DISCLAIMER :: This is a birth story. It reads and shows pictures of pain, blood, umbilical cords and some more of that beautiful but uncomfortable for some stuff that happens when you give birth to a human being. Don’t continue reading if you don’t want to hear and don’t look at the pictures if you don’t want to see it.
DISCLAIMER 2 :: First I’ll say that my birth story is important because it got me my daughter. I have mounds of respect for moms who birth/gain their babies in every way vaginal, c-section, adoption, epidural, all natural, water birth, hospital birth WHATEVER it may be. You’re a rock star. Also, please don’t hate me after reading this if you had a super hard labor!
Three months have passed since we birthed our beautiful baby girl and I can’t believe I haven’t written it down yet! I hope I remember everything.
This pregnancy was extremely difficult and much more uncomfortable than when I was pregnant with Jameson. The hernia in my belly made me damn near bedridden. I ended up in tears more days than not due to pain and discomfort.
I woke up one morning around 38 weeks and didn’t feel Ava kicking around as usual. I drank some chocolate milk and waited. Nothing. I poked around. Nothing. I laid flat on my back, on my side. Nothing. I drank some cold orange juice. Nothing. I ate a donut. Nothing. Over the course of 5 hours, I tried everything to get baby girl to kick and nothing worked. I knew that if two hours passed without movement it was cause for concern so I finally called my midwife’s office and after explaining our morning to them, they wanted us to come in for a non-stress test. I kid you not that after about 5 minutes of sitting in the waiting room I finally felt Ava move a tiny bit.
Even after her giving me a little, I was worried about her lack in movement throughout the morning. When the nurse brought us into a room for the non-stress test she had me lay down while they wrapped my belly with the monitors. When placing these monitors on a woman’s belly, sometimes it takes a few tries to find the baby’s heartbeat depending on its position. Thank the Lord that the very second she placed the monitor on my stomach we heard Ava’s strong heartbeat. I began weeping right then and there. You could feel all our relief in the room. We laid there being monitored for almost thirty minutes and when Missy came in to talk with us she explained that while everything looked fine, Ava’s movements weren’t exactly what they should be so she wanted to send me in for a sonogram to do some more checks. Everything was beautiful.
When we went back into Missy’s office to talk to her she decided that, yes, everything looked good this day but she wanted me to come back in two days to have another non-stress test just to check on everything. While we were talking with her I mentioned the idea of wanting to be induced again like we were with Jameson. With how much pain I’d been in, with the scare that day, and the fact that the sonographer estimated she was already over 8 lbs – I liked the idea of going ahead and welcoming Ava sooner rather than later. And I had had such a wonderful experience delivering Jameson, I was totally comfortable with being induced again. Not just comfortable, I felt like I would prefer it. I hate unknowns and it’s kinda nice being in the hospital with everything already going. Missy explained that Flagler Hospital’s policy is that elective inductions cannot happen before 39 weeks. She wanted me to go home for a few days and do all our “homework”. Homework being all the natural ways to induce labor and if when I came back in at the end of the week and nothing had progressed, we could put in for an induction. And that’s exactly what happened. On Friday, February 13th we scheduled my induction for Sunday evening, February 15th. We were SO excited.
The same as with Jameson, they admitted me to a room. As a matter of fact, it was the exact same room we delivered Jameson in! Room 2052! They did a few routine tests, hooked me up to an IV, then started me on cervidil. Cervidil is a thin strip of fabric or material that is inserted vaginally to help soften the cervix. The hope is that the cervidil will not only soften/ripen the cervix but jumpstart contractions as well. When this was done with Jameson, the cervidil softened me up a small bit but nothing else progressed by the next morning so I didn’t totally expect that it would this time either. Although the nurses did say that it may progress more quickly because this was my second labor.
