Radley’s due date was 8/7/15. Although I had told myself throughout my pregnancy that it was likely he would be late, I was getting anxious to meet our little bundle of joy as his date was approaching. After 8 weeks of Bradley Method classes with Liza Janda, Zack and I felt prepared to embark on our journey of a natural child birth. We had also recently switched to a new OB, Dr. Cap, just two weeks prior… he was supportive and encouraging of our birth plan and we were confident that he would do everything he could to help us achieve a natural birth.
Throughout my pregnancy I stayed active and kept up on my exercise: swimming, practicing yoga and frequenting the gym on a regular basis. I had been advised that approaching the due date, walking and doing stairs may help to kick start labor. Having maintained an active pregnancy, I was a bit skeptical that this would be the trigger but thought as I neared my date that it wouldn’t hurt to add more of this movement to my routine. Zack and I started walking more the week prior to my due date and I noticed that it would often trigger some Braxton Hicks contractions… Maybe the experts were onto something.
Thursday afternoon, 8/6, I was getting a bit stir crazy as I had been working from home all week and needed to get out of the house. I called up my sister in law, Mariah, and asked if she wanted walk around Discovery Lake with me. She headed right over and we walked around and around the loop for a little over 3.5 miles. As usual I had some little contractions throughout our walk but figured they were just more Braxton Hicks in preparation for the big event. It sure felt good to get out and move. I invited Mariah to stay for dinner with Zack and I and made one of our house favorites, BBQ Chicken Salads. Sitting at dinner I felt a pretty strong contraction, definitely one of the stronger ones I had felt but there was only one. We wound down the evening and headed off to bed looking forward to tomorrow as we would reach the milestone of Baby Benson’s due date and it was my last day of work, yay!
At 1:00 in the morning, 8/7, I woke up thinking my water was breaking. I felt a couple gushes of fluid coming out of me and on the third one I was awake enough to think I should hop out of bed and head to the bathroom. I was wearing a light day pad and it was completely soaked. The liquid was light yellow and from what I understood, amniotic fluid is clear. It didn’t smell like urine but I wasn’t continuing to leak so I thought maybe this was just some mucous. I mentioned it to Zack as he woke up when I crawled back into bed but we figured we shouldn’t get too excited and ought to just go back to sleep. Shortly after heading back to bed I had a strong cramping contraction that was pretty intense and it definitely lasted longer than the previous Braxton Hicks contractions I had experienced. Again, not wanting to get too excited, I thought to myself I need to just get back to sleep. Between 1:00 and 2:00 I had 3 of these contractions and at 2:00 told Zack that I didn’t think I could get back to sleep.
Zack decided to time the contractions and between 2:00 and 2:30 I had 3 of them at almost exactly 10 minutes apart, lasting about 1.5 minutes each. At this point I was out of bed trying to find a more comfortable position for managing the contractions. On my knees I befriended my exercise ball with arms wrapped wide around it rocking back and forth as the contractions passed. Zack would stand behind me with our rebozo rubbing it back and forth across my hips to relieve some of the pressure through each contraction. At about 2:30 the contractions took a quick jump ahead to about 4 minutes apart, according to my wonderful coach, Zack, who was diligently keeping track. I remember telling him as they sped up that I was having after shocks as I didn’t think they should be so close so quickly. I figured these were just little ones in between, although they certainly didn’t feel little when they hit. I was becoming very vocal “whooing and haaing” as the contractions passed. After a couple contractions at 4 minutes apart, they jumped to about 2 minutes apart. Zack decide to call Mariah as she wanted to be notified as soon as we knew we were in labor so she could be at the house with us to help with anything she could. He also called my sister so she could alert the family in AZ that the baby was on the way.
