Monday, November 12, 2012

Jeremy's Birth Story

I am not sure if I should write this from the point of view as it happened, since I didn't realize I was in labor, or looking back on it after it all played out! Everything happened in such a whirlwind that even as it was happening and shortly after, details seemed a little fuzzy. So even though I can barely tear myself away from holding Jeremy (he is at least laying on my lap sleeping as I type), I want to try to document his birth story before any more of the details escape me.

I feel like every detail and moment of Luke's birth was ingrained in my mind and in my memory. It was a very emotional experience and even though it was so emotionally difficult to give birth to him, I didn't want to forget an instant of it. Perhaps because I knew it would be one of my only memories with him. It would be what defined him and me -- it was my role to give his little spirit a body and that's all he needed from this mortal world. Even though I hadn't thought through all of that, yet at the time I felt so tuned in to what was happening, who was around me, and how things were playing out. As it was happening I tried to hold on to the memory and embed each moment in to my mind, in spite of the difficult feelings surrounding the event.

Jeremy's birth happened so quickly and perhaps because it is just a small page of what will be his life's story, instead of the event that defines his life and death, I didn't connect with the events and the moments as deeply or as emotionally as I had with Luke's birth.

All that being said...

*****

Here's a short version if you're not interested in reading  the lengthy birth story that follows: 
  • 12:30 PM didn't know if I was really in labor or not, even though my sister-in-law was timing my contractions at about 5 min apart
  • 2:30 (ish) Trevor came home from work early and we headed to the hospital
  • 4:23 PM- Jeremy was born
*****

For those more interested in the nitty-gritty details of labor and delivery here's a detailed play-by-play of the day: 


Friday, October 26, 2012

6:30 AM (ish)
Laying in bed I can feel contractions. I had been experiencing "braxton hix" contractions for a while, but these felt a little different. I had been through labor with Luke, but it was completely pitocin induced, so even though I had felt what labor and birth was like on pitocin, I hadn't experienced going in to labor spontaneously. I knew that my contractions before had felt like strong menstrual cramping. The contractions this morning felt mildly like what I remembered the early part of my labor feeling like. I didn't think too much of it though, especially because when I'm feeling "uncomfortable" I try to brush it off and not focus on it.

After Trevor was off to work I spent the morning bustling around the house cleaning things. I finished organizing some paperwork in our office, worked on packing my hospital bag (I had started a few weeks ago, and had been meaning to finish it up), did some organizing in the nursery, and tidied up clutter here and there in the house. Was I doing some major tiding and cleaning because my pre-school age niece and nephew were coming over and they'll get in to anything you leave laying out and I wanted my house to be tidied when my sister-in-law came over? Or was it really an early sign of labor --nesting?

As I worked around the house the contractions seemed to happen more and more frequently. I could feel them in my lower back, but they weren't painful. I could just feel them and I thought they seemed different than they had been in previous days. Some of the contractions would cause me to be uncomfortable enough that I would plie (squat) and breath and try to relax through them. I would imagine the contraction simply widening my cervix. I turned on some music (an old EFY We Believe CD) while I was working and sang along as I remembered recently re-reading about the connection to our throats and our cervix and how relaxing one will relax the other. Singing had helped the laboring woman I read about. So sang as I worked, I did, and it seemed to distract me as I bustled around the house. I only remember one contraction that morning being strong enough that the most comfortable way to work through it was rocking back and forth on my hands and knees.

The contractions were making me feel like I had to go to the bathroom frequently, although being 9 months pregnant I had been doing that anyway! I did; however, have a particularly soft bowl movement. Was it just because I had eaten lots of fruit the previous day? Or was it, in fact, a sign of labor? (If you didn't know it's common for your body to flush everything out before you give birth. Sorry if that grosses you out...it's just a fact.)

I didn't think this could actually be labor, especially because I had just been reading about labors that have started and then stopped for a couple weeks. So I kind of just accepted that this was just early or false labor. Nothing too serious . . . I think . . . but am still not sure.

10:22 AM
Maryanne and her kids come over. They watch Tangled while we work on preparing some freezer meals I wanted to have ready once our baby is born. I also was making a huge batch of chili for a church Halloween party that evening. When I ran to the grocery store that morning I wondered briefly if I should just ditch the chili in case I was in labor, but opted to make it anyway.

