A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Jack Jack Attack: My Birth Story

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder

41 weeks and another doctor appointment. My doctor had this way of telling me when I was going to go into labor. The week before last she said “you will go into labor next week.” Last week she said “you will go into labor next week.” I knew she was full of shit, but it didn’t help when week after week went by and nothing happened. Last week we decided if there was no baby by today then we would induce. I knew there were risks to induce and I knew there were risks to wait. I put my faith in my doctor to steer me in the right direction. So when she told me today that we were not going to induce I was confused, angry and felt alone. I had spent the last 2 weeks walking in the dry sand in the hot July afternoon, running up and down the stairs, jamming liquids into my vagina, eating weird foods and cursing people out. My husband and I had followed all of her suggestions and we showed up to this appointment today with our bags packed. The plan was to induce today. I began to get this feeling that I would have no one to rely on. She left the room to do god only knows what. When she returned she said the OB in charge wants to induce. The tension in the room grew. I was glad we were back to the plan we had made, but I was angry. My doctor began to grow frustrated as well as my husband and I questioned the indecisiveness. I trusted this woman with my baby and my delivery and I now wondered why things felt like they were falling apart.

The 24 hour eviction notice had been ignored by my tenant. The next morning my husband and I arrived at the birthing center and checked ourselves in. We were led to the delivery room where we were allowed to set up shop. My doctor did another vaginal exam. No dilation, no effacement and the baby had not descended. My doctor inserted the Cervidil and told me “I’ll be back in 12 hours.” I was so excited. We took pictures, called family, did crossword puzzles, watched TV, ate yummy hospital food and joked around with each other. I read US weekly and got the inside gossip on The Bachelorette. I knew Ashley was going to pick JP. He was kind of hot, but had this wife beater vibe about him. My husband agreed, but said the other guy was douche too.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder


Early in the evening I began to feel contractions. They felt like throbbing menstrual cramps. “Yeah, that’s how they start. They will feel like something else later,” a nurse said. We stared at the monitor and watched the lines rise and fall. It was so exciting to see the line go up and be able to feel the onset of the contraction matching it. I was determined to do this labor naturally and feel the full experience of labor. This decision was not made for the usual reasons that women want natural child births. I was in fact terrified of the epidural. Completely and utterly scared-for-my-life horrified of the idea of a needle in my spine. So, I had built an argument in my mind to help me through this. I wanted to really feel labor. I wanted to have this real life experience as I would maybe never get it again. I always did do things the hard way and this would be one more example of that. If I could just remember all of this then maybe it would help me avoid having to face that giant needle that they refuse to even show you in birthing classes. I had also read a natural childbirth book and did “dress rehearsals” with my husband. He talked me through pretend contractions and rubbed my back. We thought about hiring a doula, but what could be so hard? I mean, people stupider than us have kids every day. It can’t be that difficult…

My husband’s jokes stopped being funny at about 8pm. “Get the tennis balls,” I said to him. He took them out and pushed them hard into my lower back. “I think we are entering serious labor,” he said quoting the natural childbirth book we had read. The tennis balls worked for a few minutes then I smacked them out of his hands and told him to stop touching me. He encouraged me to remain calm and breathe. I tried. I really did. The only thing that seemed to work was moaning loudly through the contractions. What didn’t help was that due to being induced things were not happening naturally. The contractions were on top of each other. I had no time to regroup, no time to do something else. “I don’t think I can do this,” I said. My husband kept encouraging me and reminding me of the things we had rehearsed “imagine yourself on top of the contraction, ride it like a wave,” he said. The nurse came in and noticed I had begun to unravel. So far they had stayed out of the room at our request to practice our newly learned techniques of natural childbirth. She didn’t even mention drugs to me out of respect for my decision. I asked the question “what are my options?” I caved and asked for the Stadol, a narcotic. She gave it. As quickly as I felt the cold liquid join my blood and course through my veins I felt higher than a crack head. “You could sell this on the streets,” I said. My husband laughed and sat down clearly relieved that his wife was no longer writhing in pain.

But I never felt relief. I felt pain, then high, then more pain. This did nothing to provide relief. But everyone around me thought I had begun to feel better because I could no longer scream. I went into my head and now was really all alone. I was awake but dreaming. I had visions of my childhood neighborhood made out of plastic. I shook my head and tried to wake up. It was the feeling just before a trip was about to turn bad. The contractions continued to build and push back against the drug. Soon I was sober again and in more pain than even the most talented writer could explain. My doctor arrived at this 12 hour mark to check me for signs of progression in this labor. I had not dilated, the baby had not descended and my cervix had not effaced. She inserted more Cervidil and said we have to do it again. “I’ll be back in 12 hours” she said. It was during these blurry next few hours where I lied down, moaned, writhed, stood up, sat down, and cried. I threw up for the first of five times. I could not control my bladder through the heaves and peed in the bed. There was blood on the bed. Then my water broke. I didn’t think twice about rolling around in this mess. I was far beneath that at this point. The nurse checked me for signs of progression. Nothing. She then stripped the membranes. I used to shoot off at the mouth that birth is not like in the movies with women screaming and acting like animals, but today I screamed and acted like an animal. That was more painful than delivery itself. I arced my back and flopped around while trying to scream, but it hurt too bad to get any sound out. I don’t remember asking for the epidural, but I did. We waited for the anesthesiologist who took 15 years to arrive. My husband was asked to leave the room. The nurse and I hugged each other with pillows between us. I didn’t feel anything. I turned to lie down and everything stopped.