We loved all of our nurses again this time, I couldn’t say more wonderful things about the labor and delivery unit at Flagler Hospital. Wonderful wonderful wonderful. And if I had written this three months ago or even two months ago maybe I would remember some of my nurses names but alas, I cannot. Our two nurses for the first night were extremely helpful and efficient. When I was struggling to get comfortable with Ava’s monitor on my belly, one nurse didn’t tell me to just stay still because the monitor had to stay as it was [as one nurse told me when in labor with Jameson], she instead stood next to me for nearly 30 minutes while I tried to get comfortable and did everything she could until we got it fixed just right. We watched the season premiere of Walking Dead and tried our best to get some sleep. But oh goodness, we did not. I was either too uncomfortable or too distracted. On each side of our room was a screaming, all natural delivering woman. I say all natural just to say that obviously they were truly feeling all that pain. One woman just screamed bloody murder for an hour. While the other woman was screaming “weeee!” like she was going down a water slide for at least 3 or 4 hours. It would make us laugh one minute and then frustrate me to tears the next because I was just so tired. The nurses actually apologized to us several times saying how bad they felt for me. I think in total I got about 2 hours of sleep that night.
At around 2 am I began feeling mild contractions. Nothing severe or even regular. But at around 5 am they picked up a tiny bit. Between 6 and 7 am the nurses checked me to see if I had dilated any more and I was still only at 1 cm as I had been for several days. Although my cervix was a bit softer, it wasn’t soft enough for delivery by any means. Somewhere around this time, Bryan [Luke’s dad] came to see us before he headed into work. He prayed a beautiful prayer over us, Ava, and the doctors. I can’t remember if it was before or after he came that they started me on the pitocin. Let’s just say they started me on the drip between 6 and 8. Within 30 minutes of being started, my contractions intensified majorly. So much so that I told Missy, “Let’s just go ahead and have that epidural done.”
When the anesthesiologist came to perform the epidural, I remember it hurting a bit more than it did with Jameson. But even still, I am so glad for that medicine! Within 10 minutes I was feeling relief. As time went on over the next few hours I definitely realized that this epidural wasn’t quite as strong or quite as effective as it had been with Jameson. Don’t get me wrong, it was WONDERFUL, but I felt a lot more this time around Which I didn’t necessarily love. Still, it was absolutely better than nothing.
9:15 rolled around and Missy checked me herself for the first time that morning. I was at 4 cm! Yay! She knew that if she broke my water it would assist even more in dilating me but because Ava had kind of pushed herself higher up in my uterus Missy didn’t want to break my water because there would be a risk of Ava’s cord slipping through first. Other than that, Ava was in a perfect position. We just needed to wait a bit for her to move back down. But because of how the contractions were going and since I was steadily progressing, Luke kept saying, “We’re gonna have this baby by 11:30. You watch!” I thought that was wishful thinking.
20 minutes later at about 9:40, my parents arrived at the hospital. They sat and talked with us for about 30 minutes. My epidural was in [mostly] full swing so I was only slightly feeling each contraction. Enough that I was aware they were happening and I was uncomfortable through them. Before Mom and Dad left, they prayed over us. They were just leaving to grab some stuff from their car and visit the gift shop.
At 10:40 Luke and I were laying around the room together watching tv when all of a sudden we heard a loud pop over the heart monitor. Loud enough that it startled us both. At the exact same time I felt an extremely large gush down below. It scared me though and I was certain something was terribly wrong. Luke jumped up as I said, “You have to look under the sheet! Is it blood?! Is it blood?!” He smiled and said, “No, it’s clear. I think your water broke!” This was so weird for me because when my water broke with Jameson is was a trickle so small I thought I had peed myself. But this was HUGE! He went to retrieve one of our wonderful nurses to have them double check and she said that not only had my bags of water most definitely ruptured but I was suddenly at 8 cm! I couldn’t believe it! I started looking at Luke like, “Maybe you’re right about meeting Ava before lunch!” The nurse asked me if I felt any pressure and I said yes, but that I wasn’t totally sure. She left the room to take care of some stuff and to call Missy to come check on me. I can look back on this now knowing that I was a little scared/taken by surprise. With Jameson, everything had happened at such a steady pace and when the time came to push, I was calm and knew exactly what to do. But this day, I couldn’t believe how quickly it was going! And because of that I think I was a little in denial. I couldn’t be feeling the pressure to push already, could I?! I just kept telling the nurse, “No. I just feel like I have to poop.” haha! Luke texted everybody to tell them my water had broken and that we would most likely start pushing within the hour. He texted my parents first to let them know! We couldn’t believe it considering they had just left a half an hour ago!
