Jonah’s Birth Story
It’s a long one.
As you know, we’ve been doing all our prenatal care at Breath of Life in preparation for a natural birth. There are so many reasons to choose to birth this way, but like I said, this was a long process. Sometimes things change.
I started feeling very mild contractions around 1 AM on the 15th. When they came, they were regular, but they would taper off for awhile too. At any rate, it was clear that I would not get much sleep, if only for the excitement that something was finally happening. When Mitch got up to use the bathroom around 6 AM, I filled him in, and he joined me on the couch to play the waiting game (or in his case, video games).
We hung out Wednesday just watching things progress. We informed the important people that it looked like things were getting started. Unfortunately, this convinced my mom there would be a baby any minute. Sorry, Mom.
We decided to pass some time by going to get some last minute items at Babies R’ Us. We got a diaper pail, some bottles, and cabinet locks. There was only one contraction during our time there, so we drove over to the mall to kill some more time. I texted some with our doula Melissa to keep her informed. We walked around, and Mitch even put up with seeing The Vow with me. At that point, we figured we would head home and keep waiting.
Around midnight or so, I noticed that contractions were more intense and regular. I took a bath to see if that changed anything, and if anything they seemed to become more frequent. I talked to Mitch, Melissa, and our midwife, and shortly after 2 AM, we were headed to the birthing center.
We arrived around 3 AM and Chris checked me out. I was still in early labor at about 3 cm, but since we now live a good distance away from the center, we opted to stay there. I tried to get some sleep in the glider with a heating pad on my back, and Mitch slept in the bed. I decided a shower would provide some relief, and around 7 AM that’s where my water broke.
The hours went by. The contractions came and came and CAME. I spent some time in the tub. The first time definitely relieved some pain and lifted my spirits, but it was still a long uphill battle. I paced. I texted my wife that labor sucks. I laid in the bed. I rocked on a birthing ball. I got back in the shower. Eventually I got back in the tub. I spent a lot of time there this time. I started to realize that I may not be able to handle much more. Of course, everyone tried to reassure me that I could, but I was pretty sure I knew my body.
Around 4 PM, Chris had me get out of the tub and onto the bed. In between switching sides, she checked me again, and I was only at 6 or 7 cm. At that point, she told me that I could stay there and keep working, but it was okay if I wanted to transfer to the hospital as well. They gave Mitch and me some privacy, but I knew that I wanted to go. I needed to go.
We gathered our things and got in the car. It just so happened to be rush hour and it seemed like we hit every red light possible, but we arrived at St. Pete General around 6 PM. Even though it seemed like forever at the time, we were in a room and admitted pretty quickly. Most importantly, the epidural came quickly as well.
At that point, things get a little blurry for awhile. When the doctor arrived, I was still only barely 7 cm. She was skeptical that I would get out without a C-section. I was put on pitocin and helped to my side. Time passed, and the doctor checked again; still not much change. She asked to put in a catheter to monitor the strength of the contractions. She was worried that I was actually farther along than Breath of Life estimated because my 20-week ultrasound estimated my due date to be January 29th, not February 13th. I really didn’t want the monitor because of how uncomfortable the foley had been (I made her take it out). I caved though and confirmed two things: 1) My epidural was not really working right. 2) The catheter was a mistake because after two (painful) tries, they couldn’t even get it to work.
At this point the pain was once again terrible, and I was so tired. The nurse gave me something while we waited for the anesthesiologist to return. In my memory, it didn’t actually kick in until he gave me something extra as well, but Mitch says I got a little loopy. Either way, I finally had some peace. I got a little rest, although the pressure was mounting. At some point, the pushing instinct kicked in, so they did another check. I was almost there, about 9.75 cm. The nurse tried one push to see if I could get past it, but no luck. They gave me some more time during which (sorry if this is TMI) I was pretty sure my butt was going to just explode. It was nearly impossible not to push.
Eventually, the pushing started, though. The progress was slow like everything else. His head was at an awkward angle, and he was having trouble making it beyond my pubic bone. When the doctor came in, she tried to redirect him repeatedly without much lasting success. The threat of a c-section was still hanging over us, but she let me keep working. It was absolutely exhausting. I wasn’t sure I could keep going, but there was also much more relief in pushing than in fighting it. She performed an episiotomy just to make things any degree easier possible.
Finally, after about 2 hours of pushing, Jonah Eckert Day was born at 2:56 AM on February 17, 2012.
He cried. He was covered in meconium. He was finally here.
As Mitch has said, we spent nearly a year planning for a natural birth, and we ultimately had almost every medical intervention possible. And you know what? I’m not disappointed at all. I think we made every right decision. My experience isn’t what I imagined, but I have my baby here in my lap. I feel pretty good. He’s perfect.