Wednesday, June 8, 2011

J3's Birth Story

I've been putting off this post. 

Baby J3 is three weeks old but I'm not looking forward to reliving his birth! It includes phrases such as "heart tones not good", "not recovering well", "baby is in distress", "emergency back-up", "ambulance", "call 9-1-1".

Ok, well, now I guess I have to finish what I started!

I had really really hoped to have this baby early. I'm not sure what gave me that hope as my first two babies were both over a week late! On Saturday, three days before my due date, I started having contractions but they were mild and inconsistent. On Sunday I remember being grumpy and annoyed because I wasn't in labor! I did stuff around the house--including sewing a couple pillowcases--and tried not to think about having a baby!

But that afternoon the light contractions started up again. I timed them and realized they were a lot more frequent and consistent than the day before. My husband was very excited and set up the birth tub, then we made a couple calls to our midwife and the boys' babysitter to give them a heads-up.

I continued to have contractions all night. I took a hot bath before bed to try to relax, but I wasn't able to sleep. I think it was more excitement and trepidation than the contractions. They were still consistently spaced but not very strong. I knew though, that I was in early labor.

I woke my husband at about 4 AM. Well, I didn't try to wake him but he heard me get up to use the bathroom. He started filling the tub, put on some relaxing music, and at about 5 AM he called our midwife. She asked some questions, gave us some advice and sent our doula out to our house. At 6 AM my husband called the babysitter and woke the boys. He dressed them and gave them breakfast while the doula checked my progress, made me some tea and had me eat some nuts and toast. The babysitter came shortly after 7 AM and I was glad when my husband was able to be with me again! 

Things get progressively foggier after that! The contractions were more painful, but I was able to handle them by relaxing and breathing. I was very encouraged that it wasn't my first birth, that things should go faster the second time, that perhaps baby was turned the right way and I wouldn't have as much painful back labor as last time...

But then my water broke and all of a sudden IT HURT!!! Contractions were longer and more frequent too. I wanted to get in the birth tub to try to relax and not be in pain anymore. Our doula helped me undress (when my water broke I was laying in bed and it went all over!) and got me into the tub which was in our bedroom. I had to stand up and walk from the bed to the tub at the end of the bed and it took a lot of concentration and I had to pause through several contractions as I went the short distance. 

No sooner had I gotten in the tub than the doula wanted to check the baby's heart tones. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when she waited through a contraction and checked again. Baby wasn't recovering well. 

Baby's heart tones were low.

About this time our midwife got to our house. They had me get out of the tub and lay on the bed in various positions, none of which were comfortable or decent for someone only wearing a bra! Feeling humiliated was the last thing on my mind; all I could think about was my baby in distress and how. much. it. hurt! 

We started talking about hospitals. And ambulance rides. And calling 9-1-1.

We live 45 minutes from the hospital. On a good day if you speed a little! I don't know which was worse, the pain or the fear! The pain kind of helped me deal with the fear, you know? I knew I would do whatever it took to keep my baby healthy. 

I won't try to pretend, and this is the hard part to write; I was scared our baby wouldn't survive. I knew 45 minutes was too long to go without oxygen. I didn't know if I would survive if our baby didn't--from a broken heart if nothing else! But remember I was in too much pain to voice any of this, or to really dwell on it. All I could do was pray and breathe and cut off all circulation to my husband's hand! 

Seriously, I have never prayed so hard! I was begging God for a miracle--not to stop the pain (although that would have been nice!) but for our baby to be born soon and healthy.

EMTs started coming sooner than I thought possible. And more of them than I thought possible! In my haze I would have guessed 20 people responded to that call! My bedroom started filling with strangers, mostly men, and I was still only wearing a bra. Can you imagine?! I was finally covered by a blanket which stayed with me as the ambulance came and I was strapped to a gurney and wheeled out of my house and into the ambulance. They let my husband ride in the back with me after he put his foot down that he was staying by my side. I'm so thankful for that!

So imagine with me, being in hard labor with barely a pause between contractions. You're mostly naked, surrounded by strangers in an ambulance and you have no idea how your baby is doing. You're strapped down, they've given you oxygen and started an IV and you just know you're headed in for another c-section when you'd dreamed of a natural birth. 

And then you have the urge to push and you're told not to. And you know the hospital is still more than half an hour away.

