The Story of F (Part 1)


Before I tell you about how Baby F came into the world, I have to tell you about how anxious I was about giving birth for the third time. There were a variety of logistics that were stressing me out--would my contractions start at work or, heaven forbid, my water break while at work?? How long would contractions last, would I tear as bad as last time (spoiler alert: yes), when should we call my mom to tell her to drive up from Dallas (I'd asked her to be in the room this time!), and, last but certainly not least: should I get an epidural?

That last question can be fairly controversial, but as far as I'm concerned, I promise you that I 100% do not care what other people do. It's a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves, and while I know the answer to this is a no-brainer for some (both on the side of getting one and not getting one), I'll try to explain why this was even a question for me. I don't expect everyone reading this to understand, but the short answer is that for me, the reason I felt uncomfortable getting one honestly boiled down to the unknown of any possible side effects.

I'm not scared of needles, I'm not against pain medicine, I wasn't trying to be a hero, and I don't even necessarily think most people experience negative side effects of epidurals. I took a (very informal) poll on my Instagram stories asking about epidurals, and out of over 150 people, the percentage leaned heavily toward people getting epidurals and having an overall positive experience. But for some reason, I couldn't get past the unknown of how my body would react to it and how the birthing experience would go for me because of it.

I didn't get an epidural with R because, to be honest, I'm super competitive with myself, and I just wanted to see if I could handle it. I didn't get an epidural with J because I couldn't get past the idea of being numb and unable to feel my legs. With this baby, I knew that I could handle it, but I also knew it hurt more than anything ever hurt in all my life, and I thought maybe I'd get an epidural this time so I didn't have to go through that again and possibly have a more relaxing birthing experience (if there is a thing!) for both Jordan and I.

All that to say, I was truly debating the epidural question in my mind for months leading up to my due date. Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but I knew this was possibly going to be my last baby (we can't say that yet for sure, but maybe!), and I didn't want to have any regrets one way or the other.

A few weeks before my due date, I finally told Jordan that I'd decided to say no to an epidural at first but that I was open to getting one at some point if I really felt like I needed it. For whatever reason, I just never felt completely comfortable with the idea of an epidural, and once I decided to start without one, I felt at peace with that.

All this brings us to the Tuesday morning (Feb 18) before my due date on Friday, Feb 21. R was 9 days early, J was 5 days early, and Jordan and I were both completely shocked that I hadn't had the baby yet. We had been on edge for the full week prior, and I suppose that's what we get for assuming I was going to be early. Babies have their own timeline!

I went to my 39-week appointment at 10:15 Tuesday morning (and took the above bump picture just before leaving!), where my doctor checked me and said I was dialed to a "good 4" and 80% effaced. Baby was head down. Blood pressure was fabulous, and baby's heart was pumping away at 130bpm. I had gotten checked the previous week and was dilated to a 3, so I was glad things were progressing but also trying not to get my hopes up that it actually meant a baby was coming soon. We went ahead and scheduled an appointment for the next week, and if the baby hadn't come by then, we'd schedule an induction date for the next week.

There were absolutely no pre-labor signs other than perhaps a slight increase in the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd been having for weeks. My labors with R and J were both over 24 hours, so I fully believed that since I hadn't shown any labor signs by noon on Tuesday, a baby wasn't going to be coming that day.

After my appointment I drove to Target to pick up a few things. I wasn't just wandering around: I went for specific items. I bought a large box of newborn diapers because we only had a few small packs at home, and I wanted to look at their section of pajama sets/sweats to see if I could find something for our Fresh 48 photoshoot. I'd been looking online for something cute to wear for our pictures for months and hadn't found anything that was love. I'd looked before at Target online and didn't see anything I liked, but I had been meaning to go there in person.

It was about 11:30 at this point, and although I wasn't having any signs of labor, looking back I feel like I intuitively had to have known the baby was coming that day. Also funny to note that I've now been to Target on the day each of my babies were born!

Back at work, I changed clothes and we had our weekly yoga class from 12 to 1. I didn't do much except sit on the floor and stretch and maybe a few downward dogs. After that it was business as usual, but around 2:00 I noticed that I was having contractions that felt just a little harder and a little longer than anything I'd felt previously. I kept walking back and forth to the bathroom, and at one point I downloaded a contraction timer app. One similarity between each of my labors is that I'm always in denial that this is actually the real thing. So I just kept having contractions and working and walking to the bathroom and refusing to admit to myself that anything was different.

