Here is the story...
I had not been feeling well all week and had felt especially sick the day before I went into labor. Aaron had the day off on the 9th, and so we went on our usual Friday lunch date to Sam's Club for pizza. We also went to get ice cream from Andy's. I didn't keep any of that down. This wasn't extremely out of the ordinary because I was sick off and on my whole pregnancy with "morning sickness" a.k.a. "all day all the time sickness." We went home, and I tried to rest before going to a photo shoot. Afterwards I came home and laid down again. Sometime that afternoon I lost my mucus plug. I was so excited that I called Aaron in right away and told him. He was super excited too. I should probably mention that I had a doctors appointment the day before, and I hadn't progressed even the slightest...no dilation, no effacement...nothing. I was feeling a little down about that because I was definitely ready to have this baby even though it was more than two weeks until my due date. My doctor had literally said that day "You could have this baby tomorrow, or your could have this baby four weeks from now!"
This picture is from the same week I delivered Blake.
Aaron and I just relaxed that afternoon and night. We didn't really do much except go to Wal-Mart. I didn't feel well enough to do much else. We went to bed fairly early. Around 2:45am I woke up, and I swear I thought I was going to the bathroom in bed except that it felt like it was flooding the whole bed. I jumped out of bed. Luckily I landed on a spare pillow that had fallen on the ground. I soaked the whole pillow almost right away. My water had broken! I was shocked. I woke Aaron up and told him what happened. I wasn't in any pain, my water was clear, and everything looked ok, so I told Aaron I was going to take a quick shower. He came into the bathroom with a set of extra sheets and asked if he should change the sheets just like any sweet husband would. I think he was still half asleep because I said "No Honey...we need to go to the hospital!" That woke him up a little more, and I think he realized what was happening. A lady in our birthing class had suggested that we cover our bed under the sheets with plastic so that if my water did break, we wouldn't ruin the bed. I was super grateful at that point that I had listened to that piece of advice! After my shower, Aaron gave me a quick blessing, we gathered the last few of our things, grabbed our hospital bags and the car seat, and we were off! I remember hugging Aaron at one point and saying "We are having a baby today!" I was completely calm the entire time. I really had no pain while we were at home except that my tummy felt really strange. I could totally tell that there wasn't any water inside. I could feel Blake more sharply, and I felt a little more delicate I guess you could say. I glanced in the mirror and my belly did look distorted. I didn't have the water in there to make it look all nice and round. I did have one contraction while I was at home.
Despite the fact that I had preregistered at the hospital, they were missing my insurance information somehow when we got to the hospital. As we were giving them the information at the ER entrance, I started to feel contractions. We finished registering pretty fast luckily, and they wheeled me upstairs in a wheelchair.
The first thing they did was check to make sure my water had broken which I remember thinking was so weird. I kept thinking... "Isn't it obvious?" They checked to see how far dilated I was, and surprisingly I was already at a 3. They asked if I had been feeling contractions the past couple of hours, and I said I hadn't felt a thing before my water broke. They said I obviously had been contracting because of how dilated I was, but it probably was during my sleep. I was starting to contract at this point, but nothing too serious. I was really excited and just taking it all in. Aaron and I were talking and joking around while they put my IV in and hooked me up to all the monitors. One thing I really liked is that they can watch your monitors from outside of the room, so once they did that Aaron and I were left alone. I don't remember how long it took, but within maybe 30-45 minutes of getting into my labor and delivery room...my contractions had become STRONG and almost two minutes apart. I was to the point where I couldn't talk, and I was shaking so hard. I was genuinely scared at first, and then I had no room for anything in my head except extreme concentration. Aaron kept asking me if I was ok and rubbing my back and stroking my hair. I couldn't really do anything except nod or shake my head. I was on my side hugging the rail of the bed because that was the only thing that felt bearable. I now understand why they always show women in labor breathing really heavy and quick... that's a natural reaction to dealing with that kind of pain. The nurse kept walking in and reminding me of how to breathe. Aaron helped me remember what we learned in our birthing class about breathing too, and that really did help me feel a little better. It distracted me anyways. Aaron was watching the contraction monitor, which was kind of cool because he could tell when they were happening. I did try to throw up a couple of times, but since it was in the middle of the night and my stomach was empty...that really didn't do anything for me. Aaron just kept brushing my hair out of the way and trying to comfort me, which was actually really calming and reassuring. I could get up and walk around, which I did a couple of times with Aaron's help. Mostly I just walked to the bathroom inside my room. I remember thinking a few times that I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through. Knowing what I know now and looking back, if I had not asked for an epidural later on, I probably would have had the baby within the hour or so. My contractions were less than two minutes apart when I finally got the epidural and they were such large contractions that I was barely conscious of what was going on. I don't regret getting an epidural though...not one bit, even if it did slow down my labor. I was totally aware and able to comprehend what was going on after I got my epidural (unlike before my epidural) which made the whole experience perfect for me.
