My great friend - and massage therapist - Jessie is one of the BEST moms I've ever met, ever, hands down. She's so focused and in the moment and totally responsive to whatever Cale needs. She planned a wedding during her pregnancy and the first couple of weeks of Cale's life. What a task, that she handled beautifully! She is a very sweet person, and I'm so glad she decided to share her birth story with us. I have had the privilege of taking pictures of this little guy several times, so a few are shown here. Enjoy!
1.What happened the day your baby was born? Did your water break, and if so, where were you, how did that feel? Who took you to the hospital? What helped you during labor (ice chips? music? etc.)? Any funny or scary stories about the labor itself or the birth? How long was your labor, start to finish?
I was very fortunate and had a pretty easy, comfortable pregnancy. I had my last day of work on May 1st (knowing that if need be I could stop sooner) to prepare for my May 3rd due date. We had an appointment the day before my due date and I was only 1 cm dilated and felt fine so I just knew my little guy wasn't coming early. I was a little bummed because I really liked the date May 3rd (after saying it so many times for all those months I was kind of attached to it!). So, I just enjoyed having some time off and had plenty to keep my busy, not only planning for baby's arrival but also for our wedding which was July 10th, only a couple months away!
I was still comfortable and enjoying my last few times walking into the grocery store without all my extra cargo. I never really hit the "get this baby out of me" point until I was 6 days late and we went for an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay with the baby. That was on Monday and everything looked great, we got another look at our baby boy which just made me even more anxious to meet him, then she told me that he was right around 9 lbs. give or take a bit. That's when I started to feel ready to get this show on the road.
We had a midwife appointment right after that and she scheduled me for 3 days out and said on that day they will put me on the books for an induction on my 42 week date. Yep, that means if he didn't come on his own, I would have to wait 8 more days........he could be 10 lbs or more by that point!!! I was really hoping he would just come on his own anyway.
Seth and I were totally picturing my water breaking during the middle of the night and it would make a huge mess and we could never use those sheets again, so, I bought new (cheap) sheets and put a towel under where I slept. When I told Seth I was sleeping on a towel, he thought that wasn't enough so he went to the garage and got pee pads (left over from training our puppy) and put those on top of the towel. A little paranoid, huh?? This was partly as a joke and partly serious!!! We both still laugh about it now! Anyway, my water never broke in bed, but at least we were prepared!!
Wednesday morning Seth went to work early and I slept in. I started getting ready for my morning walk around 10am and started to have a bit of cramping but not much. I took my phone with me and made sure to turn around when I was 1 mile from the house instead of going further. I kept having the cramping and noticed it seemed to become a little more frequent so I was wondering if it might be contractions but they weren't very intense. I came home and bounced for a while on my yoga ball and started to time and write down the contractions. They were all over the place from 4 minutes to 8, 9, 10 minutes apart so I played it off like it was nothing and decided to take the dog to the beach to play ball. We walked and played for a while and I had a couple contractions on the beach but still nothing bad.
I had taken my last prenatal vitamin that morning so I had planned to go to the grocery store during the day so I decided to go after the beach. I thought if I don't have this baby today I'll need a vitamin for tomorrow so I better go. I was getting a few things and had two pretty bad contractions in the store so I figured I better just check out and go home. It was about 3:15 when I left the store and when I got home I started to time my contractions again and they were definitely getting stronger and closer together. Still about 6-8 minutes apart.
I waited until 4pm and then I called Seth at work (he was pretty nervous for when the time actually came so I knew if I had called him right away he would just be a wreck at work!!). Of course that was the day he forgot his cell phone at home so I just told him to make sure he came straight home when he got out at 5.
I continued bouncing on the yoga ball for a while and then I called the midwife's office just before 5 to give them the heads up that I may be in tonight. Again, I was expecting my water to break and we would just know it was time to go to the hospital (even though I know that's not always the way it happens) so I was telling her how my contractions were all over the board and asking when she thought I should go. She told me that we could just give them a call and then go in so they could check me (we are only a few miles from the hospital) and worse case they would just send me home to wait a little longer.
When Seth got home I told him I wanted him to walk around the block with me again. This part is one of my favorite memories during the ordeal because it just fits us so well. We were about to walk out the back door and Seth saw a coyote in the backyard. He told me to hold Bailey (our dog) so he could shoot it (with the pellet gun) to scare it away. So, I picked up Bailey and he stood on the back deck shooting at the coyote.........yep, all while I was having a contraction!!!
I told him to get in the house and had to put Bailey down so I could lean over the table, don't worry though, he scared the coyote away!!! We went for our walk around the block, and with my contractions getting closer and stronger I figured it would be best to go to the hospital and see what they said. We threw a few things together and headed to the hospital fully anticipating being sent back home. We got there around 7:30 and the midwife was already there with a woman in labor so she came in to check me and said "honey, you aren't going anywhere, you're 3 ½ centimeters and your contractions are very strong, lets have this baby". What!!!! Really????
