Monday, June 1, 2015
Writing William's birth story has been weighing on my mind as I feel with each passing moment, the details are becoming more and more foggy. It was such a whirlwind to begin with, but nothing in comparison to the whirlwind of bringing a newborn into an already busy family at the end of the school year! Here's the story of how Jeff and I hand delivered our 4th child into the world. This pregnancy was a little different than my others. I had experienced a miscarriage right before I became pregnant this time, so the dating and timing was all a little bit off. I had an early u/s at 7 weeks to check the viability of the pregnancy and it showed my due date off 9 days (April 29th) from where I had calculated it (April 20th). My OB suggested splitting the difference and moving the due date back 5 days to April 25th. I was wishy washy on the idea simply because all of my other kids had been born so close to their due dates (calculated by first day of last period + 40 weeks - 7 days), but went with it knowing in my own mind I would likely deliver closer to the 20th. Fast forward to April 20th and the many long days that followed it as I remained steadfastly pregnant. Watching the 20th come and go, the 25th come and go, my mother and father-in-law come and go from Florida and finally the 29th come and go. I was missssssserable. Being so far overdue is truly mental torture. Each day coming and going with hope squashed and another painstaking day following with the same disappointment. All the kid coverage we had scheduled, work coverage for Jeff, etc had all expired and each day we found ourselves scrambling to come up with a plan for the big "IF" I went into labor. My phone chimed every 15 minutes with another friend or family member checking in to see if anything was happening and each time I had to deliver the disappointing news that "NOPE...still here...still waiting!" Twice during those overdue days I had contractions start and get into a pattern. They weren't painful at all but they were regular 'tightening' contractions that seemed to be early labor. Both times, after about 3 hours of consistent contractions, they would completely stop only to never start up again. My weekly midwife appointments weren't much help in the morale department. Hardly dilated, babies head not engaged but rather 'buoyant' meaning when they pushed against the baby's head, they could move it. They had me do a plethora of positions and exercises to try and get baby to drop into position. They also had me go see a chiropractor to see if something could potentially be out of whack with my pelvis that could be corrected therefore allowing baby to drop. All the while, I had this odd pain on my pubic bone which I had never experienced in pregnancy. It felt like the baby's head was just sitting there pushing against it vs tucking behind it. This would prove valuable information in the coming days. On Thursday the 30th I had another round of contractions start and continue throughout the day. They were more reminiscent of early labor in my previous pregnancies. They would establish a pattern but all would radiate out my back. I was so discouraged at this point. Back labor - the WORST! Even though these contractions weren't terribly strong and I felt no downward pressure of them making any progress, they were miserably uncomfortable in my back. These continued on throughout the day...only to stall out every 4-6 hours. They would suddenly stop and be completely gone for an hour or two before starting back up. Thursday night I had them most of the night keeping me up. I'd lay in bed and time them only to fall asleep when they would eventually stall. I woke up Friday morning in MISERY. 11 days overdue, a sleepless night of contractions after having them all the previous day and I was no where further than I was before. I decided to call the midwife and see what the heck my options were at this point. She suggested I come in and have my membranes stripped to see if it might get things going and keep them going. I met her there and she did an u/s to check baby's position since I was having labor in my back and because it didn't seem baby's head was all that low even now...after a good 24 hours of contractions. She was suspicious that the baby could be face up (posterior) and that the contractions were my body trying to move him into the right position. This could explain the pressure on my pubic bone and also the lack of dilation if his head wasn't facing the right way to make his way down. The u/s showed him sort of angled toward my hip bone, but not completely face up. So after the membrane stripping, she said to go take a nap, get some dinner and keep busy in hopes that tonight would be the night. She also mentioned my cervix was effaced enough that once baby was ready to drop, it would move really quickly. These will be the words that forever ring in my mind;-) The rest of the day went on and the contractions continued as they had been. By Friday evening, I. was. miserable. My body was sore to the touch from being so tense for so long. I couldn't sleep because of the contractions and they all stayed in my back...no progress, just a repeat pounding of my lower back hour after hour. We went to dinner and I sat there breathing through contractions and unable to talk only to get home and have them STOP. AGAIN. COMPLETELY. At 10:30pm I called Jeff