Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s called a birth story, and you know what they say about child birth.
It was the morning after we had gone to the Thanksgiving Eve service, and had a bunch of crazy things to eat…kambucha, taco bell, chocolate covered honeycombs, etc., all after a full meal. That morning I woke up at 3am with my usual Braxton hicks contractions I had been having for a week, but this time I had pain as well, which I thought was an upset stomach from my nice selection of food the night before. I tossed and turned for 2 hours, at which point I considered whether or not these were actual labor contractions. I woke Andrew up around 5am and told him that I still wanted him to run in the Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot. He immediately became more alert and said, “Are we going to meet our little boy today?” “No, no,” I assured him, but really I just didn’t know and didn’t want to sound a false alarm or needlessly get our hopes up. The alarm went off at 7, and we pulled ourselves out of bed. I was so tired from not sleeping and I wished I would have slept in, knowing what the day would hold, but at the same time, the Turkey Trot is now a special memory for us. Our friend, Joe, and Andrew started running the trot, and once I was alone, I was pretty sure I was in labor. I felt a little bad knowing it was Thanksgiving Day and that I would be calling my doula Jenna and doctor in on this holiday.
When we got home, we started timing the contractions with bated breath. Could this really be it? Is this the day we had been waiting for? My contractions began at 5 minutes apart for about an hour and then became more sporadic. While in the bathtub around 11am, I was still timing my contractions on my iPhone reading from a Google search that “false labor” was contractions at random intervals. BUMMER! I thought. Here I was thinking I was getting through the first hours of contractions and it could just be false labor! Around 1pm with the contractions still coming, we called our doula, Jenna, and Andrew explained to her what I was experiencing. “Are her contractions getting more intense?” she asked. “Um, actually, yes they are,” he responded as I nodded to him. “Congratulations! You guys are in labor!” Wow! Such a joyful and crazy adrenaline surge came over us as we looked at each other with huge smiles! We flew into action! Andrew began cleaning the whole house with the biggest smile on his face, I put on my birthing outfit I had picked out, started making coconut muffins, and zipped up my overnight bag that I had been adding to for a month and a half. At that moment we noticed what a beautiful and sunny day it was and we felt so blessed and happy. We went about our day, and when I would have a contraction, I would sit on my birthing ball and breathe slowly like I learned in my class, it was a breeze. We told Jenna to spend as much time with her family as she could since it was Thanksgiving, but after a few hours we called her and told her we needed her, as my contractions kept getting stronger.
Around 4pm Jenna came over with two big bags and started setting up all sorts of things after excited hugs. I was feeling excited and social for the first hour she was there. She talked with us, encouraged me to keep changing positions, heated up a hot water bottle for my back, and kept Andrew and I relaxed. It came to the point where I couldn’t talk through my contractions and I would sit on my ball, and Andrew would stand in front of me for me to lean on as he rubbed my back. What a great team!
Soon, my body began to shake and my teeth began to chatter, even though I wasn’t feeling cold. Andrew was instantly worried, but Jenna reassured us that it was perfectly normal, that it was just the hormones. I also told her that I felt that I needed to go to the bathroom, to which she said, “Great! That means it is time to go to the hospital. I’ll call the doctor right now and tell him we’ll be on the way.” Andrew and I were both excited at the prospect of going to the hospital, because that’s where we’d meet our baby! Andrew began getting our stuff together, while Jenna made three of the quickest trips to our car as humanly possible with all of our bags, birthing ball, blankets and pillows to make me a nest in the front seat for me to sit in. Andrew and I were slowly walking to the car. “How do people do this without a doula!?” I asked her as we were walking out.
While at home, I was on a roll with my contractions, but on the ride to the hospital, sitting for that long, I started to lose my roll. Sitting in a seated position for that long made the contractions seem more intense and I was eager to get to the hospital where I could get my birthing ball out. I started to be in so much pain, Andrew sped up 90mph to quickly get us to the hospital. Luckily it was Thanksgiving night so there was no traffic at all.
When we pulled up, I quickly got on my ball on the sidewalk and Jenna went to go park our car. When we got in, we had some difficultly checking in. Once we were finally in triage, I was hooked up to monitors, which I made clear I did not want. My OB was not able to be there and I had a doctor who was on call. I met this doctor, who quickly had me in tears. When he left the room, the poor nurse looked at my tear streaked face and told me in a hushed voice, “Don’t worry, it will be ok, that’s just how he is” while watching the sheet of a door nervously. Andrew tried to comfort me but I loudly exclaimed, “Your breath stinks! Get some gum, now! I am going to be sick!” (Just know, I would never say such rude things while not in labor.) “Um…Ok, do you want me to go right now and get gum?” he asked. “NO! You have to stay here with me, my contractions are getting very hard and I need you here!” I grabbed his cell phone and clumsily typed in, “Get gum. Minty,” and sent it to Jenna. Jenna was on her way up to join us and somehow tracked down gum. Andrew went to go meet her and she had been given a whole pack from somebody much to my and Andrew’s relief!
