As many of you already know, Joel tried to bust out early at 34 weeks! Of course we went to the hospital to have the preterm labor stopped and were successful in delaying birth until 39 weeks 4 days! Little did we know he most likely already weighed full term at 34 weeks because he was a whopping 9lbs 6.6oz and 21.5 inches long when he was born on June 29, 2016 at 10:13pm!
I kept joking with everyone that I was carrying a 10 pounder because I was so miserable! I couldn't eat normal size meals, couldn't breathe and I swear my belly must have weighed 30 lbs or close to it because I lost 26 pounds as soon as he was born!!!
When we went in for our 39 week check up, the doctor measured my belly as usual, looking for the 1 cm of growth but she found I had grown 6 cm in one week!!! So of course I finally had to ask, just how big is this baby!? She tried to estimate by feeling my belly but said she couldn't feel the baby whatsoever because on top of the big baby I had a ton of extra fluid! She sent us to have an ultrasound really quickly to check fluid levels and sure enough there was way too much fluid! She wanted to send us over to the hospital to be induced right away but I was not wanting any part of that since we had an all-natural water birth planned and no medications can be used! Let me be clear, I am not against pain medication but in order to have a water birth, an epidural and/or narcotic pain medications are not allowed for obvious reasons! Plus, with a spine surgery I had as a teen, the epidural most likely would not have worked. I had heard the warm water used in a water birth was great for relieving pain naturally!
So we made a compromise with the doctor! If I had not gone into labor by the next morning (she had just preformed a membrane sweep so we were hopeful labor was near) we were to call her and she was going to induce us the next morning. Even then, I wasn't going to allow pitocin because we still wanted that water birth!
We left the doctor's office and started to prepare for labor because I knew it was happening that night! First, I needed food! I wanted a good meal beforehand so I had my mom bring me Chick Fil A of course! I was having mild contractions so we decided to help them along by walking the neighborhood a few times! I hadn't slept well basically my whole pregnancy so I also decided a nap was in order around 8:30pm and when we woke up at 10pm I was getting nervous that labor wasn't moving along quickly enough....so we take another brisk walk at 10:30pm. At this point I'm still having what I would consider mild contractions. I didn't want to head to the hospital just to be sent home but I really wanted to have a baby before my doctor induced me!
So...we decided to head to the hospital!...But wait!...pull over at McDonalds and get me a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit! I had heard that they don't let you eat once you're admitted and that just wasn't going to work for me, sorry!
We arrive at the hospital at 11:45pm...I appear to be fine and not in labor but I knew I was at least 4.5cm dilated already, otherwise I don't think we would have headed in with these mild contractions. They check me and at this point I'm 5cm. They talked about sending me home but I told them that my doctor was just going to induce me tomorrow morning anyway so I asked them to please give us a chance to do this without induction!
At 1am they sent us walking around the hospital for an hour! We returned to triage at 2am and measured 6cm and they finally agreed to admit us! I was still feeling great and not really hurting at all! We got a birthing suite around 3am and the water birth tub we had reserved with the Labor Ladies of Greensboro arrived shortly after! Liz set up the tub and showed my husband how to fill it and maintain the water temperature of 98-101. Like I mentioned before, I was only having mild pain at this point. They ask you to rate it on a scale of 1-10 and I think I was rating it at a 4 at this time but once I got into the water it was a 0. I couldn't believe how much the water did for the pain!
So from 3am to around mid afternoon I just relaxed in the pool and hung out with my husband and birth photographer, Julie Uhl of Julie Uhl Photography. Julie is amazing by the way! Not only is she an awesome photographer and person in general...she's also a nurse so I felt very comfortable with her throughout the entire process! She also made sure to check in on me periodically from 34 weeks, when we had preterm labor, until Joel finally arrived at 39 weeks 4 days.
In fact, I was a little too comfortable that around 4pm (I'm not sure of exact time!) they decided maybe it was time to break my water to get things moving along a little quicker...to which I eagerly agreed! I was ready to meet Joel! Soon after they broke my water, the real contractions kicked in! The water helped a ton but when they say the contractions take all of your concentration, they are not joking! But when I finally got a break in between contractions, I felt fine just very sleepy.
Even though I wasn't on any pain medication throughout the entire process, this part of labor (transition) is kinda blurry for me. Contractions were one after another, right on top of each other and they were literally wearing me out! I do remember asking them how I would know it was time to push and they said oh you'll know!
They were right! I definitely knew it was time! We started pushing in the water around 7pm but I just didn't feel like anything was happening, we weren't getting anywhere...maybe it was the buoyancy that had helped ease my pain earlier was actually working against me now! I needed gravity so I decided to get out of the water despite the pain and push in the bed.
I remember pushing for a long, long time and feeling like I was getting nowhere! I started to, again, question just how big this baby was! I asked the doctor and she told me "Oh, no larger than 8lbs!" I think she knew, I think they all knew the truth but they didn't want to scare me or discourage me! However after almost 3.5 hours of pushing my doctor suggested we try to the vacuum. I was all for it! She told me I would still be doing 90% of the work and the vacuum would do 10%. They told me 2 more contractions and he would most likely be here. I pushed once and they said good job! I pushed again and they were pushing him up on my chest! I remember pulling him up closer to me and thinking "omg he's so heavy!"
I held him for a minute or two when I started feeling faint and I told them I thought I was going to pass out! Next thing I know I'm waking up and they told me I had passed out but I actually just felt like I had had a really good nap! Turns out I had hemorrhaged shortly after delivering and lost about 1000cc of blood. I woke up to 20 people in my room poking and trying to get needles in my arm to replenish the blood I had lost. The nurses and doctors acted very quickly and got me feeling better in no time! Meanwhile my husband and son got some early bonding time they wouldn't have otherwise had!
Instead of narrating these pictures further, I'm just going to display them below with very few comments because I think they speak for themselves!
Keeping the water between 98-101 degrees really helped decrease the pain substantially...but it was a full time job!
I'm usually a very independent person but I don't think anyone could give birth by themselves! I relied heavily on his support especially during the transition phase!
At times transition felt so overwhelming, I just asked him to pray for me...for a small break! I remember I kept saying I just need a break before I can go any further!
I'm pretty sure I fell asleep during most of my "breaks"!
I finally decided to get out of the water to push because like I mentioned earlier, I think the buoyancy that helped eased the pain earlier in labor, was actually working against me pushing effectively.
The pain was definitely elevated out of the water!
Baby Joel made for work for almost 4 long hours before we got to meet him!!!
But omg look at him! I remember when they handed him to me, first thing I thought was "Whoa, he is SO heavy!"
Look at that HUGE baby!
I cannot stress enough how much you will want to look back over these moments again and again! If you're expecting, please contact my friend at Julie Uhl Photography to document your birth!!!