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I haven’t even written the first sentence of Jude’s birth story and I’m crying! Can I even make it through this?! What a glorious day! Most of you know my history. I’ve had two c-sections, both because of ‘fetal distress’. For years I’ve felt that the births of both of my boys were not what they could have been because of medical intervention, lack of knowledge (on all involved), ect. Even though my view on birth and my knowledge had expanded, I really felt that I’d end up with another c/section. In my mind I just thought that I didn’t have a choice and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to go through labor again (ha, this is so funny to me now after the labor I had!). Alabama is a little behind when it comes to birth, and especially in the county I live in. I knew VBAC’s were possible but after two c-sections, it’s even more uncommon. So, the Hubs and I talked it over and had really decided before I even got pregnant that I’d just have a third c-section. Well, shortly after I got pregnant, I started thinking about delivery. Did I really want to have surgery again? Was this best for this baby and I? So, I prayed. I asked God for the Hubs to bring it up, if a VBAC attempt was a possibility. Knowing that we had already ‘decided’ what the plan would be and knowing that the Hubs leaves these kinds of decisions up to me, I knew it would be an act of God for him to bring it up. And guess what? He did. I was in shock but knew God had answered my prayers. Next came the battle of whether or not my current OB would even let me try a VBA2C. At my next appointment I asked and was told yes, but then in the same conversation it was suggested I schedule a c-section ‘just in case’. That was my red flag. So, I started praying. Around this time one of the lactation nurses at the hospital I delivered at told me about a new Dr. She said she thought I’d really like him and how he practices. I checked out his website and prayed some more. Soon after that his name kept coming up in various places. I found out he and his family had started going to church where we use to go that helped start the church plant we are a part of now. About two weeks later I found out that his son and my oldest were on the same soccer team. One night in bed, I was looking at his website again and saw a post that was titled, “Need a Sign?” and I jokingly prayed, “Yes, Lord I do.” I clicked on it and there was the sign out on the highway pointing to his office. Finally, I said, “Okay, God, I get it.” And I called the next day. My first appointment was more of a consultation. I told my story, he listened. He gave me a 65-75% chance at a vaginal delivery… but I had to do it his way: unmedicated and with a doula. Those two things would give me my best chance. He told me to think about it and come back if I was 100% sure I wanted to do it. I left and got a milkshake and then turned right back around to let him know I was all in!

I was blessed with a very healthy pregnancy. Around December, I contacted the only doula in the area and met her. She was such an encouragement and I knew I wanted her with me during my labor and delivery! We took a natural childbirth class with her and kept in touch. I had sooo many people praying for me during this pregnancy. I am abundantly thankful for them. They all knew my situation and my desires and prayed fervently for God to help me have Jude naturally! I am blessed with such support and encouragement!

So, let’s fast forward or we’re going to be here a while! I spent some time in labor and delivery Wednesday the 13th. My blood pressure had been up and I had started to show signs that labor was coming, so my Dr wanted to monitor me. I knew I wasn’t ready to have Jude, yet! I hadn’t even painted my toe nails! My blood pressure did well (more praying and answered prayers from God!) in the hospital, so after a few hours I went home to wait. I knew it was coming but who knew when!?

