It's taken me two months to even feel ready to write this story. Maybe it's because Jack's birth was surrounded by so much craziness and change, but it felt too raw, and too soon to reflect on, until now. If you don't enjoy birth stories (I didn't until a few years ago), feel free to skip out on this post-no hard feelings. Read Jack's story after the jump!
Let me start by explaining my other birth experiences so you can see where I was coming from when this little blue-eyed boy decided to (finally) join us on the morning of August 19th. My first birth was an induction, 10 days after my due date. Very straight forward, with a little drama at the end involving the vacuum suction thing. My second birth was even more straight forward. I didn't want to be so overdue this time, so I scheduled an induction. I think it was even a few days before my due date. I showed up (yes, my hair and makeup were done) and had my baby. A nurse commented that it was the most peaceful birth she had attended.
Looking back at my experiences I can see that I, like a lot of women, didn't want to be overly involved in the birthing process. I was happy to show up, do what they told me, and be done. I didn't want to look, didn't want to know, as long as the baby was okay. I don't know what changed, but from the time I knew of this growing babe, I knew things would be different.
I knew I wanted to be more present for this birth, to let the process be led by my own body, to do the work. I read a few books. I prayed about it. I basically became some sort of walking birth advocate/cheerleader. Your body was made to do this! Trust it. Trust your baby!
I knew the best way to succeed would be to surround myself with people who felt the same. We decided to birth in the hospital, but decided to hire a doula to help us with the process. We found Lisa, who quickly became part of the family. In addition to being a doula, she's also a midwife, so I knew I would be in good hands if something went crazy (Jeremy was in night school and we only have one car)! Everyone, including my OB agreed that waiting to go to the hospital as long as possible would be the best way to achieve the natural birth I wanted.
At my 38 week appointment, I was surprised to find I was already dilated some and starting to efface. I had also been having a lot of contractions off and on. This was a big deal for me as I hadn't experienced any of that with my previous births. I kept thinking, Yay! my body does know what its doing! My Mom decided to fly in a little early to be with me (remember, one car).
Fast forward to week 39. Lots of contractions and other lovely things down there, but that's it. I was more dilated, and more effaced though, so at least we were getting somewhere! I was a little tired of the contractions, but felt optimistic, and still on high alert. My sister arrived and we waited. My mother-in-law flew in as well and we all hung out in our tiny apartment.
My "due date" came that Sunday. I was starting to feel a little discouraged, but only because I had really hoped he was coming early. I learned from my first one that due dates come and go and mean nothing to babies who aren't ready. So, we planned a fun day at the beach in Santa Cruz, and I truly had fun. We visited Lisa while we were there and she agreed to check me-still at 4cm and continuing to efface. 4cm would be great, if I hadn't been stalled there for a week!
Somewhere through this process I developed a mantra that I would recite over and over in my head when I was tired of waiting. God is good and He has a plan. Over. and. over. To make a long story short, almost another week and one more doctor's visit went by.
We all went to Jeremy's graduation on Thursday (4 days after my due date) and cheered him on. At this point, I was no longer on high alert, I was trying not to think about going into labor at all anymore. I was trying not to think of the fact that our move date back to Washington was looming at just a week away. I tried to have fun and keep busy, which wasn't hard with all of my family in town.
That night (Thursday), we were watching a movie and my water broke! Finally, we were getting somewhere! Or so I thought...I spent the night tossing and turning, waiting for the "big" contractions to start. But they never did. I knew if I went into the hospital they would surely want to induce, due to the risk of infection. I was holding out hope that my body knew what it was doing and would kick in at the right time. God is good and He has a plan, right?
So we walked, we ate, we tried to act normal. But, inside I was getting worried. I even considered the whole castor oil thing to kick start labor and get things going. It's a very strange thing to have your entire house packed in boxes and have everyone around you waiting for something to happen that you can't control. My Mother-in-law reluctantly flew home Friday morning, knowing she would get to meet baby when he got to Seattle the following week.
Fast forward to Saturday morning (almost a week after due date), still no baby. I wasn't even having braxton hicks anymore. Despite my mantra and previous trust in my body, I started to think something might be wrong. We'd been communicating frequently with my doula this whole time and very careful about monitoring my temperature, in case of infection, but I was baffled by my lack of contractions. Jeremy and I sent the girls out with my family and sat down to talk. We prayed for wisdom and direction. I cried. I cried a lot. We decided if nothing had happened by noon, we would go in and let them induce me. We laid down and took a nap.
