Joe and I became parents just three weeks ago today. Our sweet William Joseph arrived on April 5th at 2:17 am. William knew that he and his daddy would be best friends so he figured it would be extra great if they shared birthdays too. So he decided to come at the perfect time, on his dad’s 25th birthday!
William’s birth was the absolute most incredible experience of my life. It has changed me in multiple ways and I could not be more grateful for the experience I was blessed to have. I have always wanted to give birth “naturally” (without meds), preferably at home with a midwife. We went to our first appointment with our midwife when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I told her my interest in a home birth and she quickly informed me that in the state of Nebraska, it is illegal (a felony!) for anyone to attend a homebirth. I was shocked! So I would be delivering at a local hospital, St. Elizabeth’s (which I ended up loving!). I grew increasingly more passionate in how I wanted to give birth throughout my pregnancy. I was so excited for the moment to come to be in true labor. I talked to my mom for hours about it and she was always very encouraging that I could have the “natural” birth I desired (it’s how she had all 5 of us kids)! Joe was very supportive of it as well.
So here’s our story:
Easter Sunday I had contractions all day long! I was 37 weeks 5 days. They were consistently a few minutes a part and painful, but they didn’t really change much in intensity throughout the day so I doubted that it was “time”. I was able to sleep fine that night and I woke up the next morning and they were gone. Though, I could tell things were definitely changing inside. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday my contractions would start up again around 1pm and continue throughout the day. Tuesday I hit 38 weeks. My mom had a flight scheduled (she booked multiple in the weeks leading up to my due date in hopes of being at the birth) for Wednesday so we were debating whether or not she should take it but I knew things could still be a couple weeks from happening so I wasn’t ready for her to come yet. On Wednesday I told my midwife what I had been experiencing, we listened to the heart beat (which was great!), measured my belly (it finally grew a couple centimeters, reaching 35cm, from the week before), and I had actually lost a pound after not gaining any for the past 2 weeks. We had been concerned about his size but an ultrasound a couple weeks prior showed he was growing beautifully. My midwife, Jill, offered to “check” me to see if I was dilated at all (she doesn’t normally do cervical checks until you hit 40 weeks). At first I said no, but after debating back and forth the rest of the visit, I changed my mind. She checked and I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced - she said she even thought she could feel his hair! Crazy!
|Easter Sunday - 37 weeks 5 days|
I was really excited that I was making progress (though I knew I could stay like that for days or a couple weeks!). My mom decided to book flights every morning for the next few days. The deal was I’d let her know by 6am every morning if I felt like she should come. My first thought was there was no way I would know by 6am since I never really felt anything before that time each day. So that night I prayed that when the time was right, that I’d feel something early enough to let my mom know.
Sure enough, after only a couple hours of sleep, I woke up to contractions at 2am on Thursday morning. All week the “contractions” felt so different from the braxton hicks I had experienced throughout my pregnancy. These were more like really bad menstrual cramps all the way around my low abdomen, especially in my back, but no pain in my actual belly. They were painful enough, 5 minutes apart and lasting for 30 to 60 seconds, so I woke up Joe by 3am and he began the never ending task of rubbing my back through contractions. We made oatmeal at 4am and by 5am we were tired enough to attempt to sleep. I texted my mom (4 am her time) and let her know she probably should come. By 8:30 we were up, but my contractions seemed irregular. I walked a couple miles on the treadmill, which felt so much more difficult than any other day. I had to walk so slow. I tryed to stay up and moving or bouncing on my exercise ball as much as I could in an attempt to get things moving along a little faster if I really was in labor. Contractions became more regular following my exercise, about 4 to 5 minutes apart and lasting for a minute or so. Joe went to school at noon so I labored on my own. He got back around 2:15 and my mom walked in just a few minutes later. Within the next half hour, things picked up. Contractions 3 to 4 minutes apart for a minute or longer. I put some brown rice in the cooker since that was the only thing that sounded appealing (so grateful I did that, it was good fuel for the hard work ahead!). We rubbed an essential oil on my back that is supposed to help make contractions stronger and more effective. It definitely worked! They became more painful and required a lot more focus to get through them, along with Joe’s much needed back pressure and rubbing.
