On January 2nd at 9:42pm Nellie Elizabeth Jones came into the world and changed Adam and my lives. For anyone who’s interested (and mostly for my own recollection), below is her birth story. This post has been cobbled together in stollen moments over many sleepless days, so please excuse any typos or errors.
As I mentioned in no less than all my bump photo posts, since about week 23, I suffered from Braxton Hicks. As I also mentioned in a lot of my posts, Adam’s company had a new paternity leave policy that was enacted for all babies born in 2016. That meant if Nellie had been born in December Adam wouldn’t have qualified for paid leave. So I basically spent the end of my pregnancy having Braxton Hicks like crazy, wondering if they were going to send me into labor in December, meaning Adam wouldn’t get paid paternity leave. This was fun as hell! Because of this desire to have a baby born in 2016 I put myself and my Braxton Hicking self on self imposed bed rest.
Then New Years Day I woke up and was DONE with my modified bed rest. I was done being immobile. I was done being scared my Braxton Hicks would push me into labor in 2015 and Adam wouldn’t get his paternity leave. So with the freedom of 2016 upon us Adam and I bundled up, grabbed the dogs and headed to the dog park to walk this baby out.
Immediately things felt different. Heavy, low, uncomfortable. Normally with my fear of having a December baby, weird feelings like this would cause me to turn my ass around immediately and head home, sit down, stop whatever I was doing. But damn it, it was 2016 now, I was WALKING THIS BABY OUT! We did our two laps, I felt weird as hell the entire time, and we headed home. That night I also asked Adam to push on the pressure points in your feet that are supposed to induce labor. When he’d push I’d get this terrible pain all the way up my leg. I’d holler out, and tell him to do it again. I went to bed thinking we’d repeat the same BS the next day.
At 3:30am on 1/2/16 I went pee and thought, Hmmm this Braxton Hick feels…. painful? At 4:30am I went pee and thought, Hmmmm this Braxton Hick feels…. still kinda painful. At 5:30am I went pee and thought, Hmmmm, ok this Braxton Hick definitely doesn’t feel like a Braxton Hick because this really actually is painful, and it’s going away and then coming back. Could it be????
So I got back in bed, got out my contraction timing app, and began counting. My Braxton Hicks had always been painless and often lasting upwards of 2 minutes. These contractions I was feeling now had pain to them and they were all exactly 50 seconds long. Something was up.
I was in labor.
So of course I did what any rational person would do. I decided there was no point in waking Adam yet and instead I fed the dogs, packed my toiletry bag, took a shower and trimmed my downstairs. Plucked my eyebrows, added product to my hair (want to look nice for baby! HAHAHAHAHAH). By 7am the contractions were still there, still 50 seconds long, and a little more painful than they’d been at 5:30am. We were definitely going to have a baby.
I went into the guest room to wake Adam and asked him if he thought today was a good day to have a baby. As you can imagine, he immediately freaked the fuck out. He jumped into action while I lay in bed timing contractions and watching tv. He went and got snacks for the hospital (which he ate none of), he got the dogs ready for our departure, he packed hospital bags and did laundry and generally ran around like a chicken with his head cut off. He was running on so much adrenalin, it was adorable.
Everyone kept telling me to eat before I went to the hospital. EAT NOW BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO EAT AGAIN ONCE YOU’RE IN THE HOSPITAL. So we had breakfast, we watched some tv, the contractions got harder, required me to close my eyes and breathe through them. Eventually there was lunch, more contractions, and they’d now gotten hard enough that I asked Adam to push his fist into my back while they happened, counter the pain. I’d taped an agility dog show that morning (sooo random) and we watched it while the contractions came hard and fast. Cute dogs jumping over things were helping to distract me from the pain. Kinda. My friend wasn’t joking when a few years ago she’d texted me while in labor and said, “This labor stuff is no joke.”
