SO…he’s finally here! Baby Garrett Ryan Howe joined us on July 25, 2009 – 11 days early! (I was SOOO happy about the early part) I had started preparing for labor to happen “any minute” at about month eight. Perhaps I was a little over-anxious…and I was DEFINITELY exercising some wishful thinking, but he came through for me… (atta boy!) But, before I talk about all the good stuff, I absolutely HAVE to talk about the storm BEFORE all the good stuff….that beautiful thing called Labor and Delivery. What a trip! As they say… “every woman’s labor is different”…and that has been true even for my own labors – all three have been vey different. But this one takes the cake. I think if I had to title the whole experience, I would definitely have to call it “What the Crap”. 

Here we go… 

So that Friday started out like any other day. I had an amazing morning with my neighbor Elizabeth…we took the kids to the park and then came back to her house to eat lunch and let the kids play. But then that afternoon when I got home, it happened. My water broke. 

I wasn’t sure what had happened…this never ocurred with my other pregnancies. So I called the doctor. She said either my water broke or I peed my pants. I was DEFINITELY crossing my fingers it was the first one. Not just because I was really hoping I was in labor but because I was really REALLY hoping I wasn’t facing an incontinence issue – pregnant or not. 

So I got to the hospital and my water had indeed broken. Weirdness set in a bit for me here…with my other two labors, there was something amazing about arriving at the hospital…there was such an air of excitement that kind of helped to distract from all the discomfort. BUT for SOME reason, this time around, the novelty had completley worn off. As I prepared to get admitted (i.e. signing paperwork and getting that stupid I.V. drip started), I was already over it. I was asking for my epidural before I even got out of triage. 




Now…I do NOT undestand why the labor gods MUST play such cruel jokes on us women as to launch us into such unbelievable pain and torment that we are absolutely convinced this baby is about to make its entrance any second because there’s NO way labor could get any worse…only to have the nurse come over and say “yeah…you’re about 3 to 4 centimeters…stay comfortable and we’ll check back in an hour or so”. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!! How is that even possible? 

And then you hear of those women who go into their weekly check ups and they are 4 centimeters and don’t even know it. What the heck is up with THAT? Ugh. But that’s what was happening with me. A whole lot of pain and a whole little action. SO ANNOYING. And I swear no one understood how bad this hurt. Already these contractions were feeling worse than any I’d experienced before. This is when a little bit of uneasiness started to kick in. This is also when the nurses decide to shake up the party a little bit. 

Or the stage of my experience I’ve named “When all Hell Broke Loose”. 

So what happened was this: The nurses decide to give me pitocin to “make my contractions more productive”. And let me just say here that they STILL have yet to give me my epidural. So now I’m getting pumped full of meds because of my retarded uterus and this little wonder drug launches me into some full-fledged crazy labor. All I know is that I went from handling myself with SOME sort of dignity into almost instantly yelling “OW OW OW OW OW OW” at the top of my lungs, while clinging to my bed rail and throwing up in one of those darn pink kidney bean-shaped bowls….all while I am shaking and trembling so hard I thought I was having a siezure. The only things running through my mind at this point are: 


SO yes, the pitocin obviously worked and now I hear the nurse on the phone trying to get the epidural “STAT” because “yeah she’s in a lot of pain here”. DUH. Perhaps it might have been wise to get me my epidural BEFORE the Pitocin????

So the next hour was a complete blur but I went from 4 centimeters to 10 in about 45 minutes…retribution for me that all the pain I was feeling was legit and my contractions were doing some serious damage. Yeah, who’s unproductive now???! 

And yes I (FINALLY) got my epidural but not before getting a REAL unwelcome taste of the worst labor I’ve ever had. I must have asked for an epidural 50 times. And when epidural-guy DID finally show up, I ACUTALLY told him I loved him – OUT LOUD. Ryan just laughed. He knows I’d never leave him for epidural-guy because his last name is “Kuchipudi”…that’s pronounced “cootchie-pooty”. Yes as I am struggling to stay alive and waiting for his sweet medicinal relief I hear over the intercom “Dr. Kuchipudi, paging Dr. Kuchipudi”…if I wasn’t feeling like my insides were being ripped out, I might have laughed. 

But then it was soon time for pushing, I was feeling comfortable, and baby Garrett finally arrived. The feeling of relief is amazing…and then you realize it was all worth it. Garrett was AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL! Unlike the other two, he got his breathing under control within a few hours so he was able to join us in our room during our hospital stay. We’d never experienced that before so we felt REALLY blessed. God definitely answered our prayers on that one. 