By 4:30 I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Things were increasingly painful, and contractions were 2 to 3 minutes apart. I ate what I could of my bowl of brown rice with avocado and peas and packed some last minute things to throw in the hospital bag so we eventually left around 5:20.
I called Labor and Delivery and Jill, to let them know I was coming. Jill was in another birth so they couldn’t get a hold of her yet. The hospital is only 5 minutes from where we live so they got us back into a room just after 5:30. The nurse did a quick check and announced I was 4.5 cm and 100% effaced. I was staying to have our baby! We were really excited! Then began the not so fun part of having to sit in bed while they monitored the baby and the contractions. Contractions while having to sit still are much more difficult to manage than when you can be up and moving. After 40 minutes the nurse finally returned to remove the monitors. During the next contraction she and a student nurse commented how you could just see the baby’s outline in my belly - his back, bum, and legs were in view while his head was burrowed deeply down. So cool!
Time quickly became a bit blurry from here on out. I got out of the bed around 6:30, walked the room, bounced on the ball, and eventually got in the jacuzzi tub to help cope with the contractions. The warm water was amazing at easing the pain! Joey stayed right there, doing everything he could to help me. He was absolutely incredible the whole time! Eventually Jill arrived and she told me that the water can sometimes slow things down so it would be good if I tried some other methods for a bit, promising the water later if I needed. I got out, put my running shorts and t-shirt back on, and Joe and I walked the halls. During contractions I would face him, wrap my arms around his neck and hang on him while he rubbed my back. The next few hours continued with the walking and various positions in the delivery room. I sipped on coconut water (which tasted so great during everything!), ice and tried to munch on a couple crackers and jello but I quickly regretted that since the crackers made my mouth even more dry and the taste of orange jello lingered in my mouth making me a bit sick during contractions.
Some time in the 10 o’clock hour, I asked if Jill would check me to see if I was progressing because things were becoming very VERY intense and painful! I was so bummed and slightly defeated when she said I was only at 7cm and my water was still in tact. Jill said she could break my water if I wanted, but it would make things more intense - it was up to me. I decided to wait, I’d go walk some more and try other positions to progress further. My mind was wandering a lot, I didn’t want to talk between contractions. I began thinking, I am never doing this again! This is so hard! But then I would tell myself “YOU CAN DO THIS! You will be so happy when it’s all over, just keep going!” Everyone around me was so encouraging. Joey kept telling me how great I was doing and continued to help me so much, and my mom suggested how I should breath through each contraction, though I never mastered her method.
Joe and I walked the halls one more time - it was sometime between 11 and 11:30. After just one walk down the hallf and back, we returned to our room, it was too much for me. Someone, either Joe or my mom (I can’t remember who!), rubbed more of the same essential oil on my back (clary sage) while I stood leaning over a tray swaying my hips back and forth. The next contraction came on so much stronger and more painful. My quiet moans from earlier in my labor had grown to much louder ones. I told someone to “Go get Jill!” I felt close. She returned, I climbed back on the bed and she concluded I was 8.5cm. I may have cried. I was so tired. I talked with her about breaking my water and asked my mom what I should do. She said that even though it will make it harder that it would help it to all be over faster and we would have our baby. With each random check of his heart rate, it remained strong so we trusted that he was doing well. It was such a strange feeling when she broke my water. As the fluid that cushioned the contractions left my body, the pain grew much stronger. I moved to the “all-fours” position, trying to cope but I felt like I was going to throw up. Joey was at the head of the bed to my left, and there was nothing for me to throw up in yet so he told me it was okay, I could throw up on him (that’s love I tell you!). I was thankful in that moment there wasn’t much in my stomach and I’m sure Joey was too! My stomach was heaving upwards but nothing was coming up.