I was still in denial so couldn't believe she was keeping us. We called some family to tell them we were at the hospital and then got set up in our room. They asked us if we had a birth plan or anything set up. I was going in open to just about everything. If I could do it without an epidural, great, if not, fine. I didn't want to have my heart set on anything and not be able to keep it. The only thing I really wanted was to have the option to cut the cord myself if Seth still didn’t want to do it. He had been saying the whole 9 months that there was no way he would be able to cut the cord, he was wondering if he would even make it through without passing out!! Once we got that in place I wanted to keep moving so we went for another walk outside the hospital and then through the halls.
I had wanted a room with a tub but all 4 were taken so we were in a room with a shower instead. We took my last prego pics and then the nurse came in with extra pillows and blankets to make me comfortable so I could sleep. I was very surprised and told her that I wasn't very tired and didn't think I'd be able to sleep. I was ready to go, I didn't want to waste time by sleeping, let’s just have this baby!! Looking back it may not have been a bad idea to try to sleep so I would have more energy but I really don't think I would have been able to at all.
Around 10pm I started to get more uncomfortable. I changed positions a lot. I bounced on the yoga ball, knelt on top the bed, leaned over the bed, walked around the room. My midwife was massaging my back while I was on the yoga ball and she started up a conversation and I had mentioned that we were getting married in 2 months. She mentioned that she hopes my bleeding stops in time and I was kind of surprised. I asked what she meant and she said most women bleed for about 6 weeks after. Okay.....nobody told me that!! I figured I'd bleed for a bit but didn't think it would be that long. I had to send Seth out to get me heavy pads when we got home since I was totally unprepared for that.
At 1am the nurse checked and I was 8 cm with very strong contractions and my water still hadn't broken so she called the midwife in and she broke my water. There was just a little trickle for a minute and then all of a sudden a big gush. Things started to get much more intense after that. I moved into the shower and Seth used the shower head to get warm water on my back and I remember my body shaking uncontrollably. Mind you, I was very modest going into this whole experience. When Seth and I first got into our room and only had the shower I remember asking him what I was supposed to wear. He said "um, I think you're supposed to go naked". What!!! I didn't want to just be "hanging out" in front of everyone (everyone being only Seth, the midwife and the nurse). I was half tempted to send him home for my bathing suit, but trust me, when it came time I did not care at all!!!!!!.
Seth was great during this and he really impressed me. I felt an amazing connection to him the whole time. I would grab his hand and the nurse's hand during some of my contractions toward the end and he would cry through a couple of them (maybe cause I was squeezing too hard!!). He hated that I had to go through that pain and he couldn't do anything for me. The whole pregnancy he said he wanted to stand by my head the whole time and not see anything, he always joked about asking for a second bed in case he passed out. I do remember him breathing in my face (trying to help me breath threw a contraction) and he had coffee breathe so I made him grab gum out of my purse! Then, the midwife and nurse asked for a piece too since they probably had coffee breathe as well and figured I wouldn't tell them if it annoyed me.
I moved back into the room and remember kneeling on the floor and leaning over the bed. I was stuck at 9 1/2 cm for a little while and I remember having to pee a BUNCH of times. I probably went to the bathroom every 5 minutes like 8 times in a row. I didn't really want to eat or drink anything during labor. I had asked for some ice chips in the beginning (because it was honestly the only craving I had during my whole pregnancy, I would have a cup of ice every night) but only had a couple and that was it. They made me have a popsicle and drink apple juice to keep my energy up but I had to force it down.
I really liked having a cool cloth put on my forehead while I was pushing. At one point I know I told Seth that I almost felt like I needed something for the pain but I never asked the nurse for anything and it didn't come up again. Then finally, at 4:20am it was time to push! I laid in the bed for this part and Seth held one leg back, and the nurse held the other. I heard during my pregnancy that some women fall asleep between contractions and thought this was absolutely crazy. Now I can see why. I never fell asleep between my contractions but just could NOT keep my eyes open. I do remember peeking at the clock and my eyelids have never felt so heavy.
After a little while of pushing my midwife had me feel his head to let me know he really was coming out and this was encouraging. I ended up having to push for 1 1/2 hours and had to get oxygen towards the end because I was looking very pale and with my iron levels being extremely low this made my midwife nervous. I remember her telling me that she was going to need do an episiotomy so his head could fit through. I started to have another contraction and I don't remember this part but Seth told me that she said not to push during this contraction and then she would do the episiotomy after.
There was no way that I could hold back from pushing during this one (you know how your body just does a lot of it for you) and so I pushed. I heard both the midwife and nurse say "look, look". I opened my eyes and saw her pulling him out!! It was absolutely amazing to see him for the first time (I'm starting to tear up now just thinking about it). I reached out for him and pulled him right onto my chest and I was so in love. I don't think I even got one word out and he peed right on me!! Yep, that's my boy!!!
Cale was born at 5:52am and was 9 lbs. 1 oz. and 20 inches long!
The midwife started to hand the scissors to Seth and he pointed towards me and said that I wanted to cut the cord. I told him that if he wanted to he could and so he did!! I was so happy and I know he is that he actually did it! The midwife started to deliver the placenta, which hurt more than I had expected. I focused all my attention on Cale and tried to forget what she was doing. At one point the nurse all of a sudden pushed on my belly and I totally wasn't expecting it and it hurt pretty bad. I had to push a couple times to help get it out and I was so over this whole pushing thing, it still hurt. But, she got it out and then she showed it to us and explained a couple things about it. I thought it was pretty interesting but Seth was grossed out!
