Saturday April 25 was a restful family day. We had a big breakfast together, followed by a dance party in an attempt to shake the baby out. (Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” are our go-to dance songs.) Ali and I played together, had a picnic lunch outside and then went to the playground while Jason visited with a friend. Then we all went shopping and out for an afternoon treat at Chick Fil A. (Frozen lemonade and waffle fries with ranch for me—hello pregnancy craving!) When we got back home we visited with some neighbors for a little while.
That evening we went for a long walk in Shelby Park as we had done several times that week—the week of my due date. I was having some contractions while we walked but I wasn’t timing them because they often happen while I’m walking. When we got in the car I had a pretty long one and we decided we should start making a note of the time and intervals. It was 8:05 pm. We went to pick up a pizza and came home to eat it, all the while timing contractions that were coming predictably and getting closer together. We put Ali to bed but then decided we should have Jason’s parents come get her. They arrived around 10 or 10:30 pm. We finished packing up our things for the hospital and I took a shower and did my make-up.
We left for the hospital around 1:00 am but when the nurse checked me I was still just 1 cm dilated. She gave us the option to get admitted, wait/walk until I was 3 cm or go back home to rest and come back when the contractions got more intense. We went back home to try to sleep since it was getting so late. We got home at 2:30 am. Jason was able to sleep a little bit (maybe 45 min?) before I woke him up and said it was time to go back. We got back around 4:00 am and I was not quite 2 cm. They don’t like to admit before 3 cm generally. So we walked laps around the hall for about an hour, stopping every 5 min or so to get through a contraction. We were admitted around 5:00 am. I got settled into my labor and delivery room and the first thing I did was get in the gigantic tub for a hot bath and put on some relaxing music from my iPod. The water helped so much! Jason brought in the rest of our things from the van and rested on the sofa bed.
The on-call doctor arrived around 9:00 am and offered to break my water to get things going faster, and we agreed. We had one scary moment about an hour later when Isaiah’s heart rate dropped and the nurses came rushing in as the alarm on the monitor went off. In a matter of seconds, they rolled me onto my side, plugged in my IV and strapped an oxygen mask on my face. It’s amazing how much more a contraction hurt when I was scared! Thankfully, it was no big deal—just by changing my position his heart rate returned to normal. They said the umbilical cord sometimes gets pinched by his/my position and just moving is enough to fix it. By noon I was 6 cm dilated. (10 cm is the goal – that’s when you can push.) But I got stuck at 6 cm. The contractions were getting so intense and painful that I was having trouble not pushing, which is not helpful because it made my cervix swell at the top instead of dilate. Even with the help of nitrous oxide to relax and Jason’s coaching to breathe and relax through the contractions, I was in a lot of pain and getting exhausted. After being stuck at 6 cm for 4 hours I asked for an epidural.
I like to say I did 2/3 natural childbirth and 1/3 with an epidural. The epidural was amazing! Instant relief and ability to rest. My sister is an OB/gyn and my brother is an anesthesiologist so I asked Jason to send them the above picture. It was wonderful to go back to looking forward to seeing and holding our son, rather than just thinking about making it through the next contraction. I could watch the contractions on the monitor but I didn’t have any pain. I went from 6 cm to 10 cm and ready to push in 2 hours. Then, I ended up pushing for another 2 hours. It’s an interesting thing to push when you can’t feel your whole bottom half. At right about the 2 hour mark, which the doctor warned was about the max he would let me push without looking into other intervention (like foreceps or suction), I used every last bit of strength in my body and pushed that boy out. Jason was instantly in tears, just totally in awe with our son, with what I was capable of doing, with the whole process of childbirth. (It looks like he’s crying in the picture below but he never actually cried the whole time we were at the hospital, just little squeaks when he was upset.)
The nurses took Isaiah to the corner to check him out. Typically they hand the baby straight to the mother to do immediate skin-to-skin but he had passed a little meconium during pushing and they just wanted to make sure he hadn’t ingested any. Jason watched as they checked him out, weighed him, cleaned him off and wrapped him up. Meanwhile I got stitched up. (I had a little tearing and an episiotomy.)
When they put him against my chest a couple minutes later, I was overcome with tears of joy, finally getting to see his precious face and hold him in my arms. I cry every time I look at this photo. It was such a sacred moment. Isaiah was born almost exactly 24 hours after my contractions started. We missed an entire night of sleep so we were exhausted and starving. As soon as things were stable Jason ran out to get some carry out dinner from Five Guys because they were minutes from closing and the hospital cafeteria was already closed. The sweet server saw his hospital band and gave him one meal free. He was back before it was time to move up to our postpartum room.
We got settled up in our postpartum recovery room around 1:00 am. I can’t remember all the details of the first night since I was so tired but I know we did get several good chunks of sleep that first night. At one point I think I had asked the nurse a breastfeeding question (we were having a hard time getting him to go to sleep) and she offered to take him to the nursery for a little bit so we could rest. She said he fell right to sleep once he got down there. She brought him back as soon as he woke up. The nurses at St. Thomas Midtown were absolutely amazing! So kind and helpful, with humble, servant hearts. They took really good care of the three of us. I am so glad we decided to deliver there and would definitely recommend it.