As I’m starting to write this, it’s Saturday late afternoon and I can’t believe its 4:30 already… Shoot, I can’t believe that Jaxon is 9 days old!! Time flying by has been a theme ever since we got home from the hospital. It’s crazy where the day goes, but as Zach keeps reminding me, we have nothing to do and nowhere to be, so that helps ease the question “Did I get done what I needed to do today?” Our priority and focus is our son and if we have taken care of each other and his needs then we have done well.
As I’m writing, Norah Jones is playing on my phone and little Jax is right next to me swaddled up like a baby burrito sleeping soundly. I kicked Zach out of the house so he could have a break. He has been working so hard here (not like I haven’t… just different) and I could tell he needed to get out and have some man time. So it’s just me and the little man.
I thought I would take some time to share with you all our birth story! The 50 hours of labor kind of blended together, so below is to the best of my memory, Zach’s and what the midwives told me
For those of you who want to skip the story and head straight to the images, click below to view the slideshow of the birth by photographer and friend, Evin.
Tuesday, 9:30pm, Nov 5th –
Four days past our due date (which is always an estimate, but still… you anticipate the birth around that date), with no signs or indication that our son’s arrival is near, I’m sitting on the couch and all of a sudden I feel some cramping and then it goes away. I practically ignore it until only a little bit later, I get the same cramping. This happened four times about 15/20 minutes apart when I grabbed my journal, penned my thoughts and eagerness about labor possibly starting. As it continued, I came out to the living room where Zach was with happy/nervous tears in my eyes and told him I think I was starting to go into labor. Our plan was to have a home birth and we were told many times over the best thing we could do was REST REST REST. As the cramping (aka contractions) continued 8-15 minutes apart, we put in a call to our midwife Daphne at Your Birth Midwifery and doula Luisa Crane and gave them a heads up and then headed to bed.
The night was kind of a blur, but contractions continued throughout the night and I was able to sleep in-between them.
Wednesday, Nov 6th –
Contractions continued and were getting closer – anywhere between 3.5-10 minutes a part in the morning and gradually increased to about 3-4 minutes apart throughout the day. At first, the intensity of the contractions reminded me of our latest miscarriage last September and the labor I went through, but I chose to not focus on the sadness and fear of that experience and focus on the joy of this one.
Our Uh-mazing doula, Luisa came over late morning and helped get things prepped. Zach re-arranged our bedroom furniture so we could have ample space for the birthing tub and Louisa got everything set up while Zach helped me breathe and relax through contractions. Zach and Luisa took turns sitting with me and letting me squeeze their hand with each contraction and reminding me to relax. After a couple hours, Luisa headed out to let us keep pressing on and to rest up for once things really got going.
The “great” thing about contractions is in-between them you feel practically normal. What a good design labor is when you get to rest in-between each rush! It gives you a chance to catch your breath and amp up for the next one.
Zach was texting back and forth a bit with our Bradley birthing class instructor, the amazing Jeannie and she advised us to go out for a walk, hit up Starbucks, go for a drive – anything to keep us relaxed and keep our mind off waiting for the transition stage of labor to really kick in (at that point it’s becoming “go time” as the body finishes dilating and baby is ready to come). The day was beautiful and we headed out for a walk around our complex. I remember the sun was shining, the leaves were blowing around and it was so refreshing to head outside.
Click below to watch the 47 second video we filmed at the beginning of our walk! (I’m currently fighting with WordPress to get the video embedded… bear with me :).
Wednesday Afternoon –
Our midwife advised me getting adjusted by our chiropractor to help with labor progressing. I was not up for riding 15 minutes both ways to get adjusted so our super great chiro (Dr. David Mason) made a visit to us! He adjusted me in-between contractions and then bid us ado as we kept pressing on through labor trying to rest and keep me full of fluids and food so I could keep up my energy.
Moving made the contractions closer together so as one would come, Zach would support me as I slowly breathed through each one and made a huge effort to relax (the breathing that we had been doing for the last year and half that our marriage counselors had us doing was amazing practice for this.. really helped keep me calm with Zach’s promptings
At one point, we headed out, got some coffee and went for a drive. Contractions kept coming and would get really close together, and then would spread out. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that at the end of this our son would be here! Zach would remind me of this and that would give me renewed mental energy and drive.
My mom was en route from Michigan that day and her flight landed that evening. A friend picked her up from the airport (thank-you Tracie!!) and she stopped by the house for a bit before heading to her hotel. It was really nice having her there. She came, sat with us and prayed for me and for the baby.
