Birth Story: Josephine

08/22/2016

On Tuesday July 12, I headed to my OB’s office for my 39 week check up. My body showed no signs of progress from the previous week; still just 1 cm dilated and 40% effaced. I was thankful for a healthy baby and me and everything going well. Jason was scheduled to go out of town for a few days, leaving Wednesday night. He wouldn’t be more than a few hours away so we figured it would be fine for him to go. After all, I was in labor for 24 hours with Isaiah.

After my appointment I went to my parents house for lunch and to meet back up with Ali and Zay since my mom had been babysitting during my appointment. My friend Lisa who visiting from California joined us for an early afternoon swim. While in the pool I noticed I was having quite a few contractions. I had been having contractions around every 20-30 minutes since the beginning of June so it wasn’t too alarming but they did seem more frequent. After the kids’ afternoon naps, my mom, Ali and I went to the hospital for a tour of the labor and delivery area. I had just been there a year before, of course, but my mom had not so I wanted her to see where to go when she would come with Ali and Zay to meet JoJo. My mom drove and I timed my contractions. They were hovering around 10 minutes apart. All throughout the hour-long tour I continued timing contractions. Afterward we met Jason, Zay and our friend Matt for dinner at Calypso as I continued recording my contractions. I thoroughly enjoyed my black bean nachos, aware that it might be my last meal for a while.

As soon as we got home I finished packing Ali and Zay’s overnight bags and then we put them to bed as usual, still not confident that the contractions wouldn’t slow down and taper off when I went to bed like they had many other days prior. I took a shower and then meandered around the house packing the last things in my hospital bag. I started using an app to time my contractions. I bounced around on my exercise ball, doing my PT exercises, while I looked through the beautiful new baby book that had arrived in the mail that day from my sister. At 11:00 I decided we better let my parents know that we’d be going to the hospital at some point that night. My dad came over and got comfortable on our couch for the night. We left for the hospital around midnight, shortly after my app said this:

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We arrived somewhere around 12:15 am and were back in triage around 1:00 am for me to be evaluated. I was 3 cm dilated at that point. I let the nurse know that I was planning on getting an epidural…soon. She left to call my doctor. Half an hour passed and my contractions were getting more intense. I needed to use the bathroom so Jason went out to the hall to find a nurse. My doctor had asked the nurse to check me again in an hour. For some reason she hadn’t come back to tell us that. When she checked me again at 2:00 am I was 4 cm. My contractions were getting painful. I was mentally prepared for an epidural and I was not enjoying the contractions at all. I focused on a cross on the wall above the doorway with a little metal Jesus with His arms raised up to Heaven, whispering for Jesus to help me and give me strength as I breathed through the contractions.

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By the time we got back to the labor and delivery room it was close to 3:00 am. Jason went to get the rest of our bags from the van while the nurse connected my IV and got some things set up. The anesthesia team came around 3:45 and by 4:00 I finally had some relief! I thoroughly enjoyed watching my contractions on the monitor without having the intense pain with each one. They were 1-2 minutes apart, compared to my labor with Isaiah where they were never less than 5 minutes apart. When the nurse checked me again at 4:45, I was 8 cm dilated. She left to call my doctor who was on call but still at home. Less than 10 minutes later I heard a “Pop! Pop!” over Josephine’s heart rate monitor and felt a warm gush of water. I paged the nurse to let her know my water had broken. She came back quickly and check me again. “You’re complete!” she said. Complete? What?! 10 cm already. I couldn’t believe how much faster it was going this time. And my doctor was still at home…

“Try not to push,” the nurse told me when I confirmed that I was feeling a lot of pressure. “Let me know if you feel even more pressure and feel like you need to push.” As the nurse rushed to get the delivery equipment set up I started wondering if Josephine was going to slide right out onto the hospital bed. It felt like her feet were pushing against my ribs as her head was getting ready to emerge. My doctor came rushing in at 5:30 am. As she was putting on her gloves she told me to scoot down to the end of the bed. I told her I wasn’t scooting until her hands were ready to catch the baby! After a couple of test pushes, with the first contraction and one push her head came out. A second push and she was out! Josephine came out crying. (Isaiah never cried when he was born but I cried as soon as I held him.) I laughed! I could not believe how quickly and easily labor had gone this time. The cord had been around her neck twice and the doctor needed to clamp it off and cut it in order to get her loose. Jason still had an opportunity to cut the cord as well. The nurse put Josephine right on my chest as she wiped her off. Immediately Jo was trying to nurse. She was so ready to come out and get this party started. I let the nurse take her aside for a few minutes to finish cleaning her up and get her height and weight while my doctor finished stitching me up.

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We ended up missing an entire night of sleep, just like with Isaiah’s birth, but thankfully the labor was so much faster. By late morning we were in our postpartum room ready to receive our first visitors: Grandma, Ali and Zay.

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Jason’s parents, Nana and Papa, came next

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My sister and her kids had planned a trip to visit during the week of my due date and ended up flying in from Philadelphia late the day Jo was born. It was so special to have her here! Aunt Jessica and cousin Iris came to visit on Thursday.

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Uncle Dan (Jason’s brother), Aunt Ginger and cousin Eliza came to visit too.

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We also had a handful of friends come by to meet her at the hospital. I love hospital visitors! Early Friday morning July 15 (on Josephine’s due date) we headed home.

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Birth Story: Isaiah Jason

05/18/2015

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

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