J's Birth Story, Part 2


When I left off in Part 1, it was 1:15 am on Sunday, June 18, and we had just been admitted to labor & delivery. I was 5cm dilated. They wheeled me down to a room and got me hooked up to a monitor and started an IV for fluids.

My entire experience with the nursing staff from start to finish was amazing, but my one complaint is the night-shift nurse who put the IV in my arm. She put it in my left arm first, and it was fine until I had to go to the bathroom. I took it with me, but when I got back apparently I'd bumped it or something because it wasn't working anymore. She pushed and pulled and moved it all around to try and get it going again, and it was not pleasant. She kept apologizing, and I was trying to be nice about it, but inside I was like, Get your crap together, lady. 

Finally she gave up and took it out of my left arm and moved it over to my right. She had an issue getting it in correctly on that side and it hurt even worse than it did on my left arm! I ended up rocking a sweet bruise for a full week and a half after we left the hospital.

It's impossible to not want to compare one experience to the next, and both Jordan and I found ourselves constantly saying, "Last time with R...." I don't know if it was obnoxious to the nursing staff, but I can tell you that I was getting annoyed with myself.

It's not that we expected things to go exactly the same way it did with R, but that's the only thing we knew. When I was pregnant with R, we never attended any classes. No breastfeeding class, no hospital tour, no birthing class. I was just too overwhelmed by it all to do any of that, and as a result I fully admit that I was not very well informed about the process of labor or any of breathing techniques that are supposed to help you relax during contractions. One thing I remember vividly from my labor with R is the nurses telling me not to yell in a high-pitched tone but to try to breathe through contractions and use lower tones to save energy and help me relax.

I had all of that in the back of my mind already, and then Torrie left a comment on my 39-week bump update post about natural birth and the way the muscles of the uterus contract and why relaxing does help contractions to not be as painful. I read it the day before I went into labor, and it honestly couldn't have been better timing.

After they got me all hooked up (and my IV in the right spot), there was nothing else to do but lie on the bed and have contractions. They were increasingly painful and lasting for a full minute or more at a time. I tried as hard as I could to focus on relaxing through each contraction, taking giant deep breaths in and out. I really wanted to do a better job with it this time than I did with R.

Another difference was that I had brought my iPod and headphones. I have always (secretly) scoffed at the idea of a birthing playlist. I couldn't imagine wanting any music or anything else going on while I was in labor (I've heard of people watching TV and I'm like how????), but I wondered if playing some music this time would help me focus.

In the last few months of pregnancy, I would take daily walks around the courtyard at my office, and I would bring my phone and play David Crowder's "All Creatures of Our God and King" out loud and on repeat for the entirety of my walk. I didn't make an official birthing playlist, but at the hospital I played my worship playlist, which included the David Crowder song and a few other favorites that I played on repeat during most of my labor.

The first few hours at the hospital went quickly, and I was shocked when Jordan told me it was nearly 3:00. They checked me, and I was sad to hear that I was only barely at a 6. I dilated quickly with R, so I was hopeful that would be the case this time, but apparently not.

The next couple of hours dragged on. My parents and sister arrived around 4:00 (I think) and came in briefly to say hi. At some point the resident who worked with my doctor came in to ask me if I wanted an epidural. The contractions were painful, but I felt like I was handling them okay thanks to my focus on breathing, so I still said I'd wait and see. He gave me a thumbs up and said, "Right on," and told me that I could only get one before 8cm and it would take thirty minutes or so, so to let them know asap if I decided to go that route. 

Around 5:00 am, the nurse asked me if I was interested in having any pain medication given to me in my IV. I said yes, and they got me going on Stadol. It made me super loopy and sleepy for about an hour. I remember continuing to feel contractions, but the pain was largely dulled and I got a little rest, which was nice.

According to Jordan, the medicine made me do weird things like continue to ask him to give me ice when I already had ice in my mouth. I also started panicking at one point because I couldn't move my hands and my nose itched. Jordan offered to itch my nose for me, but he wasn't getting the right spot and I was getting mad at him, so he held my hand and moved it around my nose so I could scratch it myself. I wonder if Beyonce is as glamorous during labor as I am.