into the kitchen and told him I was done. I couldn't do this anymore. Approaching hour 36 of contractions and no further than I was 2 days ago. I couldn't take it anymore, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I wanted out. He suggested we go to the hospital then and just ask to be induced but I refused because I figured they'd just send me home being I was dilated 1 cm and at that moment, not having a single contraction. We agreed we'd call in the morning and devise a plan for an induction. By the way, I was a complete mess by this point. I was crying and pretty much would have sold my soul to the devil to bring this to an end. Before we headed up to bed, I looked at the time and made a comment to Jeff that, "I guess it won't be a May 1st baby afterall." May 1st was a significant day in both of our families - my Great Aunt's birthday, both of Jeff's Grandparents birthdays, Jeff's cousin's birthday and his brother and sister-in-law's anniversary. We thought how fun it would be to have our baby share their birthday with so many loved ones. Jeff climbed into bed and I sat in our doorway staring at the bed. Jeff suggested I rest and I remember dreading getting into bed because I was so uncomfortable and knew I'd just be laying there awake, in pain for hours. I finally got in and settled and had another contraction. Hmmmmmm...this got my attention...it was bigger, stronger and lasted substantially longer than the others. In fact, by the peek of it, I was sort of yelling out to Jeff. He was caught a little off guard and once it ended he declared he'd be calling my parents, this was ridiculous - we should just go to the hospital. I told him not to because I had no idea if I'd have anymore or if it was just going to stall out again. I told him I'd go to the bathroom and wait to see if I had another one (he called my parents anyway). 5 minutes, 6 minutes, 11 MINUTES later, I finally have another one...and it's big. Nice and strong and primarily on my abdomen (not back). Happy, happy, joy - maybe the tides are changing. So I told Jeff I would finally give the midwife a call and tell her we'd head to the hospital. There were still 10-11 minutes between contractions, so I still hadn't had another one. I left her a voicemail saying I had no idea if this was really it - but this was the first time I had felt some bigger contractions so we were going to head to the hospital. I said we'd be there in about 30 minutes. I got dressed, threw a few things in my bag, mosied down the stairs and was waiting in the hallway for my parents to arrive. Here comes the next contraction - and it's big...bigger than the previous two. Pretty darn huge...but it ends eventually. Jeff's getting antsy at this point telling me to get my shoes on as he's loading the truck and what am I doing? Still being stubborn saying I'll get my shoes on when my parents get there and to stop telling me what to do. I GOT THIS. So Jeff walks outside to start the truck so we are ready to go and the next contraction comes. And it starts...and it doesn't stop...and I am paralyzed in the hallway trying to yell out for Jeff but literally can not get a sound or a breath out. It must have lasted two full minutes long not letting up for even a second. I managed to make a few noises that Jeff finally heard and he comes running inside. He sees me and immediately grabs me under my arms and we are now running to the car. I'm saying over and over, "We have to go, we have to go, we have to go" and he's saying something to me like, "It's ok, we're gonna go. Everything's going to be ok." The contraction finally stops and we jump in the car and as soon as I get in there, I'm looking for somewhere I can lay down. I have no idea why...I just really wanted a place to lay down or attempt to get comfortable. In my mind, I remember thinking the backseat was too full of stuff and there was no way I was going to be comfortable in the front seat. I wasn't having a contraction at this point and I suddenly felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I told Jeff I wanted to run in and go quick and it registered in HIS mind that this wasn't a good sign. This didn't register in my mind, I really did think that I'd be more comfortable riding there if I didn't need to go to the bathroom. So we got out of the car and the next contraction hit so he's pretty much carrying me back into the house. I make it inside and into the bathroom where I pretty much fall over on the toilet. I was thinking to myself, hurry up and go because you really need to get to the hospital before you have the baby. I started to push...thinking I was going to the bathroom, only to realize what was really going on here...and I started to panic. It was completely internal and the things I remember about that moment are so random. I remember seeing the window and really studying it, I remember there were no lights on in the bathroom, it was just dark. I remember thinking there was no way we were making it to Abbott or Southdale. I remember wondering how in the hell I was going to get to an epidural. I told Jeff to grab a garbage can because I was going to be sick but by the time he ran back with it (about 2 seconds later), that feeling had already passed and I was on to the next stage. In that moment, I realized that there weren't going to be any car rides, or hospitals, or doctors or epidurals. I was having the baby