Asher’s Birth Story

birthThe day of my due date, I was so over being pregnant. I was uncomfortable, tired, in a lot of pain from endless pelvic pressure, and I was just ready to hold him. My nerves over whether my VBAC attempt would be successful or not were getting the best of me, and I was almost ready to just schedule a repeat cesarean.

The week prior, I spent the afternoon in L&D thinking that my water was leaking (it wasn’t) and after being checked, I was ecstatic to learn I was just over a centimeter dilated and about 50% effaced. For someone whose body did NOTHING on it’s own the first time around, this was beyond exciting. Drew and I decided that we would be induced if I didn’t go into labor by 41 weeks, and scheduled the induction while still remaining hopeful that my body would work on it’s own.ashFast forward to my due date. Not a single painful contraction or cramp, no more potentially leaking fluid, Asher seemed comfy in there. I went to my 40 week check up fully prepared to hear that my cervix had just closed back up. Imagine my surprise to learn that I was actually at two centimeters and 75% effaced.

WHAT.

Again, that may not seem like a big deal to some, but to someone who barely even progressed WITH drugs before, it’s a big freakin deal.

My midwife offered to do a membrane sweep (it hurts. a lot.) to try and get things moving. She told me Asher was head down and low, and she had a feeling we’d have a baby by the weekend.IMG_1741Drew was at the firehouse and Aiden was with me so we went to get some dinner before going to my small group meeting that evening. I noticed I was beginning to feel a bit crampy, but nothing major. We arrived at the small group meeting, and I was having what I assumed were contractions. They weren’t super painful. Just irritating and hindered my ability to focus.

Halfway into the meeting, my contractions became a little more intense. I sent Drew a text telling him I was going to head home, let my co-leader know that I felt like I needed to leave, and left. My husband had my fathers-in-law come pick up Aiden just in case (I never in a million years imagined I wouldn’t see him again until we brought his brother home!), and after a hot shower, we climbed into bed to try and rest in between contractions.

Bad idea.

I could not get comfortable. The contractions stayed about eight minutes apart the entire night. They weren’t unbearable, but made it impossible to sleep. I don’t know how many times I got up in my sleepy stupor to pee or to pace around the room willing them to get closer/more intense. They didn’t.

Drew woke up, and asked if I thought he should go to work or not. At that point, my contractions were more intense, but further apart. I reluctantly told him to go, but to keep his phone close. The idea of having a quiet house to labor in sounded amazing at that moment. He left, and I waddled out to our living room with some breakfast, a timer, and my birth ball.IMG_1754I spent the entire day moving back and forth from the ball to the couch. I was exhausted, and the ball made my contractions pick up, but as soon as I would lay down they would essentially stop. I don’t think I ever really believed that this was it, and that I was actually in REAL labor. Finally, in the afternoon, I lost my plug and was hopeful that it meant I was making some progress.

Drew got home shortly after, and we decided to go get some dinner and walk around, hoping it would make things progress a little faster. The contractions picked up the instant I sat in the car. Gracious. I struggled to make it through dinner at Jason’s Deli, picking at my food between contractions. (Which were now down to 6 minutes apart.) After dinner, we went and walked around Target. I braced myself against the buggy while walking through each contraction. My contractions stayed around 5-6 minutes apart, but were getting more intense by the minute.

[At some point, I called the midwife, whom I remember told me to wait until they were a little closer together. I also remember temporarily hating that midwife. I do not, however, remember exactly when I called her.]

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We left Target and headed home, and I hated this ride even more than the first. We arrived home around 8pm, and I laid on the bed to try and get a few hour’s rest. As soon as I hit the pillow, my contractions became unbearable.

Around 10ish, I got up and told Drew that I thought we should go to the hospital soon. I was losing more and more of my plug, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. Our hospital was 30+ minutes away, so I wanted to go. Even if it meant waddling through my contractions around the hospital.

I called the midwife to tell her we were coming, and texted my mom to let her know she needed to head to our hospital. We gathered up everything and got into the car.jess2Longest drive of my life.

At one point, my contractions were down to three minutes apart and I seriously thought I would give birth in the car. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed my Hubs speeding more than five over until that night.

