It’s been three weeks since Hadley’s birth and I’ve told her story to anyone who asked (and probably didn’t ask as well!!). Her story has quickly become one of my favorites to recount. It is full of answered prayer, timing, and an abundance of love.
A couple things to note as you go through this:
1. This is long! If you make it to the end, Bravo! I applaud you and thank you so much!!
2. All the photos here were taken on mine and Jake’s cellphones. Even though I brought my nice camera, we never even took it out. Part of me is sad about that, the other part of me knows that we just enjoyed her birthday all the more without focusing on pictures. Also, since she was born at night, photos would not have come out well anyway. Plus at the midwife center you’re discharged pretty quickly.
3. I had a lot of anxiety when thinking about Emmett’s birth. It was not that it was a terrible birth, but was not how I had hoped it all would go. So leading up to Hadley’s birth I had starting praying over it and asking God for a smooth and safe delivery. I believe God answered the prayer because today I will tell you that my anxiety and fear over childbirth has been lifted. I think I dealt with slight birth trauma from Emmett’s birth and did not realize it until AFTER Hadley was born. I look back on her birth and view it as something utterly beautiful. I truly thank God for her birth story.
To appreciate everything I need to begin this story on Thursday, the day before she was born.
Jake had asked me earlier in the week which day he should drive to Ohio for work. He had the option of Thursday (6/15), Friday (Hadley’s birthday!) or Monday (6/19). He needed to go pick up a project from work and would be gone for about 12 hours. I was in no rush to have the baby and expected to make it to my due date (6/23). I suggested he go Friday(!!!) but he felt Thursday was the better option so he could get his weekend started earlier. I agreed. Thursday night I started having contractions, but still headed to small group where Jake met up with us. The contractions faded somewhere in the middle of the night and I remember praying and asking God to just make them stop if they weren’t going to turn into anything. Sure enough, they stopped.
I woke up Friday morning, no contractions. Emmett woke up earlier than normal and came into my bed and just snuggled with me. Thinking back now, I realize just how sweet that morning was. It was my last morning “alone” with him!
I texted my friend to see if she was still planning to come over (which she was) and Emmett and I ate breakfast together. I remember thinking, This is my last breakfast alone with Emmett. Jake would be home the following day for the weekend in the morning and then my mom was coming into town until the baby was born.
My friend and her daughter came over and our kiddos played while we chatted. It was seriously the most normal morning ever.
They left just before lunch. Emmett and I ate lunch together (I think, ha ha) and he was acting upset a bit. So I sat on the couch with him and just held him for a little right before I put him down for his nap. Thinking back to that cuddle session is so sweet now, because it was our last one before Hadley was born. Little did I know then though….
I put Emmett down before 1:30 pm which was early for him, called Jake with the announcement, “I am not in labor yet.” He had told me earlier in the week that every time I called him now at work he thought I was in labor. I can’t believe I never thought of that sooner! This was the only time I remembered to call him and state I was calling to just say hi.
At 2:00 pm I was sitting in the living room chair, scrolling my social media outlets probably, when I heard an audible pop! I literally just stopped. I was not sure what had happened but had a pretty good idea. I walked slowly to the bathroom and sure enough, my water had broken.
Now I hear water breaking as the on-start of labor happens in only 10% of pregnant moms. Well I feel pretty rare, folks! This happened with Emmett too.
I quickly called Jake back and he answered saying, “Are you in labor?” to which I responded with, “Um…..”. Communication at its finest 😉
I am pretty sure Jake levitated to his car in 10 seconds as I tried to tell him I was not sure and let me call the midwife and what not. I called The Midwife Center (TMC) and as soon as I mentioned the pop!, the midwife (Emily!) was like, “Yup! Come on in.”
I had tested GBS positive at 36 weeks again much to my displeasure, so especially with my water breaking initially, they wanted to get me in ASAP. I called Jake back and he called the sitter for Emmett and started on his way home.