I was then taken upstairs to the labor and delivery room where my labor became extremely more intense and I started to feel more out of body while Andrew and Jenna flew into action. I fought with the nurses to not get an IV put in, but they persisted. The first nurse blew my vein, which made me fight harder with the next nurse not to get one, but alas, it was a losing battle. As they put an IV in my arm, Andrew and Jenna were putting on music, getting ice and water ready, setting up my flameless candles, a million other things, while I complained like a teenager to the nurses about my IV.
Well, this is about the time I decided that I wasn’t 100% certain that I wanted a natural childbirth and maybe not even a baby at this point. This is also the time that my mind decided to go elsewhere leaving my mouth to say all sorts of off the wall, crazy types of things, while going through these majorly strong contractions.
Each time I saw my nurse, I would say, “Ok! Great, can you go get me the epidural now? Or what about a C-section?” Then, when a contraction would come on, I would yell, “Oh NO! No No No No!” But then I remembered that my birthing coach said to yell, “YES!” So I tried it and I think that it helped. While I can’t remember each and every off the wall thing I said, I do remember saying when I got a big time contraction, “I want my MOM! But— you had better not bring her in here, got it? I just want to say it!” Andrew and Jenna said they got a laugh out of these crazy things.
“Oh man, I seriously can’t do it, I really don’t think I can! I am so sorry!” I said. “But you ARE doing it, and you’re doing great! You’re doing amazing!” Jenna would say. Then my contraction would be over and I felt like I could do it. That is, until I felt the next one coming on. In between contractions, worship music that we had picked out would come on and Andrew remembers he and I singing praise to God together, especially to the song, Hosanna.
During transition, I shot up from my birthing ball and announced that I was going to be sick! I went to the bathroom and threw up in the sink with Jenna holding my hair and Andrew supporting me from behind. I didn’t even say thank you, but instead saw a shower out of the corner of my eye and walked right in while pawing the water handle to turn it on. “Amy’s in the shower,” Andrew said, a little anxious seeing as I was fully clothed in a lovely hospital gown. “That’s fine, she can be in it, I’ll get her birthing ball and you can hold the shower head on her back or wherever she needs,” responded Jenna calmly. When she got back, they helped me get out of my soaking wet gown and helped me get on the birthing ball, while I loudly demanded the water be positioned “On my back! No on my stomach, no my BACK!”
I was entering the lovely transition stage and with each contraction, I felt panicked by the onset of pain. At this point Jenna was stern with me and told me, “Breathe—You need to breathe,” which was exactly what I needed to do. I just needed someone to tell me, otherwise I could feel myself getting whiney and hopeless. Andrew and Jenna were amazing— they were rocks who took all of my outbursts and crazy demands in stride. The shower was a great distraction for a while, until I suddenly felt huge pressure and squatted down, pushing. “I’m pushing!” I yelled. “No, don’t start pushing! You’re body’s not ready yet!” said my nurse. “WHAT!?” I said back, feeling almost annoyed. “I’m not trying to push, this is just what my body is doing!” I sassed back. I pushed my way out of the shower and up on the bed, asking to be checked, knowing my body was ready to push out this baby. The nurses started moving about more quickly and when I was checked, I was indeed at 10 centimeters! So people started hopping into action while they paged the doctor. I was laying on my back, for the first time all during my labor, and my sweet husband leaned over me to encourage me, but I clumsily grabbed his visitors tag. “What’s THIS!?” I asked as I ripped it off. I crumpled it up and threw it with all my might at the ceiling. I liked it. “PAPER!! I need more paper!” I yelled and a nurse quickly brought more paper. I crumpled up one piece and tossed it, but it wasn’t to my liking, so I stopped. (What? Who am I? Paper snob?)
My doctor came in and I was in full swing of pushing. Pushing was hard but I also kind of enjoyed it, especially compared to the transition contractions. There was more time in between contractions and since I was pushing during my contractions, it kind of kept my mind from the pain. I also felt like I was actually accomplishing something by being able to push, plus the added benefit that knowing that the end was in sight! But it was also hard work, and I had some pain in my back, which I kept asking Andrew to push on. Andrew and Jenna were awesome. They kept a cold cloth on my forehead, water through a straw in my mouth, and chapstick on my lips before I even fully formed the sentence that I needed these things. The whole time, Andrew was comforting and encouraging me while holding my hand. “WHAT IS THIS HORRIBLE SONG!?” I yelled out. “I’m already changing it,” Jenna said, and in fact was already at our iHome, changing the song. She read my mind!