Luisa came back that night and helped me through contractions, but with it looking like no baby was coming that night, Luisa eventually went home to get some sleep and we headed off to bed for one of the longest nights I remember.
Thursday, November 7th –
Contractions were very intense through the night and somehow I don’t think I ever really fell asleep because as soon as I’d start to relax, another one would come. That night was a blur. All I do remember was around 1 or 2 am I couldn’t lay down and try to sleep anymore. We put in a call to our midwife to come out and check me and see what progression my body had made (for those of you wondering, our midwife was on call and could have come whenever. They need to be at their best when it’s time for delivery, and because we had been doing ok and we had our doula, we didn’t have her come until then). At that point, I was definitely tired and worn out and wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep going. I remember saying if I have barely progressed I want to transfer to the hospital. As we awaited for her arrival, Zach made a bath for me, which definitely helped ease the discomfort. Daphne, our midwife arrived and said I was 5 cm dilated. It was OK news. Not awesome (I was hoping I’d be further) but not completely depressing either. It was good to know the last 30 hours hadn’t been in complete vain.
Luisa arrived shortly after and now with the team there massaging me and supporting Zach and I through each contraction, I felt a renewed energy.
The birthing tub got filled up (which was awesome) and Luisa or Daphne would apply counter pressure to my back with each contraction. Luisa also has this amazing and relaxing lavender lotion that she would massage me with, and it was awesome.
Praise the Lord I didn’t have any back labor! The little man had turned so that was one thing I was able to avoid
At some point that morning my dear friend, Evin our birth photographer, arrived. I remember Zach telling me she had come and the first recollection I had of her presence was her holding my face in her hands applying firm pressure as a contraction hit. Evin was there to capture our birth but man, she did so much more and went above and beyond.
At one point, Zach was told to lie down and get some rest, and Evin stepped right in, walking me around to keep the contractions coming and being my support as each one hit as well as my cheerleader.
Contractions were still coming and to get relief I would lay on the bed, couch or go in the birthing tub, but as I rested my body, the contractions would slow down. It was once I got moving that they would speed up again and be 1-3 minutes apart, but then slow down against once I needed relief and lay down. Active labor never kicked in.
11 am –
Around this time we decided to get me checked again and was told I was at about a 6.5. I was the most suckiest news ever. After 9-10 hours of laboring since that morning I had only progressed barely 2 more cm. At this rate I knew I couldn’t go much longer. We decided to give it one more go and doing different movements and things to get our little man down and dilated more and speeding up contractions. (Throughout this whole time our midwife would listen to his heartbeat every so often. It was amazing to hear his strong and fast heartbeat knowing that he was actually in there and this all wasn’t for nothing :).
After that I was checked again with no change and we started talking about our options.
Option #1: Break my water and hope that gets labor to where it needs to be.
Pro: It may progress labor
Con: It may not get labor to where it needs to be. Contractions will get more intense. If it doesn’t work, I’ll then be riding in a car to our transfer hospital super duper uncomfortable. Wasn’t sure even if it did get labor where it needed to be if I would have the energy to finish and deliver the little babes.
Option #2: Transfer to the hospital
Pro: Epidural. No more pain. Rest.
Con: 20 minute ride. An epidural could open the door to other medical interventions and ultimately an unnecessary C-section, which I did not want. Wasn’t sure if the hospital would delay cord clamping, let me bond with my son once born with skin-to-skin and be cool with the natural and healthy choices we were making for our son. Daphne, our midwife reassured me once again that the reason that the hospital (Centennial) was their transfer hospital was because they have a great relationship with the staff there and they really respect us home birthers
I decided because I was so worn out at this point, I didn’t think I could go through my water being broken at home with no guarantee that it would help progress the labor. I told Zach I wanted to transfer and he immediately began preparing our hospital bag (yeah, we hadn’t packed that since we didn’t think that we’d actually end up transferring :). We loaded up in the car and off we were to Centennial Hospital downtown Nashville… all the while I was doubting if we made the right decision.
I (finally) get checked in. We meet our nurse, Rowena, who was FANTASTIC and put us right at ease. (It was amazing because Rowena was called in that day to work, and her shift carried over the normal staff switch out which happens at 7pm so she was there from 1pm-1am and was able to be there the whole time!).
After waiting for my platelet count to come back, the anesthesiologist finally comes in and gives me an epidural.
