You wonder from the beginning what your story will be. They are never the same. Unique as the mismatched china in your forgotten cabinet, dreams and scenarios of what will be. But deep down knowing it is out of your control.
Whenever people asked if I had a birth plan, I said not really. I told my doula I had parameters. But I was open to other things. I knew there’d be pain involved despite Ina May’s story of the woman from the 1800’s who gave birth to her baby while sleeping. I knew my pain tolerance was low. But I also wanted a goal and aim for a natural birth. At the same time, I wanted to keep my options open and leave pain meds on the counter. Just in case…
My due date rolled around and left. I was feeling….pregnant and by the time my appointment arrived on April 16th I was more than ready to get the ball rolling. I walked up The Midwife Center’s LONG flight of steps (who planned this building??) with a heart full of hope. Since I was so close to 41 weeks (2 days away) I was secretly hoping and praying for a membrane sweep. But during my appointment I was informed that the midwife on call was too busy and that I would need to come back the following day for one. They also had me schedule a BPP (ultrasound) and NST (non-stress test) for the following morning.
I left my appointment completely downcast. Jake and his mom had been at the appointment with me and I sulkily made my way to a local diner with them. I was just so discouraged. Almost a week past my due date and I had really been hoping for labor to begin that night. Little did I know…
I came home, rested and opened my devotional up after my mom asked if I’d read the Bible that day. I had, but nothing spoke to me. She mentioned “sometimes what is written in the devotional for the day speaks to you.” I debated about what to read but finally opened up a short monthly devotional I use. I found myself crying as I opened up the devotional to April 16th’s reading of God answering prayers. It was written for me. Cliche or God? I take the latter.
The rest of the evening was spent hanging out and watching The Big Bang Theory. At midnight we went to sleep (note: don’t go to bed late if you are hoping to go into labor).
At 1:20 am, April 17th, I woke up to use the bathroom. No sooner had I maneuvered myself out of bed when I felt the gush. I ran to the bathroom and felt my shorts and they were soaked. My water had broken! Since I was GBS positive and thought I needed to head to the hospital right away, I woke Jake and called the midwife (1:45 a.m.) . Contrary to what we thought, she told me to labor at home and call in the morning to make a plan with the midwife on call (shifts switched around 8 a.m.).
Jake ran upstairs to tell his mom what was happening and then we laid back down in bed. I really was going to try and sleep but no sooner had I laid down when the contractions began (2:15 a.m). And they did not start off too mildly.
It is so true that your contractions become more intense after the water breaking (not that I have anything to compare it to….but when you can’t talk through your contractions from almost the beginning of them happening, I’m assuming I pretty much got only the intense ones). They were coming 10-13 minutes apart and soon after that 5-10 minutes apart.
By this point I could not talk through the contractions and finally called the midwife again to let her know the situation. When she heard what was happening she changed the plan and told us to meet her at the hospital at 6:40 a.m. At this point it was 4 a.m.
We moved into the living room to labor. I laid on the couch and Jake made camp on the floor. At this point my body was emptying itself every way it knew possible, and I ended up puking two times. I gripped my peppermint essential oil in my hand and breathed it in to help with the nausea. It helped!
Finally it was time to go. My contractions were coming quickly and while Jake and his mom were thinking of any extra items that were not already packed and bringing everything to the car, I was just trying to make it through each contraction. If Jake was not near by when one came, I would cry out, “Jake! Another one!” He would run to me and place counter pressure on my hips during the contractions. Let me tell you, it helped. Even though the pain was still miserable, the counter pressure relieved some of it and anything helped at that point.
I was so thankful that my mother-in-law was there and willing to drive us to the hospital. It allowed for Jake to sit in the back with me continuing the counter pressure. Thankfully it was a Friday morning which meant less traffic and thankfully we were at the beginning of it so the ride to the hospital was not as long as it could have been.