Well, wouldn't you know it-I started having my first contractions in days right at noon. And they were strong and regular. Suddenly my original plan seemed to be back on track. A very excited Jeremy and I spent the day alone together, timing contractions and anticipating the arrival of Jack. We walked to In-n-Out and ate burgers, we took naps, and watched a lot of TV. Finally my contractions were staying at a steady five minutes apart, so we decided to go to the hospital with Lisa around 12 am. I had been on my feet all day, but was pumped up on adrenaline and excitement!
We were admitted and I could immediately tell that our nurse was not into our birth plan. She also was not happy about us waiting to come in so long after my water broke, despite the fact that baby and I were doing just fine. I began to feel a little discouraged when she checked me and I was only at 5cm. 5? All that work and I had only moved from 4 to 5?! The more troubling fact was that he had not yet dropped and was STILL very high in my pelvis. I began to repeat my mantra again and prepare myself for a long night. We walked the halls, we bounced on the ball, we did all the things you do when you labor.
When they came to check me a few hours later, I was still at a 5-6 and he was still high. SO frustrating. I started to think of all the reasons he could be stuck up there, and most of them weren't good. There was still a chance he would drop right at the end and everything would be fine. The trouble was, his heart rate was beginning to decelerate occasionally during my contractions. I tried to be strong and tell myself God is good, and he has a plan. I could tell everyone was a little worried, but didn't want to say too much. It was apparent we were experiencing a stalled labor, and baby wasn't doing that well with it.
Around 5 am I agreed to start a very low dose of pitocin to hopefully move things along. We continued to do various things to deal with the contractions and hope for the best. I was getting very tired, mostly mentally. The fear I had let creep in was starting to grow and I was exhausted from waiting for this baby. The pitocin helped the contractions pick up and get stronger, but baby was not tolerating any of it very well. We all prayed that he would drop on his own before things got out of hand.
Somewhere through this process there was a shift change and we got an awesome nurse. She was very optimistic that Jack was going to come on his own and began to monitor his heart very carefully. I was feeling very discouraged and afraid that this would never end! Those pitocin contractions don't mess around! I knew they were talking about possibility of an emergency c-section behind the scenes and in the halls.
Around 9 am, they decided to try a procedure where they put liquid back into the uterus (amnioinfusion), hoping it would help baby's heart and help him move down, as well. I'll spare you the details, but the way they had to do this was VERY painful on top of the intense contractions I was having. I guess I began to yell some funny things at this point. I felt myself begin to let go of any plan I thought I had, I would've done anything at this point to deliver my baby safely and stop this pain. I was growing weary, mainly from the discouragement of the situation. I was checked-still at 5cm, baby still high.
After this the pain started to get really intense and I kind of let go. Everyone was trying to talk to me, and I couldn't seem to focus. The nurse came in and told me baby's heart was decelerating again and we had to do something soon. I began to prepare myself for the possibility of a c-section (how was I going to recover when we planned to move in 4 days?!), or for many more hours of labor. God is good, and he has a plan. Over. and. over.
The contractions had started getting really close together and really intense. I knew I couldn't endure several more hours of this pain. Convinced this baby was never going to come, I asked for an epidural. It's funny that none of us recognized this part as "transition". We were too busy talking about plan B at this point. I was given the epidural at 9:30 am, which didn't really work (I had the same issues with the other two), but at least it allowed me to relax my back, which had been in knots for hours. Baby was not doing well and worry began to take over m mind.
At 9:45, the nurse decided to check me again, and to everyone's surprise Jack had moved down very quickly and suddenly I was at 8-9! The amount of relief mixed with gratefulness I felt cannot be described. I think we all felt it. Jack's heart was getting pretty bad though, so the nurses rushed around and set things up very quickly. By 10 am, I was at 10 cm. The doctor ran in shortly after and Lisa whispered in my ear, "You need to get this baby out now."
I gave it my all and in a matter of ten or eleven fiery pushes, my baby finally came. He was pink, and crying, and healthy. It was 10:19 am, almost 24 hours after I went into active labor, and at least three weeks since starting early labor. I can't even put into words what I felt in that moment. Something like joy, relief, blessing, and honestly, a bit of disbelief. I did it and he's actually here! I've never ran a marathon, but I'm sure I could relate to those who have. God is good and he DID have a plan.
I love you Jack!! If you've made it through this whole post-congratulations! You are a trooper :)