At about 2am on Sunday November 3rd, I woke up shivering from cold. I couldn't remember the last time I had felt so cold. I was convulsing, trembling, my teeth were chattering, and I just couldn't get warm. Jared made a heating pad for me out of one of his dress socks and some rice, put an extra blanket on me, and cuddled me in bed. All of that helped, but I still felt so cold and shaky and had a fever of about 102. At around 3:15am, I asked Jared to give me the trashcan by our bed and I threw up dinner from the night before. I felt better after throwing up and was able to go back to sleep again until about 6am.
It was about two and a half weeks before my due date. My mom had come in town to spend time with me before the baby arrived while Jared went out of town on a business trip. We planned to finish the nursery, get my hospital bags packed, and finish all the preparations for the baby ahead of time.
At about 6 am I couldn't really fall back asleep and I didn't want to keep Jared up, so I took a blanket and went to sleep on the love seat in the living room. While lying out there, I wondered if my water had broken. But I figured I would surely know if my water had broken, so I dismissed the thought. At around 7am I wondered the same thing again. Finally around 8am I knew my water had broken and I was also starting to feel stomach cramps. Never having any Braxton Hicks before, I wasn’t sure if these stomach cramps were contractions or not, since I didn't know what contractions felt like. I laid on the couch and watched TV with mom and Jared, slowly realizing I was probably in labor.
At Jared's suggestion, I called the hospital and spoke with the doctor on call. I explained that I had gotten sick the night before and we thought I might have a stomach bug…but also thought I might be in labor. He suggested that I wait it out and see if the stomach cramps would subside and that maybe it was just a stomach virus. But he mentioned I definitely didn't want to go into labor if I had a virus.
The stomach cramps started worsening and I became convinced they were contractions and that I was in labor. Again at Jared's suggestion, I called Cole Deelah, our doula. We told her we thought I was in labor but that I had gotten sick the night before. She recommended we time my contractions and see if they started becoming longer and stronger and to keep in touch.
At this point, the contractions were becoming painful enough that I crawled back into bed to lie down in the relaxation position taught by our Bradley classes so that I could try to relax through them. Jared came in the bedroom with me and reminded me to relax, gave me the heating sock to help, and timed my contractions. He sat on the other side of the bed with my phone to time the contractions and the Bradley book open to the page that listed out the different stages of labor and their associated sign posts. My contractions were surprisingly regular - about 1:30 to 3 minutes apart, lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. This was confusing to both of us because we expected the contractions to follow the classic pattern of starting far apart and becoming closer together...mine were already pretty close together for being in such early labor. At around 10 or 10:30am, Jared called Cole again, described my labor symptoms, and asked her to come to the house. She said it would take her about an hour. I felt ready for her to come and help!
I told Jared to keep an eye on your contractions as they wouldn't get closer, but would probably lengthen and strengthen. I mentioned staying upright and perhaps trying a bath or the toilet.
My contractions were getting stronger and more painful. I would lie in bed and try to relax with Jared's help for a while. Then I would go to the bathroom and have a contraction or two in there for a change of pace. Then I would inevitably have one on the walk to or from the bathroom. Jared told me later that I looked pretty pitiful and would plead for him to "help me" when a contraction came. He made sure I was drinking plenty of water and even had me drink part of a fruit smoothie for energy.
During all this, mom pretty much stayed in the living room of our apartment and let Jared take care of me back in the bedroom. I was becoming increasingly more "out of it" mentally and not paying attention to my surroundings. Jared told me when to take a drink or how to relax, he rubbed my back or gave me a heating pad while timing the contractions, and I laid there in pain asking for help and trying to relax. I wasn't aware of what time it was or how much time had elapsed since we didn't have a visible clock in our bedroom, and I think that was a really good thing. Cole arrived and began assessing the situation.
I love that Jared told me later "I was wondering what you were doing just watching. It took me awhile to figure out you were taking it in." Jared was such a great support to you and I loved watching the dynamic that you both worked in together.
My contractions were getting more and more painful, but she jumped right in along with Jared and began massaging my back through each contraction. She also suggested other positions to labor in, in order to keep me out of the bed and hopefully keep me progressing faster. I labored standing up hanging around Jared’s neck, on the toilet, leaning over the bed, sitting and leaning on the back of a chair…and the whole time Cole rubbed my back and Jared helped me to relax and also massaged me. I remember asking him specifically to stroke my arm at one point during contractions...anything to get my mind off the pain.
