Mandy Moore is sharing details about her son's arrival into the world.
The new mom, 36, opens up about her birth story for son August "Gus" Harrison on a new episode of Informed Pregnancy Podcast with Dr. Elliot Berlin. Moore and husband Taylor Goldsmith welcomed their first child on Feb. 20, and from what the This Is Us actress recalls, labor turned out to be slightly different from what she expected.
"I'm like diving into this wave as it's coming at me. It was crazy," she says of labor pains. "I think that's what was so wild to me about just the concept of labor. Trying to imagine what it would be beforehand, and then when you're in the throes of it … I guess I'd taken all these classes and we talk about breathing and you talk about the techniques that your husband's going to help you with and the different tips and tricks."
"I felt super prepared in terms of, 'I know what I like, I know what's going to work with me.' And all of that just went out the window," she adds.
Moore says it ended up being "all about instinct" for her in the moment.
"It's like you're on this trip, you're on this acid trip or something. I was in my own head, doing my own thing," explains Moore. "I could hear people, I could hear suggestions and sometimes agree with them, sometimes I was like, no, no, no, no, I just have to stay the course of what's feeling good for me. But ultimately it was such an insular experience that I … which sounds silly that I guess I didn't really imagine it."
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"I felt like it was going to be somewhat more participatory, like with other people," she continues. "That I would see their faces and be awake and alert and listen to their suggestions and go like, 'Okay, yeah, I agree with that.' But ultimately, no, it was, my eyes were closed and I was on my own."
"It was my own narrative," says Moore, "my own story and everybody else was just in the background."
Moore says that she began her labor at home, soon transitioning to a hospital to finish the birth — noting the ride to the hospital was "awful."
"My sweet husband, they made a little bed for me in the very back of his car. So I was writhing around in pain," she recounts. "My plan was to do an unmedicated home birth. And then things had to shift and I was getting to go to the hospital and still have midwifery care, which was really a huge priority for me and I was really grateful for. But I still wanted to have an unmedicated birth. But while I was in the car on the way to the hospital, I was like, 'Taylor, I'm getting an epidural. I don't want you to be mad at me, but that's what's happening when we get to the hospital.' We live pretty far away, it was almost a 40-minute ride to the hospital at 3 o'clock in the morning."
She continues: "… We show up to the hospital, I remember moaning like an animal and trying to breathe through getting checked in and then getting into our room and getting settled in."
The singer and actress goes on to describe her labor as "intense," saying, "It was grueling. It was harrowing."
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With her platelets dropping "exponentially" during labor, Moore was denied an epidural by the anesthesiologist, which she says turned out to be for the best.
"It wasn't on the table for me, which was, I guess, good because my initial thought was like, I do want to do this unmedicated. But once I was in the throes of how painful it was, that wasn't even an option for me," she says.
After three hours of pushing, says Moore, doctors checked the baby's heart rate and noticed it was beginning to drop.
"It was crazy. The OB was just literally like, 'Okay, show's over.' Seven people walked in and he's like, 'So this is a vacuum and I'm going to attach this to the top of his head. And when I tell you to push, I want you to push harder than you ever have. And I'm going to pull at the same time and your baby's going to come out.' And I was just like, what?" she recalls. "It all happened so quickly. It was, one second everything was fine and then the next second it was like, this is happening. And literally I pushed harder than I had. And it went from no baby to a full body out in seconds."
"… Without even batting an eye, someone put him on my chest, he had a little hat on and it was just so unexpected. I was so confused," says Moore. "My husband was crying. I was like, this is not the way … I didn't even have a concept of — this is not the way I expected to feel. I just remember going, I'm so confused right now. And quickly that transitioned into being emotional too. And I just couldn't believe that it was over because it happened so quickly."
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The new mom says she "never felt higher" than the moment Gus was placed on her chest.
"I've never felt this kind of love. It was like the world stopped again, and you're not aware of anything else that's going on. That's why the tearing, all of it, it doesn't exist. It doesn't matter," she says. "You just have your baby on you. And I couldn't imagine anything else mattering."
After all of that, Moore says she still "can't wait to do it again."
"I've said to my husband so many times — and really anyone that has come by that will listen — I'm like, 'I can't wait to do it again.' As harrowing as the journey was, I miss it," she says. "I'm sad that I don't get to relive it or do it again or something. It's a hard feeling to describe, but I can look back now with such affection and fondness for myself and what that experience was, because it brought me Gus. It brought me this child who is my whole world now. And I'm so grateful for it. I'm grateful for how hard it was, because now I have the greatest gift in the way."
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