I love a good birth story, don't you? :) Here's baby Jonnie's.
My due date was May 21st, which came and went. I had been dilated at a 1 and effaced at 60% for almost a good month, and was ready to get the show on the road! Especially since Bette Jo, Jeff's mom was here to help and I didn't want her trip to end before baby made his appearance!
I had my 40-week check up on Tuesday the 22nd, at which the doctor stripped my membranes. He tried to warn me that it may or may not do anything so don't get my hopes up. I didn't mind. I knew baby would come when he was good and ready and I wasn't going to do anything to help him along (bad experience with castor oil came to mind!). But the hope was still there that it would be very soon!
I had very light contractions that evening, which wasn't anything new. And they were the kind that felt like period cramps, not hard contractions with a start and finish. We went to bed at about 10:00. A few minutes after midnight, my water broke! I felt a gush start, and I clenched up trying not to let anything out. I lay there for a few seconds, trying to take stock of what just happened. My water had never broken on its own before and I wondered if it could actually be happening! I got up and waddled to the bathroom and there was no doubt. I was soaking wet and dripping all over the floor. So weird! I had always wondered what that would be like. :) I cleaned myself up and tried to calm down-- I was so excited because when your water breaks, baby is coming soon one way or another!
Then the real contractions started. I knew I should go back to bed and try to get some rest, but I was too excited to sleep so I got on the computer and timed my contractions. They ranged from 4 to 7 minutes apart. I also wanted to wake up Jeff because I was so excited, but also knew he would need any sleep he could get, so I waited.
A little after 1:00 am, I tried to go back to bed. Contractions were still coming regularly and as I timed them, the movement woke up Jeff. He asked if I was ok, and I told him my water broke. His response-- "hmmm" as he fell back asleep. I had to really wake him up and tell him that I was in labor and snap to it!
With Bekah I did almost 100% of my labor at home and barely made it to the hospital in time. With this birth, we knew we wanted to labor at home as much as possible, but didn't want to cut it as close as last time. When my contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart we took off for the hospital, which is an hour away.
The contractions were picking up in intensity and I was excited! And also nervous! Having done a natural birth before, I knew the pain and emotional roller coaster that lay ahead and I wasn't sure I was up to the task. I had wanted to pull out my birthing books for a quick refresher course before baby's debut, but we couldn't find them, so I was going totally off of my memory, and I was a little nervous.
But I was handling the contractions fine. They lasted about 1 minute and were 4-5 minutes apart when we arrived at the hospital at 2:45. I got set up in triage and answered a million questions, then got checked and I was at a 4 and my water had definitely broken. "She's a keeper!" the nurse announced. :) I heard someone respond back "I knew she was a keeper- she just had that look about her!" Yay for not being sent home. :)
One of the questions I was asked was my plan for pain management. Actually I think it was did I plan on having an epidural. My answer was no, there was no plan to get an epidural. Both Jeff and I noticed the look on the nurse's face which meant "one of those women, who thinks they can make it through without an epidural. I give her 2 hours!" or something like that. :) Ha ha, I'd show them!
I got set up in my room and the contractions picked up more. But this time was different. Instead of just being in pain during the contractions, I was in constant pain. If I held absolutely still, it was manageable, but if I moved the slightest bit, agony!! I thought that was so unfair. I could make it through the pain of contractions on my own, but I didn't know if I could make it through hours and hours of constant gut-wrenching pain on my own.
By this point the contractions were intense enough that I needed Jeff's help to get through them. One would start and I would say "talk" and Jeff would tell me to relax different parts of my body, mostly my jaw, face, and shoulders, over and over. That's how we did all of Bekah's labor and it worked great. It worked ok this time. I just hurt so much and it was a different kind of pain than I was used to. A few hours in the hospital, probably around 4:30ish, I didn't want to do it anymore. I really didn't. I wanted the epidural, even though I didn't. I was familiar enough with birth that I knew about where I was and how much more I had to go, and I just didn't want to do it. It wasn't that I couldn't, I just didn't want to anymore!!
But Jeff reminded me how much a natural birth meant to me and told me to hang on. After battling it out a while, I told him fine! I'll give you 10 minutes! I'm so glad he was strong for me when I was tired of being strong.
