A little background:
My son, Cody, is 20 years old now and was born after I was induced with pitocin (without being thinned or dilated) at 42 weeks pregnant. At 17, I didn’t know any better or know to question my doctors and the things being done to me. There were 35 hours of labor total and an epidural, and then when I was told his heartrate was decreasing with each push, they suggested a C-section. We know now that it’s quite normal to have a decel in heartrate with an epidural and that much labor, however, hindsight is 20/20.
Before Jasmine came along I had a pregnancy that made it to 14 weeks before I had some cramping and bleeding and ended up losing the baby. This was quite hard and really scary since we had seen the heartbeat and had multiple ultrasounds and every thing seemed fine.
Jasmine, our baby of the family (until Hannah came) is going to be 16 in a month! She was born when I was 21, labor started all on it’s own 3 days before her due date. At 8 am, I started having back labor and contractions, got to the hospital and had an immediate epidural and by 4 pm, she arrived via VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) with forceps. Although her pregnancy had no issues and her labor was a breeze I was absolutely positive that I never wanted to be pregnant again. I can handle having more kids…just never wanted to have to go through pregnancy or labor again.
Hannah was my 4th pregnancy, we were positive that our best option would again be a VBAC. Even though my “age” and the fact that it had been 15 years since we had a successful VBAC was a bit offputting to some, our doctor was amazing and said that if it were his wife, he would insist on a VBAC unless there were obvious issues.
At 37 years old you get slapped with “advanced maternal age” as a reminder that you’re no spring chicken. After this whole ordeal I am thankful to God that my body did exactly what it was supposed to do for our entire pregnancy and labor. It is quite scary to be told by every book/article that your body is old and might not work right. Now, if my body would cooperate and work well on 1.5 hour at a time sleep sessions we’ll be in business!
Our original due date according to our doctor and calculations was October 31/November 1, however, by measurement on early ultrasounds we were moved back to November 9. We were convinced that the first due date was correct.
October 31, 2013
2:00 AM – David was having one of his insomnia nights, and I was in bed trying to sleep. I woke up to go to the bathroom and my back was hurting pretty bad. I called downstairs and asked him to come up and massage it as he had been doing for most of my pregnancy when it hurt…pretty much every night. I fell asleep, and then he followed. Sometime during the next few hours I began to have contractions in both my back and my stomach, alternating.
6:00 AM – Contractions were strong enough to wake me up completely and I began timing them and texting my sister to let her know and ask her some questions. We timed contractions and talked for an hour, and after having some good, strong ones where I had to breathe through them, I woke David up. We kept timing and with contractions from 7-10 minutes apart, we finally called the doctor at 8:00 AM to see if we should go to his office or to L&D to get checked out. We were instructed to head to the hospital to get evaluated. Gege and Pawpaw came over and took Jasmine to school, and we went to be seen.
8:30 AM – Contractions only showed up twice in the 1.5 hours I was monitored, and we agreed to have a cervical check since the contractions at home were consistent. I was dilated to 3 cm and 70% effaced. We were released at 10:30 AM and instructed to go home, rest, eat, relax and return when contractions were 5 minutes apart, or if my water broke, or when I could not breathe and deal with contractions.
7:00 PM – We spent the day resting, eating and timing contractions that slowed and then returned. Again, they were 7-9 minutes apart, and after about 3 hours of that I was having to breathe and very uncomfortable (I didn’t realize it then, but I clearly was NOT in active labor…even though they did hurt). We decided that rather than going to bed only to get up or to have to rush to the hospital we would go back in and get checked to see if these contractions had dilated me any further. My concern was that the contractions would kick in and dilate me and we would be stuck at home or driving furiously to get to the hospital in time.
9:30 PM – Hooked up to monitors again and within 1 hour had 6 contractions, they were alternating from back labor to regular contractions and the back ones did not show up on the monitor. Hannah was tolerating everything well, as was I, and when checked after 19 hours of contractions and back labor. I was still 3 cm and 70%…and upset. We left and headed home after being instructed to “get some sleep.”
November 1, 2013
12:45 AM – Home finally, Jasmine went to bed and we laid down. David fell asleep easily and according to him I moaned and whined all night. It was not comfortable or even reasonable to expect me to sleep.
