Our Labor Story: Bringing Asa in the World

Please note: this is longest blog post I have ever written, and will hopefully be the longest I will ever write.  If you make it through the whole thing, I applaud you and thank you for walking alongside me through this great adventure!

Thanks to all my readers for being so understanding during my four week hiatus from blogging while I have been mommy-ing it up over here with my beautiful son, Asa.  It has truly been the best four weeks of my life and I am going to cherish all of our new memories while looking forward to making more!  While I believe that there are some things that just should not be shared on the internet- I decided recently that I was going to share our birth story.  There are a lot of people out there that will tell you it is a horrible experience, or share a not-so-encouraging outlook on childbirth.  What we don't talk about enough are the beautiful, sacred, and life-changing stories that bringing a life into the world can entail. Here is my story to throw into the mix.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Woke up to our lovely, blaring alarm clock mixed in with my husband's iphone alarms at approximately 7am.  Naturally took a few extra minutes trying to figure out what part of my wardrobe still fit nicely enough to wear to work (check out this post to see what I ended up wearing that day).  Headed out to work and was a little sad because still no baby. At that point in my pregnancy, I left work everyday thinking, "Tonight might be the night" but alas was still returning that day (I was convinced I would have our baby at night- and my intuition was correct).  Overall, I had a very productive day, or at least as productive as one can be within three days of your baby's due date.  I had very few labor signs throughout the day- regular Braxton hicks contractions but I had been having them for a few weeks by that point.

Outfit worn to work/Photo shoot after work
My husband, Josh, had an important client meeting that afternoon, and all weekend/week I had been telling myself that I want the baby to come anytime EXCEPT during his client meeting.  Luckily, the afternoon finished and our baby was still an "inside" baby.

Since we are a one car family, I swung by the bus stop to pick up Josh, and we then attempted to head home during the ArtPrize mayhem that was Grand Rapids at the time.  After arriving home, I had Josh snap my picture for the Regarding Baby: 39+ Weeks post.  He was jetting off to meet up with our daycare provider, Chris, at her house, while I stayed at home and relaxed (aka sat and was super prego).  Blogging tends to be a great outlet for my overactive mind, so I began planning out my blog posts for the next few days, and set up the "39+ Weeks" post to hit the blog the next morning at around 7am (this seemed like a great idea at the time because I had not yet had said baby).  Next, I painted my nails- coordinating with my New Mama, Nail Drama post.

This turned out to be extremely convenient because I secretly wanted my nails to look awesome in my labor/delivery photos, so great timing-eh?  At this point I had absolutely no signs of imminent labor!  Josh returned home around 8pm, and we did our married couple things like watch The Office, eat dinner (late), and then headed to bed around 11pm.  Before I go to sleep, I have to read, so I ended up reading for about an hour.  Here is where things get crazy!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
At approximately midnight ( I was still awake but Josh was dozey dozing), I heard, yes heard, a weird noise from inside me, I can't really describe it, but I thought, "I should go to the bathroom."  I swung out of bed and put my robe on and made it to the doorway to the hall when there was another "pop."  Suddenly, there was water on the floor!  My first reaction was oh crap, I peed on the floor and didn't even realize it... but then reality set in and I told Josh that my water broke.  He jumped out of bed and while he was walking up to me, another gush came out, and he said, "Yep, that is definitely what's happening!"  I will remember that moment forever. That was the moment when I knew my little boy would be in our arms very soon.  I ran to the bathroom while Josh cleaned up the "water" and we began getting into let's have a baby mode.

I wanted to write a bit more about the water breaking since I have gotten a lot of questions about it.  It was about 2 fluid cups of liquid, and had all the same qualities as water- nothing gross at all.  There might have been a bit more but like I said, I booked it to the bathroom, so I guess we will never know :).

Josh got on the phone and called Maryanne, our nurse midwife, and since I wasn't having any contractions she told us to sit tight and to call her back in six hours if my contractions had not started at all.  What a weird moment we had- we could have our baby within hours?!  WHOA.  My birth plan or hopes for labor was to have an all natural experience, so the next thing Josh and I did was pray that my labor contractions would start naturally and would not need any medical interventions.  God must have heard our prayers loud and clear, because at 12:30am, contractions began.