After an hour or so, I came out of the fog and could feel everything again. I continued to breathe through contractions while listening to my music and focusing on relaxing as much as I could. The whole time I was in labor, I barely made any sound at all except for loud breaths in and out. The nurse shift change came, and our new nurse, Emily, introduced herself. She was so amazing and the absolute perfect person to be by my side during labor! (Side note: I need to mention here that Jordan is sweet and kind and encouraging, but apparently that means nothing to me because just like when I was in labor at home, I still didn't want him touching me or talking to me at all so he felt mostly useless. Every time he would say something encouraging, I would growl, "Don't talk to me" and glare at him. I'm just so nice!)

At 7:30, my contractions were about 5 minutes apart but not getting any closer, and my water still hadn't broken. They told me they were going to start me on pitocin to see if they couldn't get my labor moving along. I remember feeling really upset and kept saying, "Is this like being induced? I'm being induced, aren't I? I don't want to be induced." 

There was also a discussion about whether or not to break my water, but they decided to wait it out a bit longer and see if it would break on its own.

The pitocin worked some labor magic, because Emily checked me around 7:45 and said I was dilated to an 8.5 and my cervix was "paper thin" (her words). I was suuuuper excited to hear that because I was over it and wanted the baby to get the hecksauce out already. I also remember being shocked I was dilated that much because although the contractions were very painful by this point, they weren't completely killing me like I remember they had been with R at this stage. Emily said that was likely because my water was still in tact, which was cushioning the contractions somewhat.

She said that she could feel the baby's head down, but he wasn't "engaged in my pelvis" and was wiggling all over the place. She asked me if I felt okay to do a few different positions to try and get the baby to move down. This was mildly exciting to me because I never did anything fancy with R except lie on the bed and occasionally roll from side to side.

Emily had me move into a squat position on the edge of the bed to try and get him to force down. Imagine doing a very low, deep squat; that's what I was doing, which was surprisingly not as uncomfortable as you might think.

Next she had me turn around and get on my knees facing the wall. They put the bed up, almost vertical, and I drapped my upper body over the back of the bed and kind of hung there, all while continuing to have contractions. I'm not exactly sure how long I was in either of those positions or what happened over the next hour, but just before 9:00 am my doctor came in and said that she thought they should go ahead and break my water.

"It's going to get intense, and I know it feels strange to ask to be in more pain than you are now," she said, "but I think you'll have this baby pretty quickly once we go ahead and do it."

I felt really nervous (understatement), but I said okay. She reached down and I heard a "pop" and felt a warm gush of fluid. It was 9:04 am. As soon as the doctor broke my water, she said, "Oh that's what the problem is." Apparently J, just like his big sister, was sunny side up, which is why dilation was taking so long and why my water hadn't broken. I was shocked. Darn kids.

As soon as my doctor broke my water, I started completely freaking out. I had been doing so well relaxing and focusing, but I was already in a lot of pain, and I knew breaking my water would lead to even more pain (plus hi, the baby was going to come out of me), and mentally I lost it. I started crying and saying, "No, I can't do it. I can't. I'm scared. I can't do this."

Emily had already commented multiple times on how impressed she was with my control and how focused I was, especially considering I was nearly 10 cm dilated. She could tell I was going into panic mode, and she turned to me and said sternly, "Amanda, you have got to pull yourself together right now. This is all mental and you have got to refocus. You can do this."

I've written before about how running a marathon is similar to having a baby, but the biggest difference I think (other than the obvious differences) is that when I'm running a race, I know exactly where the finish line is. Mentally it helps me to know exactly how much longer, how much farther, I have until I can stop. It makes those middle miles where I feel like I'll never get to the end bearable because I can feel tangible progress when I put one foot in front of the other.

When I'm in labor, I know that there is a finish line, but I have no idea where it is or how much longer I have until I get there. It's physically exhausting, but it's very mental too, because you just don't know if you will have to keep going at 100% for hours or minutes or seconds. The finish line feels almost like a mirage that keeps moving farther away as soon as you can see it.

It was such a helpful reminder for Emily to tell me that it was now a mental battle and that I needed to refocus. I knew she was right, and after just a few contractions I was able to regain my focus, stop crying, and continue my deep breathing. Like, the most giant breaths I've ever taken in my life were happening.

Emily had me try two different positions to try and get the baby to flip over so he was facedown. First she got me on all fours on the bed and told me to relax my back. When a contraction came, I was supposed to sink down into it and wiggle my hips back and forth. It felt awkward, and it took a few contractions to get the hang of it, but I was trying my best to follow directions.

