I didn't write a lot about pregnancy: about my workouts and nutrient-dense lifestyle and how I truly believed that was THE cause for me having such a wonderful, enjoyable, hormone-swing-free pregnancy.
I didn't want to invite opinions from others. But surprisingly - what I did post on my social media was warmly welcomed with minimal 'opinions'. That being said - birth stories are so incredibly beautiful, personal and individual. This post is NOT inviting opinions - it's simply sharing that beautiful experience with other Mama's and non-Mama's, men, women and whoever wants to read it!
Like Cassie Joy and my friend Meghan Thornburgh, it has taken me some time to write this out. Mostly because I just wanted to ENJOY this little being! But now I am ready to share all my healthy-mama and baby experience with the world!
Of course I had a birth plan (duh!) that I called'birth wishes' - this coming from the girl who spreadsheets her packing lists for 2 day trips! But I also wanted to be flexible - knowing that at times, medical intervention is needed. All I wanted was for that baby boy to come out safe and sound (and he did!) but I also had my wishes. Those wishes were:
Wish to have membranes stripped prior to considering being induced
Am open to being induced if he is far past due date and is medically necessary
Wish to have vaginal birth unless it is absolutely medically necessary to have a C-Section
Wish to have natural birth but to be advised when is the last time frame I can get epidural
Wish to feel birth pains prior to making decision
Wish to be able to move around as much as possible prior to any intervention/epidural
Wish to be able to choose birthing positions (all 4’s, birthing ball, squatting, etc.)
Wish to be drinking clear fluids throughout the birthing process to keep blood sugar stable
Wish to ingest honey sticks to keep my energy up during the birthing process
Wish to have skin contact with the baby after birth
Wish to breastfeed after birth
Wish to have delayed bath after birth
Wish to have Dad cut the cord
Wish to donate cord blood
I also had TWOlarge 12cm uterine fibroids plotting against me that have the ability to make contractions even worse than they are without fibroids. BUT - I still had a deep desire and goal to have a natural birth so I pressed forward!
The nurses on staff that day told me that the hospital already was a HUGE advocate of all of my birth wishes and I had no reason to worry but they also educated me on my options from a pain perspective. That made me feel great that they supported my birthing wishes! But, just like being dogmatic about ANYTHING in life, you cannot be dogmatic about your birth plan because trust me - things can and WILL change and fast
My original due date was July 1st. But Little Weston James had other plans. I planned to work clear up until my water broke (which it never did) and because I felt so wonderful, continue working in my corporate job out until my water broke (I made it to the day before Labor!)
My FAVORITE Doctor - a fellow University of Kansas grad, circa 30 years prior to my attendance, was only on call on Jun 29th and July 4th. Weston HAD to come one of those days as far as I was concerned. But his due date as well as July 4th passed without even a hint of his arrival.
At my 41 week appointment, my Doctor asked if I wanted to be induced - I said no .....that was not part of my birth wishes. I wanted Weston to come when HE was ready. At that point, he gave me option 2: check in to the hospital on Monday morning (July 9th) and have my membranes ruptured to see if we could get labor to start. My Doctor was on call that evening so if stripping the membranes worked, he would be delivering me!! (cue red dress dance emoji's!). I had already been contracting for a good week at that point so I knew it HAD to be close.
For some reason, it never really clicked that checking in to the hospital meant that baby boy would come one way or another that day (though he waited 32 minutes too late and went in to Tuesday) and we went on with our weekend plans as scheduled! My husband and I's bags had been packed since week 37, I had purchased extra dog food and printed the instructions for their care and pasted on our laundry room door, given out extra keys for those who were going to come take care of them while we were in the hospital, had our housekeeper clean our home and had the nursery ready. We truly didn't have much to do.