5:00 AM – I had slept about 1 hour total between contractions every 7-10 minutes. They had gotten to the point that I was breathing, moaning, crying, moving trying to get in a non-painful position. I woke David up and he was at a loss of what to do, but we both agreed that things were worse/different. We decided to wait until 8 am to call Dr. Harris’ office and try to get in there first thing to get checked rather than drive to the hospital again to be told to go home. Jasmine was up at 7 am because of my moaning even though she didn’t have school! She was trying to help me breathe while I was in pain. We called the doctor at 8, they told us to come in at 8:45, and we called Gege to come over and stay with Jasmine.
8:30 AM – Arrived at Dr. Harris’ office, and had to wait in the waiting room for 15 minutes. It was funny to both David and I because I was having contractions about every 5 minutes now, and they were intense. I had to breath through them, moan, I cried through one, and he was rubbing my back/hips while I leaned on the wall in the waiting room. All of which would not have been funny had the waiting room not been only men who clearly were concerned for me! One guy told the nurse “you can take her back before me, she’s struggling…hard. She’s really not doing well.” Another went and found a box of tissue and brought it to David because there wasn’t one in the waiting room. I think they all felt so bad for me, and all women!
8:45 AM – We were put in one of Dr. Harris’ exam rooms and I tried to relax and be comfortable on that tiny table, I was so tired, but couldn’t sleep through contractions. I was moaning and breathing through them all, and David would rub my back, I was not breathing quite right and was getting the shooting stars from being out of breath…that sucked. After an HOUR Dr. Harris walked in while I was having a contraction and said “is the next sound I’m going to hear a baby crying?” I said, “yes, if you don’t send me to the hospital it will be.” He immediately checked me and said I was 5 CM and we could go straight to L&D and get a room and an epidural! We headed back to the house to get Jasmine and mom and went straight to the hospital!
10:30 AM – Got to L&D and had to check in for the 3rd time. I was listening to music to try to help and it worked in the car, but things picked up again and by the time I was standing to check in I couldn’t sign my name on the papers because of the pain. We got taken to a room right away, and from there it was clothes off, in bed, monitors and lots of questions and bloodwork. Three blown veins on one arm and my nurse had to put my IV in finally (she rocked). We had to wait for an hour for the bloodwork to come back before they could get my epidural ordered and in. David and Jasmine ate some breakfast while I was still trying to breathe through contractions, and not enjoying it.
11:30 AM – They said that the anesthetist was “busy” in another procedure so I’d have to wait. Totally sucked. By this time contractions were about 3 minutes apart, and both back and normal contractions. I was not very happy, but there wasn’t much I could do but try to breathe and wait it out. Jasmine, David and Judi took turns rubbing my head, arms, holding my hand and feeding me lots of ice chips since my throat was SO dry! Oh, and chapstick, had to have that.
12:30 PM – My nurse, Lisa, said that everyone had to leave for the epidural, which freaked me out, but I had no choice and I was in pain so everyone had to go. The Dr. came in and read me all the side effects of the epidural (which are all scary), and then Lisa sat me up and had me lean over and she held my shoulders while I relaxed my head and neck and bent as far as possible. I kept feeling faint and like I was about to fall out, mainly from pain, and being scared of the epidural, and not having anyone in there with me. She kept telling me that my bp was good, baby was good, and waving alcohol pads in front of me. The Dr. got the needle in after about 5 minutes, but couldn’t get the catheter to thread – it took her 3 tries with 3 caths. All of which I felt in my spine, which is really freaky. She said “I may not be able to get this” to which Lisa said “you will get this for her.” After 15 minutes of trying she got it in, and did a test dose, I was told to let them know if I felt weird, or pressure or anything…I felt my ears and head kinda squeeze, almost like when you go underwater or when you have an ear infection and can hear yourself talk. They both looked at each other like “oh crap.” That passed and she got one dose of epidural meds in and it started to take, then Lisa laid me down and let everyone back in. My epidural finally took totally by 1:15 pm. I was checked again and was 8.5 CM dilated right after she laid me down! So essentially I made it to about 8 CM with no meds, which was not fun. My epidural was more like when your legs are asleep – not fully numb, but tingly and not painful, and my right leg was TOTALLY numb, I couldn’t move it at all.
1:40 PM – Lisa checked again and I still had a small “lip” on my cervix, so she had me do some pushing to help bring Hannah down and dilate me to 10 cm. In about 3 pushes I was 10 cm and we were ready to go. She was pretty impressed with my pushing (weird), but that proved to be a good thing since I wanted Hannah OUT! Lisa called Dr. Harris, who was sitting right outside my labor room, and told him it was pushing time. He came in, broke my water and Lisa’s face dropped. There was meconium in the water, and she thought there was also some blood. Her concern was that I was VBAC and if there was blood it could have been due to a uterine rupture. David picked up on her concern, and heard Dr. Harris tell her “we’re ok, it’s fine.” To which David replied to both of them “she damn well better be ok.” A few days after Hannah’s birth, Lisa and David both admitted that this was the only time they were majorly concerned about me and Hannah. I had no idea they were both worried since they were all cool and calm the whole time.
