Over the next week, we welcome some posts from a guest contributor. Amy contacted me a few weeks ago to share her birth stories. She has Type I diabetes and three sons, all born vaginally and with minimal intervention. Her stories have been a real encouragement to us, and we hope you enjoy reading about her journey!
This birth story really begins with my "premature labor" and hospital stay. I came home on October 9th, at 35 1/2 weeks.
On the evening of October 14th, I had a few hours of contractions, but of course they didn't go anywhere. My mom and brother came to town for my son's birthday party and the night of October 15th, I remember telling my mom before she went to bed that she shouldn't be surprised if we left for the hospital in the middle of the night to have the baby. I wondered every night if this was “it,” but they always stopped and didn't seem to follow a consistent pattern when they were happening. If my husband was at home I wanted him to be with me during the contractions. I don't even remember what I did for the nights he was at work. I have contraction timings scrawled down on the bottom of my daily planning notebook so I guess I must have kept myself occupied doing that! I was beginning to wonder when this baby would arrive and what kind of cervical changes these contractions were causing. We began to pray that God would give us a definite sign when I was in “real” labor so that we would be able to make it to the hospital on time. The hospital we use is 30 minutes away, so I was concerned that we would not be able to make it there.
This continued almost every single night up until October 24th. I don't know what exactly to consider these contractions. I don't think they were Braxton-Hicks, because they were not painless. They were real and painful. I figured that the same thing was going to happen as it did with my first son: several nights of contractions followed by a quick labor and birth. The nurses at the hospital told me to rush to the hospital the moment my contractions started back up again. They expected the baby would be born any minute. In light of the end of this story, that's pretty ironic! Apparently that's just not how my body works.
It didn't take long for me to get really fed up with these nightly contractions. I told our doctor at my 37 week appointment that I did not want to be induced, but I didn't know how much longer I could handle this. On top of all the contractions, I felt horrible and got exhausted easily. I had no energy, probably at least in part due to sitting around the hospital for so long and not engaging in my normal activity levels. I had also decided that the baby had to be really long because I could not get comfortable AT ALL. He was either up in my rib cage or pressing on my pelvic bones or really doing both at the same time and I felt like I couldn't even sit down. On October 22nd I went in for a non stress test. Thankfully, our doctor was on call that night and told the nurse to send me home even though I was having contractions during the test. When I was on my way out of the hospital I stopped to chat with the lady at the front desk and she asked when I was due. I told her I was due in about 2 weeks and she said, “it looks like the baby hasn't even dropped yet." Gee, thanks, actually the baby HAS dropped already, and now I know that my perceived hugeness is not just a figment of my imagination.
On October 24th my son and I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things and I immediately regretted it. It took every ounce of strength I had to walk around the store. After I put my son to bed my contractions started up again and I felt like I could really not deal with this for much longer. I felt horrible and it was hard to deal with the contractions. My husband was at work. I thought about emailing or calling Amanda to ask her to pray for my stamina, but I didn't even have the strength to do that. When my husband got home I took a warm bath, my contractions let up, and I was finally able to get comfortable enough to fall asleep around 2am.
The next morning I woke up a few minutes after 6am to use the bathroom and while I was walking to the bathroom my water broke. It wasn't a lot, since the baby was so well engaged already, so I was unsure. Once I decided that this really was my water breaking, I called out to my husband from the bathroom and he immediately called his parents to come over and watch our son. I also called my mom to let her know what was going on.
I called Amanda to discuss our options. I was not having any contractions yet. We had planned a few weeks ago for Amanda to just meet us at the hospital this time, as opposed to our house, but I didn't really want to go in yet since nothing else was happening. I know it sounds funny with how fast things usually go for me in the end, but I am always nervous about getting to the hospital too soon. I do not want to be there any longer than I have to. I would prefer to arrive already well-advanced and in hard labor. She told me that my contractions would probably start once I was able to relax and I did want to take a shower before going in.
I decided to call my doctor to see what he thought. When I told him that my water broke he said, “Great! Now I have something to look forward to today!” Have I mentioned how much I really like my doctor and how grateful I am that we found him?! He said that medically and legally he had to tell me to come in right away, but really I could do whatever I wanted to. He also mentioned that he was actually on call that day so we would not need to call him when we decided to go.
When I got off the phone with the doctor, my husband and I discussed what we should do. He really wanted to get on our way to the hospital even if I wasn't having contractions yet since once they started it would probably all happen pretty fast. But I did convince him to let me take a shower first. So I showered and he put some last minute things into our hospital bag. We also got our son up since we heard him moving around even though it was earlier than than his normal waking time. Because of a hospital policy that had just been put into place a few days before (something about swine flu), he would not be able to come visit us at the hospital so it was nice to see him before we left.
At 6:25, my husband called Amanda again to let her know we were leaving soon for the hospital. By this time my contractions had started and we were loading up the car. I briefly considered grabbing something to eat but I started to feel sick so decided against it. The first few contractions were probably a couple of minutes apart, but they were quite intense and I could barely talk or walk or think through them. We got into the car and left for the hospital. This time we had two car seats in the back, so I had to sit in the front seat.
A few minutes after we left our house (6:38) I called a friend from church to let her know that I was in labor and to ask for prayer from her and the other ladies at our church. I had to hang up with her suddenly because I felt a contraction coming on. The rest of the ride to the hospital was absolutely horrible! My contractions were very close together, I'm guessing probably 2 minutes apart and lasting for around 90 seconds so I felt like I hardly had any break in between them. It is so hard when your labor starts and you are suddenly in transition! I can't think clearly, I can't relax...I don't even know how to describe it. Looking back on a short labor I can think, “wasn't it nice to have a short labor?”, but in the midst of it, it's terrifying. A short labor doesn't mean it was easy or less painful, it just means it was short.
