Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hannah's Birth

I am a bit of a birth story junkie. I love reading them, hearing them and telling them:) Yet I have never written one of mine down. Never too late to start, right? So here goes in honor of my baby girl’s 1/2 BIRTHday tomorrow…her birth story. Hopefully without too many gory details.

First a little background information/timeline. My last day of work (2 states away from where I live) was August 1. My due date was August 12. My husband’s second year of medical school was starting August 13. And my son’s first day of kindergarten was August 23, which was also my scheduled c-section day. Oh and my mom was flying in to help with the kids on August 11.

I didn’t want to have a repeat c-section. I was scheduled for one though because my doctor would not induce me if I went “too late”. What I wanted was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) preferably before August 13, but I wasn’t too picky:)

On Sunday August 5 (at exactly 39 weeks) I was playing boccie ball at a picnic when I bent down to retrieve my ball I could tell “something was different”. It felt like baby’s head was right there…you know ready to come out! It was uncomfortable but I wasn’t having contractions and my water hadn’t broken so I continued to play. I just remember thinking, “it won’t be long until I am holding this baby”. That evening my contractions began around bedtime (the kids’ bedtime that is). But they were far apart (every 15ish minutes). This was new for me. In my previous two labors my contractions had started at 2-3 minutes apart. I told my husband about the contractions and got all my last minute things ready (finished packing my bag and the kids’ bag and making a list of “last minute things to grab”). Then I headed to bed. At first I was too excited to fall asleep. I mean this had to be the real deal, right? Then I did fall asleep only to be woken by a contraction 10 minutes later…and this continued ALL NIGHT LONG. I slept in 10 minute increments that were punctuated by painful take your breath away contractions. This was definitely IT!


Monday morning I got up and showered. The contractions stopped and I felt completely defeated. I was definitely going to be pregnant FOREVER:) I honestly don’t remember how I spent that day. Doing our usual life stuff I suppose. Meals and baths and naps. Playing and reading stories. Picking and stewing tomatoes. Passing the time waiting for baby.

That evening at the kids’ bedtime I started having contractions again. It felt like it was my own personal ground hogs day. I was crabby about this new development because all I wanted was a good night’s sleep. That and a baby to hold! So instead of going to bed (pointless when you are having painful contractions and can’t actually sleep), I stayed up and crafted. I sewed a valance for our bedroom window. Then I made a monogrammed wall hanging for Charlotte as well as the baby (minus the actual monogram since baby was yet to be named:).

Somewhere around 3am I went to bed. And slept in 10 minute increments once again. In the morning I got up and showered. I told my husband the contractions had stopped. I was tired so I was going back to bed. He took my not-so-subtle cue and graciously took the kids to the park AND the library. The contractions started up again within the half hour. Sleep was out of the question. So I got up and got myself ready. It was a slooooow painful process as I had to stop to breath through every contraction. I then spent the morning tidying the house and making lunch for the kids. Again sloooow painful process. During all of this I was timing the contractions with a “contraction counter” app on my phone. I have never been able to keep track of contractions well. By the time I am through with the contraction I am lucky if I can remember the time it started…I am just happy to have survived it:) So I thought this app was my fool proof plan to timing my contractions.
My family returned just before noon. My husband took one look at me and kindly suggested we go to the hospital. This sure looked like labor to him:) No I was NOT going to the hospital thank-you-very-much! I had an OB appointment at the clinic at 1:30pm. I would go then and not one minute sooner! I was bound and determined to stay away as long as possible in order to avoid a repeat c-section. Plus my contractions were still far apart and very irregular. Sometimes they were 20 minutes apart and sometimes they were 4 minutes apart. Strong, yes. Regular, no. So I did what every sane laboring woman does. I fed my family and then forced my children to take a *hopefully* last belly picture with me.

The clock struck 1pm and I was out of there! I couldn’t wait any longer. My house was starting to feel like a torture chamber. I needed a change. Did I mention the clinic and hospital is only 1 mile from my house? At the clinic I told the receptionist, “I think I am having contractions”. Understatement of the year! I was 18 hours into this whole labor thing and still in denial. So I waited and waited and waited. The doctor was running behind.

Finally a nurse brought me back to an exam room and hooked me up to the fetal monitor. She seemed quite skeptical that I was actually in labor. She told me that I would be monitored for 20 minutes before the doctor would see me. Four minutes later the doctor walked in with the sweetest words ever spoken to my laboring ears, “Hi. I’m Dr. ____. Nice to meet you. You are in labor. We need to send you over to the hospital.” These sweet, sweet words brought tears of joy to my eyes! Apparantly my contractions were 3 minutes apart and STRONG. The strong part I knew. 3 minutes apart? I thought they were still 10-15 minutes apart! Shows how much I know! You would have thought this was my first time…

But before I could go she wanted to “check me”. 4cm and 80% effaced. Now I was crying tears of frustration. Nearly 19 hours and I had only progressed 3 cm (I had been at 1 previously). This was not looking good. My previous labors had been 12 and 5 hours respectively! She offered me a wheelchair escort to the hospital. I declined. I drove myself to the clinic, I was pretty sure I could waddle my laboring self over to labor & delivery! First I moved my van from the clinic parking lot to the hospital parking lot. Why? Because I was worried that overnight parking at the clinic was not allowed and I would get a ticket. So logical while laboring I am:) I also called my husband and informed him that I am in fact in labor. He was NOT surprised. He was given strict instructions on what to bring, but first he had to drop off the kids at a friend’s house (one of our very, very few friends as we had only been here 8 months).