When Maryanne came over she inquired why I was wearing a dress. "Oh no reason, I just threw it on." I do often wear skirts and dresses, but if I were in labor and something were to happen I thought being in a dress would be easiest to deal with ...you know water breaking or a baby coming out! I just didn't tell her that!

While we're cooking I finally fess up. "It's been kind of an interesting morning..." and I admit to having contractions. I start to tell Maryanne each time I feel another one. Noticing their proximity, Maryanne finds a pen and paper to start keeping track.

11:52 AM and then in nine minutes
12:01 PM five minutes later
12:06 PM six minutes later
12:12 PM four minutes later
12:16 PM five minutes later
12:21 PM the contractions seem to be happening about every five minutes.

12:35 PM
Maryanne had to leave to go pick up a friend's kids. She was hesitant to leave me home alone, but I felt like it would be good to have some alone time. I decided to run a bath --knowing that if this wasn't really labor the bath would probably slow things down and we would know it's all just a false alarm.

Contractions keep happening about five minutes apart. Nothing is slowing down.

I text Trevor.

Me: I've been having contractions throughout the day. 12:49 PM
Trevor: What does this mean?!?! 12:55 PM
Me: I don't know. I'll keep you posted but stay reachable for me okay? 12:57 PM

12:58 PM 
I call the midwives office to see what they thought about things. No answer. I leave a message.

Still waiting to see what the midwives say, I decide to give Trevor a little more info. 

Me: And by frequent maybe I should tell you about every 5 min (plus or minus) for about the last hour 1:10 PM
Me: Maybe you should come home 1:19 PM
Trevor: Ok! 1:23 PM
Trevor: Is this urgent or can I leave in 30? 1:26 PM

Not knowing how to respond or possibly not seeing the last message because I decide start getting ready to go to the hospital just in case, I still wait to hear from the midwives to determine what to do. 

1:29 PM
The midwife on-call, Laura, returns my call. I give her the run-down of my day and express my uncertainty of actually being in labor. She trys to ask details of intensity and length of contractions. I had only been tracking time between them and trying to not pay too much attention to them otherwise. She advises me to come in so they can check me. She admits that they may just send me home, but says that she just has a gut feeling that I need to come in. I'm okay with that.

1:36 PM
I call Trevor to give him the update. I proceed to finish packing the hospital bag (good thing I started working on it that morning!) and decided to blow dry my hair. I realized it could be a few days before I get to wash my hair again! 

1:54 PM
Laura calls back and asks if Trevor is home yet. I inform her that since I talked to her last, I had what's called "bloody show" during one of the contractions, so I was a little more certain I was actually in labor. She tells me to leave as soon as Trevor gets home and not to hang out at home any longer. 

2:20 ish
Trevor gets home and we're headed to the hospital. Contractions are starting to be about 2 minutes apart. I try not to pay attention to their frequency, but it was hard not to because the clock on the dash board was just staring me in the face! I tried not to look at it. They were getting more intense, but honestly weren't that bad. I was kind of uncomfortable, but not in pain. Trevor drove quick, but not like a maniac! Thankfully! He admitted that despite our conversation two days before he did not really want me to give birth in the truck after all (Just three days before we had seen this news clip about a baby born on the beltway when they were stuck in traffic. Trevor, at the time, admitted he thought that would be really cool if we had our baby in the truck. I was glad he changed his mind). I told him we had time and weren't in a hurry. Although as we approached the hospital, we did run a few red lights. They were tiny intersections and the pedestrians looked at us like we were crazy, but there weren't even any other cars around. No sense in waiting! Especially because the closer we got the more intense things started to get for me. I think we were both still in shock that we were headed to the hospital to have a baby! It definitely hadn't been on our agenda....or even our radar for that matter! 

3:00 ish
I left Trevor to deal with the vallet parking at the hosptial and decided to head straight up to the labor and delivery floor. I got in the elevator with a handful of people. I almost forgot to have them hit the button for me. "The third floor is labor and delivery, right?" "Yeah, when are you due?" someone inquired. "Right now," I said. I was certain they didn't realize I was laboring right before their eyes!


I tried to check in and even though I had pre-registered they couldn't find my information. Frustrated was an understatement as I was asked to fill out paper after paper! Luckily Trevor came up shortly and signed everything for me. 