After a few contractions at 2 minutes apart, Zack decided to call Dr. Cap. Dr. Cap said it was unlikely that labor would progress that quickly, especially for a first time mom, and encouraged Zack to get me into a bath as that may possibly slow things down. Comfortable with my ball, it took some convincing for me to move to a different position. Thinking I would like the tub, I agreed to make the move. On the way I insisted on using the restroom and realized I had started bleeding. Seemed like the bloody show I had heard about but I didn’t know how much blood to expect… Zack called Dr Cap again to let him know about the bleeding and he assured us that this was all normal. That said, if we would feel more comfortable laboring at the hospital, he encouraged us to go ahead and make our way there. Since we intended to spend most of our time laboring at home, I took to the tub in hopes that it would provide a bit of relief. Intensity continued to gain and I became more vocal, continuing the “whoos and haas” as each contraction passed. Maintaining the pace of about 2 minutes apart, if that, and lasting about 1.5 minutes long, Zack suggested that maybe we make our way to the hospital around 3:30. Considering I could barely talk or walk I thought we were probably safe to head there and get a room. I just hoped that I would be dilated enough to be admitted when we got there. I didn’t want to be one of those first time moms that got to the hospital too early. After slowly exiting the bath and getting through the immense task of dressing, with Zack’s help and guidance, we got in the car at about 4:00 and headed off to the hospital. Mariah followed us in her car and called the hospital to let them know we were on our way. So much for baking the cookie dough I had in the freezer for the nurses and the cupcakes to celebrate Baby Benson’s first birthday. You know the song “if I knew you were comin’ I’d have baked a cake. J”
The car ride was not comfortable, sitting was about the last position I wanted to be in. As the contractions got more and more intense I did everything I could to focus on my breathing and continued through my chanting vocalizations. Zack chanted with me and I found it comforting that he was part of my vocalization. As my pitch got higher, he got louder and lowered his pitch which helped encourage me to relax. I was very grateful that there was no traffic and was quite thankful for each green light crossed. Windows down, the cool early morning air was very refreshing. Continuing our chanting as we pulled up to a light, the guy in his car next to us probably wondered what the heck was going on as we were quite the duo with the sounds we were making.
We finally made it to the hospital at about 4:30. Zack pulled up like a VIP to the front door so we didn’t have to walk all the way across the parking lot. He said he was going to run in and get me a wheelchair and I told him I didn’t want one, I was not interested in having to sit any longer. He proceeded to get the chair anyways and wheeled it up to my car door. I grabbed the arm rests of the wheelchair and started pushing it backwards towards the entrance of the hospital as I was adamant about not sitting down. We made it to the sliding doors and the security guard was standing at the entrance. Another intense contraction hit and I couldn’t move. There we stood “whooing and haaing” as the automatic doors opened and closed, opened and closed and opened and closed. After the contraction passed Zack talked me into sliding into the chair so we could get to the maternity ward. As we entered the maternity corridor a cheerful nurse by the name of George greeted us. The charge nurse had Zack sign a paper, confirmed Dr. Cap was our OB and sent us off to a room with George to get checked for dilation. George handed me a cup and asked me to provide a urine sample so I sat on the toilet but was unable to urinate. The contractions were coming very fast and intense that I couldn’t focus on anything else. Another nurse standing outside the restroom told me not to push. I didn’t notice I was pushing but when she said that I realized that my body was just doing the work for me. Since I could not provide a urine sample the nurse told me to just head to the bed so they could check me. George said he was going to take a swab sample of my discharge and then would check for dilation. As soon as he took the swab and looked at me, he said he was just going to go ahead and check my dilation right away. Promptly he advised the nursing team that I was complete plus two, I was in disbelief. He advised the other nurses to get the delivery table and everyone started moving very quickly. Mariah had arrived and was ready to take some photos to capture this beautiful moment. I saw one of the nurses hanging a bag of something after my IV was started and got nervous that they were giving me something without my consent. I asked what it was and turned out it was just a bag of water. Zack advised George that we intended to have a natural, un-medicated, birth and he was very receptive and understanding of our wishes. The urge to push was