Jack's Birth Story
Disclaimer: I do not go into any gory details or anything but please remember this is a birth story so there are delivery/birth terms used.
Where do I begin? How do I even put in to words the emotional adventure we went through together? I’m not sure but I’ll try. Before I get too far, I should explain that Jon and I took Hypnobabies for our birth preparation so some of the terms I use are different from what you’d normally see. What is Hypnobabies? Hypnobabies is hypnosis for child birth. No, really. It teaches about how powerful the mind can be and coaches you to approach the birth in a positive, relaxing way. I would listen to an audio track every day teaching me about relaxing all my muscles and visualizing my ideal birth. Don’t watch tv shows or movies with births as they’re always over-dramatized and block out negative comments people will give you about the pain of childbirth. It taught me to change even the words I used for the birth so as to approach the birth more positively. For example, instead of labor, it’s birthing time or pressure waves instead of contractions, etc. I loved doing hypnobabies for my birth and found it soooooo helpful for my birthing time. So, anyway, on to the birth.
My “guess date” (not due date – it’s always more of a guess anyway ;-)) was Tuesday, July 20th. Come Monday, July 26th, we’d had a few pre-labor starts where I’d have pressure waves (or contractions) for about 3-4 hours but they never did they continue past that. We went in for a sonogram to make sure Jack and my placenta looked okay. Jack scored an 8 out of 8 but my placenta was getting “ripe” which was to be expected at 41 weeks. The midwives said if I wasn’t in active labor by Wednesday, we’d have to get things going with medical intervention (rather than natural). So, after a power walk at NorthPark Mall, Jon and I came home, prayed, and continued doing all the natural labor starts we knew to do. Finally on Tuesday afternoon around 4, I was having regular pressure waves 5 minutes apart but they weren’t a minute long nor were they growing in intensity. The pressure waves continued throughout the night but would come and go every couple hours. I was able to sleep about 4 hours that night but by Wednesday morning we knew we would have to go in to the birthing center and might eventually have to do medicinal intervention. We packed the car (just in case and glad we did ;-)) and headed to the birth center around 9:30 am. Once we arrived, we hit our first hurdle – the head midwife wanted Jack and me to be monitored to make sure Jack was responding well to the contractions.
After a couple hours of pressure waves, they were still not seeing the response from Jack that they wanted to see. He was healthy…he was just being too chill during the contractions so they had me drink some juice we bought but they still weren’t seeing his numbers move like they wanted. We went upstairs for a consult with the midwife and if we didn’t start seeing more active numbers from Jack, we’d have to be transferred to the hospital. I broke down crying. Not only did we not really have the money to transfer to Baylor, we felt the natural birth we so badly wanted for Jack and I was continuing to slip more and more out of our fingers. The midwife told us to go back downstairs and continue getting monitored for a while longer. I drank some sugar-infused grape juice but still nothing (The juice we brought was too naturally sweetened I guess). Enter the only “drugs” I used that day – a Coke. That’s right, a Coca Cola. Our birth assistant walked in with a Coke in one hand and a Dr. Pepper in the other and said, “Which one do you want?”. I replied, “Oh no, I don’t drink sodas. Like ever.” “Well, it’s this or a transfer.” I resigned, “I’ll take the Coke.” After many shudders and bleh faces, I downed the Coke and that’s what gave Jack the zippadeedoodah we needed to get some good numbers on the monitors. Phew. Hurdle #1 was crossed. (And a good friend commented today at what a blessing it was that since I never do drink Cokes, my body did respond how we needed it to. Had I been a soda drinker that might not have been the case…so true.)
It was around 12 or so by this time and my awesomely amazing doula, Katherine, arrived to assist Jon and I through the pressure waves. I walked around the room doing laps and hanging on Jon through the pressure waves. One of my favorite ways to relax through the waves was to sit on the birthing ball and lean back on Jon so I could fully relax my body from my shoulders down. As each wave would come on, I would say different things like, “Relaaaaaaxxxxx” or “Releeeeeease” which helped a lot. Although I was now in active labor, the pressure waves were not enough to get me to dilate more than 5. Hurdle #2 was here. We needed to see me progress more and get my pressure waves to grow more in intensity so as to bring Jack down. Beverly, our birth assistant, knowing we wanted to go as natural as possible, suggested a Foley catheter induction (which you’re welcome to google as I won’t go into details). The goal of this method is to put pressure on the cervix so it will continue to open. This helped but only for a while. I continued to labor “leisurely” for a couple more hours. By leisurely, I mean I rested on the bed or on the birthing ball in between waves. However, although it was more restful for me to labor that way, I was not really allowing for stronger contractions to build.
By 8 pm, I was still at 5 cm and Beverly sat Jon and I down. “It’s time to dig in now and get this labor going.” I remember thinking, “Haven’t I been laboring already?!” But, now, in hindsight, I had no idea what real labor was. Her main concern was that I would just continue progressing slowly which is fine but then I’d be too tired once we really got to the end and wouldn’t be able to push. Her suggestion: power walking So, outside we went. Fortunately, it was 8 pm so it was a little cooler (and the 100+ degree days had not yet come upon us). As people were playing with their dogs in the dog park across the way, I would waddle along holding hands with Jon with my sweet doula walking behind coaching us along. When a wave would come on, I’d either walk through it saying “Ahhhhhhh” or “Reeelllaaaaxxxxx” or I blew raspberries with my mouth. (<–weird thing but helped a lot); other times I’d stop and sway back and forth while leaning on Jon. I’m sure I was a sight but I didn’t care. It was like a switch turned on in my body. After about 45 minutes, we went back inside and as much as I wanted to get into the tub, they wouldn’t let me. I think they were worried I’d get too relaxed so I got in the shower instead. My hypnobabies had been helping me all day but here’s the key – it worked best when I would really relax my mind and allow it to. I now know I was in transition during that hour and 15 minutes and by 9:15 I said, “I’m ready to push!” Afterwards, my birth assistant and doula had said they were worried it was more my brain saying I wanted to push even if my body wasn’t saying it. And, in a way, they were right. I was wishfully saying I wanted to push and, thank the Lord, I was far along enough that I could start pushing. I had gone from 5 to 8 cm in just a little over an hour! Unfortunately, pushing was the hardest part for me…mainly mentally. It took me a good 15-20 minutes to learn how to work with the contractions instead of against them. Around 9:40 or so, Jack’s heart rate was getting a little low so they put me on a saline IV in like 5 seconds. After 20 more minutes, at 10:02 pm, Jack was here! Jon, still in his bathing suit trunks from holding me in the shower, helped pull Jack out and up onto my chest. I’ve always thought I would just start bawling but I didn’t. I just said “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” about a million times and just held him. I was definitely in shock…a good kind of shock. Even after a couple hours I would just look at him and think, “Is he really ours?”. I had known him in my belly for so long and to see him out was, I don’t know, just so different. I felt like a bad mother at first because although I knew I loved him, I didn’t feel like I knew him. I told Jon that on the way home and he said he felt the same way which made me feel better. Now, we get to learn who he really is which is great. :) We left the birth center around 4:30 am and were back in our own bed by 5. It was just so surreal but awesome!
We learned later that the pushing probably would’ve gone even faster if Jack’s hands hadn’t been up. That’s right, he wanted to help crawl out apparently. Thanks buddy for helping! ;-) Overall, the labor was 10 hours with about 40 minutes of pushing. It was quite the experience but a beautiful one. I am so thankful for my awesome birth team, my amazing husband, and all the prayers you, family and friends, were sending our way. Now, it’s more sleepless nights ahead but he’s worth it…don’t ya think? ;-)
J + B + j (<–hee hee)