I was sent to the "triage" room. (Why is it even called that?) What? Triage!? I tried to ask about this at a prenatal appointment. I was hoping I could bypass this part. I was ready to go in to a delivery room. I brought my own gown (I had wanted to avoid feeling like I was in a hospital) and changed in to it. I could feel my contractions getting progressively stronger and I was feeling frustrated that I was in this triage room beings asked more questions and to sign more papers. Seriously?! Is this happening?! I'm not sure if I requested it or if Trevor did, but I was finally brought a birth ball to sit on. For me, having pressure on my perineum and being able to move (which the birth ball provides both) really helps me deal with the intensity of contractions. As I worked through them on the birth ball I guided Trevor to apply pressure to either my shoulders or stroke my arms to help me relax. "How long to do I have to be monitored before I can be admitted to a room?," I asked the nurse. I was informed we had to wait for Laura to come check me but she was in another birth right then. I could feel myself starting to get shaky. I knew this was how I felt toward the end of laboring with Luke, but didn't think too much about it. I just knew things were moving along and I was anxious to get into a room. I also knew that I was GBS positive and needed an IV so I could start getting antibiotics. I was eager to get admitted, but didn't sense any real urgency from the nurse assisting us.


Hanging out in Triage. Trevor, perhaps a face of disbelief! Me, definitely holding my back because I was possibly mid-contraction!
Laura finally arrives! What a relief it was to see her. She has me get on the bed so she can check my dilation. It hadn't been checked until this point. 

She informs me that I'm at 9 cm!!! 

Needless to say I am quickly admitted to a room directly across the hall! I knew I was far along in my labor, but had no idea I was that far along! It was astonishing to realize it was practically over ...it seems like it had all just started! 

All of the events kind of blur together at this point as it all happened so quickly. Nurses, nurses' aids, my midwife Laura, and the midwifery student Hannah all bustled around getting things ready. I labored kneeling/leaning over the side of the bed.


I remember seeing Laura washing up at the sink and between contractions I said, "I'm glad I didn't pay a thousand dollars for a doula!" I really almost had because of all my anxiety about the potential emotional ordeal laboring might be. I had felt like I needed someone there who understood me and where I was coming from. Someone who knew my history. Someone who could be by my side for the entire length of my birth if it were going to be a long ordeal. Miraculously my labor wasn't long at all and once she joined us Laura didn't leave us. And even though we had just met her that week (the midwives are on a rotation and you meet with a different one at each appointment), Laura was the emotional support I needed. She was compassionate and sensitive to us and everything considering my previous birth with Luke.

Everything had been just spiraling into action so quickly I hadn't had a moment to think about anything, but then it hit me. 

I broke down and cried in disbelief, amazement, gratitude, and relief that my baby boy was about to be born. Leaning over the bed I cried and told Laura I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that we'd made it and that we were here and he was about to be born and he still has heart beat! I was going to be giving birth to a living baby!




I cried. 

Everything kept plummeting forward. At some point I had to get onto the bed (I was on my knees, not laying down) and I was able to give my arm to the nurse between contractions so she could draw my blood and get the antibiotics in me. I proceeded to be quite shaky and held tightly on to Trevor's hands during the contractions. He was by my side and did whatever I asked him to do. (He's so great that way!) 

As the contractions got stronger I was breathing deep and moaning through them. I believe someone proped up the back of the bed. I was still on the bed on my knees and when I wasn't holding Trevor's hands I think I had my hands clasped together and I would lean forward against the head of the bed, almost in a prayer position.  At one point, between contractions, I said something along the lines of, "What should we dress him up as for Halloween?" I think everyone got a good laugh at that. My mind had just been racing with disbelief that Jeremy was already going to be born! I hadn't thought he'd be born in October!

Another thing I kept saying lightheartedly throughout my labor was, "No big deal." I don't know how much I was saying out loud or what was just running through my head, but the thoughts were along the lines of We're going to have a baby today, No big deal. I'm in labor and almost ready to push him out, No big deal. We woke up today like it was a normal day, but now we're at the hospital having a baby, No big deal. I dilated to a 9 before I was even admitted, I got this labor thing in the bag, No big deal. Though things were plummeting forward almost quicker than they were ready for, I think my attitude kept the stress levels low in the room ...well ... at least I wasn't feeling stressed! 

I didn't know who at the time, but was later informed, that Hannah (the midwifery student), upon my request, used a hot compress to apply pressure to my perineum for relief. I also reached down to help apply pressure and could feel the pressure and structure of a head working its way out!

