Happy 3 months to this guy, Charles Ezekiel! 3 months is really about what it takes to come up for air from what is most certainly the beginning of a life changing experience. The first month, you are so sleep deprived that you don’t really know what’s going on. The second month, you realize that this is your life now, for better or for worse, so you’d better get used to it. And by the 3rd month, you’ve developed some routines and at least for me, the adoration for this little person who looks just like my husband grows immensely and I’m excited for him to wake up each morning and give me that big smile and know that I’m his favorite person in the world right now. Not forever, but at least for now. I’m ok with taking pride in that for this very short and temporary stage of his life.
So how did Zeke get here? Z’s due date was on January 4th, and until a few days before, I had zero signs of labor, not even Braxton-Hicks contractions. We selfishly wanted him to come over Christmas break & before New Year’s, both because life slows down around the holidays and it would be easy for Greg to miss work and enjoy it and for insurance deductible and tax purposes, that would have been nice! But not at the expense of potentially a completely different labor and delivery experience. On the 3rd, I had 10 hours of contractions every 2-4 minutes, so I went in to the hospital to be examined. 80% effaced and 0% dilated. No one told me they should be strong contractions, just that they should be close together and consistent. I got sent home, disappointed and grieving and also feeling like I had wasted everyone’s time. No other signs of labor for another week and there was a scheduled date for testing and possible induction since I was at 41 weeks and 42 is the end of the line. 41 weeks, day 1 came and went. I even went to a Traffick Free Praxis Month event that I figured I would not be able to go to.
3:15am on January 12th, as I was about to get out of bed to use the restroom like I usually did around that time since pregnancy started, I felt a gush and I slinked off the bed just as my water broke. Well, I guess it’s go-time, no doubt about it! My parents were already at our place waiting with us and I woke up Greg with the good news. Thankfully we had already done the “get everything together and get to the hospital” trial run, so we weren’t as anxious to forget anything. Since my water leaked every time I moved, and I had some concern for cord prolapse as that can happen when your water breaks, I stayed in the shower on my hands and knees until Greg was packed and ready and I called the hospital during that time. My contractions hadn’t started at this point, so my midwife said they may have to induce me with pitocin. I was sad to hear that because I wanted a natural childbirth experience, but I understood with the chance of infection increasing the longer we waited to deliver. But by the time we got to the hospital, the contractions started and my midwife didn’t see a need to induce and would just let it run its course. Oddly enough, the midwife who examined me 9 days prior in triage, was the same one who would deliver me.
There are 9 midwives at Swedish Covenant, so I was surprised and excited since I enjoyed Libby’s upbeat personality. Libby asked one of the nurses before coming in if I was mad that she had sent me home. Of course not! Why would I want to hang out at the hospital with no baby coming? At least this time I skipped triage and went right to my labor & delivery room! Soon after getting to my room, an announcement came over the PA, “The coffee is ready in the break room.” We all cheered!
I knew going in that I would have to have an IV because I was Group B Strep Positive (bacteria that everyone has in their gut at one point or another, but if there is enough of it, it can give the baby an infection when passing through the birth canal) and needed antibiotics administered every 4 hours. Not a huge deal, I would get unhooked after each round to labor freely as I needed to. Unfortunately, it became a huge deal. The antibiotics burned going in and hurt more than my contractions at that point, so they had to slow it down. It took 2 hours for the antibiotics to go in the first round. And then they made me incredibly nauseous. I was so glad when that first round was over so I could focus on laboring and moving around, going for walks, etc. And then I kept throwing up. For the next 12 hours. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water or tea. It was really starting to wear on me. My midwife said it was rare to have nausea from IV antibiotics and that she hadn’t seen this before. I’ve heard the, “this is rare, I’ve never seen this before,” thing a lot in my life. I’m just that lucky. Having contractions is one thing, having contractions and throwing up before, during or after them is quite another. It was hard to get out of bed at all. I took a shower to maybe get some relief and it seemed to help. I broke down and cried in the bathroom after that and asked Greg to pray for me, I was just having a hard time. I was so hungry and so tired and so nauseous all at the same time while the contractions kept coming. Then a doctor walked in, looked at me mid-contraction and introduced herself. She said, “are you ready to go home now?” What?! “Why?” I whimpered. I was doing so well and progressing I thought, I didn’t want to be sent home again! Then the doctor realized she was in the wrong room and apologized profusely. Sigh of relief.
