My story starts at 36 weeks pregnant. I had an ultrasound and NST that morning to check up on baby girl because at my 20-week appointment I was diagnosed with marginal placental insertion. Basically what that means is my cord was inserted off to the side instead of directly in the middle; so it’s important to track growth in the third trimester. I was completely shocked to learn at my ultrasound that my amniotic fluid was low. It was at 4.3 and they like to see it above 8. I was diagnosed with oligohydramnios with no known “cause”. I was immediately admitted to the hospital for overnight fluids/ fetal monitoring and told that if my levels hadn’t improved the following morning I would have to consider induction. Something I did NOT WANT. Especially since I had planned to deliver unmedicated and was so afraid of contractions on Pitocin.
After an uncomfortable night hooked up to monitors and an IV pole in labor and delivery I was anxious to be sent to ultrasound so I could find out what our next steps were. Taylor Swift’s new song “Call It What You Want” happened to come out that morning so I blasted it from my phone and tried to just relax. For whatever reason jamming out to that song was just what I needed to relax! I was ELATED to find out at my ultrasound that my levels had raised to 6.3 (just barely over the levels indicating oligohydramnios). I was sent home and told to rest and drink drink drink since my levels still weren’t fabulous and on the low side of normal. I had been doing Zumba weekly up until this point so I stopped working out (even though I wasn’t actually put on “bed rest”) and took things SUPER easy for the next four days until my follow up. My fluid was even better (10.3) at my 37-week follow-up appointment but I was continuing to have lots of contractions so my mom and I decided she better fly out a little earlier than planned.
On the morning of November 15th, 2017 I woke up (still) pregnant and so uncomfortable. I felt so bad that my mom had arrived almost a week earlier! We were so sure I was going to be in labor over the weekend! We had made our trips to Costco + Target, decorated for Christmas, organized my kitchen, and gone back to Zumba. We had all finally recovered from terrible colds- and my two-year-old was starting to take a turn for the better from croup. It felt like all that was left on my “list” was to finally have a baby! My Dad was also planning to come out two days later and even though he said he wouldn’t mind touring DC and just hanging out together I REALLY wanted him to be able to meet his granddaughter! We were all READY to have this baby.
I took a shower and got ready for my weekly NST/ultrasound appointment. While I was showering I said a prayer to help me feel comfortable and just be at peace with likely being pregnant for another two weeks! My mom made me a breakfast sandwich and I remember thinking I should pack some snacks in my bag but decided against it since I would be coming home pretty quickly. I gave Tally a quick hug and ran out the door to drive to my appointment and I put on “Call It What You Want” again so I could jam out and chill out haha. At my appointment, my NST looked great and I waited for the ultrasound. As soon as baby showed up on the screen I could tell a huge difference and right away the ultrasound tech said…”I can already tell there’s not much fluid in there but I’ll measure twice”. My fluid was all the way down to 3.2. The MFM doctor came in shortly after and told me she felt most comfortable with an induction and I’d be admitted and started right away. I was nervous but surprisingly not scared, mostly just excited that I would be meeting my baby! Braedon had given me a priesthood blessing a few weeks before that had provided so much comfort for the actual day she would arrive, and I knew it was perfect timing. Braedon is in medical school and luckily had decided to do his classes remotely that day so instead of having a 40-minute train ride home he was nearby the hospital. I called him and told him the news! I could tell he was shocked and nervous. He went home to give Tally a big squeeze and pack a bag for himself.
I began texting and calling my friends here in Virginia because I immediately knew that I was going to need my mom there since I was being induced. Pitocin contractions are known to be harder and more painful since they are synthetic. I still had hoped to go natural like I did with my first delivery but had NO IDEA how an induction would be. It was so opposite of my delivery experience with Tally. I wanted to keep an open mind and knew I’d need my mom for support. I’ve made such great friends out here and truly have such a great support system. Everyone was so quick to pitch in! My mom was able to put Tally down for his nap and he woke up to having his favorite friends over- he was in heaven!
It took a while for my induction to actually get started. We estimated that they finally got things going at about 1:00 pm (even though I was admitted to the hospital by 11 am). My OB came in and checked me and told me I was at a 4 and 80% effaced. I’m lucky that’s where I started! It was what I started at with my first delivery as well. For the next 3 hours or so we walked the halls, talked, and I bounced on the birthing ball while my mom and I watched This Is Us and Braedon studied. We had a newly graduated nurse and you could tell she was really intimidated by us (I don’t blame her, my mom has her DNP and worked L&D as an RN, I’m a nurse, and my husband is in med school haha). I was still feeling good after those 3 hours, which made me realize things needed to be kicked up a notch. Baby girl was tolerating the contractions great and I could still talk through them so we asked the nurse to keep turning up the pitocin unless baby wasn’t tolerating it. The protocol at the hospital I delivered at is to turn up the pitocin by 2 every 15 minutes, but she had only turned mine up a couple times at this point.
At about 5 pm things started getting harder and I was really having to breathe through the contractions so I asked to be checked. I had finally turned on my Birth Affirmations. The nurse said I was at a 5 or 6 but that she had really “short fingers”! My mom and I looked at each other like…uhhhh….short fingers?? That shouldn’t matter when you’re checking dilation! She wasn’t confident at all about her check and it made me doubt if I had really progressed! She also did a really terrible job at hiding her emotions about my Birth Affirmations playing. I could tell she was a skeptic. It honestly made me even more motivated to go natural and prove to her that I’m not crazy! But I was also just extremely annoyed with her and ready for it to be shift change haha. I blame hormones!