We went to our crossfit gym that Saturday and got in a great workout! Per my video on IG, I tried to 'squat him out' - which obviously didn't work. We had dinner with my parents at our favorite little oyster bar, made a delicious egg casserole Sunday for breakfast and had an awesome sweat session in the garage gym. Going to sleep that night - I knew I would meet him within the next 24 hours (or so I thought) but it reeealllllyy didn't dawn on me until the next day.
We woke up at 430am the next morning - and I (of course!) showered, blow-dryed my hair, put on my favorite bronzer, blush and gloss and made myself 'ready' as if I was going to dinner (you can take the girl out of the city but you can't take the city out of the girl). I made a quick breakfast of pastured eggs and bacon with some fresh berries and full fat coconut milk not knowing it would be H-O-U-R-S before I would eat again. I kissed my dogs goodbye and told them their Grandma and Aunt Michelle would be there soon to love on them (my dogs are my babies!)
We checked in to the hospital at 530am and told them we were there for to ‘strip my membranes’ and get things moving. The nurse, Joy, immediately walked us to our labor and delivery room and that's when ish started feeling REAL! I realized we were actually CHECKING IN! That come hell or high-water, this little man was coming!
I had the best adrenaline rush coupled with the biggest most intense fear of my life! But I knew we were ready.
I naively was under the impression that everything would be underway quickly as far as rupturing my membranes went - but wow was I WRONG! The nurses strapped Weston's little heart rate monitor on to me as well as mine and got me all settled in the bed to do my IV as I was strepB positive and had to have a few rounds of antibiotics prior to baby's birth to protect him, should he be delivered vaginally (which was my goal). It was around 7am once this was complete and the nurses came up on a shift change. Our nurse, Joy, was switching out with a nurse named Kristen who was new to L&D and I LOVED her! Immediately the nurses noticed I was contracting (I had been for the last week it felt like!) and they ALSO realized I was going to be a big pain in the a$$ as I wanted out of the bed as MUCH as possible and did not want to be lying down. They had to come in and out constantly and take off my monitors so I could go to the bathroom, walk the halls, etc. Eventually - Kristen just showed me how to unhook my own monitor (ha!). Everyone who came in our room told me I looked so fancy and not like I was in labor.....but truly, I wasn't! You know me - hair, nails, lashes, self tanner - the works! I mean......those photos are forever y'all!
Around 8am, I was getting ancy. I asked Kristen if she could find out where the doc on call was and get some intel from him on what was happening. In the meantime, I was told I could order from the 'liquid diet only' menu and ordered some tea and lemon Italian Ice....and I was prepared to order about 30 of them because I was SO hungry! Kristen assured me she would find out where the Doc on call was. An hour later she had finally located him and he was doing high-risk rounds and was not going to come to our floor for some time. I asked my husband to sneak me a Larabar I had packed in our bags as I was STARVING and it didn't seem anything was moving any time soon. He was amazing - constantly getting me coconut waters, refilling my ice water and sneaking me food (shhhhhh!)
Then I got the news......the doc on call told Kristen that my favorite Doc (the KU Doc) had called and told him he was NOT to strip my membranes, break my water or induce until 12pm because HE was going to deliver my baby. I laughed out loud because I both loved and hated the news in the same moment. "Why did we get here at 530am then?' I asked? Kristen replied that EVERYTHING in the hospital takes time so it was good to check in early and get settled in.
Fine. Ok. I could do this...buuutttttttt all I wanted was some FOOD! I told her I would make a deal with her - I would promise to not be a pain in the a$$ if she would ask the doc on call if I could PLEASE order some real food since nothing was happening for another couple of hours. She checked with the doc and he said that was a-ok! A giant omlet, bacon, avocado and grits with butter later (yes grits with butter....this is North Carolina after all) and 2 coffees - I was one happy camper! My hubby and I settled in for some work time for him and a book for me (re-reading Sheryl Sanberg's, Lean-In - one of my faves and one I wanted to really hone in on the chapters about having a child while being a working professional female).
