March 16th, 2014 at exactly 8:10am I awoke from a contraction. It was different from the cramps and back pain I had been feeling for weeks, but I tried not to get my hopes up. When the next on hit- exactly 10 minutes later, Ryan woke up and asked me if I was ok, and I just knew. “I think we are having our baby today!” I could feel his excitement as he held me in bed and we just waited and watched, timing each contraction on my phone. I remember laying there so carefully, afraid that if I moved they would stop. I would squeeze him during each contraction, and he would tell me how long it had been and how far apart they were coming. After a couple of hours they started coming a little closer together. Wanting to make sure this was really happening, we got up and went about doing all the things that would slow a false labor- walking, bouncing on the birthing ball, drinking tons of water, and sitting in a warm bath. To our delight, they steadily grew stronger and came faster! It became a waiting game. Ryan sat me in my rocker with an apple and some wheat thins, insisting I rest and try to eat, as he proceeded to deep clean the WHOLE house, periodically checking to make sure I was ok and make sure the contractions were still coming. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched him vacuum perfect lines into the carpet and sweep under the fridge as he explained to me “Next time we come home, we will be bringing home our little man. I just want it to be perfect.”
At about 5:00 pm they were finally fast and long enough to go to the hospital. As we excitedly rushed out the door Ry stopped me in a hug and said “let’s say a prayer”, standing in our little kitchen he held me close and said the most beautiful, simple prayer for me and our little Anderson. Driving to the hospital and walking up to labor and delivery was so surreal.. is this finally really happening!!? I remember thinking how exciting it was to see my contractions on the monitor- validation that they were indeed real and steady! I was only dialated to a 1.5 however, so they sent us walking. They said they wanted me to go walk around for one hour, and then they would check me to make sure I had cervical change. I was so nervous!! We walked and walked. We walked up and down all five flights of stairs a million times- infact I kind of ran up and down them- just praying I would dialate. I knew this babe was coming and I was NOT going home. We walked around the outside of the whole hospital- me in my gown waddling along. I remember joking about how funny we must have looked. Towards the end of the hour the contractions were significantly more painful. I had to stop and breath through them carefully. Finally we went back, and I was almost at a three. Hallelujah! This was really going down. It was then that we called our mamas and told them the joyous news. My mom, dad, and older sister as well as Ryan’s mom and twin sister all came.
At this point I wasn’t scared at all- a little nervous, but mostly just excited. I felt ready! I planned on having an epidural my whole pregnancy, however I didn’t want it right away. I just wanted to see how it went, and I wanted to be able to labor in the jetted tub and use the birthing ball and walk around. Well, it went well for awhile. I remember having our loved ones there, and just the excitement of it all. It felt like social hour! Sure the contractions hurt, but I was about to become a mother! Ry would just hold my hand and I would breathe through them, and then relax in between. After another hour the pain started to get more serious, and we began to use some counter pressure techniques, which really helped. My contractions were speeding up, and I remember feeling so hopeful- this was going to be fast! But the next time they checked me I was only at a four. I had only dialated 1cm in the last three hours. We were all surprised, and I was a little deflated. I really did not want Pitocin, so my midwife, Lindsay, suggested we break my water. Excited to speed things up, I agreed. She broke my water and I was stoked! I had it all planned out. I was going to labor on my birthing ball, and then labor in the tub. I was sure now my cervix would catch up with my constant contractions and I would have this babe in no time.
After my water broke my contractions became stronger much more painful. I sat on my ball as Ryan put serious counter pressure on my hips during the peak of each contraction, then I would take the short moment in between to mentally prepare myself for to breathe through the next one. This was working out great, until all of the sudden there was no ‘moment in between’. The pain was so intense for SO long! I was not prepared for this. Each contraction was over two minutes, and they began basically overlapping. All of my mental strength vanished in an instant when I felt no relief, and I crumbled. I started crying, for the first time in my life that I remember, from sheer physical pain. Not embarrassment, or sadness, or any other emotion, but because the pain was simply too much. Ry begged me to get the epidural. “I can’t watch you do this. You don’t need to do this.” I knew he was right, and I asked for the epidural. About thirty painful minutes later, the anesthesiologist arrived. Though I HATE needles, I hardly even remember him putting it in. I just remember begging him to hurry, and trying to sit still through the contractions as he did it. My legs started to shiver pretty hard as he was putting it in, and I was told that was normal. About fifteen minutes after it was in my whole body was shivering fairly hard, but I began to feel sweet relief!! I cried tears of relief as I watched my relentless contractions on the monitor and could no longer feel them- Best. Invention. Ever. This was around 11:00 pm, and my midwife instructed me to get some rest. “Your job now is to just sleep! We will wake you up in a while to check you again.” After laboring at home all day, and then six hours of active labor in the hospital, that sounded perfect to me. We said goodbye to our family- we wanted it to be just us for the delivery- and told them we would call them when he was here! Everything was going just as it should, I was proud of myself for what I had been through, and thankful for modern medicine that would smoothly help me get through the rest. I could do this.