You were doing so amazingly and intuitively.
I remember hearing Jared and Cole talking or whispering quietly while I was laboring but I really couldn't actually hear or comprehend what they were saying. I become increasingly more “out of it” as the pain increased. I just let them know when a contraction was coming and then relied on them for the help to get through it. I was in pain!
You were definitely moving into labor land. A great sign!
At about 12:30pm Jared made the decision to go to the hospital after talking it through with Cole. They decided that we should head there because Cole estimated I was probably at a 4 or 5cm dilated, and because our recent insurance change might lead to a longer check-in time (and more waiting time for me while in pain). I continued laboring in the bedroom with Cole while Jared packed the hospital bags and then loaded them into the car. (He said this took him a while to do and was stressful, but I don't remember the time seeming long. Since I hadn’t prepared to go into labor for another 2+ weeks, he did a fantastic job gathering up everything for us.) I was in the bedroom with Cole and told her several times “this is terrible.” She responded with “this is productive.” It was a good perspective to keep. I also remember looking at the bed telling Cole multiple times “I just want to get into bed...I just want to crawl into bed...” Thankfully, she and Jared kept suggesting other laboring positions to keep me out of bed and progressing, although I just wanted to crawl into a ball under the sheets.
You did look pretty sad when I encouraged you to stay upright and active. I wanted to say 'go ahead back to bed', but I could also see that this labor was going to demand your movement if it was going to go faster - something else you said you wanted.
I got down into the car, having a contraction along the way. My mom sat in the backseat and Jared drove to the hospital so well. Thankfully it was a Sunday afternoon with no traffic. The time seemed to fly by for me, thankfully, because I was really dreading that drive knowing that I would be in pain. Before I knew it, we were at the hospital. Jared pulled into the valet parking and I got out. One of the valets went to get me a wheelchair and Jared started unloading the car, but I was already starting to have another contraction. I walked up to the first wall in the hospital and leaned against it during the contraction. I remember seeing people in the hospital lobby and knowing that I probably looked like a wreck, but I didn’t care…I just had to get through that contraction. My wheelchair arrived and Jared took me up to floor 11 to be tested for admittance to the hospital. Up on the 11th floor, we checked in. I felt a lot of pain with each contraction in the wheelchair and just wanted to go back to the hospital room. We gave a hospital admittance lady my new insurance card and then someone wheeled me back to an assessment room. A few minutes later Cole joined us back there. Mom stayed in the waiting room. I remember the walk back to the assessment room was cold because they were walking so fast with my wheelchair down the halls. I just wanted to get there!
In the assessment room they had me change into a hospital gown. Then I got a hep-lock for an IV and the nurses got me into the hospital bed. They put the two monitors on my stomach - one to measure the baby's heart rate and one to monitor my contractions. I was even more mentally “out of it” at this point and I don't remember much happening specifically. I do know that someone checked my progress to see how far I was dilated and they said I was between a 4 and a 5. I felt a little disappointed, hoping that I would be farther along than that due to my pain level. They declared that I was indeed in labor and they would be admitting me to labor and delivery. I went back in the wheelchair and wheeled to floor 9.
As you were being wheeled up, I ran out to let your mom know where we were going. She moved with us to the 9th floor, and settled into the waiting room.
Once I was in my labor and delivery room, the nurse hooked my monitors up again. Cole and Jared encouraged me to stay out of bed.
You tried a few on your side but it didn't feel nearly as manageable, so you said. So, up you got!
I labored mostly standing up, leaning on Jared. I hugged him with my arms around his neck and basically just stood there as he rocked with me and encouraged me to relax. Cole essentially spent most of my labor time behind me kneeling or squatting on the floor, rubbing my back and adjusting the monitors. After assessing the monitors for a while, the nurse (Sheena) and the resident doctor (who Jared said looked like she was about 14 years old) said that they were not happy with the baby's heart rate.
And you weren't happy with the resident - lol.
It was pretty steady, around 150 bpm. Although it wasn't declining or showing signs of distress, it wasn't increasing with each contraction like they wanted it to. Cole suggested that I probably just had a pretty laid back baby who wasn't reacting much (turns out, she was exactly right). However, the resident was worried.
