I love reading birth stories. If you don’t, you can skip this post, but I wanted to preserve all of the memories I have of Jude’s birth so I can always remember it. (I love going back and reading Vera’s and Cordelia’s birth stories too!)
On Thursday, September 12, I laid down to take my usual afternoon nap around 2:30PM. I noticed I was having contractions, but didn’t think much of it until they continued for another hour. During that time, I got up and did some laundry, packed some more things for the hospital, cleaned up the kitchen, and started timing my contractions. Between 3:30PM and 4:30PM, they were 3-4 minutes apart and lasted close to a minute each. They were very, very mild in terms of intensity, so I didn’t think there was a rush to get to the hospital, even though they were so close together. I went ahead and called my mom and told her she might want to hit the road (she lives 5 hours away), and I texted Tad at work and told him he should probably head home soon.
By 5:30PM, we were trying to get in contact with our childcare people, and we had to go down the list until we found someone who was available! At this point, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasted a minute each. Still, they were so mild that I felt like going to the hospital might be the wrong thing to do. After talking with my midwife, she told me to head in within the next 30 minutes or so, since we live 35 minutes from the hospital and this was my third baby.
At 6:15PM we left for the hospital, with my contractions 2 minutes apart. I hoped we were doing the right thing by leaving! It took us a little while to get checked in, and when my midwife checked me at 7:30, I was 3cm dilated, 50% effaced, and at -1 station.
I went over my birth plan with the nurse and my midwife and completed all of the routine check-in questions (medical history, etc.). My midwife had no problem with just a saline lock in my arm and intermittent monitoring while I walked the halls of the hospital. From 8:30PM until 9:30PM Tad and I walked all over the hospital.
We came back at 9:30PM so they could check the baby’s heart rate and monitor my contractions for a little while. When they attached the fetal heart monitor, my baby’s heart rate plummeted to 80 bpm. It was such an awful sound, to hear his heart beating at almost half of what it should have been. My nurse called for my midwife Lisa and requested they bring an oxygen mask to the room immediately. She rolled me to my left side, and before they got there with the mask, Baby Punkin’s heart rate had returned to its normal level.
After that scary incident, they wanted to monitor us for a while. I stayed in bed for an hour, then they let me sit on the birthing ball while still hooked up to the monitors.
I hoped that if I could just sit on the ball instead of in bed that my contractions would continue to intensify. We listed to worship music and talked.
My mom arrived around midnight, and she was glad she hadn’t missed the birth!
From 1:45AM until around 2:30AM they let me once again walk the halls of the hospital. My mom walked with me that time so that Tad could rest. My contractions began to slow down (even with all that walking!) until they were 5-7 minutes apart. I did have a bloody show, which was a very good sign that labor was still going.
I made the decision to try and get some sleep and just pray that the contractions would pick back up after I rested. From 3:00AM until around 5:45AM, I laid in the bed and slept through most of my contractions. When I woke up, my contractions were 10-13 minutes apart.
From 6:00AM until 6:40AM, I walked the halls again and my mom and Tad got some breakfast. I talked my midwife into letting me have some broth and jello.
Just before 7:00AM, my midwife examined me and I was 4cm dilated, 75% effaced, and at -2 station. She stripped my membranes and it really hurt! She told me that I should probably decide whether I wanted her to break my water or start me on Pitocin in order to get things going again.
From 7:40AM until 8:30AM I walked, prayed, and tried to decide what to do. I texted some friends and asked them to pray and give input too. The general consensus was that breaking my water may greatly intensify the pain, but I was only at 4cm, so that’s a long way to go until 10cm! I had responded well to Pitocin with Cordelia’s birth, so I considered that to be a “safe” option.
At 8:45AM, my midwife and I decided that we would start a low and slow dose of Pitocin since labor had stalled. I could hardly feel any contractions at this point, so I knew we had to do something! At 9:05, we started the Pitocin drip. Every 15-20 minutes, my nurse (a friend of mine from church… so cool!) upped the Pitocin drip a little bit. By 10:35, I felt like I was in real labor again and they stopped increasing the Pitocin.