Eventually the contractions hurt like hell and they’d changed from their 50 seconds to almost a minute and a half in length. They still were about 7 minutes apart though, not the 5 minutes apart you need to head to the hospital, but with how long they were lasting I started to wonder if length could get me to the hospital sooner where the drugs were. I called my doctor who quickly informed me that length of contraction meant nothing, and as a “first time mother” (a term that would be repeated at me throughout the rest of my labor) I probably could expect another 12 hours of labor at home (!!!!!!!!!!!!) followed by another 12 hours of labor once I got to the hospital (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). He said to buckle in and call him when they were 5 minutes apart and lasting for an hour.
I hung up the phone and stared at Adam with dead eyes.
24 more hours potentially? Someone hold me.
Except the minute I hung up the phone things started to change. Over the next half hour things went wild. My contractions got really strong, they began coming 3, sometimes 2 minutes apart, slamming into me as I moaned into the pillow. I lay on my side on the couch wondering how I was going to manage 12 more hours of this.
Then suddenly I felt a trickle. Like I’d accidentally peed myself. Then a little more, then a little more, and suddenly I realized my water was breaking. On my couch. I screamed to Adam that my water was breaking and I needed towels NOW. I couldn’t see him with my eyes closed, but I could hear the thunder of his legs as he ran faster as he’s run in his life for the linen closet. Before I knew it a PILE of towels were thrown on me. I grabbed one, threw it between my legs and began hobbling to the bathroom. By some amazing bit of luck I got nothing on the couch or the carpet. As I sat on the toilet and surveyed the damage I couldn’t believe it. My water had just broken. We were going to the hospital. Take that 12 more hours of laboring at home!
The ride to the hospital was as miserable as I’d imaged. Sitting on a towel, in a depend (glad I’d bought those per the suggestions of my friend!) wearing God knows what (so much for planning an outfit for the hospital) I clutched the seat and writhed in pain as we hit every single red light on the way to the hospital. Labor on the couch had hurt, labor in a moving car was the WORST.
Before I knew it though we were at the hospital. It was 4pm. A nurse retrieved me in a wheelchair and Adam scrambled like a mad man with bags and parking the car. As I was wheeled past the nurses desk our nurse asked for my room number and called out to the other ladies, “Her husband is parking the car, he’ll be in in a second. He’s a wreck!” They all cackled.
Once we’d gotten in the room it was a flurry of excitement. There were papers I had to sign, things I had to agree to, tubes I was hooked up to, things on my belly, an IV in my arm. That first hour or so in the hospital was such a blur. I told them I would like an epidural asap please and as they prepped us they assured me the anesthesiologist would be in to help relive my discomfort. I was checked and told I was 3 cm dilated. I spent most of my time in that hospital bed leaning to the right, clutching the railing on my bed, eyes closed, trying to breathe through the pain. Throughout all of my labor I was surprisingly quiet. I assumed I would have been a screamer, moaner, person who wailed and thrashed since my pain threshold is so low. And yet I was a whisperer. I could hardly speak above a squeak. The nurse NEVER could hear me, Adam had to be my translator through every whisper and mumble. More water please, I’d croak and the nurse would turn and say, WHAT? Over and over we failed to communicate. As the contractions became more severe one would hit me and I’d whisper, Oh fuuuuuuuuuck.
Eventually the anesthesiologist arrived with the drugs. Thank you baby Jesus. Adam left the room and I clutched the nurse as I rolled my back, leaned forward and held still waiting for the prick. The numbing shot was the worst part. After a prick the medicine hits your back and all the way deep into your back you feel like a zillion little bees are stinging you over and over. But then just like it comes, it goes. The epidural needle goes through and you feel pressure as it moves deep into your back. It would be horrible if you weren’t fighting for stillness through the contractions. As soon as we’d started it was over. I was tapped up, told to lay back and told that over the next four contractions they would get shorter and less painful until they would disappear. I lay back and waited for sweet relief.
Except… it never came. My right leg went numb, and that was about it. Each contraction still felt as horrible as the last. Even better, three different times throughout my labor I would get hit with a contraction more powerful than all that had come before them. It would hit me like a freight train and suddenly I’d whisper scream for the bed pan. The pain so violent and so much harder than what had come before that I’d be sick.