We were admitted to the hospital at 7 a.m. and wheeled up to my room. My FAVORITE (top 2) midwife, Dia, was on call and as soon as I saw her I weakly said, “I’m so glad it’s you.” Jake and I both had hoped it would be her or one other midwife. Once I was on the bed they checked me for dilation. I was 7 centimeters!!! I was also about as exhausted as a person who had just completed mile 23 in a marathon and was not sure how much more I had to give.
We decided to let me labor a little more and administer the first round of GBS antibiotics and about an hour and half later I was checked again and had made it to 8 cm. Unfortunately, I could not have Nubain to take the edge off because I was so far progressed (they had actually told me this at 7 cm) and my only option was an epidural. I asked what Dia and the nurse suggested. They thought the epidural would be a good option because I had no energy and would need it to push. I asked Jake what he thought. He knew how adamant I had been about going naturally, but he also knew I was open to other options.
As I sat in my upright position unable to move because moving just plain hurt, we decided to go with the epidural. I had an hour of sleep from the night before and had been in labor for around 6-7 hours at this point. I was beyond exhausted. I found out later that Jake really wanted me to get the epidural. He said looking at me as I was falling asleep sitting up, he knew I needed the rest. I also was SO READY to have the pain relieved.
Over the next couple hours I got the epidural, relaxed and labored down. I remember lying there once the epidural had kicked in, feeling cozy. Lying in bed without any pain at that point felt superb. It was quiet and peaceful for a little while; kind of like the calm in the midst of the storm (a good one!). Our doula arrived (9 a.m.) soon after the epidural had started working (our original doula was out of town actually and so a different doula ended up being there, but was unable to come until this time).
At 11:47a.m. (it was written on our white board so I remember the exact time) I was checked again and was 10 cm, 100% effaced and he was +1. It was go time. We got stopped for a little bit at this point though because I needed my second round of antibiotics. It was being run through an IV and my hand was on FIRE. I told them there was no way I could focus on pushing my baby out while the antibiotic was being administered. So they slowed the drip down and I did not end up pushing for about another hour.
Around 12:30 p.m. the pushing began and went on for two hours. At one point there was talk of a vacuum delivery or use of forceps. Jake and I were both immensely against this and I began pushing even harder–motivation factor. I apparently made enough progress to not need either of those! However, at 2:30 p.m. the midwife said she would suggest making an episiotomy. This was something else we were against but after 2 hours of pushing Jake and I looked at each other and agreed to have it done. No sooner had we agreed to it when I pushed our SON out.
I remember pushing and staring at my mountain of a stomach when all of a sudden it arched and fell down and Emmett was born. Someone shouted, “I see testicles!” and he was placed on my belly. Someone explained he had to stay there for the delayed cord clamping because his umbilical cord was short. I remember just sobbing with Jake. Jake checked to make sure Emmett was fine and then just stared at me and later told me he just wanted to make sure I was OK. The moment was completely indescribable, but I will try to give it words.
It was chaos with everyone doing their jobs. It was hazy all around me, but I could clearly see a brand new baby lying on top of me. I couldn’t believe I had just birthed a baby, let alone MY SON. The moment was warm and cozy. There was nothing else to think about because the moment held a thousand tiny memories enveloped in a single major one. It was busy. I was covered in blood and goo and couldn’t have been happier. There was this familiar stranger lying on me, completely dependent on all of us, but especially his parents. Emmett was born at 2:35 p.m.
Let me just pause to say that we were blessed with an incredible staff. My favorite midwife, a new-to-us (but awesome) doula, and a nurse who really cared about me and my needs. That same nurse even came in the following evening to hold Emmett and hang out with my two friends and me. She commented positively on mine and Jake’s relationship and teamwork during the whole birthing process.
We are both so thankful for the birth of our son. I know God was in the center of it all orchestrating every moment. We were so blessed with a healthy baby, an incredible staff and loving family and friends. What a miracle a child is! Birth is truly a unique experience.
(The hospital made a big deal out of a ‘special couple’s dinner’ the night after Emmett was born. It was sweet; they wheeled in a table with “special” food and a bottle of sparkling grape juice.)
(Best view of everything ;))