Baby wasn't showing any other signs of distress, was moving regularly, and you didn't have a fever - I am an 'innocent until proven otherwise' type of person. So I let them worry about the possibility of risk, and I focused my attention on keeping the monitor on baby (to keep them from getting more worried) and helping you both see another perspective/possibility. I didn't want you to worry until there was a reason to!
Since I was laboring out of bed, the baby was moving more with each contraction. This caused the heart rate monitor to lose the heart beat temporarily with each contraction.
Because babe was dipping down into your pelvis with each contraction in a major way ;)
In order to avoid panic or intervention, Cole stayed squatting or kneeling behind me for hours moving the heart rate monitor around with each contraction so that it could keep finding the baby's heartbeat. I couldn't pay attention to what the monitors were saying, but I knew that Jared and Cole were paying attention to each one. Whenever there was anything positive, Jared announced it so that the nurse would know. It was so nice to know that they were in control of the situation since I was just so focused on each contraction.
Just as it should be! :)
Cole and Jared encouraged me to walk and go to the bathroom frequently. This helped labor, but also it was the only time when the nurse and resident allowed me to get off the monitors. It gave a good break from having to analyze each contraction for the baby's heart rate. While in the bathroom once, I remember Jared giving me some orange juice to drink in hopes that the sugar would get the baby's heart rate elevated. I don't think it worked, but I remember being so thankful that he had the juice in there for me.
It was this same bathroom break where the nurse came into the room twice asking what was taking so long. I ran interference both times, buying you just a little more time. I wondered if you may have needed to get away from the beeps and eyes of the birthing room.
Although Dr. Bolt had previously told me she doesn't allow eating or drinking during labor, Jared had a hospital water bottle filled up and encouraged me to drink the whole time. The nurses or resident didn't seem to mind, and it was so helpful to keep from getting thirsty.
Oh, the resident minded, but the nurse had your back!
Eventually, it was suggested by the nurse or resident that perhaps the baby’s heart rate wasn’t spiking with each contracting because it wasn’t getting enough oxygen. They decided to give me oxygen in hopes of it helping the baby. I was fine with that. Although inconvenient to hold me up and hold a mask up to my face, Jared did a great job making sure each breath I took was inside the oxygen mask. I didn’t mind, and thought the oxygen was actually nice. It didn’t seem to help the heart rate, though. I was also put on a constant IV in hopes that the fluids would help the baby’s heart rate (it also didn’t seem to work).
After an hour in the labor and delivery room, my progress got checked again. I was at a six. The doctors were encouraged that I had progressed so quickly, but I was disappointed that I was only at a six! I was getting really tired of standing or sitting on the ball for every contraction, but Jared and Cole were so good and constantly encouraged me to stay upright so that the baby would descend faster. I am so thankful for their guidance during the whole labor time, or else I would have just crawled back into bed!
I really felt you were 'under the gun' and on a time clock. They wanted baby born sooner rather than later and I was going to give you every fighting chance to get baby born before they could drop the bombshell.
I kept laboring and the pain kept getting stronger and stronger. Jared and Cole kept helping me through every contraction, rubbing my back, holding up the oxygen mask, reminding me to relax, encouraging me to keep going, and letting me hang around his neck. Thankfully, I wasn’t able to look at the clock in the room very often, because I think watching the time pass would have been discouraging. I wasn’t mentally aware enough to really think about it too much.
Eventually, the pressure I felt deep down started increasing to almost unbearable levels. Each contraction hurt more than the one before, and the pressure kept building and building.
Oh that glorious moment when you started making 'holding back from pushing' noises! I gave Jared the look and he was encouraged with renewed vigor! He was unwavering in his support and positivism!
Cole encouraged me that this was a good thing and meant the baby was descending. However, I hadn't been checked in a few hours since I was at a 6, so I didn't want to get my hopes up too much. It did feel like progress, but it was so painful I wasn’t sure I wanted to progress much more!
