Baby Jaymes

June 17, 2008

The morning of my husband Joshua's 31st birthday began much earlier than we anticipated. Tuesday, June 17th started around 2:30 a.m. when I woke up with some cramping and quite a bit of bleeding. True panic hit when I realized that Jay wasn't moving, no matter how much I poked at him. I woke Joshua up and called Pamela (my midwife) who answered on the second ring. I told her what was happening and she instructed me to go straight to the nearest hospital, she would meet us there. Joshua began throwing things in a bag, and moments later, Pamela called back and told us to go to Baptist Hospital instead of Arrowhead, it is a little further, but much more "home-birth" friendly. We woke up our 4-year-old daughter, Ada, who immediately wished Josh a Happy Birthday and we all headed out for the hospital. On the ride there I was trying not to panic further, and was rewarded by a few faint movements from Jay. This was the first answer to the MANY prayers that I would send God throughout the rest of the day. 


At the hospital we were sent to Labor and Delivery triage where a lovely (at least she was lovely once we got to know her better) nurse, Catherine, monitored Jay and reported that his heart rate was great and he appeared to be moving. Catherine didn't much care for the attending physician and tried to reassure me that she would try to "get us out of there" as soon as possible. She checked my cervix and found that I was already dilated to about 3cm. She suspected the changes in my cervix were the cause of the bleeding. I was still in denial that my labor had started, so when I asked if it could still be several days before I actually when into full labor, Pamela, nurse Catherine, and the attending physician all gave each other a look and then Pamela gently suggested it might be closer to a few hours. After about a half hour of monitoring I was sent home to have a baby, though I still had my doubts.

When we got home around 5:30 I went back to bed to try to get some rest while Josh stayed up and played with Ada who was wide awake and ready to go. I was able to sleep pretty well though I did wake up periodically from some pretty intense "cramps". I was still denying that I was in labor. Around 7:00 I came out of the bedroom to play with Ada, but was distracted by more "cramps" and finally I had to admit to Joshua that it was possible that we were going to have a baby that day after all. I had every intention of playing Wii with Ada for a while, but I couldn't seem to concentrate on what I was doing while the "cramps" (let's call them contractions from now on) were coming every 4 minutes or so. I ended up on my knees next to the couch with my upper body resting on the cushions while I rocked and moaned through each one.

Pamela called around 8:00 to see how I was doing. I answered the phone and was going to tell her that I was fine and that it would probably be a while yet, but when another contraction hit I had to put down the phone and couldn't really talk. She pretty much told me that that was all she needed to know and she was going to call her assistant and head over soon. When she told me this, it sounded like a pretty good idea after all, so I didn't argue.

From this point on, the day gets a little less focused. I remember little details here and there, like asking people to pray for Jay and I, and Ada popping in and out to ask, "when is Jay going to get here?". I also remember a few distinct "phases" of the birth, I started out in bed trying to manage the contractions lying down or on all fours. While I was lying on my side somebody, I think it was Pam, at least at first, would gently stroke my back. It was such a tender feeling, I was truly comforted by this for some time. When I was on all fours, Joshua would hold my upper body up for me so that I could relax as much as possible. I wanted to lay down in between contractions, but needed to be up on my knees during them. The transition from laying to all fours was exhausting. Pamela suggested I try the bathtub. I had my doubts (it sounded like a tremendous amount of effort to get into the tub) but decided to try it. They filled the tub with warm water and after some negotiating on how to sit and position ourselves I pretty much got my way, with Joshua sitting behind me and me lying back against him. It was HEAVEN!!! The contractions slowed down and became much more manageable. I was even able to sleep a little between them. It was better than all the drugs in the hospital. I was reluctant to ever get out, but eventually Pamela suggested I try sitting on the toilet or walking around to get Jay to move down a bit. I tried both, and found that walking, though difficult, gave me a feeling of better control, so back and forth I walked from bedroom to bathroom, grabbing onto the nearest wall whenever a contraction would come. Pamela coached me on how to stand and move to help make each contraction more manageable or productive (I'm not sure which, perhaps both?) and I kept moving with her encouragement. It was during this phase that I experienced the first moment of doubt. I was exhausted beyond anything that I've ever felt before. I kept thinking that if the contractions would stop, I could fall asleep standing up. I understood for the first time how some women could get too tired to push at the end. I worried that I would be one of those women. I suppose one of the "blessings" of labor is that once you're in it, there is no going back. It didn't seem to matter to my body that I was having a mini-crisis of confidence, things just kept on moving.