He is now almost one month old and doing well! We’re not nursing any more (I’m definitely going to post something about THAT whole experience)…but he’s thriving and the kids are adjusting well. Having kids is awesome :) 

Now…one last thing. As I was re-living my labor experience with my mother, she explained to me that she thought I probably experienced the “transition” stage of labor (I guess this is the medical term for “all hell breaks loose”). She said she believed I had basically experienced all a natural childbirth has to offer (besides the pushing part which I was nice and numb for). 

This would be totally cool with me had I PREPARED for a natural birth. If you’re prepared for a natural birth, you go into labor with three coaches, a doula, breathing techniques, a “focal object”…and a host of tricks up your sleeve to get you through it all. When you sign up for the epidural, you go into it waiting for your kuchipudi and expecting to play nintendo while you dilate. So I was NOT prepared for that experience at ALL. 

After she said this, I decided (of course) to google “the transition stage of labor” to see what she was talking about. I found this article that I am posting below. I just could NOT help adding some of my own comments (added in italics)…just in case any of you decide to do this some day kuchipudi-free. 


Transition is the storm before the calm that is pushing. It is by far the hardest part of birthing, but also the shortest. It is here that your focus might falter. (Your FOCUS might falter? That’s the best they can come up with for what happens to you???)This is the stage where you may doubt your ability to birth your baby and feel like you need medications. (No this is the stage where you are CERTAIN you need medications.)You may feel worried about how far you have left to go and how much more intense it will become. You will be suggestible and at this time are most vulnerable to accepting interventions (Do you get the impression they are talking about “interventions” as if they are “BAD”???) whether they will be helpful or not. It is at this stage that your birth companion must be vigilant to your emotional needs and be the voice of reason should a cascade of interventions be suggested.(A cascade of interventions is EXACTLY what I was hoping for. I wanted them served up on a buffet table at this point…”epidural? Narcotic? What’s your flavor?”) 

Find hope in the fact that if you do experience these feelings, remember that this means you are almost there. Labor does not keep getting harder and harder. (YEAH RIGHT!)Once the contractions get to a certain level, they don’t get any longer/stronger. Focus on the fact that in between each wave, you feel perfectly normal.(Did they…yeah I think they just said you will feel perfectly normal. OK, there is NOTHING normal about a human being ripped through your body OR puking into a kidney-shaped bowl while it happens) Let them do their work. (Apparently they can do their work provided you don’t have “unproductive contractions”) In this phase your dilation will go from about 7 centimeters to 10 centimeters of full dilation and 100% effacement. 

Contractions that are Longer and More Intense (this is grossly understated)
Nausea (is that code for the “puking in the kidney bowl”?)
Time Distortion
Hot/Cold Flashes
Uncontrollable Shaking (Ah there’s that trembling I was talking about – wish someone had warned me this was part of the deal!)
Intense Pressure (Gross understatement number 2)
Rupture of Membranes (Say WHAT?! That’s what got me into this mess…that happened like forever ago)
Loss of Modesty (Oh isn’t that a sweet way of saying “You’ll start swearing at the nurses and feel and intense desire to pluck your husband’s beard hair”)
Loss of Appetite (A.K.A. Loss of breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Irritability (No I’m irritable when I don’t get enough sleep one night…irritability doesn’t even COVER it)
Loss of Resolve
Need for Emotional Support
(I’d like to add to this list)
Need for “interventions” 

Feeling Out of Control (check)
Foggy (check)
Averse to Distractions (I don’t know what this means but check)
Disoriented (Uh yeah, check)
Self-Doubt (I kind of remember doubting the nurses at this point…I was pretty sure I knew what I was talking about when I was begging for that epidural) 

Vomiting (I love how they put nausea first and this one falls under the “other” category)
Rectal Pressure (Uh..ya think?)
Inability to Find Comfortable Positions (Thank you Dr. Obvious)
Unable to Talk (Except of course when you’re screaming)
Difficulty Breathing (Except of course when you’re screaming) 

MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES(Oh this oughta be good) 

This is the time to pull out every trick in your bag.(like interventions) You can benefit from any and all of the relaxation techniques and comfort measures. If you at any time you say, “I can’t do this”, what you are really saying is that you need to be reminded that you can, and are, capable of birthing your baby. (Nope. Pretty sure I’m am really saying is that I actually, literally and physically can NOT do this. It’s a biological impossibility for this not-so-small baby to be making its entrace this way. Now I understand why my nurses ignored my pleas for an epidural…they must have read this article). If you begins to fear what is to come and if birthing will become more intense, then your anxiety will rise as your relaxation decreases. If you say anything along those lines, it’s a good indicator that you are almost ready for the pushing phase that usually offers much relief from the intensity of transition. (If you say anything along these lines it’s a good indicator that the nurses better get on the ball and page Dr. Kuchipudi before someone gets seriously hurt). 