I did that for a bit, and then she had me lie on my left side with the peanut ball between my legs. I lay almost flat on my side with my left arm stretched out above my head. These contractions were so much more intense than any I had been feeling previously. The best I can describe it is like an increasing band of pressure and pain tightening around my entire body every few minutes.

At this point all quiet breathing was out the window and I was groaning and yelling. Emily told me later that she thought it was hilarious that instead of actually saying any curse words, I just shouted the word, "Curses!" a bunch.

After just a few contractions lying on my side with the peanut ball, I felt an increasing urge to push. Then all of the sudden I felt the urge to push. Emily had run out to go to the bathroom, and my doctor wasn't there either (long story short, there were a couple of women having babies all at pretty much the same time, so it was a bit hectic). 

I yelled at Jordan to go get someone, and he said, "Well the doctor will be right back..." and I was like, "YOU GO GET SOMEONE RIGHT NOW."

I was literally yelling, "Help! Help!" when the doctor came in. She didn't even check me; she just looked and said, "Um, yeah okay the baby is coming right now." With R, I remember feeling the urge to push and them telling me that I still wasn't all the way dilated and I had to wait (worst thing ever), so I was surprised when the doctor said he was actually coming right then.

All of the sudden there were bright lights and five or six other people standing near my feet trying to get mats under my bottom and my legs in the air. My doctor actually wasn't even in a gown yet and had to call someone to come take her place for a minute while she got dressed.

They told me to push whenever I felt like I wanted to. While I pushed, I could hear someone counting to ten, and then I went right back into pushing for another ten count. Emily was standing on my left side, and she kept saying, "Get mad, mama," which sounds funny to me now, but at the time I found it to be a helpful visual. 

The sensation of pushing totally came back to me, and that probably helped the process because I remembered what it felt like and what I was supposed to do. I liked being able to push when I wanted to instead of waiting on contractions.

My legs were shaking so badly that they had to get someone else to help hold them. Even Jordan got in on the action this time and was holding my right leg. At one point I remember Jordan saying, "Amanda, I can see his head!" which was really cool and helped me know that it was only a matter of time. The nurses were all excited that he had red hair. 

I never once opened my eyes when I was pushing with R, but this time I did open them twice between pushes, and it was a little surreal and kind of felt like a scene from a movie with the lights and the people in blue scrubs gathered around.

They asked me if I could hold onto the backs of my legs to help with the final pushes (something I remember doing with R as well), but I initially didn't have any strength to move. A few pushes later, I was able to grab hold of both of my legs, and the doctor said, "Okay, he's coming. Give it all you have."

I started pushing at 9:24 and had J at 9:28.

He did come out facing the correct way, so I guess all those weird positions helped, and thankfully they did not have to use the vacuum like they did with R.

They put him on my chest, Jordan cut the cord, and I just couldn't believe Baby J was finally here! Emily grabbed my phone and started taking pictures. I was once again flooded with an intense feeling of relief that it was over and the baby was out. Praise the Lord.

A friend asked me recently which labor was more painful--R's or J's--and at first I wasn't sure how to answer that. But after thinking about it, I decided that R's labor was more painful during and J's was definitely more painful after.

With R they numbed me down there and I don't remember feeling them stitching me up, but  because of where I tore, even the numbing didn't help this time, and I felt everythingMy doctor kept apologizing and tried multiple times to numb it, but it just wasn't working.

The first twenty minutes of J's life were not a lovely bonding moment. I was holding him to my chest with my left arm while I held onto Jordan's hand with my right and gripped it tighter than I did while I was pushing. A few times Jordan told me to be careful that I wasn't squishing J. The whole thing was honestly worse than my labor, and Emily told me later that if she had known that would have happened, she would have recommended an epidural just based on the pain it caused to stitch me up.

Thankfully the torture ended eventually, and they turned off the bright overhead lights and left the three of us alone in the delivery room for a bit before we were moved to our recovery room. My parents and sister came in after a little while to say hi and meet J.
We feel so blessed and are so thankful for a healthy baby and a wonderful doctor and team of nurses who helped us bring our son into the world. There aren't words to describe the relief and joy and love and awe that you feel when you finally meet your baby for the first time. It truly is a miracle and an experience I'll never forget.

Michelle said...