About forty minutes later things stopped going so smooth. Rest eluded me as I was shivering so severely you would have thought I had hypothermia. It is a weird sensation to not be able to stop shivering, and although I was thankful for the epi, I remember being annoyed that no one had warned me of this side effect. I piled on blankets and Ryan fixed me some warm broth which tasted like heaven, as I was starving. Five minutes later heartburn and nausea joined my shivers, and I called for Ryan to help me sit up. He made it just in time for me to start projectile vomiting all over myself. The nurses came in and cleaned me up and brought me some nausea medication. It didn’t work. The next couple of hours passed in a daze of heartburn, shivers, and vomiting. Even when there was absolutely nothing left to throw-up but stomach acid, I kept vomiting. It was miserable. During this lovely hour I also began to feel some pressure from my contractions again, and was pressing that little epi button as often as possible. Hating that he couldn’t help me, Ry asked them to do something for me, and they gave me a second nausea medication through my IV. Not soon after that I began to feel my contractions. I remember panicking as I realized my little button was no longer working. I felt the pressure build again and this time give way to pain. I told them and they thought it must have rolled out, but It hadn’t. They sent again for the anesthesiologist who gave me more. The only problem is it didn’t give me relief. Instead of fading as they said it would, the pressure kept building. I started to panic. I was not prepared for this! The anesthesiologist was brought in for the third time, and told us that for some reason my body was not responding to the medicine, and suggested trying a different kind of pain medication through the epidural. Desperate for relief, I hastily agreed.
The next thing I have recollection of is waking up screaming from the pain, clutching at the side of my bed and clinging to my husbands hand, desperate, “why isn’t it working!?” begging them to do something.
All of the sudden, they are telling me to push. What? Push? I’m only at a six! What are you talking about? We are waiting for my medicine to work..i’m not even dialated..what do you mean push? Someone DO something! SO MUCH PAIN!!!!
I thought I was dreaming.
Through more searing pain I hear again.. “PUSH Kelsey you need to push now. You can do this. You need to push!” Everything is a blur of pain.. I felt like the voices were coming through a fog.. but I kept hearing them call to me. I struggled to focus through a thick haze. “PUSH! If you push against the contraction it will help! He needs to come out now.. Kelsey you can do this..”
But I really couldn’t. I Just didn’t understand why I was in so much pain and why they couldn’t do anything. What was going on?! As if she read my mind I heard Lindsay say “I don’t know why it’s not working for you babe, but it’s just not. You have to do this now.”
In a sheer panic of disbelief and confusion, I pushed, and it helped! Finally something clicked in my mind and I realized the ONLY way I could possibly endure this pain was to push against it, so I did. I pushed like crazy. And with each count and each push things began to come into focus. There were nurses flurrying about, one holding up one leg and my mom holding the other. Lindsay massaging me and counting me through the pushing, and Ryan by my side holding an oxygen mask to my face with one hand, and holding my hand in his other.
“This is it!”
But they didn’t need to tell me, because I could feel him. I could feel him right there! And all of the sudden the haze lifted. Everything seemed to come to acute focus- and through the excrutiating pain, he gave me a strength I didn’t know I had, and I gave it everything.
He was out. He was here. It was over. He was really here.
And they laid him on me.
I gasped through the tears streaming down my face.
I looked up at Ryan and in an instant saw the concerned shock on his face melt into tears of joy as he heard our son take his first breath.
Then he was in my arms. My baby was in my arms! And he was perfect. He was here. My heart grew ten thousand times with each rise and fall of his little chest beating against mine.
The hours between receiving that second pain medication and pushing are completely lost on me. I have no personal recollection of these hours, apart from the memory of feeling intense pain. I only know what happened through the perspectives of my husband, mother, photographer, and midwife. Apparently, shortly after receiving that medication, I began to kind of hallucinate? I was awake, but I was not mentally there. I would not respond to anything or anyone. Ryan would try to look at me in the eyes and comfort me, and it was like I was looking right past him. My mom told me I would just lay there as if I was dead, then randomly thrash around and scream because of the pain. They gave me oxygen, but I kept pulling off the mask. Nothing registered to me except pain. My husband had to leave the room at one point, because it was too much for him to see me like that and not be able to do anything.
During this time my body was laboring so hard, yet I stopped dialating at a six. I stagnated for a couple of hours and then finally went from a six to a ten within forty minutes. Sometime during my labor I developed an infection. They administered antibiotics through my IV, hoping they would get to Anderson, but during transition my temperature hit 103, and baby’s was 102. The nurses told my husband and mom that if we couldn’t get him out within the hour, we would need an emergency C-section. This is my silver lining. Despite all of my adverse reactions to various medications, the pain medicines not working for me were the only reason I was able to push as hard as I did. If I had not experienced the pain, I would not have been able to have him vaginally- which is something I really wanted to do. Because I could feel everything, the pain of transition pulled me out of my delusion and I only pushed for 2o minutes.
I was pretty out of it for the next 12 hours, but miraculously, for those 20 minutes and for the incredible first hour of our sweet Anderson’s life on this earth, I was present. Mentally, and emotionally. And I would not trade it for the world. I feel so lucky! Holding him skin to skin with Ryan at my side was by far one of the most sacred, joyful moments of my life. Though Anderson was born with the infection, and we were both on antibiotics for 48 hours, our baby boy was born perfect and healthy. What an incredible journey it is to become a mother. Whether through adoption, or pregnancy, I believe becoming a mommy is one of God’s greatest gifts He gives to his daughters. Though nothing could have prepared me for my labor, and it did shake me up a little, now all I feel looking back is gratitude and love.
Photography by Emmy Lowe Photo
Starting this Monday with a tender, scary and amazing story by one of our cute models from a couple of months ago, Kelsey. And oh my goodness, this birth story gave me chills! I felt like I was there. Thank you for sharing this amazing experience with us, Kelsey.