strong and the nurses kept telling me to pretend I was blowing out birthday candles and to try not to push as Dr. Cap was still on the way. Fortunately, waiting for Dr. Cap gave the nursing team just enough time to administer a dose of antibiotics as I had tested positive for GBS and needed them in my system prior to delivery. I apologized to the nurses for not having had time to bake them their cookies and they got a good laugh out of that. What seemed like forever was only a few minutes time before Dr. Cap arrived. His demeanor was comforting as he walked in and asked the nurses to dim the lights, raise the table and said “let’s have a baby!” As the next contraction came, I pushed and it felt great as I didn’t think I could hold back any longer. When your body tells you to push it’s extremely difficult to not. After the first couple pushes Dr. Cap encouraged me to push harder and coached me through my technique. At about the 4th push the baby’s heart rate started dropping significantly, it went from about 120 to 60 and Dr. Cap’s tone of voice suddenly changed. He advised that I needed to push the baby out on the next contraction or we were going to have to discuss other options. I told him I thought I could do it and was thinking to myself, what other options? I was not having a C-section (although I didn’t know if that was even what he was implying, I didn’t want it to get to that point), I was going to push this baby out. Dr. Cap was concerned that the cord might be wrapped around the baby’s neck so on the next push he was able to bring his fingers down to the baby’s neck and sure enough he pulled the cord up and over the baby’s head. I gave it everything I had, pushing as hard as I possibly could and out came little Radley Benson. Born at 5:13am weighing 7lbs 15oz and measuring 20” in length. What an absolutely perfect baby. Dr. Cap put him right up on my chest and when he started crying I was full of joy. Zack and the nurses massaged him to get his blood flowing and cleaned him up a bit with warm towels. As I lay there with little Radley, Dr. Cap stitched me up as I had torn during the delivery. George walked me through how to breast feed little Radley and our first attempt went very well. Of course Radley was quite tired from delivery but he was sucking at the nipple like a champ! As we were bonding as a new family, Dr. Cap put some pressure on my abdomen and delivered the placenta. After delivering the baby the placenta seemed to just slip right out. Dr. Cap stuck around for a short while to ensure my bleeding was under control. I was loosing quite a bit of blood so the he advised the nurses to go ahead and administer a small amount of pitocin to get it under control. I hadn’t wanted this originally but as I laid there feeling the bleeding I was grateful to have a little something to help control the loss. Once the bleeding was under control, Dr. Cap left us in the hands of the nurses for recovery. George was great at explaining what kinds of tests and procedures they perform on newborns and left it up to Zack and I to decide what was best for our child. I was able to hold little Radley for close to 2 hours before George and Zack took him from my arms to weigh, measure and do the standard newborn checkup. What a special time for Zack and I had to just bond with our new son.
Before heading up to recovery, George and another nurse encouraged me to use the restroom. Considering my bladder felt quite full, I graciously accepted their help to get to the bathroom. I slowly got up from the bed as they advised me to take it easy since I had just lost a lot of blood. On the toilet, they closed the door to give me some privacy but advised that they were right outside if I started feeling dizzy or light headed. George kept talking to me and asking how I was feeling when suddenly I informed him that I was feeling a bit queasy and light headed. He came right in and caught me as I was passing out and falling off the toilet seat. So glad George was on it or I would have been on the floor! Honestly, I didn’t realize I had completely passed out until Zack was telling the story when we were up in recovery. Looking back, I recall coming to as they were putting me in a wheelchair. They were talking to me but I couldn’t hear what they were saying for a few seconds and then all of the sudden I came back to consciousness. Once we had all shaken off this incident, George took us up to our room for recovery.
In our recovery room Zack and I enjoyed some time alone bonding with Radley before we had any visitors join us. What an absolutely incredible, life changing experience. I’m so very lucky to have had the encouraging and positive energy from Zack throughout my labor, he was such a big part of keeping me relaxed and focused. You just never know what you are going to get with a child birth. We were prepared for the marathon labor and all and all it was about 4 hours from start to finish, I would certainly say more of a sprint. We feel truly blessed to have had such a great laboring experience with a healthy mama and baby.
Here’s to a great new chapter as a family of 3 🙂