A couple side notes- the L/D suites are really nice. My nurses during the night weren't the most cheerful. I'm sure they were tired and ready to go home. On the other hand, I LOVED the nurses I had during the day.
I finally asked for an epidural because I couldn't breathe in between contractions anymore. This had been the plan from the beginning, but maybe I shouldn't have waited so long. They told me that they had been in contact with my doctor since I had come in. He had approved the epidural, but the anesthesiologist was asleep at home. They had called her though and she just needed to jump in the shower and then she would be there. I'm going to be honest. I don't remember anything else until the anesthesiologist arrived. I just remember being in intense pain.
Once she arrived, she got to work. She did an incredible job, and she explained everything she was doing step by step. I was so scared that I was going to mess it up. You have to hold extremely still, and I was shaking so hard. I told her that I couldn't hold still unless it was in between contractions, so she waited until I told her I was ready. From what I've heard of what epidurals should or could feel like... this was perfect. The pain slowly went away, but I continued to feel everything for the rest of the labor and delivery. I could feel the pressure of each contraction coming and going, but they didn't pain me the way they had. After I had the epidural, I obviously couldn't get up and move around anymore so they hooked me up to a catheter. After feeling constant pressure on my bladder for 9 months, it was amazing not to feel that anymore. It was great. Aaron moved his chair over, so he could sit right next to me while I waited for the epidural to take effect. After that I actually fell asleep because I was exhausted, and we had been up all night. Aaron fell asleep too. My doctor came in sometime that morning to check on me. One of the things I loved about my doctor, and one of the reasons I chose him to deliver our baby was that he delivers all of his own babies unless there is some circumstance that prevents him from getting to the hospital. A lot of other doctors let the doctor on call at the hospital deliver the baby. I felt very relieved when I saw MY doctor that I had been seeing for the last 9 months come into my room. He had looked at all my progress and monitoring and told me that my contractions had been less than two minutes apart, but after they gave me the epidural my contractions had slowed down to 9 minutes apart. Short story... I wasn't going to have a baby any time soon if that kept up, so they were going to have to start me on Pitocin. Once they did that I felt the contractions really pick up. My doctor did tell me that everything else looked great though, and I was definitely going to have a baby soon!
We texted our parents somewhere in there... around 6 or 7am I think. We told them "We thought today would be a good day to have a baby." No one believed us until we called them and told them my water had broke, and we were at the hospital. I think they all were skeptical since it was still a couple weeks before my due date. My brother Sam won the award for best reaction. He said "Move over Obama! Today I'M Uncle Sam!"
I was so incredibly hungry, but since I was in active labor they wouldn't let me eat or drink... EXCEPT for ice chips or popsicles. I was thankful for that later. I wouldn't have been able to keep food down anyways. Ice chips did nothing for me. Popsicles, on the other hand, were my lifesaver. The nurses kept laughing because every time they came into the room I had another one in my hand. They had a little kitchen on the L/D floor where Aaron could get drinks, popsicles, snacks, etc. We both slept on and off for awhile. It really was uneventful, which I consider quite a blessing. Aaron turned on the Razorback game at some point. My doctor periodically would drop in to see how I was doing. Aaron was wearing a Razorback shirt, and my doctor was wearing a Texas shirt which was funny. They both jokingly disapproved of the other's shirts. While Aaron and I were awake, he would watch the monitor and ask me "Did you feel that one? How about that one? That was a big one!" At one point, I could tell I was having pretty massive contractions, which was confirmed by the nurse. She measured me, and I was dilated to a 6. I don't think it was even a half hour later that this next part happened...
