Friday, January 29, 2010

Julius: A Birth Story

Yesterday we celebrated Julius' 3rd birthday. I can't believe my first baby boy is now three! As I looked back through his baby pictures, I was inspired to document his birth story. Remember, I am the bad mommy who does not keep baby books or journals, so this blog is a sort of redemption for me in that area. I love reading birth stories, especially during my pregnancies. I hope you enjoy!

In late January 2007, I was making my way through my final weeks of pregnancy. I was huge, a whopping 45 pounds above my normal weight, and getting anxious for the arrival of our first son. I remember on the evening of January 26th, just around two weeks before my due date, I made a phone call to my mother, as I sat on the couch trying my best to relax. I have a tendency to nest quite a bit towards the ends of my pregnancy and I tend to work myself sick instead of kicking back and putting my feet up. I remember lamenting to my mother that I wish I could just go into labor that night because my house was perfectly clean, my laundry was all washed and put away, and I knew that in just a matter of days (or hours) all of my hard work would be undone. She comforted me and told me it would be soon enough and to not worry about laundry or housework.

The next day was Saturday and I spent the day doing weird things like scrubbing the kitchen floor and such. I don't think I sat down the entire day. As the day wore on, Nate started coming down with the flu. By evening he was feeling very sick and I did my best to take care of him, even though I thought I was having some contractions. By bedtime he asked for some NyQuil. I reluctantly got the medicine for him, but then warned him that I was having some contractions and questioned whether or not he should take something that would make him so drowsy. He asked if my contractions were regular and close together. I told him not at all. He said that he thought he would be fine as long as he could get a handful of hours of sleep. He took the NyQuil and went to bed around 11 p.m. I, of course, puttered around for another hour. My contractions were making me a bit nervous, so I set out clothes for our daughter, Layla, and for Nathan and myself. I even checked my hospital bag to make sure it was ready to go. I finally headed to bed after midnight and fell asleep pretty easily, as my contractions were still far apart and very irregular.

Around 2 a.m. I woke up to a strong contraction. I laid in bed for another ten minutes and had a few more. I decided to get up and take a shower to see if they would pass or let up. After about ten minutes in the shower, the contractions started coming fast. I got out of the shower and desperately tried to wake my NyQuil-drugged husband from his slumber. When he finally woke up I asked him to call his parents to come over and stay with Layla. I then asked him to call my parents (who live an hour away) and let them know to start getting ready. I did my best to get ready in the short moments I had between contractions. With all three of my children I have arrived at the hospital in full make-up. It's stupid, I know, but I feel compelled.

Nate came into the bathroom and said he had to take a shower before we went to the hospital. Let's just say he was moving a little slow thanks to the flu and the NyQuil hangover.

We headed downstairs and Nate went out to start the car. The contractions were really getting strong, so I became good friends with the computer desk as I leaned over it and swayed through each contraction. I noticed that Nate was not coming back inside. Then I heard the awful sounds. He was dry-heaving off the back deck. NyQuil was now becoming his worst enemy. Nate's parents arrived to find their son trying to puke and their daughter-in-law hunched over the desk. They tried to ask me what was wrong with Nate, but I was having so many contractions that I was not able to talk to them. You should have seen the worried looks on their faces!

Well, we somehow managed to get into the car. We live just minutes away from the hospital, and every time I am in labor I praise Jesus for such a short trip!

We arrived at the hospital around 3:30 a.m. We headed up to labor and delivery and had to give the run down to the nurses at the front desk. I love labor and delivery nurses, but when you first arrive at the hospital they kind of treat you like your some crazy person. They heavily question the time of your contractions, how long you have been having them and how frequently. I know they need to do this because woman do arrive thinking they are ready to deliver, even though they are only dilated to a one. I do have to say that once they hear that you have already had a baby, they relax a bit and take your word more at face value.

So, after some interrogation, I am taken to an exam room, where they discover I am already at a four and having strong contractions. I immediately ask for an epidural and I tell the nurse my sad story of how I was denied an epidural with my first birth. She assures me that won't likely happen again. After giving me some attention, the nurses become aware of the fact that Nate is not doing so well. Maybe it was the various shades of green his face turned, or his general unresponsiveness. They became quite concerned! They rushed to get him some water and a snack to try and help him get through this labor the best he could. Poor Nate! I will never forget that night. His speech was somewhat slurred and I think his eyes were only halfway open the entire night.