Another one of my favorite memories was while the midwife was stitching me up. It had only been about 5 minutes after Cale was out and Seth sat back in the recliner next to the bed and said "ugh, I don't want to sound selfish or anything but I am exhausted"!!!!! We all started laughing and I still giggle each time I think about it! I was completely awake at this point. I had this whole new burst of energy and felt great (as long as I didn't have to get up).
One thing that helped me get through labor was to just tell myself that there is always an end to each contraction, there will always be a little relief after each one. I honestly just kept saying this in my head the whole time and it got me through. What an amazing experience!
2. What did you pack in your hospital bag? What did you forget to pack that you recommend pregnant moms to be pack in theirs?
I forgot to pack my toothbrush and hairbrush. Mostly because I really thought I was going to be sent back home so I figured I would just grab it then. Seth went home later in the day and grabbed a few things so it wasn't big deal. I packed baby's coming home outfit (3 of them actually......a newborn size, a 0-3 if it was warm, and a 0-3 for if it was chilly), something for me to wear (fortunately my sister had told me a couple weeks prior not to plan to fit into pre-prego pants so I packed yoga pants), my laptop, and my camera. These were the important things that I would recommend. I also had magazines which I didn't even touch and some other clothes to wear while I was there but I stayed in some hospital shorts so only wore a couple shirts. My camera was the main thing I wanted there.
3. What was the best part about your hospital stay (besides meeting your little one of course)?
Having the nurses make us feel so comfortable. We were never nervous to ask any questions that we had. Also, they made us a 4 course congratulatory dinner the second day and the food was great!!
4. What was the worst part about your hospital stay (besides the labor of course)?
The worst part was on the second night when we got moved out of our room at 10:30 at night. The hospital has 6 birthing rooms and all the rooms were full so when another woman came in and was in labor they had to find room for her. We weren't the only ones that got moved, they have 6 rooms and had 10 babies in there at that time so it was very crowded It was pretty miserable having to quickly throw everything together and move down the hall but having just gone through labor I totally understood that she needed the room right then. Our new room didn't have a mini fridge like the birthing room did so we weren't able to just grab water or juice like before and we were completely unorganized since we literally threw things into bags just to get out of there. It was outside of the birthing unit so the little anklet that they put on Cale kept setting their alarm off since he was too far away so they came in at 3am (as soon as we got him back to sleep) and unwrapped him to tighten the anklet, which of course woke him up, then came back at 7am and just cut it off. Also, my call button didn't go to the birthing unit so I couldn't just ask a quick question, I had to ask for my birthing nurse and then wait for her to get there.
5. What is your advice for new parents for surviving the hospital stay and making it more comfortable?
Don't be afraid to ask any and all questions that you have, this will make you feel so much more comfortable when you get back home. Be honest with people that want to visit. It's so sweet and they are doing it out of love and support but remember that you need to rest as well. We didn't have much of an issue with this because while I was pregnant we told everyone that it was going to be just the two of us in the room and then we would call to let everyone know when he arrived and when we would want visitors. We had been up the whole night so in the morning when we called to announce Cale's arrival we told them we didn't want any visitors until after 12pm, and it worked out great.
6. How soon after you got home after the hospital stay did you feel back to *slightly normal*?
It was at least a week until I started to feel a little normal again. I was very sore afterward and I think that soreness probably started to go away somewhere between 1 ½ - 2 weeks. We got home from the hospital on Saturday and on Sunday I put Cale to sleep in his swing so all Seth had to do was watch him and I went out for just a short walk with the dog. I only went for 1 mile but it started to downpour right when I turned around so I was still about 1/2 mile from the house. Normally I would have run home but I could only do a really slow walk or I was very uncomfortable. One of Seth's friends pulled into our driveway and Seth yelled out the window for him to pick me up so I was only caught in the rain for a few minutes! I went wedding dress shopping 2 ½ weeks after Cale was born (I know, who does that!!) and I know I wasn't sore at that point so that didn't last for too long. I know I felt back to normal (other than tired) by the time the wedding came around so it was within 2 months.
7. What was it like the first moment you saw your baby or held your baby?
Oh man....how can I even answer this one?!? It is beyond words. (Here come the tears again!) It is absolutely the most amazing, beautiful, and memorable moment of my life!! Not only to finally know that he was healthy, but so beautiful and so perfect was just incredible. Pregnancy, labor, and motherhood have just been the best journey for me yet. At 11 weeks we heard his heartbeat for the first time and I thought it was amazing and nothing could be better, then at 13 weeks we got our first ultrasound and saw him for the first time and I thought that was amazing and nothing could be better, then I felt him kick for he first time and I thought nothing could be better, then you see him for the first time, hold him for the first time, see his first smile, hear his first giggle, oh it is just so amazing and am thinking and hoping it just keeps getting better!
(OK insert Angela here, I'm crying just reading this! What a GREAT birth story... very sweet. Thank, you Jessie, for sharing!)