I did manage to get to the maternity ward after a few wrong turns and some guidance from kind and very concerned hospital employees. Now I remember what we did the day before! We had taken the “Big Sibling Hospital Tour” with the kids. So really I should have known my way around:) Maybe I should have accepted the wheelchair after all? It felt so strange to check-in without my husband and without any belongings. Just wrong in some way.

The next 45 minutes were spent “settling in” and waiting. Answering a hundred and one questions. No I do NOT want a tubal ligation…thank you for asking once again. And then I waited for my husband. Lying in my hospital bed hooked up to a monitor having contractions every 3 minutes. This is when I started praying during my contractions. Initially for my husband’s arrival BEFORE the baby’s arrival. I had these great big windows that looked out to the hospital’s entrance and parking lot. I actually watched my husand walk in. God heard my prayer.

And that is how it began. I prayed my way through every contraction from that point on. Always a prayer of thanksgiving. It isn’t easy to think of 100+ things to be thankful for when experiencing excruciating pain. But those prayers are what got me through. I would close my eyes, essentially mentally leaving my present situation and thanked God for the all the blessings in my life. Between contractions I would open my eyes again. And it would always surprise me that the world…life was continuing. Because during those contractions and my prayers of thanksgiving it felt like time stood still. And yet people came and went (right outside my window). My husband continued to watch the Olympics (I vaguely remember bits of a DR v USA volleyball match). And we chatted a bit. But mostly I was silent for my entire labor. It just felt right. Just me and my prayers of thanks. The silence was also my way of being the most compliant laboring patient. I was determined to not give them any reason to suggest a c-section. But mostly the silent prayers were what “worked” for this labor.

I did spend about an hour in the bath tub. And the warm water felt heavenly on my contracting belly. While in the tub my usually not-at-all-mushy husband asked me if I was wearing make-up. Umm NO! (I don’t wear make-up on a daily basis). He then told me he thought I was because (direct quote) “You look so beautiful”. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. Seriously that the was the best, most sincere compliment I have ever recieved from him. He also asked if he could take my picture because I looked so beautiful. I refused. Now I wish I would have taken the picture.

Instead we have this picture of me. With an ice pack on my head because of a headache. Right before I asked for IV pain medication. Which I recieved twice. And loved. Thank you dilaudid for “taking the edge off” and allowing my body to relax just a bit.

At 5:20 pm I was nearly 8 cm (which meant no more IV pain medication). That was 4 cm in 3 hours. It was then that I knew I was going to make it. This baby was coming soon. I remember my nurse asking me multiple times if I felt “pushy”. My answer was always a simple “no”. Sure I would have loved to have pushed. I know it means the end is in sight. Pushing is when I finally get to DO something other than be in pain. But I was NOT going to start pushing until I was 100% confident that it was time. Again trying to avoid the repeat c-section.

Suddenly I knew it was time. I had just the tinniest urge to push. I was scared to “make the call”. Figuratively and literally. Could I really trust my body to be telling me the truth? Was it really time to meet my baby that I had loved and carried for 9 months? So my husband called my nurse for me. And a minute later in one big motion my room was tranformed into a delivery room. The table of instruments was brought in. Lights were turned on. Gowns and gloves were donned. I remember hearing the words “whenever you are ready push…”. And just like the previous times before I had the fleeting thought, “WOW. This is really happening. NO this can’t happen. I CAN’T DO THIS”. And then as quickly as the thought entered, it left. It left with my undeniable urge to PUSH!

So I closed my eyes, pulled my legs up and pushed. After that first excruciating push I forcefully said, “I just want something to happen.” To which my doctor replied with a laugh, “Oh it is happening!”. And it did. 7 minutes later my daughter entered this world.

And I fell in love once again.

With an 8 lb 1 oz bundle of perfection.

My Hannah Rose. Born on August 7, 2012 at 6:42pm.

My girl. My girl that surprised me with a long 24 hour, but thankfully uncomplicated labor. Surprised me with a head full of dark hair and gray eyes. But mostly I was surprised that she was a SHE. I had convinced myself that I was carrying a boy. Joe knew all along. And it was the best surprise. I am so glad I waited. I spent the first several hours of her life just marveling at her perfection.

And then I shared her with her family. Maybe a little reluctantly.

Want more birth stories? 
Baby #1...HERE
Baby #2...HERE


  1. Oh my gosh, I love it! I love birth stories too. I'm HORRIBLE at clocking contractions...I never know when to start until I'm in like, REAL real labor, like the baby's coming in an hour kind of thing. It's confusing! Anyway, love the story, love the photos, love the sweet comment from yo man=)

    1. Thanks for stopping by:) Soon enough I will have another birth story to share...and you better believe it will be here!

  2. I love your birth stories! I totally understand waiting until the absolutely last minute to go in (vbac mama here too; my last one was a breech birth because I waited so long!), and learning to trust your body is an amazing thing! Thanks for sharing your stories! Can't wait to hear the next one! :)

    1. Thankfully we have moved to a more VBAC friendly area I feel more relaxed about this upcoming birth! Well besides the whole having to give birth part...;)