We finally arrived at UNC Women’s Hospital. I think it was close to or around 11 by that point. Drew drove up to the curb, jumped out of the car, and ran over to help me. We walked inside and he let the guard know that he would come back to move the car after he got me up to L&D. My contractions were still coming steadily at 3-4 minutes apart, and multiple times we had to just stop walking and Drew would literally hold my body up when I couldn’t. We were checked in and triaged. I was only at 4cm, so the midwife said I could be admitted if I wanted. I chose to be admitted and receive some pain meds to attempt to get some rest. We were quickly put into a room, my IV was placed and the monitors were put on my belly. The first sign of a potential uterine rupture in VBACs is the baby going into distress, so I chose to do continuous fetal monitoring. I wanted my VBAC desperately, but I wanted a healthy, safe baby more.jess1The on call OB came in to have me sign the “just in case” forms for an emergency cesarean. I had yet to get any kind of pain meds or anything, and I was still contracting every 4 minutes or so. She proceeded to tell me that I would most likely end up with an emergency cesarean because my VBAC chances weren’t very great.

This infuriated me. I signed the papers as quickly as I could manage so she would get the heck out.

She finally left, and the next hour or so was a blur as my walking epidural was administered. The anesthesiologist was phenomenal. I highly recommend the walking epidural. I could still move and feel my legs, and also the tightness and pressure of each contraction, but with barely any pain whatsoever. It took rolling from side to side a few times but eventually it took all over.

Then the waiting game started. I was told to “rest.” Ha. Eventually, my parents arrived and helped entertain me. Hubs and my Daddy snoozed while my Mom and I chatted endlessly about nothing. I think she sensed how scared I was and knew I just needed to be distracted.

Around 5ish(?) I started feeling like I was peeing myself every time I shifted positions. I thought maybe my water had broken, but it wasn’t constant so I wasn’t sure. Shortly after, I felt this strange gushing feeling. It still didn’t feel like my water had broken, but I knew it was something unusual so I made my poor momma check. She looked only to discover that my bag of waters was bulging in a way that was comparable to a water balloon. So. Freaking. Bizarre.

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http://www.facebook.com/deannadeckerphotography

I called the nurse, who called my midwife. She came in to check me, and as soon as she touched my “water balloon,” my water gushed out. I was also completely dilated. I didn’t feel the urge to push just yet so she had me sit up in my bed with my legs in the butterfly position so I could “labor down.” I sat like this for an hour or so. Somewhere in that time frame, my amazing doula, Lesa Williams, arrived. (If you’re in the NC Triangle area and having a baby any time soon, you should check her out by clicking here.)

Around 7am, nurses and midwives started trickling into my room. The baby nurse came in to set up the warmer, and I think that is when I finally had the ‘holy crap, this is actually happening’ moment. The nurse asked if I was feeling any pressure yet, (I definitely was) and if I wanted to do a few “practice pushes.”

FYI, the term “practice pushes” is stupid. They’re real pushes. There’s nothing “practice” about them.

I did a few, and more nurses and my midwife came in, as well as an OB med student. At some point in labor, you stop caring about who walks into your business, don’t worry.IMG_1858Around 7:45 or so, I started the real thing. Shortly after 8, my epidural wore off. I pushed like a madwoman. I was so freaking determined and I was so freaking exhausted. Drew was still holding me up, physically by helping me lift my head and chest to bear down, and emotionally because he knew I was terrified. He really was my rock. My doula stood next to him with a nurse or two next to her. A sea of midwifes and nurses floated around behind them, and my Momma stood next to me and my Daddy stood above my head, armed with a cool washcloth for my forehead. They both wanted so badly to be present for Asher’s birth, since they weren’t allowed in the OR for Aiden’s.

The midwife insisted at one point that if I looked at what I was doing in the mirror, it would help me have stronger pushes.

I did not want the mirror.

Nope.

And it didn’t help.

So they put the mirror away, and I started making more progress. Everyone started telling me that they could see him coming and that he had a full head of hair.

And then my Husband asked if he had time to go pee. Yep. Baby’s head is coming out, Husband has to pee. A nurse told him that he had better hurry, and he went. I could’ve killed him. Asher began descending more, and I yelled (the only time I yelled..FYI) for Drew to get back out, and now. He finally did, and I was relieved.

I pushed a few more times, and he started crowning. By then, my epidural was non-existent and the ring of fire is a real thing, people.

There was barely any time between contractions anymore, only just enough to catch my breath. The midwife looked up at me and said, “this one is it, push.” I looked at Drew, waited for the contraction to start, and pushed with all my might.

And at 8:45am, after just over a hour of pushing, he was out.

Another push and the rest of him was out too.