I was thinking extremely levelly and not at all at the same time. I spent the next 90 minutes walking around the house doing my hair, packing the rest of my bag, writing notes for the sitter, calling Jake to run errands on his way home, etc. There were still no contractions and I think I was in some level of shock from what was happening.
It just seemed like the most normal day and all of a sudden, we were about to meet our baby! I think I also thought I would go into labor in the middle of the night again too to some degree.
The sitter and her children arrived and I gave her instructions for Emmett who was still sleeping. There was a moment in those 90 minutes were I became ridiculously sad and did not want to leave Emmett. I sneaked into his room just to look at him and be with him ‘alone’ one last time. His life was about to change when he awoke and I didn’t feel ready for his sake.
Jake got home and was trying to usher me out the door. At the last minute I remembered our credit card bill was due that day and I had not paid it. I ran upstairs to try and pay it but my computer was going as slow as the past 9 months had felt. I decided to bring my laptop and pay my credit card at the center (which I did!).
Of course there was a lot of rain happening outside and it took us a while to get to the TMC. I was finally having contractions about 10 minutes apart but they were extremely mild.
In our car ride I remember Jake and I looking at each other, feeling like we were on such an ordinary car ride and saying, “We’re going to have our baby! We are going to find out if it is a boy or girl finally!” We then both guessed it would be a girl, even though we did not really have much of a feeling either way!
We arrived shortly after 4 pm. My water was still leaking and I ended up walking in with a towel draped between my legs. The midwife looked at me and goes, “I don’t think we need to check you! You can head right into the birthing room.” It was humorous.
They got us settled in to the beautiful Mountain Birthing Suite. It was the newest and biggest room there, and really, very nice. They immediately tried to get the antibiotics for the GBS into me. After 4 nurses/midwives and 6 needles, they finally got the IV in and there was a spoken agreement that I had some of the most difficult veins to stick! All I could think was, Man, this hurts and now I have to go give birth! (I really dislike needles.)
The midwife, Emily, who would be delivering Hadley arrived and checked me. I was at 4-5 cm and definitely contracting even though they were mild. Since it was dinner time we decided to order some food and had it delivered. Jake and I were just hanging out in the room eating dinner. We put on worship music and diffused lavender essential oil. I was swinging in the birthing swing when my contractions finally started to pick up around 5:30 pm. I remember my friend texting me asking if I wanted some company, and I said since my contractions were finally starting to hurt, it was probably best to stay home.
I lose track of time here, but just to put it into perspective, my texts with my friend were roughly at 5:30 pm and Hadley was born at 7:41 pm. What I remember is me looking at Jake on two separate accounts while the midwives and nurses left us to labor alone and saying, “OK, these contractions are quickly becoming more intense and coming a lot closer together.” He called the nurses and midwife back! So during these two hours it went something like this:
The swing was finally not being as helpful as it had been. Jake was giving me counter pressure on my hips during my contractions. It helped a lot and alleviated some of the pain. (Seriously ladies, make your man hold your hips in labor! It helps SO much!). My mentality was this:
I want to use whatever coping mechanism I have until it is not helping anymore and then move on to the next. I was breathing through each contractions and focusing on that. I wanted to save any screaming or deep groans for later when the pain was worse.
So once the swing was not helping too much, the midwife checked me again and I was at 7cm but she said she could stretch me to an 8. I decided to move into the birthing tub. I was totally open to a water birth, but felt like whatever happens, let it happen. The tub brought more relief. Jake got in the tub with me and continued the counter pressure. A nurse poured water on my back and they gave me this “noodle” type thing to lean my head against instead of the cold tub. By the way, my contractions were every couple of minutes at this point. The water only helped for so long before I asked for the nitrous oxide.
I know a lot of people don’t know what to think of laughing gas and I was curious to see how it helped me. It did not take away the pain, but it relaxed me and made me very tired. It felt like a tiny euphoric moment.
