Thursday, October 21, 2010
I was convinced that our baby boy would be born three days early on a Saturday. I’m not sure why I had this irrational thought, but I started planning like he would be born a little early and over the weekend, conveniently. Quick background: I was working full time as a Communication Assistant doing graphic design and website updates and media promotions. I love doing this! The only downside is that you are primarily sitting for prolonged periods of time in front of a computer. Not so easy around 8 or 9ish months! I had planned to work right up until “the end.” Jeb had just started his first semester of grad school in Structural Engineering. This meant he was commuting an hour and a half, one way, three days a week. Needless to say, we had backups (aka: awesome friends) programmed into speed dial just in case he couldn’t make it in time.
Jump to Wednesday, October 20th. At 2:30am I wake up and head to the bathroom (the usual routine). As I’m walking I notice a little cramping or just a little discomfort. I think, “How strange,” and head back to bed. I’m super uncomfortable, not able to sleep and desperately wanting to just sleep. I ponder waking Jeb up, but then think how selfish that would be! Why bother someone who is sleeping so well? So, I proceed to our bedroom floor where I lay down and begin stretching. These “cramps” or contractions were starting to build, not painful or long extended, but just enough to really get my attention. I still wasn’t convinced that my labor had begun. For whatever reason, I really didn’t want to have a false alarm and feel foolish or naive. Side note: First time moms – it doesn’t matter, call your doctor or go to a hospital if you think you are in labor!
After pacing inside, outside, around the kitchen, down the hall and back to my bedroom it was only about 6 in the morning. By this time, I was pretty sure that I was having contractions and I convinced Jeb not to go into work. I was wanting a natural birth, without any medication or surgery and was believing for a pain-free childbirth. I read an amazing book about women, being filled with faith, successfully delivering their babies with minimal effort and no pain. This type of thinking really resonated with me and throughout my morning I was praying and asking God if it was time. There was such a peace, resolve, and stillness in my spirit and mind. Inwardly, I was continuously giving thanks for a healthy pregnancy, for the blessing of carrying my baby and the joy of finally seeing him soon!
Jeb and I took a child-birthing class at our hospital which was so informative and helpful. Because of this, I understood the stages of labor and realized that I had time to safely labor at home. This was such the right decision for me. I was constantly moving, sitting, rocking and walking. Music was continually playing and I remember zoning everything else out and just listening to worshipful music. Eating the cherry Jello also helped!!!
Our moms were gathered at our home and the mood was watchful and attentive. I drank lots of water, and some juice. Ate a bit of jello and walked and walked and walked. We put a call or text in to Debs, our amazing friend and doula – a birthing coach. She had a stomach bug, but coached Jeb on the phone! My favorite spot was in Cade’s nursery. I remember holding on to his crib and pacing his room, allowing the enormity of the situation to sink in. Even though I love planners and agendas, I am usually a “wing-it” type of girl. I looked above the crib and noticed we hadn’t hung the three frames. It was the final touch to complete the nursery. My mom and Jeb jump in gear to get it done. At one point, Jeb kneels in front of me, helping me breathe through a prolonged and slightly uncomfortable contraction. He accidentally drops his crazy heavy and huge measuring tape on my foot. My foot starts bleeding and I can’t stop laughing! It hurt! I will say, it did take my mind off the contraction for about a minute.
Lots of soft voices talking and trying to decipher when we should make the move to the hospital. I didn’t really know what to tell them. But, when I knew, I knew. We made the rush to the Explorer, and the five minute drive to the hospital. The seatbelt was my friend. I clung on to that thing and tried to speak in soft and calming tones, mainly to convince myself that I was okay. We are pulling up to the hospital and there’s a small gang of cyclists who are blocking the road. They are deciding where to go and are taking f o r e v e r to turn. Jeb, my steady, constantly calm, and never ruffled man of a husband was getting so impatient. It endeared me even more to him!
We walk in, fill out tons of forms, and wait in triage. I only want to stand. There is no rush amongst the nursing staff. We small talk, I close my eyes and breathe through contractions. It’s my first, she assures me it will be still be a while. This is not reassuring. She begins the first exam and I’m praying for six centimeters. Please, God. At least six. I need to be more than halfway done here. I don’t think I can handle much more. “You’re an eight. Good job, Mama!”