As things started to progress I would do my best to meditate during each contraction. I noticed that if I let negative thoughts into my mind like, “this is so painful, I hate this, man this hurts”, then the contraction would feel SO long and the next one would come too soon! I was regularly contracting every 2-2.5 minutes the whole labor. But if I was able to put myself in a different state of mind and focus on other parts of my body I could make it through the contraction and fully enjoyed the “break” I got in between. I thought about the waves at the beach and the warm sun, and how each contraction was a step closer to meeting my baby. I honestly felt so in tune with my baby girl during the delivery. Before things got tough Braedon said to me, “Remember Stef, you’re just the passenger”. And that phrase helped get me through a lot of the contractions too. I just had to let my body do what it needed to do and not fight it or tense up. I also thought about my two-year-old and his cute little voice saying, “Mommy! You’re tough!” which is something we often say when one of us gets hurt.
For most of the labor, I wanted to be sitting mostly upright with my legs in the butterfly position. I felt like I could really relax my body that way. I tried putting my legs straight out in front of me and noticed that I was way more tense and it made the contractions worse. Just before shift change at 7 pm I asked to be checked again and the same nurse said in her totally unconvincing voice that I was at a 7 or an 8. My mom looked at me at that point and said, “Steffy, it’s gonna go really fast from here ok?” And even though I wanted to give up and get the epidural at this point (mostly just so I could rest) I realized she was right and that I just needed to push through.
We were then left alone for about 45 minutes. I was starting to get really panicky and kept telling my mom I needed to be checked again. My mom told me later that she was so shocked and annoyed that we were left alone for that long since I was a mole tip (second time delivery) and going natural. I mean, I could’ve had that baby any minute! Luckily the new nurse finally came in and my mom turned to her and said, “You know, she’s one that’s really in control, I think she needs to be checked”. I get really quiet in labor and my mom said that usually with a natural delivery you can tell right where the mom is at by her demeanor but since I go so inward it’s hard to know. Well, my mom’s intuition was right (thank heavens she was there!) and the nurse told me I was at a 9! (This was around 7:45-8pm). Unfortunately, after my experience with the last nurse, I let my mind get the best of me and kind of convinced myself that I wasn’t really that far along. I wished I had just let myself be excited and happy that I was so close! But in my head, I was thinking, “Oh that can’t be right. I’m gonna have to do this forever!” haha. So dramatic!
The nurse called my OB and she came in to break my water. Braedon said this was the hardest part for him to watch. I honestly don’t remember it being bad at all, but it did take her about 5 times to finally break it! After my water broke my OB told me she wanted me to lay side to side with peanut ball in between my legs. I was bulging more on my left side which meant that baby was coming down a little crooked. Oh man, I did NOT want to move! Plus I knew that once my water broke contractions would be harder- and the doctor made the mistake of telling me that they’d be more intense. Definitely not what you want to hear when you’re trying NOT to focus on pain! The nurses also kept asking me to rate my pain during the delivery and I honestly COULDN’T do it. I would just open my eyes and glare at them and kind of wave them off. My mom kindly told them I was trying not to focus on the pain and to please stop asking- so glad I had her there!
The peanut ball was the hardest part for me. Those contractions were SO intense! During those contractions, I thought about my baby girl. I thought about doing skin to skin, breastfeeding her, taking a bath with her, and just staring at her cute face! I also thought so much about the angels I could feel there; like my Aunt Carrie and Braedon’s Grandma Marion. I remember thinking “Grandma Marion- you were a nurse too- help me get this baby OUT!” The crazy thing about those contractions is I really did feel my baby moving down! It was so surreal. My water was broken at 8 pm and I was pushing by 8:21 pm. Those 21 minutes were brutal but I loved feeling so connected to what my body was doing and feeling like my baby and I were truly a team! I told my mom twice during that time period, “I don’t want to do this anymore”. And she kept asking me if I was feeling the urge to push. From all her L&D experience she knew that phrases like that meant it was almost over! I pushed with one contraction while I was still laying on my side but it didn’t feel quite right so I moved back to a sitting position.
It felt SO good to push. I finally had something to focus on! The contractions during pushing didn’t hurt but I remember feeling the “ring of fire” again while the baby was crowning and that was SUPER intense. But it was so helpful to have everyone there cheering me on and saying things like, “Woah! That was a great push!” Just like my first delivery, my mom was able to tell me that, “With the next contraction, you could have your baby!” And that was sooooo so good to hear. It gave me all the motivation I needed to push hard and just get her here!
At 8:40 pm I was able to finally meet my baby girl! I was ECSTATIC. I was so happy to just have her in my arms and the pain instantly faded away. She was perfect in every way. I was able to dry her off and just stare at her little body and put her right up to me skin to skin! I delivered at a baby-friendly hospital which was honestly magical because I got to keep her skin to skin for two hours before they even weighed her. They did all of her assessments and medications while she was skin to skin with me and we nursed for an hour after delivery. I was in HEAVEN just breathing her in and staring at every inch of her perfect little body. I wish that I bottle up and relive that moment over again and again.
Quinn Louise Murdock was 8lbs 1oz and 20 inches long. She has the sweetest spirit and my mom, mother in law, Braedon and myself all swear she’s already smiled at us! haha. Might be wishful thinking. She’s currently snuggled up on my chest as I write this and I feel pretty special because I’m the only person she’ll do this with. It feels like she’s always been a part of our family and we’re so happy to have her here with us!