From here on out, parts of our experience get a little blurry, but I will do my best to share the details the best that I can.  Josh handed me his phone which had a handy-dandy contraction tracker app downloaded and ready to go.  Starting off, my contractions were about 45 seconds long and 8 minutes apart.  After timing them for about 20 minutes, the contractions had increased to 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart.  Now if you are familiar with labor, you might know that docs/midwives recommend calling them once you have had contractions that last for one minute, are five minutes apart, and have been occurring regularly for one hour.  Since I had started having them at that pace after only twenty minutes, I thought, okay, in one hour we will call Maryanne and see what she says.  I will let you know that at this point I was in a good deal of pain.  Enough that it wasn't comfortable to walk around and I was already in the my advanced stages of lamaze breathing.  While I was timing/working through the contractions, Josh was packing his bag and the car.  I remember thinking that if my contractions were hurting me this bad so early in labor, I might not have as high of a pain tolerance as I had thought.

After about twenty more minutes, my contractions continued to grow stronger and closer together.  I was getting really confused because I was sure that the whole process was supposed to be taking longer.  After about 45 minutes of having contractions, they were lasting over a minute and were around 2-3 minutes apart.  The pain was extremely intense, too.  I worked really hard at staying above the contractions by looking at my focal point and breathing through each contraction one at a time.  Finally, I knew that we needed to call Maryanne again- things seemed too intense not to.  Josh was able to get her on the phone and after hearing where I was at, she told us that it was definitely time to get to the hospital.  My sweet husband found clothes for me to wear, put my shoes on and even my coat. That short walk to the car seemed a mile long.  Luckily, we live only five minutes away from the hospital and we pulled in to the Emergency entrance around 1:30am.  My contractions were literally non-stop at this point, and I remember the nice gentleman trying to help me into the wheelchair.  He nicely asked me if he could help me and when I didn't respond, he reminded me that I had to get out of the car.  While Josh was parking the car, I was wheeled inside to wait for him and was parked next to another little blonde woman who had arrived to have her baby.  The difference between us was comical to say the least.  I was barely able to stay in my chair and was breathing like a crazy woman while she was calm and collected.  My thoughts were I am either much farther along than her or she is handling this much better than I am, my hopes were on the first one.  Within a few minutes, Josh came inside carrying our bags, and a nurse came down to get all of us.

We headed up to the labor and delivery part of Spectrum Butterworth hospital, and the nurse weighed me. WEIGHED ME!  Here I was, having crazy contractions and I was getting weighed.  I am pretty sure that Josh and I both thought that was an odd thing to do at the moment.  After that, they took us right into a labor and delivery room.  The nurses had me undress into a hospital gown and asked me to lay down in the bed to be monitored.  I asked to go to the bathroom first, and to be honest, just wanted to stay in there but while I was in there I had the strongest urge to push. We had only been at the hospital for minutes!  Once they had me in the bed and the monitors strapped on, things got a little chaotic.  They were all watching the monitors and began to seem worried.  I remember hearing one of the nurses say that the baby's heart rate was dropping, while another nurse began putting an IV in my arm. The IV did not go in easily and my vein burst so they ended up putting it in my hand.  I remember asking why they put one in, and they said "just in case." With so many people running around our room, Josh and I felt a bit panicked because we just didn't know what was going on.  Since the bathroom, all of my contractions had left me with the urge to push, and finally I told the nurse that I was pretty sure that I needed to start pushing.  They ran and got a resident who then did an internal exam, and she told us that I was 10cm dilated (which is code for ready to start pushing).  Time check, it was about 1:45am at this point, only 15 minutes since we left our house.  The nurse called Maryanne to let her know that it was time (Maryanne laughed because she thought she would have had more time but assured us she would be there within a few minutes).  We were so relieved to hear that I was at 10cm, because that affirmed that the intense contractions I was having at home weren't early labor (I really never even experienced early labor at all), it was ALL of labor and transition (the most painful stage of labor-eek).  It turns out my lamaze breathing was more than enough to work through the contractions and pain. Thank you, Diane Kutter of West Michigan Lamaze. I could not have had a natural labor and delivery without lamaze, hands down.

At some point during this chaos, I was given an oxygen mask because I began to hyperventilate.  Everything was happening so fast and here I had thought that I would have hours to go through all of this.  Once the oxygen mask was on, I was able to breathe with a lot of ease and Asa's heart rate stabilized which was a huge blessing.  Maryanne came into the door a few minutes later as promised, and things calmed down immensely from there.  She kicked everyone out of the room who didn't need to be there, which left Josh, Maryanne, and our nurse, Sarah.  Maryanne lowered the lights and began talking to me in a calm and stable voice.  I had really pulled inwards at this point, focusing a ton on breathing, staying calm, and listening to instructions. I knew that I did not want to yell or scream during the process. I don't remember even talking at all and the peaceful atmosphere of the room was very helpful for relaxing.  Josh was right next to my side, encouraging me to breathe, reminding me how well I was doing, and helping me follow instructions- I could not have stayed calm without him.