In that moment I would have divorced my husband, married the inventor of the epidural, made love to them and bore them many children. I could finally focus, think, sleep. I tried to forget about everything for awhile, but I could not stop shaking. My doctor came in and watched me vibrating on the bed for a moment and asked if I was cold. I said no, but I could not stop. She said it would stop; that my body was just experiencing trauma from enduring so much of the natural labor. Or I suppose I should say unnatural labor. I had bitten off more than I could chew by sticking to my original plan of natural childbirth after choosing to be induced. It was getting away from me now. Women reading this that have had children are cracking a knowing smile and those who have not are tensely waiting for the gory delivery scene that will once again have them questioning whether this whole baby thing is really for them. That doula would have been nice right about now. My husband and I were scared, confused and lost. We didn’t know which way to go. We had no plan anymore.

This baby would not descend so I spent the morning (the next morning) squatting, playing tug of war with a towel and a nurse, and finally being given Pitocin. Pain took on yet another level of definition. They said the epidural doesn’t last long. Who knew? Now let’s push and count to 10. Another thing I did not know was how far away the number 10 was. Breathe in breathe out breathe in again hold your breath and PUSH. While you are pushing everyone around you is screaming PUSH! Because I suppose in their minds they are helping you push by saying the word. I never made it to 10. If I could make it to 7 I would be in China. If I could make it to 8 I would land on the moon. If I could make it to 9 I would be the first fucking person to walk on Mars. If I could make it to 10 I could deliver this baby. But I could not. I didn’t know 10 was so far away. My baby has this toy that sings to 10. This annoying woman’s voice very chipper and melodic says “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!” I hate her.

The nurses and doctors came in and out. When one arrived at my feet she would ask “has he descended at all?” The others would look up with exaggerated positivity and say “Yeah! A little!” “Do you think I am stupid!?” I yelled. “Something is wrong! I know it!” I then began to beg and plead with them to get this thing out. “Please, you guys, you don’t understand. I can’t do this. Please help. Give me a c-section. Where is the suction thing? Where are the forceps? Please, you guys, I can’t do this. Please. You guys.” They put more Stadol in my IV. My son was coming down posterior. This is when the baby’s face is away from the tail bone so that the back of his head presses down on it. It’s what they call back labor. I had also pulled some muscles in my ribs from throwing up so there was the feeling of knives in my chest. They kept repeating that I was the only one who could get this baby out. They just did not seem to understand that I truly believed I could not do it. So I needed to get the fuck out of there right away. I tried to get my legs out of the stirrups. I tried to just get the hell out of there. But I realized I could not escape. I became at one point convinced that the only way out of this was to die. I wanted to die. I felt trapped. So I punched and kicked the IVs and machines around me. There were many people coming and going. A small Indian man arrived. He was the head honcho I know now. They called in the big guns. This baby was NOT going to come out and it was too late for a c-section. He placed his fingers inside my vagina and pulled as hard as he could. My whole body jerked. This man means business. Finally someone is going to help me. My son had pooped in me and amniotic fluid was gone. He spoke to the other doctors and nurses. All I heard was “episiotomy.” The doctor said to me “we’re going to give you a small incision.” The word small may have been an exaggeration, but anyway. Alright bitches! Let’s light this candle! Come on, slice and dice! Knives and scissors came out. I had renewed hope and began to push and groan and grunt like an animal. Blood began to rush from me. I began to fade. I vaguely remember about 15 people around watching. I don’t remember much after that. I heard a female observer say “I see the head!!!” The baby came out. It was a boy. I could only say “ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod.” I had dreamed of this moment so many times. The joy, the tears. Now I sat and stared. No emotion. Drugged up and numb.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding her son.

They handed me my son, Jack. He latched on immediately. I watched him nurse; just watched him because I didn’t need to intervene. He knew what he was doing. He didn’t wait for direction. I began to joke around with the nurses. I apologized for the drama. Just as fast as the pain came, it went. It was like coming up from under water. I took a breath and it was all over. Things were clear again. I held this baby like I had been holding him my whole life. I handled him with ease. No one told me what to do. I just knew. Like Jack knew how to eat. The pain, the fear, the drama is a distant memory now. Even in that first day I forgot most of it. It took my husband and me comparing notes to recall the events. We laughed. We swore we would never do this again. Another thing that didn’t last…

Abby Theuring, MSW