Oh the relief that floods my body! I turned to Jeb and smiled. He whispered, “I was hoping for a six! You’re doing great! It’s almost time!” We texted our parents, siblings, and friends now that we knew it was near. The hospital was great. I walked, used the ball, and had an excellent support staff who acknowledged my natural birth plan. Debs came to the hospital and again I felt such relief. She had a pack of washcloths and a stress ball shaped like a pint of Guiness. It was awesome!
From this point, I was expecting much more. I anticipated a really quick birth and was keenly aware of awaiting friends and family. I was ready to celebrate. I’m at a nine. Still breathing and talking calmly. We have our music playing and the scene is so, so peaceful. My sister comes in and we talk for a bit. She gives me the exact same smile and face as on my wedding day right before the doors were opened and I walked through. Debs reminds me I need to focus! Back to work is the thought in my head.
By this point, all the exams keep showing that I’m at a nine and not progressing. Not sure why everything has slowed. We checked in around 4:45 pm and it’s nearing 8. I’m ready to eat. I am thirsty and can’t wait to see my son. I’m offered a Popsicle and it’s the best thing in the world. Seriously. I start smiling. I’m loving this treat! I’m upright in the bed and feel the urge to push. My waters break and physically I feel relief. Mentally, I recall that pain typically intensifies after this point. Debs and my mom are at my torso, Jeb is applying pressure to my back and Debs, so aware and in tune to me, tells the nurse I’m ready to push and am about to push. I remember her saying, “She’s doing the sound, she wants to push.”
I’m checked again, and feel deflated when there’s no progress. My mom and Debs exchange glances across my chest and I mentally take note. I am leaning in to my body and begin to push. Several pushes in and the doctor on-call examines me. Dr. Strong says he feels a nose. He calls for NICU, who immediately fill the room. There’s lots of chatter, they’re coming up with a plan, and the doctor says, “He’s not going to make it… (very prolonged pause)…this way.” Debs moved right to my ear and told me to listen only to her. She repeats every word the doctor spoke in reverse, the opposite truth. Because I was already pushing, the doctor gave me permission to try and continue to deliver him naturally.
I still wasn’t fully aware of all that was progressing, but knew I needed to bare down and deliver my son. At 9:11 pm, I gave birth to Cade Davis Kolby. He weighed seven pounds and ten ounces. I delivered his nose and lips first, resulting in a badly bruised baby boy. He had the thickest black head of hair and looked like he had a five o’clock shadow covering his cheeks. As soon as he was born, they placed him on my chest. I was worried that he wasn’t crying, thinking he wasn’t breathing, but they all assured me to give it a minute. As I grabbed my son, I didn’t know what to think. I was shaking uncontrollably, and desperately needed to know that he was okay. Normally, you deliver the soft part, the top of the head. Since Cade wasn’t fully turned, his face engaged and he was partly stuck. It was a different sort of delivery than I expected.
I was able to have my medication-free, natural, vaginal birth. The labor was my best case scenario. The delivery was more difficult than I anticipated. Had they known he wasn’t in the proper position, or had they learned of it earlier on in my delivery, I would have had an emergency Caesarian section.
Even with his bruising and swelling, Cade latches on immediately and begins to eat. It’s a completely new feeling and I’m again shocked, shaking, and trying to visually and physically take it all in. We welcome our family and friends into the room and we pass Cade around in his perfectly soft and striped blanket. Everyone is so encouraging and loving and kind.
Cade’s birth story has been within me for five years. I’ve tried and tried to write it. I’ve written, deleted and rewritten this story. He made me a Mama. I loved my pregnancy. I loved my labor. And I even loved my delivery, up to a point. It took a while for me to process the scare of his birth, my disappointment in it looking different from my expectations. I actually felt a little robbed of the glorious bliss and joy that naturally follows birth. The last moments I could recall were traumatizing and hurried; I was disheveled and worried. The complete opposite of my plan and the natural progression of his labor. I often share bits and pieces of this story to other Mamas and Mama’s to be, but here it is in its entirety. I want to highlight the good, the peaceful, the joyous start but it’s also okay to acknowledge the hurt, the fear, the shock, and the disappointment.
Now having had two other pregnancies and births, my labor with Cade was by far the easiest and the most peaceful. It was glorious and filled with so much anticipation and mounting joy. So now on this, his SIXTH birthday, I am finally releasing our birthing story, because it is as much mine as his!