Finally, Maryanne let us know that it was okay to start pushing (approximately 2am).  Asa was in a posterior position, which means that his body was head down but facing the wrong direction, so the first part of my pushing was to get him into the correct position.  Pushing was hands down the most relieving feeling in the world.  In lamaze we had learned how to breathe and push, and that definitely helped make pushing more effective.  Josh held one leg, and our nurse, Sarah, held the other, while I focused in on getting all my strength into each push.  After pushing for a little while, Maryanne looked at me and told me not to fear pushing.  Once she told me that, I began to push without inhibition, and I don't even remember feeling pain.  I tried to focus on my mantra that I had been repeating in my mind throughout pregnancy and labor: You are capable. You can do this. You were made to do this. It felt like an out of body experience, one where I was able to be close to my husband, God, and knew that in a few minutes, our beautiful creation, Asa.  I remember the nurse telling me that he had a full head of hair once his head was in view and that was enough encouragement to push harder and stronger to get him into my arms. The senstation of pushing his head into the world and then his body is another moment that I will never forget.  At 2:42am, they placed him directly onto my chest, and we got to see our son for the first time.  He was so stunning.  His cries, his fingers, his little belly, and full head of hair, all stunning.  The nurse put a hat on him and covered us with a warm blanket and I was in heaven.
They let us cuddle with him for a whole hour before they bathed, weighed, and measured him.  I remember looking over at my husband, Josh, and seeing tears fill his eyes, and I knew we had made a miracle. We MADE a human! We were and are so blessed and thankful to have a Creator who has let us experience creation ourselves. A beautiful, life-changing thing.  During this time, I finished up the labor process, and Maryanne did a bit of repair work- but I didn't care what they were doing to me-we were enamored. I remember asking them to take my IV out since that seemed to be the thing that hurt the most at the moment-who knew! I was able to breastfeed Asa within the first thirty minutes of his life, which was a great bonding experience for us and gave him a head start on becoming a feeding pro (more on that later).

Since labor had progressed so quickly, we ended up doing the paperwork and signing of important things after he was born (crazy-huh).  I remember our nurse asking me what my allergies were, and I laughed because nothing seemed to matter at that point.  Once we had completed all the paperwork, it was time for Asa to be measured, weighed, and washed.  Dad headed over the washing area with our nurse, Sarah, while I rested and drank some water. Josh held his little boy's hand while he was bathed, measured, and given a few medications. He weighed 6lbs. 14oz. and was 20 inches long.
After Asa was all cleaned up and with Dad, it was Mom's turn.  It is amazing that one can have a baby and then get right up out of the bed and cleaned up about an hour later!  I won't go into too much detail, but I will say that it was nice to put on my own nightgown, robe, and slippers. The remainder of our stay was very relaxing and was a huge learning experience.  Asa and I worked a lot on breastfeeding, and thankfully that went well right from the get-go. We have a big eater!  We even got a full four hours of sleep at once on Wednesday night which was more than welcome since we missed the entire night of sleep on Tuesday night bringing him into the world.  We were very blessed to have family and friends visit us in the hospital, too.  It was truly a great moment sharing Asa with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, godmother, and friends.  Mom and baby were doing so well that we were able to go home early-after only 35 hours of life!  

Our labor and delivery experience was a joy and unbelievable experience. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and continues to do so. We literally felt the cover of prayer and saw them answered.

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3


Alissa said...

Wow. What an amazing and inspiring birth story! Congratulations to you and Josh! Side note ... you look insanely perfect after having a baby!!

Katie said...

What a beautiful, amazing blessing! It brings tears to my eyes! God is so good :)

Love you!

Liza said...

I have been researching Plagiocephaly and happened to come across your blog. I just cried reading this post! Our little guys were born the same day, we had an identical (chaotic) birthing experience, and Austin arrived at 2:38AM! He is now wearing a helmet- we are four days into treatment. He is adjusting well, but I am still looking for a little extra support from people that have went/ are going through the same thing!

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