As contractions strengthened I simply felt things change and get stronger as it was time to push. As his head was crowning things transitioned from just being intense to actually being painful. Grimacing, grunting, and pushing with all my might during contractions I proclaimed, "THIS HURTS!" and other phrases expressing the pain I was feeling. I knew it was the end so I wasn't concerned, I was just stating how it felt and I was eager for it to be over! I tried to still relax, but was definitely quite tense and shaky and it was a painful, burning feeling as his head was descending and pushing on my cervix. This part of pushing hadn't felt this way with Luke's birth. It didn't hurt like this before. Perhaps I hadn't felt the pain before because my emotions were stronger than anything happening physically. At this point of Luke's birth I was simply weeping and pleading in my heart for it to just be over. I just wanted him out of me and didn't know how much more of it I could take. Yet with Jeremy, I wasn't as emotionally engaged and was just focused on the whirlwind of labor that had suddenly come over me. I think, I was still holding Trevor's hand tightly during contractions, but I'm not really sure. After a strong contraction and pushing they informed me that my water broke and that he was almost out!

4:23 PM About two more contractions later he was out! From what I was told, once his head was out he just slipped out the rest of the way. I reached down between my legs and they helped hand Jeremy to me! They also assisted me in getting turned around so I could hold him on my chest while I birthed the placenta.

I had been so focused on my job of laboring and getting him out I hadn't had a moment to wrap my head around what was really happening. Still in disbelief I held my son in my arms and simply tried to soak in what had suddenly become my reality.


I was holding my living, breathing, healthy son in my arms.

What a miracle words cannot describe.

What an answer to so many prayers.

I was holding a miracle in my arms and I could hardly believe it.



Trevor got to cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing (gotta get all that cord blood into baby!) and I think I delivered the placenta without even noticing. One of the midwives commented on what a healthy looking placenta it was. I felt so accomplished and proud when I heard that comment, because I had worked for nine months to be as healthy as I could in order to grow a healthy baby, placenta, and have a healthy body ready for a natural delivery. We got to examine the placenta as they showed us which side had been connected to me and the sac that Jeremy had been in. It was so different to see it all and just be able to observe it in fascination, instead of as an explanation of what went wrong.

*****

What a tender mercy from God and an answer to prayers that I would go in to labor spontaneously. What a blessing I went in to labor before we had to even question whether or not or when to be induced. What a blessing I didn't have to sit through the weeks of non-stress tests and anxiety if something was going to go wrong in the final days of this pregnancy. How grateful I am for another quick and easy delivery and grateful for the prayers of the family members who knew I was in labor.

And we couldn't be more grateful for our son and miracle:


*****

10 comments:

  1. I love birth stories in general. This one was especially good. I'm SO happy for you that you've had another precious boy join your family, and especially happy that he got to stay with you. What a blessing. Btw, I love that gown that you used - did you make it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No I didn't make it. My best friend told me about it. I ordered it from prettypushers.com. You could easily make one like it, but I opted for the time-saving version and just bought it!

      Delete
  2. Yay! Congratulations! Did you find that singing helped? I'm so happy for you--and happy that it went relatively quickly. Enjoy every moment!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is the best story ever. Seriously, you've got me tearing up over here. I am so so glad that everything went so smoothly for you! And Jeremy is just such a beautiful baby.
    Congratulations to you and your wonderful family!

    ReplyDelete
  4. So perfect! I loved reading it. I felt like I was there! I had similar tears during Seth's birth because from the beginning I didn't think his would work out. Even after the threat of m/c was over, I wondered and worried in the back of my mind if things would be OK. At one point I cried hot, happy tears realizing I was about to meet him and hold him and he would be OK. I talked to him and said I was so excited (and then asked him to PLEASE stop moving around so much!) And when he was born I felt a little like you did - it hit me that it was over and he was here. And I cried again because I was just so happy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good job, Shelley! Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you Shelley for the detail you put into your birth story. It gives me good ideas of what to do for my next birth. I'm so happy for your growing family!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love the story - thanks so much for sharing! Did you use hypnobabies again? I keep imagining my perfect birth to be fast and wonderful, and after reading your story, I now feel like, hey! I want a birth like that! You're an inspiration, as always :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Such a beautiful story. So happy for you guys. I know Luke is smiling down at his little brother and his amazing parents.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am so happy for you! Congratulations on your sweet baby's safe arrival.

    ReplyDelete