Birth Story: “I need an epidural!”

Alyssa is 31 years old, married to Ryan and a working mom of two girls. Below is the story of how her second daughter was born on March 5, 2019.

I knew my second delivery was probably going to be a quick one, and I knew I wanted an epidural. I had tried to make it without one when I delivered my firstborn, Clara. But with her, when I was nine centimeters (cm) dilated I got an epidural and it was literally life-changing! So, going in with my second, I knew I wanted one. 

But, since my second came so fast, things didn’t quite go as we had planned. 

Hurry up and wait

For my firstborn, I lost my mucus plug, contractions started about an hour later, and then I went into labor on the same day. When that happened this time, four days before my due date, I was ready to go… but, nothing happened right away so, I just went to work like normal. The next day, Clara was sick. I kept her home from school so I could work from home that day and be with her. Scarlett had a different plan…

Around 11:30 am the contractions started. I was texting my husband, Ryan, and he asked if he needed to come home. At this point, I was kind of in denial that anything was really happening because I had been measuring a week behind my whole pregnancy – same as my firstborn. I was convinced I was going to be a week past our due date. I told him to wait until the contractions were closer together. I continued working.

By 2:30 pm, they were 10 minutes apart. I told Ryan that he should probably come home. He got there around 3:30 pm, and by 4 pm my contractions were seven minutes apart. I continued to work until the end of my workday since we were waiting for my mom to get here to watch Clara for us. By 5 pm they were three minutes apart. I was still feeling pretty good, but Ryan was a little nervous and starting to think we might be having the baby at our house! Once my mom got there around 5:30 pm, we were off to St. Luke’s. 

Getting ready at St. Luke’s

We got to the Birthing Center and everyone at the desk was super nice to us. At this point, my contractions felt like massive cramps. They were painful, but I was breathing through them. 

We got all settled into our room at around 6pm. I put on a hospital gown and got all situated in the bed. Nurses hooked me up to monitors to see my contractions and checked to see how dilated I was, which was only 4 cm. I was kind of surprised, because I expected to be farther along than that. They checked on me an hour later at 7 pm and I was still only at 5 cm. They hooked me up to an IV to get me ready for an epidural. 

Then my body started shaking all over like I was cold. I could not stop shaking, and my contractions were getting more intense – like my whole body was involved. My nurse knew what was happening right away. She told me that my body was making a ton of progress. All of a sudden, we realized that I was ready to deliver. I told my nurse, “I can’t do this without an epidural.” But at that point, my body had progressed so fast and it was too late.   

Delivering without an epidural

It was a pretty crazy experience, and my nurses were awesome. They told me I could do it without an epidural, and they started coaching me. Then Dr. VanStraaten came in and said, “I hear you’re making great progress and ready to do this!”

“I need an epidural!” I said to her. I just had it in my head that I could not deliver without one. At that point, it was pretty painful and I kept thinking: I can’t do this. 

After checking my progress, Dr. VanStraaten looked at me and said, “I think you just need to give me three good pushes.”

“Are you sure? Do you promise?” I asked her. 

She was awesome, she said, “I’m pretty sure!” – in a confident reassuring way. 

Then, literally three pushes later, the pain was suddenly all gone. At 7:47pm they laid our newborn on my chest and I just started bawling. 

Welcome to the world, Scarlett 

Scarlett wrapped up in the hospital.With Clara, I labored around 12 hours and pushed for 55 minutes. With my second, the entire labor only lasted eight and only three pushes. I was only at St. Luke’s an hour and 47 minutes before I got to hold my newborn baby girl. 

Ryan and I were just shocked at how fast everything went. I was shocked that I was strong enough to do it without an epidural. The staff at St. Luke’s Birthing Center was super motivating and accommodating through the whole process, and I’m super thankful to them. Our initial nurse that was assigned to us stayed past her scheduled shift to make sure everything was going smoothly with the first transition of nurses. I was very grateful for that.  She even stopped by the next morning to see how everything was going.

The next morning we decided to name our new baby girl Scarlett Lynn Miller. When Clara met her for the first time, she just loved her. She gave her a hug and a kiss and she wanted to hold her right away. It was just the sweetest moment. 

A day later we were ready to go home, but we loved our stay at the Birthing Center. The renovations are beautiful and it’s a very comfortable environment. One of the moms I was talking to about it was like, “It kind of feels like you’re in a spa!” Which I agree with…minus the pain! 

St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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