1:55 PM – Legs up to my head, hands behind my knees and only a sheet covering me, it was time to push (and leave all modesty behind)!!!!!! Jasmine and David were on my left, Jasmine was by my head holding it up as I pushed, David had one hand under my back as I pushed and was also holding my leg with me. Judi was on my right and had her arm behind my shoulder. I pushed for about 15 minutes and looked down to Dr. Harris who was not ready yet. I said “you better get ready, I’m pushing her out now.” As she crowned I felt it on my left side, not painful, but I felt the pressure and it wasn’t pleasant. David decided he was going to watch, which was not our plan, but that all went out the window as he was so excited and ready for Hannah to be here!
2:15 PM – Hannah Grace, our unexpected, perfect, beautiful blessing was born, weighing 7 pounds and 1.5 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long!
We welcomed Hannah with tears of joy and family surrounding her. She was placed on my chest and Jasmine took pictures while David cut the cord (which he also wasn’t going to do). Hannah was a little goey and needed to be cleaned up and checked because of the water, so Jasmine went over to look at her and take pictures while I was fixed up, David remained by me to make sure I was doing well while the doctor finished up. We all got to hold her within minutes and remained in the room for another hour to let her eat and get some skin to skin time.
A husband/daddy’s point of view:
After 48hrs plus of Mel being in horrible pain, I was ready for her to have a reprieve. Honestly it was killing me seeing her in so much pain and knowing I was at least partially to blame…although she was there for the decision making!
The back and forth to the hospital was a little annoying because the nursing staff knew she wasn’t ready, but she was MORE than ready to have this baby. She was just so exhausted and wanted things to be happening and so did I. Now, I am always one to err on the side of caution and it had been almost twenty years since either of us had a child so I would have made 100 trips to make sure everything was alright and both she and the baby were fine. The nurses were sweet but I wanted a bit more sympathy for her than I saw.
When it was time, we both knew and there was zero doubt in our minds that Hannah was on her way into the world. I could have killed Dr. Harris for taking so long to see her once we arrived in his office. Watching and being helpless is truly torture when the one you love most is hurting so badly. I’m not a violent man, but if he wasn’t the one delivering the baby, he would have needed a doctor himself. Of course I had to play it cool for her and be Mr. Level Head as any good husband should in any crisis.
I was so relieved that we were headed to the hospital and she could get some relief! Unfortunately it took much longer than either of us expected and they gave me the boot as hospitals seems to have a habit of doing. Melissa and I spend 24/7 together (how it took so long for her to get pregnant I will never know), and it really does bother us when others tell us we have to be apart for no good reason. I worry and hate not being there for her, especially when she was in so much pain. I have bragged how my wife is a badass several times since having Hannah. I have broken everything there is to break and seen some things, but she handled birth like a champ. She forever has my respect as most people would not have been nearly as strong or graceful through it all.
Things moved really fast once I was allowed back in the room. It was maybe an hour, if that long before it was truly TIME. I was present for the birth of my daughter Brianna, but promised myself that I would be more than just present and in the room for both Melissa as well as Hannah. I’m much older now and much more aware. Honestly I was much more worried this time. I know all the stats, and have seen all manner of medical emergencies. My former career forced me to see and assist in some pretty gruesome stuff. I was scared for her.
When the doctor broke her water, Lisa’s body language changed completely and Dr. Harris had a moment of pause. I had some idea of why, but not completely. What I did know is that Melissa couldn’t see me worried. I do remember saying “She damn well better be alright or I will hunt you both down,” and they both knew I was serious even though I said it lightheartedly for her sake. From that time it was literally a few pushes and Hannah was here!
There was a buzz of movement around Hannah, but I refused to leave Melissa’s side until some time had passed and I knew she was in the clear. That turned out to be after we were moved to a private room. She was perfectly fine pretty soon thereafter, however I was still shaken.
The advice that I would give to fathers or husbands is truly be there in the moment. Take it all in and participate as much as possible. It really is a life changing experience if you allow it to be. You’ll only love your wife more. Believe me guys it hasn’t caused any issues in the desire department…