Oh I love this. I love that you listened to worship music--the Crowder version of All Creatures is awesome. Anyway, the same thing happened with Gracie. The numbing down there (not to mention the epidural!) didn't work in some spots and I felt everything. I cried the whole thirty minutes they stitched me up. I love those pictures of you and J! So sweet.

Amie said...

Labor and delivery nurses are seriously like angels!! Had it not been for our nurse grabbing two of our phones and taking pictures we wouldn't have had any. So sorry you had to endure that pain after he was born..sounds terrible!

Kaity B. said...

I had a similar experience post-birth with Crosby. The getting stitched up part was 10x more painful than the labor part (probably because you're so mentally done at that point).

So impressed that you handled another long labor like a pro!

Sarah @ Sweet Miles said...

You go mama! Loved reading this, and may have teared up just a bit! Such an intense but unforgettable experience I'm sure!

Nadine said...

I totally missed the first half of your story, so I am glad to have a few minutes to get caught up on it all today. I remember the day I went in to labor wondering if it was real labor or not. I knew in the back of my mind it was real but I was in denial or something. You are a superhero going at it with no epidural. After several hours of back contractions, I couldn't take it anymore and had to have one. And I was no quiet haha. I loved reading your story. Getting all goosebumpy over here at all the feelings and emotions. Congrats again, what a handsome little man you have!

Audrey Louise said...

I love the part about J helping you itch your own nose.
And I love that you're so honest about how hard and scary labor is! Some people are like, "Labor took about 45 minutes and it wasn't that painful." Ok... you shot a baby out of your nether-region. I bet it was a *little* painful.
I'm so glad everyone was healthy and happy by the end- despite the stitching. (owwww)
How are you so cute right after delivery??

Rebecca Jo said...

I just want to tear up reading it all... its such an emotional time.
I had to laugh at the "CURSES" :)
& sound like nurse Emily is on the game having you do those motions & even talking you down from the panic. Good nurses make a world of difference.
So glad J is here safe & sound & you survived that stitching - OH MY WORD. There's gotta be something in this world that can numb you even when something else cant UGH!!!
Congrats again to your gang. So special. So amazing.

Torrie said...

Wow, I'm seriously impressed, Mama! I couldn't believe you handled him being posterior for as long as you did! That was the big problem with my friend's birth is that the baby was posterior and her pelvis was super narrow (and her baby's head was quite large), so she eventually couldn't handle the back pain. (I don't know firsthand what a posterior labor experience is like, but I've heard from multiple women that they don't call it "back labor" for nothing!).

Again, I'm so very glad that the tips I shared were helpful for you and that you had a more calming experiencing overall this second time around (during the labor anyway).

What's so funny to me is that there almost always seems to be at least one thing that didn't go according to plan or according to how you imagined it in your head (my labor wasn't even close to how I'd planned it, and none of the births I've witnessed have gone exactly according to how they were imagined, either). There's just so much you can't plan for, and I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad tear and that it couldn't be numbed...I seriously shudder thinking about it (as does every other woman who has given birth, ha ha).

Anyway, you are a rock star, and we're so glad that baby J is here safe and sound, and that you are doing well too! Thanks for sharing your birth story. I always love reading them.

Rach said...

You are a warrior! Well done! Loved reading this and hearing all about your experience. So glad that J is here safe and sound!

Amy @ A Desert Girl said...

Beautiful!! You rock, mama!! Such a great story for little J's intro to the world.

Do they not have rolling IV's as an option? I was able to walk around with my IV prior to getting the epidural and it was awesome. Definitely helped with breathing through contractions - I would not have liked being stuck on the bed the whole time. Maybe for your third baby you can walk around while contracting. :) Too soon?

I remember liking that peanut ball thing! I'm so sorry you had such a painful stitching experience after. :( You're a warrior!

Caroline @ In Due Time said...

You are amazing!!! Congrats

PS Your first link didn't work :( Just an fyi so you know xoxo

Jen said...

I had the best experience with my labor and delivery nurses. I felt like I wanted to give up but they kept me going. I'm sorry about the painful stitching, :( That is the worst.

AnneMarie said...

You are awesome!!! Great job persevering through that labor!!! That's really neat that you got to squat at one point! I wanted to give birth to my first in a squatting position, but by the time we got to the hospital, his head was in such a position that the midwife wanted me in another position to help lessen the chance of tearing.