At about 3:15pm, my midwife checked my cervix and I was 90% effaced and 4 cm dilated. After 12 hours of this, that was IT?! I was this empty shell of a person from all the vomiting. It was becoming routine to ask someone to hand me the bucket in the middle or end of a contraction. They said I handled it like a champ, though. So after that check, I was seriously considering throwing in the towel on this whole natural thing because of the throwing up. I couldn’t handle exhaustion from that and labor at the same time. I looked at Greg with desparation and asked him what he thought because, after all, he is the head of our household and this was his experience too and he knew what I really wanted. Our code word for drugs was “Santa’s got a brand new bag.” I was ready to say it. He said, “4 is a heck of a lot closer to 10 than it is to 0.” I didn’t see it. The diagram on the wall that showed the size of each centimeter circle, it was not my friend right now. All I could think was that 4 rounds closer down to 0 than up to 10. But he & my mom asked if there was perhaps some sugar water and anti-nausea meds through the IV they could give me to help with relief of the symptoms. There was, yay!
The first anti-nausea meds didn’t work. The second, Zofran, was amazing! FINALLY! The nausea subsided from the antibiotics. I still threw up on occasion from an intense contraction here and there, but not to the degree it was before. Now that I could labor without any distraction, I could even sleep! I slept on and off for about an hour. My contractions had let up and slowed down to every 5 minutes so I could rest. That was such a relief and a huge blessing to have that time. Greg even got to nap while my mom and Ashley (my doula) helped with massage, water and bucket-holding support. When I woke up from resting, I knew I could do it. That sugar water saved me! I had some energy again! I was ready to move around and get going. I thought I would bounce on the birthing ball a bit, but as soon as I sat on it, I jumped back up. Zeke was sitting SO low that it was incredibly uncomfortable. Even standing was so much pressure that it was hard to walk. I was back in bed and continued to labor on my right side where it was comfortable for me. Libby checked me again and at 5pm, I was 5 cm. By 5:30 I was at 8cm and I wanted to push, but she told me to wait a little bit longer if I could.
A little after 6pm I was at 10cm and ready to push. I had an army of people surrounding me and encouraging me, holding my legs, reminding me to breathe and make noise in low tones instead of high squeaky ones because they were more productive. Visualizing waves washing over me was not at all helpful for me because I could not get out of reality. I wish the waves worked! Massage oils and diffusing lavender were great and we had the lights turned down low and had battery candles around the room for a calming ambiance to go along with our Josh Garrels Pandora station. At one point, Libby told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head and I kept saying “My baby…my baby…my baby,” after I felt that full head of hair. Some other chants included, “Ohhhhh boy, ohhhhhh boy,” and felt that “Ring of Fire,” I had read about. I was in transition for about 20 minutes with 2-3 pushes and he was here! Greg caught him and everyone cried! Everyone but me. Even the baby cried & screamed non-stop! I wish I could cry like I always do when I watch movies and documentaries where babies are born, but I was too happy (and tired)! They put him immediately on my chest and I couldn’t believe how big he was. I was under the impression from some previous midwife appointments that he would be more my size (at 7 lbs.) than Greg’s size (at 8 lbs. 12 oz. at 3 weeks early). Zeke weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz. just like his daddy (but 8 days late)! He was bright red and received an Apgar score of 9 (no one scores a 10). We held him for about an hour and nursed within the first 20 minutes before they weighed and measured him.
Great memories for me were how great my support team was. Seriously, who you have in that room with you will make all the difference. I was so happy and honored to have my husband, my good friend Ashley to serve as my doula with having 2 girls & a variety of labor & delivery experiences, and both of my parents present. It was really special having my mom & dad there because my mom was never able to have vaginal and natural births the way she wanted to, she had to have 3 c-sections. I was so thankful to be able to labor and deliver without pain medication. Zeke was so alert from the first moment he arrived and I was happy to avoid the risk of complications, because if they were to happen to anyone, they would happen to me. It was amazing to experience the miracle of birth as God intended it and that I had studied both Scripture and pregnancy books on the subject. [Read Part 1 & Part 2 of my previous blog posts on this based on my research, its pretty interesting]
And nursing has been really special and continues to be. I’ll write more on what I’ve learned later. But I would have to say that breastfeeding was harder (at least for me) than labor and delivery. Perhaps because it lasts a lot longer than 15 hours. 6 weeks of breastfeeding bootcamp is pretty intense with a newborn relying on your progress, but man, you come to the other side of it SO proud of yourself!
Thanks everyone for the love and support. We love our little Zeke and look forward to making many more memories together as a family! If you haven’t seen our video slideshow introducing our little cutie pie, you’re in for a treat!