I moved back into the jacuzzi and Joey climbed up on to the back corner of it so he could remain right by my side. I was moving all over the place, I was struggling to control myself as I said loudly that “I needed to push!!”. Jill checked and gave me the go-ahead to push however felt natural. So at 12:45 am, I began pushing in the water. I tried so hard but after some time, Jill said I wasn’t making much progress and that I should get out and try a different position. I stayed in the water for a few more contractions as they prepped a few things in my room and then I moved to the bed and tried the “all-fours” position (on my hands and knees). With each contraction I pressed back, lowering my chest towards the bed. Again, after a bit of time, Jill thought we could do better. She sent for the birthing stool which basically looks like a u-shaped toilet seat. She suggested Joey sit behind me, that way in between contractions I could lean back and rest on him and during them I could lean forward pushing with every last bit of energy I had while he pushed on my very low back. This definitely proved to be the most effective position. Our baby was moving down. I kept asking if he was progressing at all because I couldn’t feel where he was. I needed updates! Some of my pushes were far more effective than others. I was exhausted and didn’t have much left. That same throw up feeling that I had been having continued, only now the heaving upward shifted down. I could literally feel my body trying to expel this baby from my body. And each time I would feel this heaving downward that my body was doing all on its own, Jill would say, “That’s it, keep pushing like that!” But I couldn’t control it, it was totally an automatic response my body was doing on its own and it was incredible. I knew my body was meant to do this. I began to feel the intense burning, or “ring of fire”, that I had read so much about and I knew he was close so I pushed harder! Jill asked for my hand so I could feel his head crowning. With just a couple more pushes, his head came out and his body quickly followed. I opened my eyes just in time to see him slide into Jill’s hands. Oh the sense of relief! She immediately lifted him up into my arms as he cried so loudly and I was all tears and crying. Joe was in perfect position to see it all happen just as I had seen it and we took in those first moments together. After a few minutes, he was able to cut the cord. Our baby boy was born at 2:17 am, 24 hours after my labor began.
We were in awe. We finally had our baby boy in our arms. Joe and my nurse helped me move back on to the bed so I could rest our baby on my chest. It was an indescribable moment as I lay there with my baby on me and my husband to my right. William (who didn’t get his name until about 12 hours later!) had stayed so strong even throughout pushing, his heart rate never dropped and he did so well. He was perfect in every way to us. Within just a few minutes, he was showing signs that he wanted to nurse. He latched on so quickly and nursed so well right away. After delivering the placenta and getting a couple stitches, the jacuzzi was filled with fresh warm water and I was helped back into the tub to give my baby his first bath. William calmly rested on my thighs in the water looking right at me. It was a perfect moment in every sense.
After his bath, Joe got to hold him for the first time. I wish I could have seen it but they all left me to soak in the tub and rest for a few minutes - so needed. Eventually they weighed and measured him. 6 lbs 6 oz (which my mom guessed right!) and 19 1/4 inches long.
Joe held our baby boy on the couch as he sat to my left, my mom on my right, while we took it all in. I was so thankful to be sitting there with all three of them. We were all exhausted but it had been an amazing night. After a quick visit to the nursery, Joe, William, and I were taken to our post-partum room - our first time alone together as a family.
|Packing up to go home from the hospital.|
|Joe's favorite way to study - 4 days old|
William has been doing great so far. He is 3 weeks old today. He loves to nurse, sleep on his mom and dads chest, and be held all of the time. He hates having his diaper changed, getting dressed and being hungry. We are so excited to finally have some warmer weather to go out on walks and finally get out of the house. As of yesterday, he weighs 7 lbs 14 oz.
I think about his birth all the time. In the moment, I kept thinking never again. It was just so hard! But within minutes after he was born I was considering it in the future. And just hours later I was completely sold on going “natural” again. I really am so excited to give birth again! Of course it’s intense (really the only word I think sums it up) - but so incredibly worth it. I am so thankful my husband stayed by myside the entire time, pushing me to keep going. So thankful that my mom was able to make it, I truly needed her there. We were lucky enough to have her stay for 2 weeks after he was born (which went by way too fast!). I am constantly needing reassurance from her that things both William and I are experiencing are normal and not to worry.
I am so thankful to be his mom and that Joe is his dad and that we are in this together! It is so surreal. This baby is really ours. Thank you for choosing us sweet William. We will love you forever.
|William - 12 days old|