I remember thinking that I wish I knew how to make myself pass out. I seriously wanted to be unconscious! I was looking forward to that horrible shot they give you before a c-section, because then I would be numb! 

The EMTs warned me as we approached the hospital that we had to enter through the front doors of the labor-and-delivery unit. I felt sorry for the other moms who would see me and be scared for what lay ahead for themselves!

The emergency room we went to was, again, filled with strangers. This time they were all dressed in blue. Once the hospital staff took over, my stats were taken again, baby's heart rate was taken (still low but not in serious danger), and my progress was checked. Good news! 

You're fully dilated! Go ahead and push!

I was moved to a regular delivery room instead of surgery! My prayers were being answered!

Our doctor was amazing. I completely trusted him. The nursing staff was efficient and helpful, especially the head nurse. I really appreciated her!

It took another 45 minutes (it seemed like about 3!) and the help of the vacuum, but our baby was born at 11:16 AM on May 16, one day before the due date.

And then I heard a cry! Another miracle! It's a boy! And he's perfect! Even though I was braced for it, he wasn't even taken to NICU! I was holding my perfect baby just minutes after he was born! All is well! 

Did I mention he weighed 10 lbs, 15 oz? Hence the difficult labor!

Sure, it wasn't the birth I had envisioned. There was much more trauma involved than I ever want to have happen again! It hurt way more than I expected and there were things I wish hadn't happened. But they did. I had hoped to hold my baby immediately after he was born, I didn't want his cord cut right away, I certainly didn't want the vacuum or the (seemingly) hundreds of stitches down there, and I wanted to be HOME! But my baby was healthy and safe and in my arms. 

Thank God for miracles!


  1. Wow. Just reading that was intense! So glad the story ended well. :)

  2. wow were you checked by a doctor at all during your pregancy? Did you have diabetes? I am so glad all ended well for you and the baby.

  3. I'm so glad it all ended well! I had a horribly difficult time like that with my first. He was huge, and I was tiny, and there were lots of stitches. I spiked a fever, and he had a lung collapse during the ordeal. I remember how scared I was, and there were far too many strangers present, and thinking really did all these people need to see my hooha?

    My ob/gyn told me that there was no reason for me to go through so much trauma with my second. With 2 weeks to go, she said, "this baby is ready to go and only getting bigger, how's Wednesday for you?" Wednesday was great. I scheduled a sitter, my MIL came down to be there fore the delivery, I was induced at noon, and with just a couple pushes out slid SB. So much better.

    Of course now that your perfect little boy is here, the pain & fear does fade. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Oh, Ellie! I feel so bad for you! I'm so thankful that everything turned out okay in the end, but what a horrible experience.

    I'm wondering if this changed your views on home births at all?

  5. eek- glad all is ok now though!

    Stitches are painful buggers....I had them with my first, hence an almost 4 year gap till my 2nd!

  6. Oh my goodness Ellie. As a mom of two boys I can only begin to imagine the fear you must have felt. I had both my guys naturally, but in the hospital...and that was scary enough. I don't think you are ever ready for that kind of pain...but some kind of crazy maternal instinct kicks in to get you through it. You're a brave girl.

  7. Wow. That was an intense story and reminds me of ours with #4... The cord was around his neck and not long enough. It had to be cut as soon as his head was born, but he was absolutely blue and limp. I kept asking if he was OK and no one would answer. Not a great feeling, and time stood still. He was 2 weeks early and 9# 9 oz. Now he's 17, athletic and strong, and has never been sicker than the flu.

    But at his birth, I thanked God so much for his recovery and really knew that every moment we're given with our kids is such a big gift!

    I wonder, too, how you feel about home birth now? My grandma had 3 home births, then her last was at a hospital. That uncle was born not breathing, and needed support from equipment to stay alive. Grandma was convinced that if he'd been born at home, he would've died...So my doing a home birth would've frightened her too much for me to consider it. And after our #1 was a C-section, I had no more choice in the matter, anyway...

    I'm so thankful that you and Baby came through this so well!

  8. Congratulations. So frightening but what a beautiful outcome. We too had a traumatic birth with our second child and he was taken C section but then the third was an uneventful but very fast delivery. So one trauma does not mean the next would be that way. Our second was also a large baby. 10 lbs 8 oz. I sort of felt a bit freakish and finally asked my husband to stop broadcasting that fact. :)
    Again, so happy the you have such a happy healthy and beautiful new son to round out your world.



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