I sat on the birthing ball during all of this, rocking and swaying to the worship music we were playing in the room. Tad made a beautiful playlist for us to listen to during my labor. I am so grateful for that, since concentrating on God’s faithfulness and depending on HIS strength was what got me through each difficult contraction!
Around 12:30PM, things were “getting real”!! I could still talk through contractions, but I was definitely feeling their intensity level. They were probably 1.5 minutes apart and very strong.
My midwife checked me at 12:35, and I was 5cm dilated, 80% effaced, and at 0 station. She broke my water, and the next hour was a very intense blur!
I’m not sure when I started really vocalizing this time, but I concentrated on relaxing my jaw and making low, “oh” or “oooh” sounds. Vocalizing really gives me strength through contractions, but someone listening in might think I was expressing pain. Tad and my mom kept helping me focus on handling each contraction one at a time. They were both great encouragers during my whole labor! Tad rubbed my lower back during each contraction, which felt good but also helped distract me from the pain.
I continued to hold to my “mantra” of “This is not pain, this is progress,” but with the speed of this labor (the last hour, not the early part), I did feel more pain than with Cordelia’s birth. I continued to press into the Lord for strength as we listened to worship music, sang together, and prayed out loud.
Shortly after 1PM, I believe, I started to feel very cranky and like I did NOT want to do this anymore! I felt nauseous and a little out of control of the situation. Tad told me I should use the restroom (so everyone could rearrange the room and get the birthing stool ready), and I think I said something along the lines of, “I don’t want to!” But I did, and when I came back, they had moved the bed and set up the chair in the middle of the room.
I sat on the birthing ball for a couple more contractions, then I said, “chair,” and moved over there to prepare for the birth.
At 1:25, I was on the chair, and by the way I was vocalizing, both Tad and I knew that we were SO close to meeting our baby! Lisa, my midwife, checked me and I was 8cm dilated. In 15 years of being a midwife, she had never used a birthing stool before, but she plopped right down on the ground like she used it every day!
Probably the hardest part of the whole labor was those next few minutes. I wanted to bear down and push, but I needed to dilate 2 more centimeters first. Lisa coached me through forcefully blowing air out during the contractions in order to keep myself from pushing yet.
I reached up and could feel his head, which was so motivating and encouraging! At last (because those few contractions in just a couple minutes seemed unbearably long), I could feel that I was ready to push!
Tad was behind me, giving me support and rubbing my arm. I gripped tightly to the back of the birthing chair to gain strength to push. I was quite loud during pushing, but again, that helped me do what I need to do! There’s no shame in being “loud” during a natural birth.
I don’t know how many pushes it was, but I think it was just two or three for his head. Lisa told me to reach down so I could deliver him myself! I placed my hands under his slippery arms and pulled him up to my chest while giving one more big push. He was born at 1:36PM on September 13, exactly one hour after they broke my water at 5cm (and 13 days after his “due date”)!
He didn’t cry immediately, which concerned me deeply, but after a few seconds, he began to cry. I found out later that the cord was wrapped around his neck once, but not tightly. I was so, SO thrilled to be holding my beautiful new baby!
They cleaned him up a bit and left him “attached” to me for a while. I had requested that we wait at least until the cord stopped pulsing before cutting the cord. We announced his name: Jude Micah.
I was able to nurse him right away. I didn’t even have to show him how! He latched on immediately with a crazy strong latch!
It was so beautiful to just hold him and savor that wonderful moment of meeting him for the first time.
Tad was one proud papa!
Tad cut the cord, as he has with all our children.
When they weighed Jude, everyone gasped at his weight: 9 lbs., 1 oz.! Amazingly, I had no tearing and so far this has been my easiest recovery physically.
I finally let Tad have a turn holding Jude.
I am so thankful to Tad for being an amazing support to me throughout the whole pregnancy and delivery.
My mom was also an incredible support and we were so thankful she could be there for Jude’s birth (she also took most of these amazing photographs)!
My nurse/friend, Mitzi, and midwife, Lisa, were a great team!
As I look back at Jude’s birth from just one week’s perspective, I marvel at the hand of God working so many details out perfectly. It was an incredible experience having another unmedicated birth, but I am ultimately thankful for a healthy baby and a wonderful family that surrounds him with love!
Thank you all for praying for us before and during his birth. God is so faithful!