You mentioned at that time that you didn't think you could do it anymore, a sure sign you are almost done. The nurse rallied and reminded you of that, but you only frowned at her and went back to labor land :)
The resident came in and told Jared and Cole that I might be headed for a c-section because of the baby's heart rate issue. I remember being so thankful to hear Jared ask questions back at her, asking why it was an issue if the baby wasn't in distress, etc. I was so at peace knowing that he was taking care of the situation. At the same time, the pain was getting so unbearable I remember thinking to myself “I don't care if they do a c-section, just get this baby out of me!!” I was ready to be done.
The nurse announced that Dr. Bolt had been paged and was coming to the hospital. I was ready for her to arrive because I just wanted labor to be over. It seemed to take her forever to arrive, and I kept asking Jared “where is she? Why isn’t she here yet?” Jared and Cole, and even the nurse, reminded me that it was probably a good thing she wasn’t there yet, because it was giving the baby more time to descend. I still didn't know how far I was progressed, but I knew I had to be getting close.
Your nurse and I knew that you were close to, if not already letting, your body push - you were doing so well! We were buying every minute we could, giving you every last moment to be 10 and ready for when she got there.
Finally, Dr. Bolt arrived between 5:45 and 6pm. I got back on the bed for her to check my progress.
You hopped off the ball and into bed. The nurse mentioned she thought she saw some meconium, but Dr. Bolt said 'I think you're making things up' with a wink.
I felt so unbelievably relieved when she announced, much to her surprise, that it was time to push!
And it was then that she also noted you did, indeed, have a lot of meconium present.
Honestly, I figured I would be ready because the pressure was getting unbearable, but I was just so relieved to hear it was true. Dr. Bolt said that she was coming in prepared to give us “the c-section talk,” but instead I got to start to deliver naturally. I was beyond thankful!
Because of the baby's heart rate, and because they found meconium, Dr. Bolt had the NICU team come into the room for the delivery. This meant that I wouldn't get to hold the baby right away, but instead he or she would get taken to the other side of the room to be assessed. I didn't mind since I just wanted a healthy baby, but I was glad they could do the assessment in the room instead of taking the baby away. About 8 or 10 NICU folks showed up and the room was pretty crowded for me to start to push.
The nurses and Cole got into position, helping hold my legs to my chest for pushing. When the next contraction came and I felt the urge to push, we started. Dr. Bolt seemed surprised and proclaimed “Oh! You know when to push!” (since I could feel the urge and didn't have an epidural).
I pushed for about 12 or 15 pushes. Each pushing session was in groups of 3: I took a deep breath, held it and pushed for 10 seconds, and then did that twice more. Then I rested until the next contraction and urge to push. Everyone was encouraging me as they were marveling at the progression of the baby. I was a little afraid to push hard because I thought it would hurt, but again I was encouraged to push as hard as I could each time. That was helpful for me to hear and to remember. I realized that each push meant I was closer to being done, so then I got excited to push as hard as I could.
At one point, the baby's head was stuck in the birth canal between pushes. Jared said Dr. Bolt was working really hard to keep me from tearing.
She was so patient and helpful - I was very impressed.
I was impressed that Jared was watching the birth. He told me that he could see the baby's head and I got excited.
After a few more pushes, the head came out and then before I knew it the baby was born! It seemed so fast to me! Everyone in the room was so excited. I remember seeing a huge spray of brown come out with the baby – the first bowel movement. Dr. Bolt announced “it's a boy!” and Jared and I were so shocked and so happy that we had a son! Grady Robert, 7lb 0.5oz, 20 inches long. A beautiful baby boy!
Dr. Bolt cut his cord and the NICU team whisked him away.
I think she had Jared cut it quickly...
I encouraged Jared to follow them over to the other side of the room to see his son, and he did. Dr. Bolt then stitched me up and it seemed to take a while. Later she informed me that I had a 2nd degree tear, but no episiotomy, so I was thankful. I also lost a lot of blood during the birth; about two times the normal amount. It took a while for my bleeding to slow to normal levels and I had to stay in the labor and delivery room for a few hours longer than anticipated to make sure that I was ok.
Grady was born crying, so that was a good indication that he was a healthy baby. The NICU team agreed, finished their assessment, and was able to leave him with us in our room. They then placed on my chest and I got to hold him. We were so in love!!
Congratulations amazing mama!
Welcome Baby Grady - Birth Story
The following is a story from a lovely client of mine whose birth was amazing and humbling, in every sense of the words. She has shared her story here, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! (my additional thoughts are in italics).