing husband doing his best to help.

My amazing husband doing his best to help.


When we got to our room they had already drawn a bath for me, since I told them that’s what I wanted. But by the time I got there I couldn’t even imagine getting out of the wheelchair. They encouraged me to get in, and I’m pretty sure I gave them my death glare. It felt like a long time where I just sat there hunched over working through contractions the best I could. I kept whispering to Karl that I wanted the epidural, but no one wanted to entertain that idea since my birth plan was very strict that I didn’t want it. And if I’m being honest, a lot of me waiting to get it this long was the fear of judgement. I didn’t want to seem weak. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I was not less than for making the choice to receive the epidural.

Eventually, it was apparently evident to everyone that I was serious and they started the process. The process was long. I had to get an IV for an hour to make sure I was hydrated AND had to get my blood work done. At this point I wasn’t sure I was going to survive another contraction and they were happening less than every two minutes.

Somehow they got me out of the wheelchair and up onto the bed. Diana used a scarf to help shake you down lower while I was on my hands and knees. When it was time I got into the hospital gown and hunched over a pillow and waited for the anesthesiologist. He moved VERY slowly. It was around 4 or 5 am and it felt like I had waited an eternity for him to arrive. As soon as he administered the epidural I felt instant relief. My left leg went numb first, which was unsettling. But as I moved my legs a bit things evened out. The nurses dimmed the lights and told us both to take a nap so that we could reenergize.

Around this time they noticed that your heart rate was dipping with my contractions instead of elevating. They were monitoring this from outside the room, but it wasn’t getting better over time. They kept adjusting the monitor on my belly since you were wiggling around, but couldn’t get an accurate read. I started to get nervous and feared that my getting the epidural was harming you. Jennifer, the midwife on duty, came in and said she’d like to put a monitor on your head as it’d be more accurate. I said that that was fine and she went down to check me before placing it and found that I was 10cm dilated and ready to push! This meant that they weren’t concerned any longer and that instead of monitoring you it was time to get you out!

Several nurses came into the room to prepare. After the fact I learned that your Grandma Kate was out in the hallway stalking us and got nervous that something was wrong when extra nurses came in. While I was pushing she opened the door to tell me she was going to go get some food and everyone yelled “shut the door”!! Little did she know I was just working on pushing you out.

After an hour of peaceful pushing with your dad holding my hand and Diana and Jennifer helping hold my legs and coaching me, you came out! Saturday, February 17 at 8:12am. They set you right on my chest and it was the most wonderful moment, I couldn’t believe you were finally here. I thought I would sob, but I think I was in shock. I truly couldn’t believe that the moment was finally here. You screamed for about an hour, but were able to latch on and feed while we were still in the room. After a couple of hours they weighed and measured you - you were 9lbs and 20 inches long.

Your Grandma Kate was the first to meet you after me and your dad. Then your Papa John came. When we moved to our recovery room we were visited by your Grandma and Grandpa Bosse. They brought food for us, since the hospital food wasn’t that great.

Your dad and I had no idea what we were doing, so the nurses were a great help. We had trouble with feeding, but otherwise had a pretty good experience in recovery, though not a lot of sleep. You loved to break through swaddles and put your little hands in your face.

We went home on Sunday and were greeted by your grandparents who helped us get comfortable. They made us a welcome home sign and made sure Stella was dressed in a pink bandana for your arrival. We were home just in time to watch the Michigan vs Ohio State basketball game (which we won!)

We had no idea what we were doing (and still don’t), but having you home with us made us feel complete.

I love you,

Mom