Every birth story is beautiful and unique and no matter what are choices are in how we bring our babies into the world we should all be in awe of what a woman’s body is capable of. Bringing a baby into the world is a miracle. Here is my story, and although long and hard I got the greatest gift at the end of it all.
Settle in because unfortunately for both of us, this is not a short and sweet story. This was a long and hard labor. Don’t worry I won’t give you a minute play by play, and some of this will be supplemented with my husband’s memory because towards the end I was too exhausted and delusional to have any sense of time and what was going on.
I’ll start by saying I’m overall pretty easy going and while I had birth “preferences” I knew this was an experience you can’t have a strict plan for because many things come up that are out of our control, and frankly I had no sense of what to expect, process or pain wise. The end goal is a safe and healthy delivery for both you and baby. With that said I really wanted to try for a natural birth and no medications, with the exception of antibiotics because I had tested positive for Group B Strep. While I know there are benefits to this route, it was more of a challenge for myself than a strict stance on natural vs medicated.
We didn’t take a bunch of classes in preparation, but we are both naturally researchers so we read countless things in preparation and understanding for what our options were to prepare. If you don’t take classes I definitely recommend taking the time to educate yourself on your options and tour your hospital or birthing center to get yourself familiar.
Ok, so in my last month of pregnancy, I started taking prenatal yoga which was a great resource for getting in tune with my breath, which was immensely helpful through my labor. At my 36-week appointment baby girl was already head down and dropped I was mostly effaced and 1cm dilated. This all seemed promising to result in the natural birth I was planning for. However, over the next few weeks, I continued to efface, but dilation was not progressing. This was admittedly a little defeating week over week at my appointments because I was so anxious to meet her. This mainly meant that once I went into active labor I had the full 9cm to go, which could go quick or drag on.
SUNDAY MARCH 11TH
Fast forward, to Sunday evening, I was 39 weeks 4 days, with my due date on Wednesday. I was exhausted and went to bed at 10 pm that night figuring I was about to start another full week at work the way things had been going.
MONDAY MARCH 12TH
I was awoken at 1 am by contractions, these were not Braxton Hicks contractions, which I had been having for weeks. While uncomfortable enough to not be able to sleep I could talk through them, so I got out my timer and started timing. They started 10 minutes apart and by 6 am were 5-7 minutes apart, and at that point, I was so exhausted running on three hours of sleep that I fell asleep for 30 minutes. I woke back up and contemplated whether or not I should go to work… (I’M CRAZY). I emailed my work family saying I’d work from home, to which my boss kindly replied that I should rest for the event that was clearly coming. So I sat on the couch trying to rest and text my friend Steph about what was going on, and she convinced me to go to the hospital to get checked since my contractions were so close together. I text my husband, Chris, to come pick me up to go to the hospital. We got checked at triage to find out I was a whopping 1.5 cm, so they offered me an hour in the tub or an hour to walk to see how quickly I was progressing. We walked and walked and climbed stairs, so many stairs. An hour later, I hadn’t made any progress. SO FRUSTRATING! So we were sent home. Well, we left and it was about noon so we went to grab lunch. Of course, after we leave and started heading home the contractions begin to get more intense. Standing in line to get a sub they ask for my order and I start to have a contraction. I can still talk through it but need much more focus to breathe through it.
This continued over the next few hours continuously getting more and more intense. I sat at home bouncing on a ball and breathing through the contractions and walking our stairs hoping to progress in dilation. By 6 pm breathing through contractions was difficult, but I wasn’t ready to leave for the hospital. I mentally decided we’d wait until 8 pm because I was afraid to go to the hospital and be turned away again. Finally, at 8 pm the contractions were very painful and I was starting to struggle to breathe through them and we took off. Checked back into triage and it was about 9:00 pm that I was checked, and the nurse said I was 3 cm. Seriously… after nine hours I only progressed a centimeter and a half! So this time I decided to labor in the tub because walking was difficult and I was hopeful that the jets would help me relax me a little or at least distract me. The other wonderful effect contractions have is to help clear out your body, in preparation for birth, it’s like nature’s laxative to make the experience even more pleasant (just keeping it real because this wasn’t something I anticipated). That in itself can be exhausting because it seems you can’t get hydrated enough to keep up, so chug that water and stay hydrated. Anyway, I labored in the tub for about 45 minutes with Chris playing music, coaching me with amazing encouragement, and just trying to help keep me comfortable. After an hour and a half passed they checked me again and I was nearly 4cm. I was so defeated; it was almost 11 pm and getting close to 24 hours, running on 3 hours of sleep and had only progressed 3 cm. They decided they were going to start the process to admit me since I was close to 4cm and I had tested positive for strep B so they wanted to get the antibiotics going. I urgently had to use the restroom again and stayed in there for about 20 min contracting 3-5 minutes just feeling drained and struggling to get through the contractions. I was desperate for relief, so much so that I was going to lay on the tile of the bathroom floor just to be against something cold. As I started to move down another contraction came on that took my breath away, and I decided to head back to our triage room.