I was still trying to hold as still as possible, not moving a centimeter, but baby moved and they wanted me to roll onto my side so they could adjust the monitors. It was excruciating, but I made it onto my left side, which proved to be my saving grace. I knew that I should have been on my side to begin with. They say that's the best position to allow blood flow, etc., and I wanted to get on my side, but moving hurt so, so much, I just couldn't do it, until they made me.
And thank goodness they did! From that point, I was able to take back control of my labor. I think I was at about a 6 then. I had been progressing very well at least, even if it wasn't the instantaneous progression every laboring woman dreams of. :)
When the first contraction hit while on my side, I didn't do my regular signal to Jeff to begin talking to me. I took a deep breath in, closed my eyes and started an involuntary mantra in my head. I listened to my heart beat, and said in my mind "baby is coming" to 2 heartbeats while I breathed in and "I can do it" to 2 heartbeats while breathing out. I did that for the whole contraction ... and the next ... and the next. Jeff was sitting in a chair a little bit away from me, very confused. He told me he realized I was having a contraction, but hadn't asked for his help and seemed to be doing in on my own. He realized I had found my groove and knew that if he jumped in, he would break my concentration and it would be counterproductive. So he left me alone, which was the right thing to do.
During the next while (I really have no idea how long it was, time is very abstract while in labor!) this is how I controlled my contractions. Notice a different word here. Before, I was managing my contractions, now I was controlling them. The most important thing I learned through the birth is that I can control the pain I feel. Not just suffer through it-- I can control it. Can there be anything more empowering!! As long as I was left to myself and uninterrupted, I could control my pain enough to bring it to a level that I could handle without problem.
Many times a nurse or someone would walk in, see me with my eyes closed laying down and not even realize I was in the middle of a very intense contraction. I'm glad Jeff was there to be my eyes. He told me once they realized I was having a contraction, they got this very confused look on their face, like 'why does she look like that when she's having a contraction? She's got no epidural, at this point in labor she should be hysterical!' I wish I could have seen. :)
Somewhere in the 5:00 hour, my nurse said if I felt pushy to let her know and she's check me. I wanted to hold out as long as I could, until I was absolutely ready to push, since it really hurt when she checked me! Eventually I told her I was ready, and she checked me, found a little rim, and called my doctor to come check, who said I was ready. I gave a practice push or two, then she stepped back to get into gear and get everything ready.
And now a note about my doctor. I am so, so glad I had the baby when I did so that she would be the one on-call. She was so wonderful. She spoke to me in a calm and very soothing voice, but was firm in what she told me to do. I trusted her completely and followed her every direction.
And now the pushing began! They tell me I only pushed for like 3 contractions, but it felt much, much longer. :) At one point, the contraction stopped when Jonnie's head was right at the crown and I was stuck in the ring of fire! Aaah! That was awful. I hadn't had that before either! With Katelyn, the final push got her head and all out, and with Bekah, one push got her head completely out, then the next push got her body out. But this time not so much! Finally, after a few more grueling pushes, he was born!! It was 6:07 am, just a little more than 3 hours after we got to the hospital!
Hooray, it was over! Relief has been my first emotion after both natural births. :) Then comes joy and happiness when I get to see and hold my little miracle. He was so cute and seemed so tiny, although he was 8lbs 10oz, not really that tiny. :) I loved his dark hair and hoped it would stay dark like mine.
Afterwards, my doctor told me I am only the 8th woman she's delivered in 10 years who said she would do it without an epidural and actually did. Then she paid me a very high compliment in saying that was maybe the most controlled delivery she'd ever seen. Yay me, I did it! Every birth is so unique and I learn so much from them. Things about myself, mostly. It may sound silly to a lot of people, but after this experience, I feel like I have much more control over my body than I realized. When we got home from the hospital and the older kids got a stomach bug, I decided I wasn't going to get it, and that was it. It probably sounds ridiculous, but I've decided I'm in control of my body and what it does. :)
Anyways, that's the story of how little Jonnie came to our family. He is so loved and we are so glad he's here!!
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