My husband and I passed the time working (him), reading (me), shopping for our house online and pacing the halls - or as the nurses called it 'walk that baby out!' 12pm came and went with no doctor on call. I buzzed Kristen at 1pm and asked if there was any way we could get this show on the road and in walked the doc on call! At this point, he wanted to skip right past stripping membranes and head right for breaking my water.
I was ALL in. Let's do this!
Let me just tell you.....having your water manually broken is NOT comfortable. Holy wow was that some serious pressure and let's not even talk about the fact that I heard the word 'hook' as the nurse handed him something I refused to open my eyes to look at. The doc also gave me the news that I was only dilated to 2.5cm. 2.5cm! I had been 2cm dilated for 2 weeks! Come on little man!
Immediately after he broke my water, I felt immense RELIEF....followed by intense contractions! My Mom was in the room with us at that point and she was sitting on my bed watching the monitors with me. Her eyes got wide when some of the contractions went off the chart high - but I wasn't phased (yet.) We walked and walked and walked for what seemed like an eternity! I was only comfortable standing, walking or sitting wide legged on the birthing ball as my contractions started intensifying.
My husband and I played the Jeopardy app for a few hours - one of our favorite things! We LOVE anything quiz/knowledge based! The nurses were laughing at the sight of me sitting on my birthing ball bouncing and grimacing through contractions while I yelled 'English Literature for 400!'
At 5pm, in walked my favorite Doc - all smiles and said 'are you ready to have this baby?'YES! I said! He checked to see how far I was dilated and I just had a feeling I was dilated pretty far. The contractions were coming fast and furious at that point.
"3.5cm" he said.
WHAT?! There is NO WAY! I was feeling fairly intense contractions and had my water broken 4 hours ago - how had I only dilated 1 cm?
My doc told me 'get an epidural so you can relax - you aren't progressing much because you aren't relaxed.' I looked at my husband who KNEW I was adamant about at least trying natural first and he shook his head no as if saying 'you can do this.' I told my doctor no and he said ok - that he would be back in a few hours to check me again. I was READY to do this naturally and I felt like I could do it at that point!
Then the contractions REALLY set in. We were walking the halls and I had to brace myself on my husband’s shoulder to stay standing and felt physically ill with each contraction. I tried every position I could – ball, squat, standing, lying – you name it. It was excruciating. Around 6pm, we were sitting in our room on a birthing ball and the contractions became so bad that I was bracing against a chair in front of me and slamming it down over and over again with each contraction.
At this point, I was laboring naturally for 5 hours and really feeling the pain. My Mom came in and encouraged me to get the epidural - no sense in being in pain. But I still wasn't ready. It wasn't until my husband said to me after an intense chair slamming session that would make the WWF proud, "babe - no one is giving out trophies here. Getting the epidural does not mean you aren't strong." My amazing nurse Kristen ALSO reminded me that I had two very large uterine fibroids and that they can make contractions 10-times worse than usual.
With tears streaming down my cheeks, I asked Kristen to call the anesthesiologist.
By 7pm, the anesthesiologist was in our room and had me propped up for the epidural. Kristen stood in front of me, holding my hands and helping me breathe through each contraction so I wouldn’t move (a no-no when inserting something in your spine!). The process was quick and honestly painless and I started feeling relief almost immediately…..until I had a horrendous wave of nausea. Kristen quickly administered nausea meds through my IV but as she was doing so, I fainted. She had to give me ephedrine through my IV also and I was all kinds of out of it at this point with so many things coursing through my body. I remember squinting at the monitors, barely able to see, asking if Weston’s heart rate was ok.
After the epidural – it was time for shift change and Kristen was leaving. I was so sad! She had been an absolute God send for me the entire day. Joy, the nurse from the morning who checked us in was back and joked, ‘how is it that she’s been in labor 12 hours and looks better than I do right now?’ (ha! It’s the lash extensions and lip gloss I’m telling you!) Little did I know Joy was going to be the biggest rock star ever!