Missy took what seemed like an eternity to get to my room but in reality it was only about 10 minutes. During that time the pelvic pressure became almost unbearable. Once again, because of two very different experiences with an epidural, I was feeling way more pressure this time around, it hurt a lot more than it did with Jameson. Also aiding to my confusion and surprise! Now remember, 10 minutes ago I was checked and I was 8 cm dilated. Missy checked me once she got to the room and not only was I at 10 cm but she could see Ava’s head! No wonder the pressure was so intense! She said that when my water broke so abruptly and so powerfully it basically shot Ava down into position and my vagina was a bit surprised by it. Nothing bad, just what happens when it goes fast apparently. Missy was casually sitting at my feet smiling and asked, “Do you feel like pushing?” I was still so dazed about the rush of it all that I said, “I guess so?!” She laughed and said, “Okay, lets push!” At 11:10 I gave my first small push. At first, Missy stayed casually sitting on the edge of the bed. The cart wasn’t out yet, pretty much nothing was prepared. I think we all thought we had some time. I gave my second push. Missy grabbed my hand and let me feel Ava’s head. I was in disbelief that she was already crowning. I asked if I could have a mirror so that I could see what was happening. While the nurses retrieved the mirror they also got the cart set up and put gloves on Luke. They set up the mirror and I stared in beautiful horror at what my body was capable of. I gave a huge third push and Missy, “Stop. Stop. Stop.” because all of a sudden Ava’s head and shoulders were out. Missy told Luke to go ahead and get Ava so he pulled her out and immediately put her on my chest. I remember when having Jameson that I repeatedly said,” Oh my God. Oh my God.” because of the overwhelming emotions of the moment. And while the emotions were just as incredible and strong this time around, I remember saying, “Oh my God.” because I was truly shocked at how fast it had happened. I only pushed for SIX MINUTES. While Missy and the nurses got to work checking everyone and everything Luke grabbed his phone to start filming our first moments with Ava. On the video you can hear me crying and saying, “Hi sweetheart, Happy Birthday!” You can hear Missy saying how beautiful she is and happily confirming that it’s all girl parts. You can also hear Missy asking, “Your heart just grows doesn’t it?” It does. It really does. I asked Luke to text my mom to tell her to hurry back. Ava cried and cried a strong but girly cry. She was perfectly pink and covered in vernix. I was still holding her on my chest when my mom got into the room. She was overjoyed. I held Ava for a few more minutes before I started trying to breastfeed. I was delighted that she perfectly took to the breast. During this time Missy stitched me up because I had a small tear again. After about 30 minutes of skin to skin the nurses took her to give her a sponge bath under the warming table. Luke was texting everyone to keep them in the loop but the only people at the hospital so far were our parents and big brother Jameson.
About a quarter after 12 they weighed her and measured her in all her beauty. 7 lbs 11oz and 19.5 inches of perfection.
We started letting people come in to see us. Mom left so that Bryan, Kathy and PapPap could come in to see her. That morning PapPap had a visit with his cardiologist and he took his time getting dressed because he knew there was a chance he’d be meeting Ava that day. Next my dad came. It’s all a happy blur but sometime once Bryan, Kathy and PapPap left, Jameson came in. He was excited to see us but confused about Ava. We tried to get him to touch her or hold her and he honestly couldn’t care less. [Note: this changed once we got home. His lack of interest changed to intense frustration which quickly changed to big love.]
It’s hard to find the right way to end “the birth story” because it’s not really over. I guess I should call it the hospital story. We still can’t believe we have a family of four. I can’t believe how blessed, how lucky, how fortunate I am to have had two healthy babies [I would be blessed, lucky and fortunate even if they weren’t healthy], two “easy” labors. I say “easy” because all labor is hard but I know that I’m on the easier side of things. The next few days at the hospital were beautiful. Neither of us had any problems and we happily and healthily left two days later to go home to our baby boy who was no longer the baby.
And of course here’s a beautiful video that Hubby made of the experience [nothing graphic don’t worry].
Thanks for reading!