While pushing, all the lights were dimmed, so it felt like we were in a dark room, with one spotlight on me. Like I said, I preferred pushing to the contractions. My doctor arrived, but his bedside manner was still lacking. He was short and demanding and used to doing things his own way, which sometimes frustrated me, but mostly I didn’t even care. While pushing, I suddenly heard a cacophony of voices from many different nurses asking me to do many different things at the same time. I could barely focus on a darn thing, until I heard Jenna’s voice say, “Ok guys, Amy is just going to be taking directions from her own nurse, Erin, so we are just going to let Erin direct her from now.” Just hearing those words was a huge relief because it showed me that it was ok to be feeling overwhelmed at that point.
With every push my body exerted, it was met by a “Wow! Amy! Great job! You’re really doing it, you’re son is almost here! You’re doing great!” which is music to your ears while pushing since you don’t really know what the heck is happening while you do. In between contractions, I did a “breathing the baby down” technique that I learned from my Hypnobirthing book and I think it helped. “Amy, we can see your baby’s head! There it is!” said some nurses. I instantly became more alert, opened my eyes and said, “GOOD! Grab him, get him out!” “Um, no, you need to keep pushing him out,” they said. “Here is a mirror, look at your baby’s head!” I craned my neck up expecting to see this miraculous appearance of a head, only to see a tiny speck of matted, curly hair, or so it seemed, which was nowhere NEAR coming out. “What?” I said, “That’s freaky.” So, they took the mirror away.
In between contractions, I would go into a deep rest, almost like a coma. I heard someone say, “Amy, Jessica is here.” Jessica is my best friend and during transition, I asked for her to be there. But when she came in, I was in my “in between contraction deep coma state,” where I could barely open my eyes, let alone greet my friend. “Amy, Jessica is here,” someone said. One more time, “Amy, Jessica is here.” So, at this point, the only reason, that I yelled out, “I DON’T CARE!” while throwing my forehead washcloth at Jessica was because in my mind, I had heard them the first time but couldn’t respond. Oh yeah, and I was in labor, so I wasn’t my most friendliest. Sorry Jessica.
Fast forward to the moment when the baby’s head was crowning. Just when the little head was about to come out, my current contraction ended—meaning I couldn’t push any more. The doctor said I needed to push right away and get the baby out because the heart rate was dropping. “I CAN’T!” I yelled. “My contraction is over!” The doctor who was amazing with his words, (not) said, “I am going to have to cut you.” “NO! PLEASE DON’T CUT ME!” I yelled. “Amy push, please, you have to push right now!” I heard Andrew’s anxious voice. He heard the heart rate monitor and it was dropping. “It’s ok Amy, it’s going to be super quick, they just need to get the baby out,” I heard Jenna encourage. Jenna knew I didn’t want an episiotomy and I knew she would fight for me not to have one under any other circumstance, so when I heard her telling me it was ok, I relaxed and the cut felt like nothing. Just then, Finely was born. The doctor pulled him out half way and faced his crying little face to mine. I couldn’t believe how big he was and that this squirmy, slippery baby was the lump I had felt in my stomach the whole time. He was actually here. My labor was actually over. I was actually a mom and my little boy actually had a lot of hair!
They placed his slippery little body into my arms and he immediately calmed down and began sucking on his long fingers while looking up at me, as I softly hummed a little tune. At this point I could barely get my mind around what was happening. The doctor asked for the baby to be taken so he could finish his work and Andrew held him. He took off his shirt so that Finley could get the skin-to-skin warmth he needed. He was born at 12:45am, weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 21 inches long.
Afterwards, Jenna helped us take pictures with our nurses and with Joe and Jessica, and we tried to remember these first moments with our son. We were taken up to our room and Finely was washed and wrapped up. We fell asleep around 4am. I guess we were pretty tired. At 7am, Andrew’s built in phone alarm went off, which did not wake him in the least, but I woke up and thought, “Whoa! Where am I?” Then, I heard a faint little coo, looked down, and there was a baby on my chest! I was shocked! (I suppose those 3 hours of sleep were much deeper than I had ever gotten before.) Then, I realized it was MY baby! Whoa! I took this time to really examine him. He sure was cute, and peaceful, just laying on my stomach, looking at me while his papa snoozed next to us on his uncomfortable chair as the early morning light streamed into our high rise, 5th story window, a glisten of the ocean far in the distance.
I took a few pictures and sent them to the Brockhaus family, who were in the car on their way over from Arizona. My family came about an hour later, cramming into our tiny hospital room, ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over little Finn man. He was perfectly sweet and peaceful the whole time, with his awesomely styled hair-do! The next day and a half was a time of awesome friends coming to visit and share our joy of our sweet little treasure. Thank you God for creating this little miracle and for entrusting him to us. May we be parents who turn to God daily for our own guidance as we raise our little guy to know and love Jesus.