What a wild ride. My due date was 12/29/2019, and Hayes was born 5 days late on 1/3/2020. Those days in between were grueling and emotionally challenging, but the second they laid him on my chest everything was worth it.
I had been getting my cervix checked since 37 weeks, and seemed to be progressing well each time I went back to my midwives. At 39 weeks, I was 3 cm dilated (cervical opening), fully effaced (cervical thinness), and Hayes was at a 0 station (how low he is in my pelvis). They told me it was likely he'd come before my due date and we were so excited!!
But then we waited...and waited...and waited. Until 5 days AFTER my due date, he made his quick arrival!
On Friday, January 3, we were bored from sitting at home all day, so Harrison suggested that we go out for pizza and ice cream to get our minds off of the waiting game. Around 5:00, we went to Pizza Snob here in Fort Worth, each ate an entire pizza, then went to Melt and I got my favorite vegan chocolate ice cream cone. Some friends texted us on the way home & we made plans for them to come over around 7:00. We got home from ice cream around 6:30, and all of a sudden I had some intense period-like cramps. I had been cramping for the past week at this point, so I convinced myself this was just more pre-labor pains, and tried to fight through them. A couple more cramps later, I realized these were getting really painful.
I grabbed the exercise ball and tried to bounce and breathe through them, but the pain was escalating so quickly that I couldn't help but make noise through the cramps. Harrison was changing the laundry, and ran in when he heard me moaning from pain. We started the contraction timer app I had downloaded on my phone. They were about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting for a minute to a minute and a half. I knew that this meant it was labor.
We had always been told to follow the 4-1-1 rule for going into the hospital. This meant contractions that were 4 minutes apart, lasting for at least a minute, for at least an hour straight. Even though it had only been 30 minutes, we decided to call the midwives and they gave us the green light to come in. We quickly texted our friends not to come over, and were out of the house by 7:15 pm.
The drive to the hospital was HORRIBLE. Even though we live 10 minutes from the hospital, it felt like we were in the car forever. My contractions were getting stronger and I wasn't able to get into different positions to get comfortable.
Finally we got to the hospital after pulling up to the wrong entrance and made our way up to the Labor & Delivery floor. They put me in a room and asked me some questions while we waited for the midwife to come in and check on me. I was barely able to stand at this point and was answering the nurse's questions from all fours on the ground while Harrison ran to grab the things out of the car. The midwife came in and checked my cervix, and I was already dilated to 6 cm. She gave me a gown to change into and had me sit on the bed for 15 minutes while they got a solid reading of Hayes's heartbeat with the doppler on my belly. It was hard to sit still through contractions, but after it was over I was able to get up and move around into positions that were more comfortable.
Over the next 45 minutes or so, Harrison and I labored in the delivery room together. I ended up throwing up my pizza during contractions, but he would apply pressure to my lower back and rub my shoulders. I knew I wanted only Harrison in the room during labor, because of how calming his presence was. He would say things like "You've got this." "Your body was designed to do this." "You're one contraction closer to meeting him." and I swear he and the Holy Spirit were the only thing that got me through it.
Birthing classes came in handy during labor! It helped Harrison feel confident in the comfort measures he would take to help me, it helped me feel confident despite the pain because I was able to remind myself of the anatomy of what was going on, I knew what positions to try to get comfortable, and I felt prepared - like I had studied really really well for a test or something.
Around 8:45, the midwife came in and checked me again, and I was already dilated to 8 cm. Aka, the transition phase of labor. I knew things from here until I hit 10 cm were going to be rough, but I also knew how close I was to meeting Hayes. The midwife offered getting in the birthing tub to help ease the pain, and I obliged! As soon as I got in the warm water, the pain was significantly lowered. Harrison would drizzle warm water over my lower back during each contraction. We had worship music playing from a bluetooth speaker we brought, and I'd ask him to pray over me during contractions to help get me through them. I just kept having to reminding myself "This pain will not last forever," "He is almost here," "Your body was designed to do this," "You are strong." I got into different positions in the tub. I labored a lot on all fours, on my knees with my arms hanging over the tub, and in a semi-runner's lunge to allow gravity to help work Hayes down lower into my pelvis since my water still hadn't broken.
Around 10:00, the midwife came in to check me again and I was dilated to 9.5 cm. I knew what this meant. Time to push. She told me that if I felt the urge to push, that I could. Contractions became strong, and there was so much pressure down there, pushing felt good. As I began to push in the tub, the midwife grabbed the waterproof fetal doppler to listen to Hayes's heartrate. It was low. Really low. She immediately had me get out of the tub and walk back to the labor bed. They handed me an oxygen mask and all of the NICU nurses came in the room. Things got scary really quickly.
She had me lay on my left side with my right knee hiked up to my shoulder. I just kept looking at Harrison through my oxygen mask, terrified, as he reminded me to breathe. The midwife told me that Hayes was in distress and needed to get out quickly. She told me, "Push with all of your might, don't make any noise, just push." I pushed 4 times and then I heard her exclaim "We've got a head!" One more big push and his body was out and she laid him on my chest. What. a. moment. I just kept saying, "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god." as I held him. He was born at 10:36 pm! The nurse clamped the cord, Harrison cut the umbilical cord, I gave him a kiss, and they whisked him away to the warmer to make sure his heart rate was regular.
Next, I birthed the placenta. With a push or two, and the help of the midwife tugging on the umbilical cord, the placenta slid right out. Next, the midwife and the nurse began pushing on my abdomen to get out the excess blood. This was pretty painful since my abdomen was so sore from pushing and contractions. It felt kind of like they were pushing on a bruise and I could feel the blood gushing out of me. Not the best.
I think one of the things I was most terrified for, pre-birth, knowing I was going to go naturally, was tearing. I hear this fear circulate throughout so many women, because the thought of tearing something *down there* seems absolutely awful. Truth is I had a second degree tear (skin and a little bit of muscle) and had no idea whatsoever. Seriously! After everything was out of me I asked the midwife, "Did I tear?" because I had no idea. There is so much pressure happening down there while pushing, you can't feel a thing. The nurse simply sprayed me with lidocaine, injected lidocaine after the spray set in, and then gave me stitches. Another thing I couldn't feel!
We got to sit and stare and do some skin-to-skin with Hayes in the Labor and Delivery room for an hour or so until they wheeled us up to the postpartum floor. They got us settled in and we met the Postpartum nurse. She suggested that I try to go pee since I was still bleeding pretty heavily. I had lost over a liter of blood during delivery, which is a lot for a vaginal birth. The nurse and Harrison helped me walk over to the bathroom. When I sat down I got super lightheaded, my ears got really hot, and I had a hard time seeing straight. I stood up, took a step, looked at Harrison, and crumbled to the ground as Harrison caught me. Two nurses ran in and tried to keep me awake, but I was so lightheaded. They eventually got me back over to the bed and kept me on fluids overnight.
We stared at Hayes for so long, kept looking at each other in awe of what had just happened, and were amazed at the providence of God. We had visitors all day, got to bask in the baby snuggles, and went home two days later. What an incredible experience!