I felt the urge to urinate and got out of the tub. It was amazing how easily I could still move about. With Emmett at this point during labor, I could not physically move because of the pain. I used the restroom and decided I did not want to get back in the tub. I wanted to be on the bed. At this point the pain was getting very intense. Someone rolled the pregnancy ball up on the bed and I rolled on top of that while on the bed. The counter pressure from Jake was not helping at this point but a deep massage was. I asked if there were any more pain options and the answer was no. I had used up my options.
This is the part that starts to get very hazy for me. I was still breathing deeply but the pain was at the max that I felt I could handle. I remember sliding myself off the ball and onto the side of the bed. My body was in charge at this time and I felt the need to lie down on my stomach, but I remember thinking rationally, I can’t do that. I still have a giant belly. So I laid my head on the bed and uttered a couple things:
1. “I want the epidural.” (I was at a birthing center. I knew very well I could not have it.)
2. “I can’t do this anymore.” (To which the midwife, Emily, responded, ” You are doing this.”)
3. “Emily, I need you to be straight with me. When is this baby coming out?” (A little bit of background, Emily and the nurses had been quiet for a lot of my laboring. Whenever I would ask a question about how much longer or anything, they would just revert to an answer such as, “You’re doing it well.” “Just keep breathing.” “Your baby is coming.” They never would tell me what part of labor I was at, if they felt the baby was coming soon, etc. Instead they really let my body guide me and lead me to the birth of Hadley. So, she still did not give me a straight answer here either-she said something like, “Your body is doing the work. The baby is coming today.”
This is where the yelling finally began. I remember thinking to myself, I am in so much pain and the only way I am getting out of this pain is to push this baby out. And so I started pushing. I’ll spare you the details of feeling like I was pushing out an elephant sized poop. But I started yelling and in about three pushes or contractions, Hadley was out. I ended up birthing her on the side of the bed in a half kneeling/half squatting position (just like football players bend a knee when another player is injured.) Hadley ended up flying out of me. It took a couple moments for me to finally register someone telling me it was a girl.
I then entered that gleeful euphoric state I kept hearing happened after an un-medicated birth and all I kept saying in a joyful manic repetition was, “It’s done! It’s over! It’s a girl! I did it!” to anyone who would listen.
I did not believe in myself enough to give birth without an epidural. In fact at my previous midwife appointments when they asked me where I wanted to birth I had finally decided that I would start my labor at TMC and possibly transfer to the hospital if it got to be too much. Everything happened SO quickly though that by the time I felt I could not handle it, Hadley was out within 20 or 30 minutes!
It was truly one of the most beautiful, empowering experiences of my entire life (and if you know me, you know I am not one to use the word empowering often 😉 ) I don’t say any of this to take away from epidural or c-section births in the least. I had an epidural with Emmett and looking back think it was the best decision for my birth with him. We as mothers need to do what is best for the birth of our child and that looks different for each of us and each child.
When they weighed Hadley you should have seen the shock of surprise on my face when they informed us she was only 6 pounds and 9 ounces! Jake’s side of the family has 8-11 pound babies and my side settles pretty firmly in the 7-8 pound range. I never thought just a tiny baby was possible but was SO thankful for it because I think it helped with the ease of her birth.
Because Hadley arrived so quickly they did not have time to put the second dose of GBS antibiotics into me. We had to stay at the center overnight for monitoring (12 hours). We ended up being moved to the tiniest birthing room there because of other people coming in for their babies’ births and joked that we went from the mansion to the apartment! We did not sleep much and were excited to be discharged the following morning at 8 am. We drove home on what was the perfect end of spring day. The sun was shining and people were just starting their Saturday mornings of lawn work and 5ks. But of course, our Saturday was the best 😉
(Oh, remember me mentioning Jake working in Ohio just the day before? Well if he had gone on Friday like we talked about he would have missed the entire labor and possibly the delivery of Hadley as well because of how far away he was. I love God’s timing!)