Every night from Wednesday on I would wake up with contractions in the early morning. But they would all fizzle when I got up. I had a feeling that real labor would start that way, only they wouldn’t fizzle but continue to be regular. Sunday morning around 1am I woke up to those same contractions. I wondered if this was it, but decided to go back to bed and try to sleep. Sleep was hard though! My contractions weren’t strong, or even long but they did keep me restless. I was also very nauseous, to the point that around 5:30am I got sick. The Hubs got up later and suggested I call my OB and see what his thoughts were. He predicted he’d see me sometime in the next 24 hours. I also sent a text later that morning to my doula. I was very confused, because my contractions were regular (coming in pairs, every 6-7 minutes for two contractions and then every 3-4 minutes for two more contractions, lasting about 20 seconds each) but not very painful. My contractions were mainly in the front of my abdomen and I had more pressure than pain. Nancy (doula) arrived sometime early afternoon. Shortly after that I took a little nap. I probably only slept for 45 minutes but it was rest that I needed, even though short. Soon after that Nancy suggested I take a bath to relax and maybe sleep some more. It was nice to rest and relax in the water for a while. I have no idea how long I stayed in there but it was funny watching my hubby bring in large pots of hot water from the stove to keep my water temp up! Nancy kept pouring warm water over me and I really enjoyed just being able to relax, even though I couldn’t sleep. After a while, I started to get hot so I got out. My contractions slowed a bit in the water but caught right back up when I got out. I was not hungry at all Sunday, but I did eat some banana here and there. I had put some frozen slices in the freezer a few days before and they were so good to me! My mom came by later and did some cleaning for me and also reheated dinner for Robby, Nancy and I. I had some mashed potatoes but again, I wasn’t hungry. I just ate a little here and there because I knew I needed to. I sipped on water, Gatorade and red raspberry leaf tea throughout the day. Nancy massaged my back, neck, arms and feet throughout the day. She was such a blessing to me! Around 10pm we all decided that it might be best to try to get some rest since it looked like it was going to be a long night. The hubs and I went and got in bed and Nancy took one of the boys beds to rest. I laid down and remember telling the Hubs that I felt like I was going to be contracting like I had all day, forever. I just didn’t feel like things were moving along. So, as we laid there I prayed. I prayed for God to help things get stronger. I tried to go to sleep, but again I couldn’t. I might have dozed off but I don’t even really remember doing that.

Around 11pm, I could tell my contractions were getting stronger. Thank you, God! I got up and went to the bathroom and noticed more bloody show. Yay! Things are working! I think I brushed my teeth and when I came out of our bedroom, Nancy was getting up. She started to time my contractions again and they were still 3 minutes apart but lasting 40-45 seconds. They were much more intense, though and I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. In other words, lots of pressure. That was exciting. I worked through some of them and shortly after that the Hubs got up. I kept going over and over in my mind, “Okay, when do I need to head to the hospital?” I really had no idea. Nancy asked me if I thought it might be time and I just took that as a sign that maybe it was. The contractions were getting stronger and I really didn’t want to be in the car if they were going to be getting even stronger. So shortly after midnight, we packed things up, Nancy called my OB to let him know we were heading to the hospital and off we went on the 15 minute drive.