I second what you say about the mental part of labor. It is tough not knowing how long you'll have to stick it out!

Jenny Evans said...

Emily sounds awesome! She was such a good birth coach, which is ideal for an L&D nurse.

I had the exact experience as you afterward. I didn't have any pain meds at all during labor but it was SO AWFUL being stitched up afterward, probably the worst part. Like, you I did it while trying not to drop a baby with one hand and smashing Phillip's fingers with the other.

Courtney said...

Oh man, I totally had that horrible stitching up experience with Abigail after the fact. I don't remember it being so bad with mabel and I assumed it was because I was distracted doing skin to skin immediately with her(I didn't do that with Abigail) but maybe not!

I always said after Abigail that I wished I'd gotten the epidural just for the stitching afterwards! *shudder*

Anyway, enough about myself YOU ROCKSTAR. Go on with your bad self. Way to get it done! (And also LOL at being annoyed with Jordan the whole time. I'm cracking up over it and love it)

I hope you are feeling okay and healing well!

Mimsie said...

I love, love, love birth stories, and yours was just awesome. Labor is the worst (thanks a lot, Eve in the garden of Eden, for gifting this to all women--haha) but when it's all over, it is SO worth it to have a healthy baby. The pics are great--I couldn't tell if Jordan is wiping sweat off his brow or tears from his eyes. Keep us posted on life with two little ones!

Angi said...

Man, I love a good birth story. That is AWFUL about the stitching, though!! I only needed one tiny stitch but just the numbing shot about sent me through the roof - having multiple stitches and shots that don't work to properly numb you?? I am so sorry.

J is absolutely perfect though and I love those pictures of you and him!!


erinhzauner said...

you are a rockstar. plain and simple. I firmly believe that post-birth can be so much worse than the actual labor. shivers. also, you look amazing for just having delivered a baby here!

Robyn B said...

there's nothing like a mother's sacrifice - and birth proves that! ;)

StephTheBookworm said...

He is SOOO precious! I can't stand it! That sounds really awful though that they weren't able to numb you successfully. :( At least you had an awesome nurse!

Maria said...

Jordan is such a trouper making it through these labors of yours. Ha! Kidding. You are an inspiration and many many props to you for hanging in there. I'm sure he's worth it and more. Such an adorable little guy.

"Darn kids". My kid wants to be cool like your two and be sunny side up too. They should form a club. I'm really worried about that, but good to know that a few tricks might work to help them turn. If not, then well, CURSES!

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

oh i am totally crying. there is something wrong with my emotions. i loved reading this! i'm sorry the after part was as painful as it was. i love love love what you said about labor vs running a race and not knowing where the finish line is. that is 100% what scares me about labor. i like to plan, prepare and know exactly when and where things will happen. those things don't go so well with pregnancy and labor! pregnancy doesn't scare me so much but the end part definitely does. oh well! congrats again, he is gorgeous!

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

I really loved reading this! Birth stories are so touching. The happiness, the miracle of the baby, the pictures - it all brings tears to my eyes! I do have to say I laughed a few times! Your too funny. I love your honesty! So crazy those positions and stuff they made you do to help with the contractions, sunny side up position, etc. I had terrible pain with R due to her being sunny side up too. They say being in that position makes it that much harder! I'm sorry the after birth experience was so tough this time around! You are a rockstar! Mental and physical strength has nothing on you!!

Laura Morgan said...

I love Emily and this story! She sounds like an amazing nurse. So glad you had her.
The finish line as a mirage. YES. I think that's one of the things that has made it hard for me to accept that labor has started. Because then the clock starts, and it feels like it will never end.
With E, the sensation to push felt totally different, so I kept trying to resist it because I didn't think it was time, and I didn't want to wind up pushing for hours. With the other two, the pressure felt low and unstoppable. With this one, the pressure started at the very top of my uterus and made my whole belly quiver. The midwife was casual about it and said I could push if I wanted, but I didn't think she was that serious. Mike knows me well and finally told Nikki, "Will you please tell her to push? She's not going to until you do." And then she did a lot of counter pressure and told me to push in a very different way too. It was like I was pushing...down instead of out.

It's still almost unbelievable that our bodies can push such a big thing through such a small hole.

Oh, and I told all the moms and grandmas afterward, "I know you think you remember how much that hurts. You don't." 😂 That amnesia sets in fast because I'm already like, "Eh, I could do it again."