Getting an epidural was something I never planned on, but let me tell you, I was so grateful for it. Even though I had been resting as much as I could and eating, drinking, and doing everything to keep my energy up, myself and my body was worn out. The epidural gave me the much needed break. I still felt the pressure of the contractions but the pain of it was gone. Over the next few hours I was able to relax and rest while we waited for my body to continue to do its thing while my midwife, mom, doula and photographer kept me company.
I was at a 7 or 8 and Rowena advised us that we should break my water. My midwife agreed and my water was broken. That helped me progress, and thankfully, they never had to give me pitocin or anything else to artificially help move labor along!
Almost completely dilated, Rowena said that we’d give it another 45 minutes and then begin pushing.
Rowena clears everyone out of the room and gives Zach and I a few moments to ourselves before it’s time to bring the little man into the world. I remember us just looking at each other saying, “Holy cow, this is it!” We prayed together and everyone came back in and it was go time!
Pushing begins! Even though it was time to push, contractions were about 6 minutes a part, so in-between the pushing, we all were just hanging out and chilling and laughing.
Jaxon Pierce is born! 7 lbs 10 oz, 21 inches long
Such a surreal moment. I have seen births in videos and in other photographer’s images, and I even shot a birth, but this was ME. This was MY story.
This is my child.
This is my son.
When he came out, his hand was in a fist by his head and he also had the cord wrapped around his little body, which is why they are thinking he wasn’t come down and labor was longer. Good times ;o)
A few more pics for you…
Even though the labor was brutal for the first 40 hours and to be honest, pretty sucky, I’m so thankful that Jaxon is here and healthy, and also very thankful to the amazing staff at Centennial Medical Center. The very last nurse we had was chatting with us upon discharge and she said she hoped that we weren’t too disappointed with our birth experience ending at the hospital. Zach couldn’t have said it better when he responded saying, “We may not have gotten the home birth like we wanted, but we still got the birth experience we wanted, thanks to the amazing staff here.” The staff at Centennial didn’t treat us like weird-os because we were home birthers or because we opted out of some of the stand hospital procedures or because we wanted some things done a little differently. They were very gracious and accommodating, and for that, I will forever sing their praises and recommend them until I’m blue in the face :) Thank-you to Rowena, Beth, Stacia, Sherry, Lori, Deb and Rita.
Also a huge thanks goes to our midwives, Daphne and Jordan with Your Birth Midwifery. Having you two as our midwives was a joy. We felt so secure with both of you through out the whole pregnancy, and how you had our back in the hospital. Thank-you Luisa, our fabulous doula, for all the support you gave us… We had the best team.
Thank-you Evin, for not only capturing our story, but being there for me as a friend. I will forever treasure these moments that you have preserved for us and I know who to call if I ever need some additional support through labor
And lastly…. thank you Zach. Babe, I could NOT have done this without you. You were a trooper holding me up and encouraging me every step of the way. Words can’t describe how grateful I am that you are my one and only, and that I never have to go through anything alone…
We filmed another video of our adventures of trying to get out of the hospital… we had a slight mis-hap… ha ha ha.
…As I’m finishing up this post, Jaxon has been with us for five weeks… It’s crazy how the time has flown by (everyone warns you about it!). I am loving being a mom and I still have to pinch myself some days.
Jaxon has been an utter joy to have even through the midnight feedings and poopy diapers We are so blessed to have him here… I am biased, but I have to admit, he’s pretty stinkin’ cute
To My Sweet and Precious Son,
You have been long in coming and we have prayed for you even before you began to form inside of me. I know there will be hard times ahead, as there have already been some frustrating moments (I love that we’re finally able to read and understand your cries better!) but I will never take for granted you being here. You are such a treasure and truly a joy to have.
Though some may complain about it or dread it, I look forward to getting up throughout the night and in the early hours so I can be with you and silence your cries, I love the challenge of re-thinking our day seeing that we have feedings and naps to work around (so glad you can sleep anywhere!), I love how our days are different now that you’re here even though it takes us forever to get out of the house, I love it when you turn toward my voice, I love your little piggy snorts when you’re hungry, I love it that sometimes when no one else can calm you, I can, I love our times sitting together with you curled up on my chest falling asleep, I love seeing how much your dad loves you and how proud he is to show you off… there are so many things to love.
I look forward to the times when you smile intentionally at us and when you can say my name, when we can go on adventures and see life through your eyes, and when you can tell me you love me and throw your little arms around my neck… so many great moments to look forward to with you, but for now, I am loving and soaking in every moment with you as my precious, little, completely dependent on me, son.
I love you, buddy, and I welcome with open arms what is now our new normal.