After the anesthesiologist left, Joy was working on my catheter and I told her ‘I don’t feel well.’ My husband walked over to the other side of the bed and started asking me questions and I told them both ‘hey guys I can’t hear you’ and I fainted AGAIN. My body is extremely sensitive to any and all meds as I do not take any prescription drugs, eat only real food and strive to be as holistic and clean med/food wise as possible. So this was a SHOCK to my body!
I HAVE to brag on nurses here because my husband told me that seeing Joy in action was absolutely awe-inspiring. The second I told them I couldn’t hear them, Joy had one hand on the catheter, somehow took the other hand and broke apart an ammonia strip that was on the back of her badge to shove in my face and then managed to call another nurse in with a seemingly 3rd arm while asking my husband to fan me. Apparently I was fighting her bad when I woke up to get the ammonia out of my face. But that right there – that’s why nurses are badasses. Plain and simple. She acted in mere SECONDS!
After that, my doc came back in to check me and I was still not progressing much. He told me to take a nap and relax – and I really needed a nap. My parents came in to bring my husband sushi (I was so jealous!), me some coconut waters and to visit with us before leaving to head home. Nothing was happening so my husband told them he would keep them posted and to get some rest. At this point, we were prepared to go in to the next morning without much progress!
Apparently all meds make me loopy because I decided then to do some heavy-duty online shopping. I was on Wayfair picking things out and showing them to the nurses. My husband told them to take my phone away!
I was pretty calm and just wanted to have some coconut water, ice water and relax. We used the peanut ball to help open my hips since I couldn’t walk around any longer and I was thoroughly enjoying not feeling contractions (for now…..). I started feeling some mild contractions through the epidural and Joy mentioned to me if I felt intense contractions to let her know and we could call the anesthesiologist in to help alleviate the pain.
Around 10p I dozed off and vaguely remember waking slightly when my husband told me he was headed down to the cafeteria when they open at 11:30p as he was starving (me too my friend, me too). I went back to sleep once he left and woke up minutes later in EXCRUCIATINGpain. I looked at the monitor and saw some DOOZIE contractions and wow could I feel them. This time, they were worse than before even WITH the epidural.
I quickly called Joy to tell her I needed the anesthesiologist BAD! She came in and when I told her the pain I was experiencing, she said ‘hang on’ and decided to check my dilation. She called in another nurse to check and that’s when ISH. GOT. REAL.
The next thing I heard was:
‘Yup – it’s time’.
Zero to Sixty Just. Like. That.
My husband had literally walked back in from the cafeteria and looked bewildered. ‘Time for what?!’ he asked. ‘Time to push!’ Joy said as she was flipping the room over Transformer style. I had never witnessed anything like it. She was moving things around and flipping the bed for birth and being an all out BADA$$!
Right around then I started getting the ‘baby quakes – my body was shaking and convulsing so bad that I could hear my teeth chattering! The funny thing is, I had read about the baby quakes JUST that morning when reading Cassie Joy’s birth story on her blog. The nurses told me 'oh yes that's perfectly normal! I had NEVER heard of them and here I was shaking all over uncontrollably! Apparently 'baby quakes' are a result of hormone shifts + adrenaline response + body temperature. It was an absolutely bizarre feeling to have zero control of your body shaking! But then again – you really don’t have any control over your body during birth either! Thus why it is important to remain flexible with ANY birth plan.
Joy was preparing me to push and my husband asked ‘wait where is the doctor?’ and she assured him that she had everything under control and he would be there soon. Joy quickly got my feet in to the leg supports and began coaching me through the first round of pushing. I had done ZERO prep for pushing whatsoever. I didn’t even watch any birthing videos! She laughed and told me ‘that’s what I’m here for.’ And she truly was the best coach and encourager right along with my husband. I don’t really remember the pain at this point – all I remember is the shaking, the PRESSURE and how difficult it was to hold my breath while pushing.