I finally decided I needed to leave work and go home and sit on my couch. At 4:00 I pulled out of the parking lot and figured I would time contractions on the way home "just in case." I picked up the kids from daycare, drove home, turned on the TV, and everyone (me most of all) plopped down on the couch. I never let the kids watch TV immediately after getting home, so they were pretty excited.

The three of us sat on the couch watching "Cat in the Hat" on Netflix while I timed contractions that were mildly painful, consistently 4-5 minutes apart, and lasting about 30 seconds. At one point I got up to put in a load of laundry because I wanted to wash the pajama set I'd found at Target. 

Around 5:00 the kids started saying they were hungry, so I put on a pot of water to boil and made a package of tortellini I'd bought that day from the refrigerated section of Target with sauce and a can of green beans. While the kids ate, I kept timing contractions, and each time one came I would have to lean on the counter and sway side to side. I kept telling myself that this wasn't real because I could still talk through them (even though I really couldn't talk through them), and even though it was coming on 2 hours of timing, and they were now 3-4 minutes apart. DENIAL, PARTY FOR ONE.

Jordan arrived home at 6:00, and I went up to him and said, "Okay don't panic, but I've been timing contractions since 4:00 and they are 3-4 minutes apart and painful."

He says he didn't panic, but I can picture him in my mind running around throwing clothes into a backpack while calling his mom to see if anyone could come over and stay with the kids when we drove downtown. He asked me if I'd called my mom yet, and I said no. I'd previously asked her if she wanted to be in the room this time (I hadn't wanted anyone else in there with R or J), and since she has a job and lives 3 hours away, timing logistics of her getting here in time was something we'd discussed. The problem was that I still wasn't sure if they were going to admit us to the hospital (lol, I'm dumb), and I didn't want her driving all the way up here for nothing. But Jordan insisted I call, so I did, and when I told her how close the contractions were coming, she said she and my dad were leaving right away.

Jordan's dad came over to stay with the kids, and Jordan and I left. But... not before I hung up all the clothes from the washer to dry. Jordan was furious with me and kept saying, "Is this really necessary to do right now?" And I was like, "YES it is because this is the outfit I want to wear in our hospital pictures and it needs to hang dry so it doesn't shrink." So he just stood there starting at me and making comments about how we needed to get in the car until I snapped something like, "Listen, You can talk all you want, but I want to do this right now and I'm doing this, so just be quiet and wait." 

He rolled his eyes but didn't say anything after that. But in his defense it was a little ridiculous because I kept having to stop hanging the clothes and lean against the washer when a contraction came. I'm such a treat to be around when I'm in labor! ;) 

We finally left for the hospital around 7:00. Contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart, but on the way there they slowed to more like 7-9 minutes apart, and I said we could probably just turn around and go home. Why am I so nuts, you guys. Jordan said absolutely not, as any sane person would.

He parked the car in the parking garage, and we walked across the street to get buzzed into L&D. As we walked toward the check-in counter, a group of nurses was leaving. One of them looked at me and said, "Oh we know what that face means. You're having a baby tonight, girl!" 

I turned to smile at them, and the nurse stopped and stared at me. I immediately recognized her as the fabulous nurse who helped with J's delivery and my recovery in the hospital 2.5 years ago. I didn't want to be weird and wasn't going to say anything, but from the way she was looking at us I could tell that she was trying to place me, so I said, "Is your name Emily?" She said, "Yes..." 

I said, "You helped with the delivery of my son 2.5 years ago!" She came up and gave me a hug and said she remembered me and then said, "You can do this!" It really put me at ease to see her, and I thought that was such a neat thing to have happen!

At 7:40 they put us in a room and a nurse came to check me. She asked if I'd been checked before, and I said actually I had just had a checkup that morning! She told me that if were wasn't any change in dilation they'd monitor me for an hour, and if there still wasn't any change, they would send me home and let me labor a bit longer on my own before admitting me.

She checked me and didn't even take a second before she said, "Oh, you're definitely going to stay and have a baby!" I was at a 6, nearly a 7, and almost fully thinned out. I called my mom and told her that we were for sure staying at the hospital. They had left as soon as possible when I called her at 6:00 and were already halfway to Oklahoma City.

Soon after that, the resident doctor came in and asked me if I was going to want an epidural, and I said no. He told me that they were working on getting a room ready and to just sit tight for now (we were still in the "holding room," so to speak, and not in an actual delivery room).

