Wow, this last month and a half has flown by in a sleepy, blurry haze. Nothing can quite prepare you for your first child. I was so nervous about the birth itself that I thought after labor and delivery things would get easier (moms everywhere are laughing at the moment). In my mind, newborns slept all the time… so these first few months would be easy. Hahaha. Oh how wrong I was. I never knew I could function on such a small amount of sleep! This past month has been hard in many many ways but has been a blessing and a huge learning experience. We have a healthy, growing baby girl and we can’t wait to see the person she becomes. I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks but, you know, I have a newborn so things take a lot longer to accomplish… like the load of wash I started 3 days ago and it’s still not put away ;) Baby steps here people!
I’m so grateful that my dear friend, Sara, was able to be there to photograph Emma’s birth. It’s definitely a day I will never forget!
Disclaimer: If you do not want to read the details of Emma’s birth, or labor and delivery talk, then I would stop reading here and head down to the photos :) You’re welcome!
Wednesday January 25, 2017
We had our weekly OB appointment this night with one of our favorite midwives. Since we were heading into week 39 I figured I should go over our birth plan with one of the midwives. Now, when I say birth plan that’s a very broad term because I literally wrote that our plan was to get baby out in the safest, most natural way possible. I knew going into this that a lot of things can happen during labor and delivery and in the end I just wanted to have a healthy mom and baby after we were done… so however that needed to happen, then that’s what we were going to do. My perfect plan was to not need a c-section or pitocin and to not get an epidural or pain meds. I was scared to death for the pain of labor but just as scared of an epidural and other pain meds.
I want to put this out there for others hoping to not use an epidural… all throughout my pregnancy when people would hear that I really wanted to go without it, they would almost make me feel bad about that decision. Most people would comment saying something along the lines of “it’s not a competition”, “it doesn’t make you a hero” or ” you don’t get an award”. I have no issues if women want to use and get an epidural, that’s what it’s there for and I knew it was an option for me as well, but my decision in not wanting it wasn’t because I wanted to show other women how “strong” I was or to try and make me look like a hero. My decision was based on the fact that labor and delivery is risky enough itself and so many things can happen, why would I want to add in something that contains more risk if I didn’t actually have to. Yes, epidurals are pretty darn safe BUT there are risks included with them. They can slow labor which can end up leading to a c-section and a lot of other things. To me, it just made sense that if I could handle the pain, why would I want to add in extra risks for myself and for Emma. Also, I hate needles with a passion and I seriously was just as scared to get an epidural as I was for the pain of labor. Crazy, I know. All of this to say, I think we as women should support each other no matter what way someone wants to give birth. I was pretty surprised and somewhat annoyed that so many women didn’t support me in my hopes of not wanting to use pain meds. If you are reading this and also have hopes of a pain med free birth, I’m here to tell you you can do it. I promise :)
Anyway, back to the story… As we sat there and went over the birth plan, I explained to the midwife how scared I was for everything that was about to happen. The tears were flowing. Giving birth was one of my biggest fears in life and I was pretty much staring it in the face. Our midwife was the sweetest and listened to all my fears and concerns. As she measured my belly that night she let us know that Emma was low enough that she could no longer feel the top of her head as she pressed on my stomach. I should have taken this as a sign that labor was soon coming but I was sure she would arrive after her due date. We jokingly asked our midwife when she would be on call at the hospital over the next week and she told us she was there on Friday… we laughed and said maybe we’ll see you there… totally unaware of how true that statement actually was.
Friday January 27, 2017
I was usually in bed when Mike would leave for work, so he would always stop and give me a kiss and tell me to have a good day before he left. That Friday was no different. We chatted a bit and I told him my lower back was feeling achy and that it felt like my body was starting to get ready for Emma’s arrival. At that point I didn’t really think much of it because Emma’s due date was still a week and two days away and I truly thought she’d arrive late. I got up and sat with a heating pad on my back through breakfast, which helped and then I got on with my day. I cleaned the bathrooms and finished the rest of the laundry we had. I had a timeline phone call with our May bride and got her timeline and family photo list typed up and sent out. I finished up emails and chatted on the phone with my mom and sister. I think both my mom and sister knew I was in labor but I kept telling them I didn’t think it was anything. The waves of pain in my lower back continued all day. They never really increased in pain but stayed consistent all day. Around 7:30pm Mike and I decided I should call into the hospital and just give them a heads up that they might be seeing us soon. I wasn’t sure how much of a notice they liked and figured that if things ramped up in the middle of the night it was probably best that they had a heads up. I was really thankful to hear our favorite midwife’s voice on the other end of the line. She told me to drink something sugary, like apple juice, to continue to give my uterus energy to keep going. I told Mike that we should probably load things into the car just in case, I figured we could always take things out the next morning if we didn’t need them. We headed to bed around 10pm and I’m not sure what happened when I laid down but things got real. Mike fell asleep almost instantly and I started timing contractions since they were coming more often and becoming more painful. I was trying to doze off in between but with back labor you don’t really get a break, so I never actually fell asleep.
