It all started on Saturday, September 8, around 2:00 p.m. Yes, that’s correct. My labor story and contractions started three days before I gave birth. Aaron and I were actually on our way to grab a late lunch. We were looking for something spicy and very filling. On that Friday night, I spent the evening eating spicy pineapple, hoping it would help to start labor. Little did I know that my contractions would be two and a half days long.
At first, I wasn’t concerned about the contractions as they were very inconsistent. They were from 45 minutes to 15 minutes apart. Once this was happening for a half day, I messaged my doctor and she said it could be latent labor, which was one thing I didn’t learn about in my birth class. Latent labor is inconsistent contractions that can last up to 20 hours. So I went about my evening, but when Sunday came rolling around and with contractions still so inconsistent, Aaron and I started to worry just a little.
On Sunday morning I also messaged my Bradley Method coach and asked what her thoughts were about the inconsistent contractions. It felt good to get a second opinion. She said it was normal, and she said there was no need to go in yet until contractions were five minutes apart, as well as hard, long and consistently stronger. I tried to sleep as best I could, but having contractions no more than 30 minutes apart was very difficult both Saturday and Sunday night. I did manage to get a one-hour break each night.
The good news is that I was scheduled to go in for a doctor’s appointment on Monday at 1:30 p.m. Since my contractions were so intense, Aaron decided to stay home and go with me to my doctor’s appointment. To be on the safe side, we loaded up the car with the expectation that we would get checked into the hospital.
On a side note:
Pause on the story. Packing up your car and getting dressed and ready to leave the house knowing there’s a huge possibility that you’re coming home with your child is the most surreal feeling I’ve ever had. My pregnancy had been super easy (minus the obvious whoas). Unlike a lot of pregnant women, I wasn’t very emotional with up-and-downs throughout my pregnancy. But at this moment I cried. I was ready to see my little girl and knew my life was about to change.
Back to my labor story
On the way to the hospital, it was pouring down rain. Aaron wanted to drive as carefully as possible because my contractions were hurting so bad, and there was a part of me that wanted him to speed and hurry up and get there. Oddly enough, my contractions all of a sudden became six minutes apart. So we met with Dr. Cole and she checked me — I was 5 centimeters dilated and my sack was bulging. She didn’t want to mess with me too much because she felt my water might break while I was in her office. So she called me into the hospital and had me check in.
I’ll never forget that long walk from my doctor’s office to the hospital room. Again, I cried when I walked into my labor room and saw all the equipment, such as the baby warmer, the scale, the bed, and the focus gallery on the ceiling. This was the hardest I’d cried in 10 months. Maybe it was hormones or maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I was ready.
Around 4:30 or 5 p.m., my doctor came in and broke my water. I had no idea at this point how much worse and more intense the contractions would become. Even though I was warned, I could never have been prepared for this. At this point, I was 7 centimeters dilated. Unfortunately, this is where everything took a turn.
The next time my doctor checked me, I was 8 centimeters dilated. And I was dilated for a couple of hours at 8 centimeters. Then when my doctor came in to check on me again, I was only 8 1/2 centimeters dilated. Then when my doctor checked me again and I was only almost 9 centimeters dilated, I gave in. At this point, I had been at the hospital with no meds for seven hours.
My body was stuck, slowly processing being dilated. And don’t forget, I had already been having contractions for two and a half days. The pain was out of this world and so excruciating — I could no longer handle it. Contractions were one minute long with a one-minute break in between. They were so intense and so hard that I literally fell asleep in between each contraction. How crazy is that? My body completely shut down in between each contraction.
This was the hard part. This is when I started to give in. Aaron and I discussed it several times in between each contraction because he knew how important it was for me to not have an epidural or any meds. But I could no longer handle the pain. At the end of the day, I’m glad I gave in because I still had seven hours left of labor.
The epidural was ordered and put in place. I had tears in my eyes and was so upset, feeling like I’d failed. All I wanted was a healthy baby, a healthy mama and no medicine. But that’s not what God had intended. He knew what the future held, and I became at peace with the decision with Aaron by my side.
As soon as it started to kick in, I became a whole new person — laughing and cracking jokes. The epidural actually ended up slowing down my contractions. The doctor said I needed Pitocin. Of course, this upset me because that’s the medicine the baby actually gets. It turns out that your body produces it at a level 6, and the doctor gave me a level 2, so that made me feel a little better. The Pitocin helped to kick my contractions back into a normal consistency.
Time to push
Around 12:30 a.m., I was dilated enough to start the pushing process. The thing is, I couldn’t feel anything, which made pushing very difficult. We tried everything with the nurses, from tug of war with the sheet to different stirrups, and we finally tried the mirror technique. Now, unless you’ve actually been in labor, you have no idea how much this can help. I won’t get graphic, but let’s just say I was able to see versus feel what I was doing correctly to help get her out. It took three hours of pushing and an episiotomy before my doctor said to me, “She’s here. Do you want to help pull her out?”
Now you may think I’m crazy, but this was part of my birth plan and my labor story I am most proud of. I wanted to help pull her out and bring her to me. This was the best and most amazing part of my experience. I pulled her close to me on my chest, kissed her and said with tears in my eyes, “Hi, baby girl, I’m your mama.” I looked over at Aaron and he was crying. People warned me before labor that I may not experience love at first sight. This was far from how I felt. I was instantly madly in love. Bless her heart, she had a cone-head from the 3 hours of pushing, but it didn’t matter. She had the cutest nose, the most precious lips and the softest skin.
The most important thing through my entire journey was that God blessed me with a healthy baby. My birth plan didn’t go according to the way I wanted it, but it really didn’t matter anymore. I did the best I could and I refuse to let it get to me. I never really had a mom, and this was why it was so important to me to have a natural birth. It was important for me to experience everything naturally. But now it’s time to focus on other things such as hugs, kisses and lots of staring — at Navy Lee Williams!
We finished that night off in the labor and delivery room and then moved to a postpartum room. The next day came and went really fast, with lots of visitors and lots of nurses checking on us. We were doing great!
I like to set goals, and my next goal was to make sure that I mastered breastfeeding before leaving the hospital. It took one really great nurse to explain it and walk me through the process, but I had it! And with that, we were ready to go home. So the next day, after passing all of our tests, we were discharged.
Let’s go home, Navy Lee Williams
We were homeward bound with the most precious bundle of joy I have ever known.
There you have it — a really long blog post and a really long story. People are already asking me about child number two. My answer: “We will see.” Now that I’ve been home for several days and have had time to think about it and start recovery, I do completely understand why people go back over and over. But I’m going to need a year or so before having another child.
I’ll end with this. Every day I look at Aaron and thank him for my gift of precious Navy Lee Williams. She has finally completed me!
If you want to see the e-news article click here.
If you want to read the people article click here.
Images by Ashley Streff and a huge thank you to her for flying out to spend our first day with us. We know you sacrificed to be there and we love you like family.
You can also read about our baby shower and see partly where I got the theme for Navy’s nursery. Stay tuned for that blog post. I’ll have it up soon.