After the first round of pushes (3 sets, 10 seconds each – like a Tabata workout!) the second nurse was standing watching us with a phone in her hand, head cocked to one side. Once I finished the pushes she dialed a number, said ‘ok we are ready for you’ and next thing I know, in waltzes my doctor in an all out jolly mood, getting on all his 'fishing wader gear' and space helmet (literally what it looks like!) and telling us stories, laughing! I remember thinking ‘why is he joking right now – this is INTENSE!’ but looking back, I know he was trying to ease my mind for the coming birth!
Fishing waders, space helmet...... and then came the tarps EVERYWHERE and the giant spotlight pointed right at me! The nurses asked ‘do you want a mirror to see?’
‘NO!’ was both my husband and I’s literal shout at the same time. The nurses and my Doctor busted out laughing.
Now it was time for the real pushing! My husband was right at my side encouraging me to push each time my doctor and Joy told me to push – just like he does in workouts – encouraging me to give it my ALL! All I remember is shaking uncontrollably, feeling IMMENSE pressure, watching my husband to stay calm and giving the next round of pushes. The nurses said ‘look at all that hair!’ and I asked ‘what color?’ (like that was something of importance at this point!). They asked if I wanted to reach down and feel the head and my response was again a big ‘NO!’ I just wanted him OUT!
2 more big rounds of pushes and……the University of Kansas fight song?? My Doctor was singing it as Weston was making his entrance in to the world! Of course, he was always destined to be a Jayhawk, like his Mama, but this sealed the deal.
At 12:32am on July 10th, Weston James arrived. I looked down and saw his beautiful little head and heard him crying (and immediately started crying). My doctor said the cord was wrapped and he quickly unwrapped, clamped and had my husband cut the cord. Seconds later, he was on my chest and it was the most beautiful, intoxicating feeling in the entire WORLD! After only 4 rounds of pushes – here was the most beautiful blessing we had ever received.
We just sat there and stared at him in pure disbelief. At that moment I was SO glad I got the epidural + Pitocin to speed progress knowing my little man had a wrapped umbilical cord that could have caused problems. Just goes to show – you can have the best plan in the world, but nature may change that plan at every twist and turn!
After skin-to-skin with Mama, my husband did skin-to-skin with him also. My Mom came in not long after that and got to sit and rock her first Grandbaby in the delivery room.
Around that time, Joy got me up to go to the restroom. I told her I was totally fine and could walk as I felt the epidural had completely worn off. I could feel everything and move my legs around. Joy gave me ‘the look’ knowing I had nearly fainted twice before. She helped me stand and immediately I fell back toward the bed, feeling faint. She said ‘nope! I’m getting the bedside commode! You are trouble – lay back down!’ And I listened! My body was reeling from the meds, the quakes and the intensity that is BIRTH!
On our way to our postpartum room, Joy made me ride in a wheelchair and told our new nurse, jokingly ‘this one is going to be a problem – watch her close! She likes to try to do too much!’ (what meeeeee?!). Joy said her goodbyes and I almost cried because she was so absolutely wonderful! It was around 4am at this point. My Mom was still with us and we got settled in for our first night (well morning at this point) together as a family.
I remember watching the clock to hit 6am so I could order food! I ordered TWO omelettes, extra bacon and COFFEE! My husband was cracking up at my excitement for food. But all I had in 24 hours was one meal plus a couple of Larabars and Italian Ice and I just birthed a HUMAN! That food was the most delicious meal I had ever had as far as I am concernd (though my husband and the nurses later confirmed I was only starving and the food was not good - haha!)
It was truly an incredible experience. People are not LYING when they say birth is the most excruciating, incredible, intense and amazing experience you will ever have. I have also heard many say that you block out the painful parts of birth after as nature's way of making you want more children.....
And I have to say - it worked.....because I am excited for round 2 :-) But for now, we are going to enjoy this amazing little blessing and give him every opportunity for a healthful, happy life!