Around 12pm I all of the sudden felt quite different and from our birthing class I guessed I was going through transition. I all of the sudden started to bleed quite a bit. I told Aaron to call the nurse, even though I felt like she had just been there to check me. She came in and checked me again and said I was dilated to a 9.5, and that she was going to go call the doctor. I had been in labor for approximately 8.5 hours at this point. One thing that I thought was funny was that at one point when the nurse was checking me she said, "Wow he has a lot of hair!" I said "WHAT?! You can see him?!" She said "Oh yeah... I can see his head right now!" That really made it feel like he was getting close! While we waited for the doctor, the nurse checked me again, and said we were going to do some practice pushes. We practiced for awhile, but suddenly the nurse said she was going to go get another nurse. She came back with another nurse, who apparently was much more experienced according to the first nurse.. The second nurse had me push and made a not-so-great-face. She said that I had an extra piece of skin way up on my cervix that was catching on the babies head, which was not letting him come down any further. They had me try to push while they tried to hold the skin back, but then the baby would slide back a ways and the skin would fall back into place. They decided to wait for the doctor to get there so they could show him before they had me push anymore. I was starting to get nervous at this point...I wasn't even worried about what was going to happen to me. I just didn't want my baby to be in any danger.
The doctor came in, checked me, and said "Are we ready to have a baby?" I laughed. The room started to dramatically change. People were coming in and out setting up equipment, turning on special lights. They removed the lower half of my bed... just all kinds of commotion. I was so excited, but feeling SO much pressure in my lower half. The doctor had me start pushing while he looked at this extra piece of skin. He tried several different maneuvers to help the baby. At this point... I was incredibly grateful that I couldn't feel the pain. He ended up trying a vacuum...still didn't work. Finally he decided to basically cut back the extra skin. Again...very grateful for the epidural. After he did that, I continued pushing. This time I could feel baby moving. Even though I couldn't feel pain, like I said before I could feel immense pressure. It took some extreme concentration and will power, but I continued pushing. Pushing, by the way, was incredibly hard. I did not expect it to be that hard. I was so nervous because I thought for sure I was going to have to have a C Section because of the extra skin. Plus, it felt like it was taking forever when in reality I only pushed for about a total of an hour.
I was the only person delivering right then on the L/D floor, so all the nurses and staff came into my room to cheer me on. Normally this probably would have freaked me out, but I seriously didn't care at this point. It was actually very motivating. Everyone was saying "We see him! Keep pushing! You're almost there!" I loved it as weird as that sounds. Aaron was right by my bed the whole time, and I think there were several moments where despite all the people in the room all I could hear was Aaron talking to me.
Finally the doctor said "One more push, and you are going to have a baby." I gave it everything I had, and all of the sudden my fan club started yelling "Open your eyes! Open your eyes!" I did, and there was Blake in the doctors arms. I started crying immediately.
Aaron and I had previously discussed if he was going to cut the babies umbilical cord or not. He had decided against it, which I was fine with. The doctor, on the other hand, didn't give him a choice! He handed the scissors to Aaron and said "Cut here! Right now!" He did, and then the doctor laid Blake right on top of my chest on a blanket. The nurses starting drying him off, and he started crying. I thought it was the best sound I had ever heard because I knew he was healthy and breathing. I remember hugging him over and over even though he was COVERED in all kinds of stuff that we won't go into detail about. After a minute or two, they took him away to clean him up and check his vitals. I realized then how covered I was in Blake's afterbirth mess. I said "Um... Can I get a towel?" I was watching Blake across the room because I wanted to make sure he was actually ok. All I heard was Blake apparently sprayed a huge arc of pee right onto the table, which was confirmed by the nurses laughing. Aaron managed to run over and snap a few pictures during all the commotion. Aaron handled everything like a pro. He was such a great support. I felt completely reassured because he was right there the whole time. I asked him later what he thought of the whole thing and the other thing he kept saying was "It was intense...just very intense."
I don't think I had ever seen a baby right after being born, so I didn't realized how disheveled they would look! But he HAD just been through a birth canal. The poor little guy had more of a physically traumatic experience than I had probably! Notice his little cone head? I also didn't realize babies heads were cone shaped when they came out. HAHA. Poor baby.
