Nikola’s Birth Story
My first baby is one month old today! In celebration, I decided to write out my labor and delivery experience. I like hearing other people’s birth stories and wanted to share mine in case anyone else is in the same boat. If words like “dilation” or “pushing” weird you out, I highly recommend not reading further 😛
During my 36 week doctor appointment, my OBGYN took my blood pressure as always. It’s a red flag for diastolic blood pressure to be over 90 and mine was 91. The doctor told us that it was probably fine, but if I had another high blood pressure reading, they would induce the baby ASAP. However, I didn’t have hypertension in any subsequent doctors appointments, so I continued to be pregnant for a few more weeks.
My mom really wanted me to induce labor. She works in Houston & took two weeks off to come to Utah and help me with the new baby. She wanted this limited time to be spent with the baby, but I told her, “I’m not having a baby based on your work schedule!” because I wanted to go into spontaneous labor and have a It’s-happening-now experience of rushing to the hospital.
However, my expected due date was June 20. And on June 20, nothing happened. Same with June 21. And June 22. I was told to expect contractions even before going into labor – as a first time mom, my body supposedly would practice the process. But I felt absolutely nothing.
Baby was only a few days late, but I was not happy about it. I didn’t really enjoy being pregnant and a 40 week belly is a big, uncomfortable belly. I hadn’t realized how much I was mentally holding out for June 20 to be finished. When I continued to be pregnant past my due date, it felt like I had crossed a marathon finish line only to be told that I needed to keep running.
On June 23, I woke up & put on my glasses the way I do every morning (I am not a functional person without corrected vision). One eye was incredibly blurry and blurry vision is a symptom of hypertension. I took my blood pressure at home and my diastolic BP was high. I thought to myself, “I’m probably going to get induced today!”
I hopped in the shower and took off my glasses to do so. The previously blurry eye was now perfectly clear. Turns out, I had only taken out one contact the night before? Not sure how that happened, but the blurry vision was a false alarm! Still, I took more blood pressure readings at home and continued to have >90 readings. So I woke up Igor & we went to the OB Emergency Room.
At the hospital, they took my blood pressure periodically, and I had multiple normal readings. I was relieved, but also annoyed. I thought about how I was going to slapped with a stupidly expensive emergency room bill and asked the nurse if they could just induce me today – I was donee. But I was told that if I got on the schedule for an elective induction, I probably wouldn’t be called in for a few days. Darn. Igor & I started to make brunch plans.
But then, a nurse came in and informed us that I had a high blood pressure reading. Which qualified me for induction right then and there! They transferred us to Labor & Delivery and I cried stress-tears in anticipation of what was to come.
For those unfamiliar, the process of labor and delivery involves waiting until the cervix is 10 cm dilated (there’s that word) before mom starts to push. To get this process rolling and open my cervix to 3 cm, the doctors gave me a medication & inserted a balloon in me. This felt like painful menstrual cramps, but was bearable.
After that, induced moms will get a hormone called Pitocin to open up the cervix more. At this point, my mom insisted that I get an epidural. I didn’t think I needed it at the time, but she was right to call the anesthesiologist when she did! I didn’t end up needing Pitocin – my body progressed with labor naturally from that point. And while getting the epidural, I was in so much freaking pain.
Even after the epidural was placed, I felt like William Wallace in the last fifteen minutes of Braveheart. I started out wincing, then escalated to screaming, and then (apparently) escalated to a string of profanities. The nurse hypothesized that the reason I was still in so much agony was that I had progressed in labor quicker than expected, so she checked my cervix and I was at a 7. The anesthesiologist was called in again to up my pain medication and after fifteen minutes, the relief was heavenly. After experiencing both the before and after of an epidural, I highly recommend epidurals haha. It was painless to get all the way to 10 cm. And when we started pushing and baby was actually delivered, that whole process was painless as well. Epidurals are magic
I was told that pushing usually takes a couple of hours, but after only sixteen minutes, they placed baby on my chest.
At the time, the University of Utah hospital allowed me two guests during labor and delivery. I chose to have Igor and my mom with me, but if Covid policies were different, I would have loved to had have a birth photographer as well. Instead, I asked my mom to hold a video camera when baby arrived, and I love the footage she was able to get. The below photos are screenshots from her video 🙂
Igor wanted to name the baby something Balkan. I had thought that “Igor” was an exotic name when I first met him, but turns out my husband has a very American-mainstream-sounding name for where he’s from. Igor really wanted to name our child “Darko.” I was strongly opposed. Once we found out we were having a boy, I wanted to name the baby Nick. Igor’s last name is spelled Durovic, and I thought the rhyming of “Nick Durovic” would be cute. Igor told me that “Nikola” is a common name where he’s from & I liked Nikola, too, so we were agreed!
We decided to give our babies a Korean middle name. Korean names are two syllables long and siblings usually have a common syllable. My grandfather told me that our children’s generational syllable is “Chong” (종) and we consulted with Korean people who can tell the difference between a name & gibberish to choose 종학. That’s pronounced “Chong-Hak,” but we decided that when spelling it with the English alphabet to go “Chunghak” because of my maiden last name.
The first week of figuring out how to keep a small, dependent human alive was difficult. Largely because 1) we were super clumsy with everything from diapers to car seat buckles and 2) getting breast milk going was not easy for me. But we’ve since gotten the hang of things and can just enjoy our newborn. It definitely helps that we have wonderful friends and family around us who are so generous with their love and care. AND Igor and I both are blessed to have paid paternity/maternity leave. AND Nik is really such a good baby and only cries when he’s hungry (or mom is annoyingly trying to take photos of him) and can sleep through anything and overall has been really nice to his newb parents. We are so in love with him.