Anyway, we're on our way to the hospital and I am wishing to be basically anywhere other than buckled into a car. I had been planning on having a natural birth anyway, but just sitting there in a car is certainly not the ideal place to be dealing with contractions. I wanted to move and try different positions to see what was most comfortable, but I couldn't. I knew that I was in transition at this point. I kept telling my husband that I could not do this, it was so painful and I was scared. He is always so very calm and just kept reassuring me that I could do it – that I WAS doing it. I really don't know anyone else who could be so calm and encouraging when in this same situation, and he's dealt with it twice! I asked him to turn the radio on at some point, thinking that might help me to focus on something else. But I think I mostly just kept asking him to drive faster.
We made it to the hospital a little after 7am and had to use the ER entrance. A contraction started right when we walked in the door so I dropped to the floor on all fours to attempt to deal with it and my husband went to get a wheelchair. A woman arrived with the wheelchair and then proceeded to give me the slowest ride EVER up to the 4th floor. I’m guessing that she just didn’t want to jostle me around too much, but I was about ready to jump out of the wheelchair in between contractions and run up to labor and delivery myself! It was really ridiculous. Even my husband thought so. It was so difficult to just sit still and by this time I was feeling a lot of pressure and knew that I was probably fully dilated or somewhere close.
When we got up to labor and delivery a nurse was getting a bed ready for me in the room where they take women to monitor them and determine if they are really in labor. I figured they probably didn't want a baby to actually be born in there so I said something to the effect of “No, I need to be in a real labor room, I am really in labor. My water broke, and I think the baby is coming soon." The one nurse flashed a questioning look to the other nurse who was there and they reluctantly took us to a birthing room. I climbed up into the bed, which was upright, and was on my knees, basically kneeling, and started to undress. I was SO relieved to not have to be sitting down.
The nurses were slowly getting things ready, trying to register me in the system, trying to monitor the baby’s heart rate, and so forth. This was about 7:10/7:15ish. I definitely needed to push now and I kept saying that, but the nurses just told me not to. I don't believe they had called our doctor yet and they had not checked to see how far dilated I was. I was getting really nervous because I could not hold back from pushing. Finally a nurse decided to check me.
I wish someone had recorded the mad scramble that ensued when she found that I was fully dilated. An ER doctor was called up, the nurses continued to tell me to stop pushing and I continued to tell them that I COULD NOT stop. I managed to hold back for maybe one contraction but I just had to push, so I did. Well it didn’t take them long to realize that I was not going to be able to stop pushing so then they began to try and get me to assume the “normal” pushing position of laying down with your feet in stirrups. I did not want to do that because 1) I knew how uncomfortable I would be, 2) even though this position is very commonly used in hospital, it is pretty much the worst position to birth a baby in (you're not even working with gravity!), and 3) being upright is a much better position since it would allow my body to open up even more to let the baby pass through. My husband argued with them for a minute or two, all in vain. I wish Amanda or our doctor (or really BOTH of them!) had been there. I know my doctor would have been fine with me pushing in any position I felt comfortable in.
But the nurses were extremely insistent and were practically yelling about it and saying “what if the baby gets stuck," which is a ridiculous thing to even say since there wasn't any indication that the baby was at risk for getting “stuck." Besides, being in an upright position actually opens up your pelvis MORE than if you are just laying there, which means that would actually allow more room for a baby to come through, lowering the chances of the baby getting stuck...but I digress. I finally had enough of people yelling at me about when to push/not to push/what position to get into that I just told my husband: “It's ok, I'll just do what they're asking. Everyone is acting like they don't know what they're doing and that's making me really nervous." I regret giving in and wish I had continued how I was.
In the midst of turning myself around another contraction began and I pushed the baby's head out before I could even get into their preferred position. I felt so relieved after his head was out that I wasn't even thinking about how I needed to push the rest of him out as well- cue the shouting from the nurses to PUSH!- but a few more pushes and out he came. I asked what time it was because I was pretty sure that no one was paying attention to that. The birth certificate does have the wrong time of birth on it. It was 7:25am. Since of course no one had any time to read our birth plan, I might have been a little snappy when asking them to please NOT clamp and cut the cord and to just let it go until it stopped pulsing.
We had already chosen a name for this guy, or rather, we felt that God had given us a name for him. He was handed to me right away, we covered up with lots of blankets, and I tried to nurse him. I was surprised that he had dark hair since I assumed he would look more like our first son did, with the red hair and dark blue eyes. His whole face was purple and bruised from coming out so quickly! Our doctor arrived a few minutes later, and at 7:32 my husband called Amanda to tell her that our son had been born. She was only just walking into labor and delivery area! A little while after that I pushed out the placenta and was inspected for any tearing. I only had some superficial tearing this time, which I attribute, at least in part, to the fact that I was trying to turn over when he came out. It was MUCH easier to recover from than the tear I had with my first, and I only needed a few stitches.
I had been holding our newborn son all this time and at that point I still figured that he would weigh less than my first son did, since he was born at 38 weeks and our first son was born a few days before his due date. I about fell off the bed when he was taken to be weighed and measured and he was 8 pounds 14 ounces and 22 inches long! He was actually quite proportional. You can tell he's just meant to be a big boy. His weight and length have always been off the charts. But I really could not believe it. Our doctor joked, “I guess we didn't have to worry about growth restriction with this guy!”
Our second son certainly has an interesting story and we want to thank everyone again who prayed for us and helped us in any way during our rough time with me in the hospital and throughout my entire pregnancy. Just like with our first, we saw God working in many ways and answering the many prayers that were prayed by us and you for our entire family.