It took a second for him to make a sound, but then he started crying and it was the most amazing sound I ever heard. I reached down and pulled him onto my chest. He immediately looked up at me, and I cried. I was so overwhelmed with love and joy that I couldn’t even really speak. The pain was gone, the exhaustion was gone, and it was the moment that I had spent the previous nine months praying for. We had delayed cord clamping, and then the placenta came out without any issues. He latched on and stayed there while I received a few stitches. He only left my arms for a few moments while he was weighed and measured. All 8lbs, 8oz and 20 inches of him were absolutely perfect. Drew picked him up from the warmer and I watched as his Daddy fell completely in love instantly and shed a tear or two as well.IMG_1870

This birth experience was exactly what I needed to heal from the trauma of my first one. While Aiden’s birth was beautiful in it’s own way, Asher’s was everything I could have asked for and more. The healing processes were night and day different. Ash was born Friday morning, and I was up and going to the bathroom unassisted by Friday afternoon. I took a solo shower Saturday morning. There was no obnoxious swelling, minimal pain, and I was back to “normal” within a few weeks.

PS, in case you wondered, my midwife forwarded my delivery notes to the OB who told me I couldn’t do it.jess3We’re now finally beginning to settle into life as a family of four, and you can follow our daily adventures by clicking here. 🙂IMG_1885

This Little Line of Mine: What my Cesarean Taught Me.

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I have this little line that runs across my belly. It looks a little bit like a hockey stick, and kind of like a smile.

I resented this line for a long time. To me, it was a symbol of failure. A symbol that my body wasn’t strong enough or capable of doing what it was made to do.

It was a constant and painful reminder of one of the most vulnerable, terrifying moments in my life.

But I was wrong.

This little line saved Aiden’s life.

I had gestational diabetes, and after the first twenty-four hours of labor, my blood sugar began to spike and Aiden’s heart rate began to drop.

Cutting me open saved his life.

I had read all of the blogs and articles debating c-sections. I read opinions about how they are the WORST thing that could happen, and I read how they could be the best. I read stories from women who were traumatized and scared to ever even consider another pregnancy, and I read stories from women who were practically scheduling their next one when they were just two weeks postpartum.

I had read enough to know that I didn’t want one.

I had been pushing for what seemed like days. My OB came in to check how things were progressing and told me that Aiden’s head basically wasn’t descending the way it should be.

She said I could keep pushing, or they could go ahead and perform the emergency c-section.

27 hours into labor, and I was exhausted. I felt defeated, frustrated and I wanted nothing more than to hold my sweet boy in my arms.

I consented to the surgery and thirty minutes later, I was strapped to a gurney, scared to death something would go wrong, and anxiously awaiting that sound that every Mom wants to hear.

I could feel my OB pushing around on/in my stomach. I heard her say, “not long now!” And after an eternity of pressure, pulling, and prodding I heard those first few glorious screams from Aiden.

My OB held him over the curtain and he was the most beautiful, bloody, purple, squishy looking baby I had ever seen.

The nurses wrapped him up and brought him over to my head. My arms were still strapped, but I kissed him like crazy, tears streaming down my face.

His bio-dad was able to hold him and left me alone to take him to our families and the nursery.

As she stitched me up, I became overwhelmed with emotion. I cried and cried, and just wanted to hold my baby. I felt like a complete failure because I didn’t get to hold him instantly, I didn’t get to try and nurse him right away, and I didn’t get that instant bond that I so desperately wanted throughout those nine ten months.

I remember lying in the recovery room bed, exhausted, angry, and anxious to hold Aiden. “Get some rest,” they said. Yeah. Okay. I just have a giant hole in my stomach and haven’t seen my child since he was born, but sure. I’ll just take a quick little cat-nap.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, they rolled me to the room I would stay in for the rest of the week.

The nurse brought Aiden to me and I was overwhelmed with love for this tiny little human. I held him to my chest, he relaxed against my skin, and let out this little sigh. That bond I so desperately coveted was instant. All of the anger was gone. All of the frustration was gone. And all of my feelings of being a failure disappeared. I was a Mommy.

This little line IS a symbol, not of my failure, but of my courage.

This little line is a reminder of the sacrifice that I made and the bravery that I had that night.

This little line is there to help me remember all of the emotions that I felt as I looked into my sweet boy’s eyes for the first time.

This little line is there because I created an entire human being within my body.

This little line is there to remind me of the unconditional love I have for that little human being, who is now a brilliant, independent, and beautiful little boy.

This little line is so much more than just a scar.

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