right there and it was all going to be over in a matter of moments. Once I realized that, I actually felt a sense of calm. I was afraid of the pain and uncertainty carrying on and on and at that point, I knew it was a matter of moments until it was over. So I started repeating over and over to Jeff to "Call 911, call 911, call 911" and he was repeating to me, "Sarah, your dad's going to be here in a minute and we are going to go to the hospital - we are going to the hospital - we are going to the hospital." Another contraction must have started because I knew the baby was coming then. Oddly enough, I have no recollection of pain at this point. Jeff said I looked like I was in pain, feet and hands curled, moving and shaking all over - but I have no recollection of that. I think my body had gone into shock and my brain was no longer registering the feelings. I started saying over and over, "The baby is coming out now, the baby is coming out now" and Jeff finally dialed 911. I remember him yelling into the phone, "4*** Drexel my wife is having a baby - NO...the baby is coming out!" And he threw the phone to the side and reached out to grab the baby's head, followed by his shoulders and the rest of him. Although I don't remember the feeling of pain when he came out, I do remember the incredible sensation that he was leaving my body and I could breath again. Sure enough, he came out face up which explains so many things - the back labor, the fact that his head wouldn't come down and engage, the lack of dilation, etc. My water never broke, I never had any spotting or any other 'normal' symptoms of labor. After he was out I sort of fell back down on the toilet and Jeff held him up to me. The baby looked unrecognizable and wasn't crying. To be honest, I thought he was deformed, he had webs extending from his ears to his shoulders. Jeff turned him to try and sweep his mouth out to get him to cry and realized he was still in the sack. My water had never broken during the contractions and he appeared as though he was covered with a plastic bag. So Jeff reached in his mouth and sort of peeled the sack off him like a hood. He held him back up to me and we were both like, "Ok, that's better...now what?" He started to whimper a little and Jeff handed him to me. He was still attached by the cord so there wasn't much room to move him. I held him close to my stomach and rubbed his back to try and get him to cry. Slowly he made more and more noise and let out a good cry. Jeff ran upstairs to grab some towels to keep him warm and we could hear the police sirens coming into the neighborhood. I just stayed where I was with the baby and Jeff went outside to flag them down. When the police officer got there, he was calm. We both appreciated this because the adrenaline was still running pretty high. I should mention that before he got there, there were these moments between Jeff and I. A lot of staring at eachother in disbelief and crying and laughing at the same time. Jeff kept coming to me and putting his arms around me and saying, "You did it." It was the strangest rollercoaster of emotion. I felt such relief it was over. Just pure euphoria that the pain was gone and we were both seemingly ok. I was so glad I didn't have him in the car. I mean really, I think that's as awful as it could get being that our drive would have taken us down Lake Street at 11pm on a Friday night. So the officer asked us good questions like, "Is the cord around his neck?" (it wasn't) and "Is it a boy or girl?" (we hadn't even looked). He was just overall a calm presence and we were grateful for that at that point. The ambulance arrived another 2 or 3 minutes after the police and came right in. There were maybe 4 or 5 of them (all men) and they got right to work. They clamped the cord and asked Jeff if he wanted to cut it (he did) and they wrapped little Will up in a foil blanket like you see runners wear after a long race. I do remember telling them I was concerned about Will breathing and about whether or not I was going to hemorrhage and faint and fall to the ground with an attached infant in my arms. My parents arrived during this mix. The last they had heard from us we were casually thinking of heading to the hospital. When they turned the corner of our street and saw police and ambulance at our house, they were obviously shaken. They sped down the street, threw the car in park and left it in the middle of the street. They ran up our driveway only to be greeted by the officer who said, "Grandpa? It's ok...it's a boy." My mother walked in the back door quite hysterical. She came in the bathroom and gave me a hug and then proceeded to immediately dial up both of my brothers. She was standing there amidst the chaos of paramedics and a now screaming infant telling them I'd had the baby in the house. The paramedics told me there was a stretcher out back for me and I could walk out to it. Hmmmmmm...walk out to it. Ok. So I looked at the clothes and sandals around my ankles and the pool of amniotic fluid all over the floor and cord still attached to me and wondered how exactly I do that. My mom wrapped a towel around me (with all 5 male paramedics watching on) and I walked out to the stretcher in a shirt covered in every substance known to mankind. It was a humbling and honestly, hysterical moment. I even had my dad snap this photo to document this unimaginable moment in time.