If you can actively recognize that you are in transition, you will be able to handle the phase much more comfortably because you know it will soon be over. (I know they didn’t just use “transition” and “comfortable” in the same sentence). Hold your focus on the fact that with each contraction, you are one step closer to holding your child. This stage is fast and furious and will soon be over. Time may also seem distorted which can also help you manage this piece of your birthing. 

Change Positions Frequently (my favorite position was slamming my hands down on the bed as I begged for interventions).
Focus Your Mind on the Present (WHAT? WHY? The present is exactly what is causing me so much torture…)
Use Water (Um, need more info here please).
Get on Hands and Knees (AND START PRAYING).
Remember to Breathe (Oh that’s a good one, thanks for that tip).
Use Visualization (At this point, I was visualizing a long stroll on the beach with Dr. Kuchipudi…and ramming my foot down my husband’s throat for doing this to me)).
Focus on the Baby (I don’t get it). 

Cold Compresses (Ryan tried this – it helped for like two seconds until it wasn’t cold anymore)
Massage Techniques (Now I need to add a masseuse to the list of people who can get me through this). 

Emotional Encouragement
Cue Phrases (Here’s another place where I’ll say “what the crap”).
Tell Her She’s Almost Done (Yes – LIE LIE LIE!)
Keep Her Focus on the Present (Yes, again there’s that lovely reminder of the Pain and Torture we are PRESENTLY feeling to get us through.)
Keep Her Environment Calm and Quiet (To do this you will have to shut HER up as she will be the one doing most of the yelling and screaming…go ahead and give that a try and tell me how it goes).
Whisper Affirmations (Oh that’s just so sweet. I can just picture this. I’m yelling OW OW OW OW OW! Where’s my epidural??! And just then Ryan tries to get up close to my ear and WHISPER something like…”honey, you look so beautiful when you sweat”) 

This is the stage where an unsupportive care provider may undermine your efforts. Needless interventions may be suggested or even forced upon you, knowing that you cannot resist nor make good choices. (WOW, that Dr, Kuchipudi is EVIL, I had no idea there was a huge plot to take me down with medicinal intervention…it’s all a conspiracy!!! Trust no one! At your weakest they will take advantage and administer meds! Stay alert!!) The birth companion is essential at this time in preventing this from happening. If such interventions are suggested, have the birth companion start by asking why it’s being suggested, what the options are, and if the situation is an emergency. (Yes it is an emergency, I promise). If not, then take your time to evaluate your choices. 

Realize that most doctors and nurses have never seen a natural birth. They are not skilled in letting labor take its own course. They are trained to intervene at each stage, whether it’s needed or not. This interference isn’t usually coupled with bad intentions but is usually due to ignorance in normal birth. (And to this Mr. Ridiculous-Article-Writer, I’d have to say that YOU are greatly unskilled at what I guess I can only call an “ABnormal delivery based on your definition…and the wonder that is the epidural. When you can breathe, relax and look over at your chart and say “Oh I’m having a contraction” with a giant smile on your face…THIS is a beautiful thing. Abnormal or not, I’m down with that.) 

One of these days I’m going to find out who it is writing this stuff and start a revolution. 

Oh and one side note…despite all the flack my husband took in this post, he was an AMAZING coach and did a great job at getting me through it all. And he’s a great dad – what a catch! :)

That’s all for now folks!


One Response to “Welcome Baby Garrett Ryan Howe!”

  • You are such a great writer, Nicole! It's so much fun to read your writings. (I can't help but think of what your reaction to my friend Rachel's birth might've been. She planned a homebirth and ended up with a super quick labor and delivery… so fast that she delivered her own baby 25 minutes before the midwives got there!) Keep writing and I'll keep reading! -Kim

Leave a Reply

Follow Me!
Suscribe Via Email

Contributing Writer at:
Missional Women