It’s super nice when your doula also works at the hospital because you don’t have to go in through the ER after hours. So, going straight to labor and delivery was awesome! After we got into our room (with a few stops for contractions) and I answered a few questions, they gave me a gown so I could get undressed and changed. I went to the bathroom to change and of course felt like I needed to go… although it was just the pressure again. I sat down and felt a pop and a gush. Water is broken! I had this feeling all along that if my water broke, it was going to be intense from then on and boy was I right. When I came out I told them I was pretty sure my water had broken, so they checked me and said that I was 8 cm! Contractions were so strong and I was praying they’d hurry up and do my IV and get all the monitors on me. It was annoying but I knew it had to be done, I just wanted it done fast. After my water breaking, literally within a few contractions I had to push. I can’t explain it other than I had absolutely no control over what my body did! I knew I wasn’t ‘textbook’ 10 cm yet but I couldn’t control it at all! Nancy told me to just follow my body and do what it needed to do. I was later told that I started pushing at 1:09am. Dr. J came in sometime during all of this, I have no idea when, though. He checked me shortly after I started pushing and I was complete. I started out pushing sitting up on the side of the bed. I did this for a while but it wasn’t very productive. Everyone kept asking me how I wanted to push but I didn’t really care, none of it was more comfortable. So, I let them guide me! My sweet hubby was pretty terrified at this point. He kept giving me ice chips and taking photos. There was never once that I remember being afraid of something bad happening. God had given me total peace throughtout it all. At some point, I remember hearing Dr. J say that I would be able to do it, but it was going to take some time! You see, it seems that Mr. Jude was posterior (face up) which makes things difficult. At some point I changed positions to all fours. Dr. J left to rest (he had to travel bright and early the next day!). My sweet Nancy got on the top of the hospital bed with me and we (as the Hubs said) played tug of war, as I pushed. This is the position I stayed in until delivery…. which was a long time! So long my feet went numb! So, I’ve got Nancy at the head of the bed, a nurse to my right fanning me and the Hubs feeding me ice chips. I was a queen! Ha! After about an hour, Jude was getting close. He did beautifully, by the way! His heartrate was always so good! What a blessing since that was my problem with my previous epidural deliveries. The nurses could see I was close and I could feel it, so off to get the good Dr! I can’t tell you how encouraging everyone in the delivery room was. They all knew how badly I wanted this, what a real feat it was after having 2 sections and they all cheered me on! I later found out that the people in the delivery room next to me were cheering me on as well! After Dr. J came, he mentioned that Jude had turned anterior. For the majority of my pushing, my body had been turning Jude. At this point I was really over it. I was sooo tired, no words can describe how tired I was. I think the exhaustion was so much harder than the pain (though the pain was real, too!). I had been pushing 3 hours. THREE HOURS. They actually told me to try to rest during some of the contractions, but I couldn’t. My body just kept pushing. Towards the end, the contractions did space out a bit so I was able to gather some energy those last few pushes. I know I told everyone several times that I just couldn’t do it anymore. And although I vocalized that, I knew that I had to do it. I mean what else is there to do at this point? I kept praying for God to just help me get him out. There was a point when I could literally feel his head (and they could see it!). I began to feel burning and as painful as it was, and I knew it was going to be, I was so happy to be so close. This was motivation! I had no idea how close I was but with a few more pushes Jude was out, born at 4:17am! And what a relief! So, in case you’re keeping up, I started pushing at 1:09am and he was born at 4:17am! I somehow managed to turn over and they put my sweet baby on me! One of the first things I said was, “See, I can birth a baby!!” It was truly the hardest, most amazing thing I have ever done! It was surreal and even today I almost can’t believe I did it. So, I got to lay there and hold my baby while the cord pulsed away. After a few minutes, when it stopped pulsing, the Dr cut it and began stitching me up. I had a 2nd degree tear but I really didn’t care. I had just birthed a baby, naturally! After a bit, they wanted to take Jude just to get him warmed up because he wasn’t as pink as they liked (although he was perfectly fine) and they weighed him. He weighed 8 lbs, 4 oz and was 21 inches long! The Hubs had actually guessed his weight exactly! They gave him back to me and we just enjoyed being together. He was so alert! He nursed a bit and then it was off to postpartum.

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Jude Robert~ 2/18/13; 8lbs 4 oz; 21 in
No glamorous just after birth photos of me… that was hard work and boy did I look like it!

I am so overwhelmed when I think back on Jude’s birth. God was so good to me. So good. He allowed a dream of mine to come true. He provided the people I needed for that to happen. I could never have done what I did without my Dr. Never. No doctor in my area would have allowed me to push as long as I did, VBAC or not, but especially with me being a VBA2C. I am soo thankful for a Dr who believes in birth. God placed him here for so many reasons and I know one of them was for me. And Nancy… she was a gift from God as well! Bless her, she worked about as hard as I did pulling on that shawl as I pulled during my pushing! She is just wonderful and truly was an example of a servant. She has a beautiful ministry and I am so thankful to have been a recipient of it. I am so thankful for a husband who believed in me. Even toward the end when I was scared because my blood pressure had been up and I just thought that my chances of attempting a VBAC would end, he reminded me of my goal and kept encouraging me to trust God and believe that I could do it. The birth of Jude has been such a healing experience for me. My body works just as God intended it to. Don’t get me wrong, c-sections have their place but I knew in my heart mine were only a result of too much medical intervention. I praise God for His beautiful work. He has proved Himself to me, not that He even had to but that He chose to! And through this He has drawn me closer to Himself. He is such a personal God and I pray that above all God will get glory from my story. He is so faithful.

Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Isaiah 12:5