Jordan set up his phone on the bed, and we watched The Office on Netflix while I continued to have increasingly painful contractions. Every time one came I would breathe deeply and hold tightly to the side of the bed. Mentally it helped to count in my head how long each contraction lasted (about 10-11 breaths as deep as I could blow out); during each contraction I counted to ten, and it helped me to know how far along I was, so to speak, before the pain of the contraction was going to end. I was hooked up to an IV for fluids, and they had monitors strapped to my stomach so we could hear the baby's heartbeat, but otherwise they left us alone.

At 9:30pm, my parents arrived and we got to hear the story of how my dad got pulled over by an Oklahoma cop for speeding. My dad got off with a reduced ticket from the initial reckless driving warning and suggestion that the cop take him to literal jail after my dad told the cop that they were on their way to OKC because his daughter was in labor. The cop told my dad that he wasn't any good to me dead and to slow down, please. However, in the event my dad was, in fact, carted off to jail, my dad asked the cop if he could please let my mom go so she could drive to the hospital without him. If you know my dad you know that absolutely sounds like something that would happen to him!

Because we left for the hospital soon after Jordan got home from work, he hadn't had dinner yet, and we were worried about him not getting a chance to eat for a while if my labor was going to be hours and hours still like my previous 2 had been, so at 9:40 my dad and Jordan left to get Chick-fil-A while my mom stayed in the room with me. Side note: the hospital has a CFA inside, which is why they were going there for food; it's not like Jordan had a special baby day hankering for fried chicken lol.

I'll leave off there, because the next hour gets crazy, and I had F at 10:42 pm that same night! Part 2 coming soonish. I figured I'd just get some of this story published while I felt motivated ;)

Kaity B. said...

Gah! What a cliffhanger to leave off on. I love that you got to see the nurse from J's birth and I can't wait to read what comes next!

AnneMarie said...

Don't leave us hanging like this!!!! I am loving this birth story, what an adventure! It makes me feel really nice that someone else experiences super denial during birth, too ;) Your note about contractions spreading further apart when you left for the hospital totally happened to me with my first, and I remember thinking, very self-righteously, "HA! I KNEW going to the hospital would stall labor!" (thankfully my husband also kept going, because I entered the 2nd stage of labor shortly after being admitted haha). When I told my current midwife about my two previous labors (and the complete denial I experienced during both of them) she wondered if perhaps it's a coping mechanism. I thought that was an interesting observation, and I think there could be some truth to that in my case!

Also, HOW COOL that a hospital has CFA inside! I always am especially in the mood for CFA when pregnant or just after, so I think that's pretty brilliant.

Carolann @ Finding Ithaka said...

Oh my gosh, the part with you and the pajamas hanging up is hilarious. I also love your response to Jordan. I really give you a lot of credit for being able to do all of those things while having contractions! I have a lot of similar thoughts on the epidural for my next baby so I really understand what you wrote about in the beginning of your post. I can't wait to read Part 2!

Grace said...

I was really scared of having an epidural for the first one and didn’t get it. But it ended in c-section which meant a spinal. So then for the second one, I was on-board for epidural, since it’s a similar huge needle. For yours, I’m surprised that you were wavering. It seems like you had so many reasons for not wanting it, that I would have thought you’d just go with your gut. I’m looking forward to see what happened.

pdot95 said...

Dahhh....I’ve been gone from the blog world so long that I completely missed the second baby and the whole pregnancy of the 3rd. Congratulations!

Audrey Louise said...

It is absolutely NUTS how different everyones' labor stories are... 3cm one week, 4cm the next, and a scheduled appointment the following week??

I was 1 cm at my final obgyn appt and we made an appt for me to be induced 4 days after my due date at 8am. At 2am, the morning of my induction, my contractions started. We went to the hospital and I was 2cm. By 10am I was 4cm. By 1am I was 5cm and 90 minutes later I was fully dilated. It's so strange to me that you were 3-4cm for a week!

Rachel said...

I rushed off to the hospital pretty much as soon as I had contractions both times, so I don't experience labor denial, haha! I love hearing the story and you'll definitely have to tell your little one about grandpa being pulled over by the police for speeding on the way on the day he was born.! That's a crazy story that you'll want to remember

Sarah @ Sometimes Photojenik said...

This cracked me up- just thinking of you hanging your clothes. I want to be just like you, very calmly laboring throughout your day haha.