I'm not sure at what point I became fully dilated, or how I was laboring at that time, but I do know that eventually Pam checked my cervix and announced that she couldn't feel anything, so I was told I could push if I wanted to. I had wanted to push for some time, not so much because I had an urge to push, but because I wanted to DO something to counteract all the pain. My water was still intact at this point (though I had tried in vain to "bounce" it into breaking during several contractions.) I think I requested the tub again, and was allowed to push some while in the tub. Pushing in the tub was difficult because I was having some back spasms or something like that whenever I tried to lie back and pull my legs up. We changed positions and I was aware of Joshua holding me up as I tried to squat in the tub. I didn't have a huge urge to push, but I wanted that darn water to break so badly, just to relieve some pressure and get things moving. Pamela, thankfully, hadn't given in when I requested (repeatedly, and I suspect none to kindly) that she break the water for me. Joshua reminded me often that I, "didn't really want Pamela to do anything", and I knew he was right even if I wasn't happy about it. The good news is my water did break while I was pushing in the tub, the bad news is Jay's heart rate plummeted when this happened. Pamela and her assistant somehow got me into the bed and put me on oxygen. They listened to Jay's heartbeat while trying to find a position for me to push in that agreed with him. Strangely enough, that position was flat on my back, not exactly what I had pictured when I was visualizing the birth, but you do what works. Apparently I was bleeding pretty badly and Pamela had to check my cervix to make sure that it hadn't gotten pulled down as Jay came down the birth canal. I didn't know this at the time, but when Pamela examined my cervix I had my first real moment of true 10.0 pain. I'm not proud of how I handled myself during that time, I was half pleading half demanding that she stop what she was doing and I allowed myself to fall apart for a few moments. Luckily she coached me into calming down and taking deep breaths, but then she did get really serious and told me that we had to get the baby out NOW. Well, I've always worked best under a deadline, so I think it was only about 3 more monster pushes after that and my beautiful baby boy was out of my body and lying on my tummy. I was so overwhelmed and thrilled, I kept looking at Josh to share this earth-shattering moment, but he seemed a bit distracted. I felt amazing, triumphant and relieved and so VERY grateful to God for having listened to all the prayers that I had spoken (and requested others speak) during the day. Pamela gave me an injection of Pitocin and put two dropper fulls of some nasty something-or-other under my tongue. I had a vague awareness that I was bleeding, everyone seemed busy and focused, but I was just exultant. Ada was there in the bed for a moment, I was so thrilled to have her there to meet our little man. I was told to push, though I didn't really feel any contractions, and the placenta was delivered. After that the bleeding (that I hadn't really been aware of) slowed down enough that everyone seemed to relax a bit. Pamela commented on how thick Jay's chord was and how healthy the placenta looked. And that was the end of a very difficult, very life changing experience. 

The bright, sparkling moments that came next were full of joy and details. When Pamela asked for his name, we all laughed when we realized nobody had bothered to check if "he" was in fact a "he". I was stitched up, Jay was cleaned and examined, and then I got a nice shower and somebody put fresh linens on the bed. I imagine a great many things took place during this time, but I was pretty busy loving on my little man and feeling like I had just won the world. He took to nursing on the first try. He was one of the two most perfect things I've ever been blessed to lay eyes on. The most profound miracles I'll ever experience.