If you’re still reading this… hats off to you! I know this is lengthy and there is still so much more to tell, but the ending is pretty great 😉
TUESDAY MARCH 13TH
It was just past midnight, now Tuesday early morning, at this point the contractions had intensified to the point that sitting or lying still was agony. I was writhing in the bed trying to get in a comfortable position, I couldn’t focus or even be in the moment with Chris. At that moment my birth plan pivoted and I just wanted relief, so I told the nurses I wanted an epidural once we got to the labor and delivery room. Getting through the pain was all-encompassing and isolating for me, and I wanted that connection with my husband in this experience.
It was about 1 am when we got settled into labor and delivery, and another half hour before I was able to get the epidural. It takes about 15-20 minutes to set in and I finally got relief. But I started to feel dizzy and lightheaded reacting to the epidural and immediately told the nurses. My blood pressure started to drop quickly and the staff acted quickly to give me epinephrine to stabilize it. After a few minutes, I felt normal and just relaxed. My left leg was very numb and I couldn’t really move it much, but my right while numb I was still able to move and have some feeling on that side. This was the bliss period of the labor, and with my body relaxed I started progressing normally. Around 4 am I had reached about 6cm and it seemed like we were going to meet our sweet girl that morning! I was so anxious and excited that I didn’t sleep and started updating family. This was a huge mistake and I should have taken that time to rest because I was in for another long haul. The epidural was on a continuous dose which gave me more control of how much I could feel and if I need to dose again.
I stalled at 6cm, but my doctor was scheduled to break my water at 9:30 am, so we just hung around and waited while we went through shift change and met the new nurse who would be with me that day. The doctor came in and broke my water with this plastic crochet hook-like instrument. It was not painful at all, and then we waited for things to pick up.
After a couple hours things were not progressing, so they set up Pitocin to try and get things moving. Once it started baby’s heart rate kept dropping with each contraction. For an hour we tried many different positions in hopes to get her heart rate to stabilize. We were getting increasingly more anxious as we moved and moved. At times it seems like it would work and then within a couple minutes it would start again. The Pitocin was taken off after an hour of this and her heart rate stabilized again, shortly after I started progressing again, and at this time it was almost noon. During this time the shakes started as well. If you don’t know about this, it’s a normal response as your body goes through so much during labor for you to get uncontrollable intense full body shakes, which are exhausting.
Then I started to feel a lot more, and a lot more pain. The contractions were really strong and we called the nurse in. The epidural medicine had run out and the bag needed to be switched. I was desperately trying to breathe through the contractions that were coming every 1-2 minutes. It took a little while for the anesthesiologist to order more and get in there to set it up. I just kept trying to breathe. Once set up I hit the button to dose twice and waited 15 minutes, they had also dosed some pain to fill the gap until the epidural set in. Finally some relief and I relaxed.
After about an hour the same thing happened. I don’t believe the epidural ever kicked back in and that it was only the pain medication that held me over through that time. The pain was excruciating. They checked me and I was at 9cm (SO CLOSE) I clung on to the hospital bed bawling and bawling as contractions were only a minute apart at best. Again we had to wait for the anesthesiologist who was in the middle of setting up another patient’s epidural, so I clung to the bed struggling to breathe while Chris rubbed my back for almost an hour straight because any time he let up I begged him to keep going. They had tried to get the epidural going again and after 15 minutes when it wasn’t working I begged to have them come back and give me another dose of the pain medicine.
While that eased some of the pain for a short while again, it wasn’t long before I could start to feel it wearing off and I started to beg for them to let me push. I just had the urge to push and felt like it would be the only relief. At this point, the shakes had also intensified. They checked me again and said I was close enough and called the doctor to let her know. The resident doctor, student nurse, our nurse and Chris all helped me to get set up to start pushing. I opted to use the bar with my feet against it and pulling a towel around the bar for leverage. I pushed with each contraction every 1-2 minutes each time baby’s head would surface and then go back. I was so exhausted that I was falling asleep between contractions. At one point I immediately dozed off and woke up seconds later with everyone giggling and I sheepishly asked did I fall asleep? They told me within seconds of pushing I was out and started snoring. Only to wake up seconds after that and start pushing again. I pushed with everything I had, but she was coming face up and fighting against my pelvic bone. I pushed for almost two hours until my doctor came in. She quickly checked and was able to reposition baby by turning her after only a couple more rounds of pushes Ellie James Jones was born at 4:50 pm. I’ve never felt more relief it was an instant relief of pain and pressure. We delayed cord clamping as they immediately put her on my chest. Chris looked at me crying and telling me how proud he was of me and how great I did, and then we were both crying staring in awe at this beautiful little life we created. It was the most unexplainable moment of just pure joy, relief, exhaustion, and intense heart-bursting love. He cut the cord and she was wiped down and wrapped up and we just held her and stared at her. She was worth every second of those 39 hours and every bit of pain.
Ellie James Jones born March 13th at 4:50 pm 6lbs 11oz and 19.5 in of pure perfection.
Ellie was born at St Luke’s in Downtown Boise, and I just have to say that every single nurse and doctor who was a part of our story was absolutely amazing. They have incredible people who truly care and will do everything they can to make you as comfortable as they can and help you through it all.