Saturday January 28, 2017
Around 1:30 in the morning I couldn’t stand being in bed anymore and felt really sick to my stomach. I made the mistake of trying to get out of bed in the middle of a contraction and ended up throwing up into the trash can I set beside the bed. Mike shot up in bed as he heard me and I told him we might want to call the hospital again. At this point my contractions were about 2 mins apart lasting about 90 seconds! I was actually having a hard time timing them because I couldn’t tell where one was stopping and another was starting or if it was just one really long contraction! Mike gathered the rest of the stuff we needed and packed it into the car (I know he was moving as fast as he could but to me it felt like he was crawling!!) By this time I definitely couldn’t hold a conversation anymore and answering questions was hard. I hardly remember our drive to the hospital but I do remember thinking that Mike was driving SO slow! I don’t think he actually was but it sure felt that way!
We got to the hospital around 2:30am and they took me to triage to check me and listen to Emma’s heart rate. Again, I felt like the nurse was working SO slow and I felt like we were waiting forever to see the midwife. In reality it probably wasn’t that long. As the midwife came in I told her I was scared that I was only going to be 2-3 cm dilated and she said, “Well, that very well could be the case.” I really would have been defeated if that was the case. She checked me and told us I was 6cm dilated and they were admitting me. She knew I really wanted to try to not get the epidural and she looked at me and said, “If you can handle the pain you’re feeling, it won’t get worse than this”. I was so glad she said that, I think it gave me the motivation to keep going. I got my IV, which I was pretty nervous about, but the nurse got it on the first try and I thanked her for that. Meanwhile, Mike was in the hall contacting our parents and Sara to let them know we were at the hospital and not being sent home. They got us into our room, I had hoped for a room with a tub but all of them were taken. The nurse told us that the hot water in the shower could help and would be close to being in the tub, so that’s what we tried. The nurse got us set up and then said she would be back in an hour to check on us and left us to be. Poor Mike spent the next 3 hours running hot water over my lower back with the handheld shower head, which didn’t work correctly and was spraying water everywhere. His jeans and sneakers were soaked. Finally after about 3 hours I told Mike I wanted to be checked again, since no one had came back to check on us. I was starting to feel pressure with contractions but I wasn’t sure if it was the amount of pressure I was supposed to be feeling to be ready to push or not. Everyone kept telling me that I would just know… but I’ve never done this before and had no idea what I was suppose to be feeling. At this point I looked at Mike and said, if I’m still at 6 cm we’re going to start thinking about an epidural. I was so tired from not sleeping and just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep with no pain. I just kept telling myself with each contraction, “that one is gone… I won’t have to feel that one again”.
The midwife came in and had me get in the bed, which was way more painful than standing during contractions. She let us know that I was 9.5 cm and she was going to break my water and have me start pushing. She had me go through a few contractions on my side to try and turn Emma from facing upward (which is why I had such bad back labor) to facing down towards the floor. It must have worked because after those few contractions on my side, I stopped feeling contractions. All I felt at this point was pressure… lots and lots of pressure. I wouldn’t say it was painful but it was definitely uncomfortable and the strangest feeling. They started having me push but because I could no longer feel contractions they had to hook me up so they could see them and they were telling me when to push. Pushing for me was definitely the hardest part of labor. The holding your breath through pushing was hard for me and they ended up having to give me oxygen because I was just about hyperventilating when I was able to breath again. I guess I wasn’t pushing for the full 10 seconds with each push so a kind nurse asked if she should count for me… I wanted to hit her with how slow she was counting. Mike claims she was counting a true 10 seconds but to me, pushing and holding my breath, it felt like an eternity. Emma’s heart rate started to drop and at one point the midwife was worried enough that she started calling the doctor to come in. I knew that wasn’t a good sign from the two births I’ve photographed. I know they only call the doctor in if something is really wrong. I think knowing that gave me the motivation to push even harder. The midwife ended up hanging up on the doctor and they started having me push outside of contractions to move things along even faster. As soon as I saw the midwife start to get dressed for the delivery I knew we were almost at the end. They save putting on all the extra gear until the very end so I knew we were only minutes away from meeting our little girl. It was all such a blur but I remember hearing, “Her head is out, just one more push for her shoulders”. All said and done I pushed for about 30 mins and then it was all over. At 6:10am Saturday January 28th, about 24 hours after I woke up with contractions, our little Emma was born weighing in at 7 lbs 4 ounces and 20 and a 1/4 inches long. As soon as they had her laying on my chest I looked at Mike and told him I was really hungry for donuts for breakfast ;) And because he’s an amazing man, he ran out to the Giant across the street from the hospital and got me donuts for breakfast <3
I am so so thankful for a quick and straightforward labor and delivery and for a healthy little girl. Labor and delivery wasn’t as horrible as I was expecting. now don’t get me wrong, it hurt and I was so ready for it to be over, but the pain I had imagined in my head never came. So all you first time mommas out there about to give birth, just know you can do it. No matter how it happens, epidural or no epidural, c-section or no c-section, you are strong and capable.
Phew, if you made it through that whole post, good for you! Longest blog post ever! Below are some photos Sara captured during labor and delivery.
Looking back on these photos it’s crazy to see how big I was at the end!
Mike was amazing during the whole labor and delivery.
These photos of Mike holding Emma for the first time still make me cry!