Oh baby! – Expecting the Unexpected in Childbirth

Expect the unexpected childbirth, baby

It was my third child, I knew how this was going to go… I’d get the epidural and BOOM, Baby No. 3! Easy, peasy. Yea, not so much… This is a short story in how to expect the unexpected, in hopes that my story will speak to you, so you can learn from my silly assumption that “I had this,” when God, He had other plans.

The Lights of my Life

March 2016, I found out I was going to have another baby. A few months later, I was incredibly happy to learn it was going to be another boy. I have one daughter (5) and a son (3). My daughter is the light of the my life, my first born. She’s my “mommy;” very caring and compassionate. She’s also very bossy. Up until the month Baby No. 3 was born, she insisted that the baby in mommy’s tummy was a girl. No doubt – a girl. I, on the other hand, was looking forward to having another boy.

My son, the three-year-old, was cool, independent, silly and a self-starter: didn’t need (or want mostly) anyone to play with him, took naps when he was ready – nobody needed to tell him to lay down. He’s a joy! He’s the other sunshine in my life. I hug him tight even when he says, “mommy, no.” (smile). So yes, I was excited to have another boy. At the age of 37, I needed easy/easier.

Yup – Here We Go

Fast forward to December 8, 2016, Baby No. 3 made the announcement that he was on the way at 3 p.m. I was on my last conference call with the digital team at HGTV and Travel Channel. I was listening more than participating because I had started to clock my contractions:

3:09 pm, December 8, 2016
3:18 pm (unclear)
4:22 pm (yup – here we go)
4:39 pm
5:28 pm
6:16 pm …

Bearable contractions kept up their erratic pace until 10 p.m, after which they became more steady and strong. It was about this time I called my boss/coworker/friend (smile) to come over and watch the kids. She had graciously offered to help at any time, even if she received the call at 3 a.m. She was a life savior. Since moving to Knoxville, TN, in June 2016, we hadn’t yet hired a baby sitter/nanny and family was far away in Maryland and South Carolina.

We arrive at the hospital around 11 p.m. and I’m still clocking the contractions, thinking any moment they’re going to stay at 2-3 minutes apart and we’ll have a baby any moment. After all, this is my third child and I had heard all of the stories – the third child always comes fast… or not?

11:30 pm
11:37 pm
11:46 pm
11:51 pm
11:57 pm
12:16 am, December 9, 2016
12:26 am
12:33 am
12:40 am …


12:45 am
12:50 am
12:59 am
1:05 am
1:10 am
1:14 am…

By this time, the contractions were getting righteous (aka – too freaking strong to keep track – LOL). I’ve gone from calmly walking the quiet halls of the Labor and Delivery floor to having my husband press on my lower back each time a contraction comes because it helps immensely with the pain but not enough. Now, I know that most folks would have received the epidural the minute they arrived at the hospital. But like with my first 2 children, I wanted to labor without drugs as long as possible, however, with that comes risk. What if you labor too long and then you can’t get the epidural? I just knew that I could do labor for as long as I thought possible and then, when I was ready, I’d request the epidural.

I Labored the Same Way

With my daughter, I labored the same way – at home as long as I could and then went to the hospital. I was making fried chicken during the contractions for goodness sakes. But once they got worse, we rushed to the hospital and once I couldn’t tolerate the pain any more, I requested the epidural. Sadly, with my daughter, my labor stalled for another 10 hours (!!!). She clearly wasn’t ready. When my daughter finally did arrive, the nurse said, “She’s putting you on notice. She’ll do things when she’s ready.” And those words still ring true today.

With my son, I labored the same way but once I received the epidural, things moved quickly. Eventually, my son, pushed himself out. The doctor said, “stop pushing, he’s coming out on his own.” That was a first! I only pushed about 4 times!! Both labor and delivery were a breeze, so I assumed that my third labor would go just as well…

Dad always said, “Never assume. It’s the worst thing you can do.” Seems I’m still learning this lesson, Dad.