I was having quite a bit of back labor because the baby was face up. Nate was rubbing my back through each contraction, but sometimes he would fall asleep, standing up. I would yell at him to wake up and keep rubbing my back. I was trying my best to stay calm as I patiently waited for my epidural. I had two nurses that night who were awesome. Better yet, one of the nurses was the nurse who I had with the birth of my daughter, so I felt very comfortable. The nurse had me get on my hands and knees and sway my hips from side to side to get the baby to flip face down. I found this position to be very effective in managing my pain, as well.

I kept waiting for my epidural and I started getting a little panicky. The nurses said that the anesthesiologist was on his way from home and he should be there soon. I remember overhearing the one nurse ask the other, do you think she is transitioning? The other nurse saw me listening and shook her head "no." My mom arrived on the scene shortly after that. I think seeing me in pain is discomforting to her and by nature she is driven to "fix" problems. You know, she's the one that always goes to talk to the manager at restaurants and stores to resolve the issues. She asked me what she could do to help. I told her she could check on my epidural. She was off!

Nate continued to do his best helping me through each contraction. My mom came back clearly irritated. Her badgering could not produce an instant epidural.

A few minutes later a man in a white coat walks in. I look behind me and see him and exclaim, "Oh thank you Lord! You must be the anesthesiologist!" He said, "no, he was the doctor" and he needed to examine me to see if I could have the epidural. Upon examining me he said, "no epidural for you, you are already at a ten." At this point I started to cry. No epidural again! Never mind the fact that I was fully dilated! You see, with my daughter I pushed for about an hour, so in my mind I had another hour or so worth of pain. I had flipped back to my hands and knees to cope with another contraction. The doctor gruffly told me that "I couldn't have a baby in that position" and to "flip back over." Really? So much for bedside manner!

So I reluctantly flipped over and the doctor immediately broke my water. I pushed with all my might on that first contraction. When it was over I saw the nurse looking at the doctor. After a few seconds she turned to me and said, "honey, another good push like that and the baby will be out." I think she was waiting on the doctor to say it, but when he didn't, she did. That's all I needed to hear. On the next contraction, Julius was born at 5:20 a.m. on January 28th. We hadn't even been at the hospital for two hours.

I thought he was beautiful as soon as I saw him. Nathan somehow managed to take a few pictures of Julius, while the nurses cleaned him up a bit. Nathan held the baby while the doctor stitched me up. I don't really remember him saying that he was giving me an episiotomy. Poor Nate was still having a hard time staying awake. Being that this was my second child, I was a bit more relaxed and I told him to go home and get some sleep. He was able to go home and finally sleep off that NyQuil, so he could come back and stay at the hospital with me.

Julius took right to nursing. I remember how peaceful it was that Sunday morning, sitting, holding my new baby boy and watching the snow come down thickly. We ended up getting around 6 inches or so. The delivery ward was slow and quiet and I enjoyed the extra attention of the wonderful nurses.

Layla was very excited to meet her new baby brother. I think the whole experience of having to come up to the hospital for a couple days, was exhausting for her. She always wanted to lay in my hospital bed and she even took a nap with me.

Overall, I was very happy with this birth experience. It was so different from my first birth. I had emotionally prepared myself to the possibility that I may not get the epidural. I stayed so much calmer throughout my labor, which in turned made the pain easier to cope with. It was this birth experience that changed my opinions on epidurals and the need for them in labor. It gave me the courage to go into my next labor knowing that I would not be asking for an epidural or any other type of pain medication. Reading other women's birth stories and watching labor and delivery videos online taught me that birth could be calm and relaxed(unlike my first delivery) without drugs or anesthesia. I will always remember his birth as a turning point, where I learned to believe in myself and the abilities and strength of my own body.

I thank the Lord so much for my little Julius. I know he won't be little forever. He has changed so much these past three years, and I can't wait to see what he will be like during the next three!


  1. Great story, Sarah. Nice documentation of Julius' birth. I like the pictures of Julius. Too bad there aren't any of Nate. I hate to say it, but I was laughing at your descriptions of him throughout the night!

  2. It is funny now, but that night, it wasn't so hilarious, lol! It makes for a good story, though!