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I didn't post a whole lot on this board, but read a lot of posts from others and a lot of birth stories on here. I'm posting this in case it can be an encouragement to others. If I can do it, you can too.
Luke Aaron’s birth story
Mark and I began preparing for the big arrival day months in advance. We signed up for the Bradley 12 week childbirth preparation course. It was wonderful and truly prepared us so well. It helped me to focus on eating right, staying in good shape throughout pregnancy, and in practicing relaxation techniques with Mark as my coach. When it actually came time to deliver, I will say that I think we were as prepared as we could have been for first-time parents.
That being said, there are still a lot of question marks in those weeks leading up to the due date. About 2 weeks before Luke came I could really feel my body warming up. I had very intense back pain one evening and menstrual-like cramps. That lasted through the night and into the next day. A day or so later, at work I had contractions (not painful—just a pressure feeling that sort of took my breath away) that were coming regularly every 7 or 8 minutes. They lasted for about three hours and disappeared. That happened again the following Friday and then disappeared.
So when a week later on Friday, March 5th, I woke up in the middle of the night with intense back pain and menstrual-like cramps, I decided not to get my hopes up too high that “this was it.” Instead, I just tried to relax. On Saturday, March 6th, I woke up feeling lousier than ever, but I decided to just go about my routine as best I could. I went to the grocery store about noon and was still feeling miserable, but there was nothing that was coming and going like contractions yet. Just a constant dull achiness.
That afternoon the symptoms seemed to disappear altogether. I talked on the phone to my mom and told her that I guessed all that had been nothing but a warm-up.
That evening, Mark and I had dinner plans with our friends Meaghan and Barry. They’d gotten a baby-sitter and I knew it would be one of our last nights out for a while. Around 5 pm when I talked to Meaghan about where we would meet up, I had begun to feel icky again. But Meaghan assured me we could always leave mid-dinner if we needed to and so Mark and I decided to continue on as planned.
Shortly before we left, I began noticing the same achy feeling I’d had the night before but now it was coming and going in intensity. As we headed toward dinner, I began to keep track of how far apart those waves were. We met up with our friends and walked around the town center. We put in our name at the restaurant and they said it would be a 30 minute wait. Meanwhile, these waves began coming at about 7 to 8 minute intervals. The hilarious part was that my husband and Barry were dueling with their smart phones to see who could get the phone out fast enough to time what I now began to realize were contractions. But as the contractions continued to grow in intensity, I had to pause through them more and more. Finally, when our half an hour wait had turned into more like an hour, I turned to Mark and asked, “Do you think we should go?” He took that as a good sign that we should go. It was about 9 pm when we got in our car to head home.
We hadn’t yet had dinner so we stopped at a sandwich shop on the way. On the car-ride home I called my mom to tell her she should get on a plane (she was hoping to be there for the birth and this was 8 days early). By the time we reached home the contractions were more like 5 to 6 minutes apart.
We ate dinner, took a last pregnancy photo, and then decided that we should both get some rest if possible. I went up to lie down and after maybe 30 minutes, I knew sleep definitely wasn’t going to happen. I got up and filled the tub and let my husband rest while he could. I put on my relaxation music, and had the stop-watch, and my cell-phone (for telling the time). As I relaxed in the tub, the contractions began coming faster and lasting longer. I finally called Mark when they were coming between 3 and 6 minutes apart. (Another funny detail here: I literally had to call Mark on the phone. I called his name two or three times, but he was sleeping so soundly in the next room, I finally had to wake him up with the cell phone ring.)
Mark packed the car and around 2 am we left for the hospital. When we checked into the hospital around 2:30 am on March 7th, I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced (at my last exam the Thursday before I had been 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced). After triage, they got me to the room and hooked me up to the wireless monitors and put my heplock in as I had requested (I didn’t want to be tethered to an IV).
I labored for about an hour or so in the rocking chair while Mark brought in our bags and got us settled. But I was freezing cold with my gown gaping in the back. Even though Mark covered me with blankets, I was getting really uncomfortable. (I also lost my dinner about that point.) About 3:30 am we asked the nurse to start the bath for us. She filled the tub and when I got in it felt so amazing. The water was hot (much hotter than I’d ever filled the tub during my pregnancy) and after having been so cold in the labor room, I could feel my whole body relaxing.
For the next few hours, I labored in the tub. The contractions continued to get closer together and much stronger. Mark fed me ice chips, stroked my hair, and got me cool cloths for my head. As the contractions came more and more strongly I began to moan. Somehow that helped me to get through them. In my head, I began to wonder how much longer I could do this. I was so afraid that they would check me again and find that I was only at a 5 or a 6 cm dilated, and I just wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue if I got that kind of news. I said to Mark, “Tell me that I can do this.” Having taken the Bradley course, Mark knew that one of the signs of transition was the self-doubt stage and so he wondered if I was close. I, on the other hand, was trying to tell myself that I wasn’t as close as it felt, because I didn’t want to be disappointed.
Not long after that I felt a pop, which was my water breaking. Mark said he could see a gush in the tub. All I knew was almost immediately after that I felt as if I wanted to push. Mark went to get the nurses and doctor. They all began pouring into the room and one of the nurses said to me, “Don’t push! We don’t do water births here. You are going to need to get out of the tub.”
Getting out of the tub at that far along was one of the hardest things ever. I felt this enormous urge to push and was once again back in the freezing cold delivery room but this time with wet hair and a flimsy little gown and small towel.
They got me up on the table (I think it was about 5:45 am at this point) and the doctor checked me. She seemed a bit surprised as she said that I was 10 cm and with a small lip of cervix. She said the baby was at plus 2 station. After breathing through one more contraction the doctor told me I could push on the next one. I was so surprised.
The pushing part was definitely the hardest part for me. My doctor and the nurse were coaching me to take a deep breath and then push for a count of five, three times or so through the contractions. But I was having such a hard time getting a deep breath. I think it was because I was shivering so much from being so cold. Each time I would push I would actually end up letting some of the air out between my lips because I was shivering. The doctor and nurse said that that was making my pushes ineffectual and that if I wanted to see this baby I needed to take a deep breath and really focus on pushing. I guess I began doing better at that point because Luke started getting closer. At the point when his head crowned however, I ran out of strength to give the third push on that contraction. I had to wait til the next contraction to finish pushing him out. That was so painful being that close and then having to wait. But soon it was over.
A few pushes later and little Luke was in my arms. My husband was the one to see and announce that he was a boy. My first words were, “He’s so tiny.” He was born at 6:21 am and weighed 6 lbs and 12 oz and measured 21 inches long. I was also shocked that he was so quiet. I had expected loud cries and instead I just had this calm alert little baby looking wide-eyed at me.
They weighed the baby in the room and Mark followed as they did the newborn procedures. Meanwhile, I got some stitches as I had a second-degree tear. Afterward, I was having some rather large blood clots and so they were a little concerned about me. I also still couldn’t quit shivering, so they wanted me to wait until I stabilized a bit more before trying to hold and breastfeed the baby. Knowing how important skin-to-skin contact is, Mark took his shirt off and put the baby on his chest until I could hold him.
When I finally stabilized, and they put Luke in my arms and left us alone, Mark and I just praised God for the miracle of our healthy baby boy. All in all, the labor went very fast and God gave me the grace to truly relax my body throughout the contractions. It was such a relief to finally be holding our son. And both of us were filled with so much joy. (1 Samuel 1:27).
Psalm 139:13-14 "For you [God] created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."