Something Wasn’t Right

At 2 am on December 9, 2016, I received the epidural. I was instructed to lay flat, so the epidural could work its way through my entire body. About 20 minutes, I was told, and the epidural should kick in. After 30 minutes, I was still in pain. An hour later, I received another dosage of the epidural. After 30 more minutes, I still had pain but at 70 percent vs. 100 percent. Part of my left thigh was numb but as anyone who has received an epidural knows, once it really works, you aren’t supposed to feel your legs. A scary thought and feeling but that’s how I always knew the drug was working. This time, I felt my legs. I knew something wasn’t right.

By 4 am, I’m still in pain and still, no Baby No. 3. It’s at this moment, reality sets in. I’m going to have to delivery this baby with “half” the effects of a full epidural… Immediately, I broke down into an ugly cry. My delivery nurse and husband quickly gave me words of encouragement and reassurance that I could delivery this child. And, of course, I didn’t have a choice. I took deep breaths, closed my eyes and prayed silently to myself.

Out of Body Experience

Over the next two hours, I experienced what only could have been an out of body experience because once it was over, it was over and the pain was gone, like it never happened. During those 2 hours, I labored. I cried. I breathed deeply. Yelled out to Jesus Christ, Lord and even threw some cruse words in between. A majority of the final hours, my eyes were closed. I shut off the world around me.

I did my best to focus in on releasing the pain through breathing but sometimes that wasn’t enough. The act of taking a deep breath, holding it and at the same time, pushing hard through your lower body to push out a baby is in fact, very distracting. Haha. I listened to encouraging words from the nurse and my husband. I also listened to beautiful cello music via Spotify. The words and music pushed me through to the end. My eyes didn’t open until I heard the sweet sound of my son’s cries. Pure elation and relief, to say the least.

Through this whole process, I learned that one of the most beautiful elements about delivering a child – with little or no epidural – is that you realize just how much your soul and body can take; just how hard it is to push through when something seems (and feels) impossible to overcome. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a cliche but cliche’s are what they are because they’re true.

Expect The Unexpected

Is there a way to prepare for the unexpected? Yes. Expect that the unexpected will happen. Go into labor and delivery with a plan but be prepared for that plan to blow up. Adjust accordingly and remember to breathe. Most importantly, have a powerful support team around you to build you up, not bring you down: “You’ve GOT THIS” vs. “Girl, I don’t know how you’re doing this…” Repeat that to yourself now and then tell me which one brings you up or down?

I look at my now 2-month-old who’s growing fast and I often think about what happened on December 9, 2016. I not only had my Baby No. 3 but I learned a lot about myself; just how much my mental and physical state can take. I learned the importance of being prepared – the best you can – to expect the unexpected.

rani and babyThis post was written by Rani Craft Robinson. Rani is a digital content producer with a passion for writing, travel, and photography. For almost 15 years, she’s worked in the digital media space for a major cable network and most recently, has taken the position of Director of Convergence (show content) for the digital platforms of HGTV and Travel Channel. Rani is a wife and mother of 3 (newborn, 3, and 5). Born and raised in Washington, DC, she currently resides in Knoxville, TN. Follow Rani’s adventures on Instagram @ranicraft

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    February 17, 2017 at 2:51 PM

    Rani, I was feeling your pain throughout each contraction and as a Mother I can totally relate to it. But it was painful to say the least! I suppose you also had to keep yourself preoccupied and that’s why you were able to document the times of your contractions. Your little angel will one day get the chance to read this and just appreciate and love you even more. Thank you for sharing this excruciating yet inspiring birth experience!

    • Christine St.Vil
      February 18, 2017 at 1:51 AM

      I totally agree sis!!! I don’t even know how she managed to remember the details like she did, so that’s amazing. And yup, he sure will appreciate her even more 🙂

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