After 45 minutes of continued pain I asked the nurse if possibly something wasn’t working with my epidural. The anesthesiologist was brought back and the nurse and he wondered if maybe I was progressing faster than the epidural could keep up? Noooooo they exclaimed. Impossible! She’s a first time mom! Her labor couldn’t be going that fast! Except after checking I’d moved to 5cm dilated in a heartbeat.
It was decided the epidural should be removed and reapplied. Again I clutched the nurse, held still as it was removed and reinstalled in my back. I was told they’d put extra juice in my epidural to kick it into gear and I should feel better in four contractions. All I felt was even more of a numb right leg. 20 minutes later I was in even more pain with no end in sight. The nurse and anesthesiologist proclaimed it was impossible I was still moving too fast for the epidural, I was a FIRST TIME MOM AFTER ALL (will people please stop saying this?)! Except I was checked once again and wouldn’t you know it, I was 10 cm dilated.
It was time to have this baby.
With this news I turned to Adam and said, “Does this mean I’m going to feel all of this?” The nurse looked at me with her sad eyes and let me know that if the other two hadn’t worked I was going this alone. There was no more help available. I felt defeated, exhausted, and also pretty mad. I hadn’t planned on a mostly natural birth with one numb leg THANKYOUVERYMUCH. I was supposed to come to the hospital and get the good drugs! Sadly this would not be my reality.
The doctor was called, the pushing began, and I have to say everyone’s comments about how pushing was better than labor because you had somewhere to focus the pain was bullshit. My feet would sit in the stirrups as I breathed and waited for the next contraction, dreading it. As it built I’d curse silently to myself, reach up to grab my legs, bear down and those first few seconds of pushing would hurt more than anything before. I tried to focus on the push, focus on Adam’s voice counting down, but all I wanted was it to end. After an hour of pushing and them proclaiming her head was moulding, but still not there I asked for help. Could we maybe use the vacuum? This labor had been long, so unexpectedly fast, so very much so NOT pain free, and I just didn’t have the strength anymore. My doctor asked me to push for another half hour, and if we were still stuck, he’d help me out. When after an hour and a half of pushing he hooked the baby’s head up to the vacuum and told me on the next contraction he’d apply pressure to help her head out and I felt like the happiest woman alive. We were so close, she was almost here.
That final contraction I pushed with all my might and felt the added pull from the doctor. Adam gasped, “There’s her head!” and the nurse told me to look down. There was my baby’s face. Purple and bloody and a mess, but none the less, there was my baby. We held for the next contraction, and then another big push as she came into the world and was placed on my chest.
I looked down at this baby we’d made, then up to Adam’s face, then to our baby, then back to Adam as tears rolled down my cheeks. She was finally here.
As I was tended to Adam joined Nellie at the warming table where she was pronounced healthy and happy and all ours. There was such a flurry and blur of excitement as she was tended to, I was tended to (OMG when they ‘massage’ your uterus to remove blood clots and encourage shrinking, that shit HURTS), and before I knew it this baby we’d made was handed back to me. I held her and looked into her eyes.
I was officially a mom now.
It has been three weeks since she was born and I hardly know where the time has gone. We’ve learned so much about life with a demanding newborn, we’ve had some of the hardest nights of our lives (why oh why are the nights so hard? who invented these little non-sleeping monsters?) and some of the loveliest moments snuggling, holding, kissing and loving on this little turkey we call Nellie. I’ve felt surrounded by this tribe of motherhood, and also had what felt like some of the loneliest moments of my life. I’ve felt the surge of instinctual motherhood, I’ve baffled at my ability to sustain life with my own body, and I’ve cried tears of frustration when I’ve wondered if everything I’m doing is wrong.
Sometimes I’m still shocked when I look into this tiny little face and I realize she’s ours to love, protect, and pull our hair out about for the rest of our lives.
But by some magical fate I was entrusted with this little person.
Here’s to the rest of our lives little Nellie girl. We’re really tired, but we’re so happy you’re ours.