My attention was diverted back to the doctor who had turned his attention back to me. I told him that I felt so much relief from the pressure being gone. He said "Wait until you deliver the placenta. Everyone tells me that it feels even better!" He was kind of right... weirdly enough. After the placenta was delivered, they cleaned me all up. Just as fast as the room had transformed, it transformed back.
Blake's vitals were perfect. They cleaned him and bundled him all up and handed him to me. I just stared at him in amazement. I wanted to feed Blake right away because I knew it was good for bonding purposes. He wouldn't actually be hungry because up until twenty minutes ago, he had been hooked up to a constant feeding cord. All of the sudden I realized I had no idea how to breastfeed. Listen... you think it sounds easy until you are actually holding a baby in your arms! I asked the nurse "So uh...how do I do this?" She laughed and gave me the run down. They left the three of us alone for about two hours. It was the most perfect, peaceful, awe-inspiring two hours of my life. I did ask Aaron to go somewhere and find me the biggest Sprite possible and something to eat. He came back with Sonic hamburgers. What an amazing husband. I had been craving Sprite since I went into labor. I drank 42 oz in probably ten minutes. The pediatrician on call came in to check on us, too. He told us what to expect and what would be happening over the next 24 hours, asked if we wanted a circumcision, etc. I really liked the pediatrician. Later, we ended up using him as Blake's regular doctor. By the way, despite the fact that I take pictures as a hobby... I did a terrible job taking photos at the hospital. I think we were so in the moment enjoying everything that we didn't even stop to think about pictures even though I had an entire list planned out of all the pictures I was going to take.
Sometime that afternoon they came and took Blake away to do all of his newborn tests and everything. I was tired, but not exhausted like everyone said I would be. However, the epidural was definitely wearing off...quickly! A nurse helped me get up and walk and finished cleaning me up. Then they took us to my recovery room. We didn't get Blake back for a couple of hours. Aaron and I just relaxed and watched TV and talked. I also started some serious pain medication. Thank goodness. I may not have felt the pain while it was happening, but my body still went through labor for 10 hours and delivered a decent sized human child. Let me tell you... I was feeling it!
By this time we knew my parents were on their way from South Dakota. We had a couple visitors before my parents arrived bearing gifts of chocolate and more Sprite...heaven. Mostly we just cuddled our little guy. Grandma and Grandpa Whitlock finally arrived and were also in heaven cuddling their first little grandchild. After awhile Aaron wanted me to try and get some sleep, so he left to take my parents to our house and to get them all settled. He would come back to spend the night at the hospital with me afterwards. I was exhausted by then, plus I could hardly move from the pain, but I just cuddled my precious little baby while I waited for Aaron to get back.
Grandma and Grandpa Whitlock at the hospital.
I could hardly believe what had happened that day. I had dreamed what this would be like for 9 months, and he was finally here. Aaron came back after taking care of a few things at the house. One thing I will always remember is Aaron leaning over to kiss me and tell me how proud he was before I fell asleep.
That night was interesting. I awoke several times from the pain. I'm pretty sure I took the max dosage of pain medication the whole night through. We had asked the nurse to take Blake to the nursery for the night so that we could sleep. She brought him back every two hours to feed. Feeding Blake came incredibly natural. I never had an issue with it, and he latched on right away. Blake's first poop, which is a black tarry substance, was changed by...AARON! Because I couldn't get out of bed. He was officially the best dad ever from that moment on, which I knew he would be.
The next day I had my first stab of reality of being a mom when they took Blake away to do his circumcision. I DID NOT want my baby to be in pain. We knew it was the right thing for us though, and at least we didn't have to watch. We were released to go home around 2pm. My doctor said I could stay in the hospital another night if I wanted to, but everything looked good so I could go home if I wanted. I just remember thinking that I wanted my little family at home. I dressed Blake in his first little outfit, and Aaron buckled him into his car seat, and we were off to start our new adventure with our new little man.
After everything was all said and done, it really was such an amazing experience and just better than I could have imagined it would be. Everything went so smoothly, I had a healthy baby, and my little family was all together. It was perfect.
Stay tuned for the next post about Blake's first week!