The days and weeks leading up to Jude’s Birth Day were full of anticipation, planning, preparing, nervousness and excitement.
My water broke 11pm on April 22nd. I felt a big gush while laying in bed and knew instantly what was happening. Labor was imminent. I woke Eric and before I had even gotten out of bed, he had gotten the bags in the car, despite my last-minute checklist placed on top of the bag saying DO NOT FORGET these items. (He forgot them. He was seriously just so excited about that ‘Dad Task’ since it’s what you always see in movies.)
We called the midwife and our doula, and tried to go back to sleep since I wasn’t having any contractions. I think we were a little too excited because we weren’t able to fall asleep. A few hours later, we got up to shower. We went for a walk, took some photos. I vacuumed, I did a load of laundry, a little yoga – anything to try to kick-start the labor. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
Around 11am the next day, I connected with the midwife-on-call at the hospital and we decided I should head in sometime soon.
After a quick impulse stop for lunch, we arrived at the hospital and were admitted. We created a calm birthing space with a great playlist on the Jambox and flameless candles. I was dilated to a 4 with still no real contractions, so we continued to walk the Labor + Delivery halls and stairs to keep moving. It was around 3pm and I really hadn’t slept since the night before the last. I was also on a strict jello and popsicle only hospital diet since most hospitals do not allow laboring mothers to eat just in case they end up having a c-section, are under full anesthesia and also happen to exasperate on the operating table and choke on their vomit without anyone else in the room noticing.
Around 8pm, a new shift of nurses & midwife began. I was in the room with the birthing tub, which is where I wanted to labor, but couldn’t use it or the shower since my water was already broken and according to hospital policy, it ran the risk of causing an infection. I was feeling disappointed with how my labor was turning out and starting to get really tired, hungry and irritated. The midwife suggested a small amount of Pitocin to help bring on some contractions, and after talking through the scenario with Eric and Danielle, my doula, I agreed. Finally around 11pm on April 23rd, I began having true labor contractions. I felt relieved that things were progressing and we were one step closer to meeting our tiny man.
Throughout the next several hours,which seem like such a blur, the nurses and staff would come into my room and watch the contractions on the monitor and exclaim I “ too calm” for them to be that big or effective. I was very internalized and focused on my breath. Sure it hurt, but it was over a few seconds later. We all tried to sleep in between contractions and I remained calm and quiet. This pace continued until around 5am on April 24th when I suddenly started to feel a sharp pain, like a knife pushing into my tailbone during each contraction. The baby had flipped from anterior to posterior (he was now face up) and his head was pushing into my tailbone during each contraction, which is brilliantly called Back Labor. Without a doubt, it was the most intense feeling or pain I’ve ever felt. Eric, my sister and Danielle each took turns pushing my hips together and up during each contraction. I mostly sat on the labor ball with my head on the bed and someone was behind massaging my hips. We labored on this way, until 7am.; time for the shift change. The overnight midwife met with the new one named Jenny, as well as the new doctors and nurses. The new OB took one look at how long I’d been in labor with a broken bag of waters and came in to my room to discuss my options, which was to continue with what we were doing, but that “I had two hours to start pushing” or she would be doing an emergency C-section, OR do the C-section right then. She didn’t think the baby would survive if we didn’t take a drastic measure to get him out.
I felt defeated and had tears streaming down my face. I hadn’t slept in over 30 hours, hadn’t eaten since my impulse lunch, and was emotional. The thought of not pushing my baby out myself was causing a mental meltdown. I knew in that moment that I had to do whatever it took to turn this around. Not only did my contractions need to be stronger and more effective, but we also needed to flip the baby before pushing AND had a two-hour limit! I told the OB we wouldn’t be needing her, turned to Jenny and asked her to do whatever was needed to in order to get the baby out safely and vaginally, and I asked her to please not leave my side. Jenny was completely on board with my requests, and suggested a technique where I’d lay on my left side for about 10 contractions, then turn to my right side for 10. She also asked if I could handle bumping up the Pitocin and if we could insert an internal monitor around my uterus and also one that screwed into the baby’s head. I told her she could do whatever was needed to me, but absolutely could not touch the baby – he would have to be monitored externally.
We got through 10 contractions while laying on the right, Eric massaging my hips each time and flipped to the left and got through 10 more. We flipped back to the right, the whole time Jenny holding the external heartbeat monitor to my belly. I had one contraction, opened my eyes for the first time in what had to be over an hour, and uttered, “My back doesn’t hurt anymore!” I didn’t witness any of their reactions, but Eric remembers everyone looked at each other and smiled because they knew exactly what had happened. The baby flipped! We did it!
It was noon, I was 9cm and ready to push. (We passed the OB’s two hour deadline, but she stayed out of our hair knowing things were under control and progressing.)
Just before 1pm on Wednesday, April 24th, 37 hours after my water had broken and about fifteen pushes, the sweetest baby boy with a head of tiny hairs took his first breath in the world. The little boy who made me realize, in that very moment, what life is really all about. In that moment, I was euphoric, on such a natural high. It was the most rewarding feeling I’ve ever felt — it felt like I was floating above the room.
Even though Jude’s birth wasn’t the ideal scenario I had in my head, and it was long and the hardest work I’ve ever done, I wouldn’t change anything about it. Each experience leads you to where you are in life, and with it brings its wisdom and learned lessons. I learned during my pregnancy that you must be your own advocate and an advocate for the little life growing inside of you. No matter what your birth plan, believe in yourself. If were meant to do anything in the world based on instinct alone, childbirth is it.
Since Jude was born, everything single thing has changed. I have an entirely different outlook on life and existence, having gone through pregnancy and birth. Everything carries more meaning. Everything is so much more important yet so much more manageable all at the same time. Motherhood is truly something that every woman is meant to experience, given the opportunity. When you give birth to a baby, you are also born as that baby’s mother. There is no harder, no better, no more meaningful job in the